Saturday, September 26, 2015

Interview with Jerry Crisp of Baby Bear Lo-Fi

Folk music doesn't mean some white dude whining over an acoustic guitar. It means "music of the people," and it is an old tradition - the oldest musical tradition, in fact. There's not a soul on Earth who can claim to know the exact moment "music" started - I'm talking about even before the word "music" existed. I've always defined "music" as "sound with form." It makes things easy for me. Most definitions of "music" are antiquated, unfamiliar with the progression of sound art in the modern era. But at some point in human history, a person made a sound through movement or voice, and then that person curiously, skeptically made the same motion or vocal emission just to hear it, enjoy it, or inspect it again, and that's when music started.

The thing about folk music is that the only difference between it and the previous example is the sharing nature of the thing. If you've got a group of people sharing a musical tradition, whatever sound it is, it's folk music.

Jerry Crisp, a Miami transplant by way of Ohio and most freight train lines, has a repertoire of more than 150 songs, some from more than a century ago. While many artists concern themselves with keeping up on trends, Jerry finds importance in gathering knowledge, be it Varg Vikernes' newest polemic, the Art Deco architecture on Miami Beach, or the trajectory of folk music. Jerry's also a bit of a privileged folky because he's a jaw harp player - jaw harp is one of the oldest instruments still around, meaning that his concept of folk music is older than a lot of other people's. His preternatural memory and love for history gives him an edge where other musicians may have a difficult time.

Jerry plays solo as Baby Bear Lo-Fi and does outlaw country as part of The Revolvers. We got hot dogs and had a chat. Here's how it went down.

Jerry Crisp: So where do you want to start?

Jordan Reyes: Well, let’s start with the first song you learned.

JC: The first folk song I can remember learning was from the Sharon, Lois, and Bram show, which was on Nickelodeon in the 80s. It was a show created for children of 60s folk artists with its group of cheesy folk people. They had this song “Skinnamarinky Dinky Dink/Skinnamarinky Do” and my mom used to play that song with me. Also, “Puff the Magic Dragon.” My mom plays folk music so I remember my whole life with her playing guitar with me. She’s into Joan Baez and folk women of the 60s.

JC: We used to play children's songs of that era and Elizabeth Cotton’s “Freight Train,” if you know that song. She was a nanny and house maid in New York City. She was discovered by Pete Seeger. She learned how to play guitar in like 1898 and didn’t get discovered until 1963 right before her death. She said when they recorded her that she hadn’t played guitar in 40 years. She took a regular guitar, but played it left handed with the bass string on the bottom, so she had a very distinct style.

JR: So how did Pete Seeger know her?

JC: He hired her as his maid and nanny! (Laughs). One day, the story goes, she just picked up the guitar. I don’t remember the specifics, but I know that one day he discovered her after she was working for him.

JR: How do you pick up these stories about people existing before your time?

JC: Well, a lot of it is passed down orally. You get together with people who make folk music, and they tell stories. Everyone has their own way of telling the story, too. Some people will always tell it like it happened to them, even if it’s not a story that actually happened to them, but that’s just their way of storytelling - they inject themselves into the story. Some people are more along the lines of telling fables. I do a little bit of both. Sometimes I’ll tell a story not exactly how it happened - maybe it’ll be a story that happened to someone else and I’ll tell it like it happened to me, just to make the conversation flow a little better. I don’t really have a style as much as just…not being good at public speaking, so it’s sort of done to make sure I don’t stutter the whole time (laughs).

JR: Do you think that has any dishonesty in it or is that besides the question?

JC: I don’t think it has dishonesty unless you’re trying to use it to gain something personally, like if you’re changing stories around to garner support or pity for yourself, but if you’re telling a story and someone is there expecting you to tell stories, then it’s just a story. Stories aren’t truthful or or not truthful to me. There’s a difference if someone asks “Well, what’s the truth behind that story?” But it’s almost like you have a song and prepare it - same way with a story.

JR: So your mom had played guitar for a while, and when did you pick it up? Did you pick up guitar first and then banjo or banjo and then guitar?

JC: Guitar and then banjo. Banjo came much later. I had an acoustic guitar when I was probably six or seven. I would play along with my mom, but then I lost interest when I started playing sports. I wrestled for a long time, played sports, and learned martial arts. I was also in choir so I sang a lot still, but then, when I was around fourteen, I asked my mom for an electric guitar, which is what I learned first. Then banjo just kind of came along. In 2010, I think, someone gave me a banjo in Sarasota. I was living in Key Largo at the time, which is a really interesting place if you live there. It’s very isolated. Being down in the keys and not having much else to do meant that I was playing a lot of banjo, which is when it started becoming my main instrument.

JR: You still consider it your main instrument?

JC: I consider the jaw harp, personally, as my main instrument. I approach all music playing with the mentality of the jaw harp. It took me a long time to know what notes I was playing or the names of chords. I still couldn’t really tell you off hand the names of chords I play. I play everything by ear.

JR: I guess I wouldn’t have expected that. I think you’re the first person I know who plays a jaw harp, but you’re also the only person I know who approaches music like that.

JC: Yeah, the jaw harp’s a weird thing. It’s like a children’s toy, but it’s really old - tens of thousands of years old. It’s one instrument that, because the human body is the actual thing you move to make the notes, you can feel the music you’re making with it. The music you’re making with it is very similar to that of prehistoric times on the same instrument. How much has the human body changed in ten thousand years? (laughs) So the instrument has pretty much stayed the same.

JR: I remember you told me once you have about a 150 song repertoire and how many songs have you written?

JC: I’ve been in bands, playing bass, banjo, or percussion for a while. I enjoy writing songs in a band, but I don’t count those as songs that I’ve written. That said, I’ve played in bands since I was sixteen, so that’s twelve years of writing songs with other people. But as far as songs that I regularly played that are one hundred percent mine is probably ten or less. Then there are another ten that are straight rip offs from traditional songs.

JR: Yeah, but that’s in the tradition of folk music.

JC: Oh, totally. I learned that from Woody Guthrie. That’s all he did.

JR: I got to see Billy Bragg cover Woody Guthrie songs and he gave a lecture, basically, about Guthrie and his life. It was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen.

