One of our most popular segments the thoughts and musings of Artist, Writer, Musician Steven Archer (Stoneburner/Ego Likeness). This time discussing writers block. A topic that has surely plagued me the last two weeks.
This is for those of you who identify as artists. You know who you are.
Maybe you do it as a hobby, maybe full time. But that is how you see yourself.
“But Steven I don’t see myself as that.”
Then don’t fuckin worry about it. You’re either saying that because you really mean it, and that’s totally fine. Or you’re saying that as a way of staying safe, so that if someone calls you on something that you make you can say “well I’m not really an artist.” In which case, you are correct. You’re a student, (totally fine, we are all students) someone who just doodles for fun (also fine if you enjoy it) or a coward (much less fine, commit to the bit, let yourself get hurt.)
The medium you work in, or the tools you use are irrelevant. They do not define your job. They might from a marketing standpoint, but not internally, inside you’re just one of the tribe.
The physical act of making the thing, it’s a just a small part of your real actual job which is… ideas.
Playing ,”what if,” or “make believe,” or whatever you want to call it.
“But Steven I do photorealistic illustrations.”
Good for you, it’s still the same thing, because you are drawn to specific things to do those illustrations of. What you put out into the world is still influenced by you and your aesthetics if not ideas.
Why am I talking about this?
Because some of you are running around saying “I have a creative block! I can’t come up with new ideas!”
Of course you can.
You already have.
You have tons of ideas, and if you don’t, then you may want to reevaluate how you see yourself.
Because, again, it’s your job.
Here’s the situation.
It’s not that you don’t have ideas.
It’s that you are scared to implement them because you are worried you will get laughed at by…. someone?! Who, dunno. But for some reason you just don’t see yourself as the type of person who does ,”X.”
The world needs more ,”X.”
And if you are reeeeeeally really stuck, and just can’t produce something you’ve already done, the problem isn’t the ideas, it’s you.
Garbage in, garbage out.
If you keep rehashing the same shit, it’s because you aren’t feeding your brain new information. Pick up a book. Pick up ten, twenty, five hundred, live other people’s lives, write their songs, paint there stories, look through their eyes.
You need to be fascinated by things.
And the more things that you are fascinated by, the wider the range of ideas you have to draw from.
Otherwise you’re not making art.
You’re performing a trick.
It may be a good trick, but if it’s the only one you know, then that’s all it is.
It’s a craft.
A series of actions that anyone can do that will eventually yield a similar result.
Like basket weaving.
Which is, again, totally fine.
If you want to weave baskets, fuckin do it. But don’t run around expecting applause.
Because in the end, art is as much about the person that the work is filtered through as it is about the work itself. And the wider the width and breadth of your interests and knowledge the larger the vocabulary you will have available to express your ideas about a wider range of subjects.
“But steven, all I do is paint the same thing over and over with vaguely different permutations.”
That’s not art.
Even if people put it up on their walls.
Now, the fact that you have convinced people that your trick is worth spending money on and putting on their walls… that could very well be art. In which case, well fuckin done.
*Yes yes, baskets can be art.
Look, I get it, you vaguely feel attacked, so you want to try to pedantically find little shit to bitch about, because if you can tear down one aspect then hopefully the rest will fall down and you don’t have to take it seriously and you can keep just farting around and blaming other shit for your shortcomings. But that is just Soooooo fuckin tedious. If you used the time and effort you put into your defense mechanisms to pop a few humility pills and just got to work, we wouldn’t even be having this hypothetical conversation.
Really. Try it.
Or keep making excuses while knowing down in your secret heart that you’re just a coward.
During the countless hours I`ve spent scrolling through various modular related tags on Instagram and searching through similar tags of Bandcamp I one day stumbled upon ERRORGRID RECORDS. A record label wholly dedicated to highlighting the darker side of electronic music which just so happens to feature a vast array of modular synth based artists.
While looking through their profile and listening to the artist currently on their roster I instantly fell in love with them and they are now one of my absoloute favourite and most trusted labels which I feel is something not so common these days. It`s not that long ago that people relied on very specific labels to provide them with great music and often subscribed to them in some shape or form where in return they would receice each release that label put out. Of course, with the digital era taking over this became a bit of a lost art although I do want to point out that it does still exist out there and ERRORGRID is absoloutely a label I would subscribe to as such.
