ALEATORY #11: The Vivian Girls

You can learn a lot about a band by their name. Xiu Xiu takes theirs from a depressing Chinese film about a sad girl and the eunuch who loves her. Menomena is named after a popular skit on the Muppet Show, later picked up by Dr. Pepper. Robert Allen Zimmerman, known for his poetic folk songs -- and better known as Bob Dylan -- took his stage name from Dylan Thomas. There are bands named after songs (Pretty Girls Make Graves, Radiohead), after art (Modest Mouse comes from a Virgina Woolf story; Steely Dan is the name of a sex toy in William S. Burrough's Naked Lunch), and medieval torture devices (Iron Maiden?).

The Vivian Girls take their name from outsider artist Henry Darger's 15,000-page fantasy novel (single spaced, and not including the hundreds of drawings and watercolors illustrating the text) entitled The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion. Famous in underground art circles, The Realms of the Unreal follows the seven Vivian Girls as they suffer under the evil Glandelinians as martyrs. It is unknown which chapter is devoted to them learning to combine the fuzzy haze of shoegaze, punk's lo-fi aesthetics and the harmonies of girl groups like the Shangri-Las, but with 15,000 pages to wade through, it's got to be in there somewhere.


3. Favorite key to write in?

Almost every Vivian Girls song is in the key of C or G. I like those keys on the guitar cause there's a lot of cool stuff you can do with open chords.

9. Favorite song to start/end a mixtape with?

I have problems finishing mixtapes. I usually just do a little more than half of it and give up. The last mixtape I made started out with "I've Had It" by Catatonic Youth.. sooo good.

17. Favorite plant?

Palm trees, cacti, really anything that reminds me of the desert or the beach.

22. Favorite vice?

Smoking cigarettes.

28. What instrument would you most like to learn to play?

I think it would be really cool to be a good drummer. That's one of my lifetime goals, to learn drums. It's gonna take a while.

39. What's something you could probably beat anyone you know at?

Having a VHS collection of bad high school movies from the 80's and 90's.

41. If you could go anywhere in the universe, where would it be?

I used to think that I'd go on a commercial flight to the moon someday but that seems really scary to me now. I'd probably go to Alaska and then Hawaii if I could go anywhere, cause those are the only 2 US states I still haven't been to.

48. Biggest moment of triumph?

One night I was out at a bar and playing darts with my friend Tim. Neither of us are particularly good at darts or knew how to score a game of darts so after a few weird rounds Tim said, "Okay, next person to get a bulls eye, the other person has to buy them a drink." I agreed, and then threw the dart at the board and it landed in the center! Tim was dumbfounded and then I threw the next dart and it landed in the center AGAIN! So needless to say, he bought me a drink that night.

49. Has your writing changed ever since you realized that you know that an larger audience will get to hear what you've made? What's changed/what's stayed the same?

I don't think so. My personal writing style and Vivian Girls' style as a whole have both changed a little as we've grown older / been in our band longer. But it's not even that much of a difference, just little things like paying more attention to certain details. I don't think we even care about the whole larger audience aspect. We just wanna make music that we like.

50. What's your religious tradition or background?

I was raised Catholic until I was in 4th grade, when my mom started taking me to the Unitarian Church. Then I stopped going cause I didn't really care. Most of my family is still Catholic, though. My uncle is like the most zealous bible thumper. It's insane.

55. You're curating a festival. If you could choose any two bands to open for you, who would they be?

Umm, I don't know if they'd be opening for us. I would like to open for the Wipers and Billy Joel. Is that crazy? I don't care. That would rule!

60. What's the worst show you've ever played? What would you have done different?

It was in July 2007 at Mauled By Tigers Fest. EVERYTHING went wrong. I was drunk and in a bad mood to begin with, and the basement was SO SWEATY AND HOT. Katy dropped her pick during our set and as she picked it up she hit her head really hard on this low pipe. Then the pipe started leaking all over us. The PA kept turning on and off, and so did our amps. It was a wreck all around. Also it was only the 10th show we ever played or something.

64. Weirdest promotion you've been a part of?

I don't think any?? Mountain Dew offered us some money to be on some weird compilation CD but we didn't do it?

70. What is a personal belief you hold that you would fight for to the death?

All of us really hate drugs. Like a lot. They're scary and they ruin a lot of peoples' lives.

71. How well do you feel your music lends itself to remixing or being covered?

Ninja Sonic, this rap group from Brooklyn, did a remix of "Tell The World" which actually sounded really good last time I heard it. I've never thought about what someone covering our songs would be like but I'm sure it would be interesting.

75. Very first song that you ever wrote?

The first song I wrote on guitar was called "Julian," it was about my 8th grade crush. It went "Julian, oh Julian, you are so very fine, and Julian oh Julian I wish that you were mine." So bad! I remember I got my first guitar and the first song I learned was "Doll Parts" by Hole and then I wrote "Julian" like 5 minutes later.

80. Worst run-in with the law (to date)?

When Katy and I were pulling an all-nighter driving from Chicago back to New York in June, we got pulled over twice in an hour. That sucked. Clearly you can tell how wholesome our band is considering this is the worst run-in with the law we've had.

82. Current pop song that you would file under "guilty pleasure"?

Miley Cyrus - "See You Again" RULES. We listened to it so much in the car on tour.

