Slice 1 Created with Sketch.

Anenon’s Petrol LP Released on Friends of Friends

Our Los Angeles label friends FoF Music have just released Petrol, the third full length by Anenon. Petrol is Brian Allen Simon’s definitive love-hate letter to Los Angeles and the product of both live group improvisation (with Jon-Kyle Mohr, Yvette Holzwarth and Max Kaplan) and tireless solo studio work.

Purchase Petrol now.

Selected Petrol Press

The WIRE
The FADER
Pitchfork
LA Weekly

Camembert EP by Anenon Out Now on Friends of Friends

We are pleased to announce that our good label friends at FoF Music are releasing two projects by Anenon over the next few months. The first up is the Camembert EP, a four track suite of music recorded over a short period of this past Los Angeles summer. Camembert finds Brian Allen Simon furthering his personal sonic voice with an EP that touches on Ambient music, Free Jazz, Techno and Classical all within four tracks. Camembert is the precursor to his third full length LP Petrol, which will be available in early 2016.

Purchase Camembert now as a free / pay what you want release.

Thanks again to Friends of Friends.

Nick Malkin in Conversation with Brian Allen Simon

Pre-Order Christmas Lights Through a Rain-Streaked Migraine now.

Tiny Mix Tapes premieres “A2”

Nick Malkin has quietly, but firmly been putting down his sonic stamp throughout the city of Los Angeles since the week he arrived here from New Jersey some six and a half years ago. From multiple solo projects to work behind the scenes with LA Vampires and Sun Araw to being one of the first DJ’s involved with Chinatown based experimental radio station KCHUNG, Nick has been a busy guy with a truly personal sonic touch. His sense of aural aesthetics always feels intimate, yet universal. We met a few years ago over a mutual understanding of the intricacies of DJ Shadow and I’m elated to be able to release Christmas Lights Through a Rain-Streaked Migraine, the first record under his own name. Wanting to get some unedited words from Nick, we each had a glass of white wine and sat down on a bench in the courtyard of his girlfriend’s East Hollywood apartment building and riffed while tenants came in and out giving us weird looks. - Brian

Brian Allen Simon One of the things on my mind recently, with the influx of people moving here and with the music scene in a constant fluctuation, is what does it mean to make music in Los Angeles right now? Does it mean anything to you? Is it part of your identity or is it just a geographical location that you happen to live in?

Nick Malkin It’s hard for me to ascribe a certain sound to LA music now. When I first moved here, at least from my perspective, geographically, living in Echo Park and going to the Echo Curio and kind of being stuck in that neighborhood, Not Not Fun was the dominant musical force in the city. To me, then, LA music was very much rooted in that particular sound - lo-fi, droney, pseudo-psychedelic music.

BAS And how did you get linked up with Britt and Amanda from Not Not Fun originally?

NM I met Britt briefly in Austin at the Not Not Fun showcase years back at SXSW as I was driving from New Jersey to California. When I got here, the Echo Curio was so egalitarian and wide open that I just organically and easily linked up with them.

BAS The first legitimate venue (if you can even call it a legitimate venue) Non Projects show that we ever did was at Echo Curio for Asura’s release party back in January 2010 with Asura, myself, RareBit and Ana Caravelle. Up until then we had done things at Mandrake and thrown house shows in Mount Washington. I laugh about it now, but I remember feeling incredibly excited about an email from Grant Capes (Echo Curio founder) saying “yeah, sure, you can play here, let’s do a night!” (laughs)

NM That was the whole thing… when I met Britt, I spoke with him briefly and he said if you end up in LA and if you’re looking to play a show you should email this guy Grant and he can help you out. I emailed him and he got right back to me and offered me a show two weeks from the original email that I sent. I figured I would stay in LA until the show, play and then move along. But I ended up staying.

echocurio

BAS Was that just a solo show?

NM No, I had put together a small band in the two weeks before that show. It was half a solo set and half full band.

BAS And did that have a name?

NM Queen Victoria

BAS I was under the impression that Queen Victoria was just your solo project…

NM Yeah. on tape it was, but live I would play with other people. It seemed like Not Not Fun was very omnipresent in the city so like once every week, week and a half it felt like there was some sort of Not Not Fun show at the Curio, Blu Monkey or Mr. T’s Bowl.

BAS What about M Bar? Were you doing anything over there?

NM M Bar wasn’t a thing that I associated with the music scene at all. That was purely an art world after party spot to me.

