Noisy Experiment: Rodriguez and Soliday’s PONIIA Series Encourages Real-Time Collaboration Between Artists Trapped In Self Isolation

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Live Video synth Screenshot from PONIIA  (Courtesy. J. Rodriguez)

Like many, the pandemic has all but uprooted underground arts communities, music and activist scenes alike with no clear direction ahead.  Sound Artists, experimental music creators, composers  Bran (…) Pos and J. Soliday have been feeling the effects of quarantine in their own ways, like many,  their lives were rapidly altered by the Covid-19 pandemic. Nobody really knows where this is heading, but the only thing that everyone can seem to agree upon is that the world is drastically different now. Despite shaky, shifting times, and a worsening political climate, music (and collaboration) remain a consistent grounding force,  which, for many,  provides a temporary reprieve from an apocalyptic news cycle with seemingly no end in sight made exponentially worse by Neo Con death cult racist responses. But there is respite, at least briefly. Adventurous, wild, chaotic, sound, maybe, at least for a few hours, can save us from the mental anguish of the unknown engulfing  right outside our  very studio window. What began as simple “online jam session” between friends and  longtime collaborators has now turned into a weekly experimental series, with it’s own twists and turns,  technology. and a dedicated following  The new collaborative online series Principles Of Non Isolation Audio, or PONIIA for short, separates it distinctly from most of the other online concerts and perf-

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Cleav’d Cleaver (L-R: J. Soliday , J. Rodriguez

ormances. PONIIA boasts co founders,  Jake Rodriguez  (SF/Richmond, CA) and Jason Soliday (Chicago, IL) who accepted the challenge of creating a more intimate experience for both their participating artists and audience alike. The series has since blossomed into something bigger and more important than the artists seem to admit with their  casual discussions of it’s origin, however it’s clear that they understand the importance of a more inclusive experience that their series creates, even for folks who maybe couldn’t access live music performances for a number of  different reasons . All these things make  “Principles Of Non Isolation In Audio” special and unique, We’ve tuned in for three of the streaming events so far, and without a doubt this series has captured both the isolation that folks are feeling, as well as the necessity of real-time collaboration, something mere months again, for most, wasn’t such a life or death situation. Although musicians cannot be in the same room due to social distancing, real time audio (and video) collaboration regenerates the feeling of intimacy coupled with the magic of improvisation. complete with all of it’s rewards and risks; magnified through the online performances.  PONIIA has granted something that was once taken for  granted, maybe lost, and now once again, turned streaming into a very familiar feeling for both audience and performers alike. We sat them down from a safe distance over chat, to talk about the origins of their history of collaboration and the series itself.

 

You two have a long history of collaboration, when did this all begin?

JS: Jason Soliday
JR: Jake Rodriguez

JS: When did we meet first?

JS: Not sure if it was in Chicago at Deadtech, and you were on tour or if it was that first tour I took out west, sometime around 2000-01. Either way blame it on Blake Edwards.

JR: I also remember going bowling with you and Blake, and you guys got really competitive about it and then my bandmate Mike Guarino who didn’t want to come ended up slaying all of us.

JS: Ha! Yeah,  did we drag you guys out at like 6AM too?

JR: Real early. I was def not feeling it. We first played together at yr place maybe when i was on tour with Angie?

JS: I’d have to check the archive. My friend Amelia made a zine a few years back listing every show we did at Enemy, or at least all the ones we could document, though probably a few slipped through.

JR: So Jason curated Enemy for a number of years and I have had on and off relationship with running some kind of series as well

JS: Enemy existed from 2005 through 2012-ish (Enemy site/archive: http://www.enemysound.com)

JR: I started doing soundcrack broadcasts around 2007 or at least that’s when i started documenting them, sometimes regular, sometimes in fits and starts. At one point i started up the Crackscape project where I collected long form soundscapes from folks and made some myself and would randomly grab 4 of them and play them up against each other with some kinda realtime visualizer. Crackscape ran on the site 24/7 for several years.

JS: The Institute for Implied Imperfection was an improvisational streaming radio show I produced and performed in every other Sunday afternoon from September 2015 through March 2016, 23 broadcasts. Format was simple, I’d invite a friend or two over to my studio and we’d improvise live to stream for two hours, mostly unplanned, whatever happened happened. Most of the session recordings were also archived on my SoundCloud, but they’ve been down for a while now.

So this  blossomed like many experimental music friendships do, by touring?

JS: Yeah more or less. We’d run into each other every few years. I think mostly Bran(…) Pos (JR)  coming through Chicago, I didn’t make it out west too often.  2012 or so was the first tour I came out west?

JR: I think that was both of us solo till the last show or two? We played at Alice Coltrane Memorial Coliseum in Portland, OR (as Cleved Cleaver)

JR: That was JS on cut-up modular synth and me on microphone (as Cleved Cleaver)

So that was the first official collaboration, Essentially touring together?

JS: No, Jake  came through Chicago on a job maybe 6 months before that and we played our first duo gig at Enemy. Checking the Enemy archive, I’ve got that first Cleav’d Cleaver show happening at Enemy, July 26 2013. After that was the tour with the ACMC show Jake just mentioned, and then in 2015 we did the one and only official Cleaver tour so far. That tour was a trip… we slowly devolved over that tour. The tour started all chill free improv long sets by the end it was 5 minutes of full on noise, and gum.

So it began as more long-form improv and ended in five minute blasts of noise, What  changed on that tour that often leaves the final sets being the shortest but often times, the most intense, or maybe  this isn’t your experience?

JR: I don’t know. I’m not sure i remember it exactly like that but I’m sure you’re right. Was our last show in LA at Human Resources? That was a weird one for sure.

JS: Wasn’t a bad tour or anything that I remember. Yeah with you crooning to the passed out dude, and his phone going off mid show.

JR: That’s right there was maybe 4 people in a giant white reverberant void and one of them was asleep snoring.  I think it was just a process of figuring out what we wanted to be over the course of the tour.

JR:  Ya know i think what we do this kind of improv experiential dirge-digging you get into a deeper sorta groove with the digging as you get more comfortable — also and especially in a duo. my experience. duos go deep.

JS: I definitely started thinking of it as a “band” once Jake went vocals only, I think that sped up our sets too

JR: I had those chunky hydrophones i would shove into each cheek — stereo sucking sounds.

JS:  I was sampling Jake’s voice/mouth sounds in real time, looping & shredding them

JR: If you’ve never seen Jason (Soliday)  play modular synth — he’s amazing — and even more amazing to me — he sets up his patch at the venue every night. On tour we get to the venue and he just goes into the back of the room and starts setting his patch up.

JS: Maybe that’s why it was different every time,  I generally remember my patches, though I’ll switch things around here and there, just to keep myself entertained.

This idea  of thinking about it as a band is an important  distinction, improv is one thing, and it’s great, but i think the notion of a band, even if it’s two people, to me, can be different than just two people improvising, do you find this to be the case?

JS: We were still improvising the whole time, there weren’t songs. I tend to use words like band to focus my thinking about various projects, but that doesn’t meant it followed the rules of “band”

JR: If you play together twice in the same format with some kinda similar intentions, to me that’s a band, and then  that gets deeper in repetition.

JS: True. band is one unit.. as opposed to the improv grouping that exists for a single show, that same route as naming a thing, it’s not just jamming, now there’s a mission or something of the sort

JS: I think me calling anything we did a “song” is more about being concise. Like we’re going to say what we have to say in a small amount of time, and move on to the next statement.

JR: There were lyrics

JS: You learn something new every day. Not sure I knew that..I mean,  I had suspicions.

JR: I think we were basically a hardcore band

JS: I’d agree with that, though I think it’s still loose. I mean  we’re also talking about a band that has existed for a decade and has played 10? 11 shows? Me personally, I have a vaguely idealized “band” in my head that looks sort of like Ohne (the Dave Phillips/Tom Smith/etc. project), and I‘m always  aiming for something in that vein something that falls somewhere in the middle of hardccore/noise/actionist performace art, or at least that influence comes into play as an idealized form rather often when I start thinking of something as a “band”

JR: There’s always a disparity in perception between folks working on something i think. A former band i played in for a decade i found out at the very end that my partner, a drummer would every show take the address of the venue and turn it into a number sequence and thus a riff we would get into during the set

JS: well if we saw it the same way, it would get dull fast

Bringing it back to soundcrack radio show, Jake you mentioned you cued it up to produce these sort of collaborations between artists who may have not even known their  pieces were being played together, over each other etc?

JR: That was the concept, I semi-curated it actually so it wasn’t totally random. I had folks choose a time of day that their piece represented and i think i then interpreted that into a color-descriptor for the track, and then grouped them in smaller groups of similar colors, and then randomly grabbed one from each color group till there were four playing, as one ended a new group would cross fade in. I even had it so the visualizer had the names of the artists fade in when their piece faded in. i know, not rocket science, but I’m no rocket scientist.

I’m actually basing some of the visualizers for this series on those patches i used before.

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So how did the new  series come  about, and do you see this as a continuation of these  early soundcrack experiments?

JR: I moved to Richmond, CA on March 1 after living in SF for almost 30 years. it was sorta in the planning for awhile, but also came together all of a sudden. i had the itch to do some pirate radio when i moved. we moved, got quarantined, all my work went away in an instant. i suddenly had some creative time on my hands. Jason you lost your work before all of us huh?

JS: Yeah, I was already out for a bit before all this got in the way

So, working with JS was just sort of a natural choice for the project?

JS: It was me tweeting about looking for something like Ninjam, right? I think I had seen the first couple of ESS streams and started thinking about how that was cool, but real-time collaboration would be more interesting, to me from a playing standpoint

JR: Exactly. Jason mentioned “would anyone like to set up a Ninjam server?” and i didn’t know what that was and looked it up. a quirky realtime internet audio jamming protocol that works right inside Reaper, a free DAW.

JS: I remembered this program called NINJAM from a decade ago when my old group I<3Presets would use it from time to time

JR: It was not hard to install and set up the server. i texted Jason and said “I think i have a Ninjam server working.  “Wanna try it out sometime?”

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We hadn’t seen each other or played together in 5 years, and within 20 minutes, Jason and I were making noise together and it was super fun and intuitive.

JS: At that point I don’t know if I was thinking about doing a series, or just looking for a way to play and get out of the house without getting out of the house, But the series idea came pretty naturally once we got it rolling and found out  how easy it was, and I’m all for the we’ve got a thing lets share it idea.

I think that’s a key interest of the  series, is that it sort of breaks down the  ego/individuality in a  way that’s really refreshing, opening up this technology for more folks to find out about it and be able to use it, in a  time when and where it’s really needed

JR: there are several “realtime” internet jamming things out there–they are all booming right now. they are all weirdly quirky, but Ninjam is particularly quirky about dealing with latency. instead of trying to make it shorter, it makes it longer and sorta predictable and tries to lock everyone down to a bpm

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JS: I hate that metronome

JR: and then delays everything you hear by a “measure” so everyone is playing “in time” but a measure behind what they are hearing, we just all turn off the metronome. It feels very natural while you are playing, but really nobody is hearing exactly the same thing, but i never think about that while i’m playing. obviously, playing a tight song would be impossible, but for our freeform kinda stuff, it works out more than not.

JS:  Yeah, that’s the first thing I tell people. it’s weird if you start thinking about it, but if you just run with it, that weirdness disappears quickly

JR: if you try and get really syncd up out of time with your partners, it comes off like a call and response, because whoever is delayed (and i have no idea how Ninjam determines who comes “first”) responds after the initial event.

JS: I think like a lot of things though, it’s just figuring out the parameters you can’t control and then rolling with/against it… maybe I don’t notice it because I’m so used to working/playing with patches and systems that somewhat play themselves.. for me it’s just another factor of “oh, so that’s where we’re going now?”

Just another slightly chaotic control parameter. Any thought of releasing  any of the perforamces  as an actual release? do they get  recorded into reaper as well? or can they?

JS: Yeah, each person’s local session can record a version, and it’s all multi-tracked. We haven’t yet, but I’m curious to compare recordings from two different locations to see if they differ.

JR: We’re archiving them and putting them up on soundcrack.net If you feed em water at night they become podcasts.

JS: In general,  Jake and I still are thinking of this as radio, so the podcasts on soundcrack are the definitive versions, if there is such a thing.  Also of note, In the background here between shows, Matt Taggart and I used the server to record our debut duo record last week.  Also, in a way we’re enabling collaboration at a time when that’s more difficult.

Can you talk about when and who of the next few weeks?

JR: We don’t have dates yet for a bunch of folks but Headboggle, Demon Sleeper, Malocculsion, Tom Djll, Canner Mefe, Thomas Day, Anti-Ear,  all on the coming docket

JS:  Sug, Anthony Janas, Carol Genetti, Billie Howard, Neil Jendon… the list is growing

Lets talk about the ways this  series is connecting people in pretty morbid times?

JR: When Jason and I first tried this out, privately, we just had a blast. it really sort of felt like playing together in person, and  this experience was clearly something that each of us were missing–not getting right now. Like a random hookup.
(not that i know what that’s like)

We invited Matt Taggart to join us in another private session and he was obviously feeling the same. and then i played privately with Fletcher Pratt and it was a similar feeling.

