Cleveland, OH mainstays SHADOWS continue with their darkest Knight investigations of the conceptual underpinnings of Batman interpreted as dense noise, beats, industrialized rhythms and haunting spacial decay. Shadows is the duo of David Russell and Wyatt Howland (Skin Graft) and the sound on “Bruce Spills The Pills” represents aspects of both of their sonic styles well, however it gels to create a sound still different than either of their solo output. Composition wise, this cassette oscillates between more formalized sharp, cutting, harsh rhythmic works that Russell has become known for as COLLAPSED ARC and the DAVID RUSSELL SNAKE, mixed with Howland’s crude, disgusting, fuzzed out blasts of high pitched noise and squelching feedback. With three tracks on the A side and three on the B side, all offering their own take on the sonic mayhem contained within Of “Bruce Spills The Pills”. Personal favorite would be “Freak” from the middle of the A side.
Despite being a “noise” album in some instances, there are clear distinct tracks on this each with their own breath of sonic investigation, and despite their uniqueness and form and sonic palette, they flow together quite well, never leaving the listener bored or annoyed, rather on the edge of the speaker cone begging for bleeding frequencies to ooze from the cave into the inner ear. Shadows is highly recommended for all of your crude and dirty noise and industrial needs.
BACKXWASH is a trans rapper (they/them/she/her) from Zambia whose music provides an eccentric and aggressive social commentary. Topics include blackness and queerness, as they strive to bring an intersectional perspective. Inspired by Missy Elliot and Redman, Backxwash is known for their complex lyricism on weird instrumentals.
I am a huge fan of Backxwash (aka Ashanti Mutinta) and love her first album, F.R.E.A.K.S., and her follow up album, Black Sailor Moon, so when she decided to join our collective and allow us to help her release her third album, Deviancy, I was personally beyond thrilled! She and I recently connected so I could ask her some questions about music, her process and her new album, Deviancy. After sitting through Deviancy several times and pondering on her words, I wrote down some of my thoughts and ideas and decided to mix them in with my questions to her to give you a feel for what I personally took from listening to her new album numerous times and so you can obtain a better understanding of her music, ideas and thoughts.
Nancy: I love collaboration and I’m usually drawn to working with people whose music is completely different than mine. I love stretching my musical abilities and blending sounds together that may seem unnatural, but yet work with them to end up creating music that in the end fits naturally together. I am curious how you go about collaboration and working with producers and how much of that you do yourself and how much people collaborate on that with you? Also, how you go about deciding what’s right for a particular song and how you decide who to work with?
Backxwash: Collaborating with people is essentially a 3 part process. 1) If they are good people, 2) If i feel safe, 3) if we share similar politics, Music is an experience and I would like to make sure all those things line up just to create the best environment possible.
For particular songs, I just go with a producer that I think will have a best sound for the record. Flying Fisher is good for creating weird and excellent bangers while SurgeryHead has got excellent aggressive gritty sounds. The rest goes to me. *laughs*
For this album I wanted to produce at least half of the material, I needed to make that step because I was not confident in my producing ability even though I have been doing it for a long time. I just wasn’t confident to rap on my own beats, but I did it and even plan on making Don’t Come to the Woods a single.
Nancy: Don’t Come to the Woods is an excellent opening song for the record. I love it and it really sets the mood for the album.
I usually end up writing lyrics while writing the music or after the music is written, but occasionally the words come first. Most of the time I start with a base idea or riff and then build around that. Can you describe your usual writing process and do you usually write lyrics before the music or vice versa or how do you usually approach songwriting in general?
Backxwash: For this project I approached some of the songs a bit different. I grew up on 50 cent and one thing that I learned from him was that if he can’t find the hook to a song then he won’t write the song. For my previous projects, I usually hear a bit that I like and if I can’t figure out the hook in a few minutes, I won’t use the beat. I will go to something else.
