This year, the Luce Foundation Center marked the 10th anniversary of our opening. To celebrate, we're throwing a party on July 22 at our Luce Unplugged Community Showcase with musical performances by PraxisCat and Big Hush and beer tastings from Fair Winds Brewing Company. We'll even have cake! In preparation for the party, we sat down with Christine Paluch (aka PraxisCat) to chat about her music and D.C.'s music scene.
Eye Level: Can you tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from? When did you start writing and performing music?
PraxisCat: I am from "Illinoise." I started making music when I was about 7; I started with synthesizers but took up other instruments along the way. Performing has been something that has been more intermittent until recently. I would occasionally play in bands in my twenties, but not regularly enough to be noteworthy. Then I took a break from performing for about five years. A few years ago I ended up playing a show at Pyramid Atlantic as part of Sonic Circuits' experimental music monthly concert series. I have been performing fairly regularly since as PraxisCat.
EL: Can you tell us about your creative process?
PC: I often start with the idea for a simple sound or concept and improvise using that sound. Then I work around that sound to add complexity to create something more atmospheric. For example, the idea of somebody running a metal bar across a storage container in a large empty warehouse. Then I add additional layers of complexity to it, maybe the sound of distant birds, or an engine running outside. I do almost everything from scratch using synthesizers, hackable instruments, and effects. Conceptually, it may begin as an environmental, but can evolve into something else. Sometimes the goal is to present something as alien as possible, other times it is to present something more terrestrial. The idea is to take the listener someplace else, maybe out of their comfort zone. The process at its core is improvisational; I always try to keep it somewhat living and dynamic since goal is to present an abstraction of place or emotion.
EL: Your music explores the relationship between synesthesia and urban spaces. What's your favorite place in D.C. and why?
PC: In terms of audio, there is an area around Northeast where both rail cars and Metro runs which are a bit interesting. It can be an intermittent orchestra of trains and escalators. Mechanical sounds can be interesting for those of us with sound to color synesthesia. They have their own palette and movement.
EL: What's your next big project?
PC: I am building synthesizers right now, though this process tends to take awhile to do so. I am also recording a follow-up to the Decay album I recently released.
EL: This Luce Unplugged Community Showcase celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Luce Center's opening. How has the DC music scene changed in the past 10 years? What are your hopes for the next 10?
PC: Since I have been here, it seems like so much has changed. But I was not as deeply ingrained in the local music scene until recently. If anything, it seems like the community is a bit tighter than it was before, possibly out of necessity as many resources in the area have been threatened, displaced, or have disappeared. My hope for the next ten years is that more is done to support musicians staying in the city, not just in terms of housing, but also in terms of having rehearsal, performance, and community spaces. There are models for this such as Rhizome DC, and Union Arts. I hope we can see more of this within the D.C. area.
PraxisCat will open the Showcase at 6 p.m. and Big Hush takes the stage at 7. Hope you can make our celebration as we look forward to many more great years ahead!