FALL OF BECAUSE
this interview was conducted by raul amez for fall of because, a webzine started by the editor/publisher of aversionline.
unfortunately, the site ceased updating right when the interview was finished, so it appears here instead.
well, we usually start off by asking what 'noise', as a genre of 'music', means to the artist. obviously, this isn't the genre you working within. in my opinion, you don't fit into any particular genre without sacrificing an important element of your art. but, what do you think of the experimental underground scene? is 'noise' something that interests you?
derek rush: i love the sounds of everyday noises. copy machines, buzzing lights, computer drives...all these things make music by themselves. you just have to block out the more unpleasant noises, like annoying people talking, or a guy going by on a really loud motorcycle. once you do, you can hear the beauty in the sounds that people don't even notice or consider a nuisance. as far as noise in music, i think there's not enough focus on the noises that are really worth capturing or creating. i have immense respect for
throbbing gristle because they were the first to popularize the use of noise as music, even moreso than the avant-garde composers before them. i also love
non for boyd rice's textures and power. i appreciate that
merzbow exists, because he makes about the loudest scariest noise there is, and it's good to have someone mining the extremes. unfortunately, i think a lot of people hear those artists and say "i can do that too," which is great if it unlocks the potential in people to express themselves and contribute something. there are some good noise artists working out there who have their own take on it. but too often i hear people going down the same roads. they just make very undisciplined noise, thinking just because they're doing it that makes it interesting, or they overcompensate with volume. but i think that's the same in any genre, noise doesn't have a monopoly on a high ratio of bad to good. i love working with bryin the same reason
genesis p-orridge does, he knows just what noises to make and he knows when not to play. when i met boyd, he told bryin and i he doesn't even listen to noise, he's into girl groups and lounge music, which i think makes perfect sense. there's something really sick and funny about being able to create harsh disturbing noise loops out of such middle-of-the-road music. personally i find most stuff like that horrible and suffocating, and on many occasions when being forced to listen to some easy-listening radio station in a car or mall, the first thing that fills my head is blistering noise, in hopes that it will shut out the sickly sweet sounds.
bryin dall: i've been interested in noise as an element in music since i was a little kid. i used to buy live bootleg albums of my favorite artists. you hear all these squeaks and squawks from various instruments (especially guitar) that you would never hear on official releases. i loved those sounds, so when i started playing guitar, i learned to play those noises rather than notes or chords. then i discovered throbbing gristle and it totally validated me. i thought it was the greatest stuff to listen to. my friends would all look at me and ask why i was listening to that junk. those same friends now say they were always into tg. as derek said, there are so many people that say, "i can do that" and either find a label or self-release their own cd's. it's become a glut of "noise artists" and it's hard to find anything that i like in the genre. unless a friend plays me something, i usually don't search it out. i would rather listen to a great pop or country cd rather than another bad batch of noise.
i understand you like to carry around a portable dat to capture the urban sounds of new york city. are there any "hot spots" that you often revisit? do you believe living in nyc has bred a certain sense of 'noir' into you?
dr: i actually haven't carried the dat around for a few years, because capturing city sounds is a bit like taking snapshots of the grand canyon. you think it's great while you're getting it, and then later you realize it's just a lot of boring rocks. the trick is to find new sounds and new places. living in new york city is great, but it also becomes overly familiar. i don't think being here creates anything dark in me or anyone else, that's more about who you are inside. if you feel a certain way, you'll seek out and find those things that interest you. it may be easier to find here than in a small midwestern town because it's a big city, but i think the internet is changing that. now anyone anywhere can go online and do searches and order stuff. we have people buying from us in kansas! on the other hand, there's plenty of people in nyc who are all sunny and shallow, i guess they see it as just a party town. the darkness and grit of this city have long ago been commodified into some kind of hip "edge" that can be marketed to yuppies and make them spend more money. the continuous gentrification of formerly crappy or interesting artsy neighborhoods bears this out. i don't mean to sound too harsh about this, i can hang out and go to parties, and i appreciate living in or going to a place where i don't have to worry about getting mugged. but once a neighborhood has 3 starbucks within spitting distance of each other, you know it's all over.
bd: i'm from boston and i was just as dark and noisy there.
what's been your experience with posting classifieds for musicians?
