STORY/STEREO literature/music series 2009-2011, 2016
Story/Stereo is a hybrid literature reading and music performance series created, co-curated and MC'd by Chad Clark. Ran successfully between Fall 2009 and Spring 2011, sponsored and hosted by the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland . The Writer’s Center selected and invited emerging writers and poets from all over the world to read from their latest books. The reading was followed by an intermission and then an hour-length performance from the invited musical guest, selected exclusively from the Washington DC music scene.
In its second season, Story/Stereo was awarded an NEA grant.
In 2016, Story/Stereo resumed as a collaboration with DC's Politics & Prose bookstore.
suicide.chat.room is a dark, unflinching play written and directed by DC theater visionary, Marcus Kyd and presented by Taffety Punk Theatre Company, which Kyd founded. The narrative of the script was synthesized from verbatim text transcripts from suicide discussion groups/bulletin boards on the internet. The play integrated abstract choreography from Paulina Guerrero.
Beauty PIll provided a score which attempted to sonically vivify Guerrero's balletic/convulsive physical language.
The score was compiled into a soundtrack album called Sorry You're Here, which has not been released.
CHERRY BLOSSOM BOOMBOX WALK | HAYS & RYAN HOLLADAY 2010
This was an interactive performance art event conceived and directed by Hays & Ryan Holladay. The concept was a cassette boombox array held aloft by the participants, playing in rough (faintly aleatoric) synchrony on a guided tour through the cherry blossoms in bloom. Individual instrumental "stems" were assigned to different cassettes, resulting in a kind of organic/desultory surround-sound effect. The walking was a critical component of the effect because distances between boomboxes was constantly in flux.
Many onlookers mistook it as political protest, because it involved a large number of people "marching."
Beauty Pill contributed a theme called "Cherry Blossom Symphonette." Other collaborators in the work included Animal Collective, DJ Will Eastman, and Outputmessage. Ultimately the input was arranged as an expression of Hays & Ryan's vision.
In 2016, Beauty Pill made "Cherry Blossom Symphonette" available to purchase and download.
This was a two week project wherein the band turned its album recording process into an art exhibit. The band recorded the album that would come to be titled Beauty Pill Describes Things As they Are in full view of the public. This took place as a commissioned exhibit in Artisphere, an Washington, DC modern art museum. Visitors to the exhibit were able to see the band through a wall-length window and listen via speakers patched to microphones in the room. The band arranged and recorded one song per day. The band’s creative process (including arguments and other artistic struggles) was made exposed to any interested party. This was called "an exercise in radical transparency."
Immersive Ideal soon grew into an extensive, multi-year conceptual art project wherein the band continued to explore shifting dynamics of interaction between musicians and audience. This was the inaugural work.
Immersive No. 2 was a multi-media installation, featuring a surround-sound presentation of the completed recordings from the Immersive No. 1 sessions, along with a monome-based interactive multi-screen display of photographs taken of the recording process.
CHAD CLARK PUBLIC INTERVIEW | RYAN HOLLADAY | ARTISPHERE 2013
This was an open-ended, improvisatory talk about creativity, technology, sound, and collaboration, hosted and lead by Ryan Holladay. Held in the main auditorium of Artisphere. After the interview, people were invited to ask questions.
To a limited extent, Fermata was a deeper interrogation of some of the structural concepts behind 2010's Cherry Blossom Boombox Walk. Fermata was a large-scale collaborative work, a multi-channel sound installation, directed by Hays and Ryan Holladay. It was installed in the north gallery of Artisphere and ran for four months. Fermata was a large "sculpture" consisting of a wall of 100+ speakers amplifying sound. The music was compiled by the Holladays as a suite of three movements, amalgamated from compositions by a diverse array of music and noise artists, including Beauty Pill, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ian MacKaye, The Books, and Future Islands. Beauty Pill's contribution included a piece called "Anacostia Blue Heron," as well as a new, 12-channel version of a cover of David Bowie's "Jump They Say" that the band originally developed for the "suicide.chat.room" score.
A 4-night residency of live performances wherein the band subverted the orthodoxy of band/audience physical placement.
The band members formed an equidistant circular array at the perimeters of the theater space and the audience was allowed into the center of this circle. Thus the band literally surrounded the listeners.
The audience was invited to wander around the room to engage with the musical arrangements as they wished. They could essentially “mix the music” themselves by shifting their proximity to the individual stages of the band members. One interesting feature of this performance is it was impossible to watch all the members of the band at once. By looking in any one direction, the listener had to choose to look away from another direction. So the experience was in perpetual flux. Ultimately the objective was for the music to envelope the audience in a new and unique way.
The residency sold out.
"HAMLET" THEATER SCORE 2015
This was Beauty Pill's second collaboration with the Taffety Punk Theatre Company. This time the director was Joel David Santner. This version of Hamlet is a rarely performed alternate script, called "The First Quarto." Shakespeare scholars speculate on its origin, with many believing that it have been an early draft, or perhaps an edited narrative purposed for traveling troupes. What is known for certain is that it is shorter, swifter, and consequently feels more brutal/violent. Choreographer Paulina Guerrero injected a fierce and stylish dance element.
Santner's presentation was distinctly shadowy and foreboding and nearly gothic. This characteristic was reflected in Beauty Pill's score.
"Rattlesnakes" is a collaborative single with Washington, DC house music avatar, DJ and U Street Music Hall owner Will Eastman. Chad Clark was invited to create lyrics and sing. The song was a flowering of a longstanding mutual admiration between Clark and Eastman (Eastman had been a music guest in Story/Stereo season 2) and it presented an opportunity for Clark to experiment with the idiom of dance music.
Rachel Schmidt is Arlington Virginia's Artist In Residence. "Because I Will It" was a sculpture/music installation within her exhibition "Daydreams In The Anthropocene" in the Arlington Arts Center. The sculpture and concept were Schmidt's and she commissioned Beauty PIll to provide the score, a looping half hour of music. "Because I Will It" was Schmidt's meditation on climate and ecology and impermanence. It ran from February to April of 2016.
A commissioned essay about the controversy around PJ Harvey's "Community Of Hope."
In Fall of 2016, Chad Clark began an essay series called "One Song," published in the Washington City Paper. Each essay in the series interrogates a single song, curated by Clark. The series began with an essay about Elvis Costello's "Beyond Belief."
An essay about Fugazi's "Runaway Return."
Brief essay about Arto Lindsay's 2017 LP Cuidado Madame. Commissioned by Bob Boilen/NPR.
The Arsonists is a dark, absurdist political satire written in 1948 by Swiss playwright Max Frisch, translated by British playwright Alistair Beaton and directed Michael Garcés. The play examines the mechanics of fascism and gaslighting. This is Clark's first collaboration with Woolly Mammoth Theatre.
An essay about Janet Jackson's "Got ‘Til It’s Gone.”