Electric Circus

Our recent interview with Wayne Horvitz about the genesis of “Electric Circus”, which premieres this Saturday June 1st at the Royal Room. Show begins at 9pm.


Where does the name Electric Circus come from?

Really from the rock club of the same name. It was in NYC on St. Marks Place right around the corner from the Fillmore East. I went there once with my older brother Lee when I was 13 or 14. It was an off night, like a Tuesday, not a big crowd, and it had the full light show and everything. What was crazy was that it was the Willie Dixon band, so essentially it was four middle-aged black men, in other words to me really old men, all in suits. Willie Dixon was playing upright bass. But it was loud, and the music was amazing. Spoonful, Wang Dang Doodle, Little Red Rooster, all in this sea of psychedelic lights. I found out recently that Andy Warhol had it first, and The Velvet Underground was the house band. I think by 1967 it was actually managed as a real club, and it lasted a few more years.

What has that got to do with this project?

Well I wanted to combine a couple of things. One, I wanted to start doing a groove based project that uses some of the same ideas that I use in the Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble. Two, I want to start encouraging video and light show ideas at the Royal Room. I picked up a few projectors when I premiered “55: Music and Dance in Concrete” last year, and we did one show at the Royal Room with a lot of projections and it was great.

So does this involve “conduction”?

Well in a minor way. I will be using some hand signals to guide the band, and like I do with the other band I will have some written material too.

Your tunes?

No, in fact not even tunes at all. More like fragments. A riff from a James Brown tune or a line from some 60’s psychedelic band. I might plunder a Zony Mash tune so i guess some of my music as well, but not full arrangements. At the same time I will also be using some live sampling, and also samples that we play to set up vamps.

Who is in the band?

Well this will be the first time, and it will be a work in progress, but I have an awesome band for Saturday night.

Tim Kennedy and Ryan Burns on keys, Luke Bergman and Geoff Harper on basses, Bill Horist and Matt Deason on guitars, Claudio Rochat-Felix on drums, Thione Diop on percussion, Alex Guy on electric violin, Andy Clauden on trombone, Hannah Benn on voice. I will be playing some samples and organ as well.

And lights?

Full light show, a couple of friends have been working on it, we have 4 projectors going. Soon the Royal Room will have an overhead projector too, for the old school light show stuff.

Is the music very “60s”?

I don’t think so, though I hope it will be in spirit. I love that stuff, but this will be much more cut up, grooves coming more from soul and funk, but also a lot of very open playing as well. It will be different every time.

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