Interview with Aurora Nealand

Aurora Nealand is all over the current New Orleans local scene.  She seemed to emerge out of nowhere.   Some of her appeal is  that she has a humble nature, coupled with a fiery attack when she plays, and a real fearlessness about sitting in and getting involved.  She plays solo performances with a gas mask and an accordion. You'll see her playing soprano sax and clarinet exchanges with herself at Pres. Hall with The Royal Roses (see earlier post on front page.) You'll see her playing duos with pianist/composer Tom Mcdermott.  These are just a few of the interesting things she gets up to.  I have seen her under deeper cover than that, and been amazed at how easily she blends in or stands out.  She reveals a lot here about where she is coming from and where she wants to go.  She also talks a lot about the various communities and social scenes that currently surround some parts of the local scene.


Part 1- Rory Danger & The Danger Dangers, what Aurora understands about the phase she's in,  escape from the feeling of need for approval, engagement in the traditional jazz scene, exposure to Wendell Brunious and Leroy Jones, Preservation Hall, search for ways to use study of traditional or older musics for personal expression.  

Part 2- beginnings in music, studying electronic composition at Oberlin, early biography, The Jazz Vipers, the challenges of the mentality fostered in students in jazz education, early experiences of the music scene in New Orleans, graduate school in Austin for composition, interdisciplinary/ collaborative/experimental performance, at The Jacques Lecoq school, early experiences sitting in with new Orleans bands, Ben Schenck and Panorama Brass Band, Vavavoom, the appeal of the accordion, theatricality in her music, issues of communicating with the audience in the current "trad" scene, what is the appeal of "retro?", sexual dynamics in the vintage/retro scene, relationship of fashion to the gigs, formation and communities around music and comfort.

Part 3- What interests her about the groups she is currently working with, Michael Watson, challenges of getting bookings, chazfest and Rory Danger & The Danger Dangers, playing with Spencer Bohren, the hype man, the invention of the Rory Danger persona, Rockabilly and its image, more on sexual role restriction.

Part 4- working with Why are we building such a big ship? and what she loves about Walt's writing, authenticity, current songwriting and composition,  where she is headed, teaching and teaching and busking tours in Europe, qualitites and qualifications in her teaching, graphic scores, Morton Subotnick, music concrete, Shostakovich, Britney Spears, Pop music and peoples taste, original music and frustration with the classical scene.