Seamus Williams Worcester, Massachusetts is one of the most singular artists in the northeastern American experimental sound that I experienced while living there for five years. Detritus and negative space conspire to make odd jabs at your senses when engaged with one of his recordings as TVE. Audio diary and lo-fi are throwaway terms that I would hesitate to use, but the sounds themselves always pop up in unexpected ways. In much the same fashion, Seamus’ visual mixed media collages accomplish the exact aesthetic urge in a perfectly complementary format.
I had the pleasure of having Seamus’ visual work up at a visual gallery in Portland, Maine in 2019. We had a couple beers, I put on some Human League record, and we talked about his perspectives on his own processes and compulsions as an artist. – Jacob Deraadt
DECAYCAST Interviews: “If it smells like noise, it must me noise.” – An Interview with experimental music mainstay Steve Davis / +DOG+
First hearing of +DOG+ they were somewhat of a mystery to me in history and intention, I think I first came across a split 7” between +DOG+ and The HATERS or maybe they were separate release I acquired at the time along with a Tribes Of Neurot CD maybe were the first “noise” albums I would own ? I could be crossing releases/synapses, but i remember +DOG+ was sort of enigmatic from the beginning- much like many of the out there experimental titles I was discovering at the time, who were the members, where were they from, what did they do during the day, and why were they making these wonderful and chaotic sounds. In the bay area, +DOG+ had built sort of a mystified legend around themselves, toting a modular lineup that seems to shift with nearly every performance and document (of which to both there are, MANY). +DOG+ was one of the first projects I saw that completely eradicated the boundaries between audience and performer, encapsulating the true spirit of noise, freedom from convention and maybe even a slight dissolving of the psyche, or at least a loud probe into it’s existence. +DOG+ seems to record an uncanny amount of studio material, boasting at times seemingly monthly output but overall, the work is intentional and nuanced, yet free and engulfed with the celebratory spirit of true avant-garde sounds and performances. Digging into +DOG+’s exhaustive discography, there is a nearly endless trove of sounds and expressions, but we are left with one constant, the man behind +DOG+, Steve Davis. We chatted with Steve about his longstanding +DOG+ project as well as his imprint LEM. Love Earth Music although largely focusing on noise, boasts a rather diverse roster of artists, everything from the nuanced, drone tone poem mastery of multimedia artist Conscious Summary “Flowers” or the blasting, alienating noise walls of +DOG+, or the angular, broken guitar rhythms of Intensive Studies, LEM keeps it refreshing, interesting and uncontrived in the most honest way possible.
Can you talk to us about the history of +DOG+ and your other various musical outlets if any?
Hi, I started doing +DOG+ around 1990 when I lived in Osaka. Prior to doing +DOG+ I was in a Boston band Expando Brain and The Flower Brothers in Osaka, I played bass in those bands. I had been doing another noise band J-Shi with David Hopkins- Public Bath Records and Sam Lohman- Nimrod , 36. Then made +DOG+ as a ‘studio’ extension of that sort of. When I moved back to MA in early 1993 I started doing +DOG+ as a regular band and did a lot of shows around MA/NY/CT with myself and a couple of others. We were blessed to have Ron Lessard release our 1st 7” on Stomach Ache in 1994 and Detector to do our 1st full album in 1996. I moved to CA in 1997 and continued to do +DOG+ there. That’s when I met you and the other Bay Area folks and did a lot of shows around CA as well as doing a tour of UK/Belgium in 2007 then did a tour of Japan in 2008. I moved back to MA in 2016 and have continued to do +DOG + here and have a new CD out soon called “10, 585” which is approximately how many days I’ve done the band. The line up has been myself and a large number of members coming & going. I’d say the core members besides myself are Eddie Nervo, Ron Karlin, Lob, Chuck Foster, Bobby Almon, Jack Szymczak and they send me stuff for the cd’s and then I mash it all up so to speak and add my crap.
I also have a couple other bands, Intensive Studieswith Jack, we grew up together and started it when I moved back. I think that band is a mash up of styles from all the stuff Jack & I love; the Mothers, Punk, and just overall weird sounds. It’s a hard band to categorize as far as a “style” goes. I also just started a new noise band with Daniel Sine from L’elcipse Nue. That project is called Le Chien Nu and we just did a release on LEM. +DOG+ has a new release out spring and another probably out in the summer.
