Tuesday, May, 08, 2018jetlag and afterglowI just returned home (well, last week) from a really great European tour with Vienna-based Ensemble Phace - we played Valencia, Barcelona, Salzburg, and Hamburg. It was a whirlwind for sure, exhausting and rich and colorful. I'll see them all again next May 2019 where we will present the same piece at the Wien Modern festival - and we'll all be a year older.
April 12, 2018An Index of MetalsOn April 20th I am so so thrilled to be joining the Viennese ensemble Phace to begin a rehearsal and touring period for this screaming, soaring, shimmering piece of music by Fausto Romitelli. This is really as good as it gets, in terms of music to make and people to make it with. The piece fits my voice like a perfect pointy pair of black boots. Can't wait. See you all on the flip side.
October 12, 2017Shedding Cage with Margaret Leng TanI was so honored to have the most delightful rehearsal last night with Margaret Leng Tan, preparing for a concert in which we'll be presenting a Cage tryptich. Her knowledge of this music, and her uunderstanding all of the information written in Cage's "blueprints" (scores) is such a gift to be around. She coached and schooled me for a couple hours, and I can't say what an honor it was to be learning from a musician of her history and caliber. Excited for our concert on November 4th.
September 27, 2017New work at HoYI was so in love with this project, and so in love with the 15 yards(?) of fabric that I was wearing as my tree-dress. Also a bit of a foray into composing. I could dance inside this tree forever.
Rather raw and unedited footage, but you can get the point:
April 7, 2017Voice Church at House of Yes, April 15th, 3-4pmEvery human voice is a REAL voice. You were born singing. You have been singing since the beginning of time. Through our voices we connect, align, vibrate, express, process, remember, forget, wish, apologize, forgive, go into altered states, heal ourselves and each other, flee, find, talk to dead grandfathers, lure each other into love, become our own mothers, and paint the room with iridescence.
If you can speak, then you can sing - even if you have only ever croaked out thin ratchety wisps of songs and especially if your mom told you that you were tone-deaf in the fourth grade. If you are a great singer, come because you love singing, the more the merrier.
We sound like ourselves here. What will we sound like together? Let’s feel things. Singing together can be closer than touching. At Voice Church we learn, over time, the body awareness and sensations which signal healthy singing. We engage in the long-standing, frequently challenging, and utterly worthwhile process of restoring the alignment of our vocal instruments. We learn about vocal health and vocal sustainability.
We will sing: Gregorian chant. Nine Inch Nails. Circlesongs. John Cage. Steve Reich. Monkey Chants. Nursery Rhymes. Pauline Oliveros improvisations. Pygmy songs. North Indian Raga. Songs written by ourselves and our families, and whatever other type of sounds we need to make on any particular day.
March 17, 2017Witches Against Fascist TotalitarianismThis Saturday 3/19, on the Vernal Equinox, I'll have the incredible honor of joining WAFT (Witches agains Fascist Totalitarianism) at their benefit at the house that holds the most special place in my heart, House of Yes.
At this event organized by Scissor Sisters' Ana Matronic and an incredible coven of others, I'll sing some Hildy while my homegirl Francoise Voranger does miraculous things in the air. Also: check out the gorgeous sound installation featuring my pipes, composed and created by supermagical composer and dear collaborator Jeff Cook. Thanks, Universe, for these beautiful friends.
Ana's interview on this event in BUST:
February 13, 2017I love my friends.Tomorrow I will have the joy of:
1) teaching at my community home base, NYC Guitar School. There's a workshop many of us are givivng at NYCGS called "Songs of Justice and Freedom." Because we need the singing these days.
2) performing in "The Story Of Red" at my other home base, House of Yes. (www.hoy.org). I have cooked up something with my 3-octave shruti to close the show.
All is full of love.
December 8, 2016Xmas Spectacular with House of YesMy wonderful House of Yes friends in Bushwick and I have been developing and rehearsing a "Christmas in Outer Space" show for your pleasure.
I found a way to squeeze a big Hildegard number in, as is my habit. I talked to Hildy about it. She said it's totally okay for me to sing her most ecstatic, high, and beautiful "Ave Maria" while Anya gives birth to a space baby worm thing while Francoise does insane things on the canes and hammock. Hildy said it's cool for Space Camels and Wise Drag Queens to sing along too.
