The Suitcase Junket: Chatting About This, That, and Other Junk(ets)
Discovering new music that challenges and excites me is something that keeps my senses alive. Oh hell, yeah, I like to listen to the old stuff as much as the next person but finding musicians who are doing new and interesting forms of music is …. well…. Just plain nourishment for my soul. The first time that I heard The Suitcase Junket I was taken aback a wee bit because I hadn’t seen anyone quite like him …. Then I figured out that that was why I liked him so much. His music and his style make you want to listen. It’s like exploring a new soundscapes full of surprises.
I’ll start with the most obvious question: How did the name The Suitcase Junket come about?
Well, I had decided that I had a junket – as in an octet or septet – then I looked up the word to see what it meant and the first definition (in this old dictionary I had) was “a sweet meat.” (pretty great) The 2nd definition was “a pleasure excursion.” Also good. In addition it means a professional tour or circuit. So the next question was “what kind of junket do we have here?” A suitcase junket was the answer.
How did you conceive of your one-man band approach to making music?
I’ve always wanted to do everything. So this is a pretty natural extension of that desire to push the boundaries of what I can do musically with one body. I also realized I was moving around a lot while I played, so I figured why not harness those movements and get sounds out of them?
What are your earliest memories of music? What instrument did you start out playing?
My earliest memory of music is singing “For the Longest Time” by Billy Joel while riding in one of my parents’ bike seats. So I guess the first instrument was voice, then piano.
How long have you been writing your own songs?
I wrote my first song as a very little kid, but I don’t think that counts. I guess I started around age 13 or so.
Do you recall the first time you performed your own material in front of others?
I think I may have blocked that memory due to its terrifying nature, but my guess would be at a local open mic as a teen.
You’ve got a unique way of singing that you developed, according to your biography, from a South India cooking class. That needs a little bit of an explanation.
Well, yeah. The overtone singing I stumbled across after learning a couple words in said class that had what linguists would call retroflexed Rs. (That’s when you say the letter r with the atip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth) So improvising with this new mouth shape I started cultivating the overtone singing that I now use as a kind of solo instrument in the band.
Your bio always says that you’re a tinkerer. Can you tell us what kinds of things you have made? Especially the things you’ve made out of junk!
I make the foot drums that I use in the band, other simple junk instruments, some furniture, assemblage, sculptures, that kind of thing. Most of it is made with reclaimed materials. No need to buy stuff when there’s so much going to waste as it is. (I think you can find some the artwork at makingwhatiwant.com)
Tell us about your other musical venture–Rusty Belle.
Rusty Belle is a band I started with my sister almost 10 years ago. It’s me, her and Zak Trojano. Musically it’s more focused on harmonies and had a little more of a country-soul feel. (The Junket basically spun out of Rusty Belle.)
What was it like working with Chris Smither on his Still on the Levee project?
That was awesome. The man is a class act, an amazing songwriter, a great guitar player and a kind human. To say it was an honor would be underselling it a little.
Your tour schedule is pretty insane. You’re here, there and everywhere. Have you had any unexpected adventures while on tour?
Yeah. My unexpected adventures usually entail finding quiet beautiful solitary spots to ponder existence.
What’s next for The Suitcase Junket?
I’m going to climb to the top of this trash heap and check out the view. Also, I just recorded a new album that I hope to put out next year.