I was presented with the opportunity to talk to Olivier who runs the label together with his wife and of course jumped at it immediatly. What follow is my conversation with ERRORGRID regarding their mission statement, upcoming releases and more!
Olivier was kind enough to offer a free download of any ERRORGRID album to the first 10 people who send an email about what ERRORGRID is to them so definetly take advantage of this opportunity, find their email at the end of the interview.
Start off by introducing yourself and give us a short explanation of what you do.
My name is Olivier. I am a Swiss living in Southern California. I run an electronic music project called “Nundale” and have recently founded a label called Errorgrid Records together with my wife Vira. –
The idea of starting a record label in this digital age might seem absurd to some. What inspired you to go this route?
Why absurd? But then again, I love absurd things, so maybe yeah, this is absurd for some, which doesn’t bug me too much. If you go by the traditional definition of what a label is then it probably sounds like starting a pizzeria: there are too many of them and it sounds like you are too late to the game if you start one today.
But Errorgrid Records is more of a community platform than what is commonly understood as a label. I don’t believe in institutions in the traditional sense. I believe in building communities that produce value. In that respect I think that Errorgrid can bring a fresh perspective into an old game. We are essentially looking to build our own market that stands apart from the label world
.The inspiration is as mentioned above: to create a platform where amazing artists that obsess over quality and intention in their art can express themselves without restrictions and fear. Maybe it is a little punk of me to say this, but having experienced the restrictions that come with genre-focused labels, I wanted to create something that is extremely free while being extremely niche. There is too much confusion of genre out there, the music industry has gotten too stuck up because they believe their listeners are stuck up. But they are not. We are here to give the people what they need, not what they want.-
You seem to focus on the darker aspects of electronic music and appear to have a penchant for signing modular based artists. What is it about modular synthesis that you find so intriguing?
That is a false impression that many have of us and I am happy to set the record straight: I am a opponent of gear fetishism, even though I love gear. But to celebrate gear over the artist’s intention and the impact of the output is plain wrong. No one cares about the brush Picasso used or the sticks Dave Grohl plays drums with. If we focus on what music is and can do, we fade out the instrument and the process and we focus on the raw nature of emotionality. This is how I choose my artists. I would never go out and look specifically for musicians who use modular synths. But however there is a strong connection between the freedom that a modular system can give you and the kind of freedom I seek to find for the music I release. So it is not surprising that many of them happen to use this instrument for what they do. But Sleep Clinic who is an incredible musician with an ear for finesse and balance, mainly resorts to table top boxes while Tom Hall is a wizard inside the box with MaxMSP. I am ready to sign someone who uses nothing but crappy 80s Casio keyboards if I feel his heart and intentions are in the right place.
One of my favourite artists on your label has to be TL3SS, I know there`s something coming out on ERRORGRID soon , why don`t you tell us a little about that?
Crushing Me, his first release with us, just dropped last week. It includes the original edit as well as gorgeous remixes by the likes of Sleep Clinic, Synth Witch, Michael Idehall and Depressive. An incredibly deep and dark sonic painting. So proud of this. –
How did the name come about, what exactly is “ErrorGrid” ?
There is belief that lives inside of what I do with music. And it is that we humans tend to put a grid over everything around us. I call this quantization of reality. We take something that is natural and turn it into an electronic representation of itself so we can save, store, recall and study it. It makes it easier for us to navigate our lives. But when we do this, we introduce errors into the data. The representation of nature is never as perfect as nature itself. I firmly believe that electronic music can represent this the best, by celebrating this technical distance and creating a new reality. In that respect it is both an ode and a cautionary tale to our ways and what technology can do. –
It may just be due to being part of the very nichè community you appeal to, that being darkly inclined electronic musician, but it seems like you`re growing exponentially and have done so in a short amout of time. What do you attribute this to?