I will also be playing the role of "Shy Space Bag" and "Cute Reindeer."
Oh, and they're making me wear pasties for the final number.
November 18, 2016Artistic strategies in states of emergencyI just got back from Berlin, where I was honored to perform a new arrangement of Bernhard Lang's "Moving Architecture" with Vienna-based Trio Amos, as part of the "Uncertain States" festival. All of the works in the exhibit and monthlong curated performance series deal with migration, alienation, fleeing, finding, breathing, surviving.
The piece that I sang which opened our show contained the text:
My Fatherland is dead.
They buried it in fire.
I live in my Motherland
For a recording of this song, you can go to my "audio" section.
November 17, 2016Collaboration with Michael Harrison and Ustad Mashkoor Ali KhanEarlier this year I had the pleasure of collaborating on a recording project with two of my heroes of Indian music, my first raga teacher, Michael Harrison, and his teacher, Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan.
The work was composed by Michael, who combined the basic structures and techniques of North Indian classical music with the Western hallmarks of harmony and polyphony. "Tarana" features Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan singing one of his rare and old traditional taranas in raga Yaman Kalyan. Michael wrote countermelodies and harmonies for me to sing, as well as a BEAUTIFUL chord at the end in Just Intonation. Listen all the way to the end for a gorgeous chord in Just Intonation.
November 9, 2016Election DayBertolt Brecht said it best:
"“In the dark times will there also be singing?
Yes, there will also be singing
about the dark times.”
We'll keep our minds focused on that and our voices warm and limber.
Daisy Press is a ferocious and ardent interpreter and creator of experimental music in the US and Europe, and a principal vocalist at Brooklyn’s notorious House of Yes. She has worked intimately with influential living composers Steve Reich, Bernhard Lang, and George Crumb, and for her recording and performance of Morton Feldman’s seminal “Three Voices,” the New York Times hailed Ms. Press as “intrepid” and “passionate.” Most recently in Spain, Germany, and Austria, Ms. Press was the featured soloist in Vienna-based PhaceEnsemble’s touring production of the late Fausto Romitelli’s searing video opera “An Index of Metals."
Daisy is a specialist in the music of 12th-century mystic Hildegard of Bingen, and she incorporates elements of North Indian (Hindustani) ragas into her unusual and extraordinary interpretations of Hildegard’s Medieval chants. In 2019 her first all-Hildegard album will be released on Story Sound Records.
At House of Yes Daisy regularly collaborates with the stunning in-house collection of circus artists to compose, improvise and perform works which embody virtuosity, ecstasy, holiness, humor, and necessary stings of irreverence. Finally, Daisy is the creator and High Priestess of the phenomenon known as Voice Cult, a vibrant community which meets monthly to explore the intersection of singing and healing, and which may or may not be a legitimate cult.
Other notable credits include:
In Europe Ms. Press was most recently featured as a soloist at the "Akademie Der Künste" in Berlin, singing the music of Bernhard Lang with Trio Amos. Immediately before that, she was in Graz, Austria, as part of ÖRF's "Musikprotokoll" festival, where she, along with the Aleph Guitar Quartet, presented three major new contemporary works: Bernhard Lang’s song cycle “The Cold Trip,”; Gerhard Winker's “Frostblues” (world premiere) and "Basho" by Czech composer Martin Smolka (world premiere). Other highlights of 2016 a performance at National Sawdust in Brooklyn, delivering three of a series of Hildegard von Bingen’s “Ursula Songs.” In Vienna, she was the soloist in Bernhard Lang's “Monadology XVIII ‘Moving Architecture’” alongside Ensemble Phace, and with the acclaimed Austrian choreographer Silke Grabinger.
For several years she served as the lead backing singer/dancer for the band "Chromeo," and appeared with them on The Late Show With David Letterman, Conan, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, Lollapalooza, Coachella, and as headliners of the Montreal Jazz Festival.
