The conversation between Kamasi Washington and Serpentine Galleries began in August 2018 with Washington’s extraordinary, dynamic, improvisational performance for Park Nights, the Serpentine’s annual series of experimental, interdisciplinary commissions in the Serpentine Pavilion.
As Told To G/D Thyself, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in January, is directed by the Ummah Chroma, a collective made up of renowned filmmakers and artists Bradford Young (Selma, Arrival, Solo: A Star Wars Story), Terence Nance (Random Acts of Flyness), Jenn Nkiru (The Carters' Apeshit), Marc Thomas (Michael & Javier) and Washington himself.
Shot in Baltimore, As Told To G/D Thyself is a cosmic journey of sacred youth, during which pain, pleasure and sublimation are non-negotiable. It is inspired by and features music from Heaven and Earth, an album comprised of two halves that finds Washington confronting quotidian realities with cosmic themes. A further investigation of Washington’s world building ideas, the record explores his reckoning with current global chaos and his vision for the future.
Kamasi Washington is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer born and raised in Los Angeles. He grew up playing jazz in the city’s storied Leimert Park neighbourhood, forming his first band, the Young Jazz Giants, with Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, Ronald Bruner Jr. and Cameron Graves in high school. Washington went on to study ethnomusicology at UCLA and play with Snoop Dogg, Raphael Saadiq and more, latterly collaborating with the likes of Kendrick Lamar. His debut album, The Epic, was released in 2015 to rapturous critical reception, universally embraced as one of the best of the year and awarded the inaugural American Music Prize. His highly anticipated second album, Heaven and Earth, was released in June 2018 via the Young Turks label to equally widespread acclaim.