Sound artist Derek Piotr is releasing a new record coming out in late September on the DSPR imprint, titled “Grunt”, so we decided to have a short conversation about Piotr’s work as “Grunt”, specifically on their new record.
“A grunt. That most primal and animalistic of utterances. The new project by Derek Piotr, his eighth solo record and a set of short-form brutalist shards of human-digital noise, is
named for this sound. Had Xenakis bought a laptop in 1999, he may have produced something comparable to Grunt and its post-human #voicenoise aesthetic. Yet this is a wholly unique piece of work. As with Xenakis, Piotr takes recognisably analogue sounds – particularly the voice, but also drawing on acoustic instrumentation and found-sounds from nature – and reconstructs them into 21 intricate ‘electroacoustic’ miniatures. Yet
Piotr is less interested in dissolving these boundaries between electric and acoustic than he is in hybridising the organic and the digital. Grunt is subversively queer in its post-human composition”
Dr. Decaycast: “A grunt. That most primal and animalistic of utterances” would you say that this quote sums up the Ethos of the Grunt project perfectly?
Derek Piotr: Grunt has a separate meaning in Polish which is “earth” or “ground”. In general this project is trying to remind people of awareness of the physical body and reconnecting with nature in a really direct, almost clumsy way. I feel society has totally gone ethereal with apps and phones and I wanted to hit listeners lightly over the head with this project.
DD: Can you talk a little bit about the strategies of creating the sounds on this new record?
Piotr: Granular synthesis and heavy edits. In my earlier work i did a lot of very klobig cut and pastes, just lines and lines of small repeated glitches, then got further and further away from that idea as I moved on in my work. I wanted to return to some of the earliest ideas I had about sound, but in a way that is closer to my own vision than it was before…it always takes many tries circling around something before you reach the center.
DD: Would you consider yourself a concept based artist? If so, How does this record differ in concept from your previous seven full length albums, if at all?
Piotr: I think every record does fit into a concept. Drono was about drone music, Forest People Pop was of course more of a Pop record. I think I need a fence to work in or I would just be utterly lost. It would be interesting to me to create an album with no borders, every track a different flavour or feeling, but I feel ultimately that may result in a very uneven album. Something close to this happened with my fourth record Tempatempat. I tried many different sonic environments and, to me, that effort is my weakest. Consistency is important. I think grunt may be my most thematically consistent record. Most of the tracks are within the same parameters of length, and very similar processing is applied to the sounds across the entirety.
DD: Xenakis was mentioned in reference to this album. Can you talk a little bit about the impact his work has had on your process and aesthetics, if any?
Piotr: Xenakis is amazing, the press release was not written by me, but I definitely suggested that visual “if Xenakis had a laptop” to the PhD who wrote the liner notes. I think a lot of Xenakis’ work is very rough and direct in a way I tried to be on this album. I was not thinking of Xenakis when writing, more after I had the record done I tried to tie touchstones to it. Some of the work on this record sounds like Xenakis chamber music. Some of it sounds like Stockhausen. Some of it sounds like Pita. Some of it sounds like Kit Clayton. But I only drew those threads together after.
DD: The last track on this record is a reworking of a Kevin Drumm track. Can you talk a little bit about that collaboration and how that came about?
Piotr: I’ve known Kevin for years and we’ve emailed back and forth. We’re on the same label with some of our stuff. As I did with Drono (where I collaborated with Thomas Brinkmann for the last track), I invited Kevin to edit some of the material I was working on for this noise album. I sent him a bunch of demos and he chose Redirect to work with.
DD: Any collaborations planned for the future? Did you learn anything from that particular collaboration with Drumm?
Piotr: Didn’t really learn anything from Kevin, we work pretty similarly…that said I do have more collaborations coming in the next few months…
DD: What is some of the best new music (noise or other that you have heard)
Piotr: AGF – Dissidentova
Dirty Projectors – Lamp-Lit Prose
anything from Don’t DJ
but i am bad to talk about “new” music, I mostly lately listen to Jean Ritchie and old Thai music on youtube.
DD: Do you think queerness plays a big enough role in noise?
Piotr: No. It’s very much a boys club still. I wanna wag my finger a bit: many successful noise artists feed into boys club energy; use guitar and have kind of a postrock shoegaze situation going on. I think it pulls in people and feels like stretched out major power chord business, just made slightly weirder or dilute. Then you have harsh noise which is almost mosh-state sometimes. Definitely macho-ness going on, at least with some of the noise scene figureheads. I wish for more alertness sonically, use of differing tonal systems, general freakiness, softness and sensuality.
This interview was conducted as the first official interview by Decaycast aka NERFBAU jsun Adrian McCarty and Michael Daddona interview experimental music underground stalworts M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniels of Matmos, in their then SF Mission District Studio/apartment.
