2007-06-16 | NINa
and Brian Backlash |
NINa: You relocated from Massilion to New York and I guess it was like taking on a challenge. What was the main goal to move out to a bigger city?
Moving from a small, suburban, Midwest town in Ohio to New York City was definitely a major cultural shift. I’m a pretty seasoned traveler however, and lived in Savannah, GA for a few years prior, so unfortunately I’m pretty used to moving at this point. There were several motives involved in the big move to NYC - mostly career driven. I wanted very much to be living in a place where art and music are flourishing, and New York City is one of the cultural meccas of the western world. I also wanted to kick start my career as a sound designer (read, day job), and get involved in some advanced vocal training in an effort to adopt a more aggressive vocal style.
All that being said, moving out here was indeed a bit scary. After purchasing a one way ticket, I came off the plane with nothing but a suitcase full of some clothes and other essentials, and no real place to stay. I was fortunate enough to be taken in and taken care of by two friends and amazing people, Katie and Will. I found a place to stay rather quickly, and after being hired on full time at work, things now are looking up… though it’s tough because NYC is so expensive! I’m barely scraping by.
Brian Backlash: Replica is a brand new band, formed just last year. Does being such a new act help you win people over, or do you find a level of resistance from people long in the scene? What kind of impression do you feel you've made
I think there’s always a certain level of resistance in this genre, because there are a lot of really elitist people out there (I used to be one of them). To some people, you will never be “dancy or EBM” enough, to others you will never be “metal” enough, and yet still, to some people, if you’re creating something that’s more than a chaotic wall of noise and erratic drum patterns, you’ve sold out. With Replica, I really wanted to do something more inspired by alt-rock and earlier 90’s era industrial rock, without falling into the very popular EBM or heavy-metal sub-genres. I definitely wanted there to be melody and hooks for the listener to latch onto. I wanted to create music that had an interesting contrast of both machine like and organic qualities. Surprisingly enough, there are not a lot of industrial bands out there going this route nowadays. I’m not so sure being new has much bearing on winning over fans, but thus far, we’ve been received really well and I think have made a great first impression. I try to write stuff that I would sincerely enjoy listening to, and I know there are a lot of people out there with similar musical tastes who will get into it.
NINa: What are your plans to become an Industrial Rockstar?
I guess invest in more fur and leather and nurse an addiction? Ha, in all seriousness though, in the future I plan on kicking up the vocals a few notches and taking the music in a more nihilistic direction. There will be more looking forward and less looking back. I can’t wait to play some shows in the New York area, because there are simply more people to reach out to.
NINa: You are a relatively young man being in your 20's. Do you think music business is that one you want to make a living on and become successful?
I would like nothing more than to be able to do that! Whether such a thing will even be possible in the next decade for many artists remains to be seen. Digital downloading has really devalued music in a way, and I think we will have to turn a major corner first in terms of supporting artists financially by buying versus pirating. At the same time, artists and labels also need to turn a major corner in how they are marketing, producing and presenting their final physical or virtual product. Although I think the ARG campaigns executed by a few recent bands are interesting because they introduce a level of interactivity to the music, I don’t think it’s really going to be the solution that brings about this change.
NINa: So far you have released an album called Disconnect. Do you think an artist needs either better gears or more natural talent to make really original music?
I don’t think better gear makes for a better product necessarily – it all comes down to talent, creativity, and knowing how to use what you have. I have a very minimal setup, but have been able to push it hard enough to get it to do what I want. Sometimes better gear can create a better product however, simply because it may encourage and nurture musicality. For example, I’m quite fond of my Nord Lead because I can dial in any number of sounds very quickly and easily without scrolling through menus. The interface is so intuitive and inspiring, that I can get some really wicked sounds out of a synth that is in fact very old and technically outdated. I’m a “hands on” kind of person when it comes to creating sounds, and I prefer to have SOME sort of set of knobs or the like in front of me. As such, I’m very fond of hardware versus software.
NINa: Is it possible to make original music if most of styles borrow ideas one from another?
In one sense, borrowing musical ideas is bound to happen, because theoretically, everything has been done in some way or another before, and there are only a finite number of chord progressions and riffs out there. Creating original music has a lot to do with putting these sorts of things in new contexts, approaching things differently, and coming up with the right combination of elements to create an original feeling groove or set a mood.
Brian Backlash: You've already digitally released your first full length, and have plans to have it pressed on CD. In an age where digital technology reigns supreme, do you think manufacturing physical CDs is really a useful idea?
This is a question I’ve been debating with myself as well. Research has shown that CD sales are still much higher than (legally purchased) digital downloads, but in reality, both are much lower nowadays due to the fact that so many people are remiss to pay for music. In the end, I think the desire to have an actual CD, record, or something tangible you can touch and feel will never totally go away – especially if said product is nicely packaged. Also, in terms of archivability, I’d argue that a CD is slightly more enduring than a digital download living in your computer’s hard drive.
Brian Backlash: Your music is well composed and the production quality is exceptional. How did you come to know about music production and recording?