BAS I remember the Grown parties happening at that time…

NM I went to the Grown parties but I wasn’t the least bit tuned into that world at that point so I didn’t know that it was anything other than a sort of hipster den. I didn’t know Zane (SFV Acid, partly behind Grown) yet or any of the extended Dublab people at that time.

BAS So you viewed Not Not Fun as the dominant force in at least East Side LA / Northeast LA music. Were you at all aware of the Low End Theory scene or the more electronic music world happening in LA at the time?

NM Not at all. my tastes were completely myopic at that time. Really rooted in long form experimentalism and the more cartoony, lo-fi, psych stuff.

BAS What were some of your key influences at the time in the music you were making?

NM I never quite fit into what was going around here with that particular aesthetic but I was interested in droney, deconstructed folk and Jandek influences.

BAS Would you call it freak folk?

NM No, I never really liked that stuff, I always associated that with like a late-wave psychedelia and I wasn’t really interested in psychedelia at all. Mine was a little bit more of, at least in my mind, a colder, more east coast style experimentalism with very minimal drug affiliation. I wasn’t trying to make “trippy” music per say. I wanted to make even more disjointed, somber, post-folk music or something like that.

BAS How did you make that jump from this guitar and vocal driven Queen Victoria project to Afterhours? Was it an immediate thing right after that or was there some sort of gestation period?

NM I was playing with Cameron (Sun Araw) while Queen Victoria was still active and it probably wasn’t until I started playing with LA Vampires that I became more adept and comfortable playing with more beat oriented music.

BAS LA Vampires had a similar evolution too, right? Starting as distortion heavy, rock sort of stuff and then it became a dance-y, drum machine, beat driven project.

NM Yeah, it wasn’t too dissimilar from Pocahaunted at the time… lo fi, blurry, colorful, but it wasn’t very dance-y.

BAS Yeah, I have this really fond memory of seeing that early rock formation of LA Vampires at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock with an ex-girlfriend and her visiting Christian parents at the time. Amanda was pulsating wildly on the ground and just sort of making these weird vocal noises and screams into the mic. It was great.

NM Anyways, by the time I got involved, LA Vampires was moving into the production direction and it became more cleaner and about as mainstream as Not Not Fun ever got. The last tour we did was a month plus of being in a club and listening to dance music every night so that definitely began to inform the Afterhours project. The name is tacky for me now… the name came from the fact that it was the music that I was making after I stopped working on Queen Victoria music during the day.

BAS I’ve always liked how obvious the name was, it just works.

NM Yeah, it’s so blank.

BAS Very un-google-able

NM Like every solo project of mine.

NM I shared a house with two other guys and would work on the Queen Victoria stuff during the day because I could sing and not be interrupted and just felt more comfortable. The stuff I would work on at night while everyone was asleep was headphone, direct-in, laptop music and so that’s what I started to experiment with.

BAS At that point were you already rooted in the trip hop aesthetics of DJ Shadow, DJ Krush, Mo’ Wax, James Lavelle, etc? I remember that’s how we met… over a mutual bonding of a love of that era. I had seen you around at shows but I recall meeting you when you DJ’d this show that I played in 2012 or 2013 at The Alexandria Hotel (also booked by Grant Capes). You were playing a bunch of Shadow and I said “keep playing Shadow” or something.

NM Well you just came right up and said hello and which was really nice because that felt like such an organic connection in such a straight forward way.

BAS At this point it seems like Shadow’s Endtroducing… era is an obvious thing to point to now, but even just a few years ago it didn’t seem like people were on that wavelength of having that history of listening to that stuff.

NM You can look at that cynically or choose not to. Not that I thought that this was my own private music by any means, but just the other day, seeing the outpouring of these thoughtful Rest In Peace posts about Susumu Yokota. I’ve never had a conversation with anyone about Susumu Yokota. I’ve never heard anyone else talk about him and so it’s funny when something turns around and becomes this ubiquitous reference point.

BAS that’s just kind of the time that we’re in now. We all have access to these reference points and whenever we want that reference point to be a personal thing it’s just a click away, and I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing, it just kind of is right now.

NM Sure.

NM I don’t listen to it as much of it (DJ Shadow) now as I did when I first started working on Afterhours. With Queen Victoria, I got really tired of hearing myself on tape. I was looking for a way to make music with less of my own trace on it. It almost came out of a sense of self-disgust. I was tired of hearing my own guitar playing and my own voice, and hearing my own capabilities and limitations as a player of a tangible instrument. But obviously the impulse to make music persisted so I just started playing around with samples.