86. With Radiohead's In Rainbows release and Nine Inch Nails doing boffo business with his online releases, do you see yourself ever doing some alterative kind of release for any of your future projects?

We're planning on putting out a 7" ourselves - like recording, mixing, and getting it pressed all on our own. That's basically it though.

88. What's your deepest source for musical inspiration?

Ex boyfriends. Bad dreams, bad vibes. Crushin' hard on dudes. Songs on the radio.


Visit the Vivian Girls' website.

Visit the Vivian Girls' MySpace.



At first, Dan Wilson's success seemed to be relegated to the realm of the one-hit wonder: his band Semisonic had just released a song called "Closing Time" and it had become one of the most defining anthems of the mid-late 90s. Though its parent album, Feeling Strangely Fine, sold well, "Closing Time" wasn't even that disc's best moment (in Evcat's eyes, it's a three-way tie between "Singing In My Sleep", "Secret Smile", and "Gone to the Movies"), but it was treated as the band's only accomplishment. Though their follow-up album All About Chemistry would go on to achieve a perfect rating from Q Magazine, the sales didn't materialize, and -- amidst a flurry of solo activity -- the band amicably split ways.

Then, strange things began happening.

"F.N.T." -- from Semisonic's first album The Great Divide -- was suddenly in TV ads, and Dan found himself under the nuturing wing of Rick Rubin. Dan honed in his songwriting talent (producing both solo discs for former Soul Coughing frontman Mike Doughty), and soon he was working with Rubin's latest clients: the Dixie Chicks. Yes, Dan helped write "Not Ready to Make Nice" and a good portion of its parent album, Taking the Long Way -- which would then go on to win a slew of Grammy awards, including one for Dan. With renewed confidence and new industry acclaim, it wasn't long before Free Life materialized, Dan's first true solo album (not counting his Sugar EP and post-Semisonic digital releases, of course). With a career as accomplished as his, there is no shortage of stories to tell, and, thankfully, Dan is now sitting down with Globecat to tell a few of them ...


>>I remember when the editors at AMG began blogging about American Idol, discussing how it'd be much better if they began bringing in actual songwriters to pen the lead singles for the winning contestants, deftly dropping the name "Dan Wilson" into the pool of those who would serve well. Since winning a Grammy and having your profile as visible as ever, has your approach for songwriting changed at all? If so, how?

Sometimes I wonder if I even have a songwriting approach. It seems like instead of honing and perfecting my songwriting method, I am obliged to start over from scratch every time I finish a new song. This is not what I would have expected, but I guess it makes sense - I can't go back and be the person I was last year any more than I can go back and be the writer I was last year. So I have reconciled myself to always feeling like I have to start over.

The one thing that has changed most in the past 10 years is my approach to collaboration. I think when I first started writing songs with other people, I was looking for a "meeting of equals" - if I were writing with someone I would envision the song to be 1/2 me and 1/2 them - like a hybrid character was singing the song. Since then, I figured out that I prefer to have the other person's voice be the "character" of the song. So for me, a co-write is less about "saying what I want to say" and more about saying what my collaborator wants to say.

Of course, like everything else, that's probably going to be different next year!

>>The one thing that surprised me about Free Life is despite being signed to Rick Rubin's label, you handled all the production work yourself. What made you decide to try working behind the boards this time 'round? What experiences did you gain from helming this project yourself?

I feel like Rick Rubin was incredibly generous to have me produce it myself, with his encouragement and oversight. I think he ended up putting a lot of energy into what was in the end a mentoring relationship. I produced the album but I asked him a ton of questions and whenever I was in a jam he was always ready with a lifesaving (or at least game-changing) idea.

Rick also suggested that I mix the album myself, which at first I was not ready for. But in the end I mixed about 6 of the tracks myself, and through that process - with Rick coming to the studio every day and offering gently scathing feedback - I think I actually learned how to mix.

I really think I got the best of both worlds, and part of this was because of the musicians I worked with - almost everyone on the record is a bandleader! So the supply of ideas and opinions was pretty rich. Which meant that I was always free to sit back and let them decide what to do. Very fun way to record, in my opinion.

>>With that said, I'm find it profoundly fascinating that you're able to produce beautiful tracks like "Golden Girl" and then work an electronic traffic-jam of a song like "More Bacon Than the Pan Can Handle" for Mike Doughty's Golden Delicious LP. When it comes to writing or producing with/for other artists, what are the goals you're trying to push them towards? Has there been any particular collaborative experiences that have proven to be incredibly rich or, conversely, incredibly frustrating for you?

When I'm producing, I'm really trying to be in that mindset of "what do YOU want to say right now?" Not "What would Dan Wilson say right now?" So, I think the fact that Mike's Golden Delicious is so different from, say, Storyhill, is a reflection of me trying to be more like a really beautiful and clean lens which the artist can use to magnify their music. The result is like me in that the things I like get magnified more, but what you're seeing is them, not me.

>>Before going solo, you were obviously noted as being a part of both Semisonic and Trip Shakespeare. What did these groups share in common for you? What were the biggest lessons you learned from each band?