JR: And ya know, there’s a bit of a tech hurdle to do this. It’s not super complicated if you have a computer and know your way around any DAW, and that’s not everyone unfortunately, but for folks that can get over learning a new bit of pretty simple kit it can be a remarkable stand-in for playing together in person. It checks off many of the same emotional/intellectual boxes.

With the added kick of us all collectively not getting it any other way.

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Do you see yourselves continuing the series after  quarantine in some capacity?   To me, i think it  has a lot of impact and creative potential even outside of a quarantine type situation.

JS: It has an appeal outside sure. The idea has been mentioned between us, but I think we’re still mostly rolling with it as it goes. Though the last week or so we have really leaned into planning more than a week or two out so.

I do like that although it was the current situation that kicked this off, it still feels like something I’d be doing anyway… just maybe not in this form. There’s always a slight muttering from everyone involved of “next time for real” after these gigs.

JR: Yeah I love the radio thing tho i know when the real world returns there will be different attention challenges and i don’t expect a weekly commitment will last but who knows

JS: Hahaha I think I might have hit that point where I don’t know what the real world is any more! Yeah, not really, but it’s a pretty abstract concept at this point, isn’t it?

It does feel a little different, & that’s nice to hear from someone who’s has just been in the audience role.. since Jake and I also have a view of backstage, I sometimes wonder if that influences my perception of it.. from what you’re saying though perhaps not that much

JR: Truly I’ve been wondering also about folks that can’t come to typical shows for some reason, from social anxiety disorder to brain surgery

Exactly. That’s one of the reasons I think it has a lot of potential for continuation “after” the quarantine.

JS: I think actually physical shows are already not accessible To a certain percentage of people that would def be able to enjoy them or at least enjoy the music / sounds I’d they were able to physically be there for a number of different reasons.

JR: Distance and money too.

JR: We have a show coming with Demonsleeper (Oakland, CA) in duo with her pal Calnepuelco from Miami, FL. Long bullshit distances defeated,  that’s OK by me.

JS: I also recently saw someone mention at another live twitch stream I was at something about how they couldn’t go to loud shows anymore, but now they could because they could control the volume. So there’s definitely a place for this – theres  a lot of good reasons to carry on.

JR: Yeah,  I’d love to write a grant for this,  so we could guarantee funds for the participating artists, by that i mean all the musicians, the DJs, the video artists, maybe even the organizers. And by “love to write a grant” I mean “love it if someone else wrote a grant for me”

Can you remember any sonic moments that really stood out to either of you from the series?

JR: In the PONIIA with Danishta, Jacob, Greg, and Chris (dunno #4?) there’s a point where they all cycle through making the bass throb/riff, like this persistent pulse. and they each do it in their own way. greg on trumpet fart lips, Jacob by rubbing something, not sure between danishta chris who was doing what when. and they even all do the same note. and it cycles weirdly in and out of time because of the Ninjam delay and just works in the weirdest way and very much an interaction i would expect from seeing this group in person live (which i have).

In the last one, there were moments that Zach took it to another level

JS: Todd’s piano coming in at the end of his set with Albert on Sunday.. things were zoning along quietly, I was spacing out a bit here and then that piano hits and it was like yeah now this is serious.. it just got real heavy in here

JR: Ya–that piano was awesome i agree.

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JR: when DJ LUCY first joined us, I gave her one direction which was “maybe pick music that doesn’t sound just like the performers since there’s little visual cues as to what’s happening when” and then Wobbly and pals all got so excited about her choices that they just started playing with her and imitating her sounds and it was exactly the opposite of what i was worried about it became THE THING.

Also getting text-bombed by a blown away Hans Grusel during the Soliday/Pratt duo in the first show was a major highlight

JS: That whole show worked so great.. knew that combo of players was going to be sick, but went way wilder than I expected..

What was the single most impactful sonic event you’ve  ever  experienced?

JR: Hearing the neighborhood cats all gather in mourning the night my cat Jennifer Kitty got hit by a car when i was a kid.

(PAUSE)

Oh I’m just fucking with you MERZBOW SF 1998

JS: Haha there was no way I was gonna top kitty funeral

JR: My babysitter and her friend went out to look if it was her and then they brought me out to see her. It was horrifying, and the cats sang on all night long. And it was beautiful. We lived on this weird block in Burbank “Keystone” that, like, animals were constantly being hit by cars there. It was a complete horror movie. I witnessed some of the most intense animal-related trauma on the street.

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5/17 PONIIA coming up this Sunday

What have y’all seen, heard,watched,read that you’ve been excited about recently in quarantine?

JR: I listened to War of the Worlds maybe for the first time dope
on the same tip–Porest “Abject Mirror”

JS: Watched Born of Fire yesterday on the recommendation of Mr. Matthews, That was a trip, need to go back and watch it again.

JR: Watched Southland Tales a few weeks ago. never even heard of it before.

JS: The new Prants record – Axion Ladder, pretty much my idea of a perfect noise record, covers so much ground, and the transition between tracks 2 & 3…

JR: Aaron Dilloway, Lea Bertucci, Headboggle, Bonnie Baxter all have done livestreams in the past weeks that blew my lid

JS: S: Andrea Pensado  her set on ESS a couple weeks ago was so good. She really took advantage of the fact that it was video. Her performance really made it more theater than the usual concert stream    WATCH HERE:
https://youtu.be/V9k1Vag16Nw

and there’s this great Mukqs ESS set from last Saturday’s virtual VOV:

 

Then there’s this bit from later in that same ESS VOV stream that starts with Jeff Host, but then his set gets uh.. Cock bombed by the Moth boys:

Thanks! Don’t forget the next PONIIA is this Sunday! Tune into: www.soundcrack.net 

 

 

It Was Always Here: An Interview With Musician and Sound Designer David R. Molina

Ahead of his new album, we spoke with artist, musician, and sound designer David R. Molina about his personal process and background and theater and sound design.

Molina at Jazz Jamboree by Jan Bebel
Molina at Jazz Jamboree, Warsaw, Poland, Photo by Jan Bebel

I first saw David Molina perform at LCM years ago and had been entranced by his music ever since. Everything about the sound itself, the presentation of his works, the way his sounds tend to occupy the forgotten and nuanced  corners of the room every time I’ve seen him perform is a sort of transcendental experimental in sound and lineage. Through his upbringing, dedication, and research, Molina is conceptually draped in this web of timeless and historical sound and narrative, a sonic archaeology of time, memory, loss, culture, and change. Molina’s careful and articulate approach seems to radiate sounds  embedded with the DNA of multiple histories, both fact and fictional, futuristic and timeless. Molina’s music is an antithesis to a fast-paced, unfocused, sloppy and rushed world that we live in. It’s a pause for contemplation, a space for exploration, and although often times abstract or instrumental, politically poignant and culturally charged; akin to the kinetic power of a lightning bolt conjured from his ancestors radiating  through skin to string to speaker.

If you’re unfamiliar with the vast scope of Molina’s work, we sat him down and asked some  questions about the  totality of his creative endeavors. Like many, Molina has lost all of his work because of the lock down, be sure to pre order his new record “It Was Always Here” on bandcamp, which comes out June 5.

Like many of my peers you have surrounded yourself with music and art. How did you  find  yourself dedicated into a life of music?

 

 I am a composer, multi-instrumentalist, sound artist, sound designer, music producer, studio/live sound engineer, and every now and then an instrument inventor. I have created music and sound design for theater and dance companies, film, radio, and multimedia installations, played or collaborated with bands locally, nationally and internationally, for the past 24 years. Most of my work and collaborations address social justice issues, especially the Latino/a/x and immigrant experience.

Most of the shows {…} involved community members; such as formerly incarcerated men, folks transitioning from homelessness, former sex workers, survivors of domestic violence, and undocumented immigrants. I continue doing this kind of work with various companies including the amazing NAKA Dance Theater. This kind of work keeps me going.

I’ve loved music since I was a little kid, as it was a big part of my family’s household. My dad had a huge record, tape, and 8 track collection that was very diverse. It ranged from traditional Central American and Salvadoran music, such as cumbia, merengue and salsa; to classical and opera music, 50’s and 60’s rock n roll, 70’s funk, disco, and rock. My dad loved messing with the piano, or the organ. So at an early age my brother and I got into playing them too. I don’t know how we fit one of those in our 2 bedroom apartment, which was always shared with other relatives who were immigrating from El Salvador during the civil war. This could be an entire extra family of 4 or 5 members.

I started learning guitar around age 11, when I was into various forms of rock, and metal. My dad sent me to an after school program for guitar classes, to supposedly keep me out of trouble. There I fell in love with classical guitar. I knew from that moment I wanted to do music for the rest of my life, and it has saved my life countless times.

I studied music and some recording at Sonoma State University in the early 90’s. There I discovered international music, Jazz, experimental, free-Jazz, and electronic music. I had some great teachers who opened my ears and mind, including Will Johnson, Laxmi Ganesh Tewari, and the late Marco Eneidi and Mel Graves. DJing at the campus radio station, KSUN, got me deeper into experimental, free-jazz, ambient, electronic music, shoegaze, old school dub, and noise rock music.

Around the mid 90’s I met one of my long time collaborators, theater director Roberto Gutierrez Varea. He was teaching theater at SSU and needed a composer for his senior class play. He didn’t want a student composer. One of my ex’s said  “listen to David’s music you’ll love it”. I gave him a demo tape, and he hired me instantly and the rest was history. Word spread and I started getting hired by local Bay Area theaters as a composer and sound designer. Many of those scores were done with my dear friend the late Chris Webb, a fantastic composer and guitarist.  We never planned to be in theater, but

realized it was a way to get paid and make music. It’s funny because at SSU there was a division between the theater and music departments. The musicians always thought the theater students were pretentious, annoying nerds!

Most of the shows with Roberto involved community members such as formerly incarcerated men, folks transitioning from homelessness, former sex workers, survivors of domestic violence, and undocumented immigrants. I continue doing this kind of work with various companies including the amazing NAKA Dance Theater. This kind of work keeps me going.

Me Tau, Ravenna Italy
Molina in Ravenna, Italy

What were some of the most recent projects you were working on before  the pandemic?

I recently did Octavio Solis “Retablos” at Z Below in SF. It was a staged adaptation of his autobiographical collection of short stories. The book documents pivotal moments in his childhood and teenage years growing up along the El Paso and Mexico border, during the 1960s and 70s.

Prior to this I was on a 5 month east coast/midwest tour with another production written by Octavio called Quixote Nuevo. It is loosely based on Cervantes’ Don Quixote, but set in modern times along the Texas/Mexico border. It is one of the most beautiful, funniest, and heartbreaking shows I’ve worked on in my life. In our version Quixote is a retired literature professor suffering from Alzheimer’s, who believes he is Quixote. He goes on crazy adventures, just like in the book, but battles border patrol, and liberates immigrants. Throughout his journey, underworld skeleton demons called “Calacas” follow him, in an attempt to get him killed and claim his soul. The show is very dreamy and fantastical.

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“Quixote Nuevo” by Octavio Solis, at Huntington Theater

During the tour, I also did music for two other productions. Mojada by Louis Alfaro at the Repertory Theater of St Louis, and Fade by Tanya Saracho at Trinity Rep in Providence, RI. Mojada was an adaptation of the Greek tragedy Medea, but set in the present day, in Los Angeles. Medea and her family are Mexican indigenous immigrants, fleeing violence in their homeland, only to encounter the harsh cruel reality of the USA. Fade, was also set in present day Los Angeles. It takes place in a Hollywood studio lot office, and is about the class division, racism in the workplace, and the stereotypes Latinos can place upon each other. It is about the differences between an upper class Mexican writer, and a Mexican-American janitor from the hood.

On top of it all, I booked solo shows with my experimental project Transient at every tour stop. People think I’m nuts to pack this many shows in, but I have to take advantage of the paid flights and housing the Theaters provide. It’s the best way to tour as a musician. I shared the stage with many wonderful nice musicians at each show, including: Sandy Ewen, Aaron Russell, Going in with Li, Joann McNeil, Negative Spaces, Retribution Body, Claude and Ola, and Dog Adrift. I also made a pit stop in NYC, to record with former Bay Area trumpet player Darren Johnston, and saxophonist Alex Weiss. I plan on releasing the recordings of both in a month or 2.

My dad loved messing with the piano, or the organ. So at an early age my brother and I got into playing them too. I don’t know how we fit one of those in our 2 bedroom apartment, which was always shared with other relatives who were immigrating from El Salvador during the civil war. This could be an entire extra family of 4 or 5 members.

Can you talk a bit about the process of composing for theater and how that differs from composing and arranging for your own work?

Composing for theater is very different from just music making, or playing in bands. It’s a multiple step process involving lots of people in different departments. It is collaboration in the maximum form. It requires a very open mind, ability to receive constructive criticism, detachment of ego, habits, your preconceived notions of what is right or wrong idea. You have to be willing to take risks and not be butt hurt if they don’t work. You have to work on the show as a whole big picture, and not get stuck on your own individual ideas and department.