We did this a long time ago, but i think many of the questions and content holds up really well and also it’s nice to hear Jsun’s voice as a distant snarky beckoning to the past and future Matmos was a rather big influence and Jsun and my early work as Nerfbau and later as Styrofoam Sanchxz and Coral Remains and were without a doubt monumental in the formation of Ratskin so I thought it would be nice and fitting to re present this. We stayed up all night the night before, myself on speed and dope and Jsun chain smoking cigarettes to prepare for this, arguing over
questions, prepping cassette decks withpre recorded hidden questions on time travel and the sound of dreams, we ended up hiding several cassette recorders throughout Martin and Drew’s studio oinged with questions which interrupted the normal interview. In our early morning franticness and nervousness (we approached the interview more like a performance / collaboration than a traditional interview ) we even managed to spill coffee into a tape machine which housed some really important master audio tapes containing interviews with Drew’s mother before she had passed We told that story for years, how if it was our studio and some high kids came in to interview us and nearly ruined a priceless historical document we would’ve kicked them out and dragged to no end, but they didn’t do that, we were welcomed, as peers, collaborators and family. One of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done. Enjoy.
-MD for Nerfbau, 2018
For one of her newest releases on Bedlam Tapes, Angel has offered a nearly forty minute offering titled, “Interbeing” which was released this November and today we are beyond excited to be premiering a video for the track, “Passageways To Meeting Areas “, which is a masterful work of aural and visual assemblage, oscillating between dense electronics, noise, industrial, smooth jazz and other more esoteric, less definable physical, visual, and aural points of reference and strategy. We are very proud to be debuting this video here and honored that Angel took time to talk to us more in depth about her processes as an artist, influences, and scoring weed on the internet. Here’s the video, and interview below! Please support Angel and buy her music, looks like the cassette version is sold out but you can cop the CD Version and a free digital download of “Interbeing”HERE!
Hello Angel. Thanks for chatting with us over the panopticon that is Facebook messenger for Decaycast, first off how is your day going today and second, how deep does the internet go? Is it a weird portal? Just data? Productive? Evil?
My day has been pretty good. I was at work for a while, which was a good time. (No sarcasm, I swear.) Then I came home, fed the bears, scooped their shit into a bag, and started making the final tweaks to an LP slated for release next year.
About the internet’s depth…all I can say is that if you go deep enough, you can get fantastic weed for good prices. As a self-proclaimed hermit, ordering anything online is a blessing.
I remember we used to have to wait in the dumpster behind McDonald’s, now you can order weed online. What a trip? It’s a rare case when someone has a good day at work, so this is off to an odd but wonderful start already. Do you want to talk a bit about the LP you’re recording?
It’s a Fire-Toolz record, and it’s called Skinless X-1. Only about 30% of the music has vocals in it this time. I wanted the melodies and textures to have a little more space to breathe and say their piece. There is an even heavier 80s/90s new age & jazz fusion influence on this album. I still can’t seem to get away from heavy four-on-the-floor beats, though. With the exception of one eccojam, the occasional sample is only used as a brief brushstroke. I tried to write music that sounded the way my dreams did when I was young, living at home, in a peaceful part of town, surrounded by trees, grass, swamps, and various wildlife. This isn’t to say the album doesn’t have plenty of abrasive moments. I will say that there is no anger on this album. I’m still exploring personal challenges, but they’ve been a little neutralized.
This album’s message is more observational, more curious about things, and frankly more empathetic and compassionate toward a lot of the things I’ve expressed mind-numbing rage for on previous releases. This album expresses a deep appreciation for things, and an outlook that is a little more neutralized. The album is floaty. And the few times it lands, it really pummels into the ground. The mess it leaves is intricate and colorful. Am I doing your job now? I’m starting to say some weird shit.
I love the idea of it smashing into the ground and leaving this colorful mess. Can you talk a little bit about some of your previous releases or projects that stood out to you or hold a certain place in your scope as an artist/ person
Most of the releases in my backlog that stand out to me are ones I didn’t think were going to stand out the way they do. A lot of times my favorite releases aren’t favorites of others. Which is fine, but interesting in it’s own way.
I had a CDr/6″ lathe/cs release called “Solar Activity & Civil Unrest.” It was massively conceptual. There was a pretty wide variety of experimental electronics, tape manipulation, found objects, voice, etc.
There was another release called “Journey To 0.004”that had several editions. It included an hour long sound collage. Also a concept release. I think these types of long releases can be exciting for the artist and overwhelming for the listener.
Both of those releases are available for free download and were released under my old birth name, “Justin Marc Lloyd” on my old label Rainbow Bridge.
Lastly, my music as Power Windoze didn’t really get much attention compared to some of my other work, but I believe it to be very special. It was my first attempt at making electronic music entirely on the computer. I released a few albums and an EP. The second album may come out on vinyl. I just started talking to a label about it. It’s about 3 years old now and needs a remaster, but I’m excited that the album might reach a wider audience soon!
I need to dig into that PW stuff. You also run a Netlabel, Swamp Circle? Care to talk a bit about that and the benefits / limitations you’ve experienced as owning both physical and digital imprints?
I started Swamp Circle for two reasons. I wanted to release my music and other people’s music without financial limitations (on my part or theirs). I also wanted an outlet for my own digital artwork (Rainbow Bridge was mainly a xerox-on-colored-card stock label). At first I wanted to release 5 albums at a time. Now I just sort of release them when I can. Most of the albums in the queue right now are other people’s music. We are waiting on me to finish the artwork. And since my priorities have shifted, it’s been challenging to find time to do this artwork. I made a rule for myself that all art on Swamp Circle would be done by me. This was cool at first, but now I’m mega behind because I gave myself another hefty job to do. I’ve been thinking about changing the format but I’m not sure yet. It’s rare a donation is made so it’s not financially lucrative, but it was never really supposed to be. I wanted these releases to be free.