You are right, being highly focused and aligned with the mission you are about makes you more relevant to the group of people you intend on serving. I learnt the hard way that being unfocused and not standing for something that is very clear and simple makes it nearly impossible to move forward efficiently. The first thing I send to an artist I am interested in signing is my mission statement. It explains very clearly what my intentions are and why I am doing this. If there is a disconnection at this stage, we are not moving forward. I think this is the key to growth. –
As we mentioned earlier, we live in the digital era, the era of daw`s and soft synths where the need to spend absurd amounts of money to build a modular wall with a web of patch cables seems ridiculous, and yet there`s definetly a revival of this form of creating. Would you say this is simply a form of rebellion against the more modern day methods of composing or do you feel there might be something about working in such a physical manner with an instrument that just can not be captured by their digital versions?
Oh man, the old conversation about hardware and software, in the box, out of the box, or apple and microsoft, atari and amiga. I don’t believe in the supremacy of any technology. There is no best tool, only the right tool for the job. And if you find the right tool it becomes an extension of yourself in bringing out what needs to be said. However I am observing a worrying amount of gear craziness that has nothing to do with musical expression. And these people often engage in absurd conversations over esoteric buttons and functions and whatnot in forums. It creates a weird non-music subculture. It’s probably indicative of our times, I don’t know. It’s dangerous that so much is available right now. And if you have an addictive mind and the money then you go down the rabbit hole. But by all means, if it is in your heart to make music and you have the opportunity, search until you have found what works for you. –
There is a secret collab project scheduled for November, any chance you might let some information about this slip out?
I can’t comment on that because I don’t know anything concrete. –
Are you involved in music beyond running the label and if so, where might we find it?
As a long time director for advertising I have been involved in creating music and scores for all kinds of visual work, also I have my project Nundale which is where I am focusing my musical energy to. You can find some stuff on the usual platforms, but there has been a strong shift lately which has caused me to wipe a lot of my older work. –
As someone who`s always done things the DIY way, sometimes by choice, sometimes by necessecity, I know very well how difficult any artistic endevours can be these days. What keeps you from giving up? What do you tell yourself or think of in moments where you feel like it`s all too much to handle?
I think it is mostly in the semantics here: It is not about “not giving up”, it’s about “keeping pushing.” It is not easy to manage 10 artists within a label and bootstrap everything from the ground up, especially when you are running two other businesses. But what really keeps me going is the incredible bond we have formed within the Errorgrid family, the support and human values we are fostering. I love seeing how this is much more than an organization, it is a community of like minded individuals brought together by the same love. And this is payment and confirmation enough. I go back to this whenever I feel overwhelmed. I used to be signed to other labels, and there was always this invisible wall between the participants which kept us all at a distance. Our culture is different. We nurture it like a group of real friends. –
Do you enjoy any forms of music which isn`t electronic?
It is hard to draw the line because for a while a lot of music has been crossing into the electronic realm. I am very fond of older French hiphop because of my french roots and the raw power in it. There is a level of honesty in the production of mid 90s hiphop that is rare nowadays. Also I have a soft spot for death metal. I have been playing the drums for over 3 decades and was fortunate enough to play in several really bad but extremely fun death metal combos. It’s just rawness of expression. I grew up listening to the usual suspects like Bolt Thrower, Cathedral, Carcass and Morbid Angel. And I still like to go to concerts every once in a while. Last year I saw Meshuggah here in LA, and it was the most exhilarating and amazing live experience in forever. Pure polyrhythmic math with drums, guitars and vocals. Simply stunning what the human mind and body is capable to do. If they were down to do a collab I would jump at the occasion. –
In your mission statement it is said you seek to foster an inspiring dialogue with the audience, what exactly do you want such a dialogue to inspire?
I don’t like one way communication. The very definition of valuable communication is a two way dialogue. There should not be a wall between listener and creator. It should be fluid. I am saddened that because of the current situation we can’t have live events, because that would be the best way to celebrate audience integration. I don’t like to keep listeners in the dark. I don’t like to be secretive and hold back. I love it when people reach out to me and ask things or have inputs. Also when someone sends their demo, I usually respond within 24 hours. Sure, we are small and new, so we can do that, but it’s a question of respect: This person loves what we do so much that they are willing to give us the responsibility to spread their art. How fucking cool and humbling is that? Such a dialogue will make Errorgrid more a project built by EVERYONE who’s with us. I want everyone to have a stake in it. I want everyone to feel like they are an Errorgridian because they contribute. And even if it’s just with a line of text or a simple download or an emoji on Instagram. –
Besides the TL3SS release we already mentioned what will come from ErrorGrid in the near “present future” as it were ?