Trip Shakespeare was the hardest working group I've ever been in. We rehearsed 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. It was like a job, an amazing, silly, creative job, but definitely a job. We solved problems by diligent and dogged application of effort. Nothing was more important than the music, it didn't matter if we all hated each other by the end of the day, as long as the music was great and uncompromising. When that band came to a halt and John Munson and Jacob Slichter and I got together to form what would become Semisonic, we tried the opposite approach. The agreement was that life was more important than music, and that if we ran into a roadblock in rehearsal we would all go out for a glass of wine. This approach was a lot more fun, and the world liked the results a lot more, too.

>>Do you feel haunted by "Closing Time" at all?

I really like "Closing Time" - not only for what it has done for my life, but also because I think it is a great song, true to itself, lyrically beautiful, simple, uplifting ... even because I think it has a sadness which is hard to explain but definitely there. The only way "Closing Time" might have haunted me would have been if I could never beat it as a song. But I think I've done that several times since then, so I get to have a very positive relationship to it. I've been playing it at all my gigs and telling a funny story about its origins (all true, by the way). I'll tell that story until the end of the year and then retire it for a while.

>>So far in your storied career, you've worked with the likes of Carole King, Rick Rubin, Natalie Maines, Mike Doughty, etc. etc. Are there still any dream collaborations that you have left?

Elvis Costello, Yusuf Islam, Brian Eno, Emmylou Harris, Conor Oberst, Joanna Newsom, Jackson Browne, Pat Metheny, Rick Wakeman, Sufjan Stevens - I'm sure I could come up with a completely different list on another day.

>>Lastly: so far in your career, what's been your biggest regret and, conversely, what's been your proudest accomplishment?

Okay, I don't usually get into regrets, but I wish that more people had gotten a chance to hear All About Chemistry, the third Semisonic album. I feel like there are musical moments on that CD which I will have a very hard time topping, and it makes me sad that the album is relatively obscure.

And as for pride, there was a moment after the release of the Dixie Chicks' Taking the Long Way when the title of my and the Chicks' song "Not Ready to Make Nice" was being used all over the headlines of the papers and in people's blogs. And during that time my brother Matt, who is a much more politically active and interested person than I am, and who follows the political blogs and news very closely, called me up to tell me that that song had become a rallying cry for people who were against the war in Iraq and who felt like they were not being represented by their government and who wanted a change. That was a very proud moment.

I was excited and later proud singing "Sugar" (from Free Life) with Sheryl Crow - her vocal genius is impossible to overstate - she starts to sing and the whole thing suddenly goes from demo to record.

Also, when Carole King came to the studio with Semisonic while we were mixing All About Chemistry and we listened to the playback of "One True Love," the Semisonic song I wrote with her. That was just about as good as I expect it to get.



For a moment there, Res was the future of music. Angular, tightly wound R&B songs that could easily cross over to a pop or even a rock (!) audience, a rare kind of hybrid that somehow managed to exist in the major label system without compromise. Entertainment Weekly even gave her standout single "They-Say Vision" a perfect A rating, all while the rest of her songs wound up riding on unbridled heaps of critical praise. Everyone was expecting that fated debut album How I Do to blow up big time -- but instead it stalled on the charts and at radio. No one knew exactly why such an infectious, dynamic sound failed so flatly, but Res soon disappeared.

In 2008, however, there was one helluva sea change: via her MySpace page, Res released Black.Girls.Rock, the smart, logical expansion of her sound, all released directly to her fans without any label support. In the years between her two albums, Res could be seen singing backup for Gnarls Barkley and participating in a small flurry of side projects, but as time wore on, something became even clearer: How I Do was slowly becoming a cult classic, and deservedly so. Speaking to Evcat, Res discusses how she has come out wiser from her major-label experience, enjoys the spotlight more than the side-role, and how she hopes her songs will touch you in a way that John Mayer's tunes touch her ...


>>In the latest issue of Fader Magazine, there's a photo of a staff member holding up a vinyl copy of
How I Do, noting its unique critical standing given the years since its release. To what degree has this album defined your career? Given all that happened with its release, is there anything you would have done different?

I think How I Do will never go out of style and to some is a classic ... so I'm super proud of that album and the other artists that were involved ... That album started my career and gave me a place in the industry. I don't think I would change anything or do anything different.

>>When describing your style to others, I often find myself using the phrase "She writes R&B songs that think they're rock songs" more often than not. How would you define your writing style?

My style is that I don't have a style and that I am a beginner at writing songs. I don't have that much confidence in my songwriting and had to be pushed pretty hard to write ... I know I have a voice and life experiences and the confidence to turn all that into a song a sing it ... so that's what I do ...

>>You recently released Black.Girls.Rock via your MySpace and your MySpace only. What made you decide to release it this way instead of via traditional outlets (iTunes, CD shops, etc.)?

Right now I am not signed and that was the fastest way to get the music to the people ... and the cheapest way!

>>During the years between your releases, you've popped up on various soundtracks and have toured with Gnarls Barkley -- what has it been like working with other artists in a supporting capacity? What's the most valuable lesson you've learned?

It's always fun to work with other artist in all capacities ... Gnarls Barkley was the first time and only time I ever sang background vocals. It was great sometimes and at other times it was trying ... I am more comfortable in the "spotlight" than [the] background. I tend to "do too much" or "sing too loud" for a backing vocalist ... but I learned to be humble and to enjoy traveling the world for free and not having to do but 10% of what I can do on stage!

