People: One Minute with cellist Jonathan Butler

Name: Jonathan Butler

Creative Medium: Musician

Portfolio URL:
Twitter: @jonathanbutler7

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work:
My name is Jonathan Butler and I am a 24 year old caucasian male. I hail from Texas. I do not own cowboy boots or a cowboy hat. But those things don't in any way subtract from my Texas pride. I am a cellist by trade and a maker of non-classical music by night. The only way I know how to define the non-classical music is that it is written, tracked, and manipulated on my computer; and it's definitely not classical. I currently live in The Hague.

If your portfolio could speak what would it say?
To be honest, I'm not sure. I haven't taken the time to ask it. But frankly I think it's up to others to answer this question. And, by 'others', I mean anyone who listens to the musical things which I make. Spoken language is so limiting. For example, the phrase 'thank you': I find that this phrase is so often completely inappropriate. When someone buys me a new bicycle, when someone encourages me a great deal, or when someone allows me to stay in their home for a few nights in a foreign country. Those two words just don't seem to cut it! This is where music speaks more. Music's meaning is often ambiguous, undefined. After listening to a few minutes of Bach, two listeners can infer two completely different messages, even after hearing the exact same performance of the exact same music. Crazy! So it's not necessarily my concern to know what my portfolio would say.

It is, however, absolutely and compulsorily obligatory that my portfolio (in this case, my music) does, in fact, say something.

What makes you different from other creatives?
I think most creatives are in the same proverbial boat. We are all searching to be understood. To be understood as people and as artists. And it hurts when we're not. This is a truth that is not dependent on medium or genre. So I'm not so sure I'm different from anyone else. I'm just trying to be understandable and trying to be understood.

Who have been your greatest influences?
World-class French-trained violinist turned California beach bum, Gilles Apap, is known for his wild claim that a young violinist does not need a teacher. Instead the young violinist should learn from the bus driver, from the piano recital, from reading classic literature. And of course this is crazy. But in some respects I can relate. So many concepts discussed in normal conversations about psychology, about theology, or how the man at the Shell hands me my Mars bar, are directly applicable to cello-playing, music-creating, and life-living.

What does your workspace/studio look like?
At the moment I live a bit of a nomadic lifestyle. So the answer to this question is constantly changing. This question itself is quite fitting though, because my workspace or where I 'work' is wherever I happen to find myself with my cello. Of course there also has to be a chair and a place where the people around don't mind hearing me practice. My studio, where I 'make "music" on my computer' is a dresser with drawers, on top of which my laptop and a microphone sit. The surrounding wallpaper is floral.

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