We have Johno Wells’ “Adjust Index” IDM release which is just around the corner. Followed by Sleep Clinic. All I can say right now is that we will pump out releases for the remaining of the year. And there might be one or two surprises along the way. We will see. –
Your roster is currently full but where might artists who feel they would fit into the world of ErrorGrid submit their art and when would you say is a good time for such?
By now you might have a good sense that I am running this pretty much myself with the occasional support of my amazing but also very busy wife. Handling 10 artists is really all we can do right now. Because I have an obsessive focus on quality, which also means quality of communication, I don’t want to stretch myself thin. However I love hearing submission from people who are interested in joining us in the future. I keep tabs on everyone who does so. And I really hope that I can expand sometime soon. –
What do you look for when you`re searching for an artist to sign? What are your criteria for finding someone or something interesting enough to bestow them with the blessings of being an ErrorGrid artist?
This is a tricky questions because it tends to distort what people submit or keep good people from submitting. All I am looking for is dedication and intention. I have a bullshit radar that is pretty refined by now, or so I think. When someone is trying to sound like someone else than who they are, I immediately tune out. I seek originality and boldness. I seek honesty in expression. If you have pain and a story to tell, if you can’t help but write music to calm that voice inside of you, if you too have a mission you follow with your music, then I am down to listen. I don’t care if it’s 400 or 4bpm. Just don’t send me any 4 to the floor and dubstep stuff. That’s where I lose my openness, yeah I am biased. Hah. –
The space below if yours, feel free to promote anything you have coming up, leave a message, shout outs, reccomend some music or anything else you want to say!
I think I speak for everyone trying to make a difference in today’s music industry, no matter what genre they are in, if I encourage everyone actively looking to support musicians, artists and the organizations that help them put their art out, to listen and buy their music on Bandcamp. Try to avoid the industrial farming in music as much as you can. I know, it might be an extra step for some, but it strengthens the value chain for everyone so much. With Bandcamp we see support and appreciation right when it happens. And it keeps us going. With other platforms it takes months and cuts deep into the returns. This is a reality for everyone making music. Lastly I want to express my deepest gratitude to the people who have been with us and who joined us. Your support means more than I can say and because of you we will keep doing what we do and we will do it even better as we continue. Check out our current catalogue and go on a journey of inspiring darkness with us.
ERRORGRID RECORDS can be found via the following links:
W/O [Pronounced: wwithout] is a musical project lead by fellow S & S contributor Hunter.
The music serves as an exorcism, a purging necesarry for survival. One might look at Hunter`s outputs wether that be W/O or Charn as a coping mechanism born from existing in a world that seems to fall deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit for each day.
I reviewed one of Hunters albums not too long but I also wanted to get their perspective and poke around in their brain and see what I might stumble across.
Why don`t you start off with telling us who you are and what you do?
So my name is Hunter and I make music under the monikers w/o (wwithout) and charn. w/o has more lore cause of the violent nature of some of the earlier sets and my tendency to draw blood and roll around on the floor covered in leaves, lol. I guess the central theme and what ties the works together is the desperate struggle to make the world just feel fucking okay for five seconds. Idk. Sometimes it works and hopefully people besides me feel less alone at least for a moment when listening to it. That also kind of ties into the obsession with the concept of heaven and belonging.
Charn is a newer project. Ive been listening to a lot of suicidal depressive black metal, especially during the cold months and it really inspired me to make something in the same vein. Its more conceptual cause its based on the Chronicles of Narnia universe, specifically the long winter (hence the album name “Always Winter, Never Christmas) but the theme is more a tool to talk about universal concepts like suffering and sacrifice and unconditional love.
– How long have you been doing W/O and what inspired you to make music?
I’ve been making music under the name wwithout since about 2015. I had a few other names before that and put out some depressive folk type shit but nothing really that notable in my opinion. I started making music as a creative outlet to get my feelings out and umm it’s cliché but music and art have just been the most compelling thing to me ever since I was little so I always wanted to do this.