>>What song of yours are you proudest of?

Wow that's a hard question ... but I remember being suprised about the song "THERE'S No WAY" ... for the lyric ... it summed up alot of feelings and events for me in 3min ... it made me think of John Mayer and how his songs make me feel!

>>Lastly: so far in your career, what's been your biggest regret, and -- conversely -- what's been your proudest accomplishment?

My biggest regret would be firing my old manager Corey Smyth ... it's one of those "you don't know what you had till it's gone" ... and my biggest accomplishment is winning 8 Grammy['s] in 2010! Oh and rocking the Super Bowl that same year! Lol


INTERVIEW: Anton Newcombe [The Brian Jonestown Massacre]

There has much that has been said about Anton Newcombe, the frontman for the seminal rock-revival outfit The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Newcombe has inspired leigons of fans, ruffled many feathers, and still encounters his fair share of detractors. Yet if Anton is anything, he's uncompromising, as he will never, ever, make a record that alters or affects his core vaules. He like his idols raw, and his own music even grittier. With this year's release of My Bloody Underground -- the BJM's long-awaited return to outright rock -- Anton kindly sat down with Evcat to answer some questions about his new disc, his career, and just how awesome it is to live in a place like Iceland. Ladies and gentlemen: Anton Newcombe ...


>>Much has been said about My Bloody Underground, easily one of the most polarizing records that you have released so far in your career. The BJM website now goes back to the Committee to Keep Music Evil site, which makes me wonder (in keeping with the evil theme): do you ever read your reviews?

I do read some of them. I would be lieing if I said that I don't care what people think, because placed in context ... I do .... it's just that I don't think rock journalism means jack shit to an artist. It's not like magazine writers get to pick the content. It's add [sp] driven. I know that my work will be misunderstood compaired to whatever Disney pre-puebesent robot Simon [Cowell] is fucking back stage at Pop Idol.

I just make audio inviroments I enjoy, and if people like them great, if some people don't great. I'm looking forward.

>>When making your records as of late, what do you hope your fans will take out of your songs?

I hope they they find a way to interact with it in some way. Somtimes that can just mean provoking thoughts or poseing questions. Sometimes it could be engulfing the informed but submissive listener in a soundscape. It doesn't matter to me as I am working on new pieces so I am removed. I have allready explored this work in depth and have moved on.

>>One aspect I quite like of Bloody is how it's, in a way, a return to form stylistically, simply because it goes back towards your heavier rock inclanations after your detoured with quite a few country-rooted EPs. What instigated the change?

I'm quite disapointed with the modern world and more importantly, the people in it. I got a prescription for anphetamine and did some majic mushrooms in Iceland and created some art. No listen I am not advocating drug use, and it's not something I do all of the time. It was an experiment. We created some music and then made films.

>>What is more cathartic: recording your songs or performing them live? Which do you ultimately prefer at the end of the day?

It's like a pendulum. It's swings back and forth as they are two different mediums. Live involves rock and stamina. The studio involves science and retrospection.

>>Back in '04, much was said of your denouncement of [the Ondi Timoner documentary] Dig!, yet it still managed to introduce you (and continues to introduce you) to a wider audience. Have your thoughts on the movie changed at all? What would you have done different about that experience?

No[,] Ondi Timoner is a fucking greedy cunt, a liar and I wouldn't piss on her if she was on fire. Infact, I wouldn't weep if her and her ilk were hit by an asteroid.

>>Finally: so far in your career, what's been your biggest regret and -- conversely -- what's been your proudest accomplishment?

I don't view my work as a korea. A career sounds like something that asshole in jet worries about. What a joke. That's something jack white works on. Die!Die!Die!, that's a band. The Church is a band ... all that korea bullshit makes me want to puke. Ask those fuck heads in Silverchair where their career went ... I don't listen to fat bald guys at record companies that think in terms of careers. I just don't. I am a productive artist. I inovate and help others do the same. I am an individual. I'm looking forward to playing Australia, New Zealand, my shows with My Bloody Valentine and going back to Berlin and Iceland where I live and making more albums. I could really give a shit about anything else besides that and my wife and childrens welfare.

EVCAT: In a somewhat unusual gesture, Anton included several YouTube links at the end of his e-mail for this interview. In keeping with our mantra of letting artists write freely, we are posting those same links below, many of which feature either the BJM tearing it up live, or one of Anton's many powerful rock infulences captured in these vintage clips of raw power. Enjoy.


INTERVIEW: E.S. Posthumus

The brothers that comprise E.S. Posthumus are nothing short of visionaries: a duo that, over recent years, have crafted some of the most potent instrumental recordings in the world, large orchestral epics that have been featured in close to two-dozen movies, driving works of instant catharsis that have stirred millions (including, somewhat surprisingly, the NFL, who commisioned the guys for some music not too far back). 2001's debut Unearthed was an incredible word-of-mouth success (and one of CDBaby.com's all-time best-selling releases), but it wasn't until earlier this year when the guys unleashed Cartographer, a two-disc set of new music featuring both the classic instrumental works that they're known for along with those same songs serving as support for the duo's new discovery: vocalist Luna Sans.

Needless to say, the guys have been busy, but not busy enough for brother Franz Vonlichten to sit down with Evcat and talk about all things Posthumus ...


