Welcome, readers, to another special interview edition at YIKIS!
I was just a lonely pocket monster, snaking my way through life, when suddenly I was captured by Pokelahoma native Almark for a loquacious interview at Yeah I Know It Sucks!
I mean, this thing was hella verbose. Wordier than a birthday card from your estranged grandmother.
Anyway, proceeding full-speed ahead, here is the greatly abridged version of the interview… (yes, it’s actually been edited down quite a bit!)
Almark: First off hello there! Glad to do this!
Alex Spalding: Me too! Will be fun! A lot of your music has intriguing experimental qualities so I was wondering what