– Is there a meaning to the name W/O ?
Yea, just w/o as in without, as in being without something; a reference to poverty in all its forms be it material or spiritual.
– While alot of your music could be put under the Trap label there`s still a variety to it where you don`t seem to repeat yourself and you incorporate more experimental techniques n your sound, what do you attribute this to?
I think I just have a diversity of influences and like experimenting and expressing myself in a diversity of ways. Its not really intentional. It just happens that way.
– You have a tendency to write very short songs, is there any particular reason behind this?
Not really, lol. Some people attribute it to poor songwriting skills and maybe that’s partially true but I think more so, its just based on me not being interested in some sort of orthodox songwriting process or like appealing to some certain demographic that wants every song to be between 3 and 4 and a half minutes for premium listening or whatever the fuck.
– There`s a certain sombreness to alot of your songs, yet there seems to be some small slivers of hope slipping through every now and then. Would you say making music or generally being creative is something you utilize in a more therapeutic way?
Absolutely, yea. The majority of it is born out of adversity and isolation and just trying to grasp and come to terms with the unrelentingly harsh realities of life and death. The work is me working through and having a dialogue with the voices in my head that tell me to kill myself amongst other things, and I do feel better and more at peace after putting pen to paper.
– Is there any plans for the future, new music or anything of that sort?
Yea def! I live in NYC now and am interested in working with and collaborating with artists of all disciplines out here. Being here in winter and being alone most of the time and cold and broke were, in hindsight, kind of the ideal conditions to write “Always Winter, Never Christmas” in. I would like to utilize more bells and more original choral arrangements and pained breathing sounds in my future work.
Also I have a Charn single coming out in September on Spotify so that’s something.
The definition of Carrion is “the decaying flesh of dead animals” and morbid as I am that immediately peaks my interest. Enter the world of Carrion and subsequently the worlds of Swansect, FTMOB, and Missfit Toys.
HH: First off, feel free to introduce yourself and give us a quick summary of your artistic work and vision.
C: While names are inherently meaningless for this instance we can use the moniker Hide Beliya`al. My work and vision is one and the same as, in my opinion at least, is of absolute necessity. In more direct terms however I could describe it as an expression of my experience on earth in every which way.
HH: So you’re an extremely prolific artist with 4 active projects currently: Carrion, Swansect, From The Mouth Ov Belial, and Missfit Toys. Do you ever experience burn out? What keeps you inspired?
C: I guess I do in short bursts but I usually don`t let it stop me if there is work to be done. As for what keeps me inspired, this is what I`ve done my entire adult and teenage existence, it`s literally the only way of life I know so it`s quite a natural state of being at this point in time. I suppose I have a wound overflowing with various substances, I can`t stop it as I`m not in control here. As far as MissFit Toys goes it`s my first time being in a full on band with other people in a long while and it`s not something I would do if it wasn`t for me finding some sense of value in both the outcome of it as well as the people I surround myself with. I also like that it enables me to take a small step back and not have to be the one leading it at all times, I originally started out as a bass player so I never purposely went for the frontman role but through the years found myself there regardless. MissFit Toys also lets me explore a side of industrial I generally have very little interest in beyond that band in particular. It`s the only band I currently perform shows with, at least that was the plan until the horsemen arrived.
HH: What first compelled you to dedicate yourself so fully to your art? Can you talk a little bit about your song writing process?
C: I never quite understood how some people could take something so fucking visceral as art and the creation of something out of nothing as merely a hobby. I suppose it`s a sign of the times we live in but I digress..There was never a moment where I made that concious decision, I always approached this with a sense of seriousness to it. Even way back when I started my first few bands I`d find myself in a situation where I took it “too seriously”. While others may not mind skipping a rehearsal in favour of some other activity I saw this as lack of dedication which eventually led me to abandoning the idea of working with others for a long time. My songwriting process is quite abstract as most creative processes tend to be. Lyrically I don`t feel like I`m writing them as much as I`m simply dictating, taking notes of the things I`m told and shown by something I couldn`t possibly pretend to understand. There`s definitely a spiritual element to the process.
