A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview with Moe Adame (Burning Image)

afutureinnoise:

American deathrock band Burning Image’s recent LP Oleander, following 2009 release Fantasma and 2004 compilation 1983-1987, described as “15 tracks of corruption, mystery and despair”, is certainly their most impressive output to date. To call Oleander ‘edgy’ would be putting it mildly, especially when considering the background of how this album got started. I got a chance to talk with Moe Adame recently about the release, his composition style, and some future plans – our conversation is below, along with an mp3 of the most well-received track from the album thus far, the brooding, crunchy “All of Those Vampires”.

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A Future in Noise: What was the band’s inspiration – musical and otherwise – for the recording of Oleander?

Moe Adame: Well, the way that the album came about was…I got invited to a play in San Francisco by Jello and we got to talking, it was a play that my wife and I went to. Jello [Biafra] asked me if we were going to write another album and I told him I hadn’t really thought about it. So, he happened to ask my wife, “Do you know anything about the Lords of Bakersfield?” Are you familiar with the Lords of Bakersfield?

AFIN: No.

Adame: Okay – let me see if I can try to tell you this sordid tale. It’s like a local thing I’ve known about since I was a teenager. What it is is apparently, allegedly, higher-ups in Bakersfield, we’re talking like, judges and cops and business owners, apparently they used to, allegedly, have this secret society, called the Lords of Bakersfield, and before that it was called the White Orchid Society. Basically what they would do is have parties and have young guys come to the parties and have them “service” these higher-ups, you know what I mean?

To me it was always this local folklore kind of deal, so what happened was that Sean Penn had made a documentary called Witch Hunt based on the early ‘80s molestation charges upon dozens of people in town and that was led by the local prosecutor of the time. Sean Penn apparently asked Jello if he knew about what was happening in Bakersfield, so that’s why Jello asked my wife, “Hey, do you know anything about the Lords of Bakersfield?” and she said, “Yeah, I’m real familiar with it, especially Moe, he’s been around here a lot longer, so he knows about what allegedly happened.” So after we told Jello, his jaw dropped to the floor and we told him these fantastic stories and stuff. And that’s when he asked me again, “Moe, so are you guys going to write a new album?” I said, “Oh, well, we’re thinking about it.” He says, “That sounds like some intense subject matter, maybe you should write about that.” I really didn’t give it a second thought that night, but the more I thought about it, I thought wow…the possibilities.

AFIN: That seems to explain now the dark content of the album…

Adame: Yeah, if you listen to the album, there are a lot of local references in it, a lot of the content is definitely, if you listen to “Wickerman” and “Witch Hunt” and “The Money is Nice”, it all ties together pretty well, I think. But Oleander is a house on Oleander Street where they would meet, in the Oleander District. That’s why I chose that title. A lot of people look at that, oleander is a plant, a flower, but to me it has a totally different meaning.

AFIN: What was the difference in composing and recording this album as compared to Burning Images’ last, Fantasma?

Adame: Well, I think Fantasma was a lot more heavy-handed, a lot dirgier. This one, because I was really thinking of a time and place that a lot had happened, for some reason it really led me to a more stripped-down, old-school kind of approach to the music. I really think that it had more of a post-punk feel, a lot of the tunes I was listening to at the time inspired me, not purposefully, but like old Killing Joke, old Siouxsie & the Banshees, and Gang of Four, stuff like that. That just kind of got me pushed in the right direction, whereas Fantasma was a lot murkier, the sound was a lot more dense. This one is definitely cleaner and more stripped down, not so, you know, thick.

AFIN: When I had listened to Oleander, one of the things I thought of, recording-wise it reminded me of the Manic Street Preachers’ The Holy Bible, which has kind of an interesting quality, crisp-sounding, very post-punk influenced too.

Adame: I’m glad you see that kind of similarity. That’s what I like about the Manic Street Preachers, they’re not technically polished, it’s not glossy, and that’s really what I wanted to put forth on this one. The subject matter…I didn’t think it needed to sound like Fantasma 2. It needed to have a totally different sound, everything…the vocal style, the guitar style…We really tried to go all-out on this one, tried to push the boundaries, for ourselves.

AFIN: I think a lot of your band’s music, one can discern the context by listening in to the lyrics closer, but the music does a good job of establishing a specific mood first and foremost, from what I’ve gathered.

Adame: I like to use a lot of metaphor, a lot of imagery…If you listen to Fantasma, Fantasma’s the same way. A lot of Fantasma was based on this local, financial meltdown, people losing their jobs, their homes, this country going to hell, fighting unnecessary wars…without being too ABC News about it, I really tried to use a lot of imagery and spoke of it that way, rather than being so obvious.

You know, it makes me really happy to hear that because people have asked me before, “How do you write the music? What do you do? Do you come up with the lyrics and then write music to it?” And the way I’ve always written, this is from the very first song I’ve ever wrote…to me, the music is what’s most important. A lot of people say the lyrics tell the story and I say, not necessarily, not all the time. You can say a lot with the music, and that to me, when I write a song, I write the music first, and then the song dictates to me what I’m going to write about. It’s the mood-setter, the song is what says to me, okay this is the type of song it is, let that be your guide.

AFIN: I think that the instrumentation part that establishes the mood pulls the listener in, and in a way, the writer of the lyrics in too, to set more details about the scene. I think that what you’re saying makes sense.

Adame: To me it makes sense, everyone has different ways of doing this, but that to me has always worked, it’s the mood-setter. I can’t even imagine doing it the other way around. The lyrics for me, don’t inspire me to write a song, it’s the song that inspires me to write the lyrics.

AFIN: As far as the future of the band with this album, have you got certain things in mind in the way of promoting it and gigs?

