Do you think you know what a singer can to do with her voice? Probably this episode might surprise you!
Sit back and enjoy music only a super talent can provide and Loire Cotler certainly falls in this category. With the intimate power of her voice as a rhythm instrument, Loire has created a completely new genre. From a stunning voice solo to the amazing tunes of her album „18 wings“ to her collaboration with Academy Award winning film composer Hans Zimmer, this episode leads you from one surprise to the next.
“Where is the one, Glen? Where is the one? He goes: Don’t worry about the one, feel the pulse. You’ll get it, don’t worry about the one. I’m like yeah, but I want to know at least where is it you know, so I can find it. Nobody can find the one with Glen.”
Watch it on YouTube:
Transcript of this Episode
LOIRE COTLER: Thank you Reinhard, it is such a pleasure to be here and to meet you face to face. I feel that we’ve been all following each other around for centuries and thousands of years and now we’re just catching up with each other.
REINHARD: Exactly, what a pleasure. Now, inside you there are many different Loires. There’s the performer, there is the educator, there’s a therapist, there’s the composer, and I hope we can kind of cover most of those aspects of you in this episode. Now let’s start with one thing that seems very important for me. Let’s just give the listeners a reference point: What are we talking about? Where are we going to? And with that I want to start with you being the rhythmic voice that is Loire Cotler.
REINHARD: Wow, Loire Cotler on fire! Now, I have been studying tabla and pakhawaj in India and have really met quite famous drummers, but I have hardly seen this precision that comes out of your voice. That’s amazing, it’s just amazing. How did you get there?
LOIRE COTLER: You have to go very slow. Slow slow slow and for me it’s all about the two vital life force energies. You know, breath and pulse, I know that you do this in your work. Reducing it to the most simple of forms and allowing the pulse be the guide, because if I let the mind and I let the voice be the guide, then I have nothing. I have no steadiness of the pulse, I have no deeper intention there, right? Because the thoughts and all the activity that make us unstable gets in the way.
REINHARD: So true. Okay, let me take you first back. I’m really curious, your very first encounter with music- When? Where? What age?
LOIRE COTLER: It was so early on and my parents knew from just a few years old because we always had a piano in the house and I just was gravitating always to the instrument. So for sure I was born this way. I came into the world this way. But I have to tell you that what strikes me from your question is a little bit later because I had, you know we have these “aha moments”, and I think I was about 11.
REINHARD: Oh I know this, you met Candido right?
LOIRE COTLER: It was at my brother’s bar mitzvah. It’s a crazy story which I can’t even understand, but I had these encounters, like I’m having right now with you with master percussionists, and it started very early on and it just kept going and going and going. Somehow at that year Candido, he must have just been a friend of the band that was hired from my brother’s bar mitzvah in New York. And you know, everyone’s eating and celebrating and it’s at the party. And the band is playing big band music and all of a sudden- “and now we have this special guest, Candido”. You know, and I was like little Loire, what’s happening? And this guy comes out and he just starts burning, burning up this solo on the multiple congas with the elbow and I was just transfixed. I was galvanized. At that age, you’re not thinking at all- you’re just experiencing, and that never left me. That feeling of “oh my god, is that possible?”. I want to do that, I want to feel the things that he must be feeling when he’s playing that instrument the way he’s doing it- the story that he’s telling without the words. He passed away you know, I think he was a hundred and something. But that was transformative for me because it wasn’t just music, it was rhythm. It was just that deep connection to the source of the earth and the world and the whole thing, yeah and joy!
REINHARD: Yes, and everyone who has seen Candido, he’s this first guy who actually, the first Cuban who used several drums. And he’s like this force a little bit to Babatunde that I also met. You know, and played this “vroom!”
LOIRE COTLER: Yes, the contact to the instrument was so deep and so authentic, and so much joy. The kind of joy that you hope that you can still experience through the hard life of choosing to be an artist. Right, because the artist’s journey is not easy. But to always find that joy and he got it, and he transmitted that to me.
REINHARD: I can so much refer to what you have experienced because I have a similar story if I may share it. I’ve had a key to always since I think five years old play piano, and I went more and more into classic. And then eight years old there was this first concert with Ravi Shankar and Anaraka. And little Reinhard was there and I was out of my mind. I say this is impossible, this doesn’t- how is this drum this, little drum you know, giving all these sounds? And actually that really was one of the transformative moments that set me on the path too. Very similar to your story actually.
