Archive

Tag Archives: Experimental

I was milling around on the internet and compiling links for the multitude of work that has come out of our city over the past few months. Man, I was seriously impressed. There were a multitude of mixes, original production, and live events that just blew me away. I figure I would do the community a solid and put together a rough list of some of the recordings that have been posted online from people in our community. This is obviously not exhaustive, but consider this a first attempt to update the sorely outdated archive. All the listing are in alphabetical order and numbered so you can see that there are 27 unique pieces of music to explore. These numbers do not correspond with a ranking. They are given more so you can see each piece of music as a unique entity and to give you a sense for our overall aggregate output over the course of 2-4 months as an artistic community. If you like someone’s work try to look more deeply into their other releases and go see them live! (Note:  If I have missed you send me a link and I will put you up here. Also, feel free to point anyone in this direction if they are saying that Columbus doesn’t have a thriving “electronic” music community.)

1.) 9star: “Tangible Thoughts”

2.) Aaron Austen: Promo Mix

3.) The Beat Oracle Radio Show: “Saturated”

4.) Ben Bennett: Spoilage (New LP out on Jeremy Bible’s Excellent Experimedia Records)

5.) B-Funk: Thump Show

6.)  Bohno: Sink Deep

7.) Burgle: Jack Shack TV Mix

Burgle 53 Min Jack Shack DJ Set by Jackshacktv on Mixcloud

8.) Conner Campassi: GRVTY

9.) Creamz: Basement Sessions 002

10.) Crucial Taunt: Frito Flip

11.) Dave Espionage: Jack Shack TV Mix

Dave Espionage 51 min Jack Shack DJ Set by Jackshacktv on Mixcloud

12.) DJ Push: There Was Sun

13.) Doctor Zapata: Promo Mix Enero 2013

14.) Doctor X — His latest mix “Ambient Evening” on his Perscriptions Radio Show

15.) Druid Cloak: The Groove EP

16.) Dustin Knell:BACK & FORTH: A LOVE/HATE Mix

17.) The Fallen: “Live at BLUR”

18.) FBK: “Where Their Love Still Exists”

19.) FBK: “In This Deadly Light”

20.) FUNERALS, Druid Cloak, and Others (BOO SRA Remixes):

21.) FUNERALS: Vessel Mix 2012

22.) George Brazil: Jack Shack TV Mix

George Brazil 59 min Jack Shack DJ Set by Jackshacktv on Mixcloud

23.) Hawstyle’s Most recent mix on his Bus Bass Show:

24.) jMac: January Promo Mix

25.) Kevin Parrish: Squared Online Podcast

26.) Lower Frequency: Squared Online Podcast

27.) Midislut:

28.) Mike Shiflet: “Secret Thirteen Mix”

29.) Mike Shiflet: Three Tracks from new LP “The Choir, The Army” 

30.) NetworkEDM: Post Day-Glow Hangover Mix

31.) Ohioan: “Buoy”

32.) Plural: “The Beatings Continue”

33.) Quality: February Live Recording

34.) roeVy: PROXY – Raw (roeVy remix)

35.) Self Help: Jack Shack TV Mix

Self Help 50 Min Jack Shack DJ Set by Jackshacktv on Mixcloud

36.) Single Action: Bus Bass Mix 55

37.) Sybling Q’s most recent mix on his Q Factor Radio Show

38.) Tactil Vision: “savage”

39.) Titonton Duvanté: Live Mix 2012

40.) Todd Sines: Live at Mister H

41.) Tony Fairchild: February Jack Trax

Jack Shack TV is a boiler room-esq video mix show that our own local (I count Athens as part of our broader scene even though they have their own distinct community) jack-of-all genre’s DJ Barticus runs out of his basement in Athens, Ohio. You may recognize the name. DJ Barticus was one half of the duo (With DJ Self Help) that ran the widely popular Athens & Columbus Dance or Die party that ran for 6-8 years.Just like in the Dance or Die Parties, DJ Barticus has used Jack Shack TV to push an open format approach to music that place hip-hop, dance, and pop styles of music on an equal pedestal. Just take a quick listen to the show he did with George Hertzel. Look at that Keytar! Man.

