Dave Ruder – bio

Dave Ruder by Reuben Radding

Dave Ruder by Reuben Radding

Dave Ruder is, broadly speaking, a creative type. That’s to say that he does a lot of things in creative realms. He does some some of these things very well and others more in an exploratory fashion. Primarily, Dave is a musician, as in someone who makes music. “Makes” works in many senses here. Dave is often a vocalist, clarinetist, and guitarist in performance and recording. Dave has also been a composer, arranger, librettist, songwriter, collaborator, electronicist, percussionist, conceptualist, producer, label runner, sound engineer, stage manager, curator, arts admin guy, grant writer, you get the idea. Outside of music, Dave has spent some time doing things that could be described as storytelling, acting, dancing, illustrating, writing fiction & non-fiction, photoshopping, you get the idea. Saying Dave is a creative type leaves the door open for all these things. Dave sees music as his background but not his only home and is grateful when & wherever he gets to put in creative time.

In 2011, Dave co-founded Varispeed, a collective dedicated to durational, site-specific performances of avant-garde classics, most notably Robert Ashley’s Perfect Lives. Since 2011, Dave has been involved with the experimental music collective thingNY, becoming a full member in 2012 and co-writing new material with the group, including the opera This Takes Place Close By. Dave co-founded Reps, a five piece band that plays rock instrument music, in 2015 (their first album is coming soon in 2018).  Dave also performs solo sometimes just guitar & voice.

Dave is well-known as a performer of the music of Robert Ashley. Dave premiered Ashley’s Crash and World War III: Just the Highlights, and has also performed Perfect Lives, Trios (White on White), That Morning Thing, and Public Opinion Descends Upon the Demonstrators. Dave was fortunate to work with Ashley for several years and has written extensively on his work (and the press has written quite a bit about Dave doing these works as well).

Formerly, Dave & Aliza Simons performed songs as Why Lie?. Why Lie? released two albums, available on Gold Bolus Recordings. Dave was/is also half of Dave & Woody’s Chicken Slaughtering, LLC, which doesn’t actually slaughter chickens but does posit new ways of telling stories across media with deeply personal and often totally mundane material. Dave was a member of Sweat Lodge, a new music performing & presenting sextet, which also ran a monthly Performers Forum in Brooklyn. Dave played with Gamelan Kusuma Laras for three years. Dave was a core member of Eidolon (aka Ensemble One aka Large Ensemble), an improvising chamber group of sorts, from 2007-09. Between 2005 and 2008, Dave spent time playing in a noisy reed duo with Dave Kadden, called Trouble, and a guitar duo with Jack Reilly, called Young Vandals. Dave had the pleasure of playing clarinet, synth, and voice with ellen o for most of 2014 as well.

In other disciplines, Dave has worked with the choreographer Abigail Levine on several projects, including 2017’s Restagings No. 1: Choreographing LeWitt, a 30-hour installation at the Fridman Gallery.  From 2012-2014, Dave worked with choreographer Kimberly Bartosik on you are my heat and glare. Dave also composed music for Joanna Kotze’s Bessie-award-winning it happened it had happened it is happening it will happen. Dave has worked with Panoply Performance Laboratory on numerous large scale projects such as Institute_Institut, Nature Fetish, and Embarrassed of the Whole.

Dave also has a life as a musical solo guy, which is well documented on five albums, all available on Gold Bolus Recordings. Dave got serious about using Gold Bolus Recordings as a venture for his & other folks’ music in 2013. But the five albums/EPs show Dave’s evolution as a composer, performer, conceptualist, accompanist, etc over the last decade.  Before running a label, Dave curated a performance series called Flowering Inconsistencies in Bushwick, Brooklyn, from 2009-11.  As a composer, Dave wrote The Gentleman Rests, a meditation on the certification of the 2000 presidential election, with a commission from the Jerome Foundation and Roulette in 2014-15, and boy did it feel nice to be recognized by those institutions as a composer. Dave is also pretty proud of a series of 100+ open scores called WHY LIE? (all caps) he wrote in 2010.

So what are this guy’s qualifications? Well, Dave started playing alto sax at age 9 (gave it up at 14), took up guitar (and photoshop) at 14, tried to play jazz but never got far, got into experimental stuff via friendly graduate students and community radio, picked up the clarinet at 20 (and has about six months of lessons, total), and learned Max/MSP/Jitter at 26. He started taking singing more seriously around 27. He started writing “pieces” at 19, and despite thinking he could at any time, never finished writing a song til he was 25. Writing writing (like words) has been a constant throughout. Focused but unstudied dancing happened a lot from age 16 to 24. Visual stuff comes in fits & spurts (Dave always enjoys making show flyers).

Dave has two degrees in music – an undergrad one from Wesleyan University, where he studied with Anthony Braxton, Alvin Lucier, Ron Kuivila, Neely Bruce, Jay Hoggard, Sumarsam, Mark Nelson, I.M. Harjito, Jane Alden, and the amazing grads & undergrads around him. The second is a masters in composition from Brooklyn College, where he studied with Doug Geers, Tania Leon, Jason Eckardt, Salim Washington, Jane Sugarman, and George Brunner. Dave was lucky to be a student of Sri Joko Raharjo in Kartasura, Indonesia, studying karawitan with him for a month in 2010. He took some classes at Juilliard in counterpoint too, when he worked there in the late ’00s.

Dave’s experience also comes from work in the aforementioned areas at a bunch of venerable and lesser known NYC arts institutions, a good way to learn about making art. He works for the Make Music Alliance and Make Music New York as a day job type thing. He lives in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, alongside a partner with alliterative names and a cat who doesn’t like to be picked up. As a human being, he originated in Pittsburgh, PA. He usually sports a beard. At present, he is slowly but steadily going grey.  Also, here is a photo of a ptarmigan.