The formidable and internationally-appreciated noise trio, Dead C, is releasing its 34th album, Unknowns. Bruce Russell spoke to Richard Langston about his on-going excitment making spontaneous noise with fellow band members Micheal Morley and Robbie Yeats – and digging for old 45s.
A new album Bruce – how did that come about?
It’s quite a story. Last October on Labour weekend I went down to Dunedin, Robbie has the use of a cottage at Aramoana, right out on the spit, and he said come down, we’ll fire up the bbq for two or three days and do a bunch of recording. We did and that was great, the place has a walk in chiller for the beer so it was very nicely set up. We recorded a lot of stuff, a couple of albums worth, but most of it was on a digital multi-track recorder and when Michael transfered the files there was one of those problems that happens. We lost everything.
But in the room we also had a couple of those hand-held zoom stereo recorders and we still had those. They had really weird bounces of sound because of where they were in the room and there were large amounts of stuff we couldn’t use. The record’s a collage of the bits we managed to salvage from the zoom recordings. Michael’s added vocals to most of the tracks and we’ve created our first ever 12” EP, 15 minutes a side. We’ve never done one and it’s the classic ‘80s NZ format. I’m pretty excited about that and the material sounds a bit different because of the way it was put together, there’s a bit more post-production.
Ironically, there’s two records coming out as we had some money from previous royalties to fund a European tour that was not possible and we’re using that to do a 7” 33, the other classic 80s format, and it’s got five things we’re calling songs. Michael’s edited them togther into two side-long chunks one of which is called two songs and the other’s called three songs. None of it kinda makes sense until you hear it (laughs).
Three songs…the first time I’ve heard that title since the Tall Dwarfs…
Ron Geesin is a composer, performer, sound architect, interactive designer, broadcaster, writer and lecturer. In the following interview we will discuss making of Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother, his latest album RonCycle2, recently released book The Flaming Cow and new documentary.
To begin with, when and where were you born and was music a big part of life in Geesin household?
I was born on the 17th December 1943 at 6.10 am (Scottish birth certificates give the time). My Birth certificate says ‘Stevenston, Ayrshire’, but my mother always said that wasn’t quite correct: it was Kilwinning Maternity Hospital! Stevenston was where I was gestated. We moved to Bothwell, Lanarkshire when I was about 3: my father built a bungalow there. Music was not a big part of life: we did have an upright piano on which he stumbled through simplified bits of Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue and popular melodies from the 1930s and ’40s, “Red Sails In The Sunset” and “A Little Bit Independent” for instance, moving back to ragtime later.
At what age did you begin playing music and what were the first instruments that you played?
I got fairly fascinated by the ‘harmonica/mouth organ virtuoso’ Larry Adler, seeing him on the television, and was given a 12-hole chromatic harmonica, maybe when I became 11. I was soon playing bits of simplified Bach and the film theme from Genevieve. Then I got more interested in syncopated music in general: the ‘Trad’ (traditional jazz revival) era had started in the 1950s in Britain, so I got a long-neck ‘G’ banjo for my 15th birthday, took the short 5th string off and played it as a 4-string plectrum banjo.
“I’m still trying to find out who I became.”
You are a man of great talents. Composer, performer, sound architect, interactive designer, broadcaster, writer and also lecturer. What college did you attend? Would you say that it had any impact on who you became later on?
I’m still trying to find out who I became. I never attended a college. I was becoming extremely rebellious and unruly at Hamilton Academy (secondary school) and was asked to leave at around 17. “Take this boy away – we can do no more with him.” said the Headmaster to my father. This, supplemented by, “You’ll never be any good at anything!” by my father, caused me to get my head down, or up, and get on with real life – into that university – and out the other side.
You listed Victor Borge, The Goons, Chic Murray (Scottish comedian, deceased) as your main influences. You also mention Surrealism.
They were some of my main influences, but see below. Surrealism, in the visual medium, depicted the impossible, dream and subconscious images, often with humour. This connected well with the verbal equivalent ‘The Goon Show’ on radio. All this bundle of endeavour was my rocket fuel to get out of middle class materialistic Lanarkshire.
How about musical influences? How did you embrace Rock and roll?
My main musical influences were, and still are, classic Afro-American jazz from the 1920s and ’30s (actually musical surrealism), and most of the ‘classical’ composers’ works, except those of Britten, Shostakovich and Stravinsky. I never embraced any kind of ‘Rock’ – it came to me in the form of Pete Townshend, Peter Gabriel and Pink Floyd – I embraced these creators as individuals, but not their music.
Carl Stone is an American composer currently based in both Japan and Los Angeles who is a pioneer of live computer music, having used computers in live performance since 1986. Stone studied composition at the California Institute of the Arts with Morton Subotnick and James Tenney. Stone’s newest album, Stolen Car, is out via Unseen Worlds. Joshua Minsoo Kim and Stone talked on the phone on September 9th, 2020 to discuss studying under Subotnick and Tenney, how his approach to music has changed over time, and more.
Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hello! This is Joshua, is this Carl?
Carl Stone: It is! Hi Joshua, how’re you doing?
I’m good, how are you?
Pretty good, thanks.
How has your day been? Are you okay out there in California?
Yeah, we had a big heat wave over the weekend. It’s cooler now. I was just looking at—I’m down in the south so we have some fires going, but it’s nothing like up north. I’ve been looking at some photos of the sky in the Bay Area. It’s like nothing anyone has ever seen before. Where are you?
I’m a little bit outside of Chicago. It’s definitely nothing like what’s happening in the Bay Area right now.
