Monday, January 23, 2012

Interview - Crown Tapes


[PURESTENCH: Hey Mack, before we get into the meat of our spirited discussion I just wanted to say thanks for doing another interview with me. My first question is basically what was it that made you want to begin the Crown label? When did you "officially" start it? ]

1. Ryan, you are always more then welcome. Its been a pleasure working with you every time, especially since your interest in my work at its earliest stages. Crown Tapes was started out of a desire and want to do a label. Not only run a label, but more importantly doing it right and with much more professionalism then my previous endeavors. I attempted this once with the half-assed Insurgent Records, but was ultimately disappointed with how I ran it, and with the products themselves (Fucking CDrs, BLECH). Lastly, running your own label is nifty in that if you can’t find someone to release your material, you can do it yourself! I officially started the label on October 2nd of 2011 with the release of the handmade Decaying Chandler batch of tape loops. Those are now sold out to which I am happy to report, but I’m super curious as to what others have done with them!

[PURESTENCH: What is the concept behind the releases you are putting out on this label? I noticed they seem to be focused primarily around tape loops and the manipulation thereof... ]


2. As for concepts, I couldn’t really tell you any specific ideas. I chose Crown because with it comes a sense of royalty, pride, and
conviction in a lot of ways. The first batch will mainly be on the more “droney” side of things but it will not be the sole focus of the label. The label is fairly open to any and all concepts except the overly stereotypical use of sexual deviance within the Industrial or Power Electronics scenes. Those don’t really have a home here at Crown Tapes. There is already one Filth and Violence, and I don’t need to try and be that. I’m much more interested in going into greater depths then a topic that is only “skin deep” if you will? Sounds pompous and all that but its a topic that has been going on for +30 years now...beating the horses bones into dust if you ask me. I’m looking to step outside comfort zones and stereotypes. The label will be open to any and all genres for the most part.

[PURESTENCH: Where do you see the label in 3 years? How do you see the general Noise/P.E. "scene" in 3 years?]

3. I hopefully see the label doing frequent batches as well as pushing into vinyl territory. I’ve contemplated whether or not to
possibly do CDs but I’ve decided that the label will remain as an analog format only kind of label. Also, by three years I’ll hopefully have done at least 3-4 special kinds of releases based around handmade tape loops. I am also planning to do “special” editions of some of the tapes released on the label.
As for the scene in 3 years? Its anybodies game really. A lot of people that I remember posting online or releasing stuff have faded or have taken a step back, but also a lot of new people/acts/labels have been on the come up recently for some time. Much like the ebb and flow of a tide, new people show up, older people fade out, and the worn down, weathered, but still solid rocks still remain on the tide.

[PURESTENCH: What is the process of releasing material on your own label like? ]

4. Well, releasing your own material comes down to a real matter of pride I believe. How proud of the material are you? If you feel its good enough, then go for it. Not only that but if you don’t feel like label hunting, its all in your own hands. Don’t be side lined by negative comments, those can be ones biggest stepping stones in creating and or editing something. Most importantly be true to yourself, your material/vision, and make sure you keep your day job (This is not about making the big bucks). I guess I don’t really have a process quite yet as the first batch hasn’t even come out.

[PURESTENCH: What does Power Electronics/Industrial/Noise mean to you? What do you feel, see, hear when you create and listen to these genres?]

5. Power Electronics/Industrial/Noise hold a dear and special place in my heart. Any kind of music does really, but not only am I a fan of those styles of music but I have been an active participant for about 4 years, a small amount of time when compared to others but as mentioned earlier, it is interesting to see who backs out after a year or two. As for listening and creating, it all comes down to the emotional aspect of what I’m listening to. That is the strongest tie that I have to any kind of music/sound. The closer the emotional connection, the more I enjoy listening to it. Most, if not all of my releases have a very strong emotional presence, whether its the happiness/love of CoC, the utter negativity of Disgust, or the righteous passion of Koufar, my emotions are the strongest points of influence.

[PURESTENCH: Your new project Crown of Cerberus focuses on tape loops as well, and from the tapes I own you have an original and great approach to this style, a style of experimental music which has seemed to all but disappear. What is it about tape loops and manipulation that you like? ]

6. Playing with cassettes can easily be attributed to one of my best friends in the world, Adam Jennings of Winters in Osaka. Many times having performed with Winters in Osaka or just watching him play, he always used cassettes and I thought it was incredible how one could do so much with them. So I got to sitting around and messing around with them, and eventually I fell in love with using them. What I love about using cassettes is ones ability to mold and shape a piece of work, much like someone making a pot on a wheel. You can add layers, modify a specific loop, add three more over the course, remove two, etc, etc. Not only that but what I like the most is the analog sound you get from using them! I love the fullness and warmth that tapes give off. It produces a much heavier and thicker tone that would simply be lost using any sort of digital looping.

[PURESTENCH: Let's talk about your intention with COC for a moment. What was the intent of the latest COC tape before you sat down and put it together? How about "The Awakening"? Did you succeed in creating exactly what you wanted to with both cassettes? ]

7. The intent of the CoC release “Strength” was to express how I felt about (and viewed) a beautiful women that I had met in Chicago. I had met her when I was at one of the lowest points in my life, and she helped me to see the beauty in life that I had given up on. She inspired me more or less to start the project, and I wanted to do a release that was meant to be for her, no one else really. Her majesty was quite pleased with the final product, and I couldn’t be more elated. I hope she is happy where ever she is, I still cannot thank her enough for pulling me out the cement with her smile.
As for “Awakening” the title is fitting, as the two tracks were the first two CoC pieces recorded that I was pleased with. “Sea Leviathan” is easily one of my favorite tracks that I’ve done thus far. “Songs of Glory” is very much an obvious demo track of sorts, but I felt that it would be appropriate to use regardless for the tape.