>>The first question is simple but kind of obvious: what occured during the mutli-year gap between Unearthed and Cartographer? What was the most difficult aspect of getting the second album off of the ground?

One of the most intriguing aspects of Unearthed has been it's staying power. Unearthed is selling as well in 2008 as it did in 2001. People from all over the world seem to be discovering the album everyday. That being said, although we've written an immense amount of material the past 7 years, we felt no pressure to follow it up with Unearthed 2. Instead, after being introduced to Luna in 2002, we thought it would be interesting to take a detour and explore mixing our sound with her artistry. We wrote and recorded the Orchestral parts and many of the rhythm tracks to Cartographer in 2003. I have to say the most difficult part of finishing Cartographer was our tendency to get distracted or you might say inspired and chase other musical ideas. Early in 2007 we went back and listened to the Cartographer sessions and realized it was something that we wanted to put the finishing touches on. We called Luna and put the project on the fast track.

>>I think of the most polarizing aspects of Cartographer was simply the addition Luna Sans, and though she has a lovely voice, it marked a change that jarred some of the instrumental-only lovers out there, but you also remedied this with the second disc of instrumentals that came with Cartographer. What marked the change in direction? Have you thought of writing for/producing other acts outside of yourselves?

Well, the most important aspect of Cartographer to us is that Luna's voice inspired us so deeply. Working with her was an invigorating experience. We did the Piri Reis version as an exercise of creativity, but when I'm in my car I listen to the Luna version. The collaboration process was amazing and I think if the right artist came along, we'd be up to doing it again. Presently, it's just the two of us locked in our cave together working on a follow up to Unearthed.

>>One of the strangest detours of your career came in handling new material for the NFL of all places (which, of course, yielded mind-blowing results). What made you accept their offer in the first place? Will we hear more posthumus compositions in ads in the near-future?

Strange, but uber cool. Both Hemut and I are sports freaks and were really into writing the theme for The NFL on CBS. Again, if the right opportunity presented itself we would certainly consider writing for an ad, film or another artist.

>>Given the sheer complexity of your recordings, I would imagine it to be somewhat of a challenge to perform your songs live. Have you ever considered touring?

You hit the nail on the head. An E.S. Posthumus live show would be a major production. While we would love to see that come to fruition at some point, for now we'll just keep writing and recording. When the timing is right, I'm sure we'll get up on stage and tear it up.

>>Of all the songs you've done so far, what's been a personal favorite?

Personally, that would be impossible for me to answer. I would have to say that writing, recording and performing Unstoppable for last year's AFC Championship Game on CBS was a blast. The guys at CBS really did an amazing job of shooting the piece, and it was a nice glimpse into what an E.S. Posthumus live performance might look like.

>>Lastly: so far in your career, what's been your biggest regret, and, conversely, what's been your proudest accomplishment?

I think that both Helmut and I wish we would have stayed course and put out Cartographer a few years earlier. But I guess everything happens for a reason, the timing just wasn't right. We're both very proud of our body of work thus far and hope our greatest accomplishments are yet to come.


INTERVIEW: Wolfgang Voigt

You may know him as GAS. You may know him as Mike Ink, or Studio1, or M:I:5... or Gelb, All, Grungerman, Love Inc., Mint, or any one of dozens of different aliases he has used over the years (Wikipedia lists 31; AllMusic includes a few they've missed, and there's no telling how many they've forgotten). You may know him as the co-founder (with Michael Mayer and Jürgen Paape) of Cologne, Germany's KOMPAKT Records, which has released albums from microhouse and minimal techno heavyweights such as Superpitcher, The Orb, The Field, Justus Köhncke, and Gui Boratto.

His name is Wolfgang Voigt, and we are extremely honored that he took the time recently to discuss with Davecat the recent reissue of his seminal GAS albums in the KOMPAKT-released box set Nah und Fern, his thoughts on songcraft, and the changes that have taken place in electronic music over the past decade.


>>>> Raster-Norton is going to be releasing a book of your photographs from the GAS project. What is the correlation between the music of GAS and the visual art of the photos? How much does one art form influence the other, and how much overlap is there between the two?

In fact, there is a strong correlation between the music of GAS and the images. GAS has its origins in classical music and relates to nature sounds. The aesthetic equivalent is expressed in the photographs dealing exclusively with the subject of the forest. The music is moving around in constantly overlapping loop structures, there is no definite start nor end. The photographs show a certain focus on nature (the branches or rhizomes), and this dense focus makes it impossible to define the top and bottom of the picture and the right or left hand side. And both, the music and the images aim at liberating the subject from its original meaning and taking it back to its aesthetical basic structures.

>>>> What does the word "minimalism" mean to you? What do you see as the fundamental differences between "minimal" techno when you were recording as GAS (and throughout the 1990s) and what is referred to as "minimal" today? Is it just musical? I'm asking as an outsider who little personal experience with the matter, but what was the scene like when the first GAS album was released, and how has it changed in the time between then and reissues of your work?

I would say the notion “minimal” is not the appropriate term for GAS. GAS is opulent and dense. Yet GAS can be considered as minimal as the major part of my other musical projects, for example Studio1, Freiland, and Profan: the ingredients always originate from one and the same source, and are all about the straight bass drum in any kind of variations you might think of. However, my music has nothing to do with the contemporary idea of “minimal”. Today, minimal techno most of the time is functional tool music. My work, however, is more about the minimal variations in pop music and art.

