For Good Measure, by Ensemble for These Times (E4TT)
Episode 13: Sea Novaa (part 2)
Looking for a way to listen to diverse creators and to support equity in the arts? Tune in weekly to For Good Measure!
In this week’s episode, we talk to Sea Novaa about her compositional practice and the diverse influences on it, also the importance of there being other composers who look like oneself. If you enjoyed today’s conversation and want to know more about Sea Novaa, check them out here: www.seanovaa.com. Parts of this episode originally premiered on July 2021, found on Youtube, click here.
This podcast is made possible in part by a grant from the California Arts Council and generous donors, like you. Want to support For Good Measure and E4TT? Make a tax-deductible donation or sign up for our newsletter, and subscribe to the podcast!
Intro music: “Trifolium” by Gabriela Ortiz, performed by E4TT (Ilana Blumberg, violin; Abigail Monroe, cello; Margaret Halbig, piano), as part of “Below the Surface: Music by Women Composers,” January 29, 2022
Outro music: “Lake Turkana” by Marcus Norris, performed by E4TT (Margaret Halbig, piano), as part of “Alchemy,” October 15, 2021
Transcription courtesy of Otter.ai.
Producer, Host, and E4TT co-founder: Nanette McGuinness
Audio Engineer: Stephanie M. Neumann
Podcast Cover Art: Brennan Stokes
Interns: Roziht Edwards and Merve Tokar
[INTRO MUSIC] Welcome to For Good Measure, an interview series celebrating diverse composers and other creative artists sponsored by grant from the California Arts Council. I'm Nanette McGuinness, artistic executive director of Ensemble For These Times. In this week's episode, we continue our conversation with Sea Novaa, who we spoke to in July 2021. [INTRO MUSIC ENDS] Your work has been described as combining avant garde music with electronic music, Taoism, with Afro Caribbean roots, and exploring meta themes of nature, spirituality, Afro Futurism and self exploration. Could you talk about your creative process and your inspiration?Sea Novaa:
I would say my path is different from the litany of composers in a sense, where I am not classically trained, and I haven't, I was, I would say, if the honest truth is forced, but I really enjoyed it, I was forced to watch films from my mom's child. So I watched a lot of films from the 30s 40s 50s and 60s and basically stopped at the 60s. And from that, I took in a lot of music, I remember the very first time I fell in love with Herman Bernards. Peace, love scene demore. For vertical. I just remember these moments from listening to folk music, 60s, music, all these music, I was like, I was, like, my dad and I were jazz heads, you know, we go to the jazz club, and we're the ones that pop in our hands, you know, to every rhythm The drum is doing right. So with that said, I feel like I've been studying music all my life, honestly. And I take these influences I feel and I, I bring them along with me. And so I would say, like, with the Dallas perspective, it's really about being one, with the creative process, being fully present when creating and also allowing contrast to come very, very easily. When it comes to the Dallas perspective, or kind of this meditative quality of sound, I feel like I pick up influences from total takim. So because I first learned him through his book, and and later after that, discovered his sound, which was incredible, which is incredible. Yeah, and but what I love about him is he wrote about this, but he also put it into practice his use of silence. To me, it's so profound, how he does it. And I also feel like the absence of sound is I don't know if it's something that's more used in an Eastern lifestyle with what I had. To me it was a refreshing difference from kind of the music I grew up with, which was from classic rock to disco, but it's about sound and it's not about allowing a rest to linger. You know, it's, um, so I would say it's just for me. I'm not sure I'm answering your question correctly. But these people that really spoke to me and I guess these influences are my favorite people. nosers particularly Harold Budd Alice Coltrane, I remember i i discovered Alice, Alice Coltrane. Her work. Rather recently, I never been into her jazz work. I mean, I liked her jaws. But it's it's pretty traditional. And that period right after John Coltrane's death, when she was experimenting with harpin Jaws, I think that's cool. But to me, that's not the meat and potatoes. To me, it's when we go further, where she's really doing her own thing. And you could tell that she's just so free, and, and doesn't care about getting into a particular group or genre. Even I was reading the album notes for one of my favorite songs called Ron heed, Cheyenne. And I saw that I think she had like seven federal violins, like two cellos. And, like, maybe 111, viola, something completely a very unusual combination of strings. But you