Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Interview - Alleypisser

[PURESTENCH: Who is Alleypisser? Where are you from and when did the project begin? ]

My name is Mikkel and I’m based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Alleypisser more or less started out as a side-project a couple of years ago with the purpose of exploring more conceptual ideas. It then quickly evolved into my main focus.

[PURESTENCH: Would you say that there was an overall purpose or aesthetic that informs all of your releases? Is there a common thread between them all in terms of subject and concept? ]


The common thread between my releases is the exploration of personal issues, thoughts and subjects, but there is no single one to narrow it down to. I have no interest in dealing with topics that aren’t somehow connected to me as a person – you could say that Alleypisser is more about portrayal of internal concepts rather than the study of external ones.

[PURESTENCH: You seem to use a lot (or only) "acoustics", from metal and junk to tape manipulation. What is the recording process like? Is there any editing or overdubbing that goes into the final product?]

Definitely, I’m very interested in acoustics, both in the sense of the object and the environment around it. I like to retain the acoustic sound without altering it too much through heavy effecting and such and I enjoy the challenge of creating an interesting piece with a minimal/limited sound palette. The recordings have so far all been done completely live without overdubs and with fairly minimal editing in post-production. It usually involves sitting down with a couple of tape machines, tape echo(s), mics and objects with the occasional analog synth, radio or whatever else suits the piece at hand.

[PURESTENCH: Is there much room for improvisation in Alleypisser recordings?]

I always have a compositional sketch or at the very least a rough idea worked out for the recordings, but there’s always space for improvisational reworking of the piece if I suddenly don’t feel like a certain thing fits in or some other idea comes up. Sometimes these improvisations have lead a perfect recording in the first go and other times to several re-recordings of a single piece until it feels just right.

When it comes to playing live on the other hand, I’ve done several sets that have been completely improvised.

[PURESTENCH : Your work seems to get back to the basics of Noise without sounding like you are purposefully under-producing or stripping down your material. Where do you think you fit within the new "contemporary Noise" scenes and what do you think of the current state of the "scene"? ]

Quite frankly I don’t think too much about that. I don’t seek to fit into a specific aesthetic or even necessarily noise as a genre. I rather just identify with experimental music and sound on a larger scale and find inspiration and connection in many places.

I think there’s many, many interesting things coming out of the experimental underground lately and I’m happy about the activity happening here – we’re several people setting up shows, have great artists coming through, good variety, interesting acts and labels.

One unfortunate thing about the “scene” in general, in my opinion, is the heavy fragmentation that’s going on at times – it seems there’s a lot of focus on what style or aesthetic a certain act is following, there’s quite a range of small niche scenes that have turned up within the larger whole of experimental music and they don’t always work together very well, which I think is a shame. More mixing, more doing things together across scenes, would make it possible to go even further with all of this.

[PURESTENCH: A question that seems to always be asked within our small genre is whether or not Noise is a form of catharsis for yourself. Is it (particularly your own Noise)?]

In the sense of some kind of transcendental, euphoric experience then no. I haven’t found sound itself to provide this. I can find the sound itself to be extraordinarily mind-altering and provide a sort of relief, but it doesn’t provide what I’d say characterizes catharsis. The performance on the other hand can provide a wholly different experience (both as a performer, with or without audience, and as a spectator/interactor) – therefore to me these two concepts are very separate, the sound in itself and the physical act. Furthermore this means the experience isn’t exclusive to noise, but rather performance and physical acts that lend themselves to this as a whole.

[PURESTENCH: Who are some of the non-musical influences that have an impact of what you do as Alleypisser? Authors, artists, political figures, whatever it may be...]

I don’t really have any conscious influences that I have in mind when creating material, but of course my background and interests affect my work. Aesthetically, I guess there’s some traces from the artistic avant-garde, such as Fluxus, minimalism, Dadaism and Viennese actionism. The mix of crudeness and intricateness in much of this work is deeply inspirational – as are contrasts in general. I’m influenced by postmodernist and poststructuralist ideas (in art, literature and philosophy), while being based in a d.i.y. background, which could be said to impact my sound endeavors. Most of all, Alleypisser is just influenced by everyday life.

[PURESTENCH: Your music seems to be just one part of a vivid, and refined package. How important is imagery to your project and Noise in general? Do you do all of your own artwork?]

