Thursday, July 21, 2011

Interview - Concrete Mascara

[PURESTENCH : I know you have been creating Power Electronics for awhile now but only just recently you released your first tape, "Dead In Helsinki" on Filth & Violence. Why did it take so long? Did F&V approach you or did you send him your material? ]

Concrete Mascara started three years ago but I did not create the project to rush out shit music. I became friendly with Pasi overtime after I started following F&V and eventually I sent him some material because I felt like some of it was similar to what he was doing. I’ve only sent my demos out to 3 people because I don’t have any interest in shopping around for a label or releasing just anything. As CM matured and I sent more material to Pasi he eventually suggested doing a tape for F&V. The live tape just happened first before a regular album.

[PURESTENCH : Where does the name Concrete Mascara come from? What does it mean? ]

I came up with name while working on lyrics before I had even started the project. Concrete Mascara almost exclusively deals with vanity, narcissism and addiction. The idea behind the name is that Vanity is the ultimate virtue and should be pursued even into death. Addiction is an important and even defining aspect of self-worship. While there are other people that I record with in CM it is primarily a vehicle to pursue my own interests.

[PURESTENCH : You have a unique sound, it took me by surprise and it is really quite good. I guess right now would be a great time to ask the trite "gear questions"; so what gear do you use? What piece of gear could you not go without? ]

Without getting too much into the specifics I almost exclusively use mics, 4 pedals and various tape players. There are two other members of CM who record with me from time to time and add digital synths and sampling to the picture. But it’s all recorded live on amps to tape with minimal editing afterword. No overdubs, no multi-track recordings. I think my Boss DD-20 Giga Delay pedal is probably the most essential aspect to the CM sound so far but nothing is irreplaceable.

[PURESTENCH : What was the theme behind the material your wrote for "Dead in Helsinki"? Who is talking at the beginning of the track? ]

The intro is taken from a drunken recording my friend did and gave to me. I think it’s actually kind of humorous. The lyrics for the first two songs deal with addiction [paranoia and betrayal] and the last deals with some of the themes and imagery from the Dune novels.

[PURESTENCH : How would you describe your music to someone who has never heard it and is new to P.E. and Noise? ]

I’ve always described noise to newcomers as the sound of a microphone in a garbage disposal and I think it applies well to my sound. That and the sound of pure electrical disturbance.

[PURESTENCH : Power Electronics has traditionally been linked with perversions, war, murder and crime. What are your thoughts on this? Do you have any interest in politics? ]

These themes are what drew me into power electronics, humanity at its most primal and pure state. The college I went to is considered the most politically active in the US and one of the most liberal schools. After spending 4 years there I left incredibly depressed and disgusted by the political pontifications of rich students, armchair academics and spineless politicians and have abandoned most liberal notions. I’m only really interested in politics in East Asia now, specifically Japan.

[PURESTENCH : You have a release coming up on Untergeschoss, how did you get involved with Pekka and his label? ]

I started talking to Pekka after my involvement with the Nyrkki & Kyrpä 2 tape. Pasi passed some CM material onto him and we started talking about possibly working together. I sent him newer and much better stuff and he offered to release it. There are also plans for a split/collab in the future but no set date.

[PURESTENCH : As far as I understand it you are an American? Is it strange being a large part of the Finnish "scene" in a way? What is your favorite project from Finland? ]

Yes, I’m from the States. I don’t know if I’d consider myself part of the Finnish “scene” but I’m glad to be working with the people I have so far. I have almost zero interest in working with any labels from the States.

[PURESTENCH : How did the scenes in Finland and America differ? Was there any notable differences as far as the live show was concerned? ]

The work ethic is completely different between most of the people I know here and the people I’ve worked with and spoken to in Finland. I think the scene in the States more often than not revolves around partying and drugs. There often seems to be more interest in getting fucked up than recording seriously or doing a good show. And people love to talk about what they are going to do, how “we should totally do a show, a tape, etc” but then never actually follow through. I think in the noise scene in general, but especially in the States there’s this mentality that if you’re friends have a project it’s automatically good and there needs to be a constant stream of shit releases to prove they have a project. Everyone wants to be the center of attention in their little micro-scenes and no one is willing to say anything negative about anyone else. Shows are billed with known rip-off artists, people cancel last minute, there is often almost no attendance and one-sided tape trades abound. But it’s not all bad there some people doing great shit. I think Far Rockaway is really doing something cool, putting on good shows with a good atmosphere and now they pull some big name guests to their house.

In regards to the show in Finland I think it was unique because it was a private show so most everyone there was part of the scene. I was quite happy with the location because it was a full-on, loud as hell, multiple amp show, no PA bullshit! So far everyone I’ve worked with in Finland has followed through on proposed plans. I’m not very confident I would have had the same result in the States. Grunt is still the master of the craft in my opinion.

[PURESTENCH : Was the show in Helsinki your first show? If not, where else have you played and which do you consider your best? ]

The Helsinki show was not the first CM performance but it was certainly the best (although Bizarre Uproar’s performance conquered the night). I lived in Kyoto for 4 months in 2009 performed twice as CM. I was also in a group with two other Japanese students called Jigoku and we played a few shows under that name too.

[PURESTENCH : Thank you for taking the time to do this interview and being patient waiting for me to get it to you. Is there any comments you want to add before this interview ends? ]

Thanks for the interest and watch out for the CM / Sick Seed and CM / Umpio collaborations in the future.

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