Well we hope you keep Swamp Circle and Rainbow Bridge going, they are both fantastic labels. Care to talk a bit about your influences as an artist; bands, songs, routines, strategies, etc?
This past year I’ve been infatuated with jazz fusion-tinged new age music from the 80s and 90s. Shadowfax, Jonn Serrie, Patrick O’ Hearn, Dan Siegel, Elements, Richard Souther, Interior. You can hear some of that influence on Interbeing, and it will be even more apparent on Skinless X-1. Orange Milk releases are always in regular rotation. Euglossine, Nico Niquo, Seth Graham, Giant Claw, and Loto Retina are all especially inspiring artists to me. BT’s “This Binary Universe” was a recent rediscovery that kind of knocked me off my feet and provided a huge boost of creative juju at one point in the Skinless X-1 writing process. When composing sound collages, I’m reminded of my roots in Sickness, Gastric Female Reflex, Jason Lescallet and other noisers that are incredible at keeping you confused and overwhelmed. Fear Factory, Nine Inch Nails, and KMFDM have been there for me since I was a child, perpetuating my tendency to make heavy electronic music even when I don’t want to. John Wiese and mid 2000’s Prurient, although vastly different artists, taught me a lot about harsh textures and their unique aural impact. Also, tinnitus. Tinnitus influences me as an artist.
My routine usually starts with an isolated idea. Never an idea for a whole song. That idea is usually recorded or assembled, and then blindly built upon by living in the moment and just doing whatever comes to mind naturally, or sounds good when I do it. But, I also have to go to work sometimes. So, I transfer works in progress to my phone, listen to them on decent headphones at work, and brainstorm. A lot of times I take notes. Then I go home and make changes, or re-record stuff, and it just kinda goes on like that. I am very grateful to have a job that facilitates zoning out completely while still performing effectively.
My strategy is to take extra care of my ears because I didn’t used to and now I’m sorry.
Can you talk a little bit about this video we’re premiering? How different is your process for creating video works than your audio practice mentioned above? Do you see them as one piece or separate pieces complimenting, or perhaps being at odds with each other?
This video is for the song “Passageways To Meeting Areas”. It deals with the concept of ’emptiness’ from a Buddhist perspective, and the concept of Interbeing, which is a term coined by Thich Nhat Hanh that describes the inherent interconnectedness of humanity, or the universe. In this song I’m sort of projecting a desperate plea to other humans, specifically those hateful and oppressive, to find common ground with me. In doing so we find that we are all generally good at our core, underneath our illnesses and compulsions. We all want to be happy, and we all want to be treated with love. It was difficult to come up with ideas for this subject that would go along with this message and still look like a Fire-Toolz video. It took a really long time, and I had this video sitting unfinished for months while I sped through four other videos. It wasn’t until Interbeing was days from being released that I finally finished it.
On one hand my videos are much more complementary to my first album and what I was making before I changed the name to Fire-Toolz. My latest material, and my sloppy, pixelated, shitty green screen footage and heavily processed VHS rips of ancient CGI demos, can seem at odds with each other. I strive for a complex precision in the composition and sound design of the music, but that approach doesn’t show itself very often in the videos. I haven’t much training in animation, 3D rendering, or illustration. However there is an overwhelming amount of similarities that transcend that dissonance. The juxtaposition of genres and textures, glitching, processing, re-contextualizing, absurdism, conceptualism, surrealism, nostalgia triggers, representations of modern technology. There is even the occasional humor that erupts from perceived absurdity. Such as black metal style vocals over a sample of a sensual jazz fusion track from 1986, or heavily glitched animations of a broken ATM machine over generic HD stock footage of a beautiful sunset on the water. I see the potential for humor, yet in my mind, all of these things are made for each other.
I usually keep the imagery consistent with lyrical themes. Literally, metaphorically, or analogically. I also sync the activity in the video to the dynamics and changes in the music. The videos are a lot of work. Lots and lots of processing and editing, rendering, re-importing, processing and editing, rendering, re-importing, etc. The music style demands many visual elements and layers. Many of my songs shift moods drastically within them so I think the work needs to be done.
I create the music as something that can stand alone. I create the videos so that they can complement the music very closely as well as act as a live performance enhancement. I don’t move around much live. Part of the reason is because the equipment I use isn’t mobile. But I have little to no stage presence. I never look out toward the crowd and I rarely talk to the audience while I’m “on stage.” If I have my videos projected for everyone to see, I think it makes coming out to the show more worth it for everyone. I feel like I’m much more effectively expressing myself through a video projection than whatever dances and antics I can come up with using my body.
Do you consider yourself a plunderphonics or sample-based artist? How do you choose your samples/why do you sample other artists?
I don’t consider Fire-Toolz to be plunderphonics or sample-based. Having the vaporwave tag in the string of associated genres is partially to blame for this confusion, because most vaporwave is sample-based. I’m just incorporating a sample-based genre into some parts of my songs. Fire-Toolz is no more vaporwave than it is harsh noise. I think sometimes when an artist samples another artist, some listeners then tend to wonder what is a sample and what isn’t when listening. People have asked me what metal vocalists I’m sampling and are surprised to hear that I’m recording them myself.