Adame: Well, the only gig we have planned is this Saturday, we’re playing in LA (referring to April 2nd gig at The Airliner). Other than that, I really honestly don’t have an angle, and I haven’t really thought of how to approach this, because we’re not doing this on Alternative Tentacles this time, we’re just doing it, it’s our own deal through CDBaby, and they’re distributing it through iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and all this other stuff. So, as far as the promotion part of it, I’m still kind of …seeing what kind of angle I could take.

To be honest with you, everything is just so different now, this is kind of a new approach for me. It’s so different a lot of people just aren’t buying CDs and now, for the meantime, we’re doing strictly internet-based. We are going to probably, in the future, make some actual physical copies of the album, but it’s a new time and place and approaching it is so different, I honestly can’t tell you how we’re going to go about this. Before we relied so much on Alternative to send it to magazines and do their own one-sheets on how to describe the album and let the reviewers kind of take care of that.

AFIN: I think, as an aside, the internet has obviously changed certain things for better and for worse because it seems like an artist has to be more inventive about promoting and selling and/or giving away content in order to garner new listeners for sure

Adame: I think that’s the cool thing about this release is we can be a little freer when it comes to, How do we get this out?, How do we promote this to the people without being typical, however a regular company would do this?, What kind of approach to take? This is all kind of new and exciting actually because now we, we as a group, or myself, we actually have to come up with something inventive or exciting to promote the album.

AFIN: You’re in control so that’s both invigorating and…kind of a large task.

Adame: Daunting! It really is.

AFIN: Is there going to be any kind of music video or live footage accompanying this release?

Adame: Well, we do have plans on making a conceptual video for “All Of Those Vampires”, that should be happening in a couple of weeks.

AFIN: Is that going to be considered a single release too?

Adame: It seems to have gotten the most feedback, the most positive feedback and it just seems to be the song that a lot of people gravitated towards. That’s the one that we kind of picked too, to push a little.

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Oleander is out now and available across a variety of platforms, including CDBaby and Amazon.com

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview with Moe Adame (Burning Image)

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview with ‘Richard’ Author Ben Myers

afutureinnoise:

Following the AFIN review of his new novel Richard (a fictional take on the life of Richey Edwards from the Manic Street Preachers, to be released on Picador on October 1st, 2010), Ben Myers kindly answered some questions I had about the book. —-
A Future in NoiseWhat initially compelled you to write a novel based around Richey Edwards?
Ben Myers: I felt as if his story was getting lost within the myth that seems to have arisen in his absence so Richard was my attempt to view it from a new angle. It seemed slightly sad that he was being defined purely by his disappearance. I remember reading a quote from Nicky Wire where he said that his memories of Richey are comprised of personal recollections, like the time Richey got drunk and moonwalked across a bar in Portugal – these are insights that the ‘doomed Welsh rocker’ tabloid stories never really report. The moonwalking story got me thinking about the difference between myth and reality, something that rock ‘n’ roll thrives upon. We thought he was locked in his room reading Nietzsche but no, it turns out for some of the time he was out with the roadies, chatting up girls, moonwalking and doing what young men in bands do.

As someone who works as a journalist but also writes fiction – and was a fan of the band during the Richey era – I felt at least partially qualified to attempt such a thing as fact-based fiction. Richard started out a series of disparate sketches and scenes that I didn’t really imagine would ever see the light of day because I’ve written loads of stories and novels which have never been published. It was only when the novel began to take over my head that I began to consider the responsibility of what I was doing – the realization that these were real people I was writing about, and that I owe to all concerned to write something that rings true, even if it’s an oblique way.

AFINTell us a bit about your research and writing process throughout Richard.
Myers: I almost feel like I did a lot of research by simply being a fan of the band from the early days. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’m 34 now and have the liked the band long enough to get turned away from gigs for being underage, so I’ve been following them since about 1990. Early on I liked the band just as much for their interviews, their reference points, their clothes. You’ve got to remember that Britain in the early 90s was full of bands playing the same dance-y drumbeat and spouting a lot of empty ecstasy-inspired lyrics. Some of it was good, but it was still just entertainment. Or else it was bands like The Sundays or the Cocteau Twins; bands lacking any visible personality outside of the actual music. None of it did much for the intellect.

The Manics however offered a philosophy and a lifestyle for their fans; also any band who had the piss-taken out of them so heavily by the music press for the first year or two seemed like they were doing something right. So my initial research entailed going back over all those old press cuttings and TV interviews, a lot of which I held onto. Obviously the book ends in 1995 so fortunately I was writing about the era I remember and lived. My teenage years, basically.

As for the writing process it was a case of trying to find the right voice. The novel has two narratives running in tandem – Richey’s early life and the rise of the band, then his final few days, told in the present tense. Finding and differentiating between those two voices and then weaving them together so that they were coherent was the big challenge. On a practical level I worked on the first draft of the book all day, every day for six months. The internet is a wonderful resource, but I also spoke to quite an array of people who knew Richey, many of who are friends, colleagues of mine. I didn’t do formal interviews as such, but just mined people’s memories for stories and overall impressions. The over-riding factor of this research was that everyone had good memories of him. People who knew him loved him for who he was – funny, sensitive, attentive – and that hopefully fed into this wider portrait of him.

AFINHow do you feel about some of the pre-release skepticism coming from Manics fan communities?
Myers: I totally understand it. A novel about the “demons instead Richey’s head”? It sounds a bit cheesy on paper, doesn’t it. I think people have a right to be skeptical, though actually most people have been encouraging. Manics fans are articulate and intelligent, so even when I’ve been called names, it has at least been poetically done. Obviously I’d prefer people read the book first, then called me names but….


