Intimate Strangers, a collaborative album with Sara Serpa, premiered in 2018 as an interdisciplinary musical performance based on A Stranger’s Pose. In a combination of music, spoken word, image and field recordings collected during my travels, Intimate Strangers explores such themes as of movement, home, grief, absence and desire.
This collaborative project brought me closer to
understanding how words worked in a pre-literate time, when writing was
yet to be invented—when stories were passed from mouth to mouth, from
memory to memory.
Sara’s composition distill A Stranger’s Pose to its essential groove and vital ballad. During our performances, her
singing—backed by Aubrey Johnson’s and Sofia Rei’s—have always seemed to
me as a process of mapping the deeper emotional logic of my travel
stories. And when combined with the music of Qasim Naqvi’s modular synth
and Matt Mitchell’s piano, the soundscape opens like a field in which
known and strange things slowly pass. For instance, it has become
clearer to me how the deaths in the desert, described to me in Bamako,
might be mourned. Or how those who sing know it is not too lofty to
ascribe a melody to the sea.
My gratitude to Sara for her
magnificent parsing of my words into music. Our collaboration was
bookended by a time of personal mourning for me, and in more ways than
one, the music saw me through.