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Thursday, December 29, 2011
92Y Culture Klatsch Q&A With Daniel Knox

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Chicago-based songwriter Daniel Knox will be at 92YTribeca on January 25 for the world premiere of his new long-form composition based on the photographs of fellow Chicagoan John Atwood. The pieces, titled John Atwood: Black & Whites, will be performed by piano, voice, bass, horns, strings, accordion and percussion, and set to projected images.

Fans of Daniel Knox and those who want to hear his music should sign up for his mailing list. He’ll send you a free mp3.

Read below to learn more about Knox, by way of his answers to the 92Y Culture Klatsch Questionnaire. For example, you’ll learn he’s skeptical of most news sources. “There’s no real source I trust,” he told us, “beyond the simple facts of who is dead, pregnant, or at war.” And he used to like hanging out in coffee shops when he wanted to “disconnect”. But now, “they’re more like weird singles clubs where you have to listen to some asshole’s indie-rock mixtape.”

Where do you go for news when you start your day?
Slashfilm.com, Gawker.com, Jezebel.com and Dlisted.com. I only read gossip and entertainment news. The rest of the world’s happenings usually show up clogging my Twitter and Facebook pages. There’s no real source I trust for any of that beyond the simple facts of who is dead, pregnant, or at war.

What are your favorite websites?
Vimeo, Twin Peaks Archive and Soundcloud. And I visit the University of California’s Wax Cylinder Archive a lot. I go there and type in random words and just see what comes up. It’s a massive archive and all the music on there is interesting for one reason or another. Mostly I love how excited everyone sounds to be hearing themselves at all.

How much do you use Twitter and Facebook (or other social networking services)?
More than I’d care to. Facebook is like a miserable human experiment that’s mostly made me feel worse about who my friends are. When you give people the chance to say shit to everyone they know at the same time you just get a lot of people posing and and acting like the person they want you to think they are.

As a performer it’s essential and really helpful because people always know what I’m up to, and it’s a good way to sort of test people’s interest in things and see how word spreads. But it’s also an easy way to find yourself giving a shit about things that aren’t important. Twitter is much more interesting because it’s instant and public and you aren’t given the space to ramble on. But I’m sure they’ll find a way to change that. 

What book are you currently reading (or the last one you read)? Print or digital?
I’ve been reading a lot of this book about Cartier-Bresson in the Watermill library. His work reminds me of John’s and I know he’s someone John admires. It’s a picture book but there’s a lot of quotes and essays and things.

I also picked up Miller’s Sexus again, but it’s been a month or so so I may have to start it over.

What magazines do you subscribe to?
I get the free second hand copies of Tape Op.

What are your current (or all time) favorite television shows?
“Twin Peaks”. “Lost”. “Breaking Bad”. “Boardwalk Empire”. Anything with a longstanding arch like that and an ensemble cast.

What’s the last movie you saw?
I’m a projectionist so I see a lot of movies. The last GOOD movie I saw was Jee-woon Kim’s I Saw The Devil. Brutal uncompromising revenge story.

What’s the last performance (dance/opera/theater) you attended?
I was fortunate to get to meet Russian performers Krymov Lab here at The Watermill Center. I caught two performances of their version of Purcell’s “Dido & Aeneas”. Once at CPR in Brooklyn and once at Watermill. They told the story using objects and sound, which makes it sound like less than it is. What they really did was break the story down visually and tell it in a completely different way. I was very impressed with them.

What’s the last music purchase you made?
Palm Wine Guitar Music by S.E. Rogie. I also bought tickets to see some of the Mahler stuff coming up at the CSO.

What radio shows or podcasts do you listen to?
I listen to WFMU a lot. Particularly Fatty Jubbo’s podcast. And at home Brandon Wetherbee’s “You, Me, Them, Everybody” when I can. There’s also an internet radio station in Chicago called CHIRP who play a lot of diverse interesting stuff. I still like listening to old time radio shows too. “The Bickersons”, “Arch Obler’s Lights Out Everybody”, and “Suspense!”.

What’s your favorite piece of art on display in your home?
Edward Hooper’s Nighthawks. It’s like a movie that never starts or ends. It’s perfect.

Where do you go / what do you do to “disconnect”?
There used to be coffee shops worth going to where you could get work done, but now they’re more like weird singles clubs where you have to listen to some asshole’s indie-rock mixtape. I’ve got a few secret places I still go in downtown Chicago. I like to be where the tourists are because they never stay long, and you’re less likely to bump into anyone you know.

Chicago-based songwriter Daniel Knox will be at 92YTribeca on January 25 for the world premiere of his new long-form composition based on the photographs of fellow Chicagoan John Atwood. The pieces, titled John Atwood: Black & Whites, will be performed by piano, voice, bass, horns, strings, accordion and percussion, and set to projected images. John Atwood’s work will also be displayed in the gallery, with an opening party immediately preceding the performance.

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