Hey, it's me again. Yeah, I'm still here. Been super busy with school, work, and looking for a job post-graduation. That's all going splendidly but unfortunately leaves little time for music. Rest assured that I'm still cranking out song ideas when I have time.
While you wait, I thought I'd post the interview I conducted with the media webzine Ve3tro (it seems they now only do video games), originally published in late January 2009, just after Cleanse came out.
Ve3tro: What is the main purpose of your music? Do you have any particular message or meaning that you try to make your work embellish?
Deterior: The main purpose of all the music I do is to entertain myself. I started writing music because it sounded fun and it was something I had always been interested in doing and was willing to learn. I spent several years churning out utter crap. It took me two years to write and record World, and even then I wasn't satisfied with what I had made (which isn't to say I'm completely satisfied with anything I've done). However, each release does have its own minor purpose. I was going through some slightly difficult personal times when I was writing World, and the lyrics were a reflection of some of those problems. I actually wrote two sets of lyrics; I felt that the first set were just too personal and wanted something a little more subtle. It told a sort of story that vaguely connected to my life. The themes were meant to be continued in Antimonument, and to me they are, but without lyrics it's hard to show that. It's much less personal. Antimonument was mostly an exercise in seeing if I was capable of focusing enough to make a full-length album. Cleanse was me seeing if I could make an album with vocals in it. The lyrical themes presented there are half abstract nonsense and half actual meaningful stuff, but they're much more positive, which is reflective of the fact that my life has improved over the last few years. However, vocals never were the focal aspect of my music; I have always considered the music to be the most important part. Everything else I've done (the other EPs) have been purely for fun and experimenting. Lifting of the Veil doesn't have any intended meaning in it whatsoever. Of course, since I like to keep my lyrics abstract, any of them could be construed to mean anything.
V: Godspeed You! Black Emperor are noted as a musical heavy influence on Deterior, but what other artists or subjects inspire you to create? (other than music)
D: I am inspired by just about everything I hear, see, and read nowadays. Of course, it's mostly other music that helps inspire me to create, and a lot moreso now, since my tastes have been expanding into a lot more experimental music. Listening to what other musicians can do in a more experimental environment often inspires me to try to mimic what I hear with my own music. Additionally, a lot of my atmospheric stuff has been inspired by films. Antimonument had several film clips in it, from 28 Days Later, 12 Monkeys, Apocalypse Now, and several World War II-era documentaries and educational films. The imagery and emotion associated with the clips I used (and various other films I've seen) emphasized the moods I wanted to create and helped inspire different ways to manipulate sound and ambience to emulate those moods. It's a bit of a different situation with the Music for... EPs. Music for Nucleonics has a heavy space theme, characterized by the title, artwork, and the bleak atmosphere created by the music. I'm not entirely sure what inspired that, but it probably has something to do with the slight interest I've had in space technology for most of my life, which has picked back up in recent years. Music for Automata (unreleased at the time of this interview) has a sort of discrete mathematics/chaos theory theme, which was definitely inspired by a book on the subject laying around my room which I picked up to get song titles from. The cover artwork is a specific pattern from Conway's Game of Life,* a cellular automation game that I've always had this interest in. That probably has to do with the fact that I'm a computer science major. But I would say the biggest influence on my music comes from other music, no question.
V: Cassette tapes… does anyone actually purchase cassette tapes?
D: I read recently that cassette tapes are coming back "in style", presumably similar to the resurgence of the vinyl record in recent years. The cassette culture is having a revival. This baffled me at first, since cassette tapes are awkward to produce and use and also have terrible sound quality compared to records and CDs. Regardless, a lot of underground labels have been releasing noise, ambient, and industrial stuff on tape, and I think this mostly is caused by the Internet music culture. More and more people are listening exclusively to digital copies of music, and physical releases are becoming more and more of a novelty thing. I'm speaking from personal experience, too; I don't have a turntable but I own a few vinyl records, and I got them simply for the appeal of owning music in an interesting format. Packaging is the biggest reason—I'm a sucker for cool packaging, and there's so much opportunity for creativity in packaging artwork. It doesn't matter if people can play it or not, but if it looks cool, people will want a copy. Admittedly the packaging for the Music for... tapes aren't interesting, but they are definitely a "novelty" thing.
V: Will you be looking to release future work on CDs or are you going to be taking a strictly downloadable direction?