For this album, it was very different in that my hooks were expressions that I had before writing the songs. There were these sentences that I had in my mind, when making the beats. It was a matter of applying these expressions in a catchy way. An example of that is Don’t Come To the Woods. The verses I thought were the easiest part. Learning from my previous project, is that an overlooked aspect of writing verses is how dope you say them. So this album was me experimenting with different cadences.
Track 1: Don’t Come to the Woods
the darkest and most dangerous of places
but also a place of healing and calming
a safe spot to find peace and solace
spells have all been cast
don’t dare enter
unless you’re worthy
Nancy: This song is easily a trailer for a horror thriller film like Evil Dead 2 meets Brave New World but even more political and absolutely queer. I see this song as a metaphor for living in this world, especially for qtpoc. You use humor a lot in your music as well which I can relate to. I feel like I use it to cope with the darkness of a lot of the subject matter I deal with in my songs. It’s also a defense mechanism for me. How do you feel about the use of humor in your music?
Backxwash: Oh yes for this song, I looked at how western media shows witchcraft as something dastardly and spooky. Spiritualism where I am from would be also seen as witchcraft to the west but it is not as ridiculous as they make it out to be. That is why I wrote this song just to play on those stereotypes and kinda make fun of that trope.
Track 2: Devil In a Moshpit
toxicity of much of the punk, noise and metal scenes
moshpits can be the epitome of white hate and misogyny
Nancy: A lot of queer people, especially qtpoc experience, violence on a daily basis. Most have a multitude of stories, even within so-called safe DIY spaces. I feel like this is where this song is rooted. How much of your personal experiences within the various music scenes you’ve been a part of or shows you’ve attended went into this song?
Backxwash: Oh yeah that is something that I struggle with. When I was performing in Vancouver, I was afraid I would see people who I don’t want to see and that is something that people who have gone through shitty stuff have to deal with when performing sadly. I just thought I should pull from those experiences and write a song about that and I already had the hook.
Nancy: I also feel like a lot of the best parts of punk music with bands like Bad Brains, The Slits, Crass and Dead Kennedys is very much connected to the message of a lot rap and hip hop. I got into bands like them along side ones like Public Enemy at the same time and a lot of that had to do with the message of the music. How do you feel your music fits into those genres?
Backxwash: I think I pull a lot from punk bands with a message, There is a beauty to sounding angry on a record. I listened to a lot of Zach de la Rocha before coming up with this and his voice just has so much conviction. I always say I am an angry trans woman rapper and I do not know how else I could rap. This is the only way it makes sense for me.
Nancy: Music for me is a way to process the world, especially the dark and horrible parts of it, and find a way to heal and create something positive out of all the darkness. There’s also a lot of misogyny, queerphobia and transphobia in punk and rap and hip hop and this song seems to be a counter anthem to all that. What are your thoughts on music as a kind of activism, but also as a way to heal from that?
Backxwash: Music is really awesome therapy. I find myself being able to tap into places I wouldn’t have been able to by other means. I think this Backxwash character gives me the confidence needed to confront these issues the way I want. Music gives a voice and I do like that.
Track 3: Foundation + Face Tattoos
classic Robin Hood and I’m all about it.
Nancy: White people have been stealing and appropriating black culture at the expense of black people for forever- people from Elvis to Ariana Grande. People like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian appropriate black hair, fashion and make-up and profit and build their brands off of it. Capitalism is an oppressive system that requires the suffering and subordination of a large population of people politically, culturally, and economically, and capitalism and racism support each other. These ideas seem to be the themes of this song and I am wondering if you could talk about that a bit. I feel like this is one of those songs where you really are trying to process and channel your anger regarding these things into something positive through music. I don’t think anyone can listen to your music or this song in particular and not think about these things.
Backxwash: Absolutely, most of the bad shit that happens with oppressed minorities has capitalism as one of the leading driving forces. Part of me thinks that what if there was this person who went around robbing rich people and giving the earnings to the people that really need it. There is really no reason why anyone should hoard all this money.