>>>> As a sort of follow-up to that: what effect has the Internet had on the scene? Is the World Wide Web something you embrace as an artist, something you think pushes things forward, or is its effect more negative and stagnating? In an interview with Simon Reynolds for Frieze, you say that "at the moment, it [techno] has to be careful not to be swallowed by itself or the world wide web." Swallowed in what way? And what has to happen within the scene to make sure that it doesn't get swallowed, either by itself or the Internet?

No doubt, the Internet is the ideal platform and the most democratic way to spread music simultaneously and fast into the whole world. Unfortunately, this “MP3 culture” boom results in a significant arbitrariness and in an immense loss in values. Not to mention the piracy market that makes the production of high-quality music more and more unaffordable. But I think that a sound file will never replace the sensual experience of a record or CD.

>>>> What do you expect the reaction will be for first-timers who have never heard GAS before and only familiar with the current generation's electronic tradition? What do you hope they will take from your music?

The CD GAS – Nah und Fern is out now for a couple of weeks and I am really pleased about the good results in sales. We get a lot of positive feedback, from the U.S. in particular. In the U.S., apart from the “old” fans who know GAS from the 1990s, young people between 18 and 23 discover the re-release of GAS. And I hope to continue the idea of what it meant 10 years ago: Timeless, beautiful music and far more than just an ex-and-hop value. I hope to be able to give the younger generation an idea of the meaning of GAS.

>>>> What do you see as the most important aspects of a song's structure?

To transcend the song’s structure.

>>>> Along those same lines, many of your GAS songs -- but not all (for instance, the first and final tracks on Zauberberg) -- contain a rhythmic beat, often a 4/4 pulse: a heartbeat. But not all. What made you decide to let some tracks stand alone as just the processed samples, and to give others a guide, as it were, through the forest?

Although GAS should be classified to the more serious ambient music that usually works well without any rhythmical corset, it nevertheless still relates to techno music. It is this vision, this image of how amorphous, beautiful yet dark sound waves, with no origin or destination, are carried by a distant bass drum through the woods of the forest into the disco – like gas. My intention has always been to find the right balance between tracks where I use the base bass drum and tracks where I do not use it.

>>>> In your Wikipedia entry, whoever wrote it says: "Because Gas music lacks any trace of melody or chord change, many would not describe it as *musical*." How would you respond to the writer of the article -- and where do you personally draw the line between "musical" and "non-musical," if there is such a line?

I think the boundaries between “musical” and “non-musical” are in a state of flux. Otherwise, I do not really care about any “musicality” related to GAS. Emotions, structure, aesthetics are more important to me. Melodies in the classical sense are not supposed to be in GAS, although they exist, as hidden and overlayered as the chord changes. But you have to notice them.

>>>> GAS is, of course, based on deconstructed samples of Schoenberg, Wagner, etc. The music you have turned it into, however, has been compared with Steve Reich, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and other contemporary classical minimalist composers. What do you see as your relationship with classical music? Who do you listen to or admire more, the Romanticists or the minimalists?

I like some of these references, although I do not tend to compare GAS with something else. My relationship to classical music is really simple: I like it. It represents the broadest spectrum of acoustic aura with the most far-reaching references to music history. I like romantic minimalists.

>>>> I often see your music described in spiritual terms, and there certainly is a soul-searching quality to it, almost as if it were the soundtrack to a vision quest. Do you write from any sort of religious background? What are your spiritual goals as a artist?

I am far from any religious or esoteric approaches. Soul searching? Well in the context of the Four Tops – “Can’t help myself” or James Brown – “Sex Machine” or the Brothers Grimm. My spiritual focus is definitely on GlamRock and Pop Art. And my vision is to bring the forest into the disco.

>>>> Among the musicians out there today, who do you feel is best carrying the torch you lit as GAS, either in terms of aesthetics, sound, or as creating a true German pop music, as was the project's goal?

The best GAS torch carrier around is Axel “The Field” Willner.

>>>> In that same Frieze interview, in response to a question about what prompted you to re-release the GAS albums now, you said the "[t]ime was ripe again for this re-release or let's say for picking up the vision of GAS again. After almost a decade of 'abstinence', I found the GAS vision in good shape and even more urging to be released than ever before." Does this mean there will be more albums under the GAS name in the future? Or perhaps other art (photography, etc.) associated with the project?

The GAS project will definitely continue, yet the form remains to be seen. In August, the book WOLFGANG VOIGT – GAS will be published by Raster Noton.

Apart from 60 artworks/photographs, the book includes a bonus CD with 5 early, unreleased GAS tracks.

And on 28th September 2008, GAS – LIVE will have its world premiere at the Schauspielhaus in Leipzig.



What Aesop Rock has done is nothing revolutionary. Underground rappers have existed for years, and with the rise of bling-culture, there are those who still feel that rap has something to say, far more than just booty jams built upon phat beats. With that said, Aesop Rock was one of the first signees to El-P's Definitive Jux label to truly make it big: his abstract, rapid-fire, dense lyricism always riding on the inventive, powerful soundscapes cooked up by Blockhead, El-P, (and eventually A-Rock himself) proved to be exactly what people have been wanting to hear. His last album, the brilliant None Shall Pass, even wound up cracking the Billboard Top 50, proving that there is an ever-growing audience of people who still crave for genuine rap artists with something to say, who can be both smart and smart-allecky within the same verse without breaking a sweat. Aes is currently in the midst of another huge tour, but Bazooka Tooth still found time to sit down with Evcat and take part in a fantastic interview with a little site called Globecat ...