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Work with performance artist Violeta Luna: “Virgins and Goddesses”

Step 1. Read the script many times, analyze it and mark the areas you think music, soundscapes, our sound design could go. Throw away any influences of the music you always listen to, or play, and all cliche obvious choices. I start with a blank slate, and instead think about the emotional, and the mental spiritual state of the whole play. I study the characters and what is ticking inside of them. I break down the scenes and think about what is the core mood in the each. What are they feeling about themselves and the other characters? Colleagues, and audience members say that my scores and sound design are the invisible character of the play. The spiritual and psychological layer of the show.

Step 2. Meet with the director and hear what their vision is. Then share what your ideas might be. We go back and forth with ideas and the meeting can often change our initial ideas of the play.

Step 3: Research! Every story is different. Each one takes place in a different time period, country, state, city, culture, race, religion, socio-economic class, and struggle etc. Therefore each show requires different music. If you don’t do your research you are doing a disservice to the people’s story presented on stage. Many of the the shows I do are about social justice and oppressed people. It’s disrespectful to not dive deep into the history, culture and music for each play. The score will be a billion time better and authentic if one does this. A design will feel half baked, disjointed, and be obviously shitty if you don’t do research.

In my 24 years of doing theater I’ve explored nearly every style of music, including genres I never was exposed to, or would think of playing, such as: bluegrass, Tex Mex, Mayan, south East Asian, Eastern European, Taiko, Native African, Cuban, medieval music. Of course I do it all with my own experimental cinematic twist.

4. Gather your notes from your meeting with the director. Read the script again, and this time think about music moods. What is the over all genre style, or core instruments? Then break down the areas you marked into
music characteristics. Is it Major or Minor, fast or slow, dense or sparse, melodic or abstract and atonal, chordal or percusive, or is it a drone or experimental sound scape? Sometimes doing the opposite musically of what happens in scene makes an interesting mood, or effect.

5. I try to find appropriate music examples from my own catalog to share with the director and cast. If I can’t find something, then I’ll share relevant music from other artists as inspiration.

6. Check out the Preliminary design sketches of the other designers! What the set, costumes, and lighting designers do will greatly influence my music, and vice versa. The best pieces of theater have a cohesive design team that flows. It creates magic if done properly.

7. The non fun stuff: Sound plots, theater blue prints, gear inventory, budgets, and lots of administrative paper work. People who don’t know about theater think all I do for work is grab an instrument , a mic, and noodle around all day. As Composer for theater, you are contracted to do the sound design too. This means a lots of un-artistic duties requiring  math, the science of sound, knowledge of complex sound systems and software, good organizational skills and communication, lots of spreadsheets, calendars, and reading and creating complex blue prints, studying and creating complex speaker plots and audio signal chains. All this is required to install massive sound systems.

On a normal day I’ll get about 5 long email chains that are up to 15 people deep, just for one show! I usually juggle 3 different productions a month. You can imagine the hours spent answering emails.

8. My favorite part: Time to write and record basic Ideas. I used to over think this part in the past. But now, my first gut instinct is often correct.

9. Go to rehearsals and see how the actors and director are interpreting the script. This is a game changer. Because seeing a play is very different from reading it and imagining it in your head

10. After seeing the rehearsals, I dive deeper in the music creation. Adding more instruments and arranging, or coming up with new themes. When it feels right I make rough mixes for the cast and crew.

11. Begin experimenting with music in rehearsals. This is my other favorite part of the process. All the hard work starts coming together and the actors start vibing off the music and sound. The work gets deeper.

12. As it gets closer to tech week, I lose lots of sleep, do final mixes and export every single instrument or sound stem, and then program the file in QLAB for multichannel play back. I always try do surround sound. This can be up to 24 channels of speakers, because I like to envelop the audience in the sound world. At the theater I over see the sound system set up and calibration. Then we begin the painstaking process of setting levels for each sound cue. But it’s also fun to explore the capabilities of a great massive sound system. It’s beyond THX when a theater has a dope system.

13. Tech Week: We all shift to the theater to test and synchronize the lights, music, sound, set, costumes, with the actors. It’s a long week of 12 to 14 hours days, with little sleep. There is always work to be done and ready for the next morning. We usually go from 11am to 11pm, with a production meeting and notes until midnight.

14. Preview week. We test out everything with an audience to see what works or doesn’t. An audience can affect a play big time. Things you thought were funny, or instance in rehearsals, might not jive with the audience. Sometimes the audience will find humor, or  be moved in moments that you didn’t notice in rehearsals. An actor or tech mistake may cause magical moments that may end being part of the show. How audience reacts vocally can affect the pace of a show. Laughter is something actors must be aware of, so they have to make sure to pause before the next line, so that line isn’t lost in the laughter. Deep sighs and vocal reactions for heavy moments can make a scene even more intense.

15, open the show and party hard!

 

Molina’s post rock act Impuritan.

Can you talk a little bit about your composition work for the renowned Two Trains  Running, how that came about and about the piece in general?

Two Trains Running, written by the legendary August Wilson, was directed by my long time friend and collaborator Juliette A. Carrillo. I have worked with her since 1997. She has a magical, spiritual, and dreamy way of directing. She also used to be a dancer, so her staging is very choreographic.

Two Trains Running_C. Stanley Photography
“Two Trains Running” Photo: C. Stanley

We really trust each other, and she allows me to do what I want musically. Two Trains was co-produced by Seattle Rep and the Arena Stage in DC, and was performed in each city. From the Seattle Rep synopsis: “There’s a new president in the White House, and racial tensions are on the rise. No, it’s not 2018, it’s 1969. At a critical moment in the Civil Rights movement Memphis is forced to consider selling his restaurant to the city of Pittsburgh as urban planning eats away at his beloved neighborhood. Featuring a captivating slice-of-life cast of characters, Two Trains Running is celebrated playwright August Wilson’s portrait of a defining moment in American history.” As you can see history repeats itself. The play is also about gentrification, the murders of black leaders, and abandonment of black folks in the inner city.

What was the most surreal moment you’ve ever experienced on stage, be it a live performance of your own or  theater work.

There have been so many trippy moments throughout my stage life. One was performing music for the Soap Stone Theater Company at Grace Cathedral. This company was made of formerly incarcerated men, directed by my other dear friend and longest collaborator Roberto G. Varea. There was this intense moment where one cast member was talking about a loved one who died, and he screamed NOOOOOOOO! His scream echoed, for what seemed like an eternity, in the Cathedrals natural 7 to 8 second reverb decay. The other surreal moment was my first large theater gig at The Mark Taper Forum. This was Octavio Solis’ Lydia, also directed by Juliette, which won a 2009 LA Ovation Award in Music and Sound Design. It was intense is because my old friend and collaborator the late Chris Webb, passed away from cancer in Dec 2008. His last wish was that I finish his music and sound design for Lydia. He was in the middle of it. Both Chris and I worked for many years as a music and sound design duo in the bay area. We built our careers together, and played in bands. Working on Lydia was probably the hardest gig in my life because I had to drop my entire life within 2 weeks, and move to the east coast to complete it. His family lived in NYC. I had to go through all his files, sheet music, and even his journals to figure out what the ideas were for his music.

What was the experience like dropping everything and having to finish his work so quickly? Did you even have time to mourn his passing? how were  you able to  complete it under such trying times?

It was really hard. Chris told me he had cancer a few months before he passed away. We chatted a few times, but it was hard for him to talk due to the Chemo and his degrading health. In our conversations I was gonna be his assistant at the Yale Rep version of Lydia. He thought he had 9 month more to live. He loved the play and was committed to it, despite his health situation. It was our friend and the play’s director Juliette Carillo who told me he passed.

While I was out there, Chris’ family and all his music friends put together a concert celebration of his life. We learned a bunch of his sound track music, and performed it for an attendance of more than 100 people at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. It was beautiful. While I was in NYC I stood alone in his apartment. Completing his work was very emotional and hard, but I got it done in time. Chris’s family also lent me many of his instruments to record the music with. So his spirit was with me guiding me.

Molina at KPFA

What was the most frustrating piece of art you’ve ever created and why?

I love theater when it’s professional and respectful, but I also find it very frustrating when working with people or companies that don’t understand, or respect music or sound design. When I started my career, theater was about 10 to 15 years behind all other collaborative art forms in terms of music, sound, and video art. Things have gotten better, but it is still catching up. Some theater people don’t understand music or sound, and what it takes to make it great. They don’t understand basic music terminology, yet they know the basics of sets, lights and costumes. Some have bad, limited, or outdated taste in music, often listening to old mainstream, or new pop music. Another issue is sound design education programs didn’t get established in most university theater programs until about 15 years ago! Music composition for theater programs have been around even less (I’m not talking about musical theater). Sound departments in theaters often have the smallest crew, budget, and the oldest gear. The hierarchy in theater design is always set first, then lights, costumes, and last sound. This applies to meetings and tech time too. There is no mention of music, which is the problem itself. There is a vast difference between sound and creating music. Long ago I worked at some theaters where there wasn’t even a staff sound person. I had to do everything by myself. There have been times where there is only a 1 or 2 person crew, and they are not qualified to install sound systems, and everything gets fucked up. Many composers, and sound designers will agree they have experienced disrespect, or neglect by a few directors, or theater companies in their career. But things have been changing over the past few years. During the last tour I worked at theaters which had some of the best sound crews, and sound systems I’ve worked with in my entire career. I think theater folks are waking up, and understanding the value of a good score and sound design.

What upcoming projects do you have that  you’re excited about, and or  future plans for your solo work as  Transient?

I just finished mixing a new live recording I did with trumpet player Darren Johnston last year. I plan to release it on Bandcamp soon to help me get some funds through his pandemic. I also plan on releasing as many albums as possible for my soundtracks, Ghosts and Strings, as well as Transient, during this lock down. I have about 25 years of unreleased music on hard drives, DATS, ADATs, and cassettes. I’ll be going backwards through my catalogue as I release them

What was the most intense sound or sonic experience you ever had?

In 2006 I went on tour in Peru. I ended up at an amazing, intense, week long ceremony called the Festival of Virgen del Carmen. It takes place in a deep in the remote small village of Paucartambo, high up in the Andes mountains. It honors the Catholic saint of Carmen, but it’s really an indigenous tradition honoring Mother Earth. It was disguised in Catholicism in the 17th century, to avoid persecution by the Spaniards, just like most old ceremonies in Latin America. I would say the Indigenous presence over powers the Catholic shadow. During the week many different troupes of dancers, and musicians attend from all over the mountain region. They represent all the different native tribes of Peru, with colorful outfits, and insane paper mâché, wire, and wooden masks. Each tribe has there own instrumentation. Some use brass and drums. Others use flutes and drums, or strange portable harps and violins. All instruments and costumes are hand made and rustic. Most of the musicians are not trained, so the music has a raw primal feel.

Adding to the soundscape are constant huge fireworks, which would be illegal in the USA. They create massive beautiful spinning firework sculptures, with no regard for fire safety. They make their own unique fizzing sound. My hair and clothes got burned a couple times by flying embers, and sparks, but it was amazing! The week is loud and surreal, and no one sleeps as the festivities go for 23 hours a day, with one hour of rest around 5 am. You go into a trance with the sound, colors. and lack of sleep. The white event of Burning Man can’t compare to this ceremony, which appropriated and bastardized ancient indigenous traditions. I would hear a troupe’s music coming down one street, and another cross behind me would phase in and out, creating the most experimental soundscape I’ve experienced. My body would rumble with the deep bass drums, and explosions. Most of the language spoken is native Quechua which added to the sound experience. Sometimes I would take a break from the intense cacophony and go up into the hills. From there I heard a swirling soundscape of the action happening below. I made many hours of field recordings, documenting the whole week. I’ve only heard about half of the recordings to this day. I hope to do a surround sound performance with those one day. One day.

Info about the upcoming Transient release “It Was Always Here” at https://davidrmolina.bandcamp.com, which comes out  June  5th and you can PREORDER NOW

DECAYCAST Interviews: Anna Cuevas of Dès Vu “This Will Become A Memory”

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Dès Vu. photo:  Liesa Cole

Even before i met Anna Cuevas, her project Dès Vu was  enshrined with a sort of mythical presence. My partner first turned me onto her work when we were sourcing bands and projects for a benefit show to combat the  racist and xenophobic US border crisis, which has denied safe entry for thousands of asylum seekers to the US, we reached out to several acts and the first one to respond with a resounding yes, almost instantly,  was Dès Vu.  Benefit shows can be tough, as underground music shows usually have a razor thin margin financially for paying artists/performers as it is,  without even taking into consideration money for the space/promoters, never mind extra money to donate to a cause. The financial logistics of running a small to mid sized DIY show and coming out in the black are often next to impossible without a big crowd, sponsors, and a hefty amount of press backing the event.

“Dès Vu means the the awareness that this will become a memory,”

For many micro scenes benefit shows often require the artists and space to donate their time, money and resources to be able to raise enough money to make a big enough financial  impact, with the artists donating their time, talent, and resources for free. Putting together (last minute) or any benefit shows often cuts down the choices of  performers, as many simply cannot donate their labor for free or  discounted artist fees, so the fact that Dès Vu not  only agreed to  play our show, and immediately stated that she didn’t need payment, and we’re excited to participate was just the boost we needed to get the benefit show rolling, only later, and still at the time of this interview am I figuring out that activism is a big part of the work of Des Vu, so it was no surprise that she were our first ally in bringing together a solid lineup. We sat down and spoke with  Anna about her creative process, education, and future creative endeavors.

