DECAYCAST Interviews : SIGNOR BENEDICK THE MOOR
The discography of California based imprint Deathbomb Arc spans across rap, noise, experimental, noise rock, abstract electronic music and more boasting releases from experimental rap group Clipping, and rap/noise crossover Death Grips to the dense lush pop soundscapes of Fielded, to the noisy chaotic percussive assault of Foot Village, but none of these releases seem to masterfully weave so many seemingly disconnected genres into such a dense, queer, volatile, explosion of hybrid-styles future music than one of the the labels newest release, “Spirit Realm.Final” from non binary CA based rapper SB THE MOOR. On “Spirit Realm.Final”, SB takes the extremes from “Pillows” and “MNFST.dstnii” and a swarth of self released cassettes and mix tapes and pushes them even farther into the psychedelic netherworld that is their mind. This record truly defies categorization, it’s at once both haunting, beautiful, chaotic, poised, explosive and contained, seamlessly bridging hip hop, post rock, noise, industrial, and avant garde. These terms seem to contradict each other but upon opening your ears to “Spirit Realm.Final” and the work of SB THE MOOR, you’ll find beauty, chaos, anger, confusion, and even peace in the complicated dichotomies of our very existence. Moor has been on an unrelenting tear of touring, recording and collaborations and we needed to know more! We chatted with SB about their newest record, released on Deathbomb Arc, what it means to be a queer working artist, collaboration, touring and how this impacts the creative process. You can order their new record from the label HERE.
Dr. Decaycast: Thanks for talking with Decaycast! Can you talk a little bit about your project SB The MOOR? Do you consider it more of a band, solo project, or concept?
SB The Moor: hmm I guess when I started, Signor Benedick the Moor was just another name/alias. I think I already finished an album (which ended up being El Negro) and that was just another weird name I picked to call myself. I didn’t expect it to take off. Now, it’s a bit of a mix of all three. SB is sort of a persona, or alter ego with which to experiment and make art with.
DD: You have a new record out on Deathbomb Arc, correct, titled “Spirit Realm.Final”? Is this record a linear continuation of your sound from the previous Deathbomb releases, and if not how has your sound changed?
SB The Moor: This new record…. well I never really know what’s going to happen when I go into album making mode. Even after I’m finished it usually takes a couple weeks of downtime before i really understand what it is. In a way this new record, titled “spirit realm.final” is a continuation of “Toybox”, “cybr.pnk”, and “MNFST.dstniii“. Those records were like…me figuring out how to make spirit realm.final. Sonically, texturally….and figuring out my music making process….as well as how to mix to my liking…those last three records trained me in all of those aspects. Thematically this record reminds me a lot of El Negro, too. It’s almost like a spiritual successor in my mind, because the album was born from a very dark place. This time though I’m experienced enough to identify the darkness and use it purposefully, instead of being used by it. Tbh, El Negro attracted a lot of attention from people I really didn’t want to be associated with haha.
“Representation is everything! Even on this tour ….. non binary kids have been tellin’ me how much it means to them. ….. But, y’know, seeing artists like Mykki Blanco just tear shit up was crucial for me.”
DD: You’re currently on tour, correct? How does touring affect the writing and recording process? Do you record and write ideas on the road or are the two unique and individualized parts of your process?
SB The Moor: Being on tour and being “in the studio” are really yin and yang to me… I find out what works live, what my vocal and performing abilities are. This really fuels what I decide to do when making a record. Then, having leveled up on stage, I make something with new ideas and abilities in mind. I’m not usually thinking of one while I’m doing the other, so connecting the two is usually a learning process in itself, and another way to level up. I do think broadly about recording when im on tour, like what themes I want to explore and what sounds/textures/genres I might use, but I usually only write when I’m actually making a record, working on a collaboration, or of course, working on a commission.
DD: What is the most misunderstood aspect about your work as SB, or rather of nothing comes to mind what would be one thing you would like to share with your supporters that they perhaps don’t know at this time
SB The Moor: I think I felt wildly misunderstood around 2014-2016. 4chan is apparently a big reason for my success early on and I hate 4chan lol. A lot of sweaty racist white boys, proud to tell me about their obscure music tastes, simultaneously putting me down and looking for me to give them a proverbial cookie. Maybe most artists just ignore them but I felt hurt that by these dorks, I’m sensitive damn it! And I also thought about what that meant about me, what part of myself is being reflected here? When I released Toybox, which was pretty much a pop punk record, a lot of people were actually angry! And I’m like wow I’m way too un-famous and broke for these clowns to be getting under my skin…and where were they when I needed support??? Lol. So now….idk speaking plainly where I need to is a bigger part of my music haha.