LOIRE COTLER: Yes! Yeah, we never know where we’re gonna get it. Being around music was a regular part of my household, but I had no models for it because nobody in my family were musicians, just a great uncle who became a lawyer. He had studied classical piano and he was a concert level pianist, but never really pursued it. And so I didn’t really, except for the occasional time that I would see him. Maybe the gene was there, you know if there is such a thing as a music gene. But I don’t know if there is. I don’t know.
REINHARD: Unique, unique women and super talents are just born like this, I think you came like this. So let’s, because I want to also play some of this beautiful music from your new album, 18 Wings. Now 18 seems to be quite an important number in Astrology, and numerology of Judaism, right? What is 18 so important about?
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah, so 18 happens to be also the numerological figure for the word “hai” which is also meaning life. I always grew up, because I have a Jewish background, knowing about this hai thing, you know. And people would wear these little symbols and all that. But really on a personal level, my father passed away on the 18th of February, many years ago in 1990. And so when I released the album, it was the 30th anniversary of his passing. The 18 really struck me. Since then I always would be connected to that number as being a source of life and also of after, of what happens after. It’s just a link somehow to a day that was the worst day of my life, but also I hope some kind of holding on to some hope that there is still the possibility for connecting through my music to my father. And talking with him in beyond the words, again you know that’s also the theme is beyond words. So it’s life and it’s also the symbol as well of when my father was set free from a lot of pain.
REINHARD: 18 Wings and died on the 18th, what a connection. What a way to make connections- and with this you found really good people around you which ………… of course.
LOIRE COTLER: Of course, yeah it was a dream. That was a dream for sure to play with them.
REINHARD: My beautiful friends Glen Velez.
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah, well I told him, I said I’m making this record my debut as an homage to my father. I knew that my first record would really be that. And I said that it’s got to be with Trio Globo!
REINHARD: I have a quote from you that really touched me deep. It says, I quote it, “rhythm and voice are my own wings. They are how I travel to syllables beyond thought, a subconscious language.” Wow, that’s deep! And so when you went to compose, arrange your music for this 18 Wings, you started with actually, I checked this out, “In Walked Bud” is from Thelonious Monk, right?
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah, yeah!
REINHARD: So tell us, what is the sky pass?
LOIRE COTLER: It’s this idea of telling a story, right because the voice it’s like… You know, I don’t really feel that I’m a singer. Sorry to disappoint you, I don’t necessarily even feel that I have a great voice or anything like that. There’s singers that are like “wow!”, they’re unbelievable, they project and they have all this. My feeling is more of the storyteller. I had been introduced to scat singing very early on and that was the first iteration which then led into the drum language, the Konnakol of course. There was this immediate feeling that- could I tell a story, another side of the story, through the drum language? Could I back it up? Could I back up what I just sang lyrically and maybe give another twist to it, and give it like the inside view? Because you know these songs from the past, right of course the reason for reimagining “the great American songbook” and these bebop and post bebop material is again the connection to my parents. For years, my mom was saying “when are you gonna sing jazz again? When are you gonna say something that I know, that I understand?” She couldn’t even… You know, the Konnakol for her was unbelievable, but she couldn’t even understand what, you know it was kind of from the old school. So I did the jazz for them, but also taking it to this other place- how can I tell another story that’s of these innuendos that go on in these pieces? That material, a lot of the jazz material, is notorious, whether it’s the Cole Porter songbook or… It’s the innuendos, what they’re not saying but you feel. It’s just so exciting for me, and delight for me because I can go into the innuendos, maybe through scat singing phrases, maybe through the rhythm or the arrangements with the guys.
REINHARD: So especially in this first tune bebop and Konnakol and all this comes together for me.
LOIRE COTLER: It’s like it needed to happen, really we had to get there, right?
REINHARD: Last question before we play it, who made the lyrics?
LOIRE COTLER: So the lyrics in “In Walked Bud”, it’s Bud Powell. And well actually I have all my little notes here. Of course I always blank out on names, but really the homage here isn’t just to Thelonious Monk. When I wrote these arrangements the homage is to my father, but it’s Thelonious Monk and then Bud Powell who he did the homage to Bud Powell. But, John Hendricks wrote the lyrics. One more thing, very important, the chord changes of “In Walked Bud” is from, or was taken exactly extracted from, from Irving Berlin “Blue Skies”. So for me the homage is like these unbelievable iconic musicians that when- you know when I was going to Berkeley and stuff it was just on the loop, you know nonstop nonstop Thelonious Monk, John Hendricks, Irving Berlin, Bob Powell, and so it’s this kind of culmination of these great important figures for music. So John Hendricks-
REINHARD: I can already see our listeners go like this “let’s play it”. It’s so interesting, but we’re building up such curiosity you know.
