How does it feel to create an album for the socially dissident and emotionally dyslexic?
It feels like I’m making the kind of music that was missing from the world. The kind of music that I wanted to hear. Not that my music is anything really special, but it feels like music is missing a lot of raw elements AND emotion and or latches onto one great sound and repeats that over and over (Witch house, I’m looking at you…). I really wanted to make music that felt emotional, yet raw and with a big mixture of musical influences — in turn, this appealed to me (and hopefully other like me) that struggle with ‘normal life’, connecting with people, they idea of blue skies and happy days… something that reflects my — and the world’s — anxiety, something that pushes people to listen to things that make them uncomfortable and are not perfect — unsettling. This is how I feel almost all the time, and I think a lot of people do too.
What was the creative process behind “Born Nihilist”?
In contrast to my previous album — which spans a few different emotional tones — I wanted to just create an assault of sound.
Remember, as a kid when you got that first album that you wanted to really like, but it was a bit toooo hard, bit too loud, but you knew there was something there, something you needed to dig into and figure out?
That’s what I wanted to make.
So, lots of sludgy guitars, and loud detuned synths to create something that felt like a full-on assault, a brick wall of sound fall down on top of you.
We enjoyed how you described the album as a series of one-note rhythmic pulse sounds where did the choice to create such a unique sound come from?
People just don’t listen to music like the use to. Compressed streaming… low attention spans… all of that has come into play. The public is no longer interested in hearing complex chords and complicated arrangements. If I write something in 5/4, does anyone give-a-shit?
In a world of Ariana Grande, I just felt like no one cares, or at least they have been desensitized to hearing melody and notes. So, why not start there. Start at that fidelity, and you can only go up. The bar for polished tuned music is soooo high, yet the quality of the content is sooo low, so fuck it, right?
What inspired you to create music that still contains some grime and emotions regardless of the current music norm?
I remember listening to DIY recordings from my friends’ bands when I was growing up. And I loved those records. I loved the sound of 4 tracks and unbalanced music, and it was a struggle to make even the worst sounding record. However, now it’s even easier to have a DIY recording studio in your bedroom — and I have one. So rather than tuning everything possible and using all the plug-ins to cover up my musicianship, why not leave some of that in, why not allow that to be part of the art.
As a society we expect everything to be so perfect, shiny, new. Yet, no one talks about the fact that the artist you listen two, has done 2% of the work….
As for the general sound, I just really am tired of safe music. Repetitive styles and attitudes. I like the idea of pushing distortion and sounds in a more challenging way, for myself and the listener — like making personal choices while editing, rather than what the standard is or what so and so already did, fuck it — try something that might be cool, or it might suck, but al least take an artistic risk…vocals to the back, make the tone of the voice more of an interment than lyrical content, put more distortion onto the bass to really break up a mix… how far can you compress stuff as a means of distortion….
How did your music change from something born in the heart of the pandemic to something created while the world emerges from the pandemic?
Fear to anger. Experiment to purpose. Distraction to art.
I could go on, but it will only get even more pretentious.
What did the creative process during the pandemic feel like? What were the difficulties?
It was the first time in years that I was able to just shut off from the world, shut off from friends, not wasting time at sitting at a bar hoping for something creative to fall out. This really allowed me to create a concept of what I wanted to create and then move ahead in an uncompromised way to get it done. It was a great time of self-reflection, just sitting in a room with some gear and it felt like I knew what needed to happen.
The difficulties were finding a zone that felt comfortable. With what lyrics I was writing, what sounds were coming out and what fidelity of recording was acceptable to me — mistakes and all.
The art and design for “Born Nihilist” are very creative. Can you tell us more about where that creative process comes from?
I’m a creative director and designer as my career outside of music, so when I create music, I really think about creating the whole conceptual package. What is the visual that goes with this, what is the tone of the art and how do I release it.
This art specifically was about making something that felt like a technical, or documentation of something that you should not be looking at — like evidence or an autopsy photo. The imagery being tight crops of a person, their collarbone or nose, very personal and uncomfortably close. The images stretched and disrobed, so show the distress of the subject. Glitched and pixelated to feel analog. The whole thing was to feel like looking in on or the viewer being the cause of someone else’s anxiety, uncomfortable feelings and fear of intimacy.
With the pandemic still making constant changes to how we define normal; where do you plan to take your upcoming projects?
Now that things are more open — normal for me (now) is blocking out time to work on music. Creating deadlines and sticking to them, so that music takes priority over any other downtime.
I’m planning to take a few months off from making songs, try to rebuild the studio with some new gear and really learn more about that gear. And hoping for some live gigs around NYC in the coming summer, stay tuned.
Thanks so much!!