ListN Up Playlist: Lesley Mok (December 7, 2023)

ListN Up is a series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice.

Lesley Mok is a percussionist and interdisciplinary artist who works in sound, installation, film, and theater. Interested in the ways social conditions shape our beings, Lesley’s work focuses on overacting humanness to explore ideas about alienness and privilege. Their work draws from queer and feminist art practices, Chinese philosophy, Caribbean folkloric musical traditions, futurist perspectives, and ancestral knowledge.

Hi! My name is Lesley Mok. I’m a performer and composer. I put together this playlist that features music from friends, peers, mentors, and heroes. It’s music that transports me to a different place and allows my mind to wander. So please enjoy, and I hope that this playlist can do the same for you.

“Cosmic Love” by Joe Mcphee

Along with his very first documentation on tenor, this track was recorded in 1970 on solo recorder and with early “sound on sound” overdubbing technique… what a voice.

“Confluence” by Tashi Dorji and Susie Ibarra

I’m a great admirer of Susie’s and Tashi’s improvisational sensibilities. Their sounds are all-enveloping, and I’m captivated by the way this live performance naturally unfolds.

“Improvisational Friendship Ceremony #9” by edi kwon & Lester St. Louis

I remember hearing edi and Lester at a house concert and being completely blown away by their chemistry. “ecstatic freedom” as edi describes it.

“Drilling” by Ingrid Laubrock

I was absolutely floored when I first heard this record. In the liner notes to this album, Ingrid describes her process: “Rather than writing programmatic music that reflects the dreams, I would read a diary entry and attempt to re-enter the dream to compose from that state of mind.” I often think about the difference between music that describes or reflects a state of mind and the state of mind from which music can appear.

“Equipoise” by Max Roach

I’ve listened to this record for almost 10 years now and it still brings me the same feeling of unbridled exaltation.

“domestic scene” by Zekkereya El-margharbel

I’m constantly inspired by the way Zekkereya reclaims their cultural heritage through sonic language. They remind me to take an active approach in the investigation of my own heritage and that art can be an attempt to free ourselves of cultural paralysis. In their words: “The true essence of maqam will continue to pull me to sounds in my heart, not sounds that I study.” A musical salve in these times.

“The river of memory flows through the earth leaving traces now numbers” by Camila Nebbia

My dear friend Camila is a creative force who is always collaborating and dreaming up the next thing… it’s hard to sum up the extent of her work but I think a quick dive will reveal just how expansive it is. This video is one of my favorites.


I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is an editorially-independent program of the American Composers Forum, and is made possible thanks to generous donor and institutional support. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author and may not represent the views of ICIYL or ACF.

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