DD: Might you talk about the zines and other visual art you’ve been making, are these a direct extension of the ideas and concepts your exploring with SB, or do they exist on their own as well, both physically and conceptually?
SB The Moor: Even before music, I wanted to draw comics and make cartoons. So making the zines is more like a childhood fantasy come true haha. The first one I made was with my partner, Marcosa (@multosa on Instagram) who paints beautiful colorful landscapes and puts poetry on top. I thought putting my cartoony, punk-esque drawings in the same magazine would be a cool contrast, so we did a zine! Then I realized I could take what I learned and make my own little comics, which I peddle on my patreon. Both of the mini comics are extensions of the record. One is titled “Sexuality in the Digital Age” and the other “What are Feelings For?” which are themes directly lifted from spirit realm.final. I don’t really know where I’m going with comics but a lot of my favorite musicians also work in comics so I figured I shouldn’t let anything stop me haha.
DD: I think the 4chan thing you brought up leads into something else I wanted to talk about. Has your experience as a Black, queer artist affected how you’re treated within experimental music circles? Also, I have heard people talk about on how your work as an expansive and eclectic, radical mixed-genre, queer rapper has helped give them a voice as a queer or non binary artist themselves. How important is visibility to you as an artist living and working within a world largely controlled by racist, sexist and transphobic systems of oppression?
SB The Moor: Representation is everything! Even on this tour (Legendary tour with milo, we just played our first date in Denver last night) non binary kids have been tellin’ me how much it means to them. And tbh the first time someone mentioned it I was surprised! But, y’know, seeing artists like Mykki Blanco just tear shit up was crucial for me. And I can understand how I might be something similar to others, especially as I grow more and more into myself. Idk what 4chan thought I was about, I never asked…lol. But the minute I got gayer and poppier, despite becoming arguably MORE experimental and confirmably more skilled at music making in general, I think a lot of 4channers realized I was not for them haha. The contrast between people showing up for my shows back then to now is great, and I look forward to my crowds getting gayer and browner as I grow. Haha
DD: Do you see the politics of representation changing for the better or for the worse within music communities for queer people of color, disabled people and marginalized communities in general?
SB The Moor: Tbh I….idk if I’m qualified to answer in an intelligent way lol. I know it seems to be easier for me and others like me, but this game is still a lot about privilege and I wield mine like a sword. I don’t have kids, I have a great support system, I’ve been lucky enough to work on my mental health with professionals…I’m tall and scary looking…haha. But many of my friends do not have these advantages, and even just working a full time job can really drain you when you’re black/brown, trans, and disabled as many of my friends are. How can they tour, or find enough time to finish projects for themselves? And of course, some do anyway, but….idk I’ve drifted from the question haha. I’m not political, or rather, I’m a political skeptic. Like the police, politicians just aren’t our friends. And as more people like us make music that people can’t deny, then yeah certain things get easier.
DD: Can you elaborate on your (apparent) affinity for collaboration ? You also accept commissions on occasion and can you talk a bit about that process and how you started to be so open and prolific with your talents?
SB The Moor: I love collaboration for a couple reasons…I love to experience newness. It’s a great way to train your brain. I believe if you can look at something new and just accept it, even if u don’t like it, you will never be stuck in your ways. And that leads to learning faster and reaching a certain level of mastery faster. And I accept commissions as often as I can, it was a large part of my smol income last year and it was fun to do, fun to see who is listening and who wants a piece of the pie I’m baking and what kind of weird underground shit is out there. Once I conquered my fears it seemed like the logical step. Honestly I was inspired by Lil Wayne’s prolific output too haha. Saturate the market and have fun widdit. I still have songs poppin up on spotify and bandcamp and I be like, oh damn I made this??? I’ve done like 150 commissions so I really be forgetting lol!
DD: Future plans for SB the Moor ?
SB The Moor: future plans:
keep bein’ dope
stay in the dojo
upload to the spirit realm
DD: OK, Finally, any shoutouts, closing statements etc
SB The Moor: Shout out to milo, the ruby yacht, Randal bravery, Pink Navel asleepin like a angel beside me, my Taurus Moon Sweetie back in Port Orchard, our families, my big little brother and my little little brother, the ancient ones, the future ones, shout out ratskin for the continued and future support, and lastly shout out to myself cus I couldn’t have done it without me.