What inspired you to first start making music? And how did you come to be in your current incarnation? Or if you prefer, a brief bio about you.
I started making music I guess when I was around 16. Not really recording or anything but basically learning how to play bass and guitar. I wasn’t in a proper band until I was in college in the mid-90’s. After that band (which was pretty horrible in retrospect), I put down the instruments to concentrate on my studies and really didn’t return to them until I was in a very dark place and desperate for something that might be an outlet for my pain, anxiety, and depression.
I lost a job I loved and was sitting in my home office just not knowing what to do, how to function as a human being, and how to move forward. I found a reasonably priced DAW and just started learning how to record and how to get my guitar to work with a computer. Then I used fans on the guitar and my bass to create drones, used VSTs and computer embedded effects and created my first album. It actually became the third album I released to the world called Symphony of a Radical. I think I made four full-lengths that year. I couldn’t stop. It was like I had trapped all this stuff in me for decades and it finally cascaded out into these weird, odd, and what I consider wonderful ambient pieces. I’ve learned a lot since then. That was probably around 2015 or so when that album was being worked on.
My first release was called Samatta. It’s from Buddhism and represents dark and light and both “sides” of the album are built around those concepts. I got my first pedal, got a bit more familiar with a midi-keyboard interface, and started making music I think was worthy of some people to hear. This December 21st, I will be releasing my 9th album and February 6th of next year will see my 10th released into the world.
So, to go back to the heart of the question, how did I get here? Pain, suffering, depression, and a desperate need for something to keep me alive, literally. You can hear it in my songs, in the tones I choose, in the titles I use. I’m not afraid to talk about it or show it. Art, for me, is all about rebellion, holding authority accountable, but most of all being vulnerable and I’ve tried to be that as much as I can. My journey has been one of pain with some bright spots and, when those show in the music, they are often in reference to someone I love or who has cared for me.
Provide us with some info about your latest release…
The releases I put out in 2019 were one full-length and three splits. System Shift came out back in February of 2019 on the Do You Dream of Noise? label. It’s probably my most industrial feeling album and, as does most of my music, address my wrestling with suicide, political happens at the time, and I think I hear it in a far different way than others.”. It’s an angry album and was recorded during the Somnambulate sessions, which are the lighter side of those moments in my life.
I also released a new series on my label called Trilogy where I do splits with artist that I love. Trilogy I had the amazing artists Akkad the Orphic Priest, Anders Brørby, and Yellow6. It was basically me taking my influences from these amazing artists and trying my best to infuse those into my own work on the other side of the album. Not sure I lived up to their brilliance, but those albums have done decently, and I was so honored to be a part of it. Trilogy II is coming this next year with some more of my favorite artists and I can’t wait to get to work on them.
Otherwise, my latest album Ontology came out on Histamine Tapes out of Vermont, on December 21st. It’s an 82+ minute album that is a sonic contemplation on the nature of being. Tracks 1 and 4 are made completely of field recordings while 2 and 3 takes the listener to space with heavily layered synths and loops. The Healing House of Light comes out February 6th. I met a very special psychiatrist in Kentucky when I moved there, and he has saved my life over the course of the last year. Getting treatment for the first time in years was such a blessing and I created a sonic homage to him about our first meeting. It’s my 10th album, probably my most special, and there will be a record release show for it on Feb 6th at Surface Noise in Louisville, KY.
Which ones would you consider your main influences both music-wise & non-music-wise?
I’m all over the place with influences and I sort of wear them on my shoulder. Brian Eno of course has a very powerful place in my work but so does Flying Saucer Attack, who pushes all the boundaries he encounters. Slowdive, Akkad the Orphic Priest, Yellow6, Forest Management, Windy and Carl, Ulrich Schnauss, Nicholas Maloney, A Journey of Giraffes, Loscil, Scott Walker, and so many more. I’m afraid I will leave out people that have become friends and I’m sorry if I have because, as I’ve put out more music, I also encounter people that inspire me and become my friends.
In terms of paintings, the work of Kentucky artist Patrick Williams, Dallas artist M. Cody McPhail, very much by the Austin artist Rick Reed, and Jackson Tennessee artist Anastacia Skyla.
