John Niekrasz is a drummer, composer, teacher, and writer from Chicago, living in Portland. He received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 2004. His band with Luke Wyland, Methods Body, releases its debut record on New Amsterdam Records and Beacon Sound on May 22, 2020. John also performs and composes for ensembles including Orchestra Becomes Radicalized, Why I Must Be Careful, Y La Bamba, Glowing Life, Thicket, GRS, Poor School, and Guvna Rakety.
A lifelong student of drum set, John has studied percussion and dance in Havana, improvisation with Milford Graves, and classical Hindustani tabla in Varanasi, India, with Pandit Lacchu Maharaj.
John is committed to improvisation both in performance and as a compositional approach. He bridges the musico-poetic divide through text-based composition and syllabic musical notation. His work struggles with such spectra as poverty and ornament, rigor and effortlessness, justice and militancy.
John’s previous recordings appear on labels Ecstatic Peace, ESP-disk’, Tender Loving Empire, Killertree, and others. He has composed original scores for choreographers including Shannon Stewart, Anya Cloud, Allie Hankins, and Ginger Krebs.
John Niekrasz has created work as a fellow at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, ACRE Arts Residency, and Résidence Point Dom. For six months, he lived in Paris’ Cité International des Arts, where he performed and curated events. He founded the Outset Music Series, volunteers in ACRE’s recording studio, and served as artistic director of the Creative Music Guild in Portland, Oregon. He taught drumming at Revival Drum Shop for three years.
John has collaborated and performed with Fred Lonberg-Holm, Nate Wooley, Marilyn Crispell, Mary Halvorson, John Butcher, Rhys Chatham, Glenn Kotche, Jason Adasiewicz, Sylvaine Hèlary, Frode Gjerstad, Wolter Wierbos, Jack Wright, Weasel Walter, Devin Hoff, Tim Daisy, Frank Rosaly, Joanna Newsom, Akron/Family, Tomeka Reid, Alexandra Grimal, Urs Leimgruber, Tim Kinsella, Tatsuya Nakatani, Seth Brown, William Hooker, Eve Risser, John Wiese, James Baker, Sally Timms, Michael Zerang, Guro Skumsnes Moe, Jaimie Branch, James Falzone, Jason Stein, Luke Wyland, Gust Burns, Gino Robair, Jason Roebke, John Gruntfest, Wayne Montana, Doug Theriault, Mika Singh, Thollem McDonas, Josh Berman, Josh Abrams, Keefe Jackson, John Dikeman, Julien Desprez, Matt Lux, Brian Mumford, and many other fine artists.