JC: He’s an interesting guy. I don’t always agree with what his idea of folk music is, because I don’t think he takes it back far enough. And maybe that’s my privilege as a jaw harp player is to see that folk music predates all concepts of what “music” is, whereas I feel like Billy Bragg might think that music started when it began to get recorded. He’s like “Americans invented the blues and then the British made them better and then it came back to America,” which is a very British point of view, in my opinion, but his music is great (laughs). Even the stuff he did with that band Wilco was pretty good.

JR: Yeah, I think that was the Woody Guthrie stuff - he somehow got these notes that Woody had written but never ended up recording them so there was no actual music. The thing about folk is that the hard part is usually the lyrics because the music’s already in the tradition. So, this is what he was talking about.

JC: Ah, I didn’t know that about that record Mermaid Avenue.

JR: Yeah I think Woody’s granddaughter had the notes.

JC: What’s her name? Nora? I think it’s Nora Guthrie.

JR: And you’re about to put out a record, right?

JC: Yeah, hopefully. I’ve made plans to go into the studio and record it. I’ve put out lots and lots and lots of recordings, probably a third of my repertoire is recorded at this point, but I did them all on my tablet or cellphone. That’s why I have the band name Baby Bear Lo-Fi. “Baby Bear” is my nickname, but I added “Lo-Fi” to get the one-man-band concept.

JR: Your mom had that name for you, right?

JC: Yeah, well, my name’s Jerry and being born in the 80s had people calling me “Jerr Bear” and so that always existed, but then I had a friend who called me “Bear” in a playful sense, which stuck. Then when I was doing a lot of political work, there’s a tradition of not introducing yourself with your real name for some reason, so I went with Bear, and I just got to introducing myself as that. I still do - it’s a true nickname I’ve had my whole life. “Baby Bear” came from one time  I was with Miller, another local musician who I play in bands with. He’s a big, burly guy with a long beard and he introduced himself as Miller and I said “Hi, I’m Bear.” And the person responded “You’re not a bear - you’re a baby bear,” cause I was standing next to this big guy. Being around him on tour is where “Baby Bear” came from. But I’ve had “Bear” my whole life. I’ve even got it tattooed on me [Tattoo reads: If You Must Be A Bear, Be A Grizzly].

JR: You mentioned that you have a ton of stuff coming up for the rest of the year.

JC: Oh yeah, I recorded four full-length albums last year. Three of them in my bedroom and another at a friend’s house, which he uses to record folk punk bands. That was just me on a nylon-string banjo. Last year I did these four full-length records all within six months. It was nice, and felt great to generate it all myself, but it left me wanting to make a studio album, which would have other musicians playing my songs. A lot of the stuff I made last year didn’t have any originals so I want to do a release that has more originals, but also a backing band - drummer, lap steel, upright bass playing. So the goal is to make a country record and it’ll be called “Americana Renaissance.” That’s the concept. Other than that, I’m playing in a local band called The Revolvers, which is outlaw country. We have lots and lots of shows coming up for that.

JC: The biggest thing I’m doing I think is called the Fringe Art Fair or Fringe Art Fest - I’m not exactly sure - but it’s part of the greater Art Basil event. I’m going to be doing a show a day at it of different things. One will be just me doing my typical folk music stuff, then I’ll do one with my friend from New York who does banjo and I’ll do jaw harp on top of that, and then I’ll do one that’s more along the lines of folk punk with an electric guitar and a band. Then I want to do a set that’s primitive, with no instruments - vocals only. I have a lot of songs that are a capella, I guess. They’re like work songs. One of the favorite things I’ve done was in the New York City subways - just singing and holding my hat out - no instrumentation. That’s my preferred method of performance. The guitar is burdensome. You have to carry it around and it needs six strings. I’m very much a simple artist. I think that’s my strong suit. If a song had one word and two tones, I’m all about it. It’s like Shepherds’ music if you know the tradition. I think some of my best performances were me on a mountain alone.

JR: In a shower?

JC: Exactly. And I do other stuff, both for myself and for the performance aspect, but I prefer the simplistic, almost, and I’m not a spiritual person, but it fulfills my spiritual needs. I do Buddhist chants at home.

JR: I’ve done crystal bowl meditations where people in this class start joining in with their voices and that was one of the coolest auditory experiences I’ve had. And it’s very simple. There’s someone who’s making a bowl sing and everyone else has their eyes closed and everyone’s making tones even though there’s no scale to go off of - nothing can be in conflict with anything else.

JC: It’s really interesting when those moments of Western Music, like what makes Western Music, can be stripped away. Everything you can discover about music outside of twelve notes. I think that’s why American Folk Music and country music is easy for me to understand and play. It’s also why my repertoire keeps growing and growing - cause there’s only twelve notes! I’m used to infinite notes and that’s how I like to make my music, drawing from infinite amounts of sounds. Then all of a sudden you only have twelve? But there’s beauty in simplicity, too. Even in twelve notes you can find great beauty.

JR: Yeah, and in Japan they have the Shamisen…

JC: Is that the fretless instrument?

JR: Yeah.

JC: It’s considered in the same family as the banjo.

JR: Really?

JC: Yeah, well it’s a drum with a number of strings attached to it. It’s like a banjo. Early banjos didn’t have five strings either - they had however many the person put on there. Then someone put the fifth string on. I think they started with three strings and a shorter fourth string. In Mongolia they have the Horse-head fiddle, which is a banjo you play with a bow. They have snakeskin heads. In China they have the Xiqin, which has three strings, and fulfills the same thing. The tenor banjo from Ireland has four strings. A banjo is just a drum with strings.

JR: You prefer the banjo to the guitar at this point?

JC: Yeah, well I’ve done guitar for so long at this point that I have the benefit of not really having to think to play it. A lot of things come naturally. Banjo I’ve only been playing for four or five years so I’m very much still learning on it. It was definitely the first instrument I felt able to get in the zone or let loose on. In a lot of ways it helped my guitar playing reach the level it’s at now by learning to relax while playing. Even playing bass guitar for years and years in bands still never got me to the point of relaxation like I did when I first learned old time clawhammer banjo.

JR: You recently started double thumbing too, right? This year?

