Paris 1919 is everything, Paris1919 is nothing, Paris1919 is all the twinkly bits in between. Started by producer/experimentalist/culture ReMixer: Chris Strouth, the group is always him, but it is also Michael Croswell (Lap Steel, Misc), Randall Davidson‘s (Cello), Drew Miller’s (Bass), Timothy Sean Ritter (Electronics), Mykl Westbrooks (Guitar) and the incomparable David J. Russ (engineering). Together they crate large-scale works, soundtracks for man made environments, immersive and scaling, small prayers, and symphonies for environments
The band made it’s public debut on December 2, 2010 a year and a day after founder & leaders Chris Strouth’s kidney transplant heard round the world. It was a moment that marked a parole in his slowly scaling yet all enveloping disease, a time which he deiced if he made it through to the other side he was going to throw all into his art. Most notable for creating large multi media experiences (there is more details about this in Strouths biography section. But before he could make the big productions he had to teach the language of his music. Paris1919, and indeed Strouth’s compositional portfolio are based on looking at music from the outside in, to ask the question why?: Why does a piano have to be a piano? What happens if you reimagine music without having to be tied to the rules or logic of it. What if a sound, can be as captivating a s a melody? That’s the starting point.
The first record “Book of Job” is its very primitive roots, written, played, produced and engineered by Strouth (with the exception of New Year’s Eve 2005 a manipulated piece of field audio remixed by David Daydodge) this is dark noisy, clinging more to his dark roots, while it has some standout moments like “Marty is A Prick” this record is a travelogue through man’s dark times, angry boisterous and really almost alien to what the band would become.
When the band played live on 2010 the line up consisted of Strouth, Alec Roslik on organ, Drew Miller on Bass, Eric White on percussion, and Tabatha Predovitch on breathing, the piece its self was built around live manipulated audio of Strouth’s heartbeat. – yeah we are still amazed they get to keep doing this stuff too.
The Band kept developing and Strouth kept pursuing the next the next idea was a project that was developed during his recovery from transplantation: “Antarctica”, started on a conducted improv with Minneapolis musician Tim Donahue, Strouth remixed and manipulated, and remixed and manipulated to build something that had no resemblance to the recording but had become a suite about isolation using different eras in the evolution of the continent of Antarctica as a metaphor for isolation. While the full record was never released, parts lived on various social media platforms and was widely traded, the third act of this piece became the template for what would be the groups first “big show” Antarctica.
The group continued to develop – there is more detail in the projects, a number of film scores, and a slew of players before it became what it is, to whit a small list of those who have sat and played a spell. Alec Roslik, Erick White, Tabatha Predovitch, Jon Hunt, John Snell, Joseph Pettini, Terry Eason, Erick Anderson,
Paris1919 is about the idea, its not about the notes, its about conveying emotion, and story, abstract truths, and on occasion abstract fibs. The group isn’t one genre, and has zero interest in being classified, and will throw you a curve ball just because. It make the band a commercial night mare, I mean sure… but its about Art, not commerce….oh and maybe time travelogues too…
I play it cool
I dig all jive.
That’s the reason
I stay alive.
As I live and learn,
Dig And Be Dug
-Langston Hughes (1951)
Charlie Parker said, “You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.” This is a quote I took to heart at about the age of 14, only I decided to take a slightly different approach. It was a journey that started with guitar, where the focus was not on playing notes as much as using it as a tone generator and a feedback machine. I eventually moved to saxophone, synthesizer, and didgeridoo. It was in synthesizers and samplers that I really got hooked. Early works for me were equal parts John Zorn and Throbbing Gristle with a hint of Black Flag thrown in for good measure.
Another major, albeit unintentional, influence on me is a learning disability called dysgraphia. It is sort of like dyslexia, only instead of problems with reading, I have problems writing. Words can come out backwards, with atrocious spelling and hideous grammar. This disability made it very difficult for me to hone the fine motor skills necessary to master an instrument in a traditional manner, so I decided to approach instruments in a non-traditional way, with a focus on tonality over notes. Approaching instrumentation in this manner allowed me to discover hidden layers and unlock secret sounds. I can’t play Chopin on the piano, but I can make the piano do things you’d never think it could. Granted, that often involves power tools.
Combine the above with more than a decade spent working on other people’s albums, and it becomes a fairly interesting mix: a music that is foreign and familiar at the same time, harsh and uncompromising yet strangely accessible. Given my history of making difficult music with challenging collaborations presented in a way that was accessible to a larger audience, I really chose to follow the path of collaboration with myself. The composer meeting the producer. My work might be outside the traditional palate, but it is by exploring the frontiers that we establish new ones.