From Steve Jobs to erowid, Rumi and Bruce Lee. An incredible piece of writing and other musings from Mix Architekt (Tim Walter) ahead of his set with Perc this Saturday at kyo.
There isn't much information about you online...
I woke up this morning to martial law being declared across the entire country of Thailand, which has been my home for the last 5 years. It's been an amazing time of transformation and change for me, though rather than hippie dippy ramblings of light and love, these changes have been about finding myself completely at odds with the foundations of society and culture. It has been a blessing to stress test my value system, confront and challenge ideas of truth, and quite often force radical changes in my person.
While I’ve had social media connections in the past, quite recently I decided to cancel accounts with those providers, as I personally am not interested in continuing exchange based on the parameters they offer. I find it to be a feudal system that reminds me of politics rampant throughout the world, marginalizing expression for simple reinforcement cycles directed by a commercial entity. While this may have answered the needs of the masses for an easier to use internet that allows everyone to emulate trappings that were once reserved for celebrities, it is seriously not my bag.
My biggest crisis is entirely personal - I need more headspace from the plague of memes. I’m not talking about the often zen-like feedback loop of xzibit yo dawg car in your car cycles; it's a direct toxicity to the information virus of opinions, conjecture, and mis-information that exhausts me. "you'll never believe what happens" end hooks, comments that make gross simplifications of complex topics, 150 character limits to the unlimited variety of expression. I’d rather work with words that are only limited by the attention span of the reader, actual reality conversations that require listening more than speaking, and being with my associates in person more often than not.
When it comes to presenting one's self to their audience, I’m redefining what that means to me. There are social/industry norms that are well accepted - in trend copy that encourages excitement about mundane happenings, lists of people and events that masses came to see rather than yourself. I wish to share something a bit more real and raw about myself. Sometimes it's short and simple, other times I’m considerably long winded.
Yet the conflict is strong - the masses have said Facebook is the Internet experience they want. But then soundcloud followers and comments dominate a certain music sphere (which i'm more ready to accept, as it's a bit more direct to the music than others.) Yet in thailand, being "online" currently means being on naver's line application. For now, I’m happy to isolate myself from all of this. My current works are not so important that the world needs to know what I ate for breakfast. I do like community projects though, such as photoshop challenges "birds with arms", or the many uniquely visual memes associated with Thai transport minister Chadchart.
A bit about your background?
My lineage is a bit twisted with mixed blood culture clash that brought me a round the planet, though the more stable elements of my life offered a deep sense of appreciation for music, reading, and the value of apprenticeship. I’m a high school dropout, which is something i encourage more people to do. Getting a genuine taste for learning and craft, one where the reward is the work itself, is much preferred to pavlovian responses to financial incentive. That puts me in conflict with the industry regularly, if not entirely. As I think Steve Bug once said, though modified by me - the performance is free, you're only paying for the time away from family, friends, and workshop.
Refining my craft from all sides of the stage is how my life runs. Playing in bands, writing music, DJing brings me on stage, engineering has me at FOH mixing or optimizing, and developing and designing sound systems and products is both at the lab and in the field. This started very early in my life - in bands starting in my teens, DJing, mixing, recording, eventually getting on the road and touring. Learning how, why, and when to do things with incredible teachers. This carries on to the present.
“The Industry" though, can go fuck itself. Short fused development cycles are generating legions of inbred mutations which are either retarded or still born. This is quite present in many forms of media from music to visual design, writing styles to food recipes. It is a literal fuck fest that has babies pregnant with babies, rather than allowing ideas to cultivate into something strong that only comes from a bit more time and often more isolation.
Using the early print based publishing industry as an example, by the time a book reaches the lap of a reader, the story may be a few years old, and if you were outside of the domestic market it would be a long time in wait. Currently, fragmented ideas propagate akin to a virus - the term is well used, and at this point I’d rather work at clearing out my existing infections, rather than welcoming more.
Techno in its many commoditized forms - music, performances, machines, etc. - is horribly susceptible to this meaningless short-cycle mentality. How many zombie clone songs invade the charts, all trying to be the next big room tune with a chicken fart in the breakdown peak only to be forgotten the next week? Is the personal trade show that comes out for playing music that is closer related to a metronome needed, stimulating a constant need to buy more and one up the next performer? Or at the other extreme, is smaller, cheaper, shittier what we need? No. And then we get the vinyl purists who only care about craft, back in the day, vintage-only old boys club that you can only buy into? I’ll pass on that too.
I’m not interested in chasing profits at the expense of my art, tools, or trade. My scale adjusts accordingly - with a limited market I can stick closer to my ideals and focus on quality over quantity. I’d like to write a song that is relevant for longer than a weekend, and listen to music, work with tools, that all are still parts of my life years later.
Favourite parts of working with music?
Music is my favourite form of therapy, which takes me well outside of the labyrinth of thought and speculation, pulling me into the ever narrowing present. I hopelessly enjoy the perceived space/time manipulations that come from different tempos, time signatures, and rhythms, as well as the amazing range of emotional currents that come from intervals and phrases.
