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another Noiseman433 interview

So Jonathon of Brazil wanted to interview me as "Noiseman433."  Here is that interview (my answers in bold):

Is there any sort of singular philosophy or manifesto across the board as to why noise exists as a movement?  Or do some people just like to be obnoxiously loud.

I guess there's as much of a singular philosophy for noise as there is for any other genre of music.  Meaning that some people think there is one and others don't and  still others don't really care.  And there seems to have been a shift that corresponded (as i does in other musical genres) to shift in technologies like the availability of home recording due to magnetic tapes in the 80s, and now digital distribution through the web.

There are purists in any genre, noise included, but that seems to be a age related divide (again just like any genre) with the older artists wanting some measure of "quality control" and the younger artists [often] just wanting to be "obnoxiously loud."

What was your first exposure to avant-garde composition and performance art?

I remember when I was twelve and first listened to my father's records of Bartok's string quartets.  It took me all of 10 seconds of listening before I said to myself "that's just a bunch of noise" and pulled the needle off the record (now the Bartok string quartets are some of my favorite pieces of music, and not for the same reasons).

Otherwise, playing classical music often gives people a chance to perform at least some modern or avant-garde composition.  That would have been in the early 90's for me.  By the mid 90's I had pretty much decided not to play classical music anymore (for various reasons) and moved off into "experimental land" to play around with any object that would mak a sound or see what kinds of strange things I could do with my voice.

By '97 I finally heard a Merzbow recording and that was the end of "experimenting with sounds" and the beginning of experimenting with noise.

Was that when you decided to change your life and pick up a circular saw?

Yeah, pretty much.  Up until 2003 I tried to see how much racket I could make with effects, circuit bent toys, pieces of metal, etc.

I never really did the power tools thing, and unlike Yamatsuka Eye, I value my limbs enough to not want to fool around with a circular saw in live performances (though I have broken fingers while beating on sheet metal with my fists).

Has anyone ever walked out/get visually angry/etc during one of your noise performances?  Perhaps they didn't quite know what they were getting into?

Oh yes--one of my favorite shows to play was in St' Louis where it was a multi-genre thing.  Most of the people there were fans of some goth band so didn't really know anything about the noise acts hat were there (I was one of two that night).

My set lasted all of a minute and a half, during which a large group of the goth chicks ran out of the venue (for their troubles they got mugged at gunpoint right outside the door of the venue).  I walked away from that with bleeding and swollen hands to someone yelling "encore" above the wild applause.

Your educational background would make C3PO look like Rain Man in comparison.  Do you incorporate those concepts (i.e. neurolinguistics, etc) into your work?

In my performance art pieces and more subtle experimental music performances, yes.  In noise, no. 

Well, a healthy knowledge of how some frequencies affect people psychologically can be good if I wanted to use subharmonic frequencies (like a noise artist called SICKNESS) in my work to cause the audience to get nauseous, for example.  But eh, that's too much trouble--I'm usually focused on listening to the sound that's coming out to see how I can manipulate it in real time to bother with that.

Germany and Japan seem to have had their noise heyday over the last 20 years or so (Einsturzende, Merzbow, etc).    Where are the good noise artists coming from these days?

There have actually always been some great noise artists in the states.  The Japanese folks just tend to a bit, um, "over-represented" I guess.  Granted, some of that is just because of the kinds of personality cults that seem to follow some of the more flashy acts like the [aforementioned] Yamatsuka Eye and Masonna.

But some good acts are coming out from all over the world now, really.  And the types of live performances have shifted away from the dangerous and [sometimes] self-destructive ones to things that seem to border on perfomance art or simply lap-top (some noise people call  it "crap-top") live shows.

But as to where to look now--well, Northern Europe, especially Scandinavia, has been churning out some interesting acts over the past few years, and recently China has been showing a growing scene--I'd keep an eye there for sure for future good noise acts.

In the 80s, it seemed like a hefty percentage of a noise artist's audience would be from the punk/transgressive crowd.  Is this the same today?

In the US that was never really the case.  And in Britain, well, Whitehouse's power electronics was more the fad, in keeping with the overall feel of the "post-Throbbing Gristle" scene.  I don't think the punk and noise crowd ever really overlapped in Anglo audiences (with the exception of some midwestern acts).  And it's still really like that now.