Additional credits include a musical cameo in director Jonathan Parker’s film “(Untitled)”, ongoing performances of Morton Feldman’s "Three Voices," Bernhard Lang’s “DW2” with the Argento Ensemble at LPR, and a longtime collaboration in the video opera "Whispering Pines 10" with composer Nick Hallett and visual artist Shana Moulton. With So Percussion, Ms. Press presented “Unto the Hills” by George Crumb at Miller Theater, for which the New York Times praised her “winning subtlety and understatement.” Also with So Percussion: Steve Reich’s "Drumming" and "Music for 18 Musicians" at various worldwide venues including Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and the Barbican in London. Additional credits include the New York premiere of Phillipe Leroux’s blindingly virtuosic “Voi(rex)" at Miller Theater alongside IRCAM; Attila-Joszef Fragments by Kurtag at Symphony Space, and Elliot Carter’s "Of Challenge and of Love."
For several years Ms. Press served on faculty at the Manhattan School of Music, where she received her Masters degree. She holds academic degrees from Sarah Lawrence College and Oxford University, and in the past she studied voice with Trish McCaffrey and North Indian ragas with Michael Harrison.
"We break open the place inside,
which is unbreakable
while learning to sing."
I have taught voice to a variety of wonderful students since 2005, and I'm comfortable instructing in all styles of singing: Classical, Jazz, Straight-tone Choral, Musical Theater, Indian Raga, and Pop.
I love teaching students basic to advanced musicianship skills, including sight reading, sight singing, ear training, excellent rehearsal techniques, and performance practices.
I have combined my experiences in spiritual traditions (Zazen meditation, shamanic breathwork, Jungian archeype work etc.) with my extensive professional training and experience to teach in a way that treats the voice as an instrument which is: technical, physical, expressive, and spiritual.
Together we listen to each other and sing vital parts of our selves into being.
I teach guitar, voice, and lead a vocal harmony band at New York City Guitar School as well.
Below you can read a lovely review from one of my students:
""Singing can heal."
That's what Daisy said to me when I sat down on a plump meditation cushion on the floor of her apartment. I crossed and uncrossed my legs, unsure of how to sit, until she finally chirped, "Just get comfortable." Taking in the candles and bright fabrics and Buddhist sculptures that dotted the floor around me, I felt like I was in a very unique space: half meditation hall and half fort made out of blankets.
It turns out that meditation and play are exactly how Daisy described singing to me. She would often remind me to remain present to my voice and the sensations in my body, gently nudging me to hear the sound of my own voice without judgement. In those moments I felt a deep peace and immersion, the same as I do when I sit Zazen, go for a long run, or really get into a place of flow with my painting. Out of that sense of focus came an incredible joy, and Daisy not only encouraged it, she framed it in ways that helped me learn even more. In particular, she would have me improvise with her, singing my own invented responses to little phrases she would sing. This back and forth exchange always made me giggle and allowed me to immediately practice what I had just learned in the more formal first half of class.
These were also the moments where I felt most humbled and awed by Daisy herself. As she let herself go, I heard her sing the most incredible and tender notes, and more than once would feel so moved that I couldn't think of anything to sing at all.
We all want teachers who know what they are doing. Who are credible and talented. I have heard her sing in professional contexts, but never really understood just how good she is until I saw her sing with such warmth and fullness. It looked effortless, but of course the whole point is that it isn't. Her years of classical training and her arduous daily practice are what allow her to be such a "natural." In breaking that lifelong process into manageable baby steps, and meeting me where I was, she inspired me to actually learn. That humility and generosity are what make her not just a great singer, but a great teacher as well.
For weeks we focused on resonance, a fundamental that i had no idea even existed. I expected to be learning how to hit notes. Instead she taught me to hear them and snake through the in-between notes in scales. Because I am an artist, she printed out diagrams and had them hanging in her wonderfully quirky room, which now was a kind of artistic haven for us both. She would point out aspects of the pictures, helping me visualize what my throat and vocal chords were doing when I began to feel them vibrate in new and strange ways. Yes, I was changing, and my voice got better, and my singing became more respectful and sincere. But also important was the fact that this change was deeply supportive and affirming. Daisy is someone so firm and capable that she can also be compassionate and playful. She's a rock on a zafu, and with her holding space, your voice can trill and squeak and slowly slowly sink deep into the pockets of notes.
