Stone Age HAA The Holy MAA

Stone Age HAA The Holy MAA

Writing - Noise - Magic

Monday, July 8, 2013


I was delighted to next pose questions of noise, language and consciousness to Kristen Ban Drake, one of my favorite performers. Kristen often performs under the name Ann B Klorox, whose Facebook page describes as "a one woman band of Voice, Vowel, Nostril & Analog Synthesizer & other ready noisemakers." She plays low to the ground, using everything: her toes, her many voices, mysterious texts.  

I asked Kristen for a brief biography, and she efficiently synthesized her impressive body of work as follows:

Bio by Decade

20’s--Mad Dog 20/20 Induced Poetry Readings.
30’s-Sound & Language Group Improv Work: MommieHood.
40’s-Slam Poetry & Audio Art Work. 
50’s Gone.
60’s Back, sorta. GranmaHood.

ARH: What are you working on now? Please describe current projects you’re most excited about. Are they collaborations or solo work?
KBD: Well now Amanda I do wish I was sitting across from your gorgeous head & body now and we could just hear this interview. I know (snaps finger) I will just write in the sounds I would be making like they do in dramatic scripts, how’s that? (nod and shake swish of Amanda’s gorgeous hair).
So I am sorry to say I am never working on anything. If you take the ING of it, you might say that I have work in my head, but I rarely entertain the thought of doing much about what is in my head unless someone asks, and I feel like I have the time. But right now what is in my head is Aunt Kris’s Dance Party. It’s either going to be an actual party or a performance if someone asks me to fill a slot-- maybe both. It will be a dance mix featuring my baby synth, my feet and exciting toys I am going to steal from my huzband and grandson (cackles merrily)... But yes,  Aunt Kris’s Dance Party is just the sound and motion about how my body has changed as time has gone on. Lucky for me I have been doing Yoga since I was 16 and I danced all through college and practiced a marital art for quite a while too. But  much of that (twirling sound of desk seat as I spin round and round happily) was 20-30 years ago. And I still love my body. 

ARH: When and how did you get into performing? Feel free to discuss any influences and early experiences.

KBD: I am realizing that I was very to fortunate to HEAR at an early age both the sound of Alice In Wonderland being read out loud and Shakespeare. I remember being furious (snarls)  that I had to wait for this babysitter I did not care for to come and read it to me, and that was a huge impetus to teach myself to read rather early--so I could read it out loud to myself. And In the fourth or fifth grade, I saw Macbeth onstage.  I was totally blown away.  I mention this as way of performing because when I began writing, nothing I wrote was ever unspoken--even if I did it up in my bedroom closet.  The first time I did a reading In Cleveland in the early seventies, no one was more surprised than me at people being surprised that I could do it so well --for a girl (giggles). The other big surprise was how wonderful the whole sound of it was--bar sounds, whooping from my friends---a bunch of hookers were clapping and dancing along, it was fantastic.  That’s probably when I realized how elemental sound was, and how it was nothing more than Cause & Effect.

ARH: Since you’ve started performing, have you noticed repeating cycles in terms of style and energy of experimental music? How would you describe the current zeitgeist?

KBD: Hmm..experimental music. Talk about Cause and Effect. Sometimes I think experimental music is really just the deep respect for cause and effect--so respectful that you leave everything else you know behind when you play and/or listen to it. It’s been around forever. I could not tell you about any cycles but I expect my huzband Bob Drake could, and I have to say, when I dropped the notion that he was just this dopey hippie boy (big laugh) who was following me and my cool avant garde friends around many years ago and sat next to him to watch Tom Cora and Skeleton Crew play, I felt that openness for the first time. I knew very little about improvisational music at that point, but it changed my ears forever. 

ARH: What qualities excite you in performances of others? What takes you by surprise and keeps your interest in experimental music

KBD: I could not tell you how I decipher this but--but I like mastery. It is quite wonderful to watch someone who knows their equipment, their craft, their body & mind & therefore knows and embraces all the infinitesimal possibilities that come from putting all that together. Knows--and (chuckles) has no fear.  Because that’s when the essence escapes.  Even when someone becomes momentarily furious or absent  because something didn’t work--that can very masterful too.  And when you get that among a group of people who are also really REALLY listening to each other in a collaborative effort, the surprise is--(claps hands excitably) you get to go along with them too. So that is my interest & surprise, yes. I am happy to report it STILL surprises me, even after all these years. No one will ever hear it all. That’s quite grand.

ARH: Do you feel performing is a spiritual act and/or ritual? If so, how does that work – how do you use ritual awareness in your work? If not, how would you describe the performing process in terms of mental, physical and emotional transformation?

KBD: It’s so hard to say why people perform. There must be several reasons and I expect for some people, it’s a need to be heard, to express themselves, to be  Somebody. There is nothing wrong with that unless it often leaves you disappointed or somehow feeling even less heard. That could happen.  (Big sigh) What I know of spirituality which comes from being a practicing Buddhist (Tibetan-Vajrayana) is that the more you dissolve your I am This and I am That the closer you come to who you (and who we all ) really are.  I will say that this is not an especially calming, comfortable, therapeutic  or um, stress-free process.(guffaws). Here’s is an interesting story. When our kids were finally on their own, I elected to go on a seven year home retreat with my Sangha. I made some serious commitments to my practice, which abruptly changed my priorities and the way I spent my time. At about the same time, my huzband, who I had always performed with, got himself back out in the world again with his wondrous  talents and a whole new group generation of people rediscovered what an incredible musician he is. And I just pretty much disappeared. On the rare occasion I would go out, people I’d never seen 
before  would come up to me and say things like “do you know who he is, he’s like the Synth Godfather blah blah..” and they wouldn’t even know I was his wife, much less a performer myself. I was no longer my Stories. It was very very difficult--until it wasn’t. 
I suddenly found myself back at square one, muttering to myself in my bedroom again & possibly more sure about the value of performing than ever before. That indeed, it had never been about  me, but about what was happening to everyone around me and how I fit into that.  Now its interesting to think that possibly performance is just a Ritual that enables to to get back to that,  to let sound & language & motion trip us into a present tense that might actually be our true nature after all. I have no idea if that is the case.  But I do know you don’t necessarily need a power strip to do that. Well, maybe you do at first......(twirls around on chair giggling)

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