Wesceleb: Myles Potters ’12
Do you need to satiate your musical craving for alternative hip hop remixed with new jazz and experimental chords? Do you need to borrow a scarf, riff on the trumpet, sail a boat, or share some nicely aged bourbon? Then you need to talk to Myles Potters ’12, whose Senior Music Thesis recital is this Friday. Potters not only wants you to come to his recital tonight, but also to join in the Second Line marching band he hopes will follow him back to Fountain from his musical exploration.
The Argus: Some of your friends have told me that you’re known to appreciate the finer things in life.
Myles Potters: I like to live. I like to be alive. I’ve also learned to enjoy bourbon. That’s a direct influence of Michael Ullman ’12 and Sam Remington Long ’12.
A: Tell me about your thesis recital that’s coming up this Friday.
MP: This Friday is the recital for my dual COL and music thesis. The focus of my thesis is what “live music” is in the 21st century, given technological advancements like DJ-ing and sampling and file sharing and all the different forms of Internet musical interaction. There will be some samples played during the recital that will have been taken from our rehearsals, but they’ll be played back as chopped and skewed—as transitions between the rest of the composed material that we’ll be playing live.
A: What do you want people to get out of coming to the recital?
MP: At the end of the day, I hope that the audience has a fun musical experience, and I just hope people leave with at least a question in their minds of what is the difference of live and prerecorded music.
A: What’s the genre?
MP: The spectrum is alt hip hop from J Dilla through newer jazz type stuff like Roy Hargrove and Robert Glasper, with some experimental Flying-Lotus-like sounds thrown in.
A: What’s the COL component of your thesis?
MP: The written and philosophical equivalent for what I’m doing musically—tracing technological reproduction in music from the ritualized performance experience, before any sort of reproducibility, through the advent of radio and gramophone, through the 21st century’s unique forms of reproduction. In the end I hope to come to some sort of conclusion regarding the place of the musical work of art in our time.
A: What are your plans for the day theses are due?
MP: The dream would be to be in a Second Line from Olin back to my house. A Second Line is a New Orleans-style brass band parade. Basically, to be in a moving party back from Olin to Fountain.
A: You studied abroad in Paris during your sophomore year. Any good stories?
MP: The best experiences were travelling in and around Paris, and through Western Europe. Trains are so cheap, you just hop on an overnight train and the next day you’re in Prague or Amsterdam. One of the craziest things was my weekend in Amsterdam over 4/20. It’s not really a holiday there, but we made it into our own little day.
A: Want to say anything about your impressive scarf collection?
MP: That was a product of being abroad. You live in Paris for 6 months and you come back with more scarves.
A: You’re known for playing the trumpet. How did you get into it?
MP: I’ve played trumpet since third grade. My uncle gave me a cornet when I was 4 or 5. The cornet is a smaller and more portable version of the trumpet. It’s one of my first memories. When the time came to choose an instrument, I naturally chose the one closest to that.
A: What are your other musical involvements on campus?
MP: I’m in the orchestra, jazz ensemble, Mad Wow when it happens, and Josh Smith’s group when it happens. Claire Randall [’12]’s senior recital. I’ve been in a lot of other smaller projects, too. I just try to stay involved musically and play my trumpet whenever possible. One of the coolest things I ever did was play my trumpet with the Javanese gamelan.
A: I hear you were in Esquire magazine?
MP: Yeah, it was this article about the generation gap between ages 20 and 50. I was 20 at the time. They were basically looking into what the difference in attitude and thought was between those two age gaps. Basically I was sitting in a park in NYC and two people walked up to me and asked if I wanted to be in this feature. I gave them my spam email address because I’m always skeptical about stuff like that, but it ended up being this.
A: You’ve been sailing for a while. Tell me more about that.
MP: I used to be on the sailing team at Wesleyan, but I realized I wanted more time to commit to music. I do a lot more big-boat sailing at home and on the Long Island Sound. Over the summer I do a lot of sailing. One of the things I really like about big-boat sailing is that it’s much more of a physical team sport. You sail on a big boat long enough and you get to know it as not just a piece of plastic, but something you get to interact with physically. You can carry that over to music. You learn a piece of music well enough that it stops being something that you put thought into, and becomes something you just feel.
A: What are your plans post-Wesleyan?
MP: My plan is to end up in New York City doing the same sort of writing I’m doing now—some critical theory and musicology—while at the same time doing my music. Writing music in response to the kind of thinking that I’m doing.
A: I have heard that you play FIFA a lot.
MP: I’m not the best FIFA player in the world, but I’m not the worst. It’s not something that can be verbally described; it must be experienced.
A: Any more little known facts about yourself?
MP: I love the Grateful Dead. Their music has inspired me constantly throughout my life. They’ve always stuck with me in a very fluid sense.