Four years ago I was in Melbourne studying at ANAM and four minutes ago I was staring out the window of a New York City J train over a dirty Brooklyn, baking in the summer heat. People often ask me what it’s like being a musician in New York City; “you mean what’s it like doing your plan A, the thing you love in possibly one of the most stimulating environments on the planet?” I say. I can see the pang of regret in the back of their mind, thinking of the life life they’d once imagined but given up on after one or numerous setbacks.
To be a musician in NYC certainly takes a certain type, basically … there’s always a nice person with an A game, so if your not nice or don’t bring your A game you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot. If you don’t try and conquer this city, it quickly conquers you, thus requiring a resilience and positivity to enthusiastically bang your head against a wall … until the wall breaks. And luckily here, the chance of that wall breaking is much greater than perhaps anywhere in the world.
But what makes this the most stimulating musical fringe in the world is simply the sheer quantity of laboratory-style music making. Musical festivals in NYC are like a yellow cab in a sunflower field, you barely notice them, as every given night of the week is a plethora of incredible performances in any imaginable genre. Big names in small venues brewing new material, ancient norwegian fiddle playing and circuit bending noise percussion can all to be found with a neighborhood stroll and desire to leave the comfort of your apartment’s couch.
So if it sounds like you, or you’re on a quest to find the niche you never knew about, then this is your place … just be ready to take it on …
If you want to see what NYC has done to me, come to the Toff in Town, next Tuesday July 30. It’s going to be a really awesome show of my original tunes for cello, voice, electronics and percussion as well as transcriptions from the late Arthur Russell.
Richard Vaudrey was a past ANAM scholar before undertaking a Doctorate in Classical Cello and Improvisation under Colin Carr and Ray Anderson, at Stony Brook, NY. whilst acting as Teaching Assistant to the Emerson String Quartet and Graduate Chamber Music Co-ordinator.
Richard now lives in Brooklyn where he frequents all realms of music, regularly playing with new music ensembles, indie bands, fusion jazz ensembles, classical solo and chamber recitals.