Recently, Malo of Decaycast sits down with Rob Buttrum, a key figure in the TX noise / experimental music scene to talk about his label , OUT OF BODY RECORDS, the future of experimental music and tapes .
Malo : Hello there , we have a bunch of great tapes from this label , OUT OF BODY RECORDS , what can you tell about this endeavor ?
Rob Buttrum : OUT-OF-BODY RECORDS started out of the ashes of AFTER DEATH RECORDS, A label I co-ran with a friend. We disbanded because of scheduling issues and the fact we were both so busy, it was hard to find time to work together. So we both started our own independent labels. OUT-OF-BODY was mine. The label stared in summer of 2011 with the a tagline of OUT-OF-BODY RECORDS – “ESOTERIC SOUNDS & EXTRATERRESTRIAL SIGHTINGS” I decided, right off the bat that I wanted to run a label not only focusing on music but also video. Focusing on Cassettes and VHS (first VHS batch out this summer) and hopefully eventually vinyl. Also focusing on releasing material that was not only harsh noise but esoteric music in general / non genre specific. I run the label out of my house/ex-venue HOUSE OF TINNITUS here in Denton TX.
Malo : So considering the label isn’t totally genre specific , can you talk a little bit about the curatorial process for selecting releases for the OOBR catalog?
RB : Basically any artist I want to work with,or respect/dig, i reach out to, to see if they are interested or available for doing a release.
I like to work with artists or bands that i feel are doing something a little different. Even the artists that I already am really into their material, I will ask to step outside the box or their comfort zone and try to come up with something a little different than they would normally do for a release with me. In addition when contacting artists, if I know or find out that an artist or band also works in video, I ask them if they would like to release a VHS, as opposed to a Cassette. I do receive requests / demos / submissions from artists and bands hoping to put something out on the label, and i listen to everything anyone sends me, if it grabs my attention or blows me away I will totally release it, it has happened. I Also like to work with as many artists I can that are in my local scene.
I feel there is a huge amount of talent in the DFW / North TX area, that never gets surfaced, so I like to make sure they get heard if possible. There are some really killer acts going on here right now. My musical taste ranges in everything from noise / industrial / cut up/ abstract, to sludge metal / thrash / black metal, to cold wave / darkwave / electro, to 70’s/80’s pop/funk/soul. and i could go on. I love music period. Though I do release a lot of noise I don’t consider OUT-OF-BODY solely a noise label , I am however trying to focus on pushing the limits on modern music, and trying to stay in the esoteric / abstract zone, when picking releases. Though not to say any of the genres i listed could not fit in there somewhere, if it really grabs me, ill go with it!!
Malo : Most of my favorite labels often dont stick to one genre , yet one can often still draw links between the releases , one link between all of the OOBR is the layout, Can you talk a little bit about the layout/design process for your tapes, and what if an artist decided they didn’t like the format?
RB : Well, So far i have done 98% of all the art / design on all the releases, with the exception of a photo or two used in inserts, in which I credit the artist / photographer. But all the covers have been done by me. As far as the layout goes, I do try to keep a few things the same for every release, for instance I keep the same font for every spine, and the color font is lifted from a color from the cover. also i use the O-O-B R logo on the back hook of the j-card. The covers and inserts are made based on the mood or themes the music gives me. Or in some cases based on the themes the artist / bands want me to work with. Most of the art is done by hand where some is done digitally, its a mix of both. I tend to work better without computers but use them as a helping tool when needed. I also make about 4-5 different B&W xerox collages for each release that i use for the backs of the J-cards. Though so far i have done all the art myself, I am not against the artist / band designing the art if they want to, but so far most people are cool we me doing it. I will however be using the artist’s design for an upcoming release. I do try to make the artist happy with the art i come up with and always approve it with the artist / band as I’m working on it, and if they don’t like something or want something changed i alter the art to their liking. Iv drafted dozens of covers for single releases until we both find one we really like. When I start working with a new artist i discuss the art and tell them how I keep the spine and the back hook, consistent and uniform, on each release so when on a shelf they are all uniform and have a common theme. No one has really had a problem with that yet.
Malo : So, what are some other labels / artists / etc that have inspired you to start a locally focused label ? And in the digital age , why is it still important to release physical media?
RB : Anyone that has ever ran an independent label and/or released music has influenced me.
I appreciate anyone’s ability and urge to keep underground music, culture and scenes alive. Its something iv always been interested in and doing my part in… I remember being a young teen and ordering music through a catalog or zine, before the internet. Ordering things that you
have never heard based on a description. waiting and getting it in the mail. Then looking at it and listening to it, feeling as if you found something special. you were part of it. It was an amazing feeling. I still do this with music I buy today. I have always been a fan of physical
releases, the holding of the actual media and looking at the art and reading the linear notes,
the packaging, the feeling of ownership. I have never been a fan of digital music. I just cant get behind it.It seems too empty and disconnected from the actual art in my opinion, and I don’t feel like I’m the only one that feels this way, so this is a reason i feel its important still today to release physical music. As well as it being a physical documentation of media that you can actually collect and create a library with. The same reason the Library of Congress still stores everything on cassettes. Its a way of preserving a work of art. I feel music releases are forms of art the same way a painting or photo can be, especially considering the fact that actual artwork is created for the releases. This art is just as important in my opinion as the music in cases.Thus the physical cassette becomes a piece of art and can be collected.