What Barticus did with the whole concept really impressed me, because he was not scared to take a really popular model and bring in his own flavor to make it his own.  Watching just one of the episodes, you can see how Barticus and his friends have taken the Boiler Room model and twisted it to their own purposes.  The show presents their own unique perspective on music and is devoid of the hype machine-esq trappings of so many other video mix shows. Instead, it is injected with a sort of public access TV vibe that is rooted in notions of their local Athens community.

DJ Pro Bono 63 min Jack Shack DJ Set from Jack Shack TV on Vimeo.

Most importantly, I think it also reaffirms how much people in our community can do with very little. Barticus decided one day, “Hey, I want to do that.” And so he did. This is the story I hear again and again in our scene. He didn’t wait until he had the right equipment, the right premium accounts on youtube or vimeo, or a complete online identity. He created a name, got his VHS camera ready (He has since upgraded), contacted musicians, and started filming. Then all of a sudden a new video mix show was born. If you take away anything from this story, I hope you feel inspired today to do something creatively you have always wanted to do. You can do a lot with the cheap or free tools you already have at your disposal. Anyways, I hope you enjoy the interview and my collection of some of the Jack Shack TV shows. See there accounts on YouTube and Vimeo for the complete video catalogues and listen to audio of all the shows on their mixcloud :

Thunder St. Clair 60 min Jack Shack DJ Set from Jack Shack TV on Vimeo.

Local Autonomy:  It is obvious from listening and following your eclectic output that you are a big proponent of staying open to a diverse range of influences and sounds. Why are you such a big proponent of an open format approach to music?

DJ Self Help

BARTICUS: It all comes down to 2 things: Hiphop and ADD. Being a hiphop DJ got me open to all kinds of music, because hiphop takes its samples and influences from everywhere. The ADD part means that I don’t want to hear the same thing for an entire night.

LA: How did the idea for Jack Shack come about?

BART: Jack Shack is a combination of many ideas that have been floating around my head. I was inspired by the Talking Heads song, “Found A Job” and Mission Man’s “Do What You Love”. The format for the show was obviously stolen/borrowed from Boiler Room. I would watch episodes of Boiler Room full screen while i was on the other side of the room doing dishes. I just loved the whole setup, the people behind the DJ were just there hanging out in the DJ booth, and the person on the other side of the screen was the audience. Like hearing the Ramones and starting a punk band the next day, that’s how i felt about the Boiler Room.

I made a list of 30 people that I would want to book for Jack Shack. Everyone who I told about the idea was very excited. it felt like such a good idea. It didn’t take long for me to get the idea to want to record and share my friends DJ sets. The more I thought of it the more up sides i saw to it. I still can’t see any downsides.

I also wanted to capture the vibe of what it was like when i first started DJaying. I would go to a friends basement and we would take turns working on our skratches. I was hoping some one just getting started could find some inspiration in these videos.

LA: Youtube is your prime medium. Why did you choose the video sharing site to release your shows?

BART: Youtube is the spot people go to quickly share music. Something on youtube will reach more people than any other video sharing site. The problem with youtube is we have different interpretations of what is fair use and what should fall under Internet Radio Equality Act. I’ve had to move some of the content over to vimeo and not as many people see those videos.
At this point if i want to keep using youtube i am going to have to switch the format to original music, and i really hate being forced into that. I really don’t value originality in music that much. i think the best things in music come from freely building on each others ideas.

LA: As a fan of what many people consider obsolete technologies, I loved your use of VHS recording for the first few episodes. What made you turn to the VHS?

Burgle

BART: I turned to VHS because i wanted it to look crappy, but sound amazing. I’m not a very visual person and for most things VHS is really ‘good enough’ for me. I have a collection of VHS tapes (and VCRs) because i sometimes project VHS behind me whlie i DJ. I like how VHS movies have no menu, i like how the flicker when paused. i like how it looks when you play them in fast forward or rewind. I like how a tape looks after you re-use it too many times.
The only reason i’ve started to go with the webcam is because of how much time it saves me in the editing stage.

LA: What do you hope to achieve with the Jack Shack concept?
BART: I would like to start doing more episodes at different venues, keep it as different as possible. I would like to see more people make their own version of jack shack. realistically the shows I produce are going to not happen as often. I just started to run for public office and that is going to keep me busy.