>>You've been a touring veteran for years -- I still remember when you came along with some Jukies to SLC -- but recent concert polling shows that it's been hard to get people to attend rap shows. What do you get out of the touring experience?

Hm, I dunno; my recent tours have been better than ever attendance wise. The touring experience is a hectic one. It seems like it should be easy, driving around, playing shows. But a lot goes into the planning of these things, and this is where it can start to feel like 'work'. When you sing up to rap they don't tell you how many spread sheets and budgets you're gonna have to figure out. It can be a really rewarding expereince, as it's an instant connection with you and your fanbase, and that is the reason we go. The on stage time is fun, the people are great. But it is exhausting in every sense.

>>One of the best parts of following your career has been watching you rise to prominence as a producer, especially with Bazooka Tooth and None Shall Pass, both of which began going beyond the typical drum-n-bass pallette that was defining a lot of indie rap at the time. When recreating these sounds onstage, do you look to do more than just hand it over to the DJ? What, in your mind, is a successful Aesop Rock show?

Well, luckily I work with a DJ who has a very creative ear and not just a fast scratch hand (though he has that too). When in the studio, we don't really think about how to pull it off live, but of course we are eventually faced with that. We rehearse a lot and come up with the best option, which cuts should be done live, which elements would be most interesting to recreate on stage, etc. A successful show is a good performance where everyone has fun, I don't think that defnition ever changes much. There's a lot of ways to get to the goal, but it's usually the same goal.

>>I think one of the riskiest moves you ever did in your life was with Fast Cars, Danger, Fire & Knives, in which you actualy published your lyrics in their entirety. I think, especially for someone with wordplay as dense and abstract as yours, it's a noble move, but it also implies that that whole phase of your career is behind you now: it's been catalogued. What is different about how you're shaping your future now?

I hear you, but at the end of the day it's all mine. It did kinda feel good though to put it all out at once, but more like how paying off your overdue phone bill feels good. People wanted the lyrics, and I have never been a fan of doing lyrics inside my liner notes, so I just grouped them together and put it out. Maybe after 5 more records i'll do another. I dunno, I don't really have a master plan with any of this. I'm kinda just doing what feels interesting at the time. I did put out the NSP lyrics in a digital book with accompanying photos, and it was definitely cool, but the paper book was fun. Expensive, but fun.

>>One of my favorite tracks off of None Shall Pass was "Coffee" with John Darnielle [of the Mountain Goats] -- I wasn't sure how it was going to sound when I first heard he was announced as a guess, but his voice wound up fitting the track absolutely perfectly. Do you see much of a bridge between rock and hip-hop these days? Is "Coffee" a hint at more collaborations to come?

Me and John will hopefully do more together. I think we're both into it, it's just a matter of getting it done. Most of the bridge between rock and hip-hop is littered with shitty bands. Rappers have the worst taste in rock ever -- what's up with that? I was very happy with John's part on "Coffee". He's really unmatched in many arenas.

>>Finally, so far in your career, what's been your biggest regret and -- conversely -- what's been your proudest accomplishment?

Well maybe I would've done a few things differently, but I wouldn't say I have any regrets. I don't sit around kicking myself really. I'm not really proud yet either. I'm not the kinda guy that pauses, stands back, and lists my accomplishments. If I sat analyzing my own career at this point it will slow me down. I'm just trying to stay afloat and keep it coming I think. There is no guarantee that anyone will show up at tomorrow's show, so I try to take this all a day at a time.

>>Thanks for your time!

Thanks very much.


ALEATORY #10: Pocahaunted

Pocahaunted scares children.

Earlier this year, Amanda and Bethany played for a class of third graders, who described their sound as "scary Halloween music." It's not a bad description: their blend of drone, psychedelia and Native American music, full of reverb and foreboding, would make a great soundtrack to a haunted house. Remarkably prolific (their website lists well over 20 releases, often in runs of 100 or less), they are atmospheric in the good way, haunting without coming across as dark or gloomy, and of course, charming to talk to. The ladies of Pocahaunted:

5. Favorite piece of equipment?

: Delay and reverb pedal.
Bethany: Holy Grail reverb pedal. I'd be nothing without one.

9. Favorite song to start (or end) a mixtape with?

: "Umi Says," by Mos Def.
: "Gold Dust Woman," Fleetwood Mac.

14. Favorite sound?

: Sax solos.
: The fan in my room blowing right at me when it's 400 degrees with 99.9% humidity.

20. Favorite new band?

: White Magic
: Vivian Girls.

22. Favorite vice?

: Dark chocolate.
: Mike's Hard Cranberry Lemonade.

23. Favorite natural oddity?

: Unibrows and lisps.
: Cats with thumbs.

25. Favorite historical figure?

: Queen Elizabeth and Nixon.
: Bruce Springsteen.

49. Now that you know a much larger audience will get to hear the music you've made, has your writing changed at all? How? What's changed and what's stayed the same?