Track 4: Bad Juju
If only I could cast off doing the daily walk in this disgusting and transphobic world every day.
Nancy: From my understanding, people who are LGBTQ in Zambia face severe abuse and death due to harsh and deadly laws and societal beliefs. I feel like I can hear in this song your justified anger. Humans have a crazy ability to survive at all costs, which you touch on in Burn Me at the Stake. Trans and queer people have always existed and we are never disappearing however hard any people try. Although Canada does not have those harsh and deadly discriminatory laws like Zambia, I am sure much like here in the United States, you have been subjected to a lot of the same sort of ignorance from people throughout your life. Our current administration is constantly trying to strip our rights. Almost every day we hear about another murder of a black trans woman. I cannot help but think about these things when listening to this song. I also know witchcraft is important to you and so many people have misconceptions about what it is as part of a spiritual practice. Could you talk a bit about any of these things as it relates to this song and your music in general?
Backxwash: Oh yeah when I was writing this I was trying to make music for fighting back against these oppressive systems. This song was kinda like “don’t mess with us or we will hex you” and just playing with that idea. I listen to battle rap and it is usually raps about how the other opponent can dismantle the other one, but I thought this would be a nice twist and hardcore hip hop song about using witchcraft instead. Essentially just saying there is an intersection of queerness and witchcraft. We recognize that so don’t mess with us and we will go in peace.
Track 5: Deviancy
My thoughts do not do your songs any justice, but this song traps the disgusting stench of colonialism and holds that mirror up for people to see how we participate in it every day.
Nancy: My last album, Godless Goddess, was about my personal struggles growing up Catholic and being subjected to attending Catholic school for 1st through 8th grade and how that religion affected my mental health and contributed to some of the other abuse and trauma I was experiencing at that time and just processing it and coming to terms with it. I spent much of my childhood, teens and 20s trying to deal with the guilt of rejecting those beliefs and the deep pain and damage religion did to my self esteem and mental health. Christianity and Catholicism is deeply connected to patriarchy and colonialism. You touch on various related things in this song like the prison system and police brutality and how all these things are related and interconnected, and possibly how all these things are at odds with your spiritual beliefs and who you are at the core, and how these systems, institutions and the people who participate in them see you as deviant. What were your thoughts when connecting all these things together in this song?
Backxwash: Yes this was a thought that started from how colonialism painted most of my culture as evil and bad and how everyone should read this bible thing. From that we got all of these oppressive structures just because the missionaries decided to come in and exploit our people. It is kind of painting a timeline of how all of that happened but in a less in direct way.
Track 6: Dying Seems Like Fun (Interlude)
Nancy: I liked how you also had an instrumental on F.R.E.A.K.S. with Sounds Like Molly. In this case, you use this backwards swirl of repetitive sounds and noise as a calm and meditative break before the body/beauty/gender affirming love ballad, You Like My Body the Way it Is. Is that something you consciously did?
Backxwash: Oh yes I thought this would be a nice transition. I got my friend SurgeryHead to play a guitar and Will Bennett and I expanded on this sound to make it sound more soothing. Just to ease the listener into the next song.
Track 7: You Like My Body the Way It Is
This song is every single woman’s and trans person’s anthem ever. We are taught to hate our bodies every day. It doesn’t matter who we are. We all feel horribly insufficient and have worth only equal to material and binary standards of beauty.
Nancy: This is the softest song on the album. The lyrics are relatable and the song feels like a love song to yourself as much as to your loved one and stands in defiance and in the face of everything and everyone that looks at trans people as lacking or not enough. It’s also much different in sound and tone from the other songs on this album and your other albums. It’s a nice surprise. What inspired you to write a love ballad? With repeat listens, this song is also the ultimate queer and trans friend song too. It’s really sweet and shows a vulnerable side unlike most of your songs but also has the don’t fuck with me side that’s often in your message.