Mission Man

There has been much written about the boom and bust cycles of dance music ( i.e. when is the edm bubble going to burst?). The boom happens when certain strands of dance music attract wider “pop” audiences and bring new listeners into dance communities. During this time, audiences swell, more records are sold, and it is “cool” to be associated with that music community. Much like other “pop” fads, these boom-time periods always come to an end. The bust of a cycle results when the luster of dance music fades and many of those new listeners abandoning dance communities. We are entering what appears to be the tail end of one of these boom periods (Its debatable I suppose), and a lot of keystrokes have been spent trying to decide what is going to happen. The resounding answer people give is that it is natural that dance scenes ebb and flow in popularity, but their survival is not in jeopardy.  The problem is that writers often stop there and don’t explain why dance scenes will survive. Looking to how our Columbus scene has weathered these boom/bust cycles in the past provides one way to provide an answer to this question. By drawing on my conversations about our local scene’s recent history, I want to argue that dance music persists in columbus because there is an underlying infrastructure that is kept alive by the people who continue to use the music, ideas, and traditions we all share even when dance music culture is not popular.

Rewind 6-8 years ago. The underground ele_mental parties had ended, other crews associated with the underground had slowed their activities, and many of the clubs across the city had closed. Both the underground and more obvious club oriented activities had slowed from their once feverish pace. Local dance and experimental record labels like 21/22 and Exoteque Music went into disuse. A whole generation of fans seemed to disengage from dance music as its popularity reached a low point in Columbus and across the nation.  At the surface, it appeared as if the scene in Columbus had died.

Yet, I question whether the scene actually “died”. Did all the people so instrumental to dance music flourishing in our city in the 90s and early 00s leave the scene?  Did all the fans “grow up” and stop liking dance music? Sure some people did leave and others “grew up”, but the vast majority of people that held dance music so central to their lives never left. Consequently, all the know-how of how to build record labels, dance music crews, clubs, and build a scene from the ground up was still in the city. The rich traditions of how a scene is supposed to operate were not lost. The love of the music and the artists need to express themselves never waned.

The scene didn’t die in the early 2000s. The infrastructure of the scene just went into a period of dormancy. Dormancy is very different from death. A state of dormancy is characterized by re-grouping and contemplation that naturally comes about after a common routine has resulted in stagnancy. Activities continue, but in a much less pronounced way.  Death is, well, its death. An end of a form of expression or life. Culture doesn’t die. It carries on in the cracks of the system. After some 10-15 years of doing dance hard in Columbus, it was natural for the scene to shift into a slower, more underground phase as the popularity of dance music waned. However, expressing oneself through dance music did not die. The most visible organizations throwing parties became less active and many of the recognized venues had closed, but the infrastructure of the scene was still intact.  All the rhythms, know-how, and traditions were still used by people, but the scene had receded back into the cracks of the city.

Quickly after the disbanding of many of the most visible crews and clubs, other events and crews took their place. By 2006, Sweatin’, Squared nights at Bristol, Restart House, and other underground parties were regular events that gave DJs and fans a space to express themselves. The scene wasn’t filling the newport, Skully’s, or BOMA, but it certainly couldn’t be pronounced dead. A core group of new and older scene members took the lead and brought dance music back to a prominent place in Columbus nightlife. In the short period of 5 years, the Columbus scene went from dormancy to again having 5-10 dance events a week. Our scene is again pushing out in a multitude of directions. New routines have replaced the old. New crews have replaced the old. The dance and experimental electronic music community is again thriving and sharing their music with Columbus and the rest of the world. We have new events, radio shows, record labels that offer you the opportunity to get exposed to new sounds. We have a multitude of innovative, dedicated people still pushing the scene forward into new spaces and concepts. (Check out the links on sidebar to see all the different people working to make our scene great with video projects, record labels, record stores, and events).

What we can take away from this short history?

1.) Well, It is quite evident that dance music persists in Columbus because it matters to us and we want to share it with one another. We are the core elements of the infrastructure that give life to something bigger than our selves: a dance music community.  The boom/bust cycle may affect how many people show up, how many records one sells, or how cool someone may think you are, but there will always be a scene as long as people come together and use the music, ideas, and traditions we share.