JC: Yeah. I always listen to other banjo players and try to imitate the techniques and sounds that I hear. The technique of double thumbing has always been difficult, but now I’ve got that down. Basically there are two ways of doing clawhammer - drop thumb and frailing and I’m trying to do this technique where you do both at the same time. It’s really challenging, but it’s what I’ve been working on lately. I’ve been doing double thumbing for a little over a year now, so it’s a move I have, whereas I can either drop thumb or frail - I can’t do both in the same song. Even though banjo is having a resurgence in popularity, people are playing it with a pick or strumming it like a guitar. Some people will say “Never play your banjo with a pick!” But I’m not one of those people. Play your banjo however you want to play your banjo. If you’re a musician and you’re playing a banjo, you’re a banjo player. I started off playing four strings, tenor style, before getting into clawhammer so I’m not one to tell anyone else how to play the banjo. I definitely have a soft spot for the old time clawhammer style. I’m happy to see banjo making such a resurgence. The five-string banjo is truly an American instrument and sound. It has related instruments all over the world, but that five string banjo are ours. It’s as ours as the hot dogs we just ate.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Interview with Brandi & Ian from Rhythm of Cruelty

I think about repetition a lot because I'm a creature of habit. I wake up. Go to work. Come home. Run. Write. Go to bed. I ask myself what does repetition do? Well, it kind of humanizes and it also kind of automatizes. The humanization comes from how I interact with people at the parts of the day where I can interact with people, but this is tricky. If I repeat the same mantras and words to the same people at every interaction, then I am fulfilling an obligation or directive of "talk," meaning it's a mechanical function. But if I introduce new things, organic elements, new ideas to interactions, creating growth, then I am undergoing a humanized interaction. The goal is to stop the body from going on autopilot, losing time, choice, or identity.

What happens to a gear as it's used repeatedly? Indefinitely? It corrodes, like all things do. Eventually it fulfills its functional destiny so much that it cannot fulfill its functional destiny. A gear, with its once great and numerous teeth, becomes a perfect circle, unable to exert friction, unable to wind, unable to sputter - a circle spinning in place with nothing to show for it.

Saturated, Edmonton duo Rhythm of Cruelty's most recent full length on Mass Media Records, is about decay. The first song, not including the introductory instrumental piece, "Day In, Day Out" showcases Brandi Strauss musing on repetition and collapse "No movement/Gathering dust/Day In/Day Out." Her lyrics, on top of pulsating, at times claustrophobic, instrumentals, echo the form. But this isn't a hopeless record, either. On "Full Circle," she sings "Where we were once before/Where we start again/Full Circle/The Stars they have aligned/Wearing a blessing in disguise." It ends with an obscured benediction, even in the face of depersonalization and corrosion.

But for all the bleakness in Saturated, Brandi Strauss and Ian Rowley hold onto hope. The creation of anything is an act of hope, at least a shot fired at the darkness of reality.

JR: How is it playing in a postpunk band with two people?  I know you guys use a drum machine - do you enjoy playing like that or would you rather have a drummer?

IR : It's amazing. We've been partners for almost 7 years, and Rhythm of Cruelty has become this creative extension of our relationship. Although we've talked about collaborating with other people, live or recorded, Rhythm of Cruelty is very much the two of us. We knew very early on that the element of mechanical rhythm was something we wanted. I don't see us getting a drummer, maybe more drum machines. But we don't rule out the possibility of alternate sources of percussion.

BS: I enjoy the simplicity of there only being the two of us in this band and the fact that we use a drum machine rather than a drummer. Over the past few years Ian has become quite creative with the drum patterns. The drum machine has become my favourite aspect of R.O.C. Actually when we had started out Ian was on drums and it wasn't until we borrowed our friend Dave's Oberheim and Ian had picked up his guitar; it was then that we really found the sound we were looking for. We have discussed having a guest drummer for a show or two to play alongside the drum machine, though we've yet to follow through with that idea…in due time.  

JR: How do you guys write your lyrics? Do you write them all or does Ian have a hand in that too? 

IR : Brandi writes all of the lyrics and will show them to me. Sometimes I'll help in the arrangement of the words, but they're very much Brandi.

JR: Do you find yourself writing about things grounded in reality, like events that happen to you or maybe being influenced by a book you read, or do you make up scenarios, moods, and ideas? 

BS: For the most part, my prose are written from my visual view point - my perceptions of reality.  I try to write regularly, often I write of personal experiences, relationships, or my understandings in life. Sometimes I find influence in other areas such as dreams, books I've read, or something someone says. For example last year in spring I was in New York on my way to a show with a friend, when he stated that we were all "chasing daylight," regarding the "party life style." At this time in my life I was struggling, dealing with some heavy things, finding comfort in excessive "partying". Those few words that evening left an impression on me, I came home from that trip and wrote, "In The Daylight."

JR: Saturated is your first record on Mass Media, right? How was it switching from Crude City? Any notable differences?

BS: Yes it is. Both labels were supportive and extremely easy to work with.

IR : Crude City is ran by our good friend Dave. He wanted to highlight some of the newer Edmonton bands coming out. He was and is a huge help in pushing us, helping us book shows on tour, and just generally being supportive of us. Mass Media has been amazing as well. They've been putting out so many great releases lately and we were quite honored when they showed interest in releasing our music.

JR: You guys made a music video for "Dysphoria" on your last record - are you planning on doing any music videos for the new one?

IR:  We've talked about it with our friend Parker, who did the "Dysphoria" video, but nothing planned yet. It's possible that we may do some videos for the newer stuff we're going to record.

BS: Eventually we'd like to. At the moment though I believe recording our new songs takes precedence over making another music video. 

JR: You guys did a massive North American tour a few months ago, covering both the United States and Canada. Is there much of a difference between playing a Canadian show versus a show in the U.S.?

IR : Not really. There's an amazing and interconnected community all throughout North America, and internationally as well. We feel just as welcomed in places like St. Louis, Austin, Tacoma, etc. as we do in Canadian cities and we've created really rewarding friendships throughout our travels.

JR: Can you tell me a little bit about your experience playing music in Edmonton, Alberta? When you think about your local independent music, are there any defining bands or venues there for you? Any artists that someone reading this might be interested in?

IR : Edmonton has a really interesting and diverse music community. Some of my personal favorites are Strangled and The Strap (both of which Brandi plays bass in!), No Problem, Zebra Pulse, The Olm, Beauty Rest, Languid, Borys, and the almighty Energetic Action. I have also recently started a label with my friend Parker called Pseudo Laboratories. Look for plenty of releases by Edmonton artists (including Rhythm of Cruelty) as well as others abroad.