Backxwash: Well when I was writing the album, I had the title in my mind as well. The album was gonna be aggressive throughout but I thought in hindsight, what is more deviant to the people that hate me than a trans woman dealing with dysphoria and being told to love herself? These people completely hate that, and I just felt so connected to my partner that the pieces of the puzzle just fell into place. It is actually one of my favorite songs on the album.
Track 8: Burn Me at the Stake
Everything good that has happened and rights gained has come from the sweat and blood of our trans sisters and brothers.
Nancy: I love that you are unapologetically yourself and express your anger and displeasure with the injustices you have experienced and see around you. I’m sure that frequently makes you a target. I think a while ago you mentioned having to lock down your social media temporarily due to online harassment. This song feels like an anthem to all that. You’re not backing down and I love that about you and this song. Can you talk a bit about how you came to embracing who you are and putting that into your message and music? Was your music always like that or was it a process to get to where grew to it ? What was your music like prior to the album F.R.E.A.K.S. or was that your first set of songs?
Backxwash: My music wasn’t always like this, Before it was more like revolutionary conscious rap, but the more I started discovering about myself, the more that I decided to put this in my music. Music is the most authentic expression for me and I don’t know what else to write about without being my authentic self. This just made the most sense to me. It’s funny because I always wanted to use this sample, remember making a beat when I was 16 with this loop and the drums were horrible, It is awesome that I eventually found a good use for it.
Nancy: I feel like I have such a mix match of musical icons and perhaps that comes out in my music because sometimes people have a difficult time describing it or nailing down the genre. I get the feeling that even though you are making rap and hip hop for the most part, you don’t limit yourself and that you seem to have a broad list of musical influences. I already know some of your musical inspiration and people you admire. Can you talk a little about who you look to for production inspiration and also lyrical flow? Also, who are some musicians or bands you listen to that you think might surprise people?
Backxwash: Production inspiration has to be JPEGMafia. Just the way he uses his samples is incredible. Missy Elliot as well, her music has such a bounce to it and is so catchy, I love that too. I think most of the inspiration comes from the sample that is being flipped because thats hip hop in my opinion.
In terms of rap I have Redman, Missy Elliot again, Lady Of Rage, Quay Dash, Queen Latifah, Zach de la Rocha. I usually like anyone with a bit of complexity to their raps, as well as an angry cadence. I love conviction in someone’s voice and love people that experiment with their voices.
In terms of surprising inspirations, I would say I did pull a lot of Lady Gaga just from an aesthetic perspective. MIA also for her approach to experimentation.
Nancy: I am someone who still listens to whole albums in the age of just streaming random songs on shuffle. Sometimes I put my phone on shuffle, but usually, I listen to albums beginning to end. Maybe it’s my age. When I was a kid there were just records and then tapes so that’s how I usually listened to music except for making and listening to mixtapes. That was the 80s and 90s of listening to music on shuffle. *laughs* I always love listening to new things I haven’t heard, but there’s several musicians and albums I always go back to. Can you talk a little about your listening habits and thoughts on that? Who are you listening to right now and also who are some of the musicians or albums you often come back to?
Backxwash: My listening habits are similar and I like to take an album as a whole product because I think that is an experience as well. I also do not mind single tracks by themselves, but the album experience is really great for me.
Right now I have been listening to a lot of JPEGMafia. I went back to his earlier shit and I really like how unapologetically radical he is. The tape he did with Freaky is a must-have for any radical leftist.
It was a pleasure speaking to Backxwash and I cannot wait to hear what she does next. You can purchase the full length on limited edition cassette and lathe cut out on Grimalkin Records here. Proceeds from cassette sales go to Project 10 in Montreal, digital only proceeds go to Nationz Foundation in RVA, and lathe cut proceeds support future physical releases on Grimalkin Records.
“Project 10 works to promote the personal, social, sexual and mental well being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit, intersexed and questioning youth and adults 14-25.”
Nationz Foundation a 501(c)3 non-profit organization was organized to fulfill our mission to “provide education and information related to HIV prevention and overall health and wellness, while inspiring the community to take responsibility for their health while working towards a more inclusive Central Virginia for LGBTQIA+ identified individuals.”