It’s pretty wild! Anyway, how’re you doing?
I’m good, I just had a busy day. I’m a school teacher, on Wednesdays we have meetings all day long. I’m a little tired, but it’s 6pm now so it’s been a few hours. It can be draining just being on Zoom for an entire day.
Well thank you for making time for me!
Of course! I wanted to ask you, do you make your own hot sauce? Have you ever made your own hot sauce?
My own hot sauce? Well, I make different salsas. I guess they’re kind of like hot sauce.
What’s your favorite type of salsa to make? What are your salsas usually like?
I kind of make it Mexican style. A lot of cilantro, onion, garlic, tomato. This time of year I use hatch chiles, which are in season right now. I like chipotle [peppers] very much.
I’ve been trying to get into hot sauce. I like spicy food in general but do you have any recommendations for hot sauces that I would be able to buy online? I’m just curious if you have any recommendations, because I know you’re into hot sauces, or at least were.
It kind of depends what you’re shooting for. Are you looking for something with a vinegar base, like Tabasco-style?
I’m definitely a huge fan of all things vinegar.
Oh, you are! Well there was this one really good chili lime… let’s see if I still have the bottle… there’s a chili lime hot sauce that I found somewhere… (looking through cabinets). No, I guess I used it all up. It was really awesome. I could try to find the brand and send you a link or something [Editor’s note: Stone later emailed me a link to Frank’s RedHot sauce, of which there is a Chili ‘n Lime version].
Eiko Ishibashi is a singer-songwriter and composer who has worked both solo and collaboratively with artists such as Jim O’Rourke, Merzbow, Yamamoto Tatsuhisa, and Darin Gray. Throughout her 20s, Ishibashi played drums in the art rock band Panicsmile. She has also created music for numerous plays, installations, and films, including the Japanese theatrical release of Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s World on a Wire. Throughout the past year, Ishibashi has released numerous albums, including Hyakki Yagyō on Black Truffle. Joshua Minsoo Kim talked with Ishibashi on September 18th, 2020 to discuss the films and albums that impacted her as a child, her recent albums, and more. Special thanks to O’Rourke for interpreting.
Joshua Minsoo Kim: Hi Eiko! How are you?
Eiko Ishibashi: Hi! Thank you for having me.
Of course, I’m a big fan. You’ve been doing a lot of great stuff this year so I wanted to talk. You’re probably my favorite artist of the year.
Eiko Ishibashi: Thank you, thank you.
I was wondering—did you two watch an episode of Law & Order last night (laughter). [Editor’s note: O’Rourke mentioned watching Law & Order every day in our previous interview].
Eiko Ishibashi: I didn’t see it! I usually go to an onsen every day, and during that time Jim is cooking and watching Law & Order (laughter).
Jim O’Rourke: They don’t have it here with subtitles anymore.
Eiko Ishibashi: But I like to watch it, always (laughter).
What do you like about it?
Eiko Ishibashi: [Jack] McCoy (laughs). I just love McCoy’s character. I love how the show always has the same structure, how the first half is about pursuing the criminal and the second half is about how they’re gonna get him in jail (laughter).
Thanks for sharing that (laughs). I wanted to start off by asking you—what’s the earliest memory you have of creating music?
Eiko Ishibashi: I made 8mm films but I didn’t want them to be silent, so I made music with a cassette multitrack recorder. So it was at first for these films.
What kind of films were these? And how old were you when you made them?
Eiko Ishibashi: I was 19 when I started making them. They were more abstract, like me shooting spiral staircases and other architecture—there was nothing narrative.
What was the music like?
Eiko Ishibashi: Mostly just field recordings with piano.
I know you’ve talked about films being a big influence in your work. Do you see films as being the primary influence for you when you create any art?
Eiko Ishibashi: I was always more personally connected with film because I watched films from a young age, and would sometimes watch them with my mother. And especially, it was these stranger films I watched that I felt had a direct relation to my life. I wasn’t ever as close to music as I was with film at the time.
Of course, there’s an influence that film has on my art but it’s never the case that a film inspires me to make something—there isn’t a direct correlative. It’s more so that film has shaped my aesthetics and way of looking at life, and that affects how I make music. Music has to go through the filter of me being me before it comes back out again.
Was your mom really into film as well?
Eiko Ishibashi: Both of my parents watched a lot of films. A lot of war films, especially. (laughter). It wasn’t so much that the whole family would sit down and watch a movie together—it wasn’t that kind of cheery image.
Jim O’Rourke: Film was a really big part of the culture in Japan up until maybe the late ’80s—an enormous amount of magazines, lots of critics.
Eiko Ishibashi: Right, right.
Jim O’Rourke: That’s just some context, sorry.
No, it’s all good, I appreciate it! Would you say that you were close with your parents when you were younger?
Eiko Ishibashi: (laughs with O’Rourke, the two talk at length in Japanese).
Jim O’Rourke: You might be able to tell that it was a bit complicated (laughter). Japanese families are very difficult in the first place. It’s very normal for the father to be absent, and if the mother doesn’t pick up the slack for that, then there isn’t much of a feeling that kids were really wanted in the first place (laughs).
Eiko Ishibashi: My father was considerably older than my mother, about 12 years older. He was definitely from a different generation so it felt like my parents were and weren’t there. Nonetheless, I still feel like I was lucky.
Lucky in what way?
Eiko Ishibashi: My mother was ridden with angst, so I felt like I had the chance to create my own world because my mother wasn’t imposing her world on me.