BAS I can definitely hear that in ‘Sleepwalker.’ It’s a very anonymous sounding record to me. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly who is behind it.

NM I wanted to make music that was easier for me to listen back to. I would never listen to the Queen Victoria material after I finished recording it… it just felt too perverse in a way. I just didn’t like listening to it.

BAS When you were making Queen Victoria music were you purging?

NM Not even that… it wasn’t based in catharsis or anything, it was just something that I would do and release on tape. I just had a basic epiphany, like “if I don’t enjoy listening back to this music, how can I expect anyone else to?” I was just trying to make music that I personally enjoyed, that I would want to listen to, which is one of many musical tangents that brought me to Afterhours.

When i started working with samples the trip hop aesthetic just kind of naturally manifested. I heard Endtroducing… at the right age. All of those records were pretty early finds for me. Which is funny because I wasn’t a particularly big hip hop or electronic music fan, I was pretty straight-forwardly a rocker through most of junior high and high school.

endtroducing

BAS I always felt that DJ Shadow or Aphex Twin made those sort of bridge records that listeners of Rock and Indie could feel comfortable getting into. Obviously, that division doesn’t really exist now, but I remember being back in college and being heavily into hip hop and trip hop, I’d always run into Indie and Rock people who were like “yeah, I love DJ Shadow, I love Aphex Twin.”

NM Boards of Canada too…

BAS Yeah, definitely. I’ve always wondered why that was. Could be the drums, at least with Shadow being so obviously acoustic based, or it could also have just been as simple as those records hitting the right press outlets at that time.

NM There must be something vaguely rock and roll about the melodic sensibility of those records… there’s definitely some kind of aesthetic connecting point. It’s just pretty universally enjoyable music and that’s part of what makes the genre tacky in a way. It’s funny, working on straightforward trip hop tracks, at least for ‘Low Life’ (Not Not Fun, 2014), I began to really see that there’s a very fine line between DJ Shadow and someone like Moby. That music has that sort of universal appeal. You can play Moby for a pretty conservative listener like somebody’s mother and it’s very safe experimental music. It’s slightly off the beaten path ambient music that appeals to someone who isn’t so familiar with the genre.

BS So ‘Christmas Lights Through a Rain-Streaked Migraine’ marks the first time that you’ve worked under your own name, right?

NM Yeah.

nm-christmas-lights

BAS When we were first talking about doing this project together it was going to be an Afterhours thing, and somehow that evolved into us releasing it under your own name. I totally respect that and in my mind there’s a clear difference in the sound of this record compared to the sound of the Afterhours music that’s been released on Not Not Fun.

NM When I listen back to it now, I hear the difference, but I can also hear how it could go the other way. It was just at some point, it began to feel less like Afterhours and turned into something newer for me. Whether you want to believe that you’re working truly freely or truly improvisationally or not, you set certain criteria, certain rules. There are just certain places that you wouldn’t go on an Anenon track…

BAS Yeah.

NM Not that you wouldn’t make the music, but I’m sure you have folders of stuff that you wouldn’t release. On one hand I think that’s kind of bullshit but I also think that’s kind of nice. I’ve always enjoyed sort of working inside the box, for lack of a better way of putting that.

BAS Which box?

NM I like the idea that there’s something that I would call Afterhours and there’s something that I would not call Afterhours. It’s not like everything I do is Afterhours. I have enough, and maybe respect isn’t the right word, but I just have a rigid enough idea in a way of what a particular project is that I don’t want to just slap my bullshit title on anything that I do and say that’s what this is.

BAS I’m in a weird place with my moniker because the beauty of it to me originally was that it’s both a pseudonym and a distilled version of my own name (Bri[an] All[en] Sim[on]) so it can be all-encompassing. I’ve started a couple of short lived side projects that have gone nowhere, but I’ve always felt really weird delineating like that, but I know that’s not a common thing… a lot of artists tend to have different projects under different names going on.