Interbeing (and Skinless X-1) incorporate far less sampling than my earlier work. It’s not that I’ve tried to get away from sampling as if it’s a bad thing. Sampling is sick. I have several on-going projects that are religiously sample-based, and I will never break those rules. It’s just that I’ve been less interested in finding the perfect sax pop verse to layer in or build upon, and more interested in composing all these melodies and progressions from the bottom up. Fire-Toolz was always original composition and instrumentation-based, but samples were sprinkled all around as part of the process and theme. At this point, the rare sample is even more intentional, and thus a more special moment.
If I’ve taken a little chunk of someone else’s music and integrated it into my own song, then I adore that artist and listen to them on the regular. If it were safer to be more open about the samples, I’d be listing their names in the credits. There has been one exception to this, and it happens to be on the song of mine that’s gotten the most attention so far. It’s the Billy Idol sample on “All Deth Is U” from the Drip Mental album. I’m not a huge Idol fan! He was good in The Wedding Singer, but I was typically turned off by his music as a kid. I do love the song the sample came from, though. It’s probably because it sounds like other bands I like who were big at the time. I’ve always figured Billy was pissed about that. I bet he thought Depeche Mode and Duran Duran were a bunch of posers. The thing is, I kept hearing that fucking line “Eyes without a face…” in my head whenever I worked on that song, so I just did it.
Ever since Drip Mental my sample palette has been primarily jazz that’s come out sometime between 1984-1994. A few snippets of early 2000s metalcore and second wave emo can be spotted throughout the discography as well. My sample usage is meant to be a juxtaposition and re-contextualization, so I don’t sample “experimental” or techno or industrial or anything like that.
I would really love to just contact the great artists that I’ve sampled and show them what I’ve done. That could quite possibly yield unfavorable results. See, if it were me, even if the song was really bad, I would be like “OMG that’s really cool, thanks, I’m glad my jams have touched your young soul in such a way that you found the inspiration to re-contextualize them in your own way!” But these are old people now, you know? They may be more old fashioned. They may get angry and think I’m trying to profit off of their labor. They might even call me a bad word, and I’m pretty sure you’re not allowed to cuss or feel anger if you’re on Windham Hill Records. I think my dream would be for one of these artists to contact me and ask me to collaborate on some music!
I did email Zenju Earthlyn Manuel’s camp about my sampling her guided meditation in the track [CODENAME_BONKERS]. I didn’t expect a reply but I’m sure someone has read it by now and decided to leave me alone. The sample is from a public YouTube video, but I chopped up her phrases a little and still credited her, so that made/makes me nervous. shrugs.
Recently, Malo of Decaycast sits down with Rob Buttrum, a key figure in the TX noise / experimental music scene to talk about his label , OUT OF BODY RECORDS, the future of experimental music and tapes .
Malo : Hello there , we have a bunch of great tapes from this label , OUT OF BODY RECORDS , what can you tell about this endeavor ?
Rob Buttrum : OUT-OF-BODY RECORDS started out of the ashes of AFTER DEATH RECORDS, A label I co-ran with a friend. We disbanded because of scheduling issues and the fact we were both so busy, it was hard to find time to work together. So we both started our own independent labels. OUT-OF-BODY was mine. The label stared in summer of 2011 with the a tagline of OUT-OF-BODY RECORDS – “ESOTERIC SOUNDS & EXTRATERRESTRIAL SIGHTINGS” I decided, right off the bat that I wanted to run a label not only focusing on music but also video. Focusing on Cassettes and VHS (first VHS batch out this summer) and hopefully eventually vinyl. Also focusing on releasing material that was not only harsh noise but esoteric music in general / non genre specific. I run the label out of my house/ex-venue HOUSE OF TINNITUS here in Denton TX.
Malo : So considering the label isn’t totally genre specific , can you talk a little bit about the curatorial process for selecting releases for the OOBR catalog?
RB : Basically any artist I want to work with,or respect/dig, i reach out to, to see if they are interested or available for doing a release.
I like to work with artists or bands that i feel are doing something a little different. Even the artists that I already am really into their material, I will ask to step outside the box or their comfort zone and try to come up with something a little different than they would normally do for a release with me. In addition when contacting artists, if I know or find out that an artist or band also works in video, I ask them if they would like to release a VHS, as opposed to a Cassette. I do receive requests / demos / submissions from artists and bands hoping to put something out on the label, and i listen to everything anyone sends me, if it grabs my attention or blows me away I will totally release it, it has happened. I Also like to work with as many artists I can that are in my local scene.
I feel there is a huge amount of talent in the DFW / North TX area, that never gets surfaced, so I like to make sure they get heard if possible. There are some really killer acts going on here right now. My musical taste ranges in everything from noise / industrial / cut up/ abstract, to sludge metal / thrash / black metal, to cold wave / darkwave / electro, to 70’s/80’s pop/funk/soul. and i could go on. I love music period. Though I do release a lot of noise I don’t consider OUT-OF-BODY solely a noise label , I am however trying to focus on pushing the limits on modern music, and trying to stay in the esoteric / abstract zone, when picking releases. Though not to say any of the genres i listed could not fit in there somewhere, if it really grabs me, ill go with it!!