2.) Having a scene go into a state of dormancy is not necessarily a bad thing.  Dormancy is vital for weathering those periods when dance music is unpopular in the mainstream and growth is hard to come by.  By receding back into the cracks of the city, we can regroup and find a ways to keep our community together when there is less support in the mainstream. Gauging back the frequency of events can also be really healthy and important for a scene to shed old routines and think about new ways to innovate. It can also help foster community and build the type of committment that is needed to push the scene out of dormancy and back into a prominent part in a cities night life.

I feel these two lessons are important, because they remind us that the scene is in our hands. Its not in the hands of abstract economic, political, and cultural forces. Sure, these influences shape what our scene looks like, but in the end its all on us. These lessons also prod us to have a more realistic assessment of our scene’s development. We do not need to be New York, LA, Las Vegas, Berlin, or London. We need to be the best version of Columbus that our city has ever scene. I for one feel lucky to be a part of our scene. Our community is constructed of a teflon-tough DIY fabric that has endured the tests of the Boom/Bust cycle.  We have done more with nothing than all those many market cities have done with immense financial resources.  Just look at all the dance music related record labels, radio shows, events, and organizations that are now active in our city. If that doesn’t give you faith in our community then I do not know what will.

Trademark G. & Frilly of Columbus based Evolution Control Committee have their own weekly radio show called The Sound of Plaid that airs every thursday. This week they had me on the show to talk Columbus electronic music history and to show a selection of some local Ohio artists I had been enjoying. I think the show is a great saturday morning listen to get you ready for the benefit show BLUR this Evening (For More Info CLICK HERE). We got a great line-up of artists for you including Mike Shiflet & Jeff Chenault, Trademark G., Textbeak, Aaron Austen & DJ Push, The Fallen (FBK & Plural), and FUNERALSEach artist gets around an hour. Each artist is given complete freedom to do what they want. That same spirit also pervades the guest spot I did on The Sound of Plaid. I brought a smattering of experimental, ambient, and dance tracks by local musicians that blur the boundaries of genre to show you and the rest of the world that our city does push musical boundaries.

Tracklisting:

1.) Evolution Control Comittee — Jessiematic
2.) Synek – Paradiba — Rano Records
3.) FBK – Nanofonque — Absoloop Records
4.) Plural – F*** It — Audio Textures Recordings
5.) Burgle – Pounder — Self-Released
6.) Mike Shiflet — Web Over Glen Echo — Self-Released
7.) Forest Management — A Sketch Of The Historical Pattern Of Blue Ocean Creation 
8.) Walleye – This Is Your Heart, This Is My House — Self Released
9.) Jeff Central/Chris Phinney — Thermal Blooming — World Records
10.) The Weird Lovemakers — Quiet Spillage
11.) FUNERALS — Boo Sra — Mishka
12.) OHIOAN — Microscopist — Self-Released
13.) Dirty Current — Anubis — Self-Released

This is my 100th post on Local Autonomy. I have been covering dance/electronic/experimental music in our city for almost a year. I could get all sentimental and wishy-washy–emotional is the operative term for the repertoire of such actions. Alas, I will save those feelings for closer to the one year anniversary in November.  Instead, I will funnel all of my feelings into featuring the thoughts and work of Columbus-based noise/experimental artist Mike Shiflet.

Shiflet has been making music in and around Columbus for over 12 years, and ran a record label called GMBY that released over 100 albums. I think his music and his live performances are some of the most powerful I have encountered in our city. Yet, Shiflet’s music defies easy characterization. I loosely describe his work to people as noise and experimental. He describes it to people unfamiliar with noise/experimental music as ambient punk or mangled new age (he talks about that a little more below). Yet, I really wonder what good such characterizations of his music are? In my discussions with Shiflet, he too questioned their utility when describing his work.  Who really cares what you call the music right? All that matters is that at the core of Shiflet’s music is a curiosity to explore what it means to be human in the 21st century. I feel we need more music like Shiflet’s that is willing to take risks, test your preconceptions of what music is, and help you explore the possibilities of different forms of music. I know every time I listen to his albums the world seems to slow down for a bit, I can breath a bit easier, and I can get lost in the waves of distortion and simple melodies. That seems to be pretty important today when it is pretty hard to slow down. My hope is that you too can take some time out of your day to read his thoughts, listen to his two recent albums “Merciless” & “Sufferers” released on Type Records (One of my favorite labels now), and check out his other work on his bandcamp (I suggest llanos–Its pretty great). Enjoy.