Speaking of releases, talk a bit about the history of your imprint, love earth music? How does running your longstanding label, LEM inform your creative practice, if at all?
I started Love Earth Music (LEM) around 1999 when I was living in CA. The 1st release was +DOG+ “Luddite Revolution” I started it just to be able to do +DOG+ releases and stuff from my friends and that’s how & why I did it. I used to make all the CD’s, covers, etc at home with my computer and printer but it just got too much so I don’t do that anymore . I have them made by someone else now. I have my friend Lob to help out with the art stuff on a lot of the releases and my pal Dustin ( Actuary) helps with a downloadable component of the label. That’ s stuff that usually is not on the physical LEM releases. A lot of the early LEM releases were friends from CA, but then it sort of branched out to bands from everywhere, mostly noise/experimental stuff at first. I’ve tried to do some stuff that is not noise/experimental stuff cause I’m really into everything. Weirdly, we did a Brutal Truth 8 track but I think we sold all of those. I feel that doing the label is a way to be a part of something that I enjoy and have respect for. Its easy to make crap, and have someone put it out. The stuff we / my friends do and release is hopefully something that isn’t boring and pushes the envelope a little. I have met so many great folks thru the bands and label and I have enjoyed many wonderful life experiences that I never would have imagined as a kid growing up in the woods in MA. I don’t get out to many shows these days, but when I do I am always blown away by the power of the sounds and the passion that my friends put into the shows. Even after all these years, it’s still inspiring. Last summer I was playing a show at a venue in Worcester, MA and there was this huge drum on top of a piano and was looking at it thinking how cool it would have been to use ( I’d already played my set) and then a bit later, Victoria Shen, a local noise great, went over and used it and it was soooo awesome..I so glad she went over and just mic’d it and wailed! It was very cool. Stuff like that is inspiring to me.
““If it smells like noise, it must be noise.”
I don’t know, it makes me happy to be able to get some of these sounds out for other people to hear. Seeing people and hearing the stuff they do keeps me interested in sounds and being creative. Doing the label has also let me get to know people from all over the world. Some upcoming LEM releases are going to be by Ego Death from Greece and God Pussy from Brazil. I’m also planning to do releases by some local / east coast folks here over the next year too, like Angelsbreath,Lean, Matt Luzak, Pas Musique,Martyr, This Is Not Okay, Bullshit Market ( MI), The Flayed Choirmaster (CA), Jolthrower (CA), Instagon (CA) and others that I can’t remember. I am looking forward to being able to release some interesting stuff in the future.
Having established yourself and your label on both coasts can you talk about the differences and similarities between west coast and east coast scenes, and if not the scenes the style/aesthetics?
I honestly don’t see much of a difference at all really. I think with so much stuff available online and the growth of these different groups online, everything is out there for everyone. So therefore there are no surprises …I see folks in NH doing similar stuff to folks from CA etc… I really don’t see differences..the only thing different here in the northeast is that the winter weather can mess up plans for shows/travel, but as far as styles or aesthetics it seems pretty much the same to me all over the country.
What was the most powerful performance you’ve ever witnessed?
I have seen a lot of shows over the years so its hard to pick just one, but if I had to I would have to say that the Swans at the Rat in Boston in the mid 80’s was one of the most powerful shows ever. They were terrifyingly amazing, the sound kinda went thru me and Michael Gira was awesome..it was an incredible show. The Boredoms 8-8-08 show in LA with 88 drummers was also great.
What are the main differences between recording and performing noise, is one inherently more valuable to you as an artist?
I think for me the differences is in the energy. I tend to be a little more harsh I think doing +DOG+ shows as compared to some of the studio stuff which is usually more varied. I also tend to play short sets ..usually between 5-10 mins so that would be different as well. When I ‘ve done ‘live’ on the radio sets..its usually a combination of studio and live cause I have to fill more time and bring a lot of extra gear as compared with a regular show. I honestly like both about the same…each year though I say to myself I’m gonna do less shows, but end up doing about the same number each year. One thing I do like about playing out is just seeing friends and seeing what they’re up to with regards to theirs sounds and their lives. I do feel that as an “artist” the recorded stuff is more of an accurate picture of where my head is at musically/sonically/sound wise. For example, the new +DOG+ studio album will have a couple minutes of acoustic guitar and actual singing on a track, which I doubt I would ever do live, and the sounds are more layered and clearer in general. What I enjoy about playing live are the physical aspects of playing, of making noise on the spot with all the adrenaline of it all, you know, getting to release some noisy energy. So I guess they both have value to me but just in different ways.
