Sensory & Sound
A composer and music maker first and foremost, Dr. Jeremy Mayall also has plenty of experience when it comes to collaborating with other artists, because as he tells us, it’s much more fun to create that way.
We gathered around the piano with Dr. Jeremy Mayall on the keys to hear about multi-sensory music experiences, and what it means to create culture in a once ‘cultureless town’.
What is it that you do?
My training is in composition and making music. I write concert music and orchestral music and electronica and all kinds of different things, and facilitate experiences with that. A lot of my work sits in a hybrid genre where I take elements of contemporary classical and modern electronica and jazz and mash them all together. Alongside hybrid music I’m really fascinated by multi-media work, so combining visuals with music. But then through that, I’ve become more and more interested in the multi-sensory experience of art I guess, so I make work now that draws on all or some of the senses and combines them together. Sight and sound is an obvious one, but I’ve also done projects with a perfume company in New York who created a scent that goes with a piece of music; it’s an idea called cross-modalism where work is designed to stimulate two or more senses rather than one, allowing you to experience them in a different way.
Who else have you collaborated with?
Alongside that I’ve done work with taste. I did a project in Dunedin called ‘Flutter’ that took place in the butterfly enclosure in the Otago Museum, that had dancers, musicians and video projection – and I worked with the Tart Tin baker who created three unique macarons that were designed to go with specific parts of the piece. More recently I did a project with Alexander Williams from Wonderhorse called ‘Sonic Cocktails’, where I wrote music and he designed cocktails and canapés to go with them. We presented that at the 2018 Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival – you eat and drink and listen and the way that the taste relates to the music kind of heightens the whole experience.
We found you earlier hanging out at Milton’s Canteen, what’s your connection there?
My association with Miltons Canteen is a concert series I run called ‘Piano and Eggs’. It’s a breakfast concert which we run from 7:00am on a Monday morning. It’s awesome because you’re hearing a proper world-class performance that you would usually hear in a fancy concert chamber, but you’re hearing it here, while you eat breakfast! We mic up the grand piano, and sometimes there’s a vocalist or a cellist too, and we run all the sound through the café’s PA system, and it’s a really relaxed vibe. It’s a way of presenting new music to people that doesn’t have any of the cultural barriers that going to a concert hall may have, so people are a little bit more comfortable to come in and take a risk on something they may not go and see elsewhere.
Are you from Hamilton originally or did you move here from somewhere else?
I am originally from Hamilton and I did my doctorate at the university here. I’ve spent time overseas and also two years in Dunedin as the Mozart fellow at Otago University, but after my time was up there I moved back with my wife and my son to figure out what’s next, and a job opened up at WINTEC teaching music and well here I am.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Hamilton?
The good thing about Hamilton is that there’s actually a lot that goes on in the city that people don’t really know about. There’s some really high quality art and experiences that are a little bit underground, and underground by virtue of necessity – we’re constantly fighting this battle of opinions that Hamilton is just a ‘cultureless cow town’. But there’s great local theatre and art and dance, plus plenty of now famous artists who are all doing really fascinating stuff.
Was music and composing always your first choice of career?
When I first went to university I enrolled to do law. I was going to do law, had it all sorted, was applying for a scholarship to do law (this is before I’d even started studying), and I couldn’t even bullshit my way through one page on why I wanted to be a lawyer, so after a few weeks of thinking about it I gathered that’s probably not what I was supposed to be doing…
Milton’s Canteen seems to be a favourite of yours, so who in the world would you choose to take for a meal there?
I mean I would love to spend some time talking to Prince, he’s a fascinating guy.
Where can we find out more about your events?