Welcome to Decaycast Interviews, please  talk a little bit about the origin of your current recording and performance project Dés Vu?

Dès Vu (day voo) quickly manifested early 2018 in Birmingham, AL, my hometown. After a long writer’s block, one day I played one of the synths of my now-producer, and what became the EP’s “cycling affect” flowed out. That breakthrough compelled me to transform sketches I’d been writing on my synth into full songs. Dès Vu means “the awareness that this will become a memory,” and that all feels like a dream now that my musical path pulled me to the Bay.

How is the Bay Area different from Birmingham based on your experience within music artists and activist circles?

I’m really grateful for my Birmingham roots helping me bloom into who I’m becoming, but I see and hear myself far more in the Bay Area creative communities. Here there’s a lot more music in the spirit of what I make, and I don’t get questioned about being racially ambiguous, which has been really refreshing. In many ways I feel more comfortable performing here despite not knowing nearly as many people as where I grew up. Birmingham has a strong DIY community and network of grassroots movements, but those circles were pretty separate. Here there’s much more overlap which really resonates with my music. There’s also more people and resources for more radical organizing and direct actions, but the movement in Birmingham works as hard, just in a different way. They are such different places and I’m still adjusting to what initially felt like culture shock but in a good way for me. One’s preference just depends on what one is seeking and wanting.

Can you talk a little bit more about radical Organizing and the connection to your work if any?

Though not an inherently political project, my music instinctively weaves some radical anthems among more prominent ballads centering mental health. I consider those themes deeply connected; one way being how racism and capitalism shape the climate of modern society.

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photo :  Jaysen Michael

In Alabama I did a lot of grassroots work with workers’ rights, immigrant justice, prison abolition, reproductive and gender equity, and police brutality. Despite no longer having the stamina to continue frontline organizing, solidarity will always be a part of my work as I feel compelled to embrace the movement In my platform. However, while the EP’s “decolonize” and the single “for Rojava” highlight anti-imperialism and anti-fascism, my music primarily strives to create a world beyond this one.

 

So more of a vision of a different future than responding to the current one?

I like how you put that – it does respond to the current one but is also pushing for something more in a healing way.

Also knowing you’re a teacher In Oakland, had this affected your work at all in any way ? Have you ever we shown your students your music?

Actually yes, I recently had a music idea come to me about when public schools close for good and all the dynamics that entails.  It’s not something those outside of education probably hear much about and discuss even less but through music,  I can highlight that disparity that branches beyond schools and seeps into our communities, and yes I have shown my students my music.

 

Do you think social distancing has had an impact on your practice so far? Have you been in the mood to make music / art or not so much?]

Social distancing has had a big impact on my practice so far the first nearly three weeks (at the time of this interview) of quarantine, I really struggled with maintaining a creative focus. At first,  I started feeling imposter syndrome, like why was I not using this extra time to churn out new material. . Then I realized that the change to working remotely in education was not only not allowing as much free time as many who sadly lost their jobs, but was also taking an extra emotional toll with the urgency to prioritize mutual aid for our school’s families. Parent conferences by phone prefaced academic updates with asking what basic needs, if any, the families lacked.  Some weren’t sure how they were even going to get more diapers diving in to a bit of mutual aid outside of my job, looking to social media more to stay connected, and feeling the need to stay updated with news deeply affected my headspace for a while before I noticed how much it had negatively impacted my basic self-care. I felt kind of selfish for wanting to work on my music more than usual during these times, but now i’m reminded how crucial our own healthy wellbeing is before helping others so much embracing that notion now, i’ve started naturally practicing, writing, and recording fluidly again. As a solo artist with a bedroom recording setup.  my imposter syndrome was exaggerated  since i wasn’t even having to adjust to virtual group practices like many I know. Creating feels more like medicine than it ever has as it’s helping me process our new collective reality. My practice feels even more purposed now; though still very much digging inward, i’m projecting outward a lot more, like sending energy instead of staying in my own head so much. This will likely be a permanent shift as it will be impossible to ever completely forget these times we’re currently navigating.

Any future projects you’d like to discuss or general things to let our readers know about anything?

My producer is nearly done mastering the re-release of my EP, though unsure when I’ll be able to tour on it. My music video locations are also currently on pause, but I’ve been working on new songs for about a year and am learning to produce it myself
I do have another music project I’ve started but haven’t announced more details of yet and am not rushing it.
Generally, I encourage those who are financially able to donate to Bay Area mutual aid efforts: some that come to mind are houseless aid through :

East Oakland Collective

The Village,

West Oakland Punks With Lunch;

Bay Area Workers Support (sex workers),

Oakland Food Workers’ Fund, and We Are The Ones Mutual Care Fund — * for the unhoused, East Oakland Collective is taking donations for hand-washing stations ($162 / month) and portable toilets ($142 / month) PayPal:  kandace.e@gmail.com

Follow Des Vu on Instagram : @mind__mirage

Blood and Black Tights:  An Interview with Horror Connoisseur and Clothing Designer Madeleine Boyne

 

The bay area has always been packed with underground collectors and archivists, but none have seem to dug as deep into their obsessions in an honest and passionate way  as SF based  horror-obsessive multi -genre artist and clothing designer Madeleine Boyne.  We  sat down and spoke with her about her love of the macabre and  current projects she’s working on.

 Welcome to Decaycast artist spotlight –  much of your work revolves around themes of horror and sci fi? Can you describe the origin of  your interests ?

 I was born with a love of the macabre and weird.  It must be a mutant gene I have. Even as a tiny little girl, I was obsessed with graveyards, witchcraft and horror movies.  I was asking my mom for black clothes in elementary school.  I think my parents were very confused.

Much of your visual work seems to revolve around horror,  what were  the  first three horror movies you saw and what stood  out about any one of them in  particular?

It’s hard for me to say what the first ones were.  I wasn’t seeing them in the theater but were but there were always old black and white horror films on TV in Hawaii where I grew up so classics like Dracula and Frankenstein as well as old Hammer horror stuff or films with Vincent Price. For some reason Les Diaboliques played a bunch on late night TV and that was probably my introduction to more art house horror.  I also saw Carnival of Souls as a kid and that completely freaked me out.  I still have a very soft spot for Carnival of Souls and of course the soundtrack by Gene Moore.

 

Spending a couple of hours with Umberto Lenzi was like standing near a supernova.

Huge supposition coming here, why are soundtracks so important to you in horror and what are you’re all time desert island selections and why ?

I feel like the soundtrack can make or break any film and there is something so delicious about a really creepy soundtrack.  The first soundtrack I fell in love with was Alain Goraguer’s score for The Fantastic Planet.  It was another one I caught on TV as a kid and I remember being really preoccupied with the music afterwards. So that one had better be on the island with me.  I wouldn’t want to be without some Ennio Morricone so maybe Lizard in a Woman’s Skin and Vergogna Schifosi. Those are two of my favorites out of a few hundred favorites. I love Alessandro Alessandroni’s Devil’s Nightmare and Alberto Baldan Bembo’s Nude for Satan so both of those.  Another Italian composer I love is Piero Piccioni and in particular the soundtrack for Camille 2000 which is actually more of a, shall we say, sensual film.  Also, Carlo Rustichelli’s soundtrack for Mario Bava’s Blood and Black Lace.  How is that for a pile of sleazy listening on the on the tropical island? This list could go on and on and then we’d be talking about an island of vinyl!

What was the most impactful scene in any  film you’ve ever seen?

So hard to say!  There are so many films and scenes I come back to over and over again.  I will say that overall the work of Mario Bava probably feels most impactful to me.  Something about the pools of color and exquisite details juxtaposed with violence speaks to me like nothing else.

Can I tell you a little Mario Bava related story while I’m thinking of him?  The last time I was in Rome, I decided to make a pilgrimage his grave and Google told me he is laid to rest at Cimitero Flaminio.  So I got this big bouquet of flowers and headed over there.  Being such a Bava fan, I tend to think everyone else is on the same page and so somehow I thought there would be signage “This way to Mario Bava!”  But it was this massive expanse of a cemetery with no maps at all.  So I was wandering around in this place with my armload of flowers for ages and I finally found a little office with, like, seven guys sitting around it it – one behind a computer and six of them probably maintenance.  So I walk in, this boho American woman with a armload of flowers and tell them in broken Italian, “Per favore, dov’è Mario Bava?  Ho bisogno di visitare Mario Bava?”  – I NEED to visit Mario Bava!  And these guys were like, “A WOMAN NEEDS OUR HELP!” and there was all this energy in the room and they were all talking and the guy behind the computer was searching away and then suddenly he stopped and said, “Mario Bava, il regista horror?” and it got quiet. Hell yeah, that’s who I’m looking for…….  Ultimately, no one could figure out where his grave was but they gave me a little map and I found that Sergio Corbucci was buried there so I went and put the flowers on his grave.  So in conclusion, if anyone knows the final resting place of Mario Bava, let me know because I need to visit him.

Can you talk a little bit about your clothing line and what inspired it?

My background is in art and about 8 years ago I did this whole series of graphite drawings of mutant animals, Siamese twins and such.  My friend Ms Momos Cheeskos suggested I silkscreen these on clothing. I think she actually said,  “Those would be great on panties!” 

Anyway, I took her suggestion and started silk screening them on t-shirts.  This led to a natural progression to putting images from films on shirt, bags and leggings.  I still want to do a line of women’s under garments.  Can you image?  Leatherface lace trimmed bustiers…..

 

Sounds fantastic. Any upcoming projects your excited about and would like to talk about ?

Yes!  As always I’m working on new designs for the clothing line and currently I’m thinking about stuff for kids and brides.  Gotta have sinister stuff for the little ones and weddings!

A lot of people were familiar with my soundtrack show bunnywhiskers  on Radio Valencia and I’ve now moved over to New New World Radio out of Moscow.  I asked Grux if he wanted to name the new show and he christened it with the rather stunning name Fly Faced Necronomicones Served by Marziveined Vampires.  There are tons of really cool shows on the station and I’d suggest everyone listen in at https://nnwradio.com/

Also, I’ve had an ongoing project of adding to the documentation of the lives of the great maestros of Italian genre films. Over the last three years, I’ve interviewed Sergio Martino, Fabio Frizzi, Enzo Sciotti, Umberto Lenzi and Luigi Cozzi. Those are on my youtube page and my Radio Valencia podcast page.  I’m currently in the planning stages of returning to Italy to record more interviews.

I just want to close out on a little something about the Italian genre maestros. Meeting these guys that had devoted their entire lives to their art was such a privilege.  I’m gonna say something that really sounds California-esque  but there was kind of a light about them that I think comes from a lifelong commitment to art. Spending a couple of hours with Umberto Lenzi was like standing near a supernova.  So for anyone out there that is questioning whether a life in the ups and downs of art is worth it, I’d say go for it.  It will fill you with something intangible and bright, even if your thing is slasher and cannibal films.

Make sure to pick something up from her incredible ETSY STORE 

“What We Can Create Together”: An Interview With John Daniel and Michael Stumpf of Reserve Matinee Imprint.

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My process of discovery coming across the Reserve Matinee imprint took a similar tale of many great discoveries within underground music and art. I first met John Daniel, co-founder of the Chicago-based imprint Reserve Matinee while he was playing in another legendary Chicago act – Avant-Gospel Black Power electronics act ONO at the legendary Empty Bottle. I was familiar with John’s work as Forest Management, who’s new double LP record “After Dark” (American Dreams) is a tour de force reimagination/reworking on Debussy’s “Le Mer” a complex and deep work in itself. John’s presence is very much like his new LP, nuanced, deep, and passionate and from the heart. It is without a doubt the strongest work I have heard under the Forest Management moniker, although it does almost without saying that everything I’ve heard has been stellar, to say the least.  “After Dark” is morose, haunting, but also serene and beautiful, and is ripe with the complexity and honesty that mirrors almost everything Daniel does, including his new imprint,  founded with friend and frequent collaborator Michael Stumpf. Here’s a distillation of what we spoke about and what is in store for  RM for 2020 and beyond.

“We of like minds need to unite now by working together to fight against the known ailments of global capitalism on any local level—whether slavery, segregation, racism, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia, toxic masculinity, police brutality, etc., the disease cannot be fought alone.”Michael Stumpf

 

 

Welcome to Decaycast interviews, thank you, John and Michael, for sitting down with us. First off please introduce yourselves and talk a little bit of what you’re excited about lately;

JD: Thanks so much for having us! Been lookin’ forward to it. We have some tapes coming out soon in 2020, excited to share them with folks. We also started doing gigs at a Vietnamese restaurant (Nha Trang) in Uptown Chicago, back in December 2019.

MS: Looking forward to Nha Trang this Friday, and more gigs 2020.

 John, you run three different labels/imprints, is that correct? Can you talk a little bit about Reserve Matinee, and also what makes the imprints different. Have you ever thought about combining them into one massive label, or does it make sense to keep them separated?