Malo : Most of my favorite labels often dont stick to one genre , yet one can often still draw links between the releases , one link between all of the OOBR is the layout, Can you talk a little bit about the layout/design process for your tapes, and what if an artist decided they didn’t like the format?
RB : Well, So far i have done 98% of all the art / design on all the releases, with the exception of a photo or two used in inserts, in which I credit the artist / photographer. But all the covers have been done by me. As far as the layout goes, I do try to keep a few things the same for every release, for instance I keep the same font for every spine, and the color font is lifted from a color from the cover. also i use the O-O-B R logo on the back hook of the j-card. The covers and inserts are made based on the mood or themes the music gives me. Or in some cases based on the themes the artist / bands want me to work with. Most of the art is done by hand where some is done digitally, its a mix of both. I tend to work better without computers but use them as a helping tool when needed. I also make about 4-5 different B&W xerox collages for each release that i use for the backs of the J-cards. Though so far i have done all the art myself, I am not against the artist / band designing the art if they want to, but so far most people are cool we me doing it. I will however be using the artist’s design for an upcoming release. I do try to make the artist happy with the art i come up with and always approve it with the artist / band as I’m working on it, and if they don’t like something or want something changed i alter the art to their liking. Iv drafted dozens of covers for single releases until we both find one we really like. When I start working with a new artist i discuss the art and tell them how I keep the spine and the back hook, consistent and uniform, on each release so when on a shelf they are all uniform and have a common theme. No one has really had a problem with that yet.
Malo : So, what are some other labels / artists / etc that have inspired you to start a locally focused label ? And in the digital age , why is it still important to release physical media?
RB : Anyone that has ever ran an independent label and/or released music has influenced me.
I appreciate anyone’s ability and urge to keep underground music, culture and scenes alive. Its something iv always been interested in and doing my part in… I remember being a young teen and ordering music through a catalog or zine, before the internet. Ordering things that you
have never heard based on a description. waiting and getting it in the mail. Then looking at it and listening to it, feeling as if you found something special. you were part of it. It was an amazing feeling. I still do this with music I buy today. I have always been a fan of physical
releases, the holding of the actual media and looking at the art and reading the linear notes,
the packaging, the feeling of ownership. I have never been a fan of digital music. I just cant get behind it.It seems too empty and disconnected from the actual art in my opinion, and I don’t feel like I’m the only one that feels this way, so this is a reason i feel its important still today to release physical music. As well as it being a physical documentation of media that you can actually collect and create a library with. The same reason the Library of Congress still stores everything on cassettes. Its a way of preserving a work of art. I feel music releases are forms of art the same way a painting or photo can be, especially considering the fact that actual artwork is created for the releases. This art is just as important in my opinion as the music in cases.Thus the physical cassette becomes a piece of art and can be collected.
A relic of art.Thus, collectors are preserving the art / music, and in most cases the releases are limited so they then become collectible. Then eventually become worth more money then they were worth when they were originally released, as is the case for any limited collectors item.
Its an awesome feeling when you find or stumble across something that is 5/10/20/ 30 years old and know you found one of the few copies made or
possible left in circulation ever, and that’s a cool feeling. where a digital file has no feeling of rarity, its limitless and anyone can own it of find it. Computers are fragile and non permanent. Owning a digital file does not feel the same as owning the actual artifact to me. I also enjoy actually looking at a physical collection, as opposed to owning millions of albums on a computer that you can not actually see. I do not own any MP3 players or have a computer with quality speakers. I don’t associate music with computers in the sense of it being a playback medium… however as a lover of music i do have an adequate setup to listen to tapes, records, VHS, CDs, 8-tracks etc. on my home stereo. I pretty much only buy and listen to music on tape and Vinyl these days. I know some people that do have their computer set up through a good system and that’s totally cool but i feel personally i need more. And i think there are many others like me. Yet I do not want to alienate anyone that wants to purchase a release and become part of a scene who are not into the physical necessarily, and would rather have the digital version, so i do have digital downloads available in addition to the physical version.
As far as releasing local artist. its about 50 / 50 at this point. All areas have their local scenes and within that are micro scenes and little pockets of scenes. Some of these scenes have some killer shit going on but most of the time only that small scene has access to it, or perhaps if a touring act comes through that scene and sees it first hand. I enjoy experiencing other peoples scenes and seeing what other peoples music communities are like. I enjoy knowing where the newest pocket of killer shit is going on at a given time and scene. So I also like people to be able to experience the north TX scene. I make a point to try and release as much local stuff as I can, as I feel the TX scene is very strong and i like being an outlet for lesser know artist that i feel are doing things just as amazing as some of the more well known artist. I like being in a position where i can help people be heard.
malo : do you feel that digital technology specifically social networking has made it easier or more difficult for experimental acts to tour and pull decent gigs ?