If that sounds New Agey and weird, I can only say I thought the same thing when Daisy said the voice can heal. I went into class thinking about how as a gay man, I have always hated my voice. To see it as effeminate and lacking power. I wanted to learn to sound butch. And If I couldn't do that, I wanted at least to sound like Beyoncé! I have always felt that I needed to be whipped into shape, and that eventually I could get rid of my voice and create something more socially acceptable and strong.
And then, on our second class together, something strange happened. I sang a note with resonance and I felt it vibrate in my nose. I stayed open, kept a sense of ease in my throat and let it grow louder. My eyes widened as I heard it echo in the room and resonate there as well. i kept my mouth open, feeling like I had channeled something more than created it. I listened and what I heard was full and lush and warm.
The whole time, Daisy sat across from me with a knowing smile. I closed my mouth and she just said, "There it is! You found your voice."
If you want to sing like Beyoncé, go anywhere. But If you want to sing in your own voice, go to Daisy."
"And now we come to the second performance miracle of the evening, Daisy Press. Once a rock star, then jazz singer (sic), now a stalwart of the avant-garde musical scene, she began with a solo. Or rather, a solo with synthesizer.
This was John Cage’s beautiful beautiful very early Dream for piano. The piano part was first the solo synthesizer on the side of the stage. Then Ms. Press, sitting cross-legged on the stage, virtually crooning into the microphone. It was a vocalise which blended so perfectly with the electronic line that one felt a transcending, for her control not only of pitch but volume, was so microscopically precise that we had a single instrument doing the Cage piece."Harry Rolnickconcertonet.com read more
"Singer Daisy Press and keyboardist Nick Hallett joined forces for a trio of Hildegard Von Binghen(sic) songs, which they reinvented as starlit, twinkling art-rock. Hallet supplied a kaleidoscope of deep-space textures and baroque-pop loops for Press to soar over. There was an allusively Middle Eastern quality to her ripe, wounded soprano, channeling buttery, lascivious allusions in Latin: a cantor or a muezzin might have sounded much the same around 1150 AD. Getting to hear Flanigan and Press back to back was a rare treat: the former gets credit for having the guts to follow the latter on the bill."delarueNew York Music Daily read more
"The rock and experimental vocalist Daisy Press also stood out. As much, as in the musical plane: (her singing had) an endless number of nuances covered by a fine expressionist patina." (translated from Spanish)Audioclasica.com read more
..."the absolutely fearless Daisy Press"
"And the dedicated musicians of Phace as well as the extremely virtuosic Daisy Press are absolutely confident enough for this multi-layered music full of complex requirements for every single musician who must ultimately be all group-capable soloists. This creates an hour of sonic hypnosis, a maelstrom of sound, song, oscillating between healing noise and painful lyricism. It's gone astray, but this transience never loses its hard, emotional core."Sueddeutsche.com read more
May 21, 2019 An Index of Metals at Wien Modern Vienna, Austria
The central tenet of Voice Cult is that every voice holds true incantatory power. You were born singing. You have been singing since the beginning of time. Through our voices we connect, align, vibrate, express, process, remember, forget, wish, apologize, forgive, go into altered states, heal ourselves and each other, flee, find, talk to dead grandfathers, lure each other into love, become our own mothers, and paint the room with iridescence.
If you can speak, then you can sing – even if you have only ever croaked out thin ratchety wisps of songs and ESPECIALLY if your mom told you that you were tone-deaf in the fourth grade. If you are a great singer, come because you love singing, the more the merrier.
We sound like ourselves here. What will we sound like together? Let’s feel things. Singing together can be closer than touching.
At Voice Cult we learn, over time, the body awareness and sensations which signal healthy singing. We engage in the long-standing, frequently challenging, and utterly worthwhile process of restoring the alignment of our vocal instruments. We learn about vocal health and vocal sustainability.
Voice Cult will become whatever we need it to be.
In terms of what we sing, it will vary: Gregorian chant. Nine Inch Nails. Rounds from your childhood. Circlesongs. John Cage. Steve Reich. Monkey Chants. Lots of Pauline Oliveros improvisations. Songs written by ourselves and our families, and whatever other type of sounds we need to make on any particular day.