Grimalkin is a queer-focused record label and collective comprised of artists from all over the world to raise money and support social justice and civil rights organizations through releases, benefit shows & zines locally in RVA/Hampton Roads USA and worldwide. You can learn more about the collective here.
DECAYCAST Reviews: Somnambulists “From the Field To The Factory” CS/DL (Zum, 2019)
Slow, morose guitars begin to dust the cobwebs off George Chen’s ZUM imprint with a fresh new ambient guitar release from Somnambulists“From the Field To The Factory” begins with lurking guitar drones casting subtle, unsettling modulations, that run across the ear like a bead of sweat escaping down the face, onto the ground which sprouts a tree.
Thick washes of reverb and delay turn strings into echoes of malfunctioning machines, churning, turning and eventually sputtering out. The track ‘Circular Ruins ” harkins early washes of MONO, Godspeed You Black Emperor etc, but the climax never comes in the same way, leaving the listener on the edge for more. Somnambulists leaves us (me) yearning a more chaotic sphere that never materializes, instead it sinks back into itself, like the worker in the field who has since run themselves devoid of motion and fluids. Perhaps the perfect sonic representation, we do not get what we want, we simply balance on the edge until the last sound can no longer be heard. Capitalism destroys the spirit and the body and this is the perfect morose soundtrack to it’s unnerving, guaranteed decay. Other tracks offer more looped spring movements , reversing, folding and collapsing on themselves, but never really moving too far from the structural or sonic reference of a guitar. Background layers of chirping drones create a ambient wash which the guitar elevates over just long and wide enough to create a lush, dynamic space to lose time in.
– Meniere Zappone
From the label.
“From the Field to the Factory is a conceptual cycle of instrumental works that reflect on labor and struggle, repression and revolt, history and forgetting, abstraction and meaning. They are meant as memorials to the invisible, the unwritten, and the unvoiced; to an inner experience existing out of time. They are hymns to an idea of the ahistorical as the lost voice of anonymous resistance echoing like stains across the battered walls of memory.”
Warren Ng is an experimental musician based in Brooklyn, NY and originally from San Francisco who has performed and released numerous recordings under the names Somnambulists and This Invitation, all linked by an interest in minimalism, string drone, and the hidden internal hum of the electric guitar.
GOLDEN CHAMPAGNE FLAVORED SWEATSHIRT “Human Animal Chimera”
With “Human Animal Chimera”GOLDEN CHAMPAGNE FLAVORED SWEATSHIRT offers a blistering, slow-building rhythmic forward synth and drum track with various unheard and unique textures churning heavily in the background to create a thick, warm, but slightly unsettling blanket to cloak your ears in as the track progresses into a darker, more sinister climax. The drums are sharp and steady, militant, and pummeling, sitting perfectly in the mix to create a high tension blend of industrial, dubbed-out industrial forward banger. The bombastic drums create a stabbing and calculated backbone for the synth and other sonic parts to rattle this heavy and brooding sonic machine just as it’s ready to attack. Pummeling bass drums and toms hammer away as a symphony of buzzing synthesizers creating a refreshing concoction of dissonant, yet unified and very well gelled sound. The sound of GCFS is both dark, and complex, while retaining a unique cinematic edge, which is often missing in more traditional forms of dance and industrial music. Sputtering and groaning synthesizers, chirping sharp noise blasts and mangled voice samples create the sounds of animals and humans being glued and stapled together in a twisted, primitive lab, which sounds morbid, and yet, I can’t turn it off, I just want to hear more, and this is the fifth go around for this track for me in writing the review. This sounds great in headphones, but I can only yearn for this track to be blaring in a club akin to the blood rave scene from Blade. I wasn’t able to find much on this project but follow their bandcampand pick up the tracks that are there, you WILL NOT be disappointed. Heavy electronic music tracks are a dime a dozen, these days, but Golden Champagne Flavored Sweatshirt bring hope for those of us who want our dance music, dark, heavy and uniquely heavy. A really refreshing listen, will be back for everything this project releases.