I think visual aesthetics are equally important to my own projects and to noise in general. It’s a complete package - sound and image -
that works together to create a whole. One without the other will never be able to obtain the same feel (whether good sound/bad visuals or bad sound/good visuals). I have a hard time appreciating an audio-release, without a fitting and pleasing visual accompaniment, no matter how good the sounds – I’d like the material to speak to both my ears and my eyes. Of course a “pleasing visual aesthetic” means a lot of things.

So far I’ve done the artwork for all my releases except the Tvang cassette on Second Sleep, which Matteo Castro did the artwork for (I haven’t done artwork for neither of the compilations I’ve contributed to – the Unifying Themes LP on Misanthropic Agenda or the Victoria 2xcs on Posh Isolation). Recently, especially with the two latest vinyl releases Kvalt and Savn, I think Alleypisser has reached a visual aesthetic I’m very pleased with.

[PURESTENCH: Sampling/loops seem to play a significant part in some of your work. Can you speak to the use of samples in your work going back to "Dogging"? This seems to be a fairly constant thread in your art, why does this medium appeal to you?]

All my recordings have a heavy use of domestic/field recordings and found sounds, which has become increasingly central through the times. I think Dogging is the only release where sampling seems an appropriate term since it mixed domestic recordings with straight cuts from old porn movies, after this the process has been a lot more focused on the self-made recordings and re-appropriation of old tapes and found sounds. A large part of the appeal is my fascination with re-contextualizing sounds and thereby creating new narratives. Also there’s the importance of format in this case, since I’m extremely into working with magnetic tape and tapeloops – I find the physicality of these to be very fitting for the concrete nature of the sounds.

[PURESTENCH: How many live shows have you played? Which one sticks out the most?]

As Alleypisser I’ve played around 15 shows over the past couple of years (significantly more when including other projects and bands).

I have a tendency to either just remember the last show I played or the ones that went the worst. That being said though, the short tour I went on in Italy with Gerritt Wittmer in October definitely stands out as a great experience.

[PURESTENCH: Who do you feel are some of the more promising new artists and labels coming from the underground?]

Right now I think Italy in general is the place to look for promising artists and labels. The scene is incredibly varied and encompasses everything from electro-acoustics and sound art to free improvisation along with harsh noise and industrial. I greatly admire this openness and experimentalism.

I’m also enjoying some of the newer Midwestern noise acts – I think they represent a look towards the future while keeping an eye on a great past.

Of course I’m also excited about the local and Scandinavian scene, still lots of promising things going on.

[PURESTENCH: Is critical acceptance or rejection important to you, or do you tend to ignore it?]

I by no means ignore it, but neither is it important to me. I’d be doing my things whether or not anyone was interested in it, but I greatly appreciate all the interest I’ve received and am very happy about the opportunities it has given me.

[PURESTENCH: So Dokumentarisk Agenda is your label. Why did you begin your own label? What are the main differences between having a Noise/Industrial project and having a record label?]

I started my label because I wanted to present experimental sounds in a context I didn’t feel like anyone else was (at least not in Denmark) – that is without a specific niche. Since I have a network of friends and people whose material I enjoy greatly and where I, personally, whether or not others recognize it, see a line of commonalities, I wanted to present these together and show them in a context where the style of sound isn’t as important, but rather just let the material speak for itself without being tied down. Getting to know new people and working with a community of experimental and open-minded individuals is definitely also a reason why I started this label.

To a large extent I feel that making sounds and running a label entail a lot of the same things; such as the communication, sharing of views and interests, trading material etcetera. So running a label (at least a small scale one) feels mostly like an extension of the former. The main difference is probably that doing the label is a lot more extroverted than just making material yourself – when just dealing with your own material, except if you’re heavily into self-promotion, you’re in a much more self-sufficient and introverted place where dealing with and relying on others doesn’t really factor in – these things become very obvious when running a label.

[PURESTENCH: What are your future plans for both Alleypisser and Dokumentarisk Agenda?]

There are several new releases in the works for Alleypisser, amongst them an LP called Knust on Trash Ritual, a cassette, Glemt, on Throne Heap and another cassette on Nostilevo. There’s several more that are still being worked out.

As for Dokumentarisk Agenda the next batch has planned releases by Francisco Meirino, Sewer Election and Kam Hassah. I’m very excited about the future for this label.

[PURESTENCH: Thank you for doing this interview! Any comments or last words you want to make?]

Thank you very much for the interview and the interest.

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