Deep Minimalism (i) is a gentle excursion perfect for our shared moment of collective unease. Newsha Khalaj is a Vancouver-based violist and the author of this mix. She put this tracklist together with a purpose. As she explains, “I needed these soothing, shifting, deep-moving sounds—life was a little heavy for a while, for personal reasons—and these songs, this mix, is that.” Khalaj sent me the tracks and I mixed them live, which was a really meditative process.
In July, Khalaj played as part of the Slow New Way Ensemble for Nadia Sirota’s Living Music series, one of the more interesting quarantine concerts I’ve seen. The Ensemble performed the world premiere of a new work by Richard Reed Parry [Bell Orchestre, Arcade Fire], made especially notable as it was performed live via Zoom by musicians in Berlin, Montreal, New York and Los Angeles. The rest of the episode is equally worth your time, of course, including a performance by Clarice Jensen. (Joseph Sannicandro)
Please introduce yourself.
I’m Newsha, and I’m a violist again, I guess? I was studying to be a human rights lawyer, and was working on lots of art projects before that. I took time off from music—I was coming from these school establishments, and I felt a bit stuck in the structure. I’ve been so lucky since then to expand and make music differently than what I was used to and trained to do, and it’s really shown me that I don’t need to be so limited, not like I felt before. But really, I’m combining all 3 now, because why pick?
Institutions are funny that way, it’s important to have a tension there. I’m sure many of our readers can relate. So where are you based? I always like to hear about local scenes.
I’m in Vancouver now, but before that I was in Malmö, Sweden, and London, UK before that. So it’s been a bit of a reintroduction to me, being back in Vancouver, in the music scene. There is a lot of amazing stuff – Western Front [artist-run centre], Quiet City [deep-listening concerts], New Forms Festival, Music on Main, Lobe Studio, Robyn Jacobs and George Rahi and their individual body of works and their ensemble, Gamelan Bike Bike. But I do feel like there’s still something left to be desired in the Vancouver music scene, and it’s something I’ve felt for a long time.
Here’s to the future. What’s on your agenda coming up?
I played on an episode of Nadia Sirota’s Living Music series, for a breathing/playing piece written by Richard Reed Parry. And it was so beautiful and imaginative and satisfying and so fun to do over Zoom. I’m currently working on a concert series, with Robyn Jacobs, where we’re going to present works that you don’t really hear in Vancouver—Meredith Monk, John Luther Adams, Nico Muhly, Max Richter, Du Yun—and our first concert will be in early October.
Wow, sounds great! Thanks Newsha. Until Deep Minimalism (ii)….
song – artist
1. Having To You – Julianna Barwick
2. Kirakiraboshi – Susumu Yokota
3. Ocean – Dirty Projectors, Björk
4. Island No.1 – Arooj Aftab
5. Suite Bergamasque: Clair de Lune, No.3 – Isao Tomita
6. Shale – Andrea Belfi
7. III – Mary Lattimore, Mac McCaughan
8. No-Input – Skylar Skjelset
9. From This From That Will Be Filled (a) – Clarice Jensen
10. Young – Son Lux
11. Sai No Kawara (River of Death) – Richard Reed Parry
12. 2/2 – Brian Eno
13. Azukiiro No Kaori – Susumu Yokota
14. Water Copy – Hiroshi Yoshimura