DECAYCAST Reviews : Sgt. Elyas “Tubular Moanings Of A Galactic Refrigerator” (Aphelion Editions, 2019)
Sgt. Elyas presents slow oscillations of fuzzed, decaying churning guitar works belting out cold isolations for the listener to freeze in confusion. The sound is heavy, thick, and powerful, without overusing distortions and effects, the tones reference the guitar but the sonic range is quite nuanced with distant throbbing percussion like rhythms fading in the background, slow symphonic pulses, washing ashore like a wave crashing upon the unsuspecting sand. Cresendos come with thick, and washed out drums hammering the surface of a still, frozen lake, and we are once again cast into a cold forgotten tundra of confusion and longing. “Tubular Moanings Of A Galactic Refrigerator” falls somewhere between power drone, drone and imaginary film soundtrack. Overall sonically unique and refreshing.
Check out more releases from Aphelion Editionshere.
DECAYCAST Premieres: Post-Industrial Darkwave duo V.E.X. Shares New Video “Dancing At The End Of Time”
Bay area artists Roxy and LuLu, as V.E.X., (and a myrid of other projects) have been playing music and creating art together for years on end in the bay area and beyond, yet somehow always bring something refreshingly new and politically necessary to the table, and their latest single, supported with a brand new video here “Dancing At The End Of Time” is certainly no exception.
From the artists; “Dancing At The End Of Time” is a low-fi synth ballad of remembrance and resistance in a dying world, the true story of two femme freaks gentrified out of the city but not out of their souls, holding onto their love in spite of all the hate, dedicated to crafting underground subculture music for outcasts, the forgotten, and those fighting back in this genocidal abusive white supremacist capitalism patriarchy death spiral.“
“Dancing At The End Of Time” offers a celebratory, yet real and visceral look at two femmes resisting the violent forces of oppression and gentrification through the streets of a forgotten and endlessly morphed San Francisco. “Dancing…” gels haunted vocals and murky, analog synth arpreggiations, creating both a serene and haunting vibe which encapsulates the listener into a tale from the past. Watch the video below and read some words on the track and video from V.E.X. below. The track is from an upcoming split with Moira Scar.
“Roxy and LuLu have been playing music together since 2001, as The Floating Corpses, Angel On The Nod And The Phantasy Defylement, Terrran Traumantics, Moira Scar, and V.E.X. being the most recent incarnation. V.E.X. (Vortex Empath Xen, formerly Voltage Empath Xanaxax, Ventriloquest Ectoplasmold Xanaxax) is Lu Lu “Lucifer” Gamma Ray and Roxzan “Roxy Monoxide” Zatan as industrial-dark-wave synth-punk surreal-doom noise-romance duo. V.E.X. creates, V.E.X. records, V.E.X. plays shows.”
DECAYCAST Interviews: “If it smells like noise, it must me noise.” – An Interview with experimental music mainstay Steve Davis / +DOG+
First hearing of +DOG+ they were somewhat of a mystery to me in history and intention, I think I first came across a split 7” between +DOG+ and The HATERS or maybe they were separate release I acquired at the time along with a Tribes Of Neurot CD maybe were the first “noise” albums I would own ? I could be crossing releases/synapses, but i remember +DOG+ was sort of enigmatic from the beginning- much like many of the out there experimental titles I was discovering at the time, who were the members, where were they from, what did they do during the day, and why were they making these wonderful and chaotic sounds. In the bay area, +DOG+ had built sort of a mystified legend around themselves, toting a modular lineup that seems to shift with nearly every performance and document (of which to both there are, MANY). +DOG+ was one of the first projects I saw that completely eradicated the boundaries between audience and performer, encapsulating the true spirit of noise, freedom from convention and maybe even a slight dissolving of the psyche, or at least a loud probe into it’s existence. +DOG+ seems to record an uncanny amount of studio material, boasting at times seemingly monthly output but overall, the work is intentional and nuanced, yet free and engulfed with the celebratory spirit of true avant-garde sounds and performances. Digging into +DOG+’s exhaustive discography, there is a nearly endless trove of sounds and expressions, but we are left with one constant, the man behind +DOG+, Steve Davis. We chatted with Steve about his longstanding +DOG+ project as well as his imprint LEM. Love Earth Music although largely focusing on noise, boasts a rather diverse roster of artists, everything from the nuanced, drone tone poem mastery of multimedia artist Conscious Summary “Flowers” or the blasting, alienating noise walls of +DOG+, or the angular, broken guitar rhythms of Intensive Studies, LEM keeps it refreshing, interesting and uncontrived in the most honest way possible.