NM I try very hard not to be precious or be pretentious in the way that I handle my creative life or a particular project like that. For me the whole point of the Post Geography tape (Not Not Fun, 2015) was, I feel like the sonic palette that I choose when recording an Afterhours track is very specific, and there are certain sounds, tones or textures that I reject because they don’t feel appropriate for the track or the general aesthetic of the project. The whole point of that tape was to indulge in those rejected tones and make a playful, intentionally, or stupid sounding record, using all those cartoon tones that I normally work around. Putting this new record under my own name was a way to buy myself the freedom to experiment further. Whether I continue making Afterhours records or not, the point was to explore a few different abstractions of trip hop or downtempo music. I could keep going forward in working with abstracted forms of electronic music, but it gets to a certain point where I’d rather just let Afterhours be this thing and continue to be able to work under my own name.

BAS Do you feel now that you could go anywhere with the Nick Malkin project? Is there a certain freedom now?

NM Yeah… because no one will care, (laughter) and I don’t know who is even paying attention, but I would like the freedom to follow whatever musical whim there is and not have to feel like I’m making some maneuver to reinvent my project or give it some huge overhaul. It’s not about that for me. I wouldn’t make some guitar drone album and call it Afterhours.

Improvisation by M. Geddes Gengras and Brian Allen Simon

M. Geddes Gengras - Modular Synthesizer
Brian Allen Simon - Tenor Saxophone

July 17, 2015

Boyle Heights, Los Angeles

NON Logo Tee (Second Edition) Available Now

A second edition tee shirt design featuring the classic NON square is available now in very limited quantities in sizes Small-XL. Printed by Hit and Run in Los Angeles.

Purchase now.

One for Ornette

Brian Allen Simon - Tenor Saxophone

Anenon Remixes Mount Bank

Anenon is featured as the sole remixer on the upcoming ‘Everything Is Glass’ EP from the artist Mount Bank. Listen to the remix now before the EP is released on March 9 via Brighton based label Donky Pitch.

Phoebe Kiddo Presents Mind:Body:Fitness

While we eagerly await new material from Phoebe Kiddo, the Berlin based artist presents some of the inspirations behind her new holistic project Mind:Body:Fitness. Listen here via RBMA Radio.

Phoebe has also shared some Mind:Body:Fitness music over at her Soundcloud page.

On the mp3 and Performance in Electronic Music by Celia Hollander

This essay was originally posted 2/22/13 on her own website, though there remains some intriguing and prevailing resonance in this essay by the Los Angeles based experimental musician Celia Hollander.

The whole thing can be read here. Listen to music by Celia here.

Ghostly Swim 2 Available Now

Anenon is featured in Ghostly Swim 2, a free compilation from one of our favorite North American record labels Ghostly International and cable channel Adult Swim. Ghostly Swim 2 is a followup to the original released in 2008.

Download it now.

  1. Pascäal - Holo
  2. Shigeto - Tide Pools
  3. Anenon - Grapevine
  4. Heathered Pearls - Supra
  5. Babe Rainbow - Don’t Tell Me I’m Wrong
  6. Dauwd - Kolido
  7. Patricia - Spotting
  8. Lord RAJA - Spilt Out In Cursive
  9. CFCF - Oil
  10. Feral - Mirror
  11. Mary Lattimore & Jeff Zeigler - I Only Have Eyes for You
  12. AceMo - Futurism
  13. Nautiluss - Lonely Planet

What We're Listening to - 2

A timely issue by favorite ECM of this 1972 concert by the rarely released trio of Keith Jarrett, Charlie Haden and Paul Motian. Keith hits hard on piano, soprano sax and flute with Haden always there with personal counterpoint on double bass. Motian’s drumming is consistently a revelation and nothing short of that on this recording. Essential listening for the free jazz fiends. This will be on repeat throughout the holidays.

inside

Anenon Live at Adjunct Positions

A special Anenon live formation performed an 100% improvised set on December 6, 2014 at Los Angeles’ Adjunct Positions for our friends at VIA Publication’s annual fundraiser.

Brian Allen Simon - Tenor Saxophone + Electronics
Yvette Holzwarth - Violin
Jon-Kyle Mohr - Drums

Sagrada Remixes Available Now

Sagrada Remixes is available now as a free / pay what you want release.

Listen and download here.

  1. Aurora (D Tiberio Remix)
  2. The Color White (Afterhours Edit)
  3. Lithograph (Bun - Fumitake Tamura Remix)
  4. Sagrada (Gossamer Edit)
  5. Shibaura (James Pants Remix)

Thank you to Dominic, Evan, Fumitake, Nick and James.

"Lights and Rocks" Directed by Miko Revereza

Self-Titled premieres Miko Revereza’s video for Anenon’s “Lights and Rocks”.