HH: Does it hurt your vocal chords to scream like that?
C: Haha, not at all. Of course if it`s been a while I might need a few minutes before I`m there so to speak but it`s not a matter of pain. I have however ended up vomiting after recording but that`s more due to pushing it as much as possible for a prolonged period of time.
HH: When I think of Norway I cant help but think of corpse paint, music videos recorded in the dark forest, and indecipherable logos. Do you draw any influence from black metal in your work? Do the goth, metal, and other scenes overlap at all?
C: Where I currently live is what I imagine people see in their minds when they think of this place. I live in kind of a middle of nowhere place surrounded by trees. I do take alot from black metal yeah, I`m more inclined to listen to rock and metal than any industrial honestly. As far as scenes overlapping that would require a scene to exist in the first place which it doesn`t really in that sense although just in terms of the people I personally know who are, let`s say darkly inclined, yes that seems to be the case.
HH: Your work very often references Christian themes, e.g. heaven, crosses, salvation, sanctity, and fire. Were you raised religious? How do these themes play into your work?
C: I wasn`t raised as anything in particular but I`ve always had a natural pull towards the more spiritual aspects of existence. I grew up in a house I`ve later been told is built upon a viking graveyard in a tiny place just 20 minutes from where it`s said Christianity first came when arriving to Norway so perhaps that`s to blame? Religion, or spirituality rather does play a big part. Carrion is in its simplest form to be seen as a diary where each entry is a retelling of a direct experience or thoughts and feelings related to the topic at hand. I tend to prefer using a highly symbolic language, if one was to dive deep one might discover a thing or two, the veil is thin once you take a proper look. On a more mundane level however I`d like the listener to not be forced into thinking what the song is about, preferably you can find your own meaning, maybe something you could even relate to on some level. I am human after all and with that it`s no surprise things sneak in there, things we all experience such as heartbreak, joy etc
HH: You split time in between an isolated village in Norway and Southern Florida. Do the contradicting landscapes inform your work at all?
C:Not necesarilly in the way you might think. I`m not one of those people who needs a certain setting to write a certain kind of music. I`m perfectly able to write a Carrion song under the scorching Florida sun as I am in the foggy Norwegian woodlands.
HH: What does the future hold as far as your music goes and what can we expect from you in the near future?
C: The most recent event would be the release of the Carrion single “The Blood Ov Saints”. I do plan to follow it up with a second single called “Until The Reaper Comes”, which is one of the heaviest songs I`ve written and it feels like a good snapshot of how I feel regarding the current apocalypse. There is also an all modular album created under the moniker of From The Mouth Öv Belial, it`s mostly improvised instrumental pieces except for two tracks which has vocals done by the entity known as AGGRESS. I may or may not gather the results of the current writing sessions and release as an EP [or an album if there is enough material] though I`m rather hesitant about making any definite statements about it as I`d rather not say something now only to have it not happen. Fans of MissFit Toys may know this already but we do have a new album in works as well as a single”Blithe Din” which will hopefully be released soon along with remixes by variety of great artists.
Stream Carrion’s “The Blood Ov Saints” here:
facebook.com/officalcarrion instagram: @carrionkvlt personal IG: @Mordsengel officialcarrion.bandcamp.com fromthemouthovbelial.bandcamp.com
Tommy Creep is a modular artist who I feel I can relate to a bit more than most due to his darker take on the art of modular synth based music as well as introducing elements of the punk and metal culture into this world.
I stumbled upon his music by pure chance as I often do and discovered someone who seems to work in ways very similar to myself as well as holding on the DIY ideals of yesteryear that so many seem to have traded in for the conveniency of the digital era.
Tommy isn`t just a musican, he`s a true artist. Creator of the zine Black Panels Only and pioneering the patch blind panel I just had to talk to the guy and do what I can to spread the word as it were.
How did you discover modular synths and what attracted you to it?
I got into electronic music and synths through the Game Boy music/chiptune scene. Between bands, I was looking for a way to create and perform solo that didn’t involve an acoustic guitar and saw videos of people performing live with just a Game Boy through a PA and loved the simplicity and anti-music feel of it. Eventually I got into hardware synths and modular always seemed like the ultimate end-goal. Being able to choose whatever modules appeal to you and create a unique system that feels really personal was one of the main attractions, I don’t think you can really achieve that in the same way with other synths. I’ve since sold all my other synths to buy more modules, I still have my Game Boys though!