What projects are you busy with now?
The luminant is my new band, which is 12 songs deep into the demo phase with many more on the way. It’s a total celebration of bass for me, and a return to a heavy emphasis on stringed instruments, different time signatures, and deeper harmony than I’ve ever written before. King crimson and Robert Fripp have had a big affect on my life, especially the principles in guitar craft and the associated new standard tuning. NST isn't really all that new, since it's based on 5th's which is the same tuning used on viola, cello, etc. my basses are all tuned CGDA, rather than EADG, which extends both the top and bottom range, and more importantly, gives easy access to very interesting chordal combinations that are not available in standard tuning. The instruments breathe a new life and vibe which has inspired me to write modulating harmonies as much as heavy doom metal.
My other big project is a company called Union Audio Co Ltd, with Andy Rigby Jones, the designer of all the Xone series DJ products. We both were associated with Allen & Heath for years, and we're developing unique tools that will radically change the landscape of expression for the performance of electronic music.
How do you feel about being back in Singapore and playing with Perc again?
This is my fifth performance in Singapore, third with the bootleg crew. Though I’ve passed through immigration at Changi endless times for countless reasons. Singapore has felt like an adopted home for a while now, cultivated by the dear friendships made, wide range of projects done, and a growing knowledge of the SMRT system.
One of the things that fascinates me about Siingapore, are the cracks appearing in society. While it's easy for tourists to be captivated by opium dens of consumerism, the streets are lined with 3rd generation dynasties dragging their feet in search of what’s next to distract them as they squander their forefather's legacy, a conflicted middle class questioning the demands pushing on them from all sides, and scores of immigrants who can't escape the shadows of caste. The super powerful float in the background with corporate and political mouth pieces offering a buffer from everyone else's reality. Yet recent events show that molten rage won't be kept at bay, though tragically the fire often consumes those wielding it.
The currents of angst flowing through society can serve as an amazing fuel for expression and change. Currently I see most of it turned inward, often shown through the extremes of art - be it grindcore bands, noise acts, confrontational visual artists, long winded writers :-)
There needs to be a mindful transition that prevents burning one's own neighborhood, social bridges, or self. The darkness is something to celebrate, not for suffering's sake, but as a means to create something new, impregnated with your own light. Time is on everyone's side. People are getting old and dying, not everyone is going to carry on with the status quo. There is always resistance, but the rigidity that comes from mono cultures eventually snaps. As Bruce Lee and many other philosophers say - one needs to be like water to wear down stones.
Performing with Ali is always a blast, and conversation is equally enjoyable as his finely crafted sets. He is an important figure in the new generation of techno, speaking with a weight that is perfectly matched by the sonics of his tracks, and continuing to push the genre forward free of sentimental trappings and consumerist trends.
Favourite moments of your first trip?
I had consumed about 15 grams that were recently harvested from pastures in Sonoma County, offered to me by an associate of mine i knew through the reggae community in San Francisco. While the herb of choice for most rastas was of a different nature, the bay area has a deep history with psychedelics and was the perfect place to embark down a path that was well worn from those who came before me.
Being an Aries with the fire of a dragon compels me to dive in head first, quite often with no safety mechanisms in place. Currently, I was alone, having recently gone through traumatic changes in relationship, residence, and path. Sitting on a lumpy futon in a backroom of a soma district loft, in a mild amount of darkness obscured by the amber glow of streetlights. An obscure tape of the works of Rumi played, and immediately began confronting me, as much as comforting me, with an English translation of works written in the same script as half my blood. Torment and tears were the start of the veil being lifted - just underneath the surface of my consciousness and not much farther back in actual time. What were the big themes? Responsibility for one's actions and the brutal need for a deeper awareness, rather than self absorption. A bit ironic, considering the circumstances, no?
My own imprudence for moving deeper brought me to a mirror - often touted as feedback loop with eye and mind by the vaults of erowid, yet another mechanism of narrow views. Confronted by the outer shell formed from the experiences of the inner seed, I thought back to the angst ridden days of monasticism and shaved heads, now replaced by dreadlocks that hadn't been washed in months. In the temple the militants always talked of dead cells and shit coming from our hair - needing to cut it off to remain clean. These locks felt like that embodiment of all my shit, emotionally or otherwise - allowing me to see it finally. It wasn't all that much of a pretty sight, though perspective is everything. Lots of people stepped into my circle based on their own fetish for appearance, looking for exotic tastes. But then I had to ask myself, is keeping this obvious expulsion of shit nothing more than holding my own cross, reveling in self pity, and reaping the social benefits of another's fever?
I was overwhelmed with the desire to urinate, but the thought of spilling phosphates into the toilet was just too much to bare. Instead, I felt myself called to repatriate these fluids with nature, specifically at a large tree up in Lafayette Park. Converting from nakedness into a socially presentable state, I hit the streets in the early hours of the morning with widened pupils, rushing from the comforts of 12th and Folsom to the stark commercial landscape of Van Ness Avenue.