: I'm always like to Bethany, "Oh man, in that last review they really didn't like this or that, we've got to grow or move away from our previous songs..." But you can't think like that, the writing should only change because we change and our influences change, and we try to stay true to that. I think we've gotten more sophisticated in our recording, with more collaborations with other amazing musicians, and that always morphs and improves our sound. But Bethany's voice is our rock and it's what makes us Pocahaunted, so that will never change. I'm just trying to get her to go off even more insane, deeper, crazier, with more soul, and more intensity. And she always brings it.

60. What's the worst show you've ever played? What would you have done different?

: Our worst show was at Echo Curio, when we played with our friend Jonathan. He was amazing, and the sounds he was making were totally beautiful but Bethany's amp was malfunctioning like crazy and feeding back, and I think we played for about six minutes. It was low... but when it was over we laughed. Like we genuinely laughed and hugged and got over it, so maybe that's not so bad after all.

61. What's the best advice you could give to a young, upstart band?

: Work hard and be sick and epic, I'd say. But I'd always say work hard, be sick and epic about anything. If you stay away from weird music trends and make yr own music then who cares if you don't get the recognition right away or ever? If they like punk and yr making experimental drone, keep on keeping on. If they like experimental drone and yr making experimental drone, then enjoy it while it lasts. And of course, work with the best people you can. They'll only make you sound better and go deeper.
: Move to Brooklyn.

65. Ever see yourself penning the score/soundtrack to a TV show or film?

: When we write a great song and we know it, like we hear it back and look at each other like, "oh yeah" — we always joke, oh just the perfect score for Last of the Mohicans 2. But it's changing now, we're trying to get more soulful... maybe like the soundtrack to an awesome movie about sad shit and redemption...
: The Sopranos movie.

70. What is a personal belief you hold that you would fight for to the death?

: My own aesthetics. And love, duh.
: Never eat mayonnaise.

72. A few years ago, Beck gave an interview for SPIN in which he lamented the glut of reality TV shows and blogs about musicians, wanting to know less details about their life because he felt they were more mysterious that way (he liked to envision Devo as living in a crazed art-deco pyramid when he was young, instead of just some guys in a tour bus). Do you feel that there's a lack of mystique out there for musicians in today's YouTube age? Do you feel your band carries any mystique?

: I guess it makes sense that there would be a total lack of mystique for this reason, but I am totally into YouTube—so I don't really worry about it. Pocahaunted doesn't seem to end up on the Internet as much, unless it's links to my personal Flickr site—so I think we are doing pretty good at keeping up the mystique.
: There's no mystique. My husband Britt used to be like, "I love that band, you can't even email them... they don't even exist on the Internet, it's amazing." We still get into that and get siked on it, then it comes time to email that band and it's like, oh shit, you can't even email those dudes. It's hard to stay mysterious when being out there comes with Flickr account pics, and YouTube videos, and Myspace comments... I hope we have a mystique, but we ruin everything when we speak. It's all jokes and Sopranos references. Not so strange at all.

77. What was the hardest part about recording your current release?

: Raising ourselves to the highest level. Each release has to be just a bit better or stranger or cooler than the last one for us. I get so stressed and go crazy over every song, and Bethany just trusts our performance and relaxes. Working with Bobb Bruno and Cameron Stallones is so dope, though. So there's a lot of trust there.
: I think just the timing. I was about to move, and was trying to finish up my last semester at school in LA—and Amanda was working hard on Crops and Rawbers stuff, and trying to leave her job... so we both had a lot on our minds, and were pretty stressed out... but we finished it, so I guess stress doesn't matter now.

80. Worst run-in with the law (to date)?

: The time Amanda and I got yelled at for peeing in a vineyard.
: The cops yelled at us because we tried to pee in a vineyard on the way to our Halloween show opening up for Thurston. We were totally late, had to pee of course, and didn't realize it was illegal. Which led to my famous (not so famous) quote, "Whatever, I pee in everyone's wine, it's fine."

81. If you could sync an album of yours to a movie (like Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz), what movie would it be?

: Probably some James McAvoy movie. We love him.
: The Dark Knight.

83. Have you ever thought of pulling a Jack White-styled Raconteurs/White Stripes thing and be in multiple bands at once? If so, what would the other band sound like?

: Bethany's would probably sound more beautiful than anything in the world (Enya meets Kate Bush meets Mazzy Star) and mine would just be straight up afro funk or stupid acid jazz. Or we'd probably just try to hang around with rappers and hope someone would let us sing the hook.
: Yeah, I'm down. I'd like to be in a really poppy band that just sounds like The Beach Boys. Amanda would probably hate it.

84. Most disappointing concert you ever attended?

: Kraftwerk at Coachella. It was like a car commercial. Straight up.
: I don't know. It wasn't Billy Joel, that's for sure.

94. What's your hardest song to replicate live?

: We can't replicate any of them. We can't replay any of them. So I guess, all of them.

100. Even with the gradual decay of the B-side, most artists still have vaults of unreleased songs. What's in yours?

: So many weird live sets with different awesome friend musicians. And a few songs that I was like, no no no not good enough for the album. It gets shelved, and then Britt just archives it for us in case we get wistful one night and re-listen and go, ooohhhhhhh yeah.