Merciless:

Sufferers:

Local Autonomy (LA):You have been creating what is loosely termed “noise” music for some time now. What attracted you to this form of music?
Mike Shiflet (MS): I had a discussion with friend and tourmate Jason Zeh earlier this summer about what we ultimately coined the positive dissatisfaction at the root of our interest in noise. The only way to find experimental music is to seek it out and the people who do that are doing so because they aren’t fulfilled by what they are hearing elsewhere. This definitely applies to myself and I have a feeling it is pretty much universal. I wasn’t bored or unhappy with the music I was finding elsewhere – in fact, I hold the indie rock of the 1990’s in the highest regard – but I couldn’t help myself from seeking out forms of expression that were more free and more unique. That dissatisfaction is a deeply embedded character trait that I still see in myself and most of my peers. I think it’s why you see so many of us exploring various niche genres, delving deep into arcane ethic music and so forth.


(Mike Shiflet & Jeff Central at the Gallery/Performance Space It Looks Like It’s Open On East Tulane)

LA: What inspired you to start making music and getting involved with the local noise scene in Columbus?
MS: I arrived here at just the right time in the summer of 2000 when the Madlab theater downtown started hosting shows on a regular basis. To the best of my knowledge it was the first time in the city that these types of shows were happening on a regular basis in a steady environment. The scene was much smaller then, but Madlab brought all of the unique experimental music personalities out of the woodwork. Meeting, listening to, and performing with people like David Reed, Larry Marotta, Mark Gunderson and Rocco DiPietro (to name just a few) so early on in my time here definitely helped shape me as an artist and a person. Having that go-to venue made it much easier for us to come together creatively. It also laid the foundation and prepared me for when the scene grew exponentially in places like BLD and Skylab a few years later and we started bringing more and more touring acts through town.

LA: You often describe your music to those who aren’t familiar with it as Ambient Punk. Why is that?
MS: Well, I tend to use that term when talking with people who aren’t familiar with experimental music whatsoever. There are plenty of other descriptors I would use with people in the know. I started using it after NPR published a feature on me a while back and the link was circulated around my workplace. I had several co-workers with zero points of reference approaching me about my work and I found that punk ambient combined two fairly universal terms that almost everyone understood. I don’t find it entirely accurate – mangled new age might be more appropriate – but it is strong enough to leave an impression on the uninitiated and hopefully pique their curiosity.

LA: This seems to connect with your goal to keep simple melodies in your music. Why is this important to you?
MS: It’s a part of who I am and a part I want to share. After several years creating noise, I settled down and finally came to place where I felt that I was truly projecting instead of being reactionary with my work. Not long after that, I became comfortable enough to start incorporating the musical elements I had in my head. I’ve described that process as being the opposite of noise rock. Acts in that realm are distorting and manipulating accepted musical forms. Conversely, my goal is to coerce some kind of structure out of a swirling mass of chaos. Keeping the melodies simple has been more necessity than desire to this point. I need the sounds to be easy to mold and able to fit within the larger, noisier structures so I’ve taken it slowly as I gradually work in more complex music.

(Mike Shiflet & Sven Khans at It Looks Like It’s Open)

LA: We talked a bit about how you like to take a long-term historical approach to music making. Why is artistic longevity so important to you as an artist?
MS: This was a byproduct of a couple different things. I’ve been doing this almost half of life now and when I was younger I had several ‘next year’ years where I felt I was on the brink of achieving a certain level of success. I watched a lot of friends get flown overseas and perform at large festivals during the noise boom in the first half of the last decade and honestly felt jealous not to be there alongside them. At the same time every single year I was getting turned on to more and more artists from decades past whose work had eluded me, many of whom were still active. So rather than brood about the events of the day, I opted to look to artists like Elaine Radigue and Henri Chopin, who developed their work over decades, for inspiration. I now feel a bit foolish about the feelings I had at the time, but I’m glad they helped me attain this perspective.

