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Smoota Talks to Gabriel Don

Smoota, trombonist, musician, sensualist, often found at Union Pool on Monday nights jamming with Rev. Vince Anderson and his Love Choir, talks to Gabriel Don.


Tell me what you got up to at band camp?
I never went to band camp. But I’m studying the flute on my own now.


In terms of the tangible aspects involved in becoming a musician and achieving this dream, how does one go about becoming a working musician/ studio musician/ organizing their own tour?
The essential acts are to start playing with others, start writing songs, start playing shows. And have fun doing it. Everything else comes from that.
As far as booking your own tours – it’s about as much focus and research and organization as you think it is, times 100. But it’s worth it once you’re out!


You are so often on tour whether is be for your solo music, touring with Sufjan Stevens or TV On The Radio, what is it like living a nomadic life as a traveling minstrel? 
For me it’s the ideal life. Seeing the world through music exposes me to great people in almost every town, which is the best way to experience a place. That’s why it’s important to make music you believe in because it directly affects who you attract and meet and what you see while touring around.


Could you share a favorite line from a book? 
“We’d forgive most things if we knew the facts.” Graham Greene – The Heart of the Matter


What advice do you have for people who want to be a musician? 
Go for it.


Sex plays a big part in your music, persona and performances, how does sexuality inform or influence your music?  
My favorite music has a strong sexuality to it – whether it’s Funkadelic singing about life, Al Green singing about love or God, or even simply the tone of Archie Shepp’s saxophone or Little Beaver’s guitar. Music and the body go hand in hand for me.  But I’m naturally more of a cerebral person than a physical person. So music puts me more in touch with the physical. I like to push myself in that direction with the songs I write and the sounds I use.


What is the difference between major and minor chords?
Minor chords are more sensual.


How are women positioned within the creative industries?
You’re setting me up for a great sexist sex joke here but I’m not taking the bait. Most women say it’s hard as hell to get ahead in male-dominated creative fields, but I’m not sure it’s worth dwelling on such questions. Most of the women I’ve met who are musicians or managers or agents or sculptors or poets, etc. are very impressive people. Seems to me that fundamentally anything is possible for anyone. And often the harder it is the greater the satisfaction.


What does a unicorn represent to you?
Honestly I don’t think of unicorns much. There are many other things I’d rather encounter in a magical forest.
Photo credit: Amy Touchette