5 Questions With Darryl Joseph About Composing Music for Rena Butler’s “III. Third” at Hubbard Street
He’s found himself more and more in demand as more and more people have heard his work …
Darryl Joseph is an independent producer with an intricately careful sense of how to put beats together. Originally from New York and now living in Chicago, his solo tracks are often sparse and electronic, and always elegantly designed. He’s found himself more and more in demand as more and more people have heard his work, not only as a sought-after collaborator for vocalists, but also for choreographers. His gift for enthusiastic collaboration as much as for composition has led to recent projects with Stephanie Martinez, Christopher Huggins, Nick Pupillo, Anthony Burrell and now with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Choreographic Fellow Rena Butler.
Butler and Joseph met at Dance for Life, the Chicago-based Dancers Fund’s epic annual benefit, and those conversations led to the collaboration that Hubbard Street Dance Chicago audiences will hear at Chicago’s Harris Theatre when Hubbard Street presents danc(e)volve. The program includes Butler’s III. Third, Florian Lochner’s Das Feld, and Alice Klock’s Fold Me, and along with dancers from Hubbard Street’s Professional Program HSPro, Hubbard Street will perform danc(e)volve on Thursday December 6th at 7:30pm, Saturday December 8th at 8pm, and Sunday December 9th at 3pm.
We asked Darryl about a lot of different things — composing for dance, working with Rena Butler, what’s up next for him, and more — and here’s what he told us.
I think that the sound should always connect to the energy within the choreography …
Johnny Nevin: You’ve created original scores for a number of choreographers, and your next major project will be performed on December 6, 8, at 9 in the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago World Premiere of Rena Butler’s TITLE OF RENA’S WORK]]. This is not where you started exactly — you have your own recording projects and you’re always in demand as a producer, especially for vocalists. So what is it about creating music for concert dance that keeps bringing you back to choreography?
Darryl Joseph: I wouldn’t say that I’m drawn to choreography. Over the past few years, I’ve come to notice that I’ve honed a certain type of sound that choreographers have become intrigued by. It’s been described as driving, eclectic, & energetic by certain dance critics. I think that the sound should always connect to the energy within the choreography and I believe that my music does just that.
… she had such a great energy about her, very genuine …
Johnny: Can you tell us how you met Rena? What is your take on what her work is about, based on what she’s shared with you as part of your collaboration, and what has it been like working with her on III. Third?
Darryl: Rena and I met this past summer at the 2018 Dance for life after party and she had such a great energy about her, very genuine. We were having a casual conversation, which led to her sharing some of her future projects that were in the works. At the time, I had already done work for several dance companies, and I felt inclined to let her know my interest in possibly collaborating with her.
In the beginning of the process, Rena had expressed that her piece would be centered around the current cultural and social issues of the world. After meeting up a few times, I was able to create a skeleton of ideas to present to her. The creative process was very efficient. She had a clear idea that inspired me.
… getting to go into the studio and observe the Hubbard St dancers had a big impact on my creative process …
Johnny: How much has your creative process included working with Rena and the Hubbard Street dancers in rehearsal? Dance rehearsal is a very different process from anything we do in music, except possibly for a symphony orchestra rehearsal, so what was it like for you to be inside this process? Something like that would be likely to have some kind of impact on your own creative process, if only because of your interaction with so many other creative people who are working on the same project; did you find that to be the case for you, that being at rehearsal changed the way you created the track, especially compared to when you’re writing for a project of your own?
Darryl: I would say getting to go into the studio and observe the Hubbard St dancers had a big impact on not only my creative process, but also educated me on the choreographic process. I was invited to rehearsal twice, and it was my very first time getting to be a fly on the wall. My mind was so blown away after getting a chance to see how the amazing dancers of the company had given the music a life of its own through Rena’s execution. There was nothing but love, respect, and full commitment to the tasks that were given to the dancers. I became fully convinced that I was witnessing a creative genius at work.
I actually think that this is the most fun I’ve had thus far with creating for concert dance …
Johnny: I think I should let the dancers and dance audience who are reading this know that if they want to skip to the next question, this one is optional for them. Now, can you share with all of our musician and music readers some of the inside story about what you’re doing in the track? What’s the tempo, or does it move up and down for the choreography, and while we’re at it, what are you using in terms of software and the production platform?
Darryl: The tempo definitely moves up and down to fit the various moods throughout the piece. Using my Logic program, has allowed me to create a world of sounds that are very percussive and hard driven in this new work. I actually think that this is the most fun I’ve had thus far with creating for concert dance and I can’t wait for the audience to take in this experience just as I have.
I’m always grateful to be doing the work, while creating something meaningful at the same time.
Johnny: You’ve always got more projects coming up, and probably a few that have just hit recently. Can you tell us about some of those?
My next projects are pretty exciting. Rena and I plan on continuing to collaborate in the near future, which I’m very excited about. In January, dancer and choreographer Ebony Williams will present a solo that will premiere for APAP in New York City, which I had the great pleasure of creating the music for. It’s very House and ballroom inspired and I’m learning a lot as I continue with the process of it. Dancer Paige Fraser is currently presenting her new work on the students at Northwestern University. It’s entitled Ascension and it premieres in March. Im very happy to be a part of that as well. I’m always grateful to be doing the work, while creating something meaningful at the same time. That’s what’s most important to me at the moment. This is all allowing me to continue to live in my purpose a little more everyday.
See the world premiere of III.Third in dance(e)volve, presented by Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance (205 E. Randolph St., Chicago). The program also features premieres by fellow Hubbard Street Dance Chicago company members Alice Klock and HSDC 2019 Choreographic Fellow Florian Lochner. Performances take place on:
Thursday, December 6 at 7:30PM
Saturday, December 8 at 8:ooPM
Sunday December 9 at 3PM
Tickets are available online at hubbardstreetdance.com or by calling the Harris Theater Box Office at 312-334-7777 (M-F 12-5PM/on performance days until curtain).
To hear more of Darryl Joseph’s music, check out his Bandcamp