LA:In your branch of the music universe, releases come out in cassettes, CDs, and digitally. How do you decide what music you create goes onto each format?
MS: I try to start each project without a format or destination in mind and let the material tell me where it should go as they take form. The things that end up on cassettes and CDRs are progress reports and sketches of sort. They are usually fully formed works, but might be lacking that certain something to earn a spot on a full length CD or LP. Which isn’t to say they are scraps – this decision is usually made after the recording, which can take months, is done. On the web I will usually post all matter of material: live works, skeletal tracks, improvisations; the things I definitely wouldn’t want to charge people to hear. And then I try to cherry pick the best material for the CDs and vinyl. The Llanos CD actually came about very quickly when I realized material that had been set aside for a few cassettes and a web release would actually work better in a cohesive album format. Of course it’s all guess work, but I want the best material on the formats that will reach the widest audiences.

LA: You have released two Albums on Type Records: Merciless (2012) & Sufferers (2011). You told me that you think they are an excellent model for record labels and for the music industry in general. Why?
MS: Type has fully embraced the duality of the music business. They treat the the records like artifacts and collector objects while simultaneously putting their entire catalog up on Soundcloud and making it available on their website. Everyone has authorized access to the music at their fingertips and the people who want high fidelity archival documents have access to those as well. It’s a great something-for-everyone approach.

Mike Shiflet Blog for Updates

Mike Shiflet Twitter

Ten-Speed Guillotine, Cassette Culture, Exotica Music, Noise Music.

Have you heard of any of these before? Good question. I would be lying if I said I did before two or three months ago. Luckily,  my conversations with Jeff Chenault and countless others have opened my eyes to another world of sound in Columbus that was on a parallel, if not the same, trajectory as dance music in the 90s. Each of these bands, music scenes, or approaches to music creation or distribution had a formative influence on Jeff or on Columbus electronic music more generally. Thus, I think it is essential to give Chenault the space to discuss his life, his art, and his thoughts, but first a few words on Jeff and what his experiences offer us in the dance music community.

Looking to Jeff’s experience reveals the dogged Do-It-Yourself ethos that is encoded on the DNA of columbus electronic music. Though I don’t want to over-emphasize the impact of one man, I think its safe to say that Jeff and his contemporaries like Andy Izold, Carl Howard, Trademark Gunderson, James Towning, Steve Wymer, and many more inspired many people in Columbus to follow their dreams to create art in the broadest sense of the term. For instance,  his work with Andy Izold in the experimental band Ten-Speed Guillotine helped introduce a new generation of Columbus music makers and listeners to think expansively about what music is. No doubt,  his pushing of the ethos of DIY Cassette Culture with his Exoteque Music Label also demystified making art and made it an accessible for a wide audience. I know Jeff’s stories and work today inspire me  to think broadly and never discount a sound. 

I only hope we can continue to think broadly, like Jeff and his contemporaries did, when we curate shows so we can push for a merging of different music scenes with our dance music scene. For instance, I think listeners and artists can gain a lot by going to events where noise/ambient/experimental artists are showcased alongside dance music artists. The Body Release & ele_mental days saw artists fluidly moving between noise, ambient, experimental circles and dance music shows. Today, the merging of experimental and dance artists has been pursued though Scott Niemet’s KVLT events and The Fuse Factory’s Frequency Friday shows (Read more about that here), but I think we need to continue to think about more ways we can bring these two communities together again under one roof in innovative and different spaces. Have you checked out the work of Walleye, Mike Shiflet, Joe Panzner, Ben Bennett, Ryan Jewell, Tone Elevator, OHIOAN, Forest Management, Glacial 23, and countless other Columbus/Ohio Noise/ambient/experimental artists? Go listen and tell me they don’t add amazing musical contributions to our scene.

