Monday, April 27, 2020

Somerville Composer Doug Bielmeier: His music brings him to a 'quieter' place

Doug Bielmeier, Somerville, MA 

       Doug Bielmeier creates commercial drone/experimental electronic music featuring lap steel with live processing. Bielmeier’s music is “drone work meant to shake you out of your shell (Midwest Record)” and “hypnotically static yet ever moving within itself." (Classical-Modern Music Review).” Albums include Beast of Bodmin Moor (Noisy Buffalo, 2019), Costa Mesa Rocking Chair (Ravello, 2018), and Betty and the Sensory World (Ravello, 2017), performed internationally at Circuit Bender’s Ball (Nashville), Brooklyn Arts Gym (Brooklyn), and Muse Gallery (London) and broadcasted on WMBR (Cambridge), KALX (Berkley), WUTL (New Orleans) heard by 10K listeners (Drone Zone,

What is your connection to Somerville?, (what part of town do you live?, how long, etc..)

My family has lived in Somerville for over a decade, I joined them 2 years ago from Nashville Tennessee, where I worked as composer, recording engineer, and educator. I live right near the Davis T stop. My guilty pleasure is ABP (Au Bon Pain) hazelnut coffee.

What makes this city unique?

It really is a small town, with a small town feel and character. But with Cambridge and Boston right down Mass Ave we have access to share our local art and culture with Bean town and the world.

What are you working on now?

Currently I’m working on a music and video commission for the NYC based new music ensemble, “The Unheard//of Ensemble.” This project is a collaboration with fellow Somerville Glitch artist, and cat lover, Allison Tanenhaus. Currently the working title is, “Corporate Responsibility Pledge.” The piece explores how corporations both positively and negatively affect the lives of people and their communities. The work includes instrumental writing for piano, violin, clarinet, and cello as well as computer/electronic music and glitch visuals. The work will be premiered by the ensemble in Fall 2020.

What projects do you envision for the future?

I’m excited to be part of the upcoming Digital Soup Series that plans to be an online event of new music and art, hosted by the talented and inspired artist, from Jamaica Plains, Lani Asuncion.  

Is your work now influenced by the virus?

         My music is about quieting down (from the noisy world around us) or escaping to another place where we are free from responsibilities, angry bosses/clients, and world ending pandemics. I think the slow-moving elements and development of my music now seems even more appropriate and, in some ways, more justified. In a recent collaboration with local artist and video-synth creator, Christopher Konopka, we explore this slow progress and development in a new video and music work: Empathy and Persuasion (definitely relaxation music).

Do you think it will be in the future?

The virus has caused everyone to downsize their life and has made their worlds smaller. For some this has allowed them to shed all the superfluous parts or their lives. We have all gotten closer to answering the question, “What do I need.” I’ll need to write music every day and I’ll need to share the experience with other artists and listeners/audiences. So, if I can’t reach them in studio spaces or performance venues then I’ll have to find another way.

It is hard to make a living as an artist-- period, how has this situation affected you? 

My work has always been about a very simple and quite process that takes a little work each day as part of a larger balanced life. So really my music and the process which I use to create it has really helped me through this pandemic. I think a lot of artists and musicians ride this wave of inspiration and frustration. I got off that ride a few years back, and I hope this current crisis can help others get back to a balanced creative lifestyle.

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