AFINWhat prompted you to depict Richey as battling with a voice in his head, a sort of darker side of himself?
Myers: In choosing to write this book as a novel, I felt there were certain routes I could take concerning the telling of the story. The internal voice of a narrator is something that you just can’t do in biography because obviously biographies are based in fact, whereas this fictional approach opened up other possibilities. I suppose it created an opportunity to attempt to convey the mindset of someone who is mentally exhausted.

Any accounts you read about Richey Edwards seem to mention his drinking problems, the 12 step programme, the Priory and so forth, but I wanted to dig a little deeper and try and imagine what is going on in someone’s head when they no longer want to continue with the life they have.

AFINHave you ever read any Manic Street Preachers fan fiction? What are your thoughts on it?
Myers: No, I don’t think I have, which possibly sounds odd given the nature of my book. ‘Fan’ stands for fanatic though, and I’m definitely not a fanatic. I think a hardcore fan of any band can be blinded by their loyalty to the artist, which isn’t always a good thing because then you immediately find that you’re convincing yourself that the below-par album or the keyboardist’s solo project is really good when it’s obviously not. I think we’ve all done it. I did however enjoy reading ‘The Diary of a Manics Fan’ in Melody Maker in the early 90s. That was funny. Also when I worked at the same publication in the mid/late 90s I often used to edit the readers’ letters page, and each week about 50% of the mailbag would be very passionate about the Manics. Not all of them were written using blunt green crayons. I’m joking. I think…

AFINWhat was the biggest challenge you encountered in writing the book?
Myers: I was plagued by a constant nagging worry that what I was writing was no good and it was all just the insane scribblings of a madman (me, not Richey Edwards) so perseverance was a challenge. Sometimes it can be hard working on the same thing every day for months and months. Equally as big a challenge though was finding a publisher for it. Publishers are (rightly) very selective these days, though I was very lucky to get the book read and then signed by Picador, who seemed to get what it was about and helped shape the first version of the book into something much better. They also publish writers who have had a massive impact on me: Richard Brautigan, Bret Easton Ellis, Cormac McCarthy and countless others…

AFIN: Would you write a Manics-centric book again?
Myers: No, I wouldn’t – and couldn’t – write another Manics-centric book again. I’m not sure I’d have much else to say, and two books would, I think, officially make me a stalker. I’m not a stalker. I’ve barely heard anything they’ve released over the past few years.

AFIN: Tell us a bit about any other current writing projects you’re involved in. 
Myers: I’m currently working on a couple of other books, both 100% fiction, though it is early days on those. One is set in my native north-east of England and is partly features the traveller community – ie. English gypsies – and the other book takes place in Eastern Europe and features a lot of sex. A sort of last-days-of-Rome story. Though vastly different to Richard they do however both loosely cover similar themes of marginalisation, alienation, modern living etc.

AFINWhat would you hope newcomers to the Manics, as well as veteran fans, would gain from the experience of reading Richard?
Myers: My aim with this book was to write a novel that could be read by people who have never heard of the Manic Street Preachers, or maybe has little interest in the music scene. People of any age. The best thing that could happen is that it would feature on Oprah or The Richard & Judy book club. Obviously that’s not going to happen though! I don’t know really…Manics newcomers might glean some new bits of information about the life of Richey Edwards or young readers might get a feel for the early 90s indie/rock scene, I suppose? I don’t really know if the band has a specific ‘demographic’ these days, so haven’t really think about old and new fans too much. Readers might think the book is a complete waste of time and trees. If that’s the case I’ll try and plant a tree somewhere. Either way, it’s out of my hands…
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Pre-order Richard from Amazon | on Facebook | on MySpace | Ben Myers, Man of Letters (Blog)

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview with ‘Richard’ Author Ben Myers

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview With Calvin Markus (Dead Times) II

afutureinnoise:

Previously interviewed here at A Future in Noise in October, 2009, Calvin Markus (from Dead Times) has kindly granted us the opportunity for another Q&A session! Their latest release I Love Myself and I Want to Live, currently available as an AFIN exclusive, is discussed within as well as Markus’ solo soundtrack album on Vulpiano Records Three Days of Sound…:

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A Future in Noise: How have you and Dead Times changed since our last interview (music-wise and/or otherwise)?
Calvin Markus (Dead Times):  Not long after that interview, we went through an unseen inner collapse. Travis and I didn’t even talk about Dead Times for awhile. We did other things. This was most likely because a lot was promised to us that never happened. I think we felt like a lot of our efforts weren’t going anywhere. Dead Times has made no profit. We have only lost money throughout this project. The only form of payment we get is from people enjoying our music and telling us that they do. We are in a stage of rebuilding. We haven’t given up. We need to keep getting better. Continuity, progression, and honesty is what matters. We are making music for the sake of music.
AFIN: What is the main inspiration behind making I Love Myself and I Want to Live?
 CM: The inspiration came from wanting to turn a depression into something positive. I started drafting the framework for it in an art history class I was taking last semester. It’s all I could think about. I wanted to make an album that was uniquely enjoyable and life-affirming. I felt that Dead Times had covered a lot of dark, obscure, and moody territories with our previous releases and it was time to offer something new.  The idea was that the album would start out in the depths of despair and gradually climb up until it reached a pinnacle of joy. I consider the album a “how to” guide on handling an existential crisis. Creating meaning for yourself even when existence seems firmly rooted in meaninglessness. Taking responsibility for your life, finding your passions and becoming an individual. There are no religious or spiritual undertones to it. It’s elegant and concrete. The title of the album is a direct play on the Nirvana song “I Hate Myself And I Want To Die”.
AFIN: What was the recording process on the new album? Everything seems to sound very crisp and professional, while maintaining your unique sound.
CM: The crisp and professional sound is due to Robby Fronzo producing and engineering it.  We recorded most of the album at his home studio. We also recorded in the basement of a barn and a racquetball court.
AFIN: Your previous solo release was the soundtrack to Three Days of Sound – how did making this soundtrack come about?
 CM: Elliott Sellers, the creator of the film, used to play drums for Job For A Cowboy. Josh, the manager of my previous band was once the manager for JFAC. Josh introduced us once Elliott and I weren’t playing in our bands anymore. We jammed a couple times but never started any official projects. Elliott played drums on a Dead Times song called “Wet Static” that was released last year. Soon enough Elliott ended up moving to Hollywood to go to film school. He made “Three Days of Sound” and asked me to do the music for it. I feel really lucky about all of that. He’s one of the most motivated and creative people I’ve ever met.
AFIN: What was the experience of doing a film soundtrack like?
CM: It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and hope I get to do again in the future. This particular soundtrack was an intense experience. I was working 3-8 hours a day on it for about a month. It was stressful but awesome and worthwhile. Hopefully the film will be out later this year.
AFIN: Is there anything in particular you’re hoping listeners gain out of I Love Myself and I Want to Live in particular, and your music in general?
CM: I recommend listening to it alone, from start to finish on decent speakers. I hope they gain some kind of satisfaction from listening to it.
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Calvin Markus – Official Site | on Last.fm 
Dead Times on MySpace Music | on Last.fm
Tumblr: Dead Times | Voidism

