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Layne Garrett interview, 2021-06-05

Identifier: dcpl_dcohc031_05.wav

Scope and Contents

From the Collection:

D.C. Oral History Collaborative (DCOHC) is a citywide initiative to train community members in oral history skills, fund new and ongoing oral history projects, connect volunteers with oral history projects, and publicize existing oral history collections. DCOHC is a project of DC Public Library, HumanitiesDC, and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. This collection contains oral history interviews, transcripts, and indexes produced by DCOHC grantees.


  • Creation: 2021-06-05


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Layne Garrett is an improvising musician, instrument builder, and educator based in Takoma, D.C. Layne has been building and playing instruments of his own design for over 10 years. He has taught music and instrument building classes, camps, and workshops at KID Museum, Rhizome DC, FutureMakers, Capitol Hill Arts Workshop, and area schools. He has facilitated experimental shows in the District’s DIY basements and house venues, created participatory audio installation at Capitol Rocks in Rock Creek Park, and has been a head of operations at DIY experimental arts haven Rhizome DC.


From the Collection: 1.13 Terabytes


Layne Garrett discusses growing up in a typical household in Tennessee and spending his childhood, visiting family on long road trips to Texas. While interest in music was always present in Layne’s life, it was in high school that exposure to outsider literature and open tuning in guitar brought him to be a part of music projects and pursue creative expression. He reflects on four years of living in a new city in Phoenix after college, where lack of social engagements got him to experiment with music and composing. He started building instruments from found objects and after moving to D.C. in the early 2000s, started performing with these built sonic structures. Layne got involved in the experimental arts in the district, organizing shows at the Lighthouse, his own house basements, and, later, at the former location of the historic Back Alley Theater. In 2015, along with five residents from Takoma Park, Layne started working on building Rhizome DC. The starting group of individuals met through un-schooling their children, for whom Layne hosted circuitry workshops. While intended to focus on community DIY educations (with open possibilities), Rhizome DC filled a need for an experimental music community, since Union Arts was displaced by a hotel development around the same time. Layne reflects on some of the first performances at Rhizome, where his own 2-year-old (at the time) daughter partook in one of the first events. This shows the blurred lines between performer and audience and openness to participation (regardless of age and beyond.) Thinking about the next steps for Rhizome DC, Layne Garrett emphasizes the strength of the community and possibly transformations, informed by post-pandemic cultural events and the needs of the experimental arts community in the district.

Repository Details

Part of the The People's Archive, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library Repository

901 G Street NW
4th Floor East
Washington DC 20001