RB: This is a good question. I’ve actually been talking to friends about this lately. It’s really a double edged sword. I definitely think
that social networking has made it way easier for bands and acts to tour and set up shows. Before the internet you had to already be involved with the right people and know contacts personally and call people on the phone and send demos and press kits venues and booking agents in order to set up tours. That’s why there were more people doing that as a job because they worked in the business and already know people. Eventually if you’ve toured constantly you had contacts. But a first time tour, or a smaller act… that was hard for most. Now just about anyone can book a tour without hardly knowing anyone anywhere, you can just put the word out on social media and someone will get you in contact with someone somewhere that can help. It still makes it easier the more you tour and the more personal connections you make. Like at this point I’v toured quite a bit and seem to at least know someone in almost every city, and within different scenes. It also helps that i used to run a DIY venue so i had hundreds of people come through my place that will return favors when your in their neck of the woods. But for booking tours, especially places you have never played, social media come in very handy. Even if you don’t know someone in a certain city or town you prob know someone who does, and with the internet its as easy as just sending some messages around. You don’t even have to have ever met someone or even have known them previously and they might be able to set you up a gig. In addition, as in the past you had to send press kits and demos if you wanted a club or promoter to hear / see what your band is about but now it is all online as well.. all you have to do is hey so and so – my band wants to play your city, I hear you book shows, can you help? Here are some links to our music and some videos and reviews… and its all done in a matter of minutes. Now a days you can book a tour in a matter of weeks when in the past it
could take half a year to really set some good gigs up, if you were doing it yourself. HOWEVER social media / networking in my opinion is also hurting the scene. Again on one hand it makes promotion easy, but its too easy. I feel like the youth in general is loosing the need for live shows. I feel they are not as into seeing live music. Its like they get invited to a show online, say their going, hear and see all the hype, then end up staying home to be on their computer cause they constantly plugged in and they can still feel like they went. Like in a virtual world, they know who went, they can watch videos of the show after it happened and its like they still experienced it virtually without actually having to go to the show. and still feel like there part of the scene, and they experienced the show.. its really weird, but its def. something iv been noticing. Sure you’r die hard music lovers still go to shows, but i feel were part of a dying breed. Everyone is so connected to their computers and smart phones that life is passing them by and they don’t care, they feel content and connected to everything in a different way. For example someone books a show and and makes a facebook event for it, say 100 people say there “going”and there is a bunch of internet hype around the show, but when the show come time to happen there are like 20 people there. Someone later posts a video or posts online how awesome it was then you run into someone that was not at the show and when asked if they were there or saw the set, the response was na, i could not make it but i saw the video and saw people talking about it. It was awesome!! and that’s enough for them. they know if they miss a show. they can still experience it in another way. This is what i think is destroying modern music scenes in some ways. people are not connected with real life. They get all the entertainment / art / music they need from a little screen. They don’t need to experience things in real life anymore. its scary shit man.
Malo :Ok, lastly what does the future hold for experimental music in the US? has it peaked? is it just beginning?
RB: Its hard to say what the future holds, but i have high hopes that it will continue to be relevant. Really hard to say if it will become more popular or less. Its always been an underground scene, and will most likely stay fairly so, yet I do notice that experimental music / noise is absolutely creeping / entering into more mainstream ideas and arts. Noise is not as weird and shocking as it once was when it was a newer idea. Most people who are at least into some form of music or art, at least know about noise. Its not weird to hear dissonant / noisy sounds in current pop, rap or rock music. However there as still crops of young people getting turned on to and discover noise that did not know about before and are falling totally in love with it and therefore research the history of the genera. It takes a certain person to have a passion for experimental music, i don’t think it will become a fad or mainstream by any means but it will be less underground, but i still think it will be relevant. And perhaps more so than in the past. There have been many great artists that it will be very hard to surpass, yet i still have no doubt that there is still plenty of room for people to continue to push music to insane levels and continue to create music that is next level and crazier then
anything ever created. which in my mind is very exciting and am looking forward to the future of experimental music!!
malo : LASTLY, anything u want to get off your chest, future releases, death threats. etc?
RB: I’d like to thank anyone that has supported my label or music / art in the past / future. I have a huge passion for the things i do and i invest a lot of time and effort into my art, and it makes it all worth the it when its appreciate and understood. I’m super stoked to announce the new batch of VHS on OUT-OF-BODY RECORDS. This marks the first Batch of VHS on the label thus far, and its been something iv wanted to do since i started the label 4 years ago. The new batch consists of audio and video work from artists Regosphere and Somnaphon. They are now available for mail order through outofbodyrecords.blogspot.com .
I’m completely back lined with many many more cassette and VHS releases for the future. Many exciting things to come. Next in line on the roster are cassettes
from Arvo Zylo, Ghost Miner, Bottomed, CBN/Satanic Abortion and VHS from NITE SHADEZ , Future Blondes , and Styrofoam Sanchez, all hopefully will be out in 2015… and beyond that more releases from artists such as Plack Blague, Redrot, Prisons, Sobering, Violator x, S. English, Alberich, FILTH, Private Archives, Profligate, Compactor and many more… looks like I’ve got some work to do…..and fuck anyone that gets in my way.