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview With Calvin Markus (Dead Times) II

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview with Calvin Markus from Dead Times

afutureinnoise:

Calvin Markus, from Dead Times (a band which has been previously featured here, and one of my favorites of the 2000s – see also the reviews on Midnight Glass and Voidism, Vol. 1 + Graves House split cassette), took the time to answer some interview questions for A Future in Noise. I think that Dead Times is making some of the most cool and important music (as well asart works, literature, and film!) of any band around right now, independent and otherwise, so I would strongly put forth to the reader that this is a band to keep an eye and ear out for now and the future. On to the interview!:

A Future in Noise: When and how was Dead Times formed?
Calvin Markus (Dead Times): Dead Times was formed sometime in 2008. I was walking home from somewhere and Travis called me and asked if I wanted to start a project. We both came from radically different bands, genre wise. He played drums in an indie/folk band. I played guitar and sang in a metal/rock/punk/odd-time/I don’t know band. We started this project knowing we didn’t want it to be like anything we had done before, we really didn’t want to become “just another band” or even worse “just another local band”. So we became an on-going project, not necessarily a band. I’m hesitant to call us band because a band sounds so official, so relationship based, so planned and structured. We want to be free and loose, natural and comfortable.

AFIN: When did “voidism” become integrated into your work? What are the concept’s origins and principles?
CM: Well, the initial creation of Voidism came at the early stages of A Loose Portrait of Body, which was a book of experimental poetry, illustrations and music that we released ourselves. The book covered, very subjectively, the collapse of the ego, of form, of structure and the pervasion of emptiness. Writing it was one of those times where I felt incredibly connected to an obscure source of creativity, like I was tuning into some cosmic frequency. Voidism’s principles and origins, on the surface level, are something close to that. Tuning into that stillness and transferring it into art. Defining the movement concretely isn’t simple. A set definition would be to put Voidism in a cage, it would tie it down, there would be no room for growth. Outside of it’s philosophical atmosphere, Voidism is simply about bringing important artists and musicians together to try and create refreshing, intriguing and powerful work. Dead Times and Voidism are both important artistic outlets in my life, both projects flow throughout one another.

AFIN: How did the Voidism art and music compilation come about?
CM: A small group of individuals, including myself, established it in July. It was the first volume of hopefully many, many more.

AFIN: What’s the artistic and musical inspiration behind your upcoming Black Pine Circle EP?
CM: There was no particular or deliberate inspiration for these songs. They happened naturally. We write and record songs very fast. They fit together well. They’re best friends and deserved an EP.

AFIN: What are some of the biggest inspirations for the work of Dead Times, art-wise, literature-wise, and music-wise?
CM: That’s a good question. I think my biggest inspiration for anything artistic I do is the feeling that I should be doing all of these projects. By that I mean, if I don’t finish or actualize all of the ideas I have then my emotional welfare is severely threatened. Ideas are loud. They don’t sit quietly in obscure corners of my mind, they demand my attention. There’s definitely bands, musicians, filmmakers and so on that inspire what Dead Times does but they aren’t the sole reason for our endeavors. I have a really specific taste for art forms and to try and capture these aesthetics, to create things that I believe in and truly like is definitely inspiring. I read a quote in high school on a tacky poster hanging in some classroom that read something along the lines of “write the book you’ve always wanted to read”. I now realize that I have subconsciously (or consciously) integrated that attitude into all of my creativity.

AFIN: Any contemporary 2000s artists’/musicians’ work that you admire?
CM: Absolutely. To name a few: Black Eyes, Daughters, Past Lives, and Justin Timberlake.

AFIN: Where do you see Dead Times headed in the future?
CM: In reality, I have no idea where we’ll be in the future because I never thought we’d even get to the level we’re at now. Doors are always opening. Opportunities are always arising. These doors ceaselessly opening and closing can get a bit obnoxious, can lead you to feel like you’re merely wandering around with no direction. Dead Times isn’t just another door in this seemingly endless metaphorical hallway. Dead Times is a hole torn through the roof. You have to learn how to hold hands with disappointment, turn loss into gain, find success through failure, and work with what you have at the best of your potential. This is musical enlightenment. The future is bright as long as you hold the light.
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Look out for the new Dead Times release Black Pine Circle EP on October 30th on Matte Black Editions!
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Dead Times on MySpace Music | on Last.fm (lots of free downloadables – check out “Mirrors in Reverse” and “Wet Static / Elliot Sellers”)
Tumblr: Dead Times | Voidism

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Interview with Calvin Markus from Dead Times

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: E.K. Wimmer – The Invisible Audience + Interview

afutureinnoise:

E.K. Wimmer is one of my top favorite artists to be featured here at AFIN, and also an all-around nice, cool, multi-talented fellow. His last album, What Was Once Veduta is Now Found was reviewed favorably here in January, as well as the single from this album “Puppets and Ninjas”. His incredible new album The Invisible Audience was just released and I got a chance to interview E.K. about it – read on below!