BS: Edmonton has a lot of creativity and everyone is really supportive. Unfortunately a number of venues have been closing down this past year - my favorite Wunderbar came close to its end as well. Luckily Wunderbar is a special venue for Edmonton and the community came together to raise thousands of dollars to make sure that didn't happen. As for bands, Ian has an electronic project with his friend Parker, called Private Investigators who are great! I also enjoy anything Robert Burkosky does, Energetic Action, Christ Appearing As Sun, Beauty Rest, Love Electric to name a few. Zebra Pulse, Pigeon Breeders, The Olm, Borys and Segue are fantastic as well, all worth checking out! 

JR: Do you guys read much? Anything of note lately?

IR : I've been getting more and more into science fiction lately, and just recently finished Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers. Fantastic book. Currently reading The Wild Boys by William S. Burroughs, and so far it's not my favorite of his, but he's always interesting to say the least.

BS: I try to make time to read, though I don't do it as often as I'd like. At the moment I'm reading Tape Delay by Charles Neal, which is interesting thus far. Earlier this year I read a lot of 'self help' books, one, The Miracle of Mindfulness written by Thich Nhat Hanh I found really insightful as simple as it is. It's just helped me to become more focused, which is what I needed at the time. 

JR: What all is in the future for Brandi Strauss, Ian Rowley, and Rhythm of Cruelty?

IR : Well it's almost fall, and when the weather starts getting colder, we buckle down and start writing and recording new material. In the new year expect another record, tour (Europe?), and other sorts of weird ephemera from the two of us. 

BS: Personally, I hope to focus my energies on creating and exploring more, wether it be personally, musically or artistically. As for Rhythm of Cruelty, we will continue to pursue and explore our sound. We plan to record again this fall and then in the spring, when the ice has melted we hope to tour again. 

JR: Anything else you'd like to say

BS: Acknowledge the beauty of things, take energetic action, avoid distractions and stay focused.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Interview with Alexander Heir of Death/Traitors, L.O.T.I.O.N., and Survival

Death/Traitors, Alexander Heir's clothing line, began back in 2007 and has grown in terms of output and iconography. A thirsty decapitated head lolling at the foot of a police officer? Boldly stitched Old English lettering? Probably a Death/Traitors shirt. Heir revels in cartoonish depictions of gore, while admonishing systemic misuse of authority and violence. It's ironic, right? Well, yes and no. Unfortunately, our society has a gross history of "irony" abuse. "Irony" as it was created and intended is a tri-pronged concept: Verbal irony is a statement in which the meaning that a speaker employs is sharply different from the meaning that is ostensibly expressed. Dramatic Irony is the device of giving the spectator an item of information of which at least one of the characters in the narrative is unaware. Situational irony is a sharp discrepancy between the expected result and actual results in a certain situation.

A lesser analyst would say that juxtaposing a message of empathy with images of violence and death is situational irony. And it is situational irony, to an extent, because the image doesn't necessitate the words or vice versa, though they manage to be paired together. It also isn't situational irony because anyone paying attention to the way things work knows that both the expected and actual results are that life is extinguished and life is born. Alexander Heir's message takes all of this into account. Life is hard. And a lot of people and things want to hurt you. But you don't have to buy into the cycle of pain.

Heir's industrial punk band L.O.T.I.O.N. just recently put out an amazing LP on Toxic State Records, which is available to stream. It's one of the best things I've heard this year. He also just recently held an art exhibition in Bogota, Colombia, and is working on new paintings.

JR: So tell me a little bit about your first forays into doing fliers and putting your art into punk. Was it always hand in hand?

AH: Well, I grew up around art because my dad was a photographer. I was always drawing and when I got into punk, it made sense. By the time I was sixteen or seventeen, I had done art for friends’ bands and t-shirts, but I was just doing art for people I knew. Years later, in New York, as the scene started to pop up again and be reinvigorated, I kept drawing and naturally made fliers for shows, starting off with ones that I had booked, but eventually people began asking me to do fliers for them, and it just kept expanding.

JR: Have you always lived in New York?

AH: No, I was born in Northern New Jersey, probably twenty minutes north of the city, and I’d go in for shows. I can’t consider myself a local, since there was a little bit of a transplant, but it’s always been close to home.

JR: Do you think there’s a pride in New York for having its robust arts community?

AH: Absolutely. Locals take pride in being from the city, but beyond that, I think people are proud of what we’ve made. New York was pretty dead for a long time, with the fallout of the Street Punk scene. Basically this group of friends from the Tri-State Area started bands and started doing things together. Toxic State Records started and an exciting scene started to emerge. There’s a lot of pride in that, on top of the fact that we’re making our own music. I don’t think anyone’s trying to copy another sound, scene, or era. Obviously we have influences, but we’re trying to make music for us right now.

JR: Toxic State’s one of my personal favorite labels around right now. Nothing sounds like any of the bands on that label. It’s incredible.

AH: All the bands are amazing and John’s got amazing taste for what he puts out. On top of that, everything’s screen-printed and stamped, as much as possible, and I think people can see the care that he puts into all of those records, which are still the same price as any mass-produced record.

JR: It’s already a bit iconic, even though I think it’s a fairly young label.

AH: I think the first release was in 2009 when he was still in Jersey. I think it’s a response to going to punk shows at the end of the 90s and seeing throwaway 7”s with poorly printed covers and mediocre songs that never needed to be released. What happened to the culture? That was the reason we got into punk in the first place - all the cool stuff from the 70s and 80s when punk wasn’t so solidified as a genre to rehash. People were exploring new ideas and being creative. I think that’s what everyone in New York is responding to. The spirit of punk in creative terms, rather than just studs and aggressive music, even though that is an important part of the culture too.

JR: When I hear L.O.T.I.O.N., and I’ve listened to your new LP a lot, it is punk, but it’s industrial too. There’s a lot of overlap, but those communities butt heads over a lot of things. It was interesting to see the synthesis.

AH: Yeah, well, first and foremost, I grew up with punk so that’s the perspective that I’m taking, and I like a lot of industrial music and the sounds that are associated with it, but I’m no expert on it. I listen to more New Wave and Postpunk than industrial. So I feel like it was a bit of an ignorant attempt to make this music, like the kid who’s playing punk for the first time, but he's trying to do it honestly. The first demos were literally just Tye and me in my bedroom with garageband, experimenting with distorted drum patterns I had made and recording into a 12” Orange Amp. Our big references were the Prodigy, and, for me, stuff like Nitzer Ebb, which is industrial, but more on the EBM side. What I like about L.O.T.I.O.N., and what tends to be my issue with a lot of contemporary industrial acts, is that we write songs. At the end of the day, a L.O.T.I.O.N. song can be played with a traditional four-piece punk band. It’s a rock n’ roll song with a chorus and melody. Some people purposefully stay away from that in industrial, but for me, I like pop music. A good song can be translated to any genre. The mentality was thinking that there didn’t need to be a spacey ten-minute intro - just fucking do it, bring it in, and pound it home. Once Emil joined, who’s kind of a noise guy, he brought his stuff in. That's where the sounds between the songs came from, which creates a lot of the mood.

