Saxophonist Shabaka Hutching has a newly-formed band The Comet is Coming, which will be performing as part of the Match&Fuse festival on Friday 2nd October at Rich Mix.
The band, a collaboration between Hutchings on saxophone, Dan Leavers (Danalogue) on synths and keys and Maxwell Hallett (Betamax) on drums, brings together the worlds of electronics and free improvisation with echos of 80s dance music and psych-rock. Rachel Maby interviewed him:
Rachel Maby: Can you describe the band’s compositional approach?
Shabaka Hutchings: We just jam, but with the intention of making tunes spontaneously. Dan and Maxwell have both got really compositional heads – they see things in terms of bands and tunes. So we’ll just play and the forms will come out because we think on the same level in terms of where things rise and fall.
RM: You’re mostly associated with jazz and classical music venues, so what has steered you towards the electronics and London warehouse rave scene with this band?
SH: I’m a fan of constant activity… I’m not consciously deciding to specify, it’s just the way that it goes. It’s the music that I listen to, they’re the people that I hang out with and the places that I go to to listen to music… I don’t see any hierarchy in terms of art music or whatever. If I choose to listen to more electronica or psych-rock, it’s not a lesser thing than listening to contemporary jazz.
RM: Match&Fuse have commissioned you to write a piece for the band – how has the way you’ve composed for this group compare to your previous commissions, such as your compositions for the BBC Concert orchestra and Ligeti string quartet?
SH: When I write it’s quite a simple process…I just hear everything as I want it and then I just write it. It sounds reductionist when I say it like that, but I sit down in the right zone and it will just all come at once…I do a lot of preparation before I write, in regard to what I choose to listen to. So when I say I free-write it’s not like I just close my eyes and it happens – I try to train my mind and write what I want to happen…In the prior weeks to writing I’ll be thinking about it – what I should be doing and what could be happening – so that when I finally sit down I already have all the ideas.