A Future in Noise: What were the musical and non-musical inspirations behind the making of The Invisible Audience? 

E.K: Musical: The usual suspects (The Cure, Bowie and Siouxsie). The real influences on this record were T-Rex – Electric Warrior, Brian Eno – Taking Tiger Mountain (by Strategy), Sparks – Angst In My Pants, John Frusciante –Curtains, Neko Case – Middle Cyclone, Christian Death – All the Love All the Hate Part 1, The Glove – Blue Sunshine, Kylie Minogue – X, Alice Cooper –Billion Dollar Babies, P.J. Harvey – White Chalk and a trillion more. I love discussing influences because I have a ton and any musician that says otherwise is full of it!
Non-Musical: Nature, the past, my wife, the Oregon coast, depression, phony people, playing shows, my daughter and more nature.

AFIN: Since you had done soundtrack music previously, do you use the same creative process for your recent solo albums? (keeping specific scenes in mind, etc.)
E.K.: Definitely. I tend to always write songs that are self-contained, but are somehow connected like scenes in a film. The actual creative process is very similar between film scores and my albums. I sit down with a guitar or piano and write the structure of the song. I then take that demo and decide how I want to record it. The first track on the album, All These Things, for example, was originally a rock opera demo with strings and whatnot that I was working on for a feature-length film. I decided to completely change the sound, add new vocals and make it into more of a radio-friendly pop song (at least it’s pop in my mind, ha!) I once read that Wes Anderson makes a mix tape of songs he wants on the soundtracks to his films and then sometimes writes scenes around them. I feel the same way. I’m a director at heart so all my songs usually have a video in my mind to accompany them.

AFIN: There seems to me to be a distinct difference in the vibe of The Invisible Audience as compared toWhat was once Veduta is now found, like a lighter, airier almost nostalgic feeling in the new album. Was this intentional? How did this come about?

E.K.: Well the most obvious thing between the two is how they came about. What was once Veduta was a collection of songs recorded over several years. The Invisible Audience was written within a year. I releasedWhat was once Veduta in 2008, but the most recent song on the album was recorded around 2004-2005.The Invisible Audience is really four to five years removed from the sound of my last record. It’s also the first solo album I’ve ever released (including Veduta) that is not electronic. No drum machines or programming at all on the new record. It’s the first time I’ve released an album that has live drums throughout. It’s also the first album with someone other than me contributing and I think this gives it a dramatically different vibe. Each song is it’s own thing. I just wrote songs how I wanted, when I wanted rather than trying to fit into a genre like I had in the past. As far as the airier, more nostalgic vibe, I think it’s just not so depressing! My music usually makes people want to jump off a bridge; it’s so depressing, but this album is lighter (apart from the last track I guess). The production quality was very intentional. I’m influenced by people like John Frusciante. I think his solo work is insanely overlooked. He strips everything down and just presents a great song. You hear the shuffling of instruments, breathing, etc. I’ve always liked the lo-fi sound because it takes on a life of it’s own.
AFIN: I enjoy the album as a whole, but I think the most interesting track isThe Drawers of Nature – what’s the story behind this song and it’s meaning?

E.K.: It’s funny that you singled out that track over the others because it probably has the most involved story, so brace yourself! It was written in 2004 when I was living in Missoula, MT. It’s the only song on the album that wasn’t written in this past year, but I knew it would fit. I was in a band called Binocular with Paul and Sarah Copoc of the band Two Year Touqe. I was also doing my solo stuff (under the name Veduta) at the time. I played bass and shared the lead vocal role in Binocular. We did really fun indie-rock songs that covered topics like financial aid vampires, my van named Grandpa Whiscuit and the actor Jack Nance. I wrote this one demo and showed it to the band. It was way too dark for Binocular, but we practiced it anyway. It became known as The Bass Song because our cello player switched to bass for the track. We recorded the song, which never had any vocals, and that was pretty much it for the next five years. We never used it because it was more Veduta than Binocuar; it didn’t fit. So five years later I was in Denver working on my new album and I came across the instrumental Bass Song on my computer. I decided to record live drums, re-record my guitar part and finally write some lyrics. Back when we practiced as Binocular the drummer and I used to hum vocal parts, but never wrote anything so I went off that. The lyrics are a story in and of themselves. They are based on a poem I wrote about a short film I did, ha ha, how pretentious! It’s about a stop-motion film depicting items from nature (leaves, rocks, etc.) appearing in each drawer of a triangle dresser (the same dresser that appears in many of my paintings). Anyway, I recorded my parts and then asked my wife Maria to do the back up vocals in the chorus. The end result was a collaboration with Paul Copoc on electric guitar, Sarah Copoc on Bass, Maria Rose doing back ups and myself performing acoustic guitar, drums and lead/back up vocals. I’m very pleased with the end result. I feel the song finally found it’s home and we can all move on. Wow, sorry for that long-winded answer!

AFIN: A new decade is coming: how do you feel the climate of the music industry might change in the 2010s? Any tips for independent musicians/artists out there?

E.K.: I like the constant strain on big record companies to keep up with independent music. I love seeing strange new acts poping up on their own minor label and then watching the big guns try to copy it. It keeps things fresh. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. As far as tips, I always say just do what you feel you should be doing. Don’t let trends in sound or style dictate your direction. If you try and mimic what’s hot right now it’ll be cold by the time your stuff gets heard or seen. Be influenced, but use that inspiration to do your own thing. Don’t get caught up in record sales, painting sales, etc. Just create and let your artistic projects do the rest. Money might follow and it might not, but you can’t let that gauge your relevance in the artistic community.
AFIN: Are there any new directions or plans you have in mind for taking your music in the future? How about art-wise?

