Jack aka First dog to visit the center of the earth was nice enough to do an interview thru email to give us more insight into his music.
SOTR: Explain your typical process of making a song, and what tools/instruments you use.
Jack: At the moment, all I’m using are an M-Audio midi controller and my computer. I’d like to own some real instruments, though. I know I could incorporate horns and flutes into my music well, and I really want some kind of little bongo drum or something. Ableton Live is what I’m using for most of the process. I use a lot of loops, but I don’t go back and build and rearrange the tracks like, I assume, most electronic musicians do. 99% of all the sounds you hear are recorded live, then I go back and record another layer over. I usually start with a couple loops, using effects to build up the song and form the structure, so I have kind of a template for when I go back and record the simpler sounds over, which are usually some vocal tracks or a midi track.
SOTR: I like the aspect that 99% of each track you record is live, when I listen to your music it does not sound computer generated it sounds like humans playing instruments. This is probably based on the fact that you are physically manipulating sound with your midi controller in a live take rather than building a song with a mouse and computer screen tweaking it over and over. I think I am going to invest in a midi controller for my computer, you have opened my eyes to the possibility. As of now I dont use a computer at all to make music. I use a jamman looper and layer real instruments into it to build songs. It can hold 8hrs on each memory card so it is nice.
Jack: I’m looking forward to layering lots of organic instruments into my music in the future. I think my music is sounding really 2-dimensional, being mainly artificial and I really need to change that.
SOTR.: Your music has a wealth of different sounds, where do you get all these crazy sounds from?
Jack: My music is actually really minimal, but it sounds really dense because of all the effects I lay on. Most of my songs contain only around 6-9 tracks, some as few as three. Sometimes I feel like Ableton, and not having enough instruments are making it too easy for me to make dense music. I want to get more external instruments in the future because it would be more of a challenge for me. Whenever I’m limited, like when I’m remixing a song, the result is always something really different, and I like working like that.
SOTR: Do you sample in sounds to Ableton Live, or all the sounds pre-loaded with the program? It sounds like you have some vintage drum sounds in your music. Real instruments are nice for the hands on quality and the possibility of releasing ram human emotion thru them, I consider any external device like drum machines, synths, effects pedals all are real instruments. And I don’t necessarily think there is a right way to play an instrument, you shouldn’t worry about challenging yourself, every one has there own touch. In the early 80′s with electronic instruments becoming more available artists who had never played an instrument were able to manipulate sounds better with less skill, but they were ‘artists’ and had the desire to create.
Jack: I never use any of the pre-loaded sounds and drum kits and presets. The beats are computer generated though. In my first couple releases, Layer Zero and Seaweed, most of the beats were real recordings of me banging on random stuff in my room. I want to do that again, but my mics been broken
SOTR: Musically can you name some of your main influences?
Jack: A lot of people tell me I sound like a combination of Black Dice and Dan Deacon. I can kind of hear that, haha, and they’re definitely some of my biggest influences lately. Dan Deacon has really influenced me melodically, and Black Dice has influenced me in a way that’s hard to describe, but they have definitely changed me. I’d have to say my biggest musical influence is the Ocarina of Time soundtrack! That game came out when I was six and it was the first music I ever loved. I still listen to it often. Older video game music in general is a huge influence on me, especially 8-bit music.
SOTR: I can definitely hear the black dice influence, but not so much the dan deacon factor. Regardless your music doesnt have to sound like a particular artist to be influenced by them. I saw dan deacon here in Sacramento and it was cool, I got too drunk and spilled my beer all over the dance floor. It was pretty loud almost to the point where his music distorted into this shoegaze ‘wall of sound’. It was definantly a different expirence from listening to his albums at home. It is amazing how things from our childhood come back and are expressed thru our art as adults. Andy Wharhols “Campbell soup can” silkscreens were inspired from events of his childhood when he would have
Campbell’s soup for lunch ever single day.
Jack: Childhood is probably the biggest influence for everyone. Nostalgia is such a great feeling and I always want to make sounds that will make me feel it. I assume other people feel that way too.
SOTR.: I see you have a lot of creative friends, like Boy Fruit, Sacred Melt, and God stuff, do you ever collaborate with anyone?
Jack: I’ve done splits with Boy Fruit and God Stuff, and I might be doing another one with Boy Fruit and Fantom Hands. Me and Boy Fruit just finished a really sloppy awesome album we made over ninjam. You can hear it at one of the links below. It was really fun to make, and I think it’s good, but its not as serious as my other stuff. It’s hard to be serious when there’s about 8 seconds of lag between us, but I think we did pretty good.
SOTR.: Ninjam?? Please tell me more, it sounds very interesting, it is amazing what technology can do. I have often wondered if there was technology where you could play music with someone simultaniously in some weird corner of the world.
Jack: Yeah, that’s what Ninjam is for.
SOTR: I guess the time differenence would be an issue causing that lag. It is interesting to hear of the process of this album and the 8 second lag factor.
Jack: Well we went back and lined up our tracks and did some mastering, so it’s not complete chaos. We made sure we played in the same key and tempo
SOTR: I am eager to give it a listen. So most of the artists you collaborate with are thru the web??
Jack: All of them, yeah. I don’t know anyone where I live.
SOTR: Do you have any music/movie recommendations?
Jack: Tyondai Braxton’s Central Market was probably my favorite release of last year. Definitely check that out. Ben Frost, Animal Hospital, White Rainbow, and NOMO’s releases from last year are some more I really liked. Besides new stuff, I discovered Muslimgauze last year and can’t stop listening to that. I’m also listening to Geogaddi, Offend Maggie, and the Akira soundtrack a lot lately. As for movies, A Serious Man and Inglourious Basterds were my favorites for last year. I really need to see Fantastic Mr. Fox. I’ll lastly add that Boogie Nights is probably my favorite movie ever.
SOTR: Cool, thanx for the recommondations, I always like to discover new music. I havent seen any of these movies but I will look them up on netflix. I just recently watched “Slacker” I have always seen the movie at blockbuster as a kid, and finally watched it the other day. It takes place in the early 90′s in austin texas, It is about a bunch of artists, and musicians and various people. I always thought austin texas as full of conservative rednecks, but i guess it has been a haven for creative types for quite some while. Where are you from, and can you describe the music/art scene there?
Jack: I grew up in Southern California, never payed attention to what the scene was. I only recently got into music. I moved to Northern Wyoming with my family two years ago, to a town of population 9,000 ten hours from the nearest major city. I think there are like two or three christian “gothcore” bands from here I’d like to play a show, but not in front of this kind of audience. I plan on moving back to the San Diego area soon.
SOTR: That is funny, cristian gothcore bands, I think they should just stick with the old church hymns, I’ve never pictured jesus with black fingernails and a choke chain.
What keeps you going artistically?
Jack: I haven’t been making music for very long, but I have a formula down now, so It’s getting easier. That itself is pretty motivating. I’m satisfied with the way I sound, so nothing’s slowing me down.
SOTR: Nice, good to hear. Are you tired of animal collective?
I thought I was, but then I saw them live last June and remembered that they’re amazing.
SOTR: I do like animal collective, that was a dumb question, I guess once a band gets so popular i get turned off to them sometimes.