We had the good fortune of connecting with Joseph Bourdeau and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joseph, what inspires you?
I’m really inspired by coincidences and synchronicity. Moments where you happen to drop a plate at exactly the same time that someone outside honks a car horn, or when the music playing in a bar lines up with the action on a nearby television. I feel like those moments remind me that the world is made up of so many little moving parts that are all interacting in surprising ways whether they realize it or not. The idea of lots of little independent parts interacting and working as a collective is something that comes back a lot in my work because of this interest. I’m also very inspired by film and television, since I think they are similarly these very strange collections of tropes and ideas that when taken as an aggregate can really contextualize one another and say a lot about the people and societies that produce them.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Like I said before, a lot of my art has to do with manipulating, or reimagining existing bits of material to create these strange spaces for sounds and ideas to interact. I like to pile lots of conflicting things on top of each other when I work, so a lot of my stuff has many different styles of music all happening at once. I think most everyone’s art is born directly out of their personal experiences in some way, and in my work I like to take this idea really literally, building things out of little scraps of other things and just interacting really directly with the music and ideas that interest me. When you’re working with sampling existing material the things you choose to work with are usually going to be things that you know well, or things that resonate with you for some reason, and so in a weird way, even though a lot of the material might start coming from somewhere outside of myself it ends up being very personality driven music. I also think that by working with bits of familiar material we can learn a lot about our culture and the sort of psycho-emotional landscape of our surroundings, which is something I think can be super fun (and totally scary).
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I think my favorite thing about San Diego, and maybe California in general is the landscape and the nature. I always take people to places like La Jolla Cove to see the sea lions and such, but I also like to go down and visit the beaches by Scripps Pier. It’s really pretty down there early in the morning, and there are also some really nice views down along the coast from those hills and cliffs leading to the water. Honestly heading east out across the mountains and into the desert is probably my favorite thing to do. Anza Borrego Desert State Park is really amazing, and on the way out there you can pass through lots of places in the mountains that are really beautiful. Julian is a great town out that way which has apples and pie, often in combination so that’s always a wonderful place to visit. As far as places to eat in San Diego go there’s a place off of Clairemont Mesa Blvd. called Mongolian Hot Pot, that I like a lot, and I often go there with friends and people who visit.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
It’s so hard to thank everyone that’s helped me because as a musician I’ve worked with so many people that have affected me personally and creatively in many different ways. I’ve had a lot of excellent teachers though, and they’re easy to thank so I think I’ll do that. At UCSD I’ve worked especially closely with Natacha Diels and Wilfrido Terrazas and they’ve both been really wonderful at helping me orient myself and figure out what on Earth it actually is that I do. Art is so gigantic that I feel like it’s really easy for me to get lost sometimes, and I’m thankful for their guidance, since in their own ways they’ve both helped me get lost mostly in interesting places.
I’d also like to thank Baljinder Sekhon, who was my first composition teacher and is someone who I’ll always appreciate for both keeping me grounded and encouraging me to explore all the weird things I’ve grown to love.
Thank you to Drs. Matthew McCutchen and John Carmichael, both of whom I met at the University of South Florida, and who were very supportive of me as a musician and especially as an educator. It would have been really easy for me to feel weird and unwelcome standing up and yelling about the benefits of theatrical noise music in a class about teaching seventh graders to play the trombone, but I never did and I’m so thankful for the help they gave me in integrating all my weirdness into my practice as an educator.
On a vaguely related note I’d like to give one special group shoutout to all the various friends, collaborators and rock and roll partners I worked with in my hometown of Tampa Florida. In this interview I’ve talked mostly about the experimental music I’ve been making since I came to California for grad school, but some of the most amazing artistic experiences I’ve ever had have been in living rooms and storage units down there in citrus land, and it’s really hard to understate the effect all those interactions have had on me both as an artist and as a person.
Photos 1, 3, + 5 are by Anqi Liu Photo 2A is by Madeline Bourdeau Photo 3A is by Tiange Zhou