E.K.: Well the plan with this new record from the beginning was for it to be the last for a while. I’ve been releasing albums for almost a decade. I’ve reached the Brian Eno phase in my career where I record what I want with no intention of touring, selling merchandise and boosting album sales. Just because I made the album doesn’t mean I have to play shows to support it. Maybe people will hear it, maybe they won’t. It’s just another project I finished, but I put everything I have into it. I’m ready to really focus in on film scores and other collaborations. I’m working on my first feature film as a director and I’ve also been directing a lot of music videos (yours included). I’ve been laying low art wise. I’ve been doing some photography, but not a lot of painting. I haven’t had any shows recently; I should get on that! I guess I consider film to be art so I maybe I haven’t been laying low. I’ve got a lot of stuff lined up and I’m really excited to see where it takes me.

Planet Wimmer | E.K. Wimmer on MySpace Music | YouTube Channel 

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: E.K. Wimmer – The Invisible Audience + Interview

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Gig Review: Manic Street Preachers w/ Nico Vega, 9/24/09 at the Fillmore SF

Originally posted on A Future in Noise

Well, this is the first gig I’ve been to since starting A Future in Noise, making this is the very first gig review as well! This is the most biased piece of music journalism you are likely to read here because I do deeply love the Manic Street Preachers and all.

at the Fillmore in San Francisco yesterday…seeing as they haven’t been here in 10 years! That and being encouraged by the recent setlists (archived at Forever Delayed) being wonderful, with an eclectic mix from past and present releases, I knew it would be a show I could not afford to miss. Also, I had my heart set on meeting Nicky Wire – I bought him a bouquet of pink roses beforehand and attached a little note.
It wasn’t that crowded when I got there, so I was able to sidle up right to the front ahead of time. I hadn’t been too familiar with the opening act, Nico Vega, but after watching their live show – wow! Aja has such a powerful, raw presentation in her voice (and near-tribal dancing!), while Rich (the guitarist) and Dan (the drummer) madly tear away through instrumentation. One never knows what to expect from an opening act, and I thought I would be in the position of just waiting for it to end, but I really enjoyed them and will have to check out their studio / EP releases now!
It felt like such a long haul before the Manics came out, with the instruments and sound being tested, the Journal For Plague Lovers banner slowly rising up and replacing Nico Vega’s glowing insignia on the back of the stage wall, and the expected accoutrements appeared; the Welsh flag, a row of tiger plushies, and Nicky’s feather-boa-ed mic stand. Needless to say, I felt very, very nervous indeed! And then they came out.

I felt like my heart was going to leap out of me since not only was Nicky wearing that lovely sailor hat (as has been his custom lately), but a black suit as well. Genius! Oh, the music? Right then – they opened with “Motorcycle Emptiness”, their usual opener lately, which was simply surreal to hear and see being played so close to me, as I suppose is always the case with any song you’ve listened to over and over again in your own time. James Dean Bradfield’s voice sounded even more powerful in person, and seeing and hearing him up-close confirms that he truly is one of the unsung guitar greats – his hopping around stage, kicking out like a bit of a madman is fun to watch too! Sean Moore was hiding behind his drumkit (as usual), so I didn’t get that great of a look at what he was up to. Nearly every poignant musical moment was punctuated by synchronized leaps and steps from Nicky!
They played twenty one songs (setlist at the bottom of the article), with my personal highlights of note being the tracks they played from Journal For Plague Lovers (“Peeled Apples” – the bassline is even more scrumptious live! – “Jackie Collins Existential Question Time”, “This Joke Sport Severed”, and “Me and Stephen Hawking”), opener (“Motorcycle Emptiness”) and closer (“A Design For Life” – not really a favorite track before, but everything sounded better live), an unexpected acoustic “The Masses Against the Classes”, and “You Love Us” (the track the audience seemed the most excited about). The crowd sung along to most of the songs, particularly as the night went on, and the band looked like they were having a lot of fun up there, sharing occasional anecdotes before songs, happy to be in the States after so long!

After it was over, I had to track down Nicky…their tour bus was right outside the front of the venue, so I waited there with my cousin (who was patient enough to come along with me and deal with my temporary insanity!). After awhile, my cousin said, “The guy in the sailor hat is over there.”, but I didn’t hear her. Then she had to say it again, and I stammered, “…WHAT?!”, plowing through the crowd until there wasn’t any more room to do so. I waited as others got their picture with him and had him sign items they’d brought along. I had my pink rose bouquet with me, and when I was right in front of him said, “These are for you, Nicky!”. I think he said, and my cousin will back me up on this, “Oh those are lovely! Thanks – cheers, babe.” After that I have no idea what I said or did, getting my picture I’d brought along signed, and my photo taken with him (he put his hand on my back and shoulders – I thought I would tear apart into shreds!), and just saying, “Thank you so much!”. I certainly hung around until he was gone, just looking at him in that sailor hat, be-jeweled eyes, and hearing him talk so close by was addling my head to a great extent. JDB and Sean had disappeared by this point, so I’d missed my chance with them, but Nicky was my top priority so – mission accomplished!
The Manics are a band that have so much history attached to them, and to feel like you’re part of it just for a little while is a special thing indeed. It was a truly fantastic gig experience – if they pop up in your area, you must see them!