JR: It’s a catchy record. I find myself having some of the mantras rolling around like “They Do This To People!” which repeats and starts applying itself to, you know, all sorts of things you see: surveillance, authority, and the overwhelming paranoia that was part of my life.

AH: Right. It’s corny, but I think back to this Jello Biafra quote about George Bush and how George Bush was the best thing to happen to punk because it’s something real to rebel against or fight against. It’s not just lip service at that point. Here’s the real New World Order in your face, but I can’t think of any American records that resonated with that or had a quality response from that time period. Now there’s plenty of things to be upset about and people are beginning to address their concerns in real and interesting ways. The idea built upon itself, using electronic instruments, then addressing the good and bad aspects of technology, and then the cyborg stuff fit nicely in place. It all started to make total sense. It built itself.

JR: Did you do the art for the inserts?

AH: Yeah, the insert art is me, and the cover art is a collaboration with Emil from Dawn of Humans, who does really interesting work where he’ll photocopy different parts of the body and collage them into monster shapes and figures. The back cover is him with me adding the layout and some of the texture on it. The eyes and mouth stuff he did was a real collage on a photocopy machine. The cover is his work too, photocopying circuit boards and other media elements that we had scanned. But the insert and poster was me. I don’t know if you saw the promo photo, the one in color that I posted, but we made prosthetic cyborg masks that we all wore.

JR: Are you a big sci-fi fan?

AH: I am. It’s funny. I don’t get nearly enough time to read or watch movies as I want because I’m always drawing and usually at the end of the day my brain’s telling me that it just wants to watch an Adam Sandler movie or Arrested Development, but obviously I love so much sci-fi, especially the imagery and visuals. I’m inspired by the illustrations, movie posters, and book covers. And, of course, a good sci-fi is always an allegory for something else. I really like Tetsuo: The Iron Man, which was a big influence. And Burst City, which is an 80s Japanese Cyberpunk movie - you can find the trailer online - and that band The Stalin is in it. It looks unbelievable. Robot police are shooting rockets at motorcycle-wielding speedpunks. You can watch a bunch of it, but the whole thing’s in Japanese. That said, I’m sure if you dig, you could probably download a dubbed version or you might even be able to find a legit release. And Terminator is the most obvious. You know, L.O.T.I.O.N. and the record design with the corporate-looking stuff was inspired by SkyNet and corporations like that.

JR: I think it’s really applicable. Terminator is so visionary. We don’t necessarily have robots stalking the earth, but we definitely have insidious technology.

AH: Well the technology we have looks sexy too. It’s not a hulking exoskeleton, but it might be a silver disk that can drop bombs, and people are reading your e-mails all the time. Although, have you seen pictures or videos of that MIT hunting robot yet?

JR: I don’t think so.

AH: Oh, it’s fucking terrifying. It’s this headless dog with four legs and it can run, jump, open doors. You can’t knock it over. It’s clearly going to be the future of policing.

JR: That’s not good…

AH: Yeah, well I guess the government funded it in the first place, but it’s insane that there are people who are smart enough to build this stuff don’t have the conscience to say “No, we’re not going to make you a hunting robot.”

JR: Yeah, well, that’s the same thing with Oppenheimer, I assume. I think that people of that caliber are sort of doomed to be used for sinister purposes.

AH: I think his philosophy was that someone else would have done it, so he may as well do it and give it into the hands of people who were “good.” But…I think it’s pretty ignorant to think that the U.S. government is a force of good.

JR: Yeah, well, who would you even go to, anyway?

AH: Right. I can’t imagine a single government that needs that. If you’re a good government, you don’t need that anyway.

JR: So when did you start doing the Death/Traitors clothing line?

AH: Death/Traitors officially started in 2007, a year after I graduated from Pratt. I had been doing other shirts before that at the Pratt facility, but about a year before I graduated, I bought a silkscreen press with some friends of mine, which we stored in our apartment for years until I finally got a studio. In ’07, I decided to try for serious and do it “professionally.” I started with a friend and for the first four years, we made shirt designs and printed them ourselves because we had the press. If we made a couple and sold them, then we wouldn’t really lose any money, and we could have a new season with new designs without having to front a ton of money, since we controlled the production. Slowly but surely we kept making ends. We’d have parties or shows or give shirts to our friends, and we made the website more professional, and figured out the imagery and idea. Things just came together and picked up from there. In 2010 or 2011, my partner and I split ways amicably. He was into other stuff and this was my life. I wanted to do it all. So I took it over and the imagery solidified itself, including the concepts behind it, and the line itself formed. I began to get a little bit of buzz.

JR: Let’s talk a little bit about your imagery. When I first saw your clothes, I thought it was like the bleakest thing I’d ever seen, but eventually I realized that there was a lot of hope in it. There’s such a juxtaposition between the peace and violence in your work.

AH: Yeah, I think of that saying: “A hippie is a mean person who looks nice and a punk is a nice person who looks mean.” I think the same thing is true for my line. As far as style and imagery goes, that’s what I like - that’s what we like. Scary, tough, bleak stuff with skulls and death. Our culture is into that in general. I, personally, am really into these Japanese depictions of gore that are almost cartoonish - ridiculous, comic book kinds of stuff. But I juxtapose it with messages that I believe are important. You can be a punk, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a brain or you’re pro-war. When I first started doing it, I was way into masonic and illuminati stuff, like the power of symbols. At the end of the day, even if there is no real secret behind these groups, the symbols remain inherently powerful - they affect people. How can you harness the power of these images and get the message that you’re trying to direct to people, instead of having it be a secretive thing?