dr: the classifieds can be a cheap way of getting your word out, but they can also be very frustrating. we wasted months looking for a live keyboardist, and the few we found were not too good at communicating and we were unable to use them. so we just decided to go ahead as a trio, with a bassist. we're still be adding a keyboardist though. we've also performed live as just the duo of bryin and i, and i did one solo show.
bryin dall and yourself have had such an amazing background with the experimental underground. do you feel that the both of you have fed off each others creativity and experiences?
dr: definitely. at this point it's a very complementary working relationship, the one filling in the gaps the other isn't as good at. but at the same time, we do have a lot of common ground.
bd: i agree with derek. we've become such great friends over the years and we're always turning each other on to different artists. it's nice to have a comrade that can finish your musical thoughts when you can't.
are there any artists you're interested in working with in the future?
dr: i don't usually think about that, because schedules and other incompatibilities often prevent that kind of thing from happening. in the "dream" category, i'd love to do something for
bd: kris kristofferson.
any plans for playing outside of the u.s.?
dr: i hope so. bryin played the
sonar festival with
thee majesty, i think we should go there too, as well as the underground festivals in germany, france and portugal. it all depends on scheduling and level of interest.
i noted that you got the title for the lathe of heaven from the book by
ursula k. leguin. are there any other works of literature that you believe should be translated into music? i thought
ulver's marriage of heaven and hell was beautifully pulled off.
dr: i love that ulver album too, actually i love most of them. translating literary works into music is not quite as tricky as making as making them into movies, but almost. that's why i wanted to make it clear we did not do an adaptation of the lathe of heaven. you can end up doing the original work a disservice, or feel so restricted by it that your own contribution suffers. of course, i'm still excited about the eventual release of the songs of innocence and of experience double cd, but that's up to bryin.
you seem to be very educated in the world of literature and art. the lathe of heaven contained some of the best art i've seen in a while. do you have any formal education in fine arts? do you have any artistic plans outside of music?
dr: thanks. i do have a degree in graphic design and i did take some photography classes at the same time. i've been doing a lot of photography lately (see
ocularspectra.com) and i hope to pursue that further. i've started using my photos as
flyers and posters for our
shows, but it would be nice to do prints and have a show of them, or have the photos licensed for other purposes.
a couple of my first underground purchases were the
sullen cassette and
on the brink of infinity. can you talk a little about sullen and how that came about? how are things going with chthonic streams?
dr: chthonic streams has been pared down from a small label and distributor with big ambitions to a
information center for all things pertaining to myself, and sometimes by extension, bryin. cs is still the imprint for any releases i just want to get out myself without waiting for any other labels. we did do the infinity compilation a few years ago, and it would be fun to do another, but that's on the back burner right now. sullen is really bryin's thing, so i'll let him talk about it.
bd: sullen is me. there, i said it. are you happy now? (lol) i have a friend who is a brilliant visual artist, her name is elizabeth rosenblum. i've known her since i lived in boston (where we met in a comic book store). it turned out that before we met, we were both fans of each other's work. she was doing an exhibit of her art based on different types of depression at harvard university and she asked me to score it. originally, she sent me stacks of papers containing different scientific terms for the various forms of depression. i started working with the list and found that the song was sounding like some industrial dance thing. i hated it. it certainly didn't convey depression. so, i got myself worked up into a depression, went into the bathroom and vocalized the voices in my head for about a half hour. that's what became sullen - there were no overdubs and the only instrumentation used was my guitar that i played over the vocals i had already done. when i sent it to liz, she loved it and said that it truly conveyed what it was like to be in a depression. she transcribed the lyrics and hung them all over the gallery. she had the piece playing with sub-woofers during the run of the exhibit. i was there for the opening and some woman went over and turned off the music. when liz walked up to her and asked why she did that, the woman said, "it's too disturbing to listen to". liz looked at her and said, "that's the point. depression isn't supposed to be pretty," and she turned it back on. i released it in a very limited-edition cassette along with a number of my earlier endeavors. none of them have been repressed and there were less than 200 of each made.
while i was in high school, my friend called me at around 2 am and told me to tune to a certain radio station. he said it sounded as if they were doing some strange ritual, like the radio was possessed. i immediately grabbed a cassette and started recording. at the time i had no idea what was playing, but i liked it. i later found out it was a local college radio station that played dark ambient and death industrial. i later found out dream into dust was played, along with raison d'etre, and others. what are some of the strangest stories you've heard about someone's first encounter with your music?
