On the surface, Chavez's abstract rumble and Smith's passionate songwriting don't have a lot in common. But Smith's distinct and unconventional flare made an impression on Chavez's teenage mind that would have lasting effects. Some 10 years later, she has adopted her own approach to music by way of equally distinctive methods. Since August 2002, she has focused her attention on the electro-acoustic sound possibilities that could be created by using only a turntable stylus and vinyl recordings.
The results are striking. Unlike most DJs, Chavez has made an art of breaking, bending and otherwise manipulating the LPs and needles with which she spins her experimental web of sound. Though her earliest flirtations with performing live were as a club DJ in Houston, her true calling came from the higher plane of thinking involved in improvised music.
While working on a degree in music business at the University of Houston, Chavez was shopping around for an internship when she came across the Pauline Oliveros Foundation. After attending a concert the foundation was sponsoring, she met the foundation's Houston director, Dave Dove. In Dove she found more than an internship; she found a musical mentor.
"He invited me to attend a performance by an improvised music ensemble and I though he meant for me to come and watch, but he wanted me to participate," Chavez says. "Later he told me that I should consider improvising with instruments I'm familiar with, but I hadn't played anything for years. All I had were my turntables and he told me to bring them. Later, we worked together as a duo and I had a perfect, out-of-body experience. The way I moved the needle around the record was so instinctual. I knew I wanted to do this for the rest of my life."
Since then, Chavez has moved in an increasingly abstract direction, churning out mammoth drones, chance rhythms and brooding, post-industrial soundscapes that evoke everyone from Christian Marclay to Otomo Yoshide to Coil. The results culminate with her self-released Selected Works 2002-2003 debut, and have landed her gigs with improvisational and experimental music figures such as Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, composer Pauline Oliveros and Jack Rose of Pelt.
As she plunged deeper into the concepts and social settings surrounding improvisational music, spinning records in dance clubs became a thing of the past. "The change in social situations from playing records for a bunch of drunken people so they can buy more drinks and the club will get more money, to performing with heart in front of an audience who actually sits and listens to you was an incredible change," Chavez says. "I had to say goodbye to being a club DJ."
Chavez also has collaborated with Christina Carter of Charlambides in an improvisational duo, Weird Cookie, and has worked with a spate of visual artists performing what she calls "personal description" pieces, where she interprets works of abstract art through turntablism.
For her upcoming shows in Athens and Atlanta, Chavez will be collaborating with Athens-based video artist Paul Thomas. Thomas will present a video montage he created for the event -- with Chavez seeing it for the first time as she interprets it in front of an audience. It sounds like a daunting task, but one for which she's as prepared as possible. "I don't want to know too much about what Paul has put together for the show," she adds. "The less I know, the more spontaneous it will be."
"Punk" style like this seems like it is the polar opposite of punk. Bradford Cox…
They're kind of starting to look like a joke of themselves. Song's good though.
All 80s movies want you...
Their show with Chris, Lord about 3 years at the Unicorn was the best.
I am a connoisseur of this real soul music like the comment above I'm glad…