Note: This was originally slated to be published in the CoogLife. Although I did do an event article on their lecture piece for the Mitchell Arts.
Background: Jason and Alicia Moran are two married collaborators with rich involvement in the music and art community. Jason is a renowned jazz musician and scored for Selma. Alicia is a mezzo-soprano opera singer who has portrayed Bess in Porgy and Bess.
Through a representative, Jason and Alicia Moran kindly replied to my questions through email. The Q&A was intended to go up before their Mitchell Arts lecture, but their replies came too late for it to come up on CoogLife. With permission from my editor, I salvaged it for this blog.
1) How did your respective backgrounds/childhoods influenced the way you compose and perform?
I am a classically trained musician, and as a singer I understand music primarily through the sensations and feedback of the human voice. Music-making for me is very personal. My family and my teachers have always been very open to my curiosity and as a result, I’ve felt confident (or as confident as I could possibly feel) delving in to composition and improvisation and real spur-of-the-moment music-making. I always believe music is a celebration, even at a funeral or in protest, there is always that aspiration there, or some hope. So I constantly employ a blend of the present (my own thoughts and my own music) and the great, lasting musics of the past that I have access to in print, like the arias of Mozart, the songs of Brahms. And lots in between. There is so much in between.
2) What are considerately innovative/challenging pieces you have done together?
Everything we do together is a challenge because our mode of production is through resisting the other in constructive ways. I’m proud of the way we joined forces as a team that then joined forces with a larger community of artists for the work we’ve contributed to the 2012 Whitney Biennial (BLEED), and the 56th Venice Biennale, which is going on right now.
3) When it comes to working/performing together, how do you feel about being a collaborative pair of artists in contrast to being individual artists?
Well, you are probably only as strong as your weakest link so let’s just say nobody enjoys being the weakest link. And in a strong partnership, the stronger one is helping the weaker one, and the weaker one is accepting the help and maybe taking it a step further. Every time we work together on something, even if it’s just one song for some event, we grow as individual artists. All of music is listening and responding. Working together just forces that issue. Someone has GOT to listen and someone has got to respond or the whole thing just doesn’t move forward. It’s a discipline we abide because we love the thrill of the results.
4) How has your personal and artistic life affected each other? How have they overlapped?
We are musicians. We have to be out in the city, out in the world making the music that we have to make. I could say it’s as simple as that. You cannot be in a relationship with an artist if features of their success are really getting you down! I revel in Jason’s success and he’s bent over backwards to accommodate my growth as an artist in every way. Whoever is there when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed at night? Hahaha! That person is taking care of the life of the artist. It isn’t an easy job.
5) What future collaborative projects/ambitions are you planning, or scheming, together? How are you preparing?
I would love to say “a kitchen renovation”! But alas, we are just steadily making more and more work around those things that are very meaningful to us. We have tons of big fantasy projects that will come true some day, but I’m not going to tell you!
Many thanks again to Mr. and Mrs. Moran!