Letters from musicians: Damon Locks

As it’s been a whole year under the pandemic conditions, we reached out to a number of musicians to hear about their varying feelings, realities and experiences. From the ones who replied us back, we collected some answers. We are publishing these interviews one by one. 

Damon Locks replies us below. His new album with his band Black Monument Ensemble named NOW is out on April 9.

It’s been a whole year under the pandemic conditions. How has your work been affected? 

Well, like everyone else, being able to collaborate in person is not a thing we can do. It is harder to grow ideas together. Part of my musical art making is communal: talking, eating, sharing ideas and influences. This has really been put on hold. My teaching work at a prison has changed as we have not been able to go in so we teach remotely via correspondence. My visual art has changed as well. I am not going into my studio as much. I am drawing a lot more, cutting things out, taping and gluing. 

How has your personal experience been in terms of “adaptation”? 

Adaptation is a part of art making. Improvisation for me is kind of baked in. The biggest issues have been fear, sadness and isolation. The adapting part is not as hard as those other three. 

What are your demands? 

I demand people address injustice and inhumanity with humanity. 

How has it affected your approach to music in general? How traceable is it in your recent work? 

I have been playing online mostly playing solo. I have done two performances in a duo setting and that was great. I have also deejayed several times. I perform in lectures regularly as well. So, it has affected how I present my work. Now, it’s about staging the space and framing. It is a really different experience to perform for a hypothetical audience. 

What is your main motivation? 

I am most often motivated by being able to offer something to the world through visual art, teaching, or music. When things really suck, it is important to make work for people, to communicate with people, to let people know there are other people out there asking questions. 

What has this past year taught you? 

I miss my casual acquaintances a lot. The folks I meet for coffee. The folks that would come over and watch a movie. I generally need people. It also told me that a lot of people think differently about safety and leadership than I. 

Besides the pandemic, what other key changes had effect on you as a musician? 

I see where we are as a direct result of where we have been heading. It is no surprise outside of this pandemic that we as a society are where we are. 

What pisses you off most? 

Ignorance and greed. 

Where do you see hope?  

There is hope in human communication and connectivity. Let’s keep sharing ideas, emotions, and art. 

This interview is originally published in Turkish in Bant Mag. No: 74, our special music issue. 

Damon Locks’ Black Monument Ensemble will perform at Le Guess Who’s 2021 edition, on November 11-14.