And lastly, how do you define noise?
I don’t know..at this point “noise” seems to encompass many varieties & styles. When +DOG+ first started it was easier to define, we set up a wall of amps with a few distortion & delay pedals, smashed metal all over the stage, screamed bloody fucking murder and made a lot of ‘noise’…it was very primal at that time. We considered ourselves a “noise band”…but now I don’t know…the noise scene now has so many sub genres…harshnoise, ambient noise..experimental noise, whatever…its noise if you wanna call it “noise”. I guess I could define it as anything that doesn’t follow the standard musical format and/or structures, but even that would be wrong cause a lot of noise folks do use structure and use regular instruments etc…so its really hard for me to literally define noise to someone else. If it smells like noise, it must be noise.
DECAYCAST Interviews: A Deep Look Into Collective Grimalkin Records.
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!
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 ofWomajich 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 asMELVL, helps with recruiting bands and musicians and organizing benefit shows. They also serve on the board ofThe 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. includingGreat 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 ourlive 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 helps with promotion and recruiting. We met her throughher Twitter and discovered her killer music and checked out her music video forF.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: “DEATHQUESTIONS” AKA An Interview with Anti-Fascist Black Metal Group NECKBEARD DEATHCAMP
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(ordisguise) 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 OVNATIONAL 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?
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.
ROSTOV’S HATCHET : AN INTERVIEW WITH JAY PAUL WATSON of Dental Work / Placenta Recordings.
I’ve been following the work of Michigan based surrealist artist, label head, musician, and all around intellectually deep and philosophically and visually rewarding stalwart of the noise scene Jay Watson for over ten years. I first met him in the flesh after trading tapes online at a show i put on at our old house in Oakland, The Razorwire Compound, and we instantly became great friends and collaborators. It’s been great to see Jay’s projects evolve over the years including his main recording project, Dental Work expand into a three piece entourage and his label, Placenta Recordings slowly inch it’s way toward its 500th release. After many years, we finally pinned him down for a short penning of the strategies and philosophies of his past and current practice, enjoy!
Dr. Decaycast: Please introduce yourself, and introduce your various projects?
Jay Watson: Hola! Thanks for having me. My name is Jay Watson, I am the leader of an international collective/record label called Placenta Recordings. I also participate in a number of musical/non-musical endeavors but my main squeeze is my project Dental Work.
Can you talk first a little bit about Placenta Recordigs? When and why you started the label, and how has it changed over time?
Sure! The concept of Placenta Recordings came to my head in 2005. I was making really weird music, and I was looking for a way to release it. I was 18 years old and I saw an actual placenta for the first time when a litter of kittens was born at my apartment. Disgusted and intrigued, I asked my roommates what it was. The told me about it, and that we all had one, it’s vital to life, helping us with nutrients. Apparently some have even grown hair and teeth! I knew then that this would be a fitting name for my new label. The first actual releases were in 2006 and 2007, when I switched from one project “Jehova Wrinkle” to “Dental Work”. I really didn’t even know what Noise was, I was listening to stuff like Agoraphobic Nosebleed, discovered Merzbow, and wanted to make something a bit heavier, and that’s when Dental Work was born. The first releases I put out were on handmade and distributed CD-R, probably around 50 copies of each of the first EP releases. I never intended on releasing other people’s music, but that quickly changed. What started as a bedroom “noise” label has evolved into an entire international family of artists, over 700 projects deep.
We surpassed our own expectations to the point that we actually released our heroes and idols including Agoraphobic Nosebleed AND Merzbow. Now we are releasing everything from Detroit Rap artists like Menacide, Esham The Unholy and Team Eastside to Doom Metal legends like Black Mayonnaise, Canadian Gorenoise, Norwegian Black Metal, the list goes on. If you would have told 18 year old me this, I would say “ha, right”…Now our aim is mainly to document and archive extreme pockets of diverse music from all over the world, in a variety of formats. We also organize and host shows, run a distribution for underground artists, do printing and manufacturing work, release films, have a dedicated team of alternative models who represent us, graphic design, charity work, you name it.