In what way does your sound differ from the rest genre-related artists/bands and why should we listen to your music? In other words, how would you describe your sound?
I’m kind of ambivalent toward this question because my own ears hearing my own music, I think hear it in a far different way than others. My sound often has an underlying angst to it or struggle than other ambient artists and, I guess, beyond that, I’m not sure. You would have to ask fans what it is about my music that attracts them. All two of them, ya know? So, I guess I’m trying to say I’m not trying not to sound like others but to sound like myself. Sometimes that means I sound like others, sometimes that means I sound totally different, sometimes it sounds like crap. So, I guess I should have just answered the question with an “I have no idea how to answer this question”.
Please name your 3 desert islands albums, movies & books…
1. Depeche Mode: Music for the Masses
2. A Journey of Giraffes: Hour Club
3. The Cure: Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me
1. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
2. Thor: Ragnorak
3. Better off Dead
1. Odyssey by Homer
2. Depeche Mode: Stripped by John Miller
3. Eye of the World by Robert Jordon
Do you prefer studio or performing live and why?
I really love being in the studio. I think, if I had my way, I would be a studio only guy because it’s where I am most comfortable and happy. That said, there is nothing like hearing your composition on a giant sound system. Also, when the audience reacts positively, there’s nothing like it really. I just had a gig in Tennessee and got the greatest most unbelievable response to my set. So when doing live work, it depends. When I’m in the studio, it’s all me, no judgements except my own, and just a mass of experimentation that I really love.
Is there any funny-unique story you would like to share with us, always in relation to your music ‘career’?
This probably isn’t funny, but I did my first live show as The Corrupting Sea at Rick Reed’s birthday show in Texas. It was a special night for a very special person (who is now a dear friend) and I was nervous, as you might expect. Well, my computer decided it wanted to misbehave that night and my set was kinda thrown out the door in a way. I had to improvise. I was a mess. So, running my synth through a pedal board, I improved, and everyone ended up loving it. I was shocked. It was the first time I had played live since college, so, I was both a mess and relieved.
Which track of your own would you point out as the most unique and why?
Honestly, I think it’s “Ontos IV” which is off the last album Ontology from Histamine Tapes. I got highly influenced by the incredible Nicholas Maloney and went full field recordings and I’m especially proud of that one. The reactions I’ve gotten from that track have been ones of high praise and I think it’s unique because I got all the field recordings at this zoo in Kentucky called Kentucky Down Under. It was exotic birds, the sounds of Kentucky’s thick forests full of summer bugs, and so much more. Anyway, I hope folks find it pleasurable.
Would you like to share with our readers your future plans?
I am in the middle of a few projects. I have a few collabs going on. The first is one with John Lane from Journey of Giraffes called Owl Eyes. We really are musical soulmates and if we lived near one another, it might be dangerous lol. I’m also expecting to work with Chris Boss again on another The Warm Jets album. I’m quite proud of the last album and I think we have the feel and are going to go much deeper this time. He’s another person I connect with on a special level musically. I’ve started projects with Paul Saarnak called Gravity Well and Alexander Donat and we will see how those go. We have no complete demos left.
On The Corrupting Sea side, I have The House of Healing Light on February 6th. I’m in the middle of an album called Lungs Like Lead which is dedicated to everyone who struggles with psychological difficulties and is based on a poem I wrote in 2013 during a particular dark episode.
Other than that, Trilogy II is in the works, I’ve a plan to tour up in Penn, Vermont, New Hampshire, Mass, and Kentucky in January.
Free question!!! (Ask yourself a question) you wish to answer and haven’t been given the opportunity…
I suppose I would ask about gear.
What I use in the studio is Ableton Live 10, an Akai249 controller, a telecaster, a crap Peavy 5 string bass, and a pedal board with a Rat, Flashback x4, Big Sky, Cathedral, Gold Eterna, Treeverb, and a Ditto X4. Other than that, I just acquired a Zoom H2n field recorder and a contact mic, so I’m ready to make some brand new sounds. I will say that my favorite VST right now is the Izotope Iris 2. I can’t get enough of the power of that sample synth.
Photo credits: M. Cody McPhail (1st one), Tam Laird (2nd one)
Curated by: Christos Doukakis
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