Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Interview with Luke Wyatt of Torn Hawk and Valcrond Video

Torn Hawk is a Luke Wyatt solo venture, one of many. Never one for stagnation, Wyatt's career has been characterized by prolificacy, having released about a dozen records under his shape-shifting, guitar and synth Torn Hawk moniker in the few years of its existence. But that's not even half of what he's had his hands in throughout those years, when you look at his various guises, collaborations, and label output.

The idea of "collage" is important when taking in the scope of Luke Wyatt's work. Luke's artistic work draws from all media, visual, auditory, or other. Olfactory? Only time will tell. If you ever get a chance to see a Luke Wyatt interview, you might be surprised by his absurd, comic candor. For a man who makes instrumental music, he sure appreciates the finer aspects of breaking a fourth wall or uttering a non-sequitur, all the while demonstrating a manic my-tongue-can't-keep-up-with-my-brain-ness to his audience. Luke's got a lot on his mind - mental miasma basically bubbling at the surface, trying to burst - and sometimes it splatters onto a slab of wax, and sometimes onto a VHS, and sometimes into a word-salad interview. Regardless of the method of information relay, it is most likely worth your time.

When I approached Luke about the interview, he wanted to focus on his label, Valcrond Video. 2015 has been a good year for him, having put out records by Helmer, Body Tools, and Burns & Hawk, though the label has been active since 2011 or so, starting by releasing Luke Wyatt projects before expanding to other artists.

Jordan Reyes: You began your label Valcrond Video back in 2011, releasing your own work. How was the transition from working on your own terms to taking in the consideration of other artists?

Luke Wyatt: I don’t worry about other people.

LW: If any of the artists give me any shit about not listening to their views, I provide their current address to the IRS. All the guys on the label are tax fugitives to some degree.

LW: That’s what binds the artists on the label together, really. Tax non-compliance.

JR: Sad Stonewash - A Video Mulch was the first release you had for Valcrond Video, right? Was it also the first thing you released musically?

LW: Well that was a DVD release, it was a way to get my own video work out there after having worked on the PPU Video Party DVDs. But I slapped my music on there as well. 

LW: SS was the first Valcrond release, but not the first thing that was released with my music on it. I was in some groups with other people, and had some solo CDRs, all of which should be on Discogs,  but most are not because the guys doing one of the labels are lazy or clueless. But nice guys. Or one of them is. 

LW: I also did a soundtrack for a health & safety video my friend made for a trucking company. That shit is classic, if anybody can find a copy, let me know PLEASE.

LW: Anyway, I’d consider most of that stuff (except for the trucking thing, which was very evolved) to be juvenilia  even though I was over 40 at the time. 

LW: 15 years on, looking at Alec Baldwin, Barack Obama, and other of my supposed peers, I have to worry about the state of this nation. Not enough of these guys are doing yoga ! I’ve been doing yoga for 9 years, and 55 has never looked better.

JR: Was there any learning curve for you doing the label? I have to think that the move from CD-Rs and DVDs to vinyl had to have been a bit of a challenge.

LW: I don’t learn anything, I just try to force action in the way a toddler stuffs as many things into their mouth as they can, big things, dog toys, flip flops. I just gobble things up and my fly-like saliva breaks them down into manageable mush.  

JR: Was there any label or person or even idea that was particularly inspiring to your work in Valcrond Video?

LW: Jose Canseco. To spell Canseco, you have to spell the word “can”. 

JR: How do you decide what gets to be released on the label? Are there ever cases when someone sends something in or do you always know the person?

LW: I only deal with people who are single-minded, driven. If anybody has a valid driver’s license, owns a home, has a kid, or more than $800 in their checking account, I am not working with them.  I’m looking for real focus here. 

JR: You recently released the Burns & Hawk 12". I know that you two played together in Circuit, Burns & Hawk before, but how did you and Willie Burns decide to do this release?

LW: I decided to make something out of some jams Will and I did, and he sort of shrugged and let it happen.  

JR: You also just put out the Roccale 12" by Helmer. How did you and DP get in contact and decide to release this?

LW: Helmer is a close chum from the NY area. He was a bouncer at a strip club I used to go to; I felt bad for him sitting out in the cold, hard, stark concrete landscape all night looking at gross guys come in and out. I’d bring him a hot meatball hero once in awhile. He’d warm his hands on it, then swallow it in one bite by unlocking his jaw like a big snake. Then he’d let me into the club for free. Often he would pass me CD demos of his lame-ass music— such crap. The CDs would end up on floor of my car and would be useful when I was looking for a surface to snort drugs off of once in awhile. I happened to actually listen to one the CDs eventually— this is when I was stuck in a car wash, with sudsy water covering the windows and doors of the car, suds and streaming water becoming my whole world— and this particular CD wasn’t quite as lame as the rest. I decided then and there to put it out.  

JR: What all is coming up for Valcrond Video?

LW: The first Body Tools 12” just came out. 

LW: I’ve also got a couple unknown freaky teenagers from Paramus, NJ, they make some real shitty house music, I am excited about them. One of the guys is called Garbagepale. Such an evocative name, I think. 

JR: What would be your dream release if time and space were not considerations?

LW: “Time & Space”, the debut EP from Dream Release.  

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