could also hear that you can hear this kind of piercing, high pitch sound. And the beautiful thing about it was that it was purposeful. And you know, in contrast that to me, learning all these theory books about you know, the balance between instruments and all these things that are also important, but to really see people go out and find their, their own way of expression. And to be unafraid of that need. So it's very fascinating. Yeah, I just feel like I've my influences. Honestly, they come from everything that I've, I've, I've picked up so far. And particularly like a handle, I, I love handle the most out of out of composers from that error. And from him, I really love the way he has intervals, he'll go up before and then come down, you know, a minor, a major second. And I just like, like that, he skips like that, or he'll go up to six and then come down a second or third or something like that. And it's just like these things. I don't know, you pick it up. And you you all, you know, eventually you have your own sound. But, but you know, if it's about who, who am I and and how am I going to really express myself in the most authentic way. You know, I'm still I feel like I'm still chiseling out the sculpture of who I am and being inspired and emboldened by, by other composers particularly listen, I listened to a Meredith Monk thing because she inspires me. And then I started just listening to her discography on Spotify, and I'm kinda like Roscoe, I have some, like a couple favorite pieces, which I love. But for the most part, Roscoe, I don't get the blue black colors, you know, but, but he was awesome, really nice piece of, and I felt like for her, it's like, she had some pieces that really spoke to me. And there's some pieces that were intriguing and creative, but not really of my interest. But those pieces are the ones that said, well, Shannon, look at how Meredith found her voice by having these odd vocal ranges and sounds and tones. And what if you could do something like this in your way, so would not be with using voice in that way, but it's the idea that she found something that was her, hers and something connected with, and that admires me so much.Nanette McGuinness:
Do you think it's important to have role models that look like oneself?Sea Novaa:
Absolutely. I I really think so. And I say this, mainly because I hear a lot of people planning how important that is to see people who look like them in a particular space. And for me, I just as long as you're human and you're doing something I immediately think I have the ability to do it doesn't matter you know, what? What sex or gender or color you are. But I will say that I go out of my way. Because given, um, you know, we look at the disparities of, say, of black composers, or disparities of any other non white composer in the Western Hemisphere. Um, you know, it's, it's, it's obviously, because of the disparities and other aspects, you know, it's just not and it's not yet an equal opportunity to either get the music education or the exposure, or what not. So I think that from I mean, also, like, support family to support community, to the resources, so I feel like, um, you know, when I do see people of color, who are composers and they're out there, essentially, doing or trying to do what I'm doing, which is self expression, and, and art creation, I'm, you know, I'm going to support it, regardless to me, as long as it's authentic. Yeah, I'm gonna be there. And, and I do know, how important it is for other people to see role models, I mean, whether it's, I hear women talk about how it's important for them to see women in leadership that companies and so forth, or to the people of color and Professor, Professor role, so I yeah, I support it. I, for me, it's also inspiring. Um yeah, it's so inspiring. I have to say like, it's never been where I felt like I couldn't accomplish anything, because it wasn't a black woman. But that is to say if there is one evenNanette McGuinness:
[OUTRO MUSIC] Thank you for listening to For Good Measure, and a special thank you to our guests, Sea Novaa for joining us today. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to our podcast by clicking on the subscribe button and support us by sharing it with your friends, posting about it on social media and leaving us a rating and a review. To learn more about E4TT Our concert season online and in the Bay Area where to make a tax deductible donation, please visit us at www.E4TT.org. This podcast is made possible in part by a grant from the California Arts Council and generous donors like you. "For Good Measure" is produced by Nanette McGuinness and Ensemble for These Times, and designed by Brennan Stokes. With special thanks to audio engineer extraordinaire Stephanie Neumann. Remember to keep supporting equity in the arts and tune in next week "for good measure." [OUTRO MUSIC ENDS]