REINHARD: Loire Cotler, “In Walked Bud”. My god! Did you arrange that in this way or?
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah, I arranged it along with Glen. We both did, it was kind of a co-arranging situation.
REINHARD: So I want to refer back to when you said “well I’m not a singer. I don’t feel like being a singer”. I really think you are a genre in yourself. I mean I’m honestly meaning that because I don’t know any vocalist that really does something even similar to what you’re doing and the combination of how you use the rhythmic voice and how you use the melodies. I really think it’s absolutely stunning and unique.
LOIRE COTLER: That means so much coming from you, from such a high caliber rhythmist as you. I’m so grateful for your feedback.
REINHARD: It just brings a smile to my face. So the next one “Bye Bye Blackbird”.. That is also I think Ray Henderson and what Dickson have. And this was 1926 or so?
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah it was, and so the thing is this song is really interesting. It has been interpreted in so many different ways. I mean I’ve heard so many legends and lore about what this song really means. There was even a propaganda version of it which I don’t remember the name of the band at the moment, but there was like a German propaganda version of this that you gotta see it, it’s crazy. And it’s chilling to the bone of course, so there was even that. This song has been through the ringer, it spits through so much already and I thought “oh god, do I have to do this song”, you know it’s already been through so much. But the reason is because this song had such an important… like when I was learning jazz… Okay so when I was in high school, I went to a performing arts high school outside of New York City in Long Island. And so I was introduced to this song by my first jazz teacher, Dave Burns Senior, great trumpeter- played with Duke Ellington, Count Basie, he was in all the army big bands. And so how lucky that I had this jazz teacher to introduce me to improvisation and all the greats.
REINHARD: Loire, let me ask you one thing. You have been living in New York all your life. You’ve been grown up there, yeah it’s kind of a privilege because how can you meet all of these people and how can you be around of all of these people? And also get that heritage, you know.
LOIRE COTLER: I think that it’s true. I only went to India just a few years ago. Everyone’s like “oh she must have lived in India.. she must have been..”. No, because all the teachers would come to New York or New Jersey and teach and so I’m spoiled musically. Very spoiled musically just by living in New York, being born there. My teacher Dave Burns introduced me to “Bye Bye Blackbird” and it was a song that just represented for me a period of time that was of incredible pain. My father was very sick all through my high school years and music was my healer. It sounds so cliche because we all have had this journey of saying “thank God for music”, it saved my life. But it really did, you know it’s not a cliche, it’s real. It’s so deep and so absolutely essential to so many of us. Just making it, that period was my immersion into jazz and into these songs and “Bye Bye Blackbird” was one of the first ones that I started delving into. And so the 18 Wings part of “Bye Bye Blackbird” is reimagining it into this 18 beats cycle, these playing with nines and 18 going into that mystical realm of the numbers and seeing what happens. And again, connecting with my father.
REINHARD: That is the time where we want to listen to it. Okay this is “Bye Bye Blackbird”…
REINHARD: The most creative version of “Bye Bye Blackbird” I’ve ever heard. Loire Cotler, really really amazing. You can clearly hear the presence of Glen in it also very much and that brings us to this point because the last mega drum steward that Glen and I played together… I don’t think you have been already connected at this point.
LOIRE COTLER: No, what year was that?
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah right before, because I met Glen right after 9/11. I was living downtown and I was teaching at The New School. In 2002 of February is when I met Glen at the university I was teaching and he was invited by the head of the program to do a guest artist. And so I met him soon after so I knew about mega drums, and I missed it! I missed it, I missed it! Oh I can’t wait for you to do it again.
REINHARD: Yes actually I put this proposal already out and actually I’m really wanting to have a collaboration with you and Glen in some form. You know when I listen to this Konnakol for me, it’s not even Konnakol because Konnakol is Indian, but what I hear from you is kind of a drum inside you that has so many colors, even if you use the syllabus. I don’t know if you use just Konnakol syllabus. I cannot follow this speed but it’s really like a drum inside you. I’ve never heard this, that’s great.