Can you talk to us about the history of +DOG+ and your other various musical outlets if any?
Hi, I started doing +DOG+ around 1990 when I lived in Osaka. Prior to doing +DOG+ I was in a Boston band Expando Brain and The Flower Brothers in Osaka, I played bass in those bands. I had been doing another noise band J-Shi with David Hopkins- Public Bath Records and Sam Lohman- Nimrod , 36. Then made +DOG+ as a ‘studio’ extension of that sort of. When I moved back to MA in early 1993 I started doing +DOG+ as a regular band and did a lot of shows around MA/NY/CT with myself and a couple of others. We were blessed to have Ron Lessard release our 1st 7” on Stomach Ache in 1994 and Detector to do our 1st full album in 1996. I moved to CA in 1997 and continued to do +DOG+ there. That’s when I met you and the other Bay Area folks and did a lot of shows around CA as well as doing a tour of UK/Belgium in 2007 then did a tour of Japan in 2008. I moved back to MA in 2016 and have continued to do +DOG + here and have a new CD out soon called “10, 585” which is approximately how many days I’ve done the band. The line up has been myself and a large number of members coming & going. I’d say the core members besides myself are Eddie Nervo, Ron Karlin, Lob, Chuck Foster, Bobby Almon, Jack Szymczak and they send me stuff for the cd’s and then I mash it all up so to speak and add my crap.
I also have a couple other bands, Intensive Studieswith Jack, we grew up together and started it when I moved back. I think that band is a mash up of styles from all the stuff Jack & I love; the Mothers, Punk, and just overall weird sounds. It’s a hard band to categorize as far as a “style” goes. I also just started a new noise band with Daniel Sine from L’elcipse Nue. That project is called Le Chien Nu and we just did a release on LEM. +DOG+ has a new release out spring and another probably out in the summer.
Speaking of releases, talk a bit about the history of your imprint, love earth music? How does running your longstanding label, LEM inform your creative practice, if at all?
I started Love Earth Music (LEM) around 1999 when I was living in CA. The 1st release was +DOG+ “Luddite Revolution” I started it just to be able to do +DOG+ releases and stuff from my friends and that’s how & why I did it. I used to make all the CD’s, covers, etc at home with my computer and printer but it just got too much so I don’t do that anymore . I have them made by someone else now. I have my friend Lob to help out with the art stuff on a lot of the releases and my pal Dustin ( Actuary) helps with a downloadable component of the label. That’ s stuff that usually is not on the physical LEM releases. A lot of the early LEM releases were friends from CA, but then it sort of branched out to bands from everywhere, mostly noise/experimental stuff at first. I’ve tried to do some stuff that is not noise/experimental stuff cause I’m really into everything. Weirdly, we did a Brutal Truth 8 track but I think we sold all of those. I feel that doing the label is a way to be a part of something that I enjoy and have respect for. Its easy to make crap, and have someone put it out. The stuff we / my friends do and release is hopefully something that isn’t boring and pushes the envelope a little. I have met so many great folks thru the bands and label and I have enjoyed many wonderful life experiences that I never would have imagined as a kid growing up in the woods in MA. I don’t get out to many shows these days, but when I do I am always blown away by the power of the sounds and the passion that my friends put into the shows. Even after all these years, it’s still inspiring. Last summer I was playing a show at a venue in Worcester, MA and there was this huge drum on top of a piano and was looking at it thinking how cool it would have been to use ( I’d already played my set) and then a bit later, Victoria Shen, a local noise great, went over and used it and it was soooo awesome..I so glad she went over and just mic’d it and wailed! It was very cool. Stuff like that is inspiring to me.
