Monday, November 24, 2014

Interview with Jon & Shannon of Pedestrian Deposit

I remember my first time. My first time seeing Pedestrian Deposit. It was May 5th in the twothousandfourteenth year of our lord, two days before my twenty-fourth birthday when non-hispanic people across our glorious nation flock like migratory birds to the local watering hole for margaritas. It was a night of beautiful noise and experimentation at the premiere Chicago underground venue Club Rectum with Deterge, Purity of Essence, and Magic Missile.

The set begun with electronic noise and chain grating before a quick break of celloed ambience and a final act of human-strung torsion played like a violin - watch the video in the first link all the way through. I had never seen anything like it. Shannon's look of consternation amid bulging veins implied such serious dedication to craft while Jonathan orchestrated over a table of detailed electronics. It was a moment of clarity and empathy - I asked myself what it would be like to be the cable binding Shannon's neck to the floor. How would I feel? Would I be at my most useful or would I be at my most endangered? Perhaps both.

Pedestrian Deposit have released a lot of music, hovering somewhere in the realm of noise, though with noteworthy sophistication, in part because of their varied instrumentation and willing experimentation. You can listen to their music on their Bandcamp page.

Jordan: Where did the name Pedestrian Deposit come from?

Jon: I don’t recall exactly where the name came from. At this point I spend most of my time ignoring it as much as I can. I do know that when I came up with it I was 14 years old, severely isolated, and very interested in abstract wordplay. I also had a preoccupation with the word ‘pedestrian.’ ‘Monorail Trespassing,’ my label name, also comes from this era of isolation with a twist of potential autism. A lot of people have approached us with their own interpretations of the name, which are amusing, so I would say it’s best left to the individual to assign meaning.

Jordan: Pedestrian Deposit has elements of both noise and classical music. I personally see noise as an extension of classical music, rather than part of rock n roll lineage, though of course rock n' roll and other music stylings affect it. Where did the idea to meld the two begin? Where do you think the combination leads us?

Jon: When I started the project, I quickly found that attempting to do straight-ahead noise with no contrast at all wasn’t satisfying enough. At the time I was immersed in not only noise music, but also computer music, ambient, electro-acoustic, and lots of improvised experimental music. It just made sense to fuse elements of those various interests, and over time it has matured into a very natural combination, especially with Shannon — I would say that we have elements of far more than just those two genres.

Shannon: I am a classically trained cellist. When I pick up that instrument, it is still difficult for me to ignore the ‘proper’ usage and types of sounds that I was trained to make on it, and I have to be in the right headspace to move beyond those conventions. Experimental music is for me often about breaking learned conventions, or about deciding when to use them and when to abandon them. 

Jordan: Pedestrian Deposit has been active for a long time now and has seen different stages of its development. Why does the project change? Do certain events trigger change or do people change or do interests change?

Jon: The project changes because it has to, simply. Neither of us would be content to just rest on a good idea and exploit it well past it's prime. Both of us have far reaching interests in the fields of experimental music, performance, visual design, and so on — it is only natural to explore them as much as we can. But yes, sometimes certain events can trigger change as well. 

Shannon: We both get bored with redundancy. If our music is not exciting to ourselves, doesn’t challenge us, there is no point in doing it. PD is not about comfort. Life changes absolutely trigger changes in the sound, spark new ideas. We’re both too volatile for events to not affect the music. 

Jordan: Are there any releases, performances, or events that you are more proud of than others?

Jon: Definitely; our performances at the 2010 Activating The Medium festival in San Francisco (side A of ‘Kithless’) and the 2013 Milwaukee Noise Fest are immediate standouts. For recordings, my personal favorites include the ‘Restraint’ cassette, ‘A Light Through Sediment’ and the track ‘You Didn’t Break Me’ from ‘Austere’, but there are many others. 

Shannon: Recording: The cello on the B side of the 7” ‘Natural Causes’ was recorded on a battery powered handheld recorder during a tremendous wind storm that took out half the ancient trees and knocked out power for a week in the mountain town we were living in at the time. I don’t think we could have captured the eeriness and darkness of that storm better than with that track. Very proud of that one. 
Live: In addition to Jon’s examples, I’d add every fucking time we play Baltimore and Denton. Also, every time we return to LA from a long tour.

Jordan: Are you guys working on any recordings currently?

Jon: We’ve been working on an LP for close to six years now, hopefully it will see the light of day in the next year or ten. It is impossible to say exactly; work schedules, combined with bipolar mood swings, chronic indecisiveness and perfectionism keep anything from happening promptly. With that said, though, we are also working on a vinyl reissue of our ‘Eleventh Hour’ tour cassette from 2013, which will hopefully be released early next year. There also may be a cassette release for our next tour, which will be in May 2015.

Shannon: Yeah, I suck and take forever. 

Jordan: There's an idea of tension in your music, which comes out even further in a live performance. The notion of audible tension, the tension of the two performers, and the literal tension in a wire that Shannon is strapped to. How did this come to be a topic of interest and focus for Pedestrian Deposit? Is there anything you are trying to say in regards to tension?

Jon: We are tension, and it is us. The psychological element is very crucial to the project. 

Shannon: Every string instrument I make is some sort of reimagining of the cello. The string instruments I made for the pieces we’ve done in the last two tours in 2013 + 2014 used my body as the tuning peg and put me in a position where I had to endure the physical stress that maintained the string tension needed for the instruments to be played. During these pieces, control was given to Jon to decide how long those sections would last and how long I would have to endure. These were pieces largely about trust, nonverbal communication and pushing personal limits, metaphors for other things going on in our lives. I think that’s maybe why they have been interpreted in a bondage/sexual way. 

Jordan: Your show in Chicago was incredible. One of the best sets I've ever seen. Visual poetry. How has tour been and what have the responses been so far?

Jon: Thank you. The tour went well, response was generally positive everywhere. Many people seemed to be thankful that we weren’t just another synth and drum machine act coming through. 

Shannon: Exhausting, but amazing. I think we both lost a few screws on that one.

Jordan: What would be something that people wouldn't guess about you guys from seeing a performance?

Shannon: We’re actually really nice people. 

Jordan: What all is in the future for you guys?

Jon: More travel, more recordings, more shows, more ideas, more forward thinking. 

Shannon: Yup

Jordan: Anything else you'd like to say?

Jon: Thank you for the interview, Jordan.

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