—-Setlist—-
1. Motorcycle Emptiness
2. No Surface All Feeling
3. Peeled Apples
4. Your Love Alone Is Not Enough
5. La Tristessa Durera
6. Jackie Collins Existential Question Time
7. Let Robeson Sing
8. Faster
9. Everything Must Go
10. This Joke Sport Severed
11. From Despair To Where
12. If You Tolerate This Your Children Will Be Next
13. This Is Yesterday (acoustic)
14. The Masses Against the Classes (acoustic)
15. Send Away The Tigers
16. You Stole The Sun
17. All Or Nothing (Small Faces cover) / Motown Junk
18. Me And Stephen Hawking
19. Little Baby Nothing
20. You Love Us
21. A Design For Life

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Gig Review: Manic Street Preachers w/ Nico Vega, 9/24/09 at the Fillmore SF

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Artist Interview: Shok (+ Exclusive Track!)

afutureinnoise:

Shok is an incredibly talented composer/producer/multi-instrumentalist based in Hollywood, California. Through his remix work (see the SoundCloud player at the bottom of the article), collaborations (including Daniel Ash and David J. (Bauhaus/Love And Rockets), Douglas McCarthy (Nitzer Ebb), Mark Caro (Technical Itch), Johnette Napolitano (Concrete Blonde), original compositions, and drumming for Mount Sims, Thrill Kill Kult and Zombie Girl), and seemingly never-ending side projects (Sisters of Mixing– take a listen to “New Cretia”!), Shok has displayed a versatility in his sound and approach with a dark-electro flair. Shok took time to answer some of my questions recently- check out the interview and exclusive track below!
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AFIN: What’s your musical background?

Shok: Well… let’s see…I have always enjoyed a wide spectrum of music. I grew up with a father who was into jazz and a mother into Motown, disco and soul. My aunt was into psychedelic/ progressive rock in the 70s. I grew up at a time when music was very exciting as NightFlight and Friday Midnight Special hit so huge with their music video clips, that MTV was born and, at that time, MTV was ALL about music, and the more experimental the video, often, the better.

Every Saturday night on MTV was a concert from a different band. These weren’t necessarily current performances, but it was exposure to something new and exciting. One week it could be Thomas Dolby, the next week Genesis (when Peter Gabriel was the singer), the following week could be Prince or Rainbow or even Styx. 120 Minutes surely influenced many folks as well, which was their weekly underground/ alternative Sunday night show. I had already, at that time, mainly been on my own hunt for new sounds. I was often spending my time in cramped record stores, shuffling through the dusty record sleeves or at various record conventions… I initially got into bands such as Clan of Xymox based on their album cover. (At one time, you sometimes *could* judge a book by its cover…)

AFIN: How did you get into producing and remixing?

Shok: I had a space for my drums and began recording friends, and then friends of friends wanted to pay me to make them sound good. I kept doing that and when I went to get some of my own music edited/ mastered, I befriended the head of one of the first places in USA to have Protools. I eventually was there so much that I learned how to use it myself and became a partner in the company after some time of working there as an engineer. We worked on everything from cheese dance to rock and even worked on the original music that Ahmir from The Roots was putting together. He would come in and bring his samples on cassette. At the studio, we also did edits on Dr. Dre’s first album.

As for remixes, it was word of mouth. Even though my style was more influenced by Wax Trax, 4AD and Mute Records, I was performing at festivals and raves since some of my music was on the original Techno compilations (This is Techno series). My first bigger remix was in ‘97, for Fun Lovin’ Criminals, who were on Capitol/EMI at the time. From there it kept progressing… through the years I have remixed the folk of Mirah to the industrial Haujobb. In the last few years it has been Juno Reactor, West Indian Girl, Traci Lords and even Isaac Hayes/Burt Bacharach. I am currently completing a Fischerspooner remix, a another one for Godhead, and after that is Lacuna Coil.


AFIN: What’s your process of making a remix?

Shok: Most often, I like to get a sense of the full song first. I like when a remix takes the song from one style and blends it into another. The best part of remixes is that a song can be transformed to hit different markets and open the ears of new listeners. There have been many examples of how powerful a remix can be… Sometimes, it is the remix that is remembered and not even the original song. For me, it is great when you can hear a remix and it sparks your interest and you find a new artist whose music you will follow. You may have never discovered them otherwise.

So I like to get a sense of the song, and then I choose the strongest hooks. These “hooks” are not limited to melodic lines, but may be drum fills, bizarre incidental noises… any sound that creates the signature of both the artist and the song. Being a producer and working to enhance artists puts me in that seat already, so my gears are already tuned in for this. I then decide a tempo. I use a variety of tools to change the chosen audio pieces to align in the new tempo from Melodyne to Reaper and dump everything into FL Studio or Ableton Live, where I can also change the tempo and or pitch as desired.

People ask me about the origin of many of the drum breaks and loops in my songs and remixes. Actually, these are most often me playing drums. Even though I have a wide variety of mics, pre amps and such in a great space, I tend to most often, record using odd mic choices and replacing some of the drums with items such as a futon frame, cardboard box, plastic paint tub lids…

In FL Studio, for example, I can choose a native vst instrument, called SLICEX, and can effect individual sections of a drum break, vocal section, piano or guitar riff. I take the pieces, get them aligned in time and build a basic structure for my version of the song. After that, I begin chopping snippets of sounds and vocals from the original. I tend to remove most of the sounds or parts provided in the session stems from the original song and often, create new bass lines with my bass guitar or detuned electric or even acoustic guitar. Sometimes the best bass is a detuned acoustic, with the nice warm jacket of fur aka filter and overdrive.

AFIN: What’s your recording/gear situation?

Shok: When I record people in my own studio or record my own vocals for Zeitmahl or Red Light District, I have a Neve/Focusrite Tone Factory, TL Audio and an Universal Audio 1176 (which is seldomly used). Once recorded, I use a chain of vsts including the URS Pro Channel Strip (Unique Recording Software) and the V-64 Vintage Channel by Kjaerhus Audio. I mainly just use my guitars, drums and FL studio with a slew of vsts. I have a proper studio space, however I tend to record from my home with hardwood floors and brick walls. These days, nearly all of my sounds are actually guitar, barely ever any synths, just filtered and effected guitar.