AH: Initially, I was using a lot of Japanese because I like the idea that you can put a word or phrase on a shirt, and most people in America would have no idea what it says, but it’s out there for everyone. You could still go home and translate it or ask someone, but there’s a level of a secret meaning, and plus, I’ve always loved the way that Japanese lettering and kanji has looked. Eventually, I stopped doing that as much. I didn’t want to get to the point where I was unsure about cultural appropriation. It started to become a trope too. So on the newer shirts, there’s this almost illegible, vertical Old English. From a distance it’s hard to read, but when you’re close up, you can read what it says. It’s like subliminal messaging. Again, when I first started, along with the Illuminati, secret society stuff, I was looking at fascist imagery - medallions, nazi stuff - it’s so powerful and even now people who aren’t even fascist are riffing on it. So I started thinking “how can I take this imagery, but instead of using it for a fascist state use it to promote freedom and empathy?” The power of these images isn’t necessarily good or evil. It’s how you attribute it.

JR: Do you think there’s a single message to your visual art?

AH: I don’t think there’s one particular thing - it's reporting. Some of my duty as an artist of my time is to report about what’s happening in the world and how I feel about it. In general with Death/Traitors the idea is propaganda for…well, “peace” is such a simplistic word, but anti-oppressive propaganda or anti-fascist propaganda. Again, all these words are so monolithic and singular, but the general idea is empathy.

AH: In the 90s, it was uncool to care or to give a shit. Someone would say “Oh, what? You’re a fucking hippie?” And I don’t think having a moral compass or a care in the world makes you a squishy liberal or a bleeding heart bike punk. You can have a mohawk and studs too. That’s what punk is.

JR: Absolutely. I think that’s how it started. A lot of people talk about the Sex Pistols being the first punk band, but the Sex Pistols were also almost a boy band. Real punk bands were like the Ramones, Minor Threat, Bad Brains, Circle Jerks. I think those guys definitely stood for a lot of things.

AH: Absolutely, and I don’t think it needs to get to the point where you’re giving everyone directives, either. That’s one of the things I like to consider with my work - I don’t want to be preaching. First and foremost, people are buying my record or wearing my clothes because it sounds good or looks good. I don’t want to tell them what to do, but I want to report what I see and do. You can talk and talk, but the way you conduct yourself matters a lot more than what you say in your lyrics. There are plenty of bands who have plenty to say that don’t back it up with actions. There are also bands that get flagged as being apolitical, but who do a lot for the community. Like Toxic State - most of those bands aren’t overtly political, but it’s this totally independent DIY thing and John gives bands the best deals, works with everyone, donates money to charity and doesn’t need to tell anyone. Actions speak louder than words.

JR: Do you get to travel a lot for your art?

AH: In the past two years I’ve started to do some traveling. I went to Europe in early October last year, and now I’m going out to Bogota in the next couple weeks, and then I plan on going to Berlin to meet up with Anasazi at the end of the year. I’ve got friends there too. That’s the cool thing about punk - I’ve met tons of people over the years just from them coming to New York or the general area. And eventually with all these connections it’s like: You can set up a DIY punk show? I can set up a DIY art show too. I don’t need to worry about selling a $500 or $1000 painting because I can sell a bunch of shirts and at least make my money back. Some people argue that a twenty dollar t-shirt is little expensive, and yeah, it’s not cheap - it’s not a ten dollar punk shirt, but it’s a hand-printed wearable art piece. I design it and print it so twenty bucks for an original print that you can wear isn’t so bad. That’s what allowed me to be an artist and work for myself instead of showing in galleries and expecting one person to pay a lot for one piece. I’d rather keep it at putting my work on t-shirts or prints and do a book so it can reach more people. It adds up. I can squeak by and still get my stuff out to people. The hard part is that I really want to do paintings, but at the end of the day, when I have these pieces and can show them, who can afford them? I want my work to be out there, but if I put six months into a painting, it’s worth a lot more, just in terms of time, if nothing else.

JR: Do you sell your paintings?

AH: I do. I’ve sold a handful. I did a few paintings three or four years ago and I sold most of those, but they were smaller wood panels. I didn’t have a chance to do anything that I wanted to show until last October when I had done a bunch of watercolor pieces. I sold half or so of them - they were all small. Most of my stuff is black and white, though, so color takes me a lot longer, and I’m still learning so I’m slightly less confident. I’m working on this big piece for Colombia now, though, and it’s going to be a big print. From that, I’m going to make a painting. I’m going to make a series out of it - hopefully by next year I’ll be able to show new paintings.

AH: Unfortunately I’ve also had to start saying no to a lot of commission stuff, which is money and work, but it's hard because you can’t charge a punk band that much money, and I’m also not going to give something half-assed. It's hard to spend a ton of time on something and then give it to someone for really cheap. I’ve been limiting what I say “yes” to, so I’ve been limiting myself to t-shirts, and paintings and art that I’m doing.

JR: Is there anyone contemporary who continues to be an influence on you in terms of visual art?

AH: Obviously people like Pettibon, I don’t know how contemporary we’re talking, but that whole spectrum of punk artists, and then people who are peers who are bringing it so hard. We all inspire each other so much. Sam Ryser who does Dripper World is unbelievable. He’s one of my favorite artists period, let alone a good friend, which blows my mind. And Eugene from Crazy Spirit, Emil from Dawn of Human, Heather Benjamin, who moved to Providence. She did a zine called Sad Sex, which is hyper gory hairy ladies - it’s really sick. And my partner Jess who’s in Anasazi is an amazing artist - she also helps me out in the studio. I literally don’t know how to paint so Jess will help me mix colors or do textures.

JR: How was it working with Sacred Bones doing the book you did?

AH: It was great. I love Caleb - he’s a sweetheart. I was happy to get my toe in a more mainstream world. He’s got more of a reach than anyone else I’ve worked with before, but Caleb’s also a punk and he understands punk so he didn’t push me to do anything I didn’t want to do or was uncomfortable. And then he did a great job on production. I was really happy to have made that decision and I’m definitely going to do another book for Sacred Bones once I get enough together, but rather than simply having a compilation of stuff, I’d rather have it be a interrelated and made for the book so it’ll be a piece in itself.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Release of the Day: Unmanned Ship - "Crystal Pepsi" b/w "Pad Thai Fighter"

The 33rpm 7" format is perfect for a band like Unmanned Ship. You get two wandering jams (about ten minutes of tunery) without getting the feeling that the band had to clip its songs. Unmanned Ship in a live setting is intense and loud with all the trappings of a heavy psych band. Comparatively, this 7" has a lithe feel: for instance, "Crystal Pepsi" has this recurring lucid, pop-like chorus. The guitar and bass swell and the pitch elevates briefly before returning to its motorik foundation. It's a beautiful cluster of moments, one that makes Unmanned Ship stand out from its peers.