A relic of art.Thus, collectors are preserving the art / music, and in most cases the releases are limited so they then become collectible. Then eventually become worth more money then they were worth when they were originally released, as is the case for any limited collectors item.
Its an awesome feeling when you find or stumble across something that is 5/10/20/ 30 years old and know you found one of the few copies made or
possible left in circulation ever, and that’s a cool feeling. where a digital file has no feeling of rarity, its limitless and anyone can own it of find it. Computers are fragile and non permanent. Owning a digital file does not feel the same as owning the actual artifact to me. I also enjoy actually looking at a physical collection, as opposed to owning millions of albums on a computer that you can not actually see. I do not own any MP3 players or have a computer with quality speakers. I don’t associate music with computers in the sense of it being a playback medium… however as a lover of music i do have an adequate setup to listen to tapes, records, VHS, CDs, 8-tracks etc. on my home stereo. I pretty much only buy and listen to music on tape and Vinyl these days. I know some people that do have their computer set up through a good system and that’s totally cool but i feel personally i need more. And i think there are many others like me. Yet I do not want to alienate anyone that wants to purchase a release and become part of a scene who are not into the physical necessarily, and would rather have the digital version, so i do have digital downloads available in addition to the physical version.
As far as releasing local artist. its about 50 / 50 at this point. All areas have their local scenes and within that are micro scenes and little pockets of scenes. Some of these scenes have some killer shit going on but most of the time only that small scene has access to it, or perhaps if a touring act comes through that scene and sees it first hand. I enjoy experiencing other peoples scenes and seeing what other peoples music communities are like. I enjoy knowing where the newest pocket of killer shit is going on at a given time and scene. So I also like people to be able to experience the north TX scene. I make a point to try and release as much local stuff as I can, as I feel the TX scene is very strong and i like being an outlet for lesser know artist that i feel are doing things just as amazing as some of the more well known artist. I like being in a position where i can help people be heard.
malo : do you feel that digital technology specifically social networking has made it easier or more difficult for experimental acts to tour and pull decent gigs ?
RB: This is a good question. I’ve actually been talking to friends about this lately. It’s really a double edged sword. I definitely think
that social networking has made it way easier for bands and acts to tour and set up shows. Before the internet you had to already be involved with the right people and know contacts personally and call people on the phone and send demos and press kits venues and booking agents in order to set up tours. That’s why there were more people doing that as a job because they worked in the business and already know people. Eventually if you’ve toured constantly you had contacts. But a first time tour, or a smaller act… that was hard for most. Now just about anyone can book a tour without hardly knowing anyone anywhere, you can just put the word out on social media and someone will get you in contact with someone somewhere that can help. It still makes it easier the more you tour and the more personal connections you make. Like at this point I’v toured quite a bit and seem to at least know someone in almost every city, and within different scenes. It also helps that i used to run a DIY venue so i had hundreds of people come through my place that will return favors when your in their neck of the woods. But for booking tours, especially places you have never played, social media come in very handy. Even if you don’t know someone in a certain city or town you prob know someone who does, and with the internet its as easy as just sending some messages around. You don’t even have to have ever met someone or even have known them previously and they might be able to set you up a gig. In addition, as in the past you had to send press kits and demos if you wanted a club or promoter to hear / see what your band is about but now it is all online as well.. all you have to do is hey so and so – my band wants to play your city, I hear you book shows, can you help? Here are some links to our music and some videos and reviews… and its all done in a matter of minutes. Now a days you can book a tour in a matter of weeks when in the past it
could take half a year to really set some good gigs up, if you were doing it yourself. HOWEVER social media / networking in my opinion is also hurting the scene. Again on one hand it makes promotion easy, but its too easy. I feel like the youth in general is loosing the need for live shows. I feel they are not as into seeing live music. Its like they get invited to a show online, say their going, hear and see all the hype, then end up staying home to be on their computer cause they constantly plugged in and they can still feel like they went. Like in a virtual world, they know who went, they can watch videos of the show after it happened and its like they still experienced it virtually without actually having to go to the show. and still feel like there part of the scene, and they experienced the show.. its really weird, but its def. something iv been noticing. Sure you’r die hard music lovers still go to shows, but i feel were part of a dying breed. Everyone is so connected to their computers and smart phones that life is passing them by and they don’t care, they feel content and connected to everything in a different way. For example someone books a show and and makes a facebook event for it, say 100 people say there “going”and there is a bunch of internet hype around the show, but when the show come time to happen there are like 20 people there. Someone later posts a video or posts online how awesome it was then you run into someone that was not at the show and when asked if they were there or saw the set, the response was na, i could not make it but i saw the video and saw people talking about it. It was awesome!! and that’s enough for them. they know if they miss a show. they can still experience it in another way. This is what i think is destroying modern music scenes in some ways. people are not connected with real life. They get all the entertainment / art / music they need from a little screen. They don’t need to experience things in real life anymore. its scary shit man.
