Interview: Matchess

Matchess

When I first saw Whitney Johnson, she was on the bank of the Ohio River, sitting alone, setting up a small organ. It was at Louisville’s Cropped Out Festival, an event I had chosen to attend because of headlining titans of experimental music like The Dead C, Bonnie Prince Billy, Pissed Jeans, and Bill Callahan. But it was ultimately Johnson’s performance under the stage name of Matchess that impressed me the most. The songs of the water and the local fowl meshing perfectly with her tape loops and ethereal voice as the sun began to sink behind her. I was awed by the way she turned loops of sound into transcendental experiences. It wasn’t for more than a month until I met Johnson again in Chicago, the city that had been her home for 12 years and mine for just over two weeks. Nearly done with a PhD program in sociology, she said her academic work isn’t something she lets into her musical output. On a leaf-blanketed picnic table in the middle of Wicker Park, Johnson welcomed me to Chicago with a myriad of insider knowledge about the local scene and a peek behind the curtain of the indescribably beautiful project that is Matchess.

Read the full interview here.

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