Here’s a few reviews of two of the stellar tapes from the Out Of Body Catalog
EN NIHIL / FILTH split
This tape brings together two of the hardest hitters working under the dark / industrial umbrella in the US today . EN NIHIL possesses the A side with a dark journey through a decrepit sonic landscape. The intro track is slow, minimal and haunting but halfway through dense, crunchy blown out beats creep in, and before you know it, the listener is submerged in a black lake of ringing and pounding. EN NIHIL creates distorted, slow churning rhythmic compositions, devoid of any light and hope . With each track the listener descends into a Lower level of thick , industrial soundscapes . Old shaky machines have gone awry and are slowly chopping and churning all of the metallic waste that humans have left behind into a fever pitched
Synth explosion of chaos .Adam Fritz EN NIHIL project proves to be one of the most articulate and consistent dark industrial / death – drone projects going currently.
On the B side, FILTH creates a slightly more chaotic, frantic , yet equally heavy and articulate version of the genre, sputtering out all analog based walls of industrial mayhem. FILTH is no stranger to decaycast review section , but this is one of his strongest efforts to date. Slow , tundra calving like rumblings cascade into high pitched screeching vocals, pushing through the dense, dark pillars of electronic sandstorms, all but shredding the speakers through magnetic madness. FILTH records with an all analog signal path, and it shows. FILTH is a master at blending the cacophonous array of his sound sources of electronic chaos Into a well defined, tension filled musical composition. This isn’t just noise, folks, not that there’s anything wrong with noise, but in the traditional sense, this just isn’t it . Theres a level of compositional
Awareness that just doesn’t exist on this level , often in these genres. And because of that, this tape, and the work of FILTH in general , is quite refreshing.
MATTHEW AKERS “A History of Arson”
With this cassette, Matthew Akers takes the listener on a ride through the mind of an arsonist. “A History Of Arson” is a concept album delving into the mind of an arsonist on all the levels of experience that the arsonist goes through, the anticipation, the act , the aftermath, and it’s done with a barrage of digital and analog synthesizers. “A History of Arson” takes the listener on a dreamy, dark , arpeggio ridden ride through cinematic repetition of well crafted synth riffage and highly thought out compositions. Akers music is cinematic and composed, yet visceral and natural at the same time. Tension is created for scenes in a film that doesn’t exist, but yet somehow the sounds still
Substantiate the narrative. The riffs are visceral, yet ephemeral, dark and beautiful , all while creating an emotional intangibility that takes the listener outside of their own mind and into the mind of a criminal, an arsonist , a psychopath hell bent on the inherent beauty implicit in nature’s destruction. light the match and let the elements do the rest of the work ! This is top notch synthesizer music, for fans of early Tangerine Dream , Radio People . Alan Howarth and John Carpenter and the alike . beautiful, cinematic and intentional. A Great release
These days, record labels seem to be popping up all over the place in the independent /underground music world, and we think that’s a good thing. Each independent music outlet that can get music to the right people without all the unnecessary industry bullshit chain of command isolationism that is perpetuated by the “record industry” the better, and Oakland’s Weird Ear Records is doing just that. Releasing top quality recordings in multiple formats to anyone who has an odd ear to the underground experimental music pulse. We sat down with Weird Ear Records dual head honcho’s Raub Roy and Dianne Lynn of oakland….
Dr.. DECAYCAST: : Hello…. I heard of this strange new record label called WEIRD EAR RECORDS Why don’t you spill the beans …. Let’s start off with Who, what, when, where…..
RAUB ROY: We started WER in 2011, after relocating from San Francisco to Oakland, Ca, and finding that the inexpensive cost of living here afforded us the opportunity to do something a little bigger than we could have managed in SF. I think the name ‘Weird Ear’ popped into my head one day and it seemed like a name one would either give a Recording label or a scroungey-but-loveable chinchilla…. Having no desire to harbour rodents, we went with putting out pieces of music that fit our aesthetic for the label.
DD : What do you all have against rodents? Why are cats so popular these days , especially in “noise”
DIANNE LYNN: We think rodents are cool too! Personally, our cats chose us and we couldn’t turn them away. In fact before the cats were around we had more rodents in the building. We don’t see much of them these days. Maybe the “noise” was too much for them?
DD: That’s cool . I happen to like rodents as well, so much so that I named my label after a popular one from the 1980s….
At what point did y’all decide to start a record label, and why? Do you think it’s important that artists start their own labels, and in the digital age what is the “point” of releasing physical objects when one can just purchase a download ?
DL : We’ll say first that if you don’t get the “point” of releasing physical objects, then we’re sorry, you just don’t get it! We love the physical package. Some of the DIY stuff will blow your mind! Not to knock a download, but some works you gotta just “have.” To another point, playing files off a computer can be annoying as hell.
The label was manifested around February 2012. We sort of went crazy setting goals for ourselves and decided to put our words in motion. I think the tipping point was when Raub came home with the name Weird Ear. Honestly, we just wanted to have a label so that we could put music that we liked into a physical format that we personally appreciated; at the time this was vinyl, but we have come to appreciate the convenience of cassettes. As far as artists starting their own labels, we say go for it. The more the merrier.
DD: That’s an interesting take! Do you think there’s a point of over saturation in the experimental music community ? Is there such thing as too many projects, too many releases , too many “side projects” ? Is there an importance to trying to define the changing trends in experimental music? Or just let it run around like a chicken with its head cut off ?