JD: Yeah. Sequel will be coming to a close this year, with just a few more releases planned. Afterhours Ltd is kinda just chillin’ right now, I honestly got pretty behind on assembly and shipping for that label, so I wanted to slow it down and re-evaluate some things. I don’t feel great about making people wait for stuff. Reserve Matinee came to life out of a friendship, so it’s about that collaboration and like-minded vision. I see that as separate from any other imprint I would run.

 

“I believe music can be a healing force that can be regenerative for those engaged in capitalist struggle.”

At what point did you realize your label was taking up more time that you all had anticipated, has it grown to become something more than when you started? And if so, how has your relationship to it, and it’s processes changed?

JD: Definitely. We released 20 tapes in our first year so we were very busy. We’re actually focusing a little less on releases this year, and more on events. But our process has evolved, for sure- Michael and I will now naturally split tasks when producing and selling the tapes.

MS: Feels like the same processes to me from the beginning just a shifting focus away from so many tapes and on to event planning and the first vinyl for the label this year.

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What is your process of discovery / curation? Do you focus more on the sound, aesthetics, or philosophy/ethos of the artists you choose to work with?

MS: The label was definitely meant to be a platform for us to explore other sides to the sounds we had been traditionally working with and initiating more collaboration and improvised live take recordings with local artists. We strive to release unheard and/or neglected sounds from our friends in Chicago, the Midwest, and abroad. That is what first and foremost drives our curation.

JD: We definitely listen to everything that comes our way, and we have a bunch of talented friends making interesting music right now in Chicago. It has only felt right to support the Midwest through the imprint, we’ve both grown up in and have gained inspiration from this region.

What do you see as the biggest problems within contemporary experimental music that you would like to see change (either political, philosophical, or aesthetic) and how if at all do you try to mitigate through this through your label and various projects?

MS: The biggest problems within music now are the exact same as the biggest problems caused by late capitalism. We strive towards an anti-capitalist ethic in what we can create together.

JD: Lack of openness, exclusivity, and boxed in. We tend to stick with what we know. There can be a great joy and healing feeling when you jam with someone you don’t know.

Can you elaborate a bit more from a standpoint of collaboration? In a time period that seems focused on the individual,  do you see music as a building block of resistance to capitalism?

MS: I believe music can be a healing force that can be regenerative for those engaged in capitalist struggle.

JD: In the words of Jack Johnson, we’re better together.

If you could explain the concept of your label to a person who has never and will never hear your releases – how would you describe it?

MS: We exist only in the hopes of describing it.

JD: Here.

MS: Connive is a new alias, tape coming 2/18, my political response to the Aurora, IL mass shooting. Most memorable might be Sara Zalek and Norman W Long‘s “Steel Workers’ Drone” dropping on RM 2/11…
JD: After a Summer of solo tapes we finished 2019 with a few different split releases, which is a fun format. They’re all up on our Bandcamp now. Yeah, I’d also say the Sara + Norman tape is one we’re super excited about at the moment. It really sets the tone for this year, being the first release of 2020.
What do you have upcoming both personal and for the label that you’re both excited about that we might not know about yet?
MS: New Faithful album coming this year on Anomia (material been ready for a while now) otherwise staying busy locally w Nha Trang nights, some live performances and deejaying
JD: Finishing a few recording projects including the debut release of 8990, which is Michael and I. I’ll be booking solo dates in the US/Canada very soon after a brief break, and buying a film camera. We’re also dropping the label’s first vinyl LP this year for our friend Door. He lives in Baltimore.
What are things that inspire you outside of your normal practice? is there a separation from art and life? Personal and political?
JD: Looking back, some things that have inspired in the past..the sky, glimpses of light, people, loss, film. Is there a separation between art and life? I guess it just depends on how you define life. For me, not really. It’s not like I’m going “Ok, it’s art time now”. Most of the time you don’t know what’s happening until it manifests itself in front of you.
MS: The existence of the impossible (or of the strange, or the weird, the ether), which I find omnipresent, constantly and unrelentingly inspires me. I believe and have faith that things can and will happen that we cannot imagine in any present, faith in the unthinkability of the infinity of future possibilities. That combined with the wisdom that life is unintelligible to life itself, a reality which in and of itself allows the irrational imagination to wander every slope of the summits of desire (or, time). But I see absolutely (and necessarily so!) no separation between art/life nor the personal and the political. All are one in the same from my vantage, and must be, as the passage of time and how we choose to risk ourselves to chance is all we have. Chance IS life IS art IS what we do with time itself (desire). In this way, I find the element of chance to be for me a strived-for basis of all my recorded works, as they strive for an element of stream-of-consciousness by design; breaking away from quantization, from conformity, from status quos of sound. As for politics, I try very hard to not believe in gods, idols, leadership, ideologies, in authority, in political platforms/parties, but vehemently believe all aspects of human life under late capitalism are political, music included. Music—the practice/craft but also who gets heard, who gets gigs, who gets streams, who gets festivals, who gets to play the best venues/clubs—is always political. Just follow the $ and prepare to be endlessly disappointed with your supposed ‘favorites’/‘heroes’/‘idols’. My politics are anti-capitalist and anarchic and bend towards communistic ends; they affirm inherent imperfection in all human political tasks as a result of our contradictory/flawed nature (a nature of violence, of hierarchy/power), as their very starting point. We of like minds need to unite now by working together to fight against the known ailments of global capitalism on any local level—whether slavery, segregation, racism, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia, toxic masculinity, police brutality, etc., the disease cannot be fought alone. In these times of disunity and discontent, we must seek the opposite, which means cultivating, sharing and connecting, believing in the impossible, believing in the possibility of an end to capitalism in our lifetimes.
 Final words:
MS: Listen to more Skin Graft.
“Faith is not belief in whether or not God exists but rather knowing that love without reward is of value.”           – Emmanuel Levinas
JD: I highly recommend Coast Sushi on Damen Ave and Margie’s on Armitage & Western. Also, shop Uptown! Jk there’s nothing to shop around here. Only bars and theatrics. But there is the Green Mill Jazz Club, off Broadway and Lawrence. Al Capone used to get faded there. It’s pretty sick to take acid and go sit in a booth. I also recommend listening to as much Gene Pick as you possibly can. Also this rec:

Future:

2/28 – @ Nha Trang Fourth Fridays – Peak Descent b2b Faithful w/ r.ss & Space Dog Jaxx

 

DECAYCAST Label Spotlight: Turmeric Magnitudes – San Francisco, CA

Found this unpublished review from a few years ago, so here it is….

Picking up the pace is a new label started by Greg Garbage of Von Himmel /Donkey Disk fame. Turmeric Magnitudes have been belching out limited-edition home dubbed cassettes of microsounds, tape collage, voice, tape loops, and almost everything under the sun, seeming to come out of the gates blazing with fire. All of the releases thus far are cassette only (a preferred format of Mr. Garbage) and the label, as well as in download formats, in fact, why don’t you go check out some.

The imprint has only been around a few months but has been rapidly belting an eclectic, yet consistent array of audio recorded works, many of his own projects, Black Thread, Dark Spring, Vibrating Garbage, Ester Chlorine, and other local bay area stalwarts such as under the radar artists like Fslux, The Heroic Quartet and much more.

Many of the cassettes I’ve managed to grip this far all focus on the microsound side of things, both in presentation and execution, but this is a good thing. One of the first cassettes I jammed, the self-titled Dark SpringImage

the cassette is a real charmer for the inner ear. This little number may not be ripping loud, or distorted, but it still holds ships worth of weight. The main theme of this cassette seems to be tension and relentless ambiance; as all recording artifacts are left in the mix to boot, contact mic ground hum, globs of tape hiss, play button fumbling, flying four-track faders hitting the roof, subtle moans of frustration and clarity all are given a breadth in the mix. Subtle tape and voice manipulations, crawling, scraping microtextures, subtly crafted ambient textures of a micro drone bug picking at the walls of your inner ear, slowly sucking grey matter out and forcing it back in through different pores and portals. As the tape progress, Dark Spring breaks into richer, fuller walls of ambient hum, weaving an intricate, yet minimal tone poem of tape loops, voice, and field recordings all supporting themselves forthright in the mix. The sources never really quite reveal themselves, and they are obscured through a musique concrete lens of churning cassette motors, the ambient sounds of an imaginary city in the artists mind etched into a 78 rpm record played through a tape head record needle. This Dark Spring could have been recorded in the early 1900’s or 2023, the listener doesn’t quite know or need to for that matter, but despite it’s timeless, old-world style recording techniques and mysticism, Dark Spring is a patient, well-done offering of ambient collage.

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Another release frequenting our ears from the label is the Bonus Beast / Vibrating Garbage “split” reissue, both splits between these two artists (previously not on label) are combined for extra dirge and pleasure in this little package. Bonus Beast tracks range from high anxiety tape collage and arpeggiated washed out analog synth mastery to rolling tape and dense beat mischief. Dense, dark, gangs of oscillators form archaic pillars of menacing tape and synthesizer printed on tape hiss, the out sound of analog debauchery fuzzing brain modulation techniques. There’s a strong presence of masterful edits, one of Bonus Beast forte’s on this little number, and the second track is more representative of his current work. Dense, heavy beats, squirling synths, modulated, mashed, mangled tapes, and four track wizardry. The Vibrating Garbage tracks range from clustered, textured, ambient offerings to masterfully crafted analog influenced EDM/Minimal synth tracks-creating an obtuse offering of the artists chops. , Pre-dating the nostalgia train of Tangerine Dream and Aphex Twin style drum hits engaging in bondage routines, Vibrating Garbage knows what he is doing with these tracks, and more importantly WHY. Each drum hit is accompanied by synth and vocoder textures, unheard in the traditional sense offering of the earlier VG works, but still displays the artists fondness for low fi recordings and analog drum machine mastery. A wonderful complement to each other, this reissue packs some gold gems from each artist. A must have.

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The third tape I’ve procured from the label is the FSLUX / BLACK THREAD split cassette. The A side is an allusive project from Oakland, CA titled FSLUX. dark, delicate homemade electronics, voice loops, scraping sounds, and alalog drone doom meld together a ninteen minute track of top notch drone/musique concrete goodness. Lots of textures and carefully considered track breaks elevate this from just being a drone track, but rather an elequently crafted amalgamation of dark, confusing, electronic sounds mixed with voice. “Lyrics” are unintelligible, but the voice acts as a great backbone for the slow churning, dark, hellish loops. There’s a distinct unique tension between voice, strings??? and electronics in this composition unheard on previous FSLUX recordings, a new and unique direction for the artists. DARK, ALIENATING, TENSION.

The Black thread side opens up with a beautifully minimal drone and scrape composition reminiscent of ENO’s airport works run in reverse through a micro-cassette player, and this is POWERFULLY DYNAMIC AMBIENT SPACE, just like that surreal moment when the plane leaves the runway. The B side slowly builds up into a distorted beautiful caucophany of distorted tape, strings, and field recordings offering a harsh contrast to the ambient swells of the first track, but never strays too far aesthetically to the vast sound that is Black Thread. Top notch tape, highly recommended.

This offers just a small glimpse into the sonic world of the Tumeric Magnitudes imprint, based out of San Francisco, CA, so be sure to keep an eye and ear peeled for more stuff from this busy, unique imprint. You can catch one of their recording artists, Ester Chlorine on an upcoming east coast tour, from 9/4-9/16

TURMERIC MAGNITUDES

DONKEY DISK

DECAYCAST Interviews: “If it smells like noise, it must be noise.” – An Interview with experimental music mainstay Steve Davis / +DOG+

DECAYCAST Interviews: “If it smells like noise, it must me noise.” – An Interview with experimental music mainstay Steve Davis / +DOG+

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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 Studies with 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.

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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.

 

 

DECAYCAST Interviews: A Deep Look Into Collective Grimalkin Records

DECAYCAST Interviews: A Deep Look Into Collective Grimalkin Records.

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We  stumbled across VA based label collective Grimalkin Records on the internet, and this discovery proved the internet still occasionally can surprise you in the best way. Here’s a in depth look into the label and collective as told by, and questioned by their own collective members. The best interviews often feature little of the interviewer, so we went one step further and  removed ourselves entirely from the discussion, enjoy and make sure to buy some of their fantastic music here! The label varies aesthetically however the overall presentation is unified and concise, yet sonically there’s something for everyone on their bandcamp, so take a look!

https://grimalkinrecords.bandcamp.com/

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Nancy Kells (Richmond, VA), founder and leading facilitator of Grimalkin Records, also creates music as Spartan Jet-Plex.

Elizabeth Owens (Richmond, VA) is a musician and visual artist and helps with various logistical and design work for the label.

Liz (to Nancy): What are some big plans you have for Grimalkin down the line? Any specific projects you have in mind?