LOIRE COTLER: Thank you, I appreciate that because hearing it from you. Also you know, no I don’t need permission but because we have to be careful because these are very rich lineage of classical material. And as soon as we start to step out a little bit, we have to be careful because it might be offensive for the real traditionalists. But I don’t call myself a classical singer or carnatic classical singer. I learn to Konnakol, I learn the system with the talas and everything and I’m still learning- I’m still a beginner. I have so much to learn. As soon as we get into all the subdivisions and that, I have the rest of- I have life work ahead of me of that. But the syllables are mostly from the classical from the socatu. But because I also have the scat background which means improvisatory creating your own language to be able to express the phrases… I’ve adjusted so many. So even in “Bye Bye Blackbird” you heard, so you have [Loire singing]. Those are a little bit variations. To me, the honor always goes to the system to connect with the pulse, because it’s never about just singing it. In the beginning you know, I would just practice singing it. But then of course I understood very quickly that it has no meaning, that this material has no meaning without its relationship to the pulse.
REINHARD: Yeah exactly and actually that’s what I wanted just to say. You put it in a completely new context and for example I also studied for many years chango in Korea. And I started it probably… I can also play Korean rhythms, but I think it’s important we take it to another level because I’m not Korean. So I’m creating new rhythms we said, and so I think this is very appropriate to pay respect but then also take it to another level- and that’s exactly what you’re doing.
LOIRE COTLER: And the collaboration, you know because it’s like saying “okay here we are together, all of us. And how do we share the space?” The most beautiful way for me has been to share the space through this music connection. And that kind of exchange has led to so many new creative ideas that I don’t even have enough time, it feels like, to get them all out. Right? We always feel like we’re on the edge of our seat like listening with you. Today made me say “I want to play with Reinhard. I want to make music live, I can’t wait”. When I teach, it’s so important to show the source material whether it’s to the carnatic roots, whether it’s to Glen, or to my teacher Dave Burns from high school, or my teachers in college, or to my konnakol to subhash chandra, rest in peace, who I learned Konnakol with as well. Showing the homage, but then also encouraging to find your way and let’s play and see where we go.
REINHARD: For me, with Loire and Glen, this is a unique combination of two completely authentic people originals, like I mean I’ve never also met a drummer like Glen. When he came first… okay we have four rhythms so we put a rattle in his foot…haha.
LOIRE COTLER: I don’t understand it, even in what you just heard, right of course you know the nine. I can only go so far. I mean it’s pretty clear that some of those polyrhythms that started happening “whoa”. Where is the one, Glen? Where is the one? He goes: don’t worry about the one, feel the pulse. You’ll get it, don’t worry about the one. I’m like yeah, but I want to know at least where is it you know, so I can find it. Nobody can find the one with Glen. Haha.
REINHARD: The next one I chose is “Alchemy”. That also has in the beginning already some kind of really…
LOIRE COTLER: That’s all Glen. That’s a Glen composition. That was the first… I’ll talk about it after, okay go ahead.
REINHARD: That’s alchemy from Loire Cotler and Glen Belles, incredible music. Who wrote the lyrics for that?
LOIRE COTLER: I did. I wrote the lyrics and the syllables and all that and did the vocal arrangement.
REINHARD: That’s beautiful. Now actually I want to make a little x-course here because that shows that you are not only in this Konnakol syllable, it’s the reality opera with Jacob ter Veldhuis. Tell us a little bit about this guy Jacob ter Veldhuis and what was the whole project like this reality opera?
LOIRE COTLER: Well Jacob, he’s known Jacob TV, he does a lot of multimedia work. Before it was even, he was very progressive, before it was even popular to do so. He was working in multimedia and finally this opera came about, I think we premiered… I premiered it with him in 2012. I believe it was the first year and then we had done many productions over the years around the world. So he’s taking the speech patterns and composing from using the speech patterns that he’s hearing from various news, relevant news clips. It had changed, there were different clips, different arias actually depending on the year, the production. The whole idea was blurring the line between what is real and what’s going on with our news. And now of course more than ever we can say that he was really ahead of the time, because he was really emphasizing this brainwashing that was going on- and the looping, the looping, the looping, the looping of words. There would be keywords, buzzwords that we would just hear over and over and over and over again- until we couldn’t even you know… All right, so he would take the speech patterns and compose these amazing pieces. And so he brought me in and said “look. what I do with sampling, I think you might actually be able to do live because of your techniques”. It involved a combination of scored music which you know was all scored with certain lyrics and then some pieces. I’m not sure which one you’re going to play first but…
REINHARD: I’ll choose two, one is “The Bounce And Decline” and the other one is to “You Know What”. Yeah, is it the same opera? Is it the same?
