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Mike Ladd: Cerebral Refugee, Part 1-2

By Published: April 18, 2005
AAJ: Can you give me an example?

ML: [Composer/orchestrator/synthesist] T. J. Anderson. I liked him a lot, and that got me [aware of] the CRI [Composers Recordings, Inc.] label, so I would just grab anything on that label that I could get my hands on. And of course Stockhausen. Now I'm working with this young guy in Paris—twenty-five-year-old kid—who's studying the history of electronic music. So I'm learning a lot from him, from what he brings back from the school library.

AAJ: It's really great to discover something musical that you missed until now, especially if some record label seems to specialize in it.

ML: It's funny, because it's been a tiptoe with this one [electronic music], because finally I have the chance to just immerse in it, whereas before I wanted to—I'd sort of delve into the samples, but I didn't get to really think into it. I think because I've been sharing a studio with this young, incredibly enthusiastic person, I've been able to get back into that. It's funny—I grew up in Boston, and my mom's an academic, so she knew a lot of composers. She used to always take me to all sorts of concerts. They put me to sleep; she'd say, "you want to see [boogie-woogie pianist] Bob Seeley? I'd go and it'd be [sings a musical refrain suggesting something dull and incomprehensible]. Or we'd go see T. J. Anderson, never got it. Then one day after I'd seen a whole bunch of these concerts in a row I was getting pretty burned out. [ ... ] Even jazz at that point—I was eleven years old—wouldn't flip me out all the time. "Do you want to go see Cecil Taylor? Then I'd go, eleven years old, trying to get into it.

AAJ: At least he hits his piano really hard.

ML: Yeah, that's true. (laughter) But one day, she said, "do you want to go see Bob Marley? I said, "ahhhh, I think I'll pass. I'm regretting that to this day!

AAJ: And she's probably still reminding you of it.

ML: Oh, she came back that night with the Bob Marley live record and just played it nonstop. I'll tell you, I'm thirty-four years old and I've been regretting it for twenty-three years.


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