Nancy: I would love to put out a collective member compilation. It could benefit a specific person or organization or whatever we want to do. It would be nice to do some other compilations with various members curating different ones or members collaborating on curating it together. We could also do one as a collective where we each pick a song of someone else- we each ask one person/band we know for a song for it. I would love it if we could grow enough to do releases of 100 where proceeds from 50 could go to a non-profit or cause and the half could be given to artist to sell as they want at live shows or on Bandcamp or their website. It would eventually be great to have a setup to dub and do all j-card printing work. I hand dub them now, but it’s a small setup where realistically it would be too much to do runs or 50 or more. I’d love to have a community recording studio and do workshops on how to home record, do releases on your own, play music, whatever people were interested in hosting and attending. I love collaboration and would be interested in  putting together small projects with others. I love that kind of thing. Maybe we could do one large mega-collaborative song with all of us? That would be very cool and probably a lot of fun.

Liz: In what ways do you hope Grimalkin differs from other labels?

Nancy: In comparison to bigger labels, even some smaller indie labels, we aren’t a business. If we were to grow and could get grants and be non-profit to support people on a larger level with stipends and then also in terms of raising money for organizations and collectives but also individuals in need. I personally admire Virginia Anti-Violence Project and the work they do. I would love for GR to be a place were we could do workshops and educational things but also support on learning things and how to be creative and play music- and then also individual support for people and even counseling. I also really admire Nationz and what Zakia McKensey has done for RVA. I see Grimalkin as a collective group of musicians who can help organize the community through music and in doing so can organize with others in the community as well and support other organizations and individual people.

Liz: How do you find new artists and decide who to approach about doing a Grimalkin release/joining the collective?

Nancy: My hope is that collective members will naturally know people or have friends who’d like to release- just building a community and support our talented friends.  The people I’ve asked to join or release with us are people I’ve seen play live or from playing with them in Womajich Dialyseiz Mainly from being out at shows in Richmond.. I have met a few people on Twitter or through organizing benefit compilations as well which is great. So Kate is from Guayanilla, Puerto Rico and Berko is from Baltimore, Mabel is in Philly and Quinn is from Springfield, MO. It’s really cool to have people elsewhere and that our collective is branching outside of RVA..  I envision Grimalkin one day as supporting small music communities in various places. I know that’s lofty, but I can dream. We encourage people to reach out to us though.

Liz: If someone wanted to support or join Grimalkin, what are some of the biggest needs of the org in terms of labor right now?

Nancy: We want people to join us who feel like what we are doing is right for them. You don’t need to be in collective to release with collective so it’s more about just collaborating in various ways. Having people join us who feel like they have something that the collective would benefit from but at same time, it’s a no pressure thing. No one has to do anything specific, but if you want to contribute, that’s welcomed and encouraged. Everybody in our collective now contributes in various ways- graphic design, artwork, recruiting new people to join us or release music, social media promo, mastering songs- and we could help with mixing and recording as well, helping book shows and organize benefit shows. Also, just being a supportive friend to others is being part of the collective. Sometimes support is just showing up when you can. To me, that is important and I have a lot of respect for everyone in collective. And each person cares greatly for the world and all of the injustice and wants to do better and I think that ’with music is what brings us together.

Liz: Where you you like to see Grimalkin go?

Nancy: I’d like it to be a place where people can come to for help with their music and for support but also without expectations and strings. Like a home away from home or place you can come and be creative and help others and collaborate but a place you can come and go as you please. I’d love it if eventually we had enough money where we could pay people stipends to help them create their work or take care of themselves. Get paid for shows or creating artwork. Just a positive community where we raise one another up and help people when we can. Being around creative people inspires creativity and collaboration and support. It would be great if at some point we had a recording space people could use with equipment. It would be great if we eventually had a proper printer setup to do j-cards completely on our own. I’d like to get two of my tape decks fixed and try to have a much better dubbing setup. If we ever grow to doing larger runs, that would be wonderful. Maybe we could dub albums for friends then as well which would help a lot of people. I’d love more people to join the collective but at same time don’t want people to feel they have to join to release or collaborate with us. I’d like Grimalkin to support other people’s collectives and projects. And on same hand, would love to see us grow with people who really want to contribute every now and again or as much as they want and be part of the collective. I want us to be this network of people basically and we do what we do when we want or can to work with and help others

Nancy: I think benefits of creating music might be similar for both of us. We’ve both talked about how music is a way to process life and channel a lot of dark emotions into something positive. When did you know creating and writing your own music was important to you?

Liz: I started writing music as early as 7 years old, and knew it was important then. I used to get punished a lot as a kid and as a result ended up spending a lot of time in my room with nothing but a pen and paper and a lot of feelings. Before I knew how to write my own music I would just put my own lyrics to other songs (an early favorite of mine was the Harry Potter opening theme…). I’ve always used poetry as a way to work through my feelings and putting the words to music helps solidify the message in an emotional way for me. It didn’t really occur to me that my emotional/mental health largely depended on making music as a therapeutic device until about 5 years ago, though. I think I’ve gained a lot of clarity and healed a lot as a result of that insight.

Nancy: How has your personal sound changed over the years?

Liz: I think most of the change in my sound has come from collaborating with other musicians and challenging myself to think differently. My dear friend and musical sister, Micah Barry, has had a huge impact on my sound because we flow really well when we write together. She’s an incredible guitarist, so challenged me to write more complex and fluid guitar parts for Coming of Age, for example. Access to weird instruments has also shaped my sound a lot; Dave Watkins, who helped record Coming of Age, lent me a bowed psaltery which I learned to play and used heavily on the album. I also just acquired and fell in love with a lever harp. So curiosity and a love of learning new instruments has a lot to do with it, too.

Nancy: How did you meet the people who play in your band? You all really seem like you fit together when you play live like perfect puzzle pieces. Your music solo is wonderful. Growing Pain is particularly beautiful. I love that EP and all of those songs except the intro are on Coming of Age. The intro is this beautiful ambient and vocal piece that you can also hear ideas that end up on Coming of Age. Perhaps you think of Growing Pain as sketches for Coming of Age or maybe they sit separately as two entirely different things or a bit of both. I wonder how you view them in relationship to one another and what you think your current band brings to the songs on your new album?

Liz: First, wow thank you! Regarding my band mates, we fit really well together because I was friends with everyone before we started playing together. They’re all kind, perceptive listeners and I think that’s the key to making a band work really well. We have fun together. Regarding the EP vs. full album, I definitely think of the EP as a sketch of Coming of Age. It helped me lay down an intention for the record and feel out the sound before committing to a full band and recording plan. It also helped me realize that the songs were begging for added instrumentation and a spirit that could only exist with more people present, hence the band. It was really difficult to hand over these extremely personal songs to other people at first, but I’m so glad I did because the record wouldn’t be what it is otherwise, and I wouldn’t be where I am otherwise. Working with a band has done amazing things for my depression.

Mabel Harper (Philadelphia, PA) has a variety of music and writing projects including their solo project Don’t Do It, Neil, and helps with recruiting bands, artwork and graphic design, and mastering releases. She has a new album, B/X, out with us late June 2019. You can view her first video and single, Strawberry Cake, below.

Nancy: Your new album that you’re working on has a newish sound for you. What do you think inspired this change? I actually think your sound varies from listening to your Bandcamp. I think experimenting and trying new things is great and important in growing as a musician. I think it’s really exciting that you’re trying new things. Is there anything that stands out to you about doing things differently than you have previously?

Mabel: K-pop inspired the change. People shit on boy bands and pop music and stuff, but I think, when it’s really good, it’s good at crystalizing emotion in an accessible way. I basically see Don’t do it, Neil as an experimental pop project—not experimental as in, I wanna make something alienating, but experimental as in, I don’t wanna limit myself. It gets boring if you do the same shit over and over! I really believe that you can’t grow as an artist if you just keep doing the same thing over and over.

Nancy: You collaborate on a web serial through Form and Void. How did you get the idea for that series? You also have some music collaborations as well. How does your music collaborations differ from the writing and how to you see them in relation to each other?  How does writing differ creatively for you from music and from your various collaborations?

Mabel: We got the idea for Form and Void after a long time of not collaborating and then one day just being like, “Maybe we should do something?” And, from our mutual interests in the historical practice of magic, queerness and identity issues, and stark human fucking darkness, Form and Void arose. I see writing as totally different than making music. Writing for me is something I find naturally collaborative, while I find that hard as fuck to do with music. I’m just so into my particular vision, that I find collaborating on music really frustrating. Of course people have their own ideas, but, if I feel strongly about something aesthetically-speaking, that’s it. That’s the way that shit’s gotta be.

Molly Kate Rodriguez (Guayanilla, Puerto Rico) makes music as kate can wait, and helps with recruiting new artists and collective members.

Nancy: Kate, I think you said you just recently played out solo as kate can wait for first time or first in a long time. I played my first ever solo set as Spartan Jet-Plex a month ago which was very scary. Just guitar and vocals is really intimate and kind of intimidating to do in front of people, at least it was for me.How did you get prepared for your show and how did it go? Do you have any advice on how to prepare and for getting your head in the right space for it?

Kate: It was my first time as kate can wait but it was the 3rd solo show I’ve ever played. My first 2 shows were me singing over a backing track but this one was the first time it was just me and my guitar. I practiced a lot,more than I ever have and the show actually went well. I’m a very indecisive person so I was still choosing songs for the setlist the day of the show which added a lot of stress to an already stressful occasion. My advice would be to not think about things too much and just have fun with it. People react positively to honesty and passion in a performance so just go for it.

Nancy: Kate, Out of everyone in the collective, your music is probably most similar to what I do with Spartan Jet-Plex. What is your writing process usually? And do you usually write lyrics and guitar simultaneously or which usually comes first for you?

Kate: My writing process involves me grabbing my guitar and playing around until I’ve found a chord progression I like,then I sing over it and if I like the vocal melody enough then I decide to make it a full song. Sometimes I end up recording the first thing I play and sometimes it takes me a long while until I come up with something worthwhile. I almost always write lyrics after the music, I find it super difficult to match up music to pre-written lyrics though I do it on rare occasions. I don’t like to spend too much time working on songs because I enjoy my first reaction to the music so my writing process for the most part coincides with the recording process. Sometimes I’ll go back and add or subtract things here and there but I normally spend a day on each song,2 at most.

Nancy: Kate, You mentioned that kate can wait and this current style of music for you is fairly new. I think you mentioned doing ambient and noise type music projects previously. How were you inspired to switch gears and write the kind of songs you’ve been currently writing? And do you ever miss doing ambient and noise and do you feel like there is room within the kate can wait project to bring those other sounds into it or how does that work when you’re writing music?

Kate: I made ambient and drone music from 2010 to 2017. I also dabbled a bit with instrumental hip hop,meditation and noise music and while all of those things were very exciting to make I’ve always wanted to make singer-songwriter type of music. Experimental music is very gratifying to make but sometimes you just wanna work on songs with verses and choruses and the like. I never felt confident enough to do it and my access to recording gear has always been limited so I always saw it as a pipe dream. I’d like to mix both things in the future but at the moment I have no real desire to go back to that sound. I feel like I ended those projects off on a high note and I’m ok with that.

Berko Lover (Baltimore, MD) met founding member Nancy Kells through organizing one of the compilations we put out as Friends For Equality. She’s been supportive of the work we are doing and helps with recruitment as well. Berko and Nancy just released their collaborative project, MERGE, this month.

Nancy: Berko, what is the music scene like in Baltimore? What are your favorite hangouts and places to see or play music there?

Berko: The music scene in Baltimore is very vibrant and and eclectic. There’s something for everyone.i love it and I am very proud of my peers. I love playing anywhere where the sound guy really loves to mix. That’s hard to come by but it’s a magical night when you sound like you want to sound.

Nancy: You created a food show. I loved how you edited it together with the different restaurant visits around the city and also the music. How did you come up with the idea to do your show and how do you view it in relationship to your music and other collaborations you do with various people?

Berko: I use my show as a vehicle to drive my music. I shot a bunch of footage but lately have been in a weird creative slump. I’m working on getting mySelf out of it and am pushing myself to get my show back up. I love food so coming up with the idea was easy. The execution and discipline to continue on hasn’t been as simple.

Nancy: I know we collaborated and I am excited to finally release it. I love So Nice Yesterday. Whenever I do a collaboration, the other person is bringing something unique and different to the table and it’s fun to see how you can bounce ideas and mesh with someone that works and possibly sounds different than you do. What is your motivating factor for working with Cazre?  You both sound great together musically and vocally. You also were in another collective a while back and have collaborated quite a bit. What do you think makes it work?

Berko: Cazre is my best friend. Working with him is easy and the friendship motivates it. However, working with someone is always difficult when your both inspired in spurts. Getting on the same page can get challenging but once we do it feels and sound gorgeous. But our mutual respect for the talent each brings to the work is what works. I know that I perform my best in collaboration with him & I know that also does in regards to working with me. We bring out the best in each other musically and understanding that is what we focus on.

Sarmistha Talukdar (Richmond, VA) is a scientist, visual artist, and musician, and founding member of Womajich Dialyseiz, a queer improv noise collective. They help with organizing benefit shows and designing artwork for releases and events. Their solo music project is Tavishi.

Nancy: Sarmistha, why did you form Womajich Dialyseiz and how to you think Grimalkin can support the goals of WD? My favorite times playing with WD were when it was just a get together and not a show. Liz and I have talked about scheduling one seasonally. Emily R said she would be down to host at her house. We could not only get together for an improv session but also share what we are all working on outside of WD.