How has Placenta Recordings became so diverse in the genres represented, it seemed to start as mostly a noise label, but now you’re releasing everything from hip hop to gorenoise to black metal, can you talk a bit about how that progression took place?
I have always been into all kinds of music. I started collecting tapes at 5 years old, I would save up quarters I earned for stacking firewood and buy cassettes from the liquor store down the street. My first tape ever was something called “Rap The Beat”…My 2nd was some Metal mix that I can’t recall. This was around 1991. My obsession continued to grow, I started buying CDs and digging through my relatives vinyl collections, picking up whatever I could get my hands on. My Dad was into psychedelic music and Jazz, my Grandma was into classical, so I absorbed plenty of that, and continued to soak up as much music as possible, which definitely reflects. Magazines and the internet definitely helped later on.
With the label I realized that there weren’t too many labels releasing more than just one kind of music. I wanted to share diversity with people in such a narrow minded world. Just because you listen to 80’s Hardcore doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Rap, Techno, Noise, or whatever you find to get into! Pretty much as long as your music isn’t racist, it deserves to be hear somewhere by someone!
Interesting, yeah it boggles my mind how many labels stick to a very formulaic presentation through the artists and genres they work with. Was this a conscious decision or did it happen more naturally?
I would say it started to begin naturally, and over time I really started to zero in on this being a certain code to live by!
You also have a very longstaning recording project, Dental Work, can you talk a little bit about this, it’s philosophy, and how it has evolved over time?
For sure! I got bored with the confinement of my previous project Jehova Wrinkle, which was a quirky Industrial/Trip Hop mutant offspring thing, and wanted to create something with less rules, and something to reflect some of my own internal struggles. I have always loved aggressive music since I discovered it, Death Metal, Horrorcore, Grind, Hardcore, and stuff so I definitely draw inspiration from all of that, Horror movies, etc. – anyway I’m rambling on. I was heavily influenced specifically by Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s “PCP Torpedo” which came with this remix disc that blew my fucking mind. Still does. So yeah I wanted to push the limits making really fast, untraditional, loud, almost Punk but not…You feel me? That’s when I cranked out the first DW release, “Mike Vick Raped By Pit bulls” EP, self released on CD-R via Placenta Recordings, which was my version of a revenge fantasy scenario against Micheal Vick, who was a football player who was involved in dog fighting rings. I am firmly against all forms of animal abuse and cruelty. So yeah it was a total platform to get out all of my aggression, weird, uncomfortable thoughts, anything.
Over time i developed multiple split personalities within the project, becoming some sort of bizarre anti-hero out for all of the underdogs…I ended up adding 2 full time members after a variety of live collaborations and ghost members, and since around 2014 we have been performing and releasing albums as a trio, merging Noise, discomfort, BDSM, Comedy, and a trash attitude with plenty of sarcasm, inside jokes, political unrest, anti-society ethics, and general distaste. We like to leave our fans, family, friends, and haters wondering “what the fuck just happened?” LolZ
Is Dental Work more of a live based performance project or are the recordings more important, less important, or incomparable?
It started with recordings. The first DW EP was released in 2007, I believe there were about 6-7 more releases before the first live set in 2008. Both have been evolution. When I first started doing live shows I was wearing normal clothes during the sets. After a few years performing in the Midwest and east coast, I did my first west coast tour and saw what people in California were doing, so I took all of that in, and decided to craft my own aesthetic, which I have been building upon, manipulating, morphing, and upsetting people with since. Now I even have other people joining me and ordering raincoats from China to collaborate with us…It’s crazy. So yeah I think that you really need both the albums and to catch a few performances to complete the puzzle, to understand some of the humor, inside jokes, sarcasm, and love that is put into it all.
Would you ever allow a Dental Work performance to happen without you for any reason?
Actually, yes. It’s already happened twice. Once around 2012, when I couldn’t make it to one of my shows in Chicago I had my friend Billy Sides perform as Dental Work, he wore a hoodie and bandana and only a few people noticed. The other time was literally last week, I couldn’t make it to one of my shows, ironically because I just had oral surgery…So I asked if Justin and Sean could pull it off without me. They did, and it was fine. The project will die with me though.