Malo :Ok, lastly what does the future hold for experimental music in the US? has it peaked? is it just beginning?
RB: Its hard to say what the future holds, but i have high hopes that it will continue to be relevant. Really hard to say if it will become more popular or less. Its always been an underground scene, and will most likely stay fairly so, yet I do notice that experimental music / noise is absolutely creeping / entering into more mainstream ideas and arts. Noise is not as weird and shocking as it once was when it was a newer idea. Most people who are at least into some form of music or art, at least know about noise. Its not weird to hear dissonant / noisy sounds in current pop, rap or rock music. However there as still crops of young people getting turned on to and discover noise that did not know about before and are falling totally in love with it and therefore research the history of the genera. It takes a certain person to have a passion for experimental music, i don’t think it will become a fad or mainstream by any means but it will be less underground, but i still think it will be relevant. And perhaps more so than in the past. There have been many great artists that it will be very hard to surpass, yet i still have no doubt that there is still plenty of room for people to continue to push music to insane levels and continue to create music that is next level and crazier then
anything ever created. which in my mind is very exciting and am looking forward to the future of experimental music!!
malo : LASTLY, anything u want to get off your chest, future releases, death threats. etc?
RB: I’d like to thank anyone that has supported my label or music / art in the past / future. I have a huge passion for the things i do and i invest a lot of time and effort into my art, and it makes it all worth the it when its appreciate and understood. I’m super stoked to announce the new batch of VHS on OUT-OF-BODY RECORDS. This marks the first Batch of VHS on the label thus far, and its been something iv wanted to do since i started the label 4 years ago. The new batch consists of audio and video work from artists Regosphere and Somnaphon. They are now available for mail order through outofbodyrecords.blogspot.com .
I’m completely back lined with many many more cassette and VHS releases for the future. Many exciting things to come. Next in line on the roster are cassettes
from Arvo Zylo, Ghost Miner, Bottomed, CBN/Satanic Abortion and VHS from NITE SHADEZ , Future Blondes , and Styrofoam Sanchez, all hopefully will be out in 2015… and beyond that more releases from artists such as Plack Blague, Redrot, Prisons, Sobering, Violator x, S. English, Alberich, FILTH, Private Archives, Profligate, Compactor and many more… looks like I’ve got some work to do…..and fuck anyone that gets in my way.
Here’s a few reviews of two of the stellar tapes from the Out Of Body Catalog
EN NIHIL / FILTH split
This tape brings together two of the hardest hitters working under the dark / industrial umbrella in the US today . EN NIHIL possesses the A side with a dark journey through a decrepit sonic landscape. The intro track is slow, minimal and haunting but halfway through dense, crunchy blown out beats creep in, and before you know it, the listener is submerged in a black lake of ringing and pounding. EN NIHIL creates distorted, slow churning rhythmic compositions, devoid of any light and hope . With each track the listener descends into a Lower level of thick , industrial soundscapes . Old shaky machines have gone awry and are slowly chopping and churning all of the metallic waste that humans have left behind into a fever pitched
Synth explosion of chaos .Adam Fritz EN NIHIL project proves to be one of the most articulate and consistent dark industrial / death – drone projects going currently.
On the B side, FILTH creates a slightly more chaotic, frantic , yet equally heavy and articulate version of the genre, sputtering out all analog based walls of industrial mayhem. FILTH is no stranger to decaycast review section , but this is one of his strongest efforts to date. Slow , tundra calving like rumblings cascade into high pitched screeching vocals, pushing through the dense, dark pillars of electronic sandstorms, all but shredding the speakers through magnetic madness. FILTH records with an all analog signal path, and it shows. FILTH is a master at blending the cacophonous array of his sound sources of electronic chaos Into a well defined, tension filled musical composition. This isn’t just noise, folks, not that there’s anything wrong with noise, but in the traditional sense, this just isn’t it . Theres a level of compositional
Awareness that just doesn’t exist on this level , often in these genres. And because of that, this tape, and the work of FILTH in general , is quite refreshing.
MATTHEW AKERS “A History of Arson”
With this cassette, Matthew Akers takes the listener on a ride through the mind of an arsonist. “A History Of Arson” is a concept album delving into the mind of an arsonist on all the levels of experience that the arsonist goes through, the anticipation, the act , the aftermath, and it’s done with a barrage of digital and analog synthesizers. “A History of Arson” takes the listener on a dreamy, dark , arpeggio ridden ride through cinematic repetition of well crafted synth riffage and highly thought out compositions. Akers music is cinematic and composed, yet visceral and natural at the same time. Tension is created for scenes in a film that doesn’t exist, but yet somehow the sounds still
Substantiate the narrative. The riffs are visceral, yet ephemeral, dark and beautiful , all while creating an emotional intangibility that takes the listener outside of their own mind and into the mind of a criminal, an arsonist , a psychopath hell bent on the inherent beauty implicit in nature’s destruction. light the match and let the elements do the rest of the work ! This is top notch synthesizer music, for fans of early Tangerine Dream , Radio People . Alan Howarth and John Carpenter and the alike . beautiful, cinematic and intentional. A Great release