I just want to preface this by saying I am overly-enthusiastic about the month of October. Like, everyone “likes” October, but I am actually obsessed; this prompted me to get all weird on Mister Lies (aka Nick Zanca) during our recent phone interview in anticipation of his upcoming NYC shows. Fortunately he was just as into it as I was (I think), and so we got philosophical-hypothetical-theoretical-ical-ical-ical on things like ghosts, zombies, and what would happen if you put the Loch Ness Monster in the Bermuda Triangle. It was a good time had by all (read: me, and possibly him) and now I’d like you to share in our paranormal journey through space and time zones! And after that, I want us all to head over to Cameo Gallery tomorrow (10/5) to see him do his thing LIVE for the Dionysian 7″ release party. Okay, here we go!
So I don’t know how we want to start this off, but if you have a ghost story you’d like to share, or if you just want to launch into some of my paranormal stock questions, we can do whatever…
Well, I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, but I believe in what they represent. It’s almost like people project the hope of remnants after death; people so desperately want to believe that they have a physical impact after death, beyond memories, beyond achievements. Ghosts sort of offer solace in the idea that you can communicate and connect with loved ones after death. For example, a lot of my favorite musicians died young; I’m going through a huge Jeff Buckley / Tim Buckley phase right now where that’s what I’m listening to most of the time, and both of them are dead. And I kind of feel that sort of projection through their music. It’s like every time you watch a movie that, I don’t know, Brittany Murphy’s in, for example; you have that sensation every time of, “God, fuck! You’re no longer with us.” The weirdest thing that trips me out the most is when you see a person perform, or you see a movie of theirs, and then they die two weeks later. Like, the dude from Olivia Tremor Control, I saw the band’s performance at Pitchfork like a week before he died.
I mean, ghosts offer…hope isn’t the first word, although hope certainly comes to mind, but they indulge our darker side. You know, they can be scary or they can be benevolent, and it sort of helps us blame something foreign in our lives for chaos. It’s actually funny that we’re doing this interview, because Brad Rohloff (the dude who does all my artwork) and I get super existential when it comes to ghosts; we’re always texting each other questions back and forth about ghosts, like, “Do ghosts sneak into movies and watch them for free?” We love the imagery associated with ghosts, like the white sheets on the one side of it are really goofy, and then on the other side of it there’s disembodied voices and really eery shit. I love it. Even though I don’t necessarily believe in ghosts, I could talk about this shit for days.
YOU AND ME BOTH. But let’s talk about the music for a little bit; are you currently in the process of working on the full-length?
Yeah, I’m in the process of finishing that right now. It’s more in the mixing stages. This is my first full-length, which is kind of weird, because I’m turning 20 in two months and I kind of feel like even though I am that young I should have done a full-length release a lot earlier than this. I started the record this summer; my parents have this lake house cabin in Vermont, so I traveled up there with the people I was working with on the record, and we basically just stayed up there for like four weeks with a one-week break in-between. And we just worked on stuff and basically tracked everything there, and it was interesting because I’m used to recording in Chicago; vocalists I work with (like Jessica Blanchet who sang on ‘I Walk’), they’re primarily students at Columbia or they’re based out of Chicago. So most of them were here, which was interesting.
I definitely felt removed from this album a lot, and I still feel like I am. I’m not going to realize what I think of this until after it’s finished and after I can step away from it for at least a week, which I haven’t really been able to do. Or, I guess I have, because classes just started last week here, but there hasn’t been a lot of time for me to remove myself from it, which I feel is super, super important. I’m really excited about it, though; it’s definitely going to be a change of pace from what you’ve heard. It’s a lot more brash, I think. The overuse of the word “chill” to describe my music kind of makes me want to shoot myself. You know, I agree to a certain extent, and at least people are listening to my music at all, but I feel like (especially with what I’m doing now) there are so many other words you could use to describe it. I think it’s a lot more brash and in-your-face than the stuff that I’ve been working on in the past. And it’s definitely going to be a change for how people hear my music and perceive me as an artist, which I’m not really ready to talk about until the album comes out, but you’ll see it and it’ll make sense.
I mean, and just in terms of sub-genres…I feel like those have gotten so super out of control. Like, I don’t even know what those are anymore!