"Pad Thai Fighter" begins, fittingly, with a storm before taking on a somnambulant feel, occasionally broken up by torrential passages that would be as at home on a Godspeed! You Black Emperor record as they are on this record. The song eventually collapses in feedback and looping, gyroscopic whirls. And goddamn, you've gotta hear it again.

I interviewed Unmanned Ship about a year ago too. Great band. Great dudes.


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Release of the Day: Foul Tip/Lil Tits 7" Split

Maximum Pelt did a number on this one. The search for sonic comparison between Lil Tits and Foul Tip is tricky: the only clear parallel is instrumentation, as both bands have bass and drums, which is to say that these bands pull different spools on the punk technicolor dreamcoat. But who listens to a record, especially a split for that matter, to hear the same song two to four times? No one cool.

First off, both bands are monsters. Lil Tits, who on these tracks feature Hanna Hazard, Madalyn Garcia, and Pixie Rose is on some serious witchage, a little bit Suspiria and a little bit Hocus Pocus. They tear through two songs on the b-side after a menacing intro, which locks into a noisy bass groove. Lil Tits ain't about the calm before the storm - fuck the calm before the storm. Now there's two storms, possibly three, and the pallid horseman of the apocalypse follows. These songs are shouted over menacing guitar lines, throbbing bass, and dynamic drums. Equal parts hardcore and stoner me
tal. Shit rips.

Foul Tip, drum and bass punk funk band starring Ed Bornstein and Adam Luksetich, are tight and fast. Like the best pop songs, "Madness" draws power from the interplay with tension and release. But Foul Tip does restraint so well that when the bass-driven explosion occurs and the band shouts "Cut this out/Can't go Back/I don't care/I caught the madness," it's a goddamn revelation. Wish the band had put two songs on this split too, but that's a good problem to have.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Interview with Matt Boettke of Scant

Photo by Nikki Sneakers
Much of noise gets its strength from tension and release: a lower frequency plays predecessor to a shriek of feedback or an interval of silence is bookshelved by harsh walls. To an extent, this is also what happens in a pop song's verse and chorus, and is largely what Krautrock was rebelling against in the 60s. When Holger Czukay of Can told drummer Jaki Liebezeit to play simply and repetitively, he wasn't asking for Jaki to be boring; rather, he composed songs of pure tension, where release was an option rather than a precedent. Matt Boettke's solo project Scant has a similar ethos - Scant isn't necessarily static, but it does draw power from consistency - tones and textures change at their own pace, not at a listener's beckoning.

Matt has put out tapes on Rainbow Bridge, Chondritic Sound, and Monorail Trespassing. He also ran Candle Haus in Fairfax with several other artists. He has played in both solo and group capacities on the East Coast, and recently released his first tape as Roy Wren with Rachel Nicole Foley on Beyond the Ruins. He is currently residing in Philadelphia, after spending an extended period in Virginia. He has more than a few releases coming up, but he's a much better spokesperson for his music than myself.

Jordan Reyes: Let's begin with the ideas of control and improvisation in your work as Scant. Are these two things mutually exclusive in your work? How much planning goes into a live Scant set? Do you know exactly how your set will sound before you play?

Matt Boettke: There is some improvisation in Scant sets, which I think is inherent to the style of noise music, but primarily all sets are completely pre-planned and as of late are completely sample based so there is an exactness to what I do live. I have started trying to replicate pieces from releases, and similarly record replicable pieces, live- my favorite set I’ve been doing live has been a re-working of my 2014 cassette, “In Simulating Drowning”.

JR: Do you think having "control" is important in noise?

MB: I think it can be- for what I do it’s important after all. However I have definitely seen some completely unrestrained performers who have left me wanting nothing, so it really is a case-by-case scenario to me. Acts like Twilight Memories of the Three Suns (one of the first real noise groups I was familiar with because they were local to me) is a complete free-for all, arguably, and their style of soundcraft has certainly resulted in countless amazing sets I’ve been privy to. Other times, in extremely technical performers like Jon Borges and Shannon Kennedy with Pedestrian Deposit, control is everything, and every time they come around on their (as of late) annual tour it has been the show of the year- never disappointing and always improving. Always getting more precise, always more impressive and a true testament to giving attention to detail.

JR: What do you think makes a noise or experimental piece compelling, either in regards to your own work or others'?

MB: For me, if you can really “lose yourself” in a piece, that is what makes it compelling to me. If you can have the tape or record on and lose track of time and temporarily be alleviated of your existence, that is the effect I am looking for in both what I create and what I seek out to listen to in the genre. Anything that almost becomes a sensory-depravation experience is what I consider “good noise”, and that can really be achieved in an endless number of ways.

JR: Like most solo projects, I'm sure that making music or performing as Scant can be an intimate endeavor. Is there a spiritual aspect to it for you?

MB: The spiritual element that I’d say exists with Scant is that I am probably in my most spiritually in-tune moments when I record the material for the project. Obviously it is hard to be in a state of meditation or dissociation when playing a live show, but in recording those are the states I tend to be in. I use recording as Scant as a chance to try and get to the most detached I can be, to really try and be “on the outside looking in” for lack of a better way to phrase it. My intent with the project is to create highly dissociative sound pieces that result in the listener feeling the same detachment through listening that I do while creating.

JR: You began Scant four or five years ago, if I'm not mistaken. Has your creative process in Scant changed at all during this time? How?

MB: I’d say it’s pretty much stayed the same the whole time. It’s always me in my room with a computer full of field recordings, some kind of synth, some pedals, and used to be a tape deck but lately it’s been a sampler. I always record and practice in my bedroom either with headphones or just out of my computer speakers. I always jokingly say if it sounds good on shitty speakers it’ll sound great on good ones, so that’s why I do this- truth is I just don’t have anything else to monitor with. I’ve had access to various better practice spaces several times and it’s just never been the same as playing alone in my room. It’s the place you go to detach, so it’s only natural that’s where I like this process to go down.

JR: You've also been involved with several noise "groups," such as Widow's Bath, Inferior Passions, and Roy Wen. Do you feel as though you have to "compromise" when recording or making music in a group setting? Is that a "bad thing"?

