Meet Artist Erin Jorgensen

The Seattle-based marimba player, singer and composer on her collaboration with producer Steve Fisk.
Brangien Davis  |   January 2012   |  FROM THE PRINT EDITION

PERFORMANCE: “Redemption,” a live marimba performance with ambient music orchestrated by Seattle producer Steve Fisk (known for his work with Nirvana and Mudhoney).

Brangien Davis: This new piece is billed as a “concept album and self-help manual.” Come again?

Erin Jorgensen: Ha ha. Well, it’s a concept album in the sense that we conceived it as a record—something that you could put on your stereo and lie on the floor and listen to all the way through. It’s an entire animal.… It’s meant to be seamless. The self-help part is basically reasons that you give yourself for sticking around on the planet. I personally find life to be a big, confusing, gross, violent mess, so you really have to help yourself out if you want to stay around.

BD: Why is the marimba your instrument of choice?

EJ: My marimba is a concert-sized one with a lovely low end—the lowest note is two octaves below middle C, like a cello range. When you use soft mallets in that low end, you can really feel the vibrations, as you can with a cello or a string bass or an electric bass. I’m interested in the colors that come from that low and midsection, the resulting overtones and harmonics, and mixing that with voice, talking or singing. There’s something about that low marimba sound that is so dreamy and trance inducing and immediate—that’s what I really love about the instrument.

BD: Describe the working style you and Steve Fisk developed.

EJ: I start out with the basic bones, like text and chord changes, and then Fisk adds whatever, and the song can change, sometimes pretty dramatically. Fisk is so great in a million ways, like I can say, “This part should be more creepy!” or, “Maybe it sounds like you’re in a Polish techno club.” I can even get abstract like, “OK, you’re diving down to the center of the earth, and it’s all molten lava.…” That stuff doesn’t faze him at all.


SEE IT: 1/26–1/28. 8 p.m. $20. On the Boards, 100 W Roy St.; 206.217.9888;