In Japan and Germany, however, there's a relatively healthy interaction of all kinds of underground musicians though with the latter it was more the Industrial scene rather than "pure" noise acts.  I think that's even truer today.

I mean really--how often have you seen any noise acts performing with (at either the local or national level) punks, goths, or other transgressive sub-cultures?

Is there any relation between the noise scene and the ambient drone movement that seems to have gained popularity over the last two years?

Sure--alot of artists from both scenes often perform together, and are sometimes influenced by each other.  In Japan one writer has even noted that the "fourth generation" of noise artists are doing the minimalist drone type sound (he referenced Sachiko M and Otomo Yoshihide).

That divisiveness I mentioned in US scenes, however, has kept one particular group relatively separate despite how often they might work together in, say, Japan--the experimental IDM which obviously overlaps the dance communities like that goths and rave scenes.  Need I mention the goth crowd that swarmed out of my performance in St. Louis again?  ;)

What's the most bone-crushing sound you've discovered during your tenure as a noise artist?

That I've heard or made?  The former might have to be hearing the tear gas bombs that the Eugenics Council is fond of using during live shows.  At least for the brief microsecond that it sounds. 

Myself--well, that's dependant on how many effects I decide to link together--I usually use linear chains, personally, but there seems to be a middle ground between too many effects and too few effects that creates a maximal wall of sound.  If I can feel the bass frequencies vibrating my body and the high frequencies hurting my ears just on this side of damaging them then I'm usually happy.

How much further down can the noise genre be subclassified?  (i.e. power electronics, etc)

Oh sweet Buddha--it can go down as far as, or as little as you want.  I think the same thing applies here with regards to the age of the artist.  But most noise people, just as in any other genre, just use the "good noise" and "bad noise" classifications. 

I don't think there is much practical use in going beyond the noise sub-genres like power electronics and dark ambient, myself.

For someone just getting into the noise phenomena, which records would you recommend as starting points for the aurally uninitiated?

I gave this list in another interview years ago, but I still pretty much stand by it as a good stating point for people just getting into noise:

1) Merzbow 1930
Tzadik Records

2) Masonna Frequency LSD
Alien8 Recordings

3) SICKNESS I Have Become the Disease that Made Me
Groundfault Recordings

4) TEF/Prurient/Richard Ramirez Magnified Healing
TEF/Hospital Productions split label release

5) Stimbox Lupus Tuberculoso
Tabula Rasa Dermatology Series
TABULA RASA, c/o Antonio Fernández, Avda. Constitución, nº 8, 28280 - El Escorial, Madrid - Spain

6) Kazumoto Endo While You Were Out
BOXmedia and Philosophy Shop split label release

7) Incapacitants As Loud As Possible
Info here:
Zabriskie Point, USA, POINT 13

8) Whitehouse Great White Death
Susan Lawly

9) Japanese/American Noise Treaty
Release Entertainment (sub label of Relapse Records)

10) Merzbow Merzbox
Extreme Records

Do you have any mainstream pop guilty pleasures?

Sure, plenty.

Top record of 07 so far?

I haven't listened to a single noise album that was released this year yet.  I'm still kinda "on hiatus" from that scene.

How was it that Thai culture discovered the orgasmic taste combination of peanut, rice noodle, and lime?

It has to do with Thai culinary theory, which comes from its ancient roots in Chinese culture (the Thais are said to have been a southern Chinese tribe that migrated south out of China--it's still reflected in the numerous Chinese loan words in the Thai language, which like most Chinese dialects, is a tonal language).  Basically it's due to the ideal of a "harmonious blending of the five flavors."

Or, I guess you could also say, "ancient Chinese secret."  :P

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Great interview. I've noticed that you have strongly focused on the cello in recent years, and that your Noiseman output had declined.

I've just recently started getting into pedal-based noise, and am greatly enjoying the DOD envelope filter. I picked up a Radioshack Reverb recently, but was pretty disappointed with it. Mine was probably a dud.

My next purchase will probably be some kind of analog multimode filter, a pitchshifter, or an octave-down fuzz pedal of some kind. I already have a decent tremolo pedal, but I'd like to add another in the same chain to create more chaotic rhythms.

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