““If it smells like noise, it must be noise.”
I don’t know, it makes me happy to be able to get some of these sounds out for other people to hear. Seeing people and hearing the stuff they do keeps me interested in sounds and being creative. Doing the label has also let me get to know people from all over the world. Some upcoming LEM releases are going to be by Ego Death from Greece and God Pussy from Brazil. I’m also planning to do releases by some local / east coast folks here over the next year too, like Angelsbreath,Lean, Matt Luzak, Pas Musique,Martyr, This Is Not Okay, Bullshit Market ( MI), The Flayed Choirmaster (CA), Jolthrower (CA), Instagon (CA) and others that I can’t remember. I am looking forward to being able to release some interesting stuff in the future.
Having established yourself and your label on both coasts can you talk about the differences and similarities between west coast and east coast scenes, and if not the scenes the style/aesthetics?
I honestly don’t see much of a difference at all really. I think with so much stuff available online and the growth of these different groups online, everything is out there for everyone. So therefore there are no surprises …I see folks in NH doing similar stuff to folks from CA etc… I really don’t see differences..the only thing different here in the northeast is that the winter weather can mess up plans for shows/travel, but as far as styles or aesthetics it seems pretty much the same to me all over the country.
What was the most powerful performance you’ve ever witnessed?
I have seen a lot of shows over the years so its hard to pick just one, but if I had to I would have to say that the Swans at the Rat in Boston in the mid 80’s was one of the most powerful shows ever. They were terrifyingly amazing, the sound kinda went thru me and Michael Gira was awesome..it was an incredible show. The Boredoms 8-8-08 show in LA with 88 drummers was also great.
What are the main differences between recording and performing noise, is one inherently more valuable to you as an artist?
I think for me the differences is in the energy. I tend to be a little more harsh I think doing +DOG+ shows as compared to some of the studio stuff which is usually more varied. I also tend to play short sets ..usually between 5-10 mins so that would be different as well. When I ‘ve done ‘live’ on the radio sets..its usually a combination of studio and live cause I have to fill more time and bring a lot of extra gear as compared with a regular show. I honestly like both about the same…each year though I say to myself I’m gonna do less shows, but end up doing about the same number each year. One thing I do like about playing out is just seeing friends and seeing what they’re up to with regards to theirs sounds and their lives. I do feel that as an “artist” the recorded stuff is more of an accurate picture of where my head is at musically/sonically/sound wise. For example, the new +DOG+ studio album will have a couple minutes of acoustic guitar and actual singing on a track, which I doubt I would ever do live, and the sounds are more layered and clearer in general. What I enjoy about playing live are the physical aspects of playing, of making noise on the spot with all the adrenaline of it all, you know, getting to release some noisy energy. So I guess they both have value to me but just in different ways.
And lastly, how do you define noise?
I don’t know..at this point “noise” seems to encompass many varieties & styles. When +DOG+ first started it was easier to define, we set up a wall of amps with a few distortion & delay pedals, smashed metal all over the stage, screamed bloody fucking murder and made a lot of ‘noise’…it was very primal at that time. We considered ourselves a “noise band”…but now I don’t know…the noise scene now has so many sub genres…harshnoise, ambient noise..experimental noise, whatever…its noise if you wanna call it “noise”. I guess I could define it as anything that doesn’t follow the standard musical format and/or structures, but even that would be wrong cause a lot of noise folks do use structure and use regular instruments etc…so its really hard for me to literally define noise to someone else. If it smells like noise, it must be noise.