D: The idea of putting out CDs has always been something sitting at the back of my mind, but I don't have a whole lot of incentive to go through with it at this point. Clearly, releasing CDs gives an artist a lot more legitimacy, a bit of extra cash, and of course there's the opportunity for extra creativity with the packaging. One of the biggest things keeping me from making CDs right now is the financial aspect. I simply don't have the money to press a bunch of CDs myself, especially since I have practically zero experience running a label. I haven't bothered trying to get signed somewhere either, probably because I'm pretty comfortable running things the way they are at the moment. If someone were to approach me and offer to print some stuff up, I'd probably say yes, but I'm just as happy if they don't. I've offered everything I have for a free download so far, and I consider myself successful—heck, even lucky—if people listen to it.
V: What do you hope to accomplish with the next record?
D: Actually, after Cleanse, the "Tidal" single, and Music for Automata all come out within the next couple of months, I'll probably be taking a break from Deterior for a bit to focus more on my education, like I did last year. I'll definitely pick it all back up before too long, probably this summer at the latest. I don't have any clear goals in mind for what I want to do with my next record. Something that I wanted to do with Cleanse was actually releasing the album in three discs, which could be played individually or synced (somewhat of a nod to Rosetta and Boris, but theirs weren't three discs). I didn't really possess the time or skill to pull this off the way I wanted. I think this would be a really cool thing to try to work on later this year. It would really tie the rock and noise aspects of my music that have been mostly separated from each other so far, and I'd have tons of time to crank out a lot of quality material since I would want to spend a lot of time working on it, possibly until early 2010. It's anyone's guess though.
V: Something very noticeable in your work is the abundance of noise and electronics, is this something that you see taking a more prominent role in your work?
D: Over the last year or so, I've become more and more enthralled by noise music and experimental music in general. Noise is great because of its lack of restrictions. It can convey any attitude, atmosphere, or mood better than conventional music can. That being said, I still love rock music and making rock music. I'm more used to it, it's more familiar to people in general, it's what I learned to play and enjoy growing up. But more and more of the artists and bands I listen to incorporate some sort of noise or ambience into their work, which I think is great, and it's something I've wanted to emulate in my music as well. It's all about experimentation, doing something different, something I'm not entirely used to; just to add to the atmosphere and maybe freak people out. Noise can be scary sometimes, and I love it.
V: Have you thought about releasing a[nother] purely instrumental album?
D: Antimonument was an instrumental album for two reasons: One, I didn't own a microphone, and I'd had to borrow one for World; I couldn't do so later on. Two, I thought the vocals on World were just terrible. There's probably very few people more self-conscious and insecure than the amateur vocalist. Even though some people told me that the vocals weren't actually bad, I didn't believe them. So, I figured that I'd skip on the vocals for Antimonument since doing vocals for a full-length album seemed to be a big task. I did manage to sort of pull them off on Lifting of the Veil since they were pretty minimal and there was harldy any actual singing in it. At some point between then and me starting to write Cleanse, I picked up some new processing software that really improved the quality of my vocals.** As for whether or not future releases will have vocals, it's really up to the type of music I do. The rock-oriented stuff probably will still have vocals for a while, while the noise stuff won't. I can't say for sure, though; vocals are still my least-favorite part of the recording process.
V: How do you encourage your fans to promote your work? Do you offer any incentives or plan on developing a method to expand your audience?
D: So far, I've actually done very little promotion work on my own, but the Internet has been a great promotion tool. When I release any of my music, the first place it goes is straight to Last.fm, which is already a huge site with tons of users. I recommended Antimonument to a few groups there when it came out; within a few months, users there had spread it all over the Internet to various blogs and websites. I thought that was extremely cool that that had happened. Unfortunately, Last.fm redesigned their site and haven't brought back group recommendations yet, but I'm not too concerned; there are plenty of other sites I can use, the main other one being Jamendo, which is mostly focused on promoting underground and unsigned artists. I've been looking around for similar sites lately. Of course, I still promote and post everything I need to on my blog and MySpace, which is probably more than enough exposure anyway. The day that Cleanse came out, it got dozens upons dozens of downloads during that one day, and I don't really know how that happened. So apparently I'm doing something right.
*An incredibly interesting subject if I do say so myself.
**Or maybe it just gave me more confidence. Who knows?