Talk to me about the connection between your art and food, because between track titles, cover art, and photographs that my pop up online, it seems to permeate your artistic practice. What role does food play in your practice, and if none talk about some of your favorite foods.
Food is crucial. Food is life. Food is death, and death is important. I love food. I grew up eating food. I’m not vegetarian, but I respect every creature that feeds me. Man has been eating meat since the dawn of time. I am totally against unfair treatment of animals in any way, like fuck Tyson. You would definitely catch me at a Halal butcher shop though. I started working at 14 in restaurants. I did prep cook and line cook for years. I’ve always been into writing my own recipes, and the last 10 or so years I’ve been working on a cookbook of all original recipes with my own photography included. It won’t be available another 5 years I would imagine, but I will be publishing it. I’ve also always had a dream of running my own food truck. I come from a diverse background, I am part Lebanese and learned a ton of middle eastern recipes and skills from my Dad and Aunt…I worked in Mexican restaurants so I have a huge background there, and I grew up in Michigan so I have a ton of BBQ knowledge and a growing obsession for Canadian favorites like Poutine. My favorite foods besides what I just mentioned would be Pizza, Chorizo, Tacos, Shawarma, Indian food (hotter the better), Pakistani cuisine…Coney Island (Detroit or Flint), Gyros, Korean, Japanese, Chinese, even recently got turned onto Portuguese. Fucking A I love food, dude.
Can you talk about any up and coming acts that are inspiring, or new music or art that you’ve heard or seen which has made an impact on you as an artist?
I’m inspired in some way by everything I come in contact with…I am always peeping what cats in Oakland are up to, some great stuff seems to be coming out of Toronto lately, definitely digging a lot of Gorenoise, basically Goregrind but even more liquified…lots of wild mutations always seeping out of Japan, but I can’t name any specific acts.
As far as shout outs, totally. I have so many people I want to thank, but I’m gonna keep it pretty simple for the interview. Definitely number one to my parents, my cats, my girl, the entire Placenta Recordings Family, Ratskin Records, Grindcore Karaoke, Jay Randall, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Patrick Doyle, Trashfuck Records, Morgan Feger, Will Olter, Justin Lee Smith, Sean Barry, Krysti Mathz, Doc Colony, Nice, Clee, Billy Sides, James Lee Jones, Dan Bale, Menacide, Bad Mind, Esham, Jon Pilbeam, Nerfbau, Styrofoam Sanchez, Coral Remains, Tommy “2 Blades” Kittendorf, Bobby Waters, Hex, Project Born, Bonus Beast, Ben Durham, Craniophagus Parasiticus Records, Lexie, Luke, Nirma, Todd, Caleb, Aaron, Vincent Trotto, Watabou, Cock ESP, Evan Glicker, McCarthy’s Pub, Lob, NorCal Noisefest, Caroliner, Denver Noise Fest, WZRD FM, and R.I.P. Heidi Johnson. Dental Work is forever dedicated to YOU, and everyone who ever gave us a chance…R.I.P. Jsun, R.I.P. Uncle Charlie, love and miss y’all.
Being The Machine : DECAYCAST Interviews Derek Rush (Chthonic Streams, Compactor)
Derek Rush is a man of many hats in the contemporary noise/industrial scene; like many artists these days, Rush has taken a ground-up, DIY ethos to his various musical projects, his imprint Chthonic Streams, his DJ sets, as well as mixing, mastering, and designing artwork for his releases. Many times, when artists spread themselves this razor-thin, for a myriad of creative, philosophical, and logistical reasons, aspects of the work suffer, or appear rushed, but not in the case of Derek Rush. His commitment to the preservation and documentation of the New York City and North American noise and industrial scene is impressive to say the least. Make sure to keep up with his various projects here and here.
Hello Derek and welcome to Decaycast. Can you talk a little bit about your current creative projects and what you’re up to these days both with your label, Chthonic Streams and related projects?
My main current project is as SysAdmin for Compactor. This means I’m overseeing the production of recorded Documents, and I handle tech, setup and breakdown of Live Shifts. Compactor is a machine, or series of machines, operated by a uniformed person called The Worker. The idea is that this is an anonymous figure who could be anyone, they represent everyone who works for a living. The project is a series of ongoing statements about work and its place in society, the dehumanization of people, the focus, fetishization, and trust in technology, the push-pull of how it can be pretty cool but also pretty destructive. In May 2018 Oppressive Resistance Recordings released the full-length CD “Technology Worship.”