In the case of both tapes, I am extremely pleased with both, and am eager and happy to be working on more material.

[PURESTENCH: What is a typical Crown of Cerberus recording session like? What do you use? ]

8. A typical recording session for CoC usually last somewhere between 15-30 minutes depending on how long of track I’m doing. Often I’ll go into a recording session with some basic ideas, but
discover that the recorded loops didn’t transfer over as I expected, or realizing that I need more layers. Some times a song will take two sessions, as I’ll record onto a single tape using 2-3 loops, and then re-use that tape as well as 2-5 different loops as well. Some times tapes and loops will sit around for awhile until I can find a way to make them fit together correctly./ My setup is pretty basic, including a single delay pedal, 2-3 tape players (some broken for more interesting sounds), and a mixer. As always with what I do, I’m into simple set ups. Less is more has been a staple value with me since I began creating Industrial/Power Electronics/Drone. Loops that I modify and use come from all over various forms of media.

[PURESTENCH: Are there any general themes running through the COC releases? With loops and the very minimal nature of these recordings there can be a wide array of interpretations even if the samples/loops seem to be ideographic. Did you/do you trust that whatever you are trying to communicate is going to translate the way you want it to? ]

9. I’m inspired by beautiful and strong women. I am also influenced by the mystery of tarot cards, wood cuts, and the undeniable power of love and goodness. Motherly love as well comes into play too. CoC also has some darker sides to it as well, but for the most part I’m more interested in positivity then negativity when it comes to the project. The best way to kind of have it make sense to those reading, would be how Tommy Lee Jones states at the end of No Country for Old Men “In a dream, I knew he was going on ahead. He was fixing to make a fire somewhere in all that dark, all that cold...” It is meant to be a light in this ugly world we live in, not in a sense of righteousness but more so in the teachings and writings of Khalil Gibran. Doing good because it feels good to do, not because a reward lays in wait for the participant. Basking in the infinite glory of her beauty and kindness but understanding her ferocity and strength...I feel that each CoC release will be different in its own right. Lately I’ve been on a big “women” kick lately with the project so expect loops of women singing and chanting. As for the interpretations, its irrelevant whether or not the point is made across, I just want people to smile and be happy when they listen to it, as it does for me when I create it. If they can find an emotional connection to it, then my job is complete.

[PURESTENCH: Where does Koufar stand right now? Do you plan on putting any Koufar material out on Crown Tapes? ]

10. Koufar currently is on the verge of a new dawn, one might say. I recently recorded a track for the first time in what feels like aeon's and I’m extremely pleased with where the new direction is headed...Pretty much I’m back in the full swing of things and am ready to start piecing together the new full length. It will be much more confrontational, and I believe it will really end up bothering people and turning off some old fans but that is irrelevant at this point. I’m hoping to get my point across so that way there will never be any more confusion about the project. The phoenix has arisen for the last time...
As for releasing Koufar on Crown Tapes, it probably will not happen but never say never...

[PURESTENCH: Crown of Cerberus is noticably more ambient and "laid back" and less structured than any of your other project, especially Koufar. Did anything influence the decision to go with a more ambient, less structured sound this time out?]

11. Crown of Cerberus was formed out of a curiosity and my attempt at making much prettier sounds, mainly focusing on the droney side of things. As I mentioned earlier, the woman I had met earlier was (and still is) a massive influence on doing this project. Not only that but the acts Concern (Gordon of Oscillating Innards) and Migrations in Rust (Jesse of Cowards) have been huge influences on me as well. What I admire so much about these projects specifically is that they have mastered a way to create beautiful, warm, shifting soundscapes that never seem to bore the listener. Not only that but their seems like there is quite a heavy sense of emotion and sincerity throughout their pieces as well. I feel that being in touch with ones sensitive side, as well as ones callous side, allows for new ideas to bloom forth and aides me in pushing into new territory that I normally wouldn’t traverse. There is some structure to the songs, but for the most part, they can be open ended or wander off at times...much like our human emotions.

[PURESTENCH: Both Crown of Cerberus tapes were put out by different labels (Anabolic Dimensions and Human Ignorance). Why didn't you release COC on your label? ]

12. Well, I didn’t release any of the CoC tapes on the label because I did not have a clear direction in terms of running a label at the time. Luckily, Omar and Joseph took a great interest and were more then happy to release the first two tapes. I couldn’t be more thankful and pleased with dealing with those fine gentlemen and the labels they run.

[PURESTENCH: Future plans for Crown Tapes and COC? ]

13.Future plans for the label include:
-1st Crown Tapes batch featuring:
-Crown of Cerberus “Salome” C20
-Ourorboros Halo “The Chalice” C20
-Empiric “Familiar” C20
-First installment of the Dying Last Word series featuring Deterge.
-Another batch of blank tape loops of sorts.
-Many, many more surprises in the coming months hopefully.

Don’t want to list too much, as the last time I got a head of myself and it all caved in. Currently in touch with some folks about new releases for future batches and I couldn’t be more excited and honored to be working with them.

[PURESTENCH: Thanks again for the interview, this spot is for your to say any last words. Hail the Crown! ]

14. Shukran Katir ya habibi! (Thank you so much my friend!) A massive thanks to those reading and to those curious! You can follow all Crown Tapes activity on my tumblr:

Shout outs to: My no coast family, real talk. You know who you are and I miss you all dearly. Mikkel (Alleypisser), Chris at Trash Ritual, Crimes Against Skin (Honor Among Thieves Forever), Nefarious Activities, Martin (Shift +Unrest Productions), and anybody that chooses to make music from the heart and not their head!

Fuck trends, fuck comfort zones, and fuck those who simply overly philosophize and have nothing to offer to the scene but their worthless and endless dribble!


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