Sagrada Release Show at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock

02-anenon

03-afterhours

05-asura-2

06-jk

07-jk

The Sagrada Release Show took place on September 26, 2014 at Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock with sets from Anenon, Asura, Afterhours and Jon-Kyle.

Thanks to Nikki Collister for the photos.

Anenon's Sagrada LP is Available Now

Anenon’s sophomore LP ‘Sagrada’ is available now worldwide in LP and Digital formats.

Purchase LP from:

NON Store
Bleep
HHV

Purchase Digital from:

iTunes
Bleep
Boomkat

Mastering by Yosi Horikawa
Designed at Black & White

Thank you to Bleep for the product photos.

"End" Directed by Ellie Parker

NPR Music premieres Ellie Parker’s video for Anenon’s “End,” the final track from Sagrada, “a gorgeous and utterly transfixing marriage of images and sound.”

Anenon - "The Color White"

Vogue Magazine premieres “The Color White,” the penultimate track from Anenon’s forthcoming Sagrada LP.

Pre-Order Vinyl Now.

Layered Memories

Red Bull Music Academy has just unleashed Layered Memories, a documentary on our close friend Yosi Horikawa. Yosi is responsible for the amazing mastering job on Anenon’s ‘Sagrada’ LP and we are delighted to watch him as he takes on field recording the Yakushima island of Japan in this stunning short film.

Augmented Returns - 2

Augmented Returns is a column about art and music objects that we continue to return to, seeking to learn more from with each recurring visit. The second edition comes from Eric Hurtgen, a graphic designer and core member of The New Graphic.

During the early to mid-90s electronic music hit some kind of critical mass and exploded in both interest and output. Probably somewhat related to the rise of personal computing and the burgeoning rise of the nascent internet. Regardless, the art form grew along with the pace of technology and my interest grew along with it. I grew up in between middle America and the South, so Detroit and Chicago were the meccas, though I was definitely captivated by the sounds coming out of the UK. Most of the information at the time came through listservs and zines, that and buying the steady flow of mixes that came through the local record stores and at parties. One that particularly stands out to me was the well-considered Warp mix, Blech II. I picked it up at the right time to be very influenced by the whole thing.

The look and the feel of the disc belongs to mid-90s—the packaging expertly executed by the Designer’s Republic. The fact that it’s a CD and not some other format means something—most mixes were on cassette at the time. The mix itself is a record of some of the best of the small scene that was growing in and around Warp—Autechre, Aphex Twin, Mira Calix, Plaid, Squarepusher, among others. Not that the tracks or design are encased in amber, the emerging sound and the influence lives on—a lot of the work still sounds fresh. This is definitely an artifact that I enjoy having in my collection and don’t plan on passing along any time soon. Also, the “imported” sticker put there by an actual record store is a nice touch.

inside

Revisited - "Our Word For Warmth" by Asura

Asura’s cinematic beat constructs for the Outliers Volume I soundtrack, which now can now be watched in full here.

Anenon - "Actions"

“Actions” is taken from Gem Drops Four, the latest installment in Portland label Dropping Gems’ compilation series.

Purchase limited cassette and prints here.

Artwork by Anthony Ciannnamea

What We're Listening to - 1

Midnight Sessions by Bun (Fumitake Tamura)

The incredibly beautiful Midnight Sessions mix has been on repeat almost every night since it popped up in our Soundcloud streams a couple of weeks ago.

Not entirely sure on the track list, but the first song sounds like Bun’s touch on some Debussy chords.

More from Bun here.

Phoebe Kiddo, Live in Warsaw

Live from the RBMA Weekender Warsaw at the Palace of Culture and Science.

Listen to the whole set here

Ana Caravelle's 'Benthic' Available Now

Purchase now at iTunes or Boomkat

‘Benthic’ is the new album from multi instrumentalist and vocalist Ana Caravelle and the followup to 2010’s acclaimed ‘Basic Climb’. Produced by Ryan York, ‘Benthic’ is a set of three luxurious song suites. In these suites, Ana explores the idea of evolution and change through intimate harp and vocal recordings alongside subtly alluring digital processing and re-arrangements by York. Based on being the very bottom layer of the ocean, ‘Benthic’ presents a contrast and friction as the symbol of being grounded, literally, in the vast ocean that Ana believes represents change to human beings.

