Name & Country
The Weirdo From Another Planet, The United States of America (I originally wrote "The Unforgivable State of Abomination" but maybe y'all aren't looking to publish bitter political commentary on this happy artist profile page).
How did your passion for music start?
I remember wanting to become a musician when I first heard swing music as a little kid. It made me so unbelievably happy, and filled me with such pure energy, that I wanted to dedicate my life to those feelings.
I started playing in my school band in the hopes of pursuing that dream, but the music education I received was pretty unenthusiastic and broken. Luckily, at the age of 12, I discovered scratch DJing, which allowed me to explore an incredibly exciting new form of music outside of the strictures of school, and soon I was obsessed: I stopped eating lunch for a year so I could save my lunch money and buy DJ gear; during Summer break I practiced for ten hours a day. I've never looked back.
Which are the biggest influences in your music?
If we're talking genre then it's anything based in sampling (I'm a monk about sampling, I regard it as a sacred and misunderstood practice that must be defended and honored), but also noise music, jazz, shoegaze, ambient, gamelan, neoclassical stuff—just anything that sounds different, has heart and texture. I'll listen to whatever as long as it sounds sincere and thoughtful to me.
If we're talking artists, then some big ones for me are Ruckazoid, Dirty Three, Broken Social Scene, Sun Ra, Gavin Bryars, and I definitely owe a huge debt to the feedback freakouts of Sonic Youth.
Current studio setup? Tell us a little bit about your creative process.
My studio setup is centered around my turntable and sampler. A lot of the songs begin with a rhythm or a sample that inspires me, and I build up from there with synths, drum machines, effects, and more samples. I'll build huge sequences inside of an MPC or 404 and use those as skeletons which I flesh out with keyboard lines.
One of the cornerstones of my approach as a sample-heavy artist, and something which I think is more common to scratch DJs, as opposed to normal beatmakers, is that I often like to find simple sounds which I can tweak into behaving like individual instruments, and I form a unique template of intermingling sounds from separate sources, like an imaginary band made out of samples. A little flute from here, a reverb-soaked shout from there, a trash can rattle from a sound effects record, and everything gets pitch-shifted and chopped until it works together.
Favorite piece of gear right now, and why?
Lately my go-to piece of gear is the Soma Pulsar 23. It's an insane Russian semi-modular drum machine, which I haven't even scratched the surface of in terms of its potential to get nuts. Modular usually isn't physically interactive enough for me, but the Pulsar's finger triggers and live looping makes it a very intuitive way of pumping out distinct, industrial drum patterns.
I fell in love with this unit when I heard how noisy it can get, but I admit I often end up using it for nasty boom-bappy stuff, because it's such a fun departure when working in more traditional hip-hop styles to use this crazy little spaceship of a machine instead of searching for drums on an old break record.
Currently I'm working on an album that's based on the finding sounds that hypnotize me. Going for uncompromising zones of meditation, searching and searching until I locate sweet spots that make me feel like I'm a kid, hearing wild new sounds for the first time. It involves a lot of exploring synth programming, a lot of excessive songs with twenty layers of texture, and a lot of breaking the rules I set up for myself over years of refining my album-making process. It's a blast. You have to keep the art process fresh for yourself.
A question we didn’t ask.
If there's one thing I could tell everybody to keep an eye out for, it'd be SlowPitchSound in Toronto. I come from a school of scratching that's about taking the instrument in new directions, and unfortunately the rise of cheap digital club DJing has stifled the prominence of experimental turntablism. But he's consistently interesting, and I'm thankful to know he's out there.
Name & Country