MB: In no way do I feel like making music with another is a compromise, and if I thought something was a “bad thing” I surely would not be involved in it, simply put. I feel like I certainly need to change my approach when making noise with others,and that the same sort of dedications to tone and microtextural changes cannot be what I bring to the table in a group setting. Since these things are so specific to a solo performance, if I were to try and bring those to the forefront I would just be drowning out my collaborators. Instead, each project of collaboration I am involved in takes its own specific approach, often time explicitly discussed at great length before a recording or practice session has even taken place. Once we both find common ground and a place to meet on the same page, playing with others can become as natural as playing by myself.

JR: You have a couple tapes coming out soon - one with Shredded Nerve and one as Roy Wren. Tell me a little bit about those two tapes. How did you guys meet and decide to work together? When will they come out? I know Shredded Nerve is from Cincinatti - did that make things difficult?

MB: The tape you are referring to as being released “with Shredded Nerve” is the collaborative project of Justin Lakes (who does Shredded Nerve) and myself, Inferior Passions. Our debut cassette of material will be released through Chondritic Sound, the primary home to both me and Lakes’s solo material as Scant and Shredded Nerve respectively. I met Justin sometime early into the time I was doing Scant, during my first tours out to the Midwest where he lived in Cincinnati and booked shows in that area which includes Dayton as well. From the moment we met we knew we’d be great friends, and for years I have been seeing Justin on our own tours either when I went to Ohio or he came to Virginia, as well as making the yearly trip to his Summer Scum festival historically happening every year in Buffalo, NY, where he briefly resided as well. We also have gone on several tours together, including flying out to the west coast together earlier this year for our first time playing shows out there. Whenever we are in the same place, we found time to either discuss or practice a collaboration, and a few times over the years we have performed collaborative sets live. We have long discussed doing a tape, but with Justin recently relocating to New York City and being so close to each other we decided to start a project since we could actively practice and play shows with more frequency. The first offering from the project is “Any Day”, 32 minutes of material so empty and lifeless that we deemed it to have been able to represent ‘Any Day’ of our lives, nothing special to it other than the fact it is a day the two of us are playing music together, which could be anytime, anywhere. Roy Wren is another project I am part of, with Rachel Nicole Foley who used to collaborate with me in Sex Complex as well when we both lived in the Washington, D.C. area. When she moved to Richmond, VA from Charlotte, NC in early 2014, we began living and playing music together on a regular basis, and eventually formed the project Roy Wren to record and perform what we had been working on almost daily out of our chaotic Richmond spot dubbed “The Leigh Hole” by friends who visited the apartment. Our first cassette was recently released on Beyond The Ruins, the philly imprint of power electronics artist Pleasure Island, who I’ve worked with as Scant extensively in the past as well. We are currently working on a second tape to be released as part of the reboot of Jason Crumer’s No Rent label. Rachel and I live together currently in Philadelphia, and practice and record in our home studio, the Heaven’s Gate warehouse which is often home to select DIY noise shows and shared by the other residents of the house.

JR: You've been involved with the DIY/noise/experimental scene for a while, from running Candle Haus to your many recording projects. What do you think people involved with noise/experimental music need to keep in mind in order to keep it moving forward?

MB: To keep this short, what’s best to keep in mind is yourself. Worry about your project, worry about yourself. Don’t spend time shit-talking or drama-mongering with the concerns of other projects in the scene- it’s just not a big enough scene for it to not end up sounding like a high school cafeteria when things get to that point. Worry about being good, book shows with like-minded artists, show mutual support and most importantly- be good. Noise is in in a fledgling state, the most important thing you can do as an artist is make sure your material is good… fuck it- great. That will help build the scene, not determining some arbitrary hierarchy based on juvenile bullshit.

JR: What all is in the future for Matt Boettke and Scant?

MB: I have a handful of releases forthcoming- another cassette due out on Chondritic Sound as Scant, solo material released under my own name by Ascetic House which differs in intention from the Scant project, and ultimately a debut full-length due out on Chondritic Sound as well, most likely released sometime early 2016. Greh at Chondritic Sound has been incredibly supportive of my work since we’ve become acquainted, so I really am focusing on working with him for future Scant releases, especially this full-length which will be the first definitive statement from the project since it’s inception in 2011. There have been a lot of short releases leading up to this, and I think it is time to fully realize the ideas I’ve been working with the past few years in album form for the first time.

JR: Anything else you'd like to say?

MB: I’d like to point out that the biggest influence on me over the years has been my friends, the people I know and the people who are working towards the same things I am with their respective projects. Over the years I have had the pleasure of living in artist households that without a doubt helped shape my identity as an artist, and there is nothing more encouraging than living with other artists and discussing ongoing projects and goals together on a daily basis. Starting with the Candle Haus I had this type of close working relationship with Jacob Knibb, who co-curates Select DC with Josh Levi as well as performing as Rosemary Arp and DJ’n as Kanon. At the house also resided Craig Hodgkins, who performers solo noise as Cincinnatus C but primarily focuses on his screamo band Annakarina, based in Pittsburgh, PA. Also living at the Candle Haus were visual artists Sam Walker, Alexa-Smith Francis, and Peter Lawrence, whose energy certainly contributed to the vibe I cultivated from living at that spot. As with any show house so many incredible artists came through and performed in our basement as well, people I’ve met through that time have come to be some of my best friends and biggest influences as well. After taking a break from this lifestyle to live with my partner at the time, I lived with Iona (Crack Bytch) and Rachel Nicole Foley at the aforementioned Leigh Hole- another spot whose shared environment helped shape my work, and then moved to the prolific Baltimore warehouse spot SDF America, which was populated by a multitude over the years far too long to list here, but I’d like to give a special acknowledgement to that whole crew for sure, especially Eric Trude (Stress Orphan) who I’ve known and worked with since before the Candle Haus days. Currently I am living at Heaven’s Gate in Philadelphia, and I am living with Rachel Nicole Foley (my partner in Roy Wren) as well as two of my best friends, Rachel Slurr and Chris QC, who record and perform as Stroker (Slurr) and Gene Pick (QC). Living with them recreates what I had at the Candle Haus, with fellow artists working in the warehouse and discussing their work on a daily basis, and there is nothing that helps strengthen me as an artist more than that. I want to acknowledge them as well as everyone I’ve met along the past few years for helping me realize myself as the artist I am today, wouldn’t be who I was without my crew, and I love you all.

MB: **Even though I never lived with them, a special acknowledgement to Gary Stevens and the Auxiliary/RVA Noise krew as well, stay strong and keep doing it up for the best spot in the city.