ana1

Grouped in threes, as in the Western harmonic tradition of the triad, each suite deals with separate issues. From seeing the world from the perspective of a child with autism (something Ana deals with as a PhD candidate at UCSB) to finding a new home for ones’ self and the quirks and relationships formed that come along with that. “Vipassana,” The third and final suite profoundly reflects on a ten day silent meditation, ending with simplicity suddenly found - instantaneously feeling the essence of love present itself in the space created by silence.

ana2

  1. Same Space Same Time 1: Stims
  2. Same Space Same Time 2: Like You Told Me
  3. Same Space Same Time 3: How Could I Refuse?
  4. Greenleaf Canyon 1: Sunrise
  5. Greenleaf Canyon 2: All Lights
  6. Greenleaf Canyon 3: Your Canyon Holds Our Hearts
  7. Vipassana 1: There Was No Space for Me
  8. Vipassana 2: The World Inside Our Minds
  9. Vipassana 3: I Let You Go Today

Cover illustration by Justin Hopkins
Press photos by Anthony Ciannamea

Anenon, Live at RBMANYC

Live from the RBMANYC closing party at Abrons Arts Center with Jon-Kyle Mohr on drums.

Listen to the whole set here

Augmented Returns - 1

Augmented Returns is a column about art and music objects that we continue to return to, seeking to learn more from with each recurring visit. The first edition is by Brian Allen Simon.

Supersilent’s ‘7’ was a game changer for me, in every sense of the term. It was around 2006 or 2007 when my obsession with the Norwegian label Rune Grammofon label was peaking and ‘7’ was at the forefront of this fixation. The free improvised music that Supersilent were hitting on at this point is still, to me, the apex of what free jazz and electronic music colliding in a head-on collision could sound like. Moments of utter chaos combined with portions of ensemble produced spare beauty. ‘7’ was a complete revelation to me at the time. Kim Hiorthøy’s beautiful minimal sleeve design (which is consistent throughout the entire Supersilent catalog) only seals the deal by giving absolutely zero details away of what this could possibly sound and look (‘7’ is a live video of of a 2004 concert in its entirety) like.

I return less and less frequently to this album but it remains a special item in my possession. Emotions and memories are experienced by simply picking the case up. It assures me the beautiful possibilities of improvisation in modern times and instills in me that the unknown is the only thing left to pursue.

The signature on my copy is from Jarle Vespestad, drummer at the time who was since left the band. He signed it at a Tord Gustavsen Trio concert at the now defunct Jazz Bakery in Culver City, California.

Benthic Release Show at The Velaslavasay Panorama

benthic-release-ana1

benthic-release-anenon1

benthic-release-sax-harp

The ‘Benthic’ release show took place on July 19 at The Velaslavasay Panorama.

Thanks to Ruby for the photos.

Anenon‚ Live in Toronto

Live at The Music Gallery, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

2/8/14

bxd

New sound and light experiments by Jon-Kyle Mohr and Steven Ziadie.

bxd.is

Claude Speeed Remixes Phoebe Kiddo

Berlin via Edinburgh LuckyMe affiliate Claude Speeed contributes this very deep, dark and dank rolling remix of Phoebe’s “This is How I Would Die.”

Revisited - Julia Holter Remixes Ana Caravelle

Boomkat reminds us just how much we love this storied and rare remix production from Julia Holter. From Basic Climb Re-Imagined.

Asura® Podcast for XLR8R

Still killer mix from Asura for the venerable XLR8R Podcast series.

RareBit (Justin Hopkins) Interviewed by Anenon (Brian Allen Simon)

“I like to think of my music as fungus encrusted and in a constant state of growth and decay.”

Justin Hopkins is a musician, visual artist, sound designer and the newest signing to Non Projects. He currently lives in Los Angeles, though is originally from the Pacific Northwest of America. While the Non Projects faithful may remember some of his work that was posted on our blog over a year ago, I figured what better way to introduce Justin as an official Non Projects artist than with a proper label-artist interview. Plus, I had some questions for him that never seemed to get answered. Hopefully this will shed some light on the man and his work. - Brian

[Brian Simon] Do you have an earliest music memory? I know you grew up in a house of visual artists… was there more emphasis on pursuing visual art rather than music?

[Justin Hopkins] I remember being 7 years old on a road trip with my dad. We were listening to The Jaws soundtrack over and over again. My mind was completely blown. If you listen closely you can still hear the echoing influences of John Williams in the music I make… I think… I hope… Both of my parents are great artists. I was, and still am, constantly enveloped by the visual arts. I started learning the family business at a young age and still make my living doing it. I see no difference between the visual arts and music. Music allows me to be more easily abstract and disconnected from the imagery that I am trying to convey, but it still always comes from same place.