Looking up at the crest, one saw chain reactions of green, amber, to red. While yellows are to signal caution, isn't there some pop-psy rambling of being the colour of arguments - thus creating the chaos of running lights as one tries to avoid falling into the raw passion of red - frustrated at a full stop, precious minutes slipping by. There were few cars to confirm or deny these sentiments, and i walked on with ease - till i was confronted by another glyph of red and amber. This one baring my own astrological symbol, much to my dismay. McDonald’s! No! It rang with bitter resentment - as a vegetarian and an Aries - the red fury of mars, golden arches frustrating the lives of cattle, making humanity fat, and hiding the green that was shared with the traffic lights - yes, profit from this suffering! It had to end.
And it did. I quickly passed by this temple of doom to be confronted with another red, gold, and green figure - this time a bread box van with a star of david on its back and the words "jah works" emboldened on its side. Taking a closer look at this box of ras, I saw two dreads sitting in side, looking back at me with as much surprise as I had. Recognition set in - "genie bass man!" called one of them. "ya haffie cum in mi charriot man, cold set in and ya na haffie coat and tings." The door opened, out wafted the smoke, and in came this genie into the bottle of jah works and saint germain.
I knew jah from the scene - he was a vocalist with a cd out, and was playing regularly. I was the bassist of a well gigged reggae outfit, backing a few different artists in the region (and half-persian, thus "genie"; my initiated name in sanskrit also translated to "an auspicious invocation" in simple form, so it wasn't entirely misplaced. Too bad I didn't - and still don't - have a rug!). We had been on the same bill many times around the festival and club circuit. Funny seeing you here in this minefield of colours.
“Ya maan, I & I hafie do jah real work, bringin' peace to the troubled. I man mus trod de path with I, come through babylon gates to find truth in Zion."
The chariot set off into the side streets of San Francisco, eventually stopping at a boarded up warehouse whose better days were spent being an auto shop. We disembarked to the rumbling of bass, greeted with a dirty set of ladies underwear covering a parking meter, and shoes hanging from the power lines. The audio spectrum got a bit wider as a door opened and a pair of hoods walked the three of us up a flight of steps entering a loft space with half finished framing, paper walls, and a few common areas, bathed in red and blue lights. Music pounded and so did cocks - serious bitches made for fucking led their johns to alcoves for business. While working women come in many forms, I had never seen such a muscular presence in hip and leg, that appeared to have the fitness to snap a brother like a twig.
Weapons adorned the coffee table like books, set in front of the loft boss, who exchanged a warm greeting with us, and immediately pulled jah to his side to get to work. The rumble of rivals, parole issues, and pimpin' stress was large, and jah was here to nurse deep wounds for people that no one wanted anything to do with - other than cops or gangs, both looking for a beat down. Tensions are high, words are even louder because of the music, but the work must be done. saint germain and I head into the kitchen to reason with less noise.
“I man come ta do da work where no man tread. dees bwoys forgotten and under mind, suffarin choice ills - but we haffie bring dem up. and wa work is dat? na, just lending ear so they na haffie fears, iya. some times to speak true be de hardest ting, coz dat hate comma like a flood. pushing toward a fuss, bringin de gun. always end with blood and fire. but dat man just need a listen, and jah work in mysterious ways. iya see ya pain too, maan. ye got dat heart on ya sleeve but knockin it inna every man. dat blood and bruise run deep, makin ya crazy like a duppy come haunt. but all dis come to an end maan, put it inna de earth. de seed inya wanna grow, so it hurts inside, trying to get out. break da seed out and nurture it wit de best of care, pull dem weed off and let jah sun shine bright. i man needs room ta grow, too much shade makes ya weak like de prophet say. but set ya roots strong anna grow tall, outta dis skin fo ya new one, ras!"
There was no dam that could hold those emotional currents at bay, and flow my tears the rasta man made.
Some exciting producers right now?
Excitement comes in many forms and the thrill may not always be pleasurable. In my own world, the political strife in Thailand is producing the most excitement on a daily basis. While endless diatribes have been offered from the left and right, who or what is affected the most by these power plays - politicians or finance? Finance is the main factor here - taking a page out of the American foreign interest handbook - crash the economy to devalue local currency, destroy speculative markets, and buy low. Patriotism gets the masses worked up to die for ideals and honour, free of charge. Let their blood fertilize the soil which will bare the new malls and condo complexes, at a substantial savings. Is it no surprise that Thai companies bought out into a well known beverage empire when the baht was at its strongest, and now local acquisitions are happening at it's lowest? The difference is close to 20% - a major savings for transactions in the billions.
What can we expect to hear from you at kyo this Saturday?
My intention will be deep and heavy bass vibes, but we'll see if the sound system is up to it.
Philosophy to making music?
Much like sculpture - minimalism is a destination, not a starting point. Apparently my written answers are quite the opposite.
Some last words of wisdom to impart?
you don't know what you know,
until you know you know,
B x Midnight Shift 002: Perc (UK)
Sat 24 May 2014