RR: Well, one trend that I think keeps over-saturation from happening is that of keeping such things limited to smaller production runs. While the audience for experimental/modern/avant-garde/out/noise/weird/gnarly music is bigger than it’s ever been, it still is a tiny splash in the pool that is the whole of recorded sound, and we believe that putting the 300 copies of “Stand Up Comedy“
(for example) into the right 300 peoples hands is more important than spreading it all over the place and hoping random people pick it up. The advent of streaming entire albums also backs this strategy up – we really would like people to listen and make sure it’s for them before purchasing a copy. Defining trends is a slippery slope, in part due to the relative insignificance of our scene in relation to recorded sound on a whole (again), but then there’s the the flourishing microcosm aspect that no one person could keep up with all the facets of, so the way we define those trends that we aspire to steer clear of is very subjective, though a guideline that has worked well for us is trying to find works that wouldn’t have an easy time finding a home elsewhere. We also are attempting to avoid trend within our catalog for as long as we can, which is a bit easier to quantify.
I believe that a large amount of the proliferation of side-projects/one-off projects and such that you refer to is generally relegated to the noise end of the spectrum, and as such, we probably will leave Noise to other able and willing labels.
So you wouldn’t ever define your label as sticking to any one genre, rather anything with a weird bend that catches your ears? So far y’all have a really diverse roster, showcasing vastly different aesthetic sets, everything from the proto- industrial styles of WAXY TOMB on her “infra shape” cassette to fever dream psychedelia borderline abstract pop sounds of A MAGIC WHISTLE LP that y’all recently released, yet somehow it all works, to a rather refreshing degree curation wise, care to talk about that?
RR: we hope to avoid trend and purity in our releases not only on a world scale, but within the confines of our releases as well. So, for example, in the larger scene, modular synth stuff was nominally bigger last year than years previous, so, even if we really like a buddy’s Buchla Synthi album, it would need to be queered by some other element to feel like it fit in the catalog. On the level of our releases, I’d like to try to keep from trend there too, excepting the trend of having releases that wouldn’t appeal to purists of any particular genre – so like, Glochids “Originals” album is largely field recorded, but he is in these field recorded passages playing objects/instruments, so it’s field recordings, but impure, or queered, if you will… what was I getting at? Oh, right, so, now that there’s been an album of field recordings, I probably won’t do another one too closely related to field recordings for a while, until a good number of other styles of experimental/modern music have been touched on, see?
NEXT QUESTION PLEASE
DD: Tell me about the future vision for weird ear , upcoming releases / tours / WTF stuff ? Blow our mind
Ok so we have a couple upcoming releases that should be out before summers end; WER-006 is Angela Sawyer, of Preggy peggy and the Lazy babymakers, duck that!, and exhusema.. The album was commissioned in 2011, and she’s been working away at it for us since then, but she also runs Weirdo Records in Boston and has little free time, so it’s taken a while, but the results are completely worth it – sweet and sour songs sqeakily sung with a wealth of oddvant-garde instrumentation and arrangements, the songs themselves being largely covers from her huge collection and other local bostonians… I believe that there are a good few samples in there also gathered from her stacks, which begs the question of why more record store owners don’t make sample based musics, since they’re diggin in the dustevery day already!
We also are quite pleased to be presenting a split between, Trumpet Trumpet Synthesizer and Horaflora (thats me). TTS is a duo (Brad Henkel and Weston Minissali) on amplified trumpet and Synth/vocoder playing some really out tones in a sexy as fuck way, which i’m told is fairly uncommon in experimental music! My side is loosely based on Mauricio Kagel’s Acoustica, or maybe just indebted to it, but will mark the end of my work with acoustic phenomenon for the foreseeable future, and I felt the connection should be credited later than never, so there’s that!
Beyond specific releases, all our future cassettes will be in handcrafted cardstock jackets rather than plastic cases, as we were impressed with Geweih Ritual Documents Envo-Box: http://www.gritual.com/Info-About
As they point out, the plastic cassette case isn’t intrinsically related to the album, and once cracked, is quickly rendered useless garbage, basically analogous to the plastic bag an LP may come in, nice to keep your jacket clean, but all too replaceable, adding to the plastic problem we would ideally like to avoid being a part of.
Thanks for asking all those questions! See ya soon!
In the second installment of the Decaycast sound artist studio-invasion interview series, Decaycast sits down with sound artist, performer, composer, teacher, and all around wonder woman Laetitia Sonami. Here is the audio map of the first half of Decaycast’s excavation into the deepest darkest crevices of sound, time, space, toilet plungers, nature, sound abatement, the politics of poverty as art, mechanical devices and the Danube River as told by the artist herself—the file finishes out with a performance by Laetitia on her “Lady’s Glove.”
“Experimental music is rarely this visceral and engaging” – Los Angeles Times
Laetitia Sonami is a sound artist and performer. Her sound performances, live-film collaborations and sound installations explore ideas of presence and participation.
HERE IT IS…live audio surgery presented through the antannae of neighborhood public radio. Listen to the brand new DecayCast now.
This episode was mixed live on the air on Saturday, March 24th @ Southern Exposure Gallery in the Mission District in San Francisco for neighborhood public radio. Enjoi
ALSO,Please goto npr’s blog and listen to all the other cool stuff that was part of the npr broadcast that day.