Small Talk with Richard Aufrichtig: The Lost Shores

On your official site, you describe The Lost Shores as both a musical and theatrical project. What do you mean by that?

The reason I began referring to the Lost Shores as a theatrical project and not just a band stems from the fact that I’m interested in what the concert is as a theatrical form. Just like a play in a theater, a concert happening on a stage tells a story – there are components that the performers and designers are in control of, but also things they’re not. There are limitations and rules that one eventually discovers.

The question that arises when I take the songs I write and bring them into a concert venue is how to best bring them alive in that specific context. I tend to think of the music I record, or if not think then at least approach it, differently than I do the version that I create to be played in front of an audience in a Williamsburg Bar or a Lower East Side club.

If I was playing the set of songs you saw at the Bowery Ballroom instead of Pete’s Candy Store, then there would be different considerations in the construction of that performance. Playing for 500 people is a different sort of event than playing for 30. Of course, it is easy to get bogged down in technical and theoretical thinking when I get started along this line. The thing I try to remember is that ultimately the question of a person writing a song and trying to bring it into a concert venue is the same as a creative team trying to bring a play into a theater:

How do we let this live in this space? How can we foster and create a moment of human connection, consideration and joy?

I tend to believe that theater — by which I suppose I may actually just mean live performance — is the holiest art form in that it has the capacity to bring people together and make them feel alive. The current Lost Shores show that I am performing as one man with a guitar is just one form, one incarnation of what I hope this band (or project) can be.

I have literally hundreds of other songs that I have written over the past few years that I would like to record and bring into the live setting that I don’t yet have the capacity to mount or that I think would require more than one musician on stage. I look forward to hopefully getting to do that.

Where do you usually get your inspiration?

That’s hard to say. I definitely try not to limit myself in terms of what might inspire me, because you never know what’s going to light the spark. I don’t just look to music for inspiration – in fact I’m much more likely to find inspiration in a work of visual art or a book or a walk through the woods or a city.

I’ve been thinking about inspiration lately as whatever makes it possible for me to orient my life around being able to take the time to create.

What sorts of elements are you interested in introducing to your performances later on?

While there are a few ideas I have for moments in shows I want to do in the future, it’s hard to say exactly what sort of elements I’d like to use in those performances. Probably the next step would be to begin collaborating with other musicians in the live setting. While there are certain songs that I really enjoy playing by myself, I find that setup is only suited to specific kinds of songs.

In terms of elements that would be introduced into those larger shows — lights, stage-settings and sound would definitely become a larger part of the conversation. It can be hard in a lot of the small venues in New York because there’s often so little that the performer is actually in control of or can really be prepared for.

You get to the venue and most of the time you don’t even get to have a soundcheck. The larger and more professional the venue, the more elements, like costumes and video screens, start to come into play, but you can definitely take that sort of thing too far. While I have some thoughts about how I’d like to harness those elements as a part of a future show, I think it would probably be dangerous to get too wrapped up in any “ideas” I have about them.

The way they’ll be used will come out of a collaboration with whomever I’m working and playing with at the time — and the material we’re performing. Whatever we choose to do, the hope and intention behind using any of those elements would be to allow the song to remain the center of what’s going on in the room.

If you’re in the NYC area, The Lost Shores will be  playing at Pete’s Candy Store on November 22nd and 29th at 9:00 p.m. and at Pianos on the Lower East Side on January 2, 2012 at 8:00 p.m.

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