Yet, why stop at just merging these two scene? No doubt, there has been a general openness to merging scenes in Columbus. The merging of dance and hardcore scenes has been done with Scott Niemet’s most recent KVLT show and My Best Friend’s Party has attempted to bring together jam and dance scenes under one room with the Bass Jam shows. I propose we keep going. What can we learn from Jazz? What about Blues? That same gritty D-I-Y ethos that drives us when no one is watching should drive us to continually innovate, as so many of the foundational members of our scene always have. We don’t need to be the best. We just need to keep learning, listening, and creating  and not get caught up in a rat race that is blind to values and those it is leaving behind.

Local Autonomy: What role did music play in your life growing up? How did you become a musician?

Jeff Chenault:  I grew up listening to music my entire life.  My dad’s first job after I was born was as a DJ in Chillicothe, Ohio so I was constantly exposed to music.  When I was 5 years old I got my first turntable/stereo.  My dad would always bring me records especially the radio station rejects they wouldn’t play because it didn’t fit their format.  So at a very early age I went from the Beatles to The Plastic Cow Goes Mooooog.  I was always fascinated by sound.  The whole punk thing and the spirit of DIY is what really pushed me to make my own music even though I don’t consider myself a musician.

LA: We had a really interesting conversation about how the time period you come up in influences your approach to music creation. How did it benefit you to have to think about how to make music in a time period when studio quality tools and YouTube tutorials were not so readily available as they are for today’s generation?

JC:  Well, back in the early eighties the only computer I had was a Commodore 64.  There was no internet at the time and to make any kind of sound you had to type in pages and pages of text.  Not very fun for sparking creativity in someone who wanted to make music with it.  Eventually I bought a used reel to reel, a Moog Satellite synthesizer and a Roland TR-606.  It all comes down to the tools that are available for you to use.  If I had “real” computer or an iPad when growing up I’m sure composing would have been a lot easier.  We had to approach sound from a purely physical standpoint. 

LA: It seems that your experiences growing up in Port Huron, Michigan really shaped your love of Do-It-Yourself (DIY) music. What is it about DIY music that you love so much?

JC:  Everything!  I blame Lon C Diehlfor my audio issues.  Lon was the manager of Full Moon Records and he would later go on to form Hunting Lodge with Richard Skott in 1982.  Port Huron was a very small town but Lon would order the latest electronic and experimental music that nobody ever heard of. I noticed that a lot of bands would release things themselves.  Bands like Throbbing Gristle, Nocturnal Emissions, SPK, Nurse with Wound, Maurizio Bianchi, etc. were all releasing things independently.  They did everything from recording the music to making the cover art and then self promotion.  This was very inspiring to me.      

LA: You were and still are a member of the cassette culture movement. I think the movement is so fascinating. Can you tell us a little about your experiences trading tapes in the 80s and early 90s and the impact it had on you as an artist?

JC: Back in the 1980’s and 90’s this was the way you could share your music with like-minded individuals.  Labels like Hal McGee’s Cause and Effect, Chris Phinney’s Harsh Reality Music and Carl Howard’s Audiofile Tapes were huge!

(L to R: Carl Howard, Jeff Chenault, & Hal McGee)

They had 100’s of tapes for sale or trade.  Hence I started the ITN/Exoteque Music label so I could share my music as well.  Some of the best music during this time period was made by people working out of their own homes.  For me it was awe-inspiring!  Check out Andrew Szava-Kovats incredible documentary called Grindstone Redux (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!).  It’s the story of the cassette culture and includes interviews with the recording artists and label owners.

Hal McGee at Fuse Factory Frequency Friday Show

LA: What lessons do you think can we take away from the DIY and Cassette Culture Movements to help build our Columbus electronic music scene more generally?

JC:  That if you have a passion for something, do it!  A lot of people who were doing things 30 years ago are still very active today!  Why?  Because they are passionate about something and they feel the need to create things and share them with people.  It’s as simple as that.  I’m hoping that today’s youth are just as passionate.   Getting people to come out and support electronic and experimental music is not as easy.  Fuse Factory hope to change this by bringing in not only artists from around the world, but by supporting local artists as well.  They are a think tank for creative ideas.

Mike Shiflet & Jeff Central From It Looks Like Its Open 5/22/12

LA: You have been intensively studying exotica music for the last thirty years. What is exotica music and why do you think it is important to preserve it and educate people about it?