Thank you! Incidentally, I have a BFA and during my college career, I was fortunate enough to take a lot of sound design and recording classes, as it was a subject that obviously grabbed me. I was even able to take some modular synth classes, and have had the pleasure of working with a massive analogue Doepfer modular system, as well as the incredible sounding Nord Modular G2. A lot of the other art courses I took helped immensely as well, as I quickly figured out that virtually all the same principles of design present in the visual arts apply either directly or indirectly to creating music. I can also tell you a lot about medieval churches in Europe. Aside from taking classes however, I will attribute a good 80% of what I know to reading and researching as much as possible about EVERYTHING from synthesis to production. That’s always the best way to learn!
NINa: Have you ever thought of being a manager or a booking agent for a band? What may be disadvangtage of such a profession?
Yeah – that’s definitely not for me. I’d much rather be the one performing! As far as professions on the ‘other side of the glass’ go, I enjoy doing production a lot more than booking or managing.
Brian Backlash: Industrial music used to be about experimentation, pushing boundaries and utilitizing just about anything to create music with. Do you think that spirit is alive and well, or dead and buried?
I feel that the spirit of experimentation is still present, but it’s definitely not as prominent, in part due to the fact that so much ground has already been tread. A lot of industrial music, especially EBM oriented tunes, seems more synth heavy and less sample heavy, so I don’t feel like found sounds are being used as much as they could be, and the sampling going on often seems very arbitrary. Personally, I’ve always been more interested in crafting a good song than pushing some sort of envelope, but in future releases I’ve decided I’d like to really integrate more found and self-sampled sounds.
NINa: What bands represent the industrial rock 'fathers' to you?
Bands that were truly experimental and ground breaking, like Throbbing Gristle, Gary Numan (Tubeway Army – Replicas is non-coincidentally one of my favorite albums), Depeche Mode, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Foetus, represent industrial ‘grandfathers’ to me. Industrial rock ‘fathers’ to me, who aren’t quite as generationally removed, would be bands like Nine Inch Nails, Stabbing Westward, KMFDM, Pig, and Skinny Puppy. I would cite these bands as bigger influences, simply because I’m younger and it’s what I grew up listening to. My gateway drug to industrial music was actually listening to Gravity Kills when I was like 12. Of course I had no idea at the time how deep the rabbit hole actually went…
Brian Backlash: How do you normally begin writing a new track? Do you begin with a lyrical idea or from a more musical direction?
I almost always begin a new track from a musical direction. I pick up a vibe from a beat I make that inspires a song, or am messing around on my synth and create a sound which begs a certain melody and style which leads to a song. Sometimes I hear overtones or a rhythm within a loop or sample which inspires a tune or I write a great hook and build something around that. Occasionally you have to just go in cold though, because you can’t sit around waiting forever for inspiration to strike!
I feel great songs often come from very spontaneous moments, and that’s why I try to set my hardware up in a way in which it’s extremely easy to just turn knobs and run with an idea. The more time you have to waste opening this and that on your computer and troubleshooting, your chances of capturing that spontaneous moment of inspiration decrease exponentially.
Brian Backlash: Who do you think is creating interesting music these days, regardless of genre?
Android Lust, Gnarls Barkley, The Mars Volta, Kill Hannah, Muse, Amon Tobin, cEvin Key, Shiny Toy Guns, Mortiis, Frontline Assembly… the newest Skinny Puppy release “Mythmaker” I’ve found to be quite enjoyable, and I’m impressed because they seem to be one of the few industrial bands looking forward always. In general, there’s actually very little new material out there that catches my attention… though I am always finding “new” older stuff I can really get into.
Brian Backlash: A lot of bands seemed to be obsessed with the remix album, the
maxi remix single, and the live "bonus" track. For your own work, are any of these concepts applicable?
I’d like to maybe do a remix album and see how that turns out. It’s quite liberating to go back into a song and just see what you can mess around with and change-up, because it’s already been released so it feels much easier to take big risks sonically. I’ve never liked the idea of throwing live tracks on an album… it just seems like arbitrary filler and goes against my concepts of what an album should be. It makes everything seem less cohesive, even as a ‘bonus’ track. I’d much rather release a live album independent of studio tracks.
NINa: I was always wondering what forms our taste in music, fav colors, friends, passions, etc. There are things we only observe from a distance but suddenly we want to do that in our lives and often it turns out that we were right and had
fun with it afterall. Is the attraction an issue of an instinct only?
I think our friends and life experiences play the biggest roles in forming our musical tastes. For me, the music I love has always been music that I can relate to or that connects with me on some sort of higher level psycho-acoustically. In a lot of cases, it’s been my escape from reality. I definitely had close friends in high-school and even more so in college that turned me on to some new and exciting music, and really helped culture my musical palette. It’s interesting though, because scientists are now discovering that some aspects of our musical taste may be predisposed, depending on an individual’s chemical makeup in a certain area of our brains. Regardless, I feel like there are very few things in life as important or worth pursuing as music.
NINa: Thank you for the interview!
Always a pleasure! I’d like to sincerely thank my fellow band mates as well, who helped me pull off these often challenging songs live: Nick Molen, and Scott Paris (Guitars), Josh Harris (Synthesizers, samplers, fog and noise), and Joe Middleton, one of the most amazing drummers I’ve had the privilege of working with.
You can check out Replica and our new album “Disconnect” at www.myspace.com/replicanoise
Replica at Myspace
Pictures come from Replica archive, all copyrights reserved by © their authors.