AFIN: That is really curious- I was having a heck of a time trying to tell what was synthetic and what was based off of instruments, when listening!

Shok: I love when the sound is a unique entity, when the listener is not always certain what it is that they are hearing; organic versus synthesized.

AFIN: How tricky is it to remix songs that haven’t been split into separate tracks?

Shok: I have only done this on the occasions when I was doing a bootleg remix, which there have only been a few, such as the Pink Floyd remix that has been floating around recently. For that, I rolled off some of the low end and added my own percussion and extra sounds. The new Melodyne, will supposedly be able to separate individual notes and sections of instruments… you should see the demo video online here. I saw this in person, this past year at NAMM, but something seemed a bit reminiscent of the bearded lady at the carnival.

AFIN: How did you end up working with Daniel Ash and David J.?

Shok: These are totally unrelated actually. In 2001, my friend who was handling some of my publishing, also handled Daniel Ash. He called me and asked me if I would like to write with Daniel. I had been a long time fan and had actually known his band mates, Kevin and David for many years, so he and I already knew of each other. Anyhow, after I agreed to work with Daniel, I hung up the phone and moments later, got a call from Daniel. We wound up working together for a few years. We created music for KEEN EDDIE (Fox/Paramount) as well as music for a certain Newgrounds.com music video series.

David and I met through his brother, Kevin, who was the drummer of both Bauhaus and Love And Rockets. I then ran into David a few more times and then we wound up DJing together on the east coast in 2000. I was remixing a song called “Time Has Changed” for Codec & Flexor on Emperor Norton Records (Ladytron, Mount Sims) in 2003, and David came over and lent his bassfingers. We only recently rendezvoused again when I had gone to lunch/ dinner with our mutual friend, Johnette Napolitano, and she wanted to bring me on board to a duet album they were planning. After David came out to a Jill Tracy show where, I performed with my cabaret band, Red Light District, he expressed interest for me to collaborate. We are presently working on material and I am excited to have this opportunity. It is a great feeling to be working with those who’s art influenced you to actually write music in the first place!

AFIN: What advice would you give to someone newly getting into remixing and DJ-ing?

Shok: If you want to be a DJ, listen to music and learn about the energy of a song and understand structure, even for each specific tune. Understand audiences, be a great listener. This will make you a better DJ. It is not all about the matching of the beats. You need to find the best sections in music to bring up the energy and drop em off (like a roller coaster), and that is not always at the same spot. It depends on the crowd, the venue, etc. It depends on what kind of a DJ you wish to become. This could be someone making a mix or download or for radio, versus a party in a club event or festival.

As for DJing equipment via software, Traktor is a great tool, as it is similar to mixing records or, better yet, CD mixers. It is very sturdy and I have never seen it crash in the years I have used it for radio gigs and a few one offs. Some folks prefer the vinyl approach with Scratch. In the 90s, your option was 12” vinyl or 7” vinyl or the more obscure 10” vinyl. CD mixers became prevalent toward the mid 90s. Today there many options. Ableton can do some neat tricks with manipulating songs on the fly, too. I prefer mixing with CDs.

For someone wanting to get involved with remixing, contact artists whose music you like, eventually, someone will ask you to do it. Perhaps you will get paid, perhaps not. But if you are doing it just for the business… well… that is another discussion. If you have something special with your sound, perhaps even a flawed style that catches on, you may find yourself with a career!


AFIN:
How do you feel about the climate and direction of the music industry right now?

Shok: The decline of sales due to downloading has lit the fire for creativity for artists in regard to exciting the fans to want to buy the music and support it. Downloading has spoiled many people… instant gratification has never been greater. I could go into my routine about instant this and that… but we can save that for the coffee shops 😉

I had dinner the other night with a friend from the label, Century Media. They have a great roster of primarily metal bands. The label has over 30 employees and they are going solidly. They have a niche market. The fans of the genre support the music! Electronic music, electro in particular, is interesting because you can locate and download the songs FREE via blogs, file sharing and Twitter links. So what will entice a listener to financially support this? LIVE PERFORMANCES.

I downloaded Depeche Mode’s current album “Sounds Of The Universe” for free, a few months before its release, but I still bought it and it was the BOX set, which was not just one CD, but 3, plus a DVD, 2 books, and other items including badges, postcards and a poster. Even though I have been given passes to one of their upcoming summer shows, I am paying to additional perfomances of theirs to support them directly. Apparently, the new Placebo box set has a slew of items and several of these box sets ship with pairs of tickets to be flown to London to see the band perform! The death of the larger labels has helped fasten a new habbit in true fans to once again pay for music. However, now the payments go directly to the artist or band and perhaps not only for a sale but a donation tip via Paypal, etc.
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Catch Shok spin music this Friday at his monthly LA party First Fridays @ Medusa Lounge and don’t forget to grab the exclusive track!

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Related Projects:

Zeitmahl (on Last.fm) – Shok’s baby, he plays all of the drums, bass, guitar, piano, trumpets and sings on this!

Red Light District – 1920s, 30s, Neo-Vaudeville, circus cabaret sent through a time machine to the future.

Emit Peels – Soundscape, Ambient music, influenced by Indian raggas and exploration of sound (two albums coming for sale in the next two weeks via FIXT Music)
TechItch & Shok – dark rock drum n bass hybrid, sung by various known individuals!

MyLiveTube – Shok’s blog with food, film and fun video

A Future in Noise ♪♫♪: Artist Interview: Shok (+ Exclusive Track!)