[BS] You’re originally from the Seattle area… when did you move down to Los Angeles? What region influences your sound more - LA or the Northwest?

[JH] I moved to LA at 18 from a small ferry town called Mukilteo, Wa. I am inextricably bound to both places. Its hard to say which has sonically attached itself more to me. They are both so different. I like to think of my music as fungus encrusted and in a constant state of growth and decay. In this way I am influenced by the organic, wet, and florally lush environment in which I grew up. A place where my sense of discovery was harvested. LA offers me an entirely different kind of inspiration. Music for traffic, canyons, beaches, blonde girls, and billboards. California is my home now and I take beauty and frustration from it every day. I cannot help but represent it in everything I do. Home.

[BS] When listening to your songs, I can’t help but feel a staggering amount of attention to detail – precise textures, sounds that appear only once, field recordings, session recordings with other musicians, etc… while this would turn into a mess for a lot of artists, it always feels completely coherent and meant to be in your work. Is this something you’re completely conscious of when you work or do you just run with it depending on the track? How often are you outside collecting field recordings?

[JH] I’m really glad you don’t think its a mess. There is always a general idea and detailed vision of where I see the end product going, but that always changes. Being open to this change is key. The aleatoric and improvised elements that seem to inject themselves and force you to change, edit, and rearrange the idea into a new vision are always the most exciting parts. I refuse to neglect a healthy wrench in the works. I don’t even consider RareBit to be a solo project. I’m more of a compiler and editor - some of the sounds are made by me and some of them aren’t. My friends play a huge part in the project and so do the environmental noises I try to wrangle. Some elements pop in and upset the rhythm while others stay for a bit and simmer. My Tascam recorder is always close by - usually in my car.

justin1

[BS] In my head, many artists depict one or two or three color schemes in their work. While I don’t believe that I have full on synesthesia, my mind tends to gravitate towards one or two colors and different hues of those colors when listening to music. Surprisingly, ‘The Destroyer EP’ sort of just blasts my brain with all these different shades and hues flying at me… do you think that you have synesthesia? Does working in the visual arts inform the sort of “technicolor” aesthetic of your work?

[JH] I can’t really claim to have synesthesia. I wouldn’t know how to diagnose that. I do, however, know that I have an extremely active and vivid imagination. Everything I do comes from an imagined visual idea - an idea, like a film, that I am tying to soundtrack. This original vision is usually warped and mutated by outside minds and stimuli, but it always starts as a vibrant dreamlike image. The visual arts background definitely plays a huge part.

[BS] Can you describe the process of professional sound design that you do? I for one am certainly interested, and I know you worked on some big projects including the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai. Is there a difference in the way you approach commercial work and the way you approach your own music?

[JH] Sound design is something that I kind of just fell into. I snagged a couple big gigs while working at a place called Olio Inc where I was an illustrator and designer. Again, there is no difference to me between music and any other art form. its all just the same process of creation and adventure. So far I have been lucky enough to have had sound jobs that were very musical in process and allowed me to make up my own new sonic universes. In a way the Atlantis project is just a big art installation with an ambient RareBit album playing in the background.

[BS] Being the new guy on Non Projects, how do you think you fit in with the rest of the label?

[JH] I hope I fit in well. I’m excited to be here. I love everything you guys have put out. It feels like I’ve been following this stuff since the beginning.

[BS] Care to divulge one of your “secret weapon” recording tools? I know I saw a few lying around during my last visit.

[JH] I just try to stay open to all the weapons that present themselves - I know this sounds like a cop out, but I really just try to change it up for every track… OK - my Tascam DR-1

[BS] What can we expect on your upcoming Non Projects LP as compared to this EP?

[JH] Drums. New explorations in rhythm. Broader - Deeper - Collected.

[BS] Any recommended recent listening or reading?

[JH] Listening - Les Tetes Brulees, Everybody, Whats Up!, TIGERBITCH, COMBAT!, Pomar, Doudou N’Diaye Rose, Pharoah Sanders, Blood Bender, boredoms, Dimlite, Space Equator, Obi Lori, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Radiolab.

Reading - Short stories of Robert Walser, and Metamagical Themas by Douglas Hofstadter.