Cellist Maya Beiser wants to change the way people look at rock music. Or, more accurately, music in general. Raised in Israel, Beiser was groomed for a career as a concert soloist until she had an awakening of sorts at 15, when she heard Janis Joplin for the first time.
"It blew my mind," Beiser says. "It was this revelation, that someone could be so raw and leave it all out there."
Not long after, Beiser moved to the States where she embarked on a more unconventional career path, first as a founding member of the Bang on a Can All-Stars, then as a globetrotting soloist whose multimedia performances have altered the way audiences think about the cello. But, Beiser never really shook the rock bug, so two years ago, she approached fellow Bang on a Can alum Evan Ziporyn to see if he'd arrange some of her favorite songs by Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pink Floyd and others. The resulting Uncovered, released on Tuesday, is less of a cover album (think Portland Cello Project or 2Cellos) than a total reimagining of these classics, using the expressive capabilities of the cello (along with some subtle electronics) to peel away our embedded notions of how these songs should sound. It is, according to Beiser, "a journey into the inner layers, untouched surfaces, nameless colors, dazed images."
Beiser will be performing selections from Uncovered next Thursday (9/4) at LPR, along with additional works written for her by Glenn Kotche, David T. Little and David Lang. I had the chance to chat with Maya on the phone earlier this week about the new album, as well as her thoughts on music in general. Check out her responses below.