I don’t believe in genre anymore. If you put me at gunpoint and said, “You need to give yourself a genre,” I think the most feasible thing to say would be experimental pop, or like, avant-garde pop. And that’s all I would really say. I feel like the Internet has done so many good things for people, but it also sort of (and pardon the expression) just fucked genre in the ass, you know what I mean? Like, wasn’t the term “chillwave” invented by Hipster Runoff? You can’t coin that. And like, witch house…seapunk is starting to get really popular now…you can’t base an entire genre off Tumblr. You just can’t. I mean, it’s helped a lot of people get started, especially in another genre that I hate the name of, “cloud rap,”; it certainly helps people like Kitty Pryde and the people who are associated with that movement to start out. At the beginning I started making fun of that a little bit by calling my music “ambient gospel,” which was a total joke, but then bloggers started using it, and it sort of got out of control. I was like, “Oh shit, I just wanted to be playful, I was just joking!” But my hope with this release is to get people to really see things outside of the whole genre aspect and just see the music for what it really is.
Right, well I think that’s an admirable hope to have, and hopefully people really do take a step back with this one. Speaking of a step back, though, let’s get back into the paranormal questions, yeah? For instance, let’s say zombies turn out to be a real thing; what’s your survival strategy to deal with a zombie apocalypse?
Unless I’ve been bitten already, I’d say bring a buddy; the buddy system is super important when it comes to that stuff so you can actually plan things together. I know I’d be terrified if I was working alone, so I feel like having someone else around would be very important. And then if you’re looking for a place to survive, find things that you’ll be able to sustain your body with. I personally think a Costco or a Sam’s Club would be ideal to hide out in, because you already have the food, and you can just break into their bedding and shit like that. You always walk into a Costco and your friends joke that there’s enough stuff that you could live there, so if it came down to it, that would be the most ideal location.
That’s a good strategy. I was thinking mine would to like, to row out to the middle of a freshwater lake with a fishing pole or something.
That too! I have a huge association with bodies of water; they’ve always really calmed me down. I would say the only negative to that would be like, what if the fish (for example) were contaminated with radiation, or the zombie apocalypse had gotten that far. There’s always a worry there that the water could be poisoned. So it’s all about weighing the pros and cons.
Yeah, that’s probably the most important part of our strategy, is weighing out the pros and cons rationally. Now, for my next question, who or what represents a metaphorical Freddy Krueger in your life? In other words, what’s a problematic person or thing that you think you’ve vanquished but just keeps coming back? For me it’s like, LinkedIn emails.
Okay, I’m just going to say it, and I’ll use this as a disclaimer beforehand: I love the fact that people are listening to my music and respecting it, and hearing it for what it is. But I swear to god, every time I see (and I don’t even know why, it’s just a reaction) that I’ve been sent someone rapping over ‘False Astronomy’ or ‘Cleam,’ and you’re saying “Swag!” more than three times in your freestyle…I don’t know, I’m not a hip-hop producer. I don’t intend to be a hip-hop producer. Unless you’re Lil B, I’m not going to produce shit for you. Like, I’m not the kind of person who works for rappers, and that’s not what I’m trying to do on this new record at all, so when I see that, that’s a kind of weakness. Probably most of my “Freddy Kruegers” have to do with my music. Like I’ve had some times where I’ve been working on this record and thought, “Damn, is this a good change? Are people going to like this?” And I mean, you do it for the hell of doing it, you do it because you love it, but there’s always the worry that listeners will turn their backs because of what I’m doing. But at the end of the day I’m not concerned with that. I’m proud of what I’ve done.
Well we’re proud of you too! Now, final question, what do you think would happen if they put the Loch Ness Monster in the Bermuda Triangle?
Let me think about this for a second, because this is actually a very good question. In the Bermuda Triangle I don’t think the Loch Ness Monster would disappear; it’s a very overpowering creature, and it seems like it wouldn’t let something like the Bermuda Triangle (however that works) get in the way, I guess? Yeah, no, I don’t think it would disappear.
I feel like the Bermuda Triangle would just turn into a giant jacuzzi-type situation. Like it’d just start bubbling up, and there would be some sort of explosion…
Or the Loch Ness Monster would go under some sort of transformation. Like it would turn into a dinosaur or a wooly mammoth or something like that. And before it had the chance to escape the water, it would drown, making extinction basically inevitable. I don’t know! (laughs)
It’s a weird question, but it’s a valid one, I feel.
No, no, I love this! It’s so much better than like, “Who are your influences?” I get those kinds of questions all the time!
So do you have any closing words for the people of NYC?
Yeah, just come to my show, it’ll be a really fun time!
I mean, did you just read those answers? OF COURSE IT’S GOING TO BE A FUN TIME! So we’ll see you there, yeah? And Costco, if you’re listening, could you please consider building a floating store in the middle of a freshwater lake? THANKS!