Checking in with Gene Osborn

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What are you working on right now?

Right now we’re just prepping some new songs for our next album. We’ve got about nine songs that we’re working on, some draft recordings that we really enjoy studying, figuring out what parts we like and keeping certain things. We’ve got a few weekends booked to record at the Monkeyclaus studio over the next couple of months.

What is being a teacher like?

I’ve always felt that it was a good career option, since I’ve always worked with kids. Even as a teenager, I worked at camps, volunteered for different kids’ projects…I remember when the AIDS quilt came to Albany, New York, and my mother had me volunteer for the children’s area when it came in, and I just loved it. I was actually surprised to end up working with teenagers, because my goal was always to go into children’s education, but I’ve found that teaching special education at the high school has been extremely gratifying. My conversations with these kids have been amazing. These students are witty and smart and aggressive, and just fun. It’s a wonderful challenge, and incredibly gratifying.

Locally, who would you like to collaborate with?

Musically, I like to hook up with other bands and put shows together, and there’s a lot of people we’ve done that with already. I’d love to collaborate with the band that plays at the Live Arts volunteer party. I’d also love to do a video with Johnny St. Ours.

What music are you listening to lately?

Yesterday I had a wonderful time listening to Joanna Newsom and Sheila Chandra, who are very interesting vocally, incredibly out there and wild. They go to another world with their music, and I really enjoy that, that fifth dimension, so to speak. If there is a fifth dimension, I mean. I also listen to All Songs Considered, which is a blog on NPR, and a really good digest for everything current. Through them I’ve gotten turned on to St. Vincent and Regina Spektor. I’m really curious about Bon Iver, who is someone I don’t know much about, but there’s something about the timbre of his voice and the quality of his songwriting that’s interesting to me. 

What sports team do you root for?

Gosh, I’m really kind of a knee-jerk Yankees and Giants fan, having grown up in upstate New York. The more I’ve lived outside of New York, the more my allegiances have shifted. But it always comes back to the Yankees and the Giants.

What is your first artistic memory from childhood?

My mother used to play a lot of piano in the house, and my sister and I would run around the house to the music. The theme to Star Wars was a big one, and we would run around and be brave and get wild. We were really young children. It ended up becoming a pretty great musical education. We would perform from my coffee table, and I would remember, clearly, the songs that my sister and I would improvise. We didn’t perform a lot, but the songs we played got stuck in our heads. Having come from a place of improv and play, I think they really helped me tap into that part of the brain that helps you create lyrics and create songs. I was never into drawing at all. If anything, I was more into movement. Not so much dance, but gymnastics and karate and things. Musically, it was running around to my mother’s piano playing.

If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who?

On a very superficial level, I’d love to party with Bruce Lee. Get together for dinner and just let him talk about himself. I’d love to meet up with Gandhi and not eat.

Outside of your medium, who is your favorite artist?

Aaron Eichhorst creates some really beautiful images. They’ve got this dignity, and nuance, and are very cool and pleasing at the same time. He’s one of my favorite local visual artists.

What piece of art do you wish were in your private collection?

I love Andy Goldsworthy, although a lot of his work is so temporary—it would be neat to have one of his ice sculptures in the backyard, and get a party going so we could watch it melt, and be left with only memories and a few photographs. 

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