Your music is “inspired by horror and the occult” how exactly do these things influence your work, are you a practitioner of any spiritual path?
I spent years playing in horrorpunk bands, where lyrically everything was about horror but musically it wasn’t really different from any other punk. Since getting into electronic music, i’ve focussed on trying to make music that creates the images that the lyrics used to. I’m not a spiritual person at all, for me it’s more about trying to create an atmosphere in the music that evokes a sense of unease and curiosity. I enjoy listening to music by artists for whom their spirituality and ritual is a big part of the music they make but I also think immersive music can provide a similar response even if you don’t hold any particular beliefs yourself.
You create the zine “Black Panels Only” you`re about to release the second issue, what drove you to starting this?
I wanted to cover Eurorack but from a different perspective and show some appreciation for some of the darker-themed synth-makers and artists out there and i’d always wanted to make a zine, I love the creativity in working on page layouts and designing for print. Also some great A5 zines have come out over the past few years, like Becoming the Forest, Hellebore and Weird Walk that served as great inspiration.
Why do black panels look so superior?
I think it just creates a totally different feel overall. A completely silver-panelled system looks cool too, with a more scientific, evil lab vibe but I think the black panels make the graphics pop more and suit better suit some of the more out-there designs and noisier modules.
What do you think is the ideal setting to listen to your music? Paint us a picture.
I’m lucky to live in Bristol, where we’ve got access to some really cool old churches and less-typical venues that let us put on gigs. The medieval stonework looks amazing lit up and creates a great contrast with the electronic instruments. That’s the ideal setting for the music, it turns it into an immersive experience, the audience doesn’t have to work as hard to picture a dungeon or an old castle when you’re halfway there already. Listening at home- candles and incense help- the music at the moment is fairly minimal, so it really benefits from some other factors to accentuate the ritualistic atmosphere.
Are you fully modular based or do you include other hardware/software in your compositions?
I do everything in the modular, then just record the stereo output straight into a digital recorder. Something about doing everything in one-take, with no overdubs feels more authentic to me, but i’m not a perfectionist at all so I can live with little mistakes and imperfections that arise from doing it that way.
What inspires your song titles?
Usually after i’ve finished a release i’ll spend a day listening back to the tracks and researching the themes that inspired them, keeping an eye out for phrases that fit. The last two tapes, The Search for the Sulphurous Well and A Plane of Deprivation, explore concepts of death and hell in various cultures/spiritualities and literature.
You have a Black Panels Only patch which doubles as a blind panel, what gave you the idea to do this and how was the response?
I wanted to make a blind panel but don’t know anything about CAD software, so was trying to think of other materials you could make one out of- my first idea was a panel-sized sticker with corner holes, so it could be used as a blank or as a sticker, but I figured it’d probably be too flimsy. A patch seemed like a fun idea, if it would work, it fits with the black-metal/punk aesthetic of the zine and I wanted to bring some of that culture to the Eurorack scene. I think it works pretty well, it’s just a bit of a pain to screw in as they’re not at all rigid. Haven’t seen anyone actually sew one onto a vest jacket yet but I hope that happens at some point!
What`s next? Any plans for the future or are things just too dim to think there even is a future?
BPO Issue 2 is out within the next couple of weeks, along with a restock of Issue 1, then Issue 3 will be the Autumn/Samhain issue so i’ve got some really cool ideas for that. Outside of the zine, i’m just enjoying making noise on the modular for now and experimenting with improvising sets direct to tape and will get gigging again as soon that becomes possible.
The space below is for you to use however you wish, shout outs, leave a message, music recommendations or whatever else you want to say.
Check out Blood & Dust who featured in Issue 1 – they’re an awesome folk horror duo combining modular, cello and field recordings in an incredible way. They’ve got a few tracks online now and an album coming out very soon.
Shout out to Serpens Modular, Error Instruments and ERD for making some of my favourite modules and inspiring me to make the zine in the first place!