Wayne Horvitz–the accomplished musician, composer, band leader, and owner of The Royal Room—recently spoke to City Arts Magazine. In the interview, he discusses Columbia City and the role he aims to have The Royal Room play for Seattle’s music scene as well as the neighborhood itself:
After one decade in New York and three more in Seattle, Wayne Horvitz has put together an almost absurdly varied musical career. Horvitz, who has led groups ranging from 4 + 1 Ensemble to Sweeter Than the Day, owns and operates The Royal Room in Columbia City while continuing to compose, lead and experiment with a wide range of collaborators. Recently, Horvitz completed “55: Music and Dances in Concrete,” a composition project recorded in the bunkers of Washington’s Fort Worden State Park. With Earshot Jazz Festival around the corner, we caught up with Wayne about running the club, mentoring young musicians, and how he found the work of Seattle poet Richard Hugo…
…The Royal Room is about to turn three. Have you run anything like this before?
When I first moved to New York City, five of us rented a rehearsal space called Studio Henry. Within months, everybody from John Zorn to Bill Laswell to Arto Lindsay was playing down there. To call it a club would be a stretch—it was a fire-trap. We didn’t have any licensing of any sort.
I’ve worked as a curator for institutions at different times, so I’ve been involved in programming, but this is another animal. It’s been incredibly rewarding from a creative point of view and way harder than I thought from an economic point of view. I have a completely fresh respect for anyone who owns a venue, especially a small venue. I’m almost ashamed of the complaining I’ve done over the years as an artist. People don’t understand that even if it’s doing well, is it’s an economy of scale. If you’re doing great, but you’re place that holds 120 people, great just isn’t that great. It’s a very tricky business.
That being said, the idea of [The Royal Room] being relatively informal, of having all kinds of great music, and fitting into the demographics of Columbia City, instead of changing the demographics of Columbia City, that initial vision is essentially the same.