Macie Stewart + Sun Speak: Going ‘unusual’ places — together

Macie Stewart + Sun Speak: Going ‘unusual’ places — together

Even though we like to play musical matchmaker, sometimes letting old friends share the stage leads to its own unique kind of magic.

For this Stars Align, Vocalist/keyboardist Macie Stewart (Marrow, Homme) teams up with Matt Gold (guitar) and Nathan Friedman (drums and percussion)of Sun Speak for a one-of-a-kind improvised collaboration.

Nathan and Matt developed their own unique language through years of playing together, and though they know Macie, their collaboration broke new ground while tapping into their unique musical voices.

Macie catapulted onto the scene as part of the group Kids These Days, and in the years since she’s become one of Chicago’s most respected vocalists. Her singing manages to be melodic while holding its own against edgier material. Macie said she started playing improvised music only recently, after a friend asked her to fill her slot as at a performance held at Constellation. Macie said it was a liberating experience, and she’s been improvising ever since.

“There are no mistakes in improv; it’s only wrong if you say it out loud,” Macie said. “You have to free yourself of your self-conscious behaviors and just let it go.”

Matt and Nathan bring impressive improvisational chops and wide-ranging tastes to their dynamic, atmospheric music, crossing folk, jazz, and experimental music. As part of their writing process, the duo generates new musical ideas through improvisation and then refines them for an album.

“I think playing free gets you to a certain headspace that’s hard to conceive of when you’re composing in a slower, less in-the-moment kind of way,” Matt said. “It’s like being given this giant hunk of clay that you need to turn in to some type of form.”

They also noted that the element of trust is vital to any improvisation, so it helps when you’re good friends and floating ideas at one another in real-time.

“[Matt and I] have been improvising together for a long time, but Macie is bringing a whole other thing, so there’s a nice balance of new and familiar of us that lets the music go unusual places,” Nate said.

You can also listen to the whole session below.