LOIRE COTLER: Yes, the same. It all comes from this opera and like bounce or decline, that that was the stock market. The ticker tape, you know of the numbers and- Is it rising? Is it falling? Is it going to bounce? Is it going to decline? We’re obsessed watching the numbers and going up and down and he said “Can you write a Konnakol version of what that would be, the nonsense, the craziness of it?” I’m like yeah, let’s do it. So that’s how that one came about. Then the other one the “You Know What”, is again like “you know what, yeah you know what, yeah yeah you know what, you know what, yeah”. It was just this kind of looping going on rhythmically that was all scored. So that was hard to figure out, very hard.
REINHARD: When I heard this “You Know What” it reminds me really very much of Steve Reich’s first things you know. He has this phasing.
LOIRE COTLER: Yes, exactly. And I know that was an inspiration for Jacob. And also the scoring, this little Frank Zappa vibe in there as well, but he’s a totally original composer. It’s been such a privilege working with him and also being in a position of a composer asking of me to use all the different things that I love to do and see what I come up with.
REINHARD: But you made the voice rhythms, the Konnakol paths. So let’s listen to that because that’s something people don’t know really. [Laughter]
[Music] [Clip in the song: “we’ve had Boone Pickens on the show lately. He’s having trouble getting heard because as the price of oil comes down…”]
LOIRE COTLER: “As the price of oil goes down” haha.
REINHARD: Where did you perform that, in New York or that particular clip?
LOIRE COTLER: That particular clip that you’re playing is from Chicago, but we’ve done different productions staged even very elaborately. Even in the Netherlands and with the rise of Netherlands opera, we’ve done productions in LA with the Long Beach Opera. We did a production in New York at the MET Museum. And they were all different, you know because it depended on the news cycle and also just some were more staged with costumes. And there was always a soprano doing the soprano lines, which was so cool and amazing to collaborate with singers doing what I do and having that beautiful symmetry of what happens when you have a classical singer singing beside Konnakol.
REINHARD: Who is the lady singing next to you in this?
LOIRE COTLER: That was Josephine Stufflenburg. You can look her up, she’s wonderful. She’s Chicago-based. But that’s an example of non-traditional form right, because the form there is not kinetic. It’s utilizing the rhythms, it’s figuring out a way to tell the little story, go with the the arcs. It’s uneven, there’s some from like the “frrm”. So it’s a lot of fun.
REINHARD: It gets even much more free in the next one and actually that’s why, with your permission, I chose those two to show. You know that you are using words and you’re using rhythm, and it’s amazing. So let’s hear this one.
REINHARD: “You Know What”, that’s a real amazing piece. Yeah for me, it’s kind of in this Steve Reich tradition, but it’s so creative. Now let’s turn a little further, Loire. Let’s turn to you as an educator and as a therapist. Tell us a little bit about what is this for you, how did you come into therapy, and what did you do in it?
LOIRE COTLER: Well, when I was in high school during that same period of getting into jazz, I also discovered music therapy from a teacher who said “hey, why don’t you check out..”. She had like a book or a pamphlet or something. I mean I think I was 16 years old and she said “why don’t you take a summer course in music therapy” and I had no idea what that was. And then I thought “I don’t know what that is but it makes so much sense to me, so I’m gonna do it”. I was very blessed to have come encountered with the thing that was already proving itself to me to be real, which is the therapeutic effect of music. So I knew already intuitively that this was right, but I didn’t understand that there was this whole clinical milieu out there, and so I took a course. I was going to summer camps and all that every summer during those years. Then I decided that I was going to get the master’s degree from NYU in music therapy but do music also – continue to study and grow musically. I didn’t have really any goals except to just be in music in every single way possible. It wasn’t like ”I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that”. It’s like, “no let’s just jam and keep learning and growing” and let me also see with this music therapy if I could be good at it in terms of healing and working with people. So I did all of my work in psychiatric hospitals and clinics around New York City and I think that that work has the most impact still on a lot of the music that I do. Because again, going into this expressive nature that the voice can do, this storytelling, I can draw from a lot of the experiences that I had with the patients, which is “what is the rhythm of anxiety? What is this color of depression? What is the polyrhythm of schizophrenia? What is bipolar? What is a phrase? What is a bipolar phrase?” This was the kind of… I was working in locked units in New York, yeah locked units at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. And to be around that every day and to be really up close and personal working through music, using clinical applications of music…
REINHARD: So there was a time where you really day by day worked…
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah it was a full-time job. Full-time and I was teaching also. So I went to NYU and then starting in ’94-’95, I started working in hospitals and clinics – different ones but later on at Maimonides. It was full-time and also working with autism in children, special needs schools and that, and having that experience using the clinical techniques of music therapy, using the group dynamic work that I was learning. I mean it was that in line with all the music that I was studying and learning at the same time and working on my own music. They just, there was no separation for me. The only difference is that I was totally not a public figure, doing the music therapy stuff and then at night I’d go out to the clubs in the village and jam out. And then all of a sudden I was on stage.
REINHARD: Did you in this work with your patients also use voice?
LOIRE COTLER: Yes you use a lot of toning, different types of toning together, singing songs. Maybe utilizing favorite songs of patients in order to engage and get the relationship going. Also song writing, so I worked a lot with foster kids and teenagers that were abandoned in New York City. Their parents were drug addicts or in jail. Like that they were really slipping through the cracks and the forgotten children because they’re teenagers and no one wanted to adopt them. And of course you know I had the feeling that I would wish I could adopt. You know, there were all these things going on and I would use writing. I called it clinical songwriting, or music therapy style of songwriting. Maybe they would be guarded, you know in their hoods and they don’t want to talk and would use maybe a song that they love or an artist that they love, and then little by little I would encourage “let’s write a song” and we’d write songs. It would be a way for them to build trust and also to hopefully integrate that kind of building of their self-confidence.
REINHARD: I can really refer to the therapeutic work we’re doing with TaKeTiNa in the clinics. It’s the most rewarding because what you see changing and you see people going back to a more sane state in their lives. And then eventually even coming towards happiness. And so you also have been teaching a lot, so there’s the Carnegie Hall rhythmic interconnectivity. What was this program about?
LOIRE COTLER: So that was just one of them. I had done a series of master classes through that program, but in general I now remember what the clip is. So the inspiration- where do we begin? But the whole inspiration of using birds, the bird formation that’s in the v form, for me happened early on because when I understood how those migratory birds were traveling, it freaked me out. It totally blew my mind- like how are they doing that? There’s not a leader, they switch positions, they are cooperative, and they’re sensing each other’s rhythm- rhythmic up downward wash of the wings. And then I thought, that’s rhythm. I mean that’s like upbeats downbeats upbeats downbeats and everything in between, the space in between. And that space in between is where we share and where we explore and where we travel. So I started using the bird formation as my own metaphor for teaching and the idea that rhythm singing for me, or being a rhythm vocalist, is more of an approach. It’s like- let’s take any piece of music and let’s approach it through the pulse, let’s approach it through rhythm first or the pulse first rather than the voice, even though we’re using our voice if that makes sense. So I would take the tala and look at that and say “oh it’s just like.. it’s just like the wings of the bird”. Up, down. Upward wash, downward wash, up, down. So I was just looking at these movements, the choreography of it and so they’re traveling more efficiently in this group farther distances using the minimum effort because they’re traveling together. They’re traveling on the lift of one another and to me that’s just like exactly “okay I’m doing this thing, you’re doing this thing, but actually we’re doing this thing”. I’m not anything, we’re something. That’s how I always have felt.
REINHARD: You said there is no leader, but you infuse intelligence into the group and you provide the feel that they can become this v.
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah I love that, the group mind happens and they even switch positions, so if one bird gets sick and falls out of the v, the others move into position. Some even go down to be with that bird. There’s this constant flow of energy, they’re creating that vortex of wind so that they can ride the wave. I’m like “oh waves, we know about waves” [Laughter] Musicians know all about waves, that’s like how we live and breathe. We know about upbeats and downbeats.
REINHARD: I wrote this orchestral piece called “waves upon waves”. [Laughter]
LOIRE COTLER: There it is, it’s the bird formation right there!
REINHARD: Now I have a little clip from you teaching at Carnegie, let’s listen to that.
REINHARD: Did Glen teach all the time with you or did you also do this alone for yourself?
LOIRE COTLER: It’s both. Alone a lot of times, like if we do like a university thing he might be in with the percussion department and I might be with some of the drummers, some of the horn players, and some of the vocalists. We separate sometimes, we co-teach as well. But it depends on the situation.
REINHARD: Because he’s in this video clip…
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah yeah. He, you know his method, the hand dance method, was transformative for me. You know, all of my rhythmic approach- that’s the source. Right, the bird you know, these are just variations on the theme, but using the vocalization, using the idea. Like what I know of you, we’ve discovered that we put things into the lower body by moving and we all of a sudden feel that stability of pulse, and we move away from here. And so it’s in that tradition.
REINHARD: Now Loire, let’s take quite yet another aspect of you which is that you have collaborated so long with Hans Zimmer, which I really adore. He’s really a genius in that. Tell us a little bit about that collaboration, please.
LOIRE COTLER: I’d like to start by saying something that I don’t think… I don’t know, you bring this out in me Reinhard. But I hadn’t really said publicly, when I was in college, I almost switched my major my first semester to film scoring. So since I was a kid, cinema was like everything. It was my way of also switching off from music in a way. That sounds weird, but you know music was just constantly the thing going on, it was constantly hearing, feeling, sensing, seeing shapes of music colors. I have all that stuff going on, and so it was a hard thing to switch off. But I would go to the cinema, and even as a kid I remember riding my bicycle and there was a little local cinema. And I snuck in, and the popcorn… And I was young, I mean really young, and I think I never forgot it because it was the “chariots of fire” that was playing and I heard the music. You know, the evangelist score… Okay fast forward going into Berkeley, I thought “I’m going to be a film scoring major” but I had already gotten very deep into scat singing in high school and I knew that I saw the rest of my life in front of me, but they gave you the option. And I was listening to Hans Zimmer and I was listening to James Newton Howard and I thought “oh my god, I want to be a film scorer”. They inspired me so much to be able to do that depth of storytelling through these lush orchestrations and the melody… I mean the whole thing was genius genius genius. And I didn’t switch my major and I’m so glad that I didn’t because I think that if I had gone that route maybe I would never have had the opportunity to explore my voice in such a way that eventually they would find out about what I’m doing and say “hey come on” haha. So now I not only am so blessed that Hans found me through Edie Lehmann Boddicker and Michael Boddicker, which is the vocal contractor in Hollywood and also a masterful singer and masterful in so many ways. And her partner and husband Michael Boddicker, another legend in the synth world. They discovered me. Hans was looking for something very specific for the first film that we worked on and there is another one coming up! Thank goodness, I never want this collaboration to go anywhere because it continues to challenge my voice and my emotional expressions in ways that I can release creativity in another way.
REINHARD: So tell me about what is the Dark Phoenix? Is this from the X-men Dark Phoenix movie?
LOIRE COTLER: The movie was X-men Dark Phoenix, and then in addition Hans released an album that elaborates. He had I don’t know how many hours of music that we all were part of for the score and he couldn’t let… It was such brilliant compositions and the collaboration, it would have been such a pity if these pieces never saw the light of day. And he made sure that they saw the light of day and so “Experiments” is based on the music from Dark Phoenix. They’re the suites that then…so.
REINHARD: Now let’s tell our listeners that, because it’s Hollywood because it’s Fox, with just a little tiny bit for you to listen to and this is the most extreme I’ve ever heard. Let me first ask you- have you sped this up or was this really a voice that’s really yours? Wow yes, okay let’s listen to that.
REINHARD: Unfortunately that’s as much as we can play right now.
LOIRE COTLER: It’s a lot, it’s a lot.
REINHARD: Let’s maybe let our audience know where they can find this album so they can listen to the whole thing.
LOIRE COTLER: Oh yeah, you can go to any platform, they can buy or download or stream “Experiments from Dark Phoenix Hans Zimmer”, or “Dark Phoenix” the original soundtrack as well has a lot of really beautiful music.
REINHARD: And all this will naturally be on the description on the podcast so that people can follow all what we have covered so far and we have really covered a lot.
LOIRE COTLER: It’s emotional, you know listening to that because that is an example of how Konnakol, yeah I mean I’m using Konnakol layers and …
REINHARD: When I listen to this first, the whole thing you know- it just followed me everywhere because it’s so magical. It’s very simple, but then these things come out with the voices, my god. So for me, this is really- this is genius music.
LOIRE COTLER: I mean Hans, you know well I can’t say it enough, I mean you know of course, we all know he’s a genius composer, but also masterful at leading me to release the emotion that is needed for the character. And the character in this case which I wanted to tell you about is Jean Grey, the X-men character Jean Grey, and in this movie she’s wrestling with the voices in her head. So in a lot of ways I actually had to draw from my work with people who had schizophrenia who were fighting with this daily inner war going on. And so the character is having this battle going on, she’s riddled with the voices and fighting it. In the beginning, you know it was like nobody ever sang rhythms like that. You know what I mean? You would not hear that with this material that you know very deeply. So again you know, how do you do that? So it’s like screaming at the top of your lungs, it’s cathartic you know to do that- but in time with the click.
REINHARD: You know when I listen to this first and there is this nice atmosphere, all of a sudden these voices come out. They go so deep because you can’t grasp exactly what it is, and then of course I knew this is your voice, but then I couldn’t believe is it really your voice. It was so fast.
LOIRE COTLER: Sometimes for the layers, I don’t want to give away too much of the secret. But because a lot of it is… I mean you know Hans’s compositions, it’s like he might give me something to work with, he’s giving me suites and giving me the notes to work with and then I’m like “how am I going to say… I’m looking at the metronome marking like, how am I gonna… that’s fast!” But you figure it out because it’s the greatest challenge in the world. And also you want to please someone like Hans Zimmer so badly because he’s so passionate and so much joy and excitement about the music making and the collaboration and that. At some point he just said to me “Loire, you’re very kind by nature, but now I need you to flip the coin and give me nasty. Give me mean and be a bitch. I’m like ‘got it’”. And you’re hearing that but then to do it in time and find the syllables… If you listen closely, “nakita” are the screams in the background. The “nakita nakita nakita nakita”, it’s this dialogue. That’s how fast it is, but to do it there they have it mixed down, but the raw track of it screaming it at the top of my lungs and the tears coming out. You’re just emotionally everything, you’re giving it because you’re getting into character. So my work with Hans and now more recently with James Newton Howard is really about coming full circle with my love of the cinema, my passion for film scores, having listened to them and listening to all film scores for so long and wanting to be behind the scenes. Not on stage, but really be completely invisible and go into this magical world of creating characters and colors and that. So it’s a dream come true.
REINHARD: Did you record it in Hollywood?
LOIRE COTLER: Yeah I did some of it in Hollywood and in Santa Monica at remote control productions, and a lot of it remotely, you know recording in a studio out here. I work with the same engineer for 15 years Constantine Kosmev, incredible engineering. And I work with him doing a lot of remote projects over the years, session work so… So I’ve been able to work remotely, thank goodness, through the pandemic because you know we had the plexiglass and so…
REINHARD: But then I hope really that this ends soon because I want you to come over here again. This is a real real real wish. We will actually do something together.
LOIRE COTLER: We will. I know that we will because there’s hope now. There’s hope, there’s a lot of hope. I think in the beginning I never lost hope, but the main thing was all of us just making it through this in one piece, because so many people didn’t. It’s been such a horrible… for how many months now.
REINHARD: I came back a year ago from Brazil and since then I’m here. But I’ve done a lot of great things here and so I’m hoping that this eases out now.
My god, you and I could go forever, it’s so amazing with you. Now thank you so much.
LOIRE COTLER: It’s such a privilege, Reinhard, really this has been magical to be with you finally and talk rhythm and everything else and connect.
REINHARD: Thank you for all you have shared with us. It’s such an abundance, thank you so so much, my dear. Now just tell our listeners where can they find you on the internet.
LOIRE COTLER: Oh I hope they just find me on your podcast because that’s what’s happening right now and that’s the best. And then of course just LoireCotler.com and all the usual, the usual stuff.
REINHARD: Absolutely favorite episode for me so far, and so you know I hope for you listeners too that you have seen, my god, what can someone do with their voice and what’s the beauty in this whole thing and the whole range from teaching, doing therapy, going out and performing, and then ultimately Mrs. Hollywood! Here you go, even this here it’s beautiful, it’s beautiful. Thank you so much. And all the listeners following us, if you like the podcast go to powerofrhythm.com/podcast. Leave a comment, and if you like a certain artist, let me know. For now, all the best and keep on grooving!
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