Chthonic Streams started as an outlet to release my own work when other labels are unavailable, as well as distribute the work of others I’m even tangentially involved with. Recently I’ve been expanding it to put out short-run releases of artists I like. I usually collaborate on some aspect, at least the design, sometimes a bit of mastering or even mixing, it varies. The latest release as we’re talking now is a tape by Endless Chasm, a dark ambient/experimental artist from Kansas. I also try to combine the release with a show I present under the Chthonic Streams banner with a variety of complementary artists.
As for other related projects happening now, I’ve been contributing to Theologian, which is the project of Lee Bartow. I recently sent him some melodic/harmonic elements which were turned into a track on the cassette “Reconcile,” and we have been sending files back and forth for the next major album, “Contrapasso.”
How did the collaboration with Theologian come about? How do you (if at all) separate the sounds you use for Compactor vs. the sounds you use for Theologian or other collaborations, and also how important is collaboration to you on general? Theologian is Lee Bartow, but sometimes he likes to collaborate with others. We’ve known each other from a distance for years, but connected more in 2010 when I asked him to remix a song from my band Dream Into Dust. In return, he asked me to contribute to a project called Love Is Nothing, and then he sent me material which I added to along with others that became the Theologian EP “Some Things Have To Be Endured”. I mixed the “Forced Utopia” album last year, and I’ve been editing/producing material for the forthcoming album “Contrapasso.” The “Reconcile” album came about because of the Darkness Descends industrial festival in Cleveland put on by Stephen Petrus of Murderous Vision. Lee asked Stephen, Andy (The Vomit Arsonist) and myself to send material that he would turn into an album (mixed by Mike McClatchey of Lament Cityscape), and the four of us played in Theologian for the fest.
The mindset, sound, and material for Compactor is very different from other projects or collaborations. Compactor sonically is all about different textures of primarily atonal sounds. The material I sent in for “Reconcile” was very melodic and droning and in a specific key. In general when working on Theologian, I know what that sound is and where Lee is coming from, and I’m just trying to do something that goes along with that but adds a dimension he doesn’t usually do when working on his own, things like trying to add a different structure or little synth melodies and string parts.
I think in any collaboration, it’s important to find out what the other person wants and needs, which may not be the same thing. I’m mostly just trying to help their project be the best it can be to my ears. But in the end, they give the final seal of approval and may even change things I’ve done initially. I find that totally democratic collaboration often doesn’t work. Someone has to be in charge of a project and someone else in more of a supportive role.
Seems like the sounds of Compactor and your collaborative projects come from very different places, intention-wise. Oftentimes in experimental music artists can take an “anything goes” approach, but that might end up not working for every situation, or even many situations. Do you think noise and experimental music, more than other genres, emphasize collaboration, or on the contrary does it discourage collaboration and focus on promoting the individual. Is removing yourself from the identity of Compactor a conceptual move or does it occur for different reasons?
I think noise music by its nature might not discourage collaboration, but it’s kind of unnecessary and sometimes a bad idea. With many types of noise, the more distortion and frequencies that are happening, the harder it is to fit in other sounds. It needs to have people even more attuned to each other than in conventional music, to know what and when to play or not play. Otherwise it can just become total white noise, filling up every space. There’s a place for that, obviously HN and HNW, but even one person can generate that on their own. So collaboration usually seems to come more out of a need for cameraderie and community. I think there’s a lot of loners, myself included, for whom noise has somehow had the opposite effect of connecting with others on the same wavelength. So it’s not like a rock band where you’re a guitarist who needs a bassist and drummer. You can do it all yourself, but you want your buddies with you, especially if they by themselves create something you respect.
Compactor being the machine, operated by the faceless figure of The Worker, is something that naturally came about from the early titles and imagery. It basically wrote its own backstory. Once that was in place, other details just obviously follow. The Worker’s story is a conglomeration of what goes on in this country and other parts of the world. The greed and inhumanity of corporations, the constantly working, often exhausted working class and shrinking middle class. It’s more important, and more interesting, to refer to these things than just say, wow work sucked today, I’m going to write a song about that. Because it’s not about me, it’s about everyone. And it’s sadly a pretty common feeling.
