Matra is a percussion-based ensemble from the Twin Cities inspired by a a wide variety of global genres and classical influences, consisting of Andres Crovetti on Vibraphone, Jenny Klukken on Marimba, Ryan Hays on bass, Mathew Solace on drum set, and Krissy Bergmark on tabla. On its first full-length, self-titled album, Matra has created an amalgamation of bold percussive works with palpable global roots spanning Hindustani music influences, bluegrass-style backbeats, and Japanese children’s songs. We talked to Krissy Bergmark and Andres Crovetti in advance of the show about their origins, composition process, openers, and inspirations.
Join Matra on Friday, May 26th at The Cedar, supported by openers Jelloslave and Zack Baltich. Tickets are available here.
Q: Matra is a percussion-based ensemble. What brought you together?
A (Krissy Bergmark): We started as a group of friends wanting to play music we love on instruments we love. We had all just graduated with music degrees, and it was our first foray into creating something on our own. We had a great time, and after playing together enough, we developed an idea for a clear sound and began to compose.
Q: What is your composition process as a group?
A: Each of us individually brings in tunes that are mostly composed, and then we workshop them together in rehearsal. Our last tune on the album, Until We Get There, was the only piece that was composed in a more of a group setting during rehearsal. It took a very long time – probably about six rehearsals – until we had settled on something that everyone really loved. Because it took so long, we now agree that we need to bring in more fully-formed tunes. But the other side of that experience is that now we have a tune that feels like everyone contributed, and each of us has a little claim on how it turned out, even though the core ideas are Mat’s.
Q: You’re releasing your first full-length album at your Cedar show. How long has this album been in the works? How has evolved up to this point?
A: We actually performed everything on the album last year at our May concert, called Matra: Eastern and Western at the Southern. The tunes have changed in small ways. The recording, mixing, and mastering process was relatively new for all of us, and changed how we were hearing everything. I think the time to let this music incubate has been really beneficial. Coming back to these pieces after awhile helped us to more clearly discern what needed to change, and what options we had to make them more musical and intentional. Although the tunes are the same, I think they have ripened in a way.
Q: Tell us about your openers. How did you choose them? What do you think they bring to the show?
A: I am SO EXCITED for our openers. Zack and I were both Cedar Commissions artists last year, and his piece completely blew me away. I loved both his writing and the way he performed, and so that was a really easy option for an opener! I knew I really wanted to hear his piece again. And his work is different enough from what we were doing, yet we could easily share an audience.
Jelloslave has always been a band we’ve looked up to and modeled ourselves after. Their instrumentation is similar in a way (if you sub out cellos for keyboards and add bass!), and we’ve always just thought the world of them, as separate musicians and as a band. We’ve seen Michelle play with different projects around the Twin Cities, and she always tears our hearts out. Greg Schutte did Matra’s very first recording, which was a little EP we used for promotional purposes, and he’s always so friendly and wonderful when we run into him. I think one of the reasons we’ve admired Jelloslave so much is because they have a very distinct sound, but they also venture outside the box, and are just an unabashedly creative ensemble.
Q: What’s inspiring you lately?
A (Krissy Bergmark): Projeto Arcomusical! It’s a creative project of my college professor at Northern Illinois University, Gregory Beyer. Greg is a percussionist, but has found a unique calling in playing the berimbau, a bowed Brazilian instrument. There are so many things I could tell you about Greg and this project, but the best way for you to find out more about him is to check out Projeto Arcomusical’s website. Featured in his bio is the beautiful story of how he and the berimbau found each other, and will give you some insight into the kind of devotion Greg shows his musical practice. Mat and I recently visited him in DeKalb and were lucky to be able to play together a little bit, and then we listened to this album on repeat the whole ride back to Minnesota. As is characteristic of all Greg’s work, it’s extremely well put-together and incredibly beautiful.
A (Andres Crovetti): I’ve actually been really inspired by Dave Chappelle. He’s back with a couple new stand up specials on Netflix, and has been on the scene a lot more with Saturday Night Live, interviews, and just popping in to various happenings in L.A. and New York. If you don’t know his story, he left his super successful TV show (which I loved when it was on), LOTS of money, and also what I can imagine was a TON of external pressure, because he didn’t feel that he was being true to himself. And after taking time to figure himself out and get his priorities set, he’s been able to come back to stand up comedy, the art form he feels most expresses himself. As an added bonus, I still love his sense of humor and his new stand up specials are hilarious. Hearing him speak in interviews also sheds light on how smart, observant, articulate, and creative he really is. I’ve been going through my own experiences lately as an artist and person doing my best to be creative and true to myself, so it’s been perfect timing for his new specials to come out, to dig into his story, and just feel the inspiration from watching and enjoying his art.