Sarmistha: Womajich Dialyseiz was formed to create a safe(r) space for women, non-binary and trans artists to improvise and collaborate artistically. I think Grimalkin can continue to support the goals of WD by continuing to support and provide platform to marginalized artists. It makes me happy to see members of WD having and organizing cozy musical get togethers!!

Nancy: What types of benefit shows, events and people do you think we should organize a benefit show for this year?

Sarmistha: I feel we could host fundraisers for ICE out of RVA, Southerners on New Ground (Black Mama Bail Fund), Richmond Food and Clothing Initiative, Advocates for Richmond Youth, The Doula Project, these organizations tend to not get enough funding or visibility even though they are really doing great work. We can try to support undocumented immigrants who have taken up sanctuary in Richmond (ex Hands off Abbie campaign), there are many community advocates in Richmond who are struggling but hesitate to ask for help, I would like to fundraise for them as well. For example Maria Escalante has been trying to help migrants in Southside through Richmond Conexiones, but has been going through a lot in her own life. There are several QPOC folks who need money for hormones, gender-affirming surgeries but do not have the means to do that, we could try to fundraise for them as well. We could potentially even fundraise for a small scholarship for QPOC folks who might need a little help with their work/studies/creative efforts.

Martina Fortin Jonas (Portsmouth, VA), who makes music as MELVL, helps with recruiting bands and musicians and organizing benefit shows. They also serve on the board of The Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia.

Nancy: Martina, Your music sounds both ancient and new. What are your inspirations?

Martina: I am a classically trained instrumentalist and have been an early music enthusiast for most of my life, so ancient music, medieval music (shout out to my girl Hildegard von Bingen!!), renaissance music, and generally just music before 1750 A.D. have a huge grip on me. Some of my other favorite composers include Leonin, Machaut, Josquin, Mealli, Uccellini, Marais, Handel, and of course, Anonymous. Other artists I love that influence my work are Enya, Sade, early Grimes, Alcest, Pink Floyd, Treha Sektori, Csejthe, Araphel, Batushka, Atrium Carceri, Endvra, Coph Nia, and more.

Nancy: You teach at ODU? I think that is correct. What do you teach there? How do if at all does your teaching impact or influence your music? I was a special education teacher and taught middle school math, algebra and English. I always felt like my work was directly in relation to my music. I feel the same now too as a vocational counselor. I think my job always affected my art or music but it has had a more positive impact as I felt like what I was doing was meaningful to me outside of a paycheck.

Martina: I have taught at ODU before, but currently I teach Intro to Linguistics, Written Communications, and German at Hampton University.  Usually I keep my music and teaching pretty separate from each other, but over the years I have found that it is teaching that helps me the most with the stage fright I deal with in my musical endeavors.  

Quinn Wolf (Springfield, MO) is a musician and podcaster who recently reached out to Grimalkin about joining via email. She plans to help with recruiting and planning future podcasts.

Nancy: How did you get involved in the video game project Transhaping? Can you tell us about your experience working on the project and how you came up with songs for the soundtrack and what attracted you to the project?

Quinn: Unbound Interactive put out a call on Twitter for trans musicians to contribute to the soundtrack. A friend of mine sent me the link, and I just sent them a quick DM with some SoundCloud links and forgot about it until they messaged me back. I really wasn’t expecting anything, since I hadn’t done any paid work of this scale before, but the Unbound team were both super cool and committed to telling their trans story with trans talent. I let them know the genres I’m used to working in, and they gave me the task of making a handful of short songs to play on in-game radios. I naturally sketch out short musical ideas with different synths, so making these tiny tracks came easily to me. Unbound Interactive is a fantastic group of folks with some real business smarts, so I’m looking forward to watching their next project take shape.

Nancy: Tell us about Luminous Studios and how you got involved in that podcast team and what your goals are with that and some of the main topics you like to discuss on there?

Quinn: Where to start? The founding members of Luminous Studios – myself, Cole Shepard and Jack Grimes – decided to form our own network after discovering our love for podcasting on a now-defunct podcast arm of a vaporwave music label of all things. Originally the three of us wanted a space to create more serious works of analysis and criticism about media, but instead the network became more of a place to showcase new and experimental audio content. We have a large group of friends from our past creative endeavors, and Luminous Studios became a great way to introduce a lot of them to podcasting and vice versa. Right now, we’re pushing forward with this idea of honing our craft and trying things without worrying too much about being commercially viable or anything like that. To be honest, we’re somewhere in this weird middle space between podcast network and publishing co-operative and art collective. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Nancy: Tell us about your music and what inspired you to reach out to Grimalkin and what you hope to gain from working with us, how you hope to contribute to the collective and how the label can help you personally but also what you would like to see us do for others and communities?

Quinn: Music has always been a bit of a lonely pursuit for me. I grew up around church music and school bands and choirs, but I’ve never had friends who were into pursuing music independently. […]

Osser Smith (Richmond, VA), a.k.a. Peter Pierpont, is a visual artist and musician and helps with various aspects of the creative work Grimalkin does (i.e. posters, merch, promotion, etc.).

Nancy: Similar to me, you just performed live for the first time. I find that exciting but it was also very scary to me but I felt like it was time to push myself to do not only for me personally to grow as a person and musician, but also as a way to give myself some kind of validation that my music is worthy to share with others in a live setting. I guess I never really felt like I was good enough or valid enough to play in front of people. I was really holding myself back and fearful of failing and falling flat on my face. What are your thoughts on this and what drove you to finally take the plunge? Did you have to psych yourself up for days, weeks? How did you prepare and overcome any fear or reservations you may have had?

Osser: Oh my gosh I was terrified. I told all my friends I would never perform my music because it’s too scary. But a couple nights before Kosmo, my friend running the show, asked if I would hop on. I practiced a couple hours before, hoping I would remember all the words. I remembered most of them! I think I just really was driven to share the feelings I got making those songs.

Nancy: Tell us about Peter Pierpont. Where did you come up with that name and are you taking on a persona when you do your music or is that just a band/project name?

Osser: Peter Pierpont is actually a character from a narrative I’ve been working on for some time. I decided to use his name for my music project because he sort of represents the positive sides to being overly emotional and mentally ill for me. In my narrative, Peter lives a very similar life to mine in the beginning, dies in his early 20’s then comes back from the dead some time in the future to sing songs about his past life and find a new path to plunge his heart and soul into. Metaphorically, Pete’s death represents killing the happy parts of myself early in life and slowly picking them back up. I don’t know what my future holds but I hope Pete can bring myself others empathy and aural elation!

As for the name, Osser is actually the origin. Osser was the original “Peter” persona. He was actually called “Ossy” and his character design was based on the sad clown, Pierrot. At some point in my late adolescence I was too embarrassed of how queer Ossy was so I created Peter from him. I used “Pier” as a starting point then. Peter and Pierpont both mean “stone” in some way.. (and that’s a whole other story) Peter was a more gender confirming character for me even though I was still years away from coming out. I started to miss the old Ossy and brought “them” back in my art and via myself. Their name changed to “Osservalten” in a car ride one day and it just stuck. Peter lived through the narrative for sometime gaining more and more relevance. Now I happily serve as a vessel for Peter’s musical numbers he writes about his past life in his new life. We are all much more comfortable with ourselves now.

Nancy: Osser: I know we’ve talked about the Legendary Pink Dots together already. I mentioned how your live set (my first intro to hearing your music) reminded me slightly of them and your voice of Edward Ka-Spel. When did you discover their music and is there anything you’d like to share about your music and them? I know you mentioned Edward is a music idol of sorts to you.

Osser: LPD is my biggest inspiration! Back in my teen years I was very angry and listened to lots of Skinny Puppy. This one time I was watching some tour footage and one of the band members pointed out “The Legendary Pink Dots” was written on the wall backstage somewhere. I didn’t know anything about LPD til one day soon after that I walked into Plan 9 records in 2007 and found their album “Your Children Placate You From Premature Graves.” and bought it on impulse. I thought their sound was fantastic then slowly discovered more and more… (and I’m still finding things I’ve never heard by them) One of the most inspiring moments in my life was watching Edward Ka-Spel perform “Salem” live in DC. I’ve looked everywhere for a video of my favorite part of the song where he screeches “YOU??? I MEAN YOUUU?????” Ka-Spel is a compelling story teller and I will always aspire to follow a similar direction.

Nancy: I believe you are also an artist? Can you tell us how you see music and art in relation to one another and specifically your creative relationship to both music and art? I made artwork and drew and painted and then got into sculpture long before I tried creating music so I am interested in how people relate the two who do both or have done both. I always had a love of music throughout my life but drawing and painting seemed more natural to me creatively when I was young and then overtime that flipped for me. I feel like artwork was limiting me to what I need to get out of myself and so I think that is where the change came for me.

Osser: I’ve been having a very similar experience as of late! I grew up in a musical family but didn’t really take interest in playing an instrument or learning anything about music because I was always more passionate about my drawing ability. I watched my mom participate in choirs, my dad play music with his friends every thursday night, and my brother pick up drums and electric guitar at an early age. I was excelling in art and it was the only thing I really cared about growing up so I stuck to that for the longest time. As I grew older though I began hanging out in different Richmond music scenes trying to find my place. I’ve always been an audience member because I didn’t want to share my narrative with anyone. But one day in late 2018 I opened GarageBand on my computer and just started obsessively piecing together some heavy loops to sing over. And I haven’t been able to stop ever since!!! It definitely took me a while to even want to take that first step away from the pencils and paintbrushes. I didn’t think I could make something that sounded decent but thanks to modern technology I can focus on narrating and create a digital piece as a catalyst for my stories. Together with art and music I want to create a complete work. I’ve thought of making a comic book with soundtracks to go along with them but that seems very involved. We’ll see what life throws at me.

 

Heaven Imanchinello. Richmond, Virgina.

Heaven IImanchinello is involved in several community projects that help people in Richmond. including Great Dismal, which hosts and books benefit shows and supports local and touring musicians. They help with recruiting bands and musicians and with organizing shows and with giving us general advice. Heaven is also in Womajich Dialyseiz and curated our live set release. They also will be curating an upcoming compilation Grimalkin is putting out of collective members & friends hopefully this fall. They were unable to participate in this interview this go around due to life getting in the way.

Backxwash. Montreal, Québec, Canada.

Backxwash helps with promotion and recruiting. We met her through her Twitter and discovered her killer music and checked out her music video for F.R.E.A.K.S. and you should too. We asked her if she would be interested in releasing and/or joining and we’re so glad she’s a part of our collective. Look for a release from her in July 2019. Backxwash just joined the collective this week prior to conducting and submitting this interview.

DECAYCAST Interviews : SIGNOR BENEDICK THE MOOR

DECAYCAST Interviews : SIGNOR BENEDICK THE MOOR

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Sb The Moor /// Photo:  @parra.productions

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.

DECAYCAST “Deathquestions” AKA An Interview with Anti-Fascist Metal Group NECKBEARD DEATHCAMP

DECAYCAST Interviews: “DEATHQUESTIONS” AKA An Interview with Anti-Fascist Black Metal Group NECKBEARD DEATHCAMP

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Black Metal, as many forms of extreme music has often taken an ambiguous stance when it comes to politics, if not outright fascist stances exemplified through the racist ideologies darkly and morbidly cloaking bands and labels who define (or disguise) themselves within NSBM or National Socialist Black Metal. Do these same types of ideologies exist in other scenes without us even knowing? The answer is an obvious yes, however due to metal’s historically unrelenting use of extreme imagery and themes celebrating death, mutilation, war, lynchings, white supremacy,  terror/terrorism etc, usually in the most fetishistic way possible, many times  devoid of  any inherent critique  for said content, it beginss the question, is there more overt racism in extreme metal than other genres? Probably not, however it often seems this way due to the outspoken and upfront nature of the rise of “edgelords” in extreme music (see: white supremacists) . In an age where the “leader of the free world” aka some grease encrusted orange, sniveling worm, criminal  uses racist policies and language, othering and institutionalized racist and sexist tactics to “drive the nation” and “Make America Great Again” and magnify hate, racism, and xenophobia around the globe, many extreme music fans are often left wondering where the artists and musicians they support stand politically within a constantly emboldened right and a flaccid left, well extreme black metal band NECKBEARD DEATHCAMP doesn’t sit on the fence. In fact they burn the fence down and stuff it’s simmering embers down the throat of racism, transphobia and many forms of oppression and hatred within the metal scene with their debut album, “White nationalism Is For Basement Dwelling Losers” that took the internet by storm  They were kind enough to grace us with an interview to deep dive into the ethos of ND. Also buy their record here and go see them at the esteemed Maryland Death Fest  this year whose need for an antifascist presence has been long overdue!