Can you talk a little bit more of the aesthetics of “The Worker” or “Compactor” from the mask/outfit to the unified aesthetics in the artworks well as music videos?
The predominantly black, white, and grey color schemes are just naturally bleak, and also give things a vintage or archival quality. A lot of the look of things is intentionally old, outdated, and ragged looking. For all the advancements in technology, there’s still a lot of old stuff being used by businesses that aren’t upgrading in order to save money. The Worker is kind of a personification of that, wearing a gas mask from 30 years ago, always the same worn-out shirt and work boots, and a generic cap, sometimes additional tools that are old, dirty, rusted or cheap-looking. It seems like a lot of companies are providing the bare minimum, or even leaving it up to employees to take care of their own uniforms or supplies.
Most of the videos in the past were outsourced to F Squared Media, who do some amazing work. Something to note is that there are never any people in them, in order to increase feelings of dehumanization and isolation.
Speaking of unified aesthetics, let’s talk about your imprint, Chthonic Streams. Most of your releases are rather involved with artist editions and elaborate packaging, including a boxset housed in a tool box?!? Is this true, care to elaborate?!
I’ve only started doing more elaborate packaging in the past few years, but have always strived to make sure there is really something to hold in your hands and look at. Also, it has to make sense and have a purpose. Although I appreciate albums that come with buttons and stickers, that’s not my thing. So I come up with images, words, and objects that bring the meaning of the music into the physical world.
The boxset you’re talking about is “No Workers Paradise”, which is 8 x 60-minute tapes, each one from a different noise artist. Compactor, Gnawed, Redrot, The Vomit Arsonist, Filth, Blsphm, Existence In Decline, and Work/Death each recorded a full album’s worth of material, so the total time is 8 hours, the standard American work day (although many people work longer than that). It also includes a 7″x10″ 12-page booklet with images, credits, and an essay I wrote about the prevalent relationship of people to work these days. Putting it in a tool box just made the most sense to me, as though someone would carry it to work with them and listen to it all day. Though this was my concept I have to give serious props and thanks to all the artists, who did some of their best work.
What is the most difficult part of running your own imprint and also what is the most rewarding? Also please discuss any upcoming releases you have for both the label, and Compactor.
The most difficult part is dealing with money. While I can save money doing pretty much everything myself, as soon as you start adding in the kind of crazy ideas I have, the cost goes right back up again. Not to mention the time and labor. I’m cheating myself in some ways, but I guess I’d rather do that than cheat an artist. Then again, probably a lot of labels at this level operate this way, which is sad. We’ve become so used to busting our asses incredibly hard just to get anything done and not lose our shirts.
On the positive side, it’s so rewarding to hear from other artists that they’re happy with how a release came out. These are people whose work I respect a lot, and we are friends and peers, so that’s the most important thing. Though we’re also happy to sell out of things too!
Just released is a compilation called Prematurely Purgatoried, which is a benefit for fellow musician Casey Grabowski (Nearest, Obligate Surrogate, Secret Societies) who has cancer. In the works is a release from Seattle-based artist Morher, who was until recently known as OKA Amnesia. I’ve booked her a number of times, and she recorded several long pieces live to multitrack at my studio, with plans to do more and make it a full-length, which I’ll be mixing, as I did with STCLVR’s Predator. She’s also a visual artist and we hope to collaborate using her work to come up with some kind of special edition that suits her and this material, which is incredibly open and visceral. It’s gorgeous sung and spoken word live and looped vocals, with ethereal backing based on field recordings bleeding into harsh noise.
By winter there will also be a special edition cassette by Mortuary Womb, a duo project between myself and the late John Binder of Exhuma and Arkanau. It’s full-on death industrial in the vein of early Cold Meat Industry and Slaughter Productions, recorded in Winter 2014. The limited edition will include a second cassette with the final recordings John did before he left us.
Compactor will have split releases with Vitriol Gauge and Ruiner. coming in Fall and Winter, respectively. There will also be tracks on compilations from Black Ring Rituals (for Fargo Noise Fest) and Spiricom Tapes, as well as a remix on the deluxe reissue of the Theologian/Lament Cityscape album. Beyond that, work has begun on a gabber album for Sonic Terror Recordings.
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
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!