Brian Lawlor, who calls himself a “musical mutt” and a “hypercollaborator,” has a long history of musical cooperation, including two compositions for pieces choreographed by Whim W’Him artistic director Olivier Wevers. The first, in mid-2013, I don’t remember a spark, an intimate exploration of Olivier’s own creative process, his doubts and whims, passions and idiosyncrasies, using his own words as recorded by an interviewer. At the start of the process, Brian said back then, “I’m imagining a very textured, lush drone quality throughout—à la synth processing and stacked pads. The defining quality will be the manipulation of his interview text and his voice.” Later it changed. “I worked a bunch with manipulating his text—through various timbal forms—but don’t think it turned out to be something he necessarily liked. We slowly stripped down the layers.” In the end the words were clearer and more essential, with the music around and behind them. At the time, Brian commented, “The fact that the piece has gone through an evolution has mostly been dictated by Olivier. I think he has an excellent ear for music and can easily communicate changes in his creative process. I was mostly trying to respond to that.”
Their second partnership, We are not the same, a meditation on difference for the January program of last year, was very different from the first—in subject matter, dance style, sound. Brian stretched, reworked and overlaid with new sounds the second movement of the Brahms Violin Concerto in D Major, as well as parts of two other Brahms works.
Brian and Olivier now engaged on a third project, for Whim W’Him’s upcoming January program SENSATION (Brown Paper Tickets), on a piece called Catch & Release. Despite the fact that Brian’s “natural working habitat is with my cat in my PJs,” life has been very busy for him of late. “I’ve been swamped learning a bunch of music for shows I played this weekend. Two nights (mornings?) in a row of not getting in until 6am. I’m in zombie mode now. Ugh…” he reported this weekend.
After a phone conversation catching up with Brian a few weeks ago, I had asked him the other day via email about his non-Whim activities since he first started working with Olivier 3 plus years ago. There have been a lot. “Since 2013? whoa — I’m going to shoot this out in a rambling manner: Still composing for Saint Genet — presented new pieces at Luminato Festival (2013), Traiskirchen (2015), Donaufestival (2016), and am starting work on our final piece for our trilogy — to be performed at Wiener Festwochen and Holland Festival the next Spring. I composed a bunch of music for string quartet and synths/piano for these pieces.
“I’ve also taken on this 4-part incidental music recording task (thank you for your help!!)