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Interview with Cora Venus Lunny ahead of BAN BAM performance

Improvising violinist Cora Venus Lunny will be performing at BAN BAM on Saturday 25th November alongside pianist Izumi Kimura in an exciting collaboration. Their performance at BAN BAM will be the world premiere of this collaborative work! Cora's solo music is driven by her fascination with consciousness and groove, complimented by her special fondness for bringing new music to diverse audiences.

Who or what inspires you at the moment - be it in music, arts, politics or your personal life?

Laurie Anderson, Reggie Watts, Mirabella Karyanova, Jane Goodall, Laura Sheeran, Lucia Berlin.

There is an obvious gender imbalance in the music industry, but especially so in jazz. What do you think can be done about this? How do you see this changing in the future?

Maybe I’ll ask a question instead: where can someone get a job as a jazz musician where they are offered maternity or paternity leave? (Cue peals of uncomfortable laughter and changes of subject). But seriously, wouldn’t that be something?! I surmise, though can’t be sure, that many women might be opting for more secure and parenting-friendly careers than jazz, or other, music performance early on in life. This is clearly an incredibly complex, controversial and thorny issue which is a reflection of our societal and cultural problems and imbalances, I don’t think it’s in any way special to music or jazz, it’s more like music is the canary in the coalmine. There is no point looking for solutions without first seeking causes, and there is no way of talking seriously about it without probably insulting someone or their values, which I am loath to do, but I will try. Our society is sick and, while many of us are working hard to heal it, the sickness is chronic, systemic and worsening. Commodification of women, men, children, art, beauty and nature has been thorough and is today accepted and normal. I imagine that to change this mindset would require massive educational reform, intense reforestation, a much more liberal set of laws, and probably Universal Basic Income. A lot of us will have to be very strong to keep the fires of wildness alight, and it is this flame which will allow those of us who need to, to create the art we were put here to make.

Can you tell us about a seminal experience, project, or encounter that had a significant impact on your career or life choices?

When you look back on your life, many things can be rather romantically framed as being pivotal. I’ve had three really strong influences on my life in general. In chronological order: working with Nigel Kennedy really pushed me toward developing my own sound and ideas and staying true to myself, he was my childhood hero and became something of a mentor when he took me with him on tour when I was quite young and on the verge of quitting music. Joining Yurodny was another lifesaver, I was again feeling like music might not be where I needed to be when they welcomed me into their madcap hivemind, and suddenly every single musical experience I’d had up until then made sense, because it had been preparing me for this nest of musical eagles, shamans and chimerae. And finally, becoming a mother was pretty important; I began to take myself seriously as a musician after that because I realised I needed to set an example to my child of how to live as an artist (still figuring that out by the way).

What does being part of an event like BAN BAM mean to you?

It’s an honour to be included in such a fine lineup of interesting artists and I’m really looking forward to connecting with the others and hearing what they have to offer, as well as of course very excited to present the new material that Izumi and I will be generating. It’s been a very nourishing experience to work on the music with Izumi, we should be doing this kind of thing anyway, but BAN BAM gave us the momentum and deadline to actually do it.

Are you working on anything new at the moment? What do you have lined up for 2018?

I have so many ideas and so little time and organisational skills, that I am quite leery of announcing anything. But I am (always) working and playing on some music and, if I can pull myself together sufficiently, hope to eventually ask some of my favourite musicians to play it with me and see what happens. I’m also leaning toward producing stuff at home and just releasing it online as this is compatible with hermithood and forest-dwelling.


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