JC:  Exotica music is a huge passion of mine.  In the original heyday of the 1950’s and 60’s, Exotica music was a form of easy listening that had the ability to transport the listener to an unknown South Seas island all from the comfort of home.  It was a form of audio opium that sometimes included strange percussion instruments, bird calls, and sound effects.   It was definitely music to escape by.  I have been collecting and researching this music so long that I thought what better way to preserve it than by releasing it!  So with the help of Dionysus Records we released The Beachcomber Trio “live” at the Kahiki” and “The Exotic Sounds of Jerry Sun.”

To help with the preservation effort I have also conducted seminars at the Tiki Oasis and Hukilau events.  Through education and preservation I hope to save this very cool tropical music from extinction.  My next seminar will be in Dayton at The Call of the Tropics Tiki Art Show in July.

LA: Ten-Speed Guillotine is cited by Body Release and the ele_mental crew as a key formative influence. I know such thinking is weird to do, but would you indulge me and gauge the impact you had on the late 80s early 90s period of dance music?

Ten-Speed Guillotine Poster

JC:  I don’t think it’s weird to be influenced by other bandsor individuals  that come before you.  I was influenced by lots of different people growing up.  I like the word inspiring better.  As far as having an impact I can’t say.  I do know that back when we were playing out live in the Columbus area, not too many bands were doing what we were doing.

Ten-Speed Guillotine poster

We had a unique sound that combined bizarre loops and samples, dark ambient, noise and electronic dance music. We were actually a combination of all our influences at the time.  Local people also influenced us.  Steve Wymer had his Spine project, Mark Gunderson had the Evolution Control Committee and James Towning was recording under the name Fact 22.  We all knew and respected each other and influenced each other as well.  Hell, Body Release influenced me!!   

LA: It was so shocking to me to learn that in 2005 many of your noise/experimental sound projects had run their course and you sold many of your instruments. Would you be so kind to describe what led you to grow tired or disenchanted with electronic exploration and what sparked you to get back into it within the past two years?

JC:  I think most artists get disenchanted or bored with their work at some point.  For me I just wasn’t having any fun anymore and my sound ideas had run their course with the equipment I had.  I still recorded a few side projects with Andy Izold but for the most part my output was next to nothing.  I’m one who really needs motivation to do something.

In 2011 when Dan Rockwell showed me the iPad and some of the music apps that he had I was completely hooked.   Not only was I hearing new sounds, it was a new way of thinking and a new way of playing.  Since then I’ve completely embraced the iOS musical world and haven’t looked back.

Performance at Brothers Drake–December 2011

LA: Much of your sound work relies on you doing free form improv with your longtime collaborators Dan Rockwell and Andy Izold in a group called Circuitry Room. Why do you enjoy improv and what constraints do vocals and beats put on a “no map” approach to music?

JC:  Working with sound improvisation leaves a huge palette to work with.  No restrictions and no rules are very liberating for a sound artist.  Vocals and beats tend to be restrictive.  Vocals mean words and words have meanings which can be misinterpreted by different people so we tend to keep them out.   Cut-ups and wordless vocals are interesting though and I love rhythmic waveforms but drum beats to me mean dance and we do not want to be a dance band.  I want something that’s totally different and I get that with freeform improvisation.

Wonderful Video Interview with Circuitry Room By Rich Bowers

LA: You and the other members of the Fuse Factory have been looking to merge noise/experimental music with artists in the dance music community in Columbus for your Frequency Friday shows at Wild Goose Creative. I have always thought there was such natural cross between the two groups of artist that became evident to me in events like Scott Niemet’s Kvlt events. Why do you think it’s important to have these two communities playing on the stage with one another?

JC:  It’s important because both the noise and dance communities are not only growing and evolving, they are connected as well.  The artists and performers are actually influencing each other and we think it’s a good idea to bring them together.  I think it will ultimately benefit both communities and will introduce people to new ways of expressing their creativity.

LA: I think this last question really gets to the core of your artistic motivation. What role does having fun play in keeping your artistic spark alive?

JC:  For me personally it’s everything!  I mean, if you’re not having fun then why bother.

Check out Jeff’s Bandcamp page HERE for more of his work.

(Thanks to Jeff for all the pictures)

%d bloggers like this: