yMusic is short for Yahoo Music, but also normal length for yMusic, the Brooklyn-based ensemble who bring chamber music to venues outside of the stuffy, high-starch concert halls it’s usually played in. They’ve collaborated with Bjork, David Byrne, Ryuchi Sakamoto, Grizzly Bear, as well as a hot new indie band called The New York Philharmonic Orchestra. They’re coming to Australia this summer for Sydney Festival 2013 and we had a pleasant chat about that with multi instrument playing nice guy Rob Moose.
VICE: Hey Rob. You guys tour a lot. What’s in your rider and what do you do when the venue screws it up?
Rob Moose: Wine, what's in yours? Maybe we'll drop by your office if anything is amiss.
We just have beer and whatever the energy drink companies send us. But back to what’s in yours...
We like a bit of Margaret River as much as the next indie/chamber/band/ensemble. We probably won't ask for Vasse Felix by name, but their Heytesbury Chardonnay made quite an impression on me last year.
You won a best classical album of 2011. Did you all get laid that night?
I can't remember. It was a busy year. The winter is usually pretty good for making new friends. It gets a bit cold in New York, you know?
Who’s the biggest wimp you’ve ever toured with?
Certainly not Sufjan Stevens! Have you seen his biceps lately? I'm trying to choose an indie band but no one really looks wimpy in all that flannel so it's a bit hard. Maybe Duncan Sheik, though he had a certain inner strength, what with all the yoga, meditation and Pinot Grigio.
Would you say your musicianship holding you back from being in a normal indie band?
Normal... I guess so. Bon Iver did win a couple Grammys this year, didn't you Google me?.
Crap. I didn’t.
We played three nights in your opera house last year! But seriously, though I was being serious, everyone in our group is involved in a variety of projects, and we don't make distinctions between the kinds of music we play. We like to think that our musicianship is universal and a rich body of collaborations is a point of pride for yMusic.
Did you get any attitude from the NY Philharmonic when you played with them?
Oh the stories our flutist, Alex Sopp, could tell you about that group! Major orchestras are really their own culture. In my eyes, it's one of the closest things you can do to having a desk job in like a 1950's insurance company. Cool tunes though. And to be fair, I have had a lot of positive experiences with orchestras in Europe and Australia, and I have deep respect for the repertoire and musicians who bring it to life.
Speaking of respect, Sydney Festival has put you in the Speigeltent, which is an actual tent that's like, 100 years old. Are you pissed about not being put in a proper building?
Oh absolutely, but you have to start somewhere. I'm actually sitting with an Aussie right now and she says "oh my God I love the Spiegeltent! I think it's the best place to play. It's so fun!" She might be a bit homesick but it gives you another perspective. We look forward to it, as well as the shows in Parramatta!
See yMusic at Sydney Festival on January 22nd and 23rd, and while you're at it, a whole bunch of music, dance, art, film and other good stuff.