 

Dr. Decaycast: Thank you for uniting with DECAYCAST to talk about how racists are trash humans, wait maybe I jumped the gun, .Can you describe the philosophy and ethos of NECKBEARD DEATHCAMP for those who might not be aware

KH:  NECKBEARD DEATHCAMP IS A MILITANT REPLY TO THE FASCIST SEIGE OV HEAVY METAL ENABLED BY CURRENT POLITICAL TIMES. WE ARE AN ANARCHIST WAR BRIGADE ASSIGNED TO THE MANUAL EXTERMINATION OV THE RACIST BEDROOM KEYBOARD WARRIORS AND OUR DIRECTION IS SINGULAR AND UNSTOPPABLE. OUR PHILOSOPHY IS ONE OV ABSOLUTE HATRED AND CRUELTY FOR THEIR DISGUSTING WAY OV LIFE AND OUR OATH IS TO ABSOLUTE INTOLERANCE OV THEIR CHILDLIKE ANSWERS TO THE HARD QUESTIONS. THANK YOU FOR HAVING US. HAIL BLACK METAL. HAIL VICTORY.

HK: OUR GOAL IS THE COMPLETE ERADICATION OV  NATIONAL SOCIALISM

DD: Why is it important or isn’t it important for bands to be political?

KH: AS A BAND YOU’RE ALLOWED TO MAKE MUSIC ABOUT WHATEVER YOU WANT. I’M NOT IN THE BUSINESS OF TELLING ANYONE HOW TO MAKE THEIR OWN ART. BUT I THINK MUCH OV THE CONVERSATION WE HAVE IN BLACK METAL IS ABOUT HOW ASSHOLES TRY TO ESCAPE THEIR OWN AGENCY IN THE ART THAT THEY MAKE WHENEVER CONVIENIENT.

AND THAT IS SOME SHIT BY WHICH WE SHALL NOT ABIDE. DOUBLY SO IF YOU WANT TO PRETEND YOUR BAND ST8RMKR8EG SS IS AN “APOLITICAL” BLACK METAL PROJECT. YOU FUCKING DORKS.

CONVERSELY I THINK THE WARRIORS OV THE WORLD MAKING PROTEST MUSIC. AND ESPECIALLY HEAVY PROTEST MUSIC IN TIMES LIKE THESE ARE HUGELY IMPORTANT. AND THEIR VOICES SHOULD BE HELD HIGH AND HEARD LOUD.

YOU HAVE A LOT OV AGENCY IN YOUR ART. AND WHAT YOU MAKE WILL NEVER ESCAPE WHO YOU ARE. NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY. SO TRY TOMORROW TO BE LESS OV A DICKWEED THAN YOU WERE TODAY IF YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE THE COMPANY OV ANYONE OTHER THAN MISERABLE UNAPOLOGETIC DICKWEEDS.

HK: I DON’T THINK IT IS NECESSARILY IMPORTANT FOR BANDS TO BE POLITICAL; THIS IS BECAUSE MUSIC IS AN ART FORM, AND SOME OF THE EMOTIONS EXPRESSED THROUGH MUSIC ARE APOLITICAL. WITH THAT SAID, IF A BAND HAS ANY STRONG POLITICAL LEANING OR BELIEF, BY ALL MEANS EMBRACE IT. SOMETHING I HAVE DONE PERSONALLY, IS TO HAVE SOME OF MY MUSICAL PROJECTS TAKE A POLITICAL STANCE, WHILE OTHERS REMAIN APOLITICAL. THIS PREVENTS THE MUSICAL DIRECTION FROM GETTING CLOUDED WITH TOO MUCH CONTENT, WHILE STILL GIVING AN OUTLET FOR POLITICAL VIEWS.

DD:Do you think the black metal scene harbors a disproportionate amount of fascists, racists, and homophobes/transphobes and just ignorance in general, as compared to other genres, or are these notorious NSBM bands just more becoming with their beliefs,  because of artists like Varg, GAAHL, and others alike perpetuating these beliefs through their music and writings?

KH: 
NO. I THINK BY VOLUME MOST RACISTS (AND CERTAINLY MOST RAPISTS) LISTEN TO DANCE MUSIC AND DO THAT THING WHERE THEY WEAR BOAT SHOES AND CHUBBIES SHORTS IN GROUP PHOTOS. HOWEVER HEAVY METAL HAS ALWAYS ATTRACTED THE EDGIEST PERSONALITIES. AND WHERE THOSE GUYS WILL SAY SHIT LIKE “I’M JUST FISCALLY CONSERVATIVE” AS CODE FOR “I DON’T REALLY CARE HOW SYSTEMIC RACISM HAS EFFECTED THE BLACK COMMUNITY”. OUR ASSHOLES JUST PUT A FUCKING SWASTIKA ON THE ALBUM COVER AND WILL CALL YOU SLURS OPENLY. IT MAKES THEM EASIER TO POINT OUT AND TALK ABOUT. LOUIS CACHET CERTAINLY PLAYS A HUGE HAND IN THIS PHILOSOPHY OV MOST OV THE DUMMIES HERE IN HEAVY METAL, BUT MOST OV THEM ARRIVED STUPID AND EDGY WITHOUT HIS HELP.

HK: INARGUABLY, YES. JUST SURF THROUGH SOME BM BANDS ON METAL ARCHIVES AND THAT WILL TELL YOU EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW.

DD: Who would be three bands or humans you could eradicate from the music scene altogether,  and why and never bat a lash?

KH:  FAMINE OV PESTE NOIRE HAS TO GO. AS PER OUR CONTRACT WITH PROSTHETIC WE ARE REQUIRED TO PRODUCE THREE RECORDS OVER THE COURSE OV THREE YEARS. FAMINE IS ACTUALLY SO EFFECTIVE AT MAKING A MOCKERY OV BLACK METAL HE MAY ACTUALLY BURN THE GENRE DOWN BEFORE THAT TIME. THAT GUY CAN SUCK MY ARISTO-ASSE.

NYOGOTHABLITS. THOUGH OUR FRIENDS STILL SEND EACH OTHER HUGE WALLS OV TEXT ABOUT SILLY THINGS TITLED “TRANSMISSION 616: DECLASSIFIED” ONLY IT’S ABOUT WHOEVER ATE THE LAST TOASTER STRUDEL, OR WHOSE CAR HAS ALL OV US BLOCKED IN THE DRIVEWAY. I’M MAD THAT THOSE GUYS EXPECTED US TO READ THAT MOUNTAIN OV SHIT BRANDED AS A PUBLIC STATEMENT AFTER THE HELLVETRON SHOW GOT SHUT DOWN.  THERE ARE PLENTY OV OTHER DUMMIES IN FASCIST BLACK METAL DOING MORE HEINOUS SHIT THAN THESE GUYS BUT ALL THOSE DUDES DON’T USE THE PHRASE “APOLITICAL NEO-FASCISM” UNIRONICALLY.

I’D ALSO SEND DER STURMER HOME. I DON’T HAVE A PUNCH LINE FOR THESE GUYS, THEY’RE JUST BAD AND I FIND THE DISCUSSION SURROUNDING THEM REALLY BORING. SOME OV THE OTHER NAZI TURDS ARE AT LEAST MARGINALLY SELF AWARE OR INTERESTING TO SHIT ON. BUT LIKE PEOPLE CAN TALK SHIT ABOUT US ALL DAY FOR HAVING NO RIFFS YET UNIRONICALLY GAS THESE GUYS. WHO ARE LIKE UNFLAVORED OATMEAL SERVED WITH A MAYONNAISE SANDWICH ON WHITE BREAD WITH A NICE GLASS OV WATER.

HK: ANTICHRIST KRAMER, LAURI PENTTILA, DER STURMER

DD:  In a time where many systems like white supremacy and the justice system have rendered political neutrality in ones daily life dangerous and impossible, do you think/hope by taking such a strong stance against white supremacy, you hope to nudge younger bands and artists to create passionate anti- fascist music and art? 

KH:  FUCK YEAH. IT’S ALREADY BEGUN. THE AMOUNT OV PROJECTS CROPPING UP WHO ARE ALREADY PLAYING BETTER THAN US, TELLING THE PUNCH LINE BETTER THAN US, AND THROWING HEAVIER PUNCHES THAN US IS GREAT. MORE PEOPLE SHOULD DO IT. WHEN THE FIRES OV FASCISM ARE DISTANT AND EXTINGUISHED. WE CAN MAKE ART AND MUSIC AND JOKES ABOUT THE NEXT ISSUE. WE’RE FAR FROM THE FIRST. AND WE WON’T BE THE LAST. MORE.

FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH. MY ACTUAL POLITICAL INTEREST AND BEST TALKING POINTS ARE ON HOW MONSANTO AND OTHER MAJOR FOOD CONGLOMERATES HAVE BECOME A CORPORATE OLIGARCHY AND PAVED THE WAY FOR THE PURCHASE OV OUR HUMAN RIGHTS BY LOBBYING FIRMS.

BUT THAT WAS BEFORE A TIME IN WHICH AN ADULT MAN IN AN ILL FITTING MY LITTLE PONY T-SHIRT FELT COMFORTABLE SCREAMING DIRECTLY INTO MY FACE ABOUT MY SOY INTAKE. SO HERE WE ARE.

HK: ABSOLUTELY YES. I HOPE TO CONVERT AS MANY PEOPLE TO ANTIFASCISM AS POSSIBLE. MANY PEOPLE, INCLUDING A YOUNGER ME, WERE SCARED OF ANTIFA MAINLY BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT’S PORTRAYED IN THE MEDIA, WITHOUT ACTUALLY KNOWING ANYTHING ABOUT LEFTIST PHILOSOPHY. I HOPE THAT THE MUSIC WE MAKE WILL HELP PEOPLE SEE THE ERROR IN THEIR WAYS, AND EDUCATE THEMSELVES ON LEFTIST PHILOSOPHY. ONCE YOU ACTUALLY LEARN WHAT IT MEANS AND WHAT IT’S ABOUT, YOU’LL FIND IT’S NOT SCARY AT ALL.

DD:  Who would you rather see drawn and quartered, David Duke or Richard Spencer?

KH: YES.

HK: YES.

DD:  Can you talk a bit about the process of forming this project? Have you all played in bands with each other before, was it a long time coming or a reaction to specific event or point in time?

KH:  IT WAS A REACTION TO AN ONLINE ALTERCATION BETWEEN ME AND AN UNNAMED LOSER WHO RUNS A NAZI LABEL OUT OV HIS MOMS BASEMENT. I POSTED THE BAND NAME AND ALBUM IDEA AS A JOKE TO FACEBOOK. THE NOW RETIRED SUPERKOMMANDO UBERWEINERSCHNITZEL, WHO I HAD BEEN TALKING TO ABOUT OUR MUTUAL DISTASTE FOR NAZI BLACK METAL IMMEDIATELY WANTED IN. HE RECRUITED HAILS KOMRADEZ WHO HE HAD BEEN WORKING WITH ON OTHER PROJECTS AND WE FORGED THE ALBUM.

WE SAY THIS OFTEN BUT THE FIRST ALBUM WAS INTENDED TO BE A ONE OFF. HAILS AND I DECIDED TO SET DOWN THE OTHER STUFF WE WERE WORKING ON TO PURSUE THIS FULL TIME AFTER PROSTHETIC EXTENDED THEIR HAND TO US.

HK: BASICALLY THE OLD GUITAR PLAYER ASKED ME IF I WANTED TO PLAY DRUMS ON AN ANTI-NSBM ALBUM AND AFTER HE SHOWED ME THE SONG TITLES I COULDN’T SAY NO. I WAS IN SEVERAL BANDS WITH HIM PRIOR TO NECKBEARD, BUT NONE WITH KRIEGMASTER.

DD: You just signed with Prosthetic Records, Will you be recording an LP for them, and any plans to tour Europe or The States?  There’s A LOT Of fascist scum to melt if you so choose to come to this trash pile of a country.

KH: YES. THE LP IS ACTUALLY ALREADY FINISHED. ON TOP OV THAT THERE ARE NINE SPLITS COMING OUT NEXT YEAR WITH SOME CO-CONSPIRATORS I’M PRETTY EXCITED ABOUT. WE’LL TAKE WHATEVER COMES OUR WAY. OUR PLAN IS TO REMAIN GROUNDED AND ENJOY THE GOOD GRACES OV THOSE WHO LIKE HANGING OUT WITH US.

I FIGURE IT’S WORTH MENTIONING THAT WE’RE ACTUALLY FROM THE US. WE HAVE A FULL US TOUR PLANNED THIS COMING SUMMER. BRING YOUR SKI MASK.

HK: THE LP IS ALREADY DONE, SHOULD BE OUT SOMETIME IN THE FIRST HALF OF THIS YEAR. WE’RE PLANNING AN EXTENSIVE US/CANADA TOUR RIGHT NOW, MAYBE WE’LL HIT EUROPE NEXT YEAR.

DD:  Any other upcoming releases, tours, or other vital information that should be known about NECKBEARD DEATHCAMP?

HK: I JUST WANT TO SAY, DON’T BE SCARED TO READ THE COMMUNIST MANIFESTO JUST BECAUSE IT HAS “COMMUNIST” IN THE NAME AND YOUR SEVENTH GRADE HISTORY TEACHER TOLD YOU COMMUNISM WAS BAD. CHANCES ARE THEY DIDN’T READ IT EITHER.

KH: NEVER LET SOMEONE PISS ON YOU AND TELL YOU IT’S RAINING. TAKE NO SHIT SUPERS OLDIERS. BLACK METAL FOREVER.