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Interview: Steve Gunn - The Others Way Festival 2022 and North Island Shows

Interview: Steve Gunn - The Others Way Festival 2022 and North Island Shows

Chris Cudby / Monday 17th October, 2022 11:43AM

New York-based songwriter / guitar virtuoso Steve Gunn returns to Aotearoa this week for a performance at Tāmaki Makaurau's multi-venue The Others Way festival, bracketed by solo headline dates in Pōneke, Hastings and the super city. Last here for a run of shows in 2019 (including gigs with The Chills), Gunn's releases since those pre-pandemic days include this year's Nakama EP and his 2021 album Other You (Matador) — featuring contributions from Juliana Barwick, Mary Lattimore, Jeff Parker (Tortoise) and Justin Tripp. Ahead of his fourth New Zealand jaunt, Gunn graciously provided thoughtful answers to our probing questions, don't miss him at the following dates...

UnderTheRadar, Flying Out and 95bFM present...

The Others Way Festival
Saturday 22nd October (during Labour Weekend) - Tāmaki Makaurau's Karangahape Road

Featuring... Anthonie Tonnon, Bleeding Star, Ché Fu & The Kratez, Coolies, Daffodils, Dance Exponents, Earth Tongue, Francisca Griffin and the Bus Shelter Boys, Half Hexagon, Hans Pucket Midnight Karaoke Challenge, Juno Is, Julien Dyne, Landlords, Laura Jean, LEAO, Maxine Funke, Mirror Ritual, MNDSGN & the Rare Pleasures, Nadia Reid, The Newmatics, PollyHill, Proteins of Magic, Repairs, Rita Mae, Shepherds Reign, Soft Plastics, Steve Gunn, Swidt, TE KAAHU, Vanessa Worm

Tickets on sale HERE via UTR
Check out the official timetable HERE

Steve Gunn

Thursday 20th October - The Tuning Fork, Auckland
Sunday 23rd October - Meow, Wellington
Monday 24th October - The Deerstalkers Association Hall, Bridge PA, Hastings (Labour Day)

General public tickets available HERE from Banished Music

Chris Cudby: You're returning to Aotearoa for your first shows here since 2019. Do you have any fond (or otherwise) standout memories of your earlier visits to NZ?

Steve Gunn: It's hard to believe that this will be my fourth visit to New Zealand, and I have certainly had countless memories from these visits. One that sticks out is when I was opening for the Chills an experienced stunt pilot came up to me after my set and offered to take me on a flight the next morning. We met up with him out on a runway early the next day, and he flew me up in a two seater plane (I was in the front!), around a mountain, across a beach. Needless to say, it was the most memorable morning.

In the time since you toured here last, you released your 2021 album Other You and this year's Nakama EP, which reimagines songs from Other You in collaboration with Mdou Moctar, Natural Information Society, Circuit des Yeux and Bing & Ruth. What spurred you to personally revisit these tunes, so soon after your new album's release?

A big aspect of my music is collaborating with others, and the label offered the opportunity to revisit these songs with some artists that I really admire. To have an opportunity to work with these greats in this context was something I couldn't pass up. Other You has a specific sound as an album, and it was really satisfying to see where the songs would go with having a new perspective on them, I love that process. I'm always open to finding a third way with music and this helped shape a new perspective. I was into the idea of handing the song sketches over and hearing how they would turn out. This happens when I play solo also, the music changes around.

Collaboration is also a consistent thread throughout Other You, which features contributions from Juliana Barwick, Mary Lattimore, Bridget St. John, Jeff Parker, Bill MacKay, Ben Bertrand, Ryan Sawyer along with your longterm friend Justin Tripp. Do you view yourself as part of a wider community of artists?

I do think there is a wider community of artists that I know and get a lot of inspiration from — these names included. All of the people mentioned live around the country, and I see them when I can. There is also a close community of musicians here in New York that is more immediate and great too. Shared rehearsal spaces, studio sessions, impromptu shows, lessons, advice, movie watching, walking, etc. There is a lot happening here that keeps me moving around and exploring. I'm thankful for my friends here and elsewhere.

I understand that improvisational / free jazz had a big impact on your own development as an artist. What role does improvisation play in your current musical practice?

Jazz music did have a huge impact on me, and still does. I was lucky growing up in Philadelphia, where there was a vibrant and varied music scene. I saw and learned a lot. Improvisation is something I use as a tool to write, or whenever I pick up an instrument. Everything seems to come out of those moments, even if there is structure later. I of course write things down, remember guitar parts, work in some kind of parameter — but I'm always open to seeing what can happen with letting things drop out a little.

How would you describe your personal musical trajectory over the past 15 years?

A lot of travelling, talking, practicing, joy, frustration, listening, laughing. I still feel as interested and motivated in music as I ever was. I am excited and inspired for what's next.

Any specific artists (new or old) you're enjoying listening to / are excited about at the moment?

I've been listening to a lot of Pharoah Sanders, since his recent passing. It's autumn here and I've been listening to the band Pentangle a lot, it feels like somewhat of a seasonal thing.

Has your touring schedule ramped up significantly this year?

Touring has changed for most people, and while it's better than it was, it's still at a slower pace. That is also fine with me. I've been playing more solo shows than ever, and have been really getting into that way of performing.

What can gig-goers look forward to when you tour New Zealand solo in October?

I will be playing solo acoustic guitar with effects. I'm going to bring a little synthesizer with me too, which will be a first for me. I'll be playing songs from all of my records, with a few covers thrown in also, maybe some extended improvised sections if I'm feeling it. Hope to see you!


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Steve Gunn - New Zealand 2022
Thu 20th Oct 7:30pm
The Tuning Fork, Auckland
The Others Way Festival 2022
Sat 22nd Oct 4:00pm
Various K Road Venues , Auckland
Steve Gunn - New Zealand 2022
Sun 23rd Oct 6:30pm
Meow, Wellington