A singer-songwriter, guitarist and arts consultant, Gates was part of the renowned indie rock band The Spinanes. Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, she has collaborated with musicians as diverse as Kill Rock Stars to country music icon Willie Nelson. Throughout her career as a performer, Gates has maintained an active role in the music industry as a musical pundit of sorts, serving as the editor of several periodicals and curating special art installations featuring sonic art. Her work has been featured in the Lehman Maupin Gallery in New York and the Kavi Gupta Gallery in Chicago, as well as locally at the Fontanelle Gallery in Portland.
We caught up with Gates at See See Motor Coffee Co. on Sandy Boulevard to learn more about her and which topics she’s planning to explore with April Baer on State of Wonder.
Q&A with Rebecca Gates
Ifanyi Bell: What do you do?
Rebecca Gates: I call myself an artist/musician and arts consultant — I guess. Really I’ve just been increasingly helping people think about issues of arts and cultural policy. Arts production, arts installation. That sort of thing. But at my core, if I have to say one, I’d say I’m a musician.
IB: What do you think you are most known for?
RG: I think for playing music … and being a charming dinner guest? I’m reliably charming and ready to roll!
IB: How did you meet April Baer?
RG: I heard April on the radio and then her husband, Ryan White, is a music writer, so I believe that I first met April through Ryan.
IB: Why are you excited to be on State of Wonder this week?
RG: Because I love radio, and I love art, and I love voice and community and [State of Wonder] is pretty much right at the intersection of it.
IB: Can you give us a bit of a preview of what to expect from your duties as guest curator for this week’s show?
RG: Well, it’s amazing because I was feeling a little bit like, “this is your life,” like there’s going to be a Dean Martin roast moment, because we’re getting to talk about all these things that I have been thinking about that seem to many people multifaceted and barely related, but to me are all kind of in the same sweet spot of things that I’m interested in.
So talking about musicians and the sustainability of music culture, looking at the art fairs where a bulk and the focus of the sales of the contemporary art world are happening on a super-high level. I don’t love talking about money, but it’s something that we’re all struggling with in different ways and I think that having the opportunity to introduce different voices into the conversation of informed voices is pretty great.
IB: Who is your favorite musician?
RG: If I have to say one, right now — and it might change — Curtis Mayfield.
IB: Thanks, Rebecca. Have fun tomorrow!