dr: well, that's up there now! i don't hear much about that sort of thing. it's gratifying though, because i remember those intense moments when i first heard something, especially in an unusual situation. it's great to know we're on the other side of that too now, creating those moments for someone else.
i first came across chthonic streams while browsing through some
anton lavey books at tower books and a flier for your label popped out. how well did that sort of advertising turn out? what were some other approaches you've taken to get the word out?
dr: i don't know, that's the trick, isn't it? i kind of hate promotion, but i know it has to be done. there's so much coming at everyone from all sides, and in nyc more than anywhere probably. i just try anything that seems to make sense at the time, as long as it doesn't seem like it would devalue our work or give the wrong impression. now i would think a lavey book would give the wrong impression of our music, since we're not satanists, but i was reading up on all aspects of the "dark arts" at the time so it must have seemed somehow relevant to m. obviously the flyer did some good!
i noticed on the brink of infinity contained a
dion fortune quote. were you at a point interested in the occult? if so, do you still feel a significant attraction to 'the underground stream'? does it influence you during the creative process?
dr: both bryin and i have been interested in and involved in the occult to varying degrees over the years. to be honest, that interest has waned on both our parts, but when you study something like that so intently, it becomes a part of you. you still understand the spirituality behind it, and you get little references and in-jokes in music, literature, and movies, and you also know when they get it wrong. i still have a respect for some aspects of it, and for people who really get into it and practice for the right reasons. although i no longer think about it actively, i consider myself closer to that kind of thing than to major organized religion. things that are less dogmatic and more about power being in your own hands, and a respect for the planet. that way of thinking definitely affects my creative process because it affects my life as a whole.
i noticed the sound of dream into dust has evolved and varied throughout the years. it's great when i wish to listen to something of a particular sound and i could just go through my dream into dust collection and find something, it's just that varied! has your own personal taste in music evolved?
dr: i think everyone's needs to. you can come back to old favorites, but if you're always questioning and looking for something new, that helps put things into perspective and keeps your mind fresh.
i recall talking to you about
shoegazer, ever plan on implementing those styles into your sound?
dr: actually, bryin's been doing downtempo stuff for years without even knowing it, and only some of that has ever been released. i must confess to a big belated interest in the shoegazer sound for the past few years. but we don't want to just ape pre-existing genres. musicians are always going to have influences, the trick is to assimilate them into whatever it is you already have to say.
bd: i used to be with
world serpent out of england (now defunct) and they released my first solo cd (
4th sign of the apocalypse
lost hour world). i tried to get them to put out the 2nd cd for a very long time. it never happened, but i kept creating and recording. derek has been on my case to find a new label or to put the stuff out myself for years now. derek will tell me that he bought this or that cd that sounds like the stuff i have been doing. i didn't even know that there was a "downtempo" genre, but apparently, i have been creating it.
dr: when he started doing it, it was like his take on trip-hop, and it just kept getting darker and weirder. when he first did it, i wasn't sure i liked it because i had my head up my own "hyper-dark-industrial-ambient-noise" ass. i soon realized it was brilliant, and i think those recordings need to come out. i still don't like all the beats he uses sometimes, but i respect him for trying different things.
bd: i realize that labels and genres are important to the buying public, but when an artist gets stuck in a particular type of music, they stop growing and it becomes a parody of itself. if i purchase a cd by somebody and they're saying "i'm depressed, i'm dark," and i like it, but then any cd you pick up by them says, "i'm depressed, i'm dark," you have to laugh. people have many moods and sides and if an act is only exploring one, it can't possibly be real, so it becomes another "hollywood phoney." we're varied creatures. sometimes we're actually happy.
dr: dream into dust has tended to focus on dark emotions, just because that's what i had been going through a lot, and as a result, what i became most comfortable expressing. there are a lot of different levels and types of emotions most people just call "dark", and i think of the music we've done as a distillation of those feelings. we put all the times we feel a certain way into the music and lyrics. you can't create being truly depressed all the time. i know this from first-hand experience with depression; it's paralyzing. but i refuse to shy away from subjects most people think are too much of a "downer" or intentionally try to write upbeat songs - that's just as dishonest as forcing some kind of darkness. at the same time, i'm learning to honestly express "lighter" emotions in music and lyrics. so, to come the long way around back to your question, there will certainly be more diverse influences popping up in the future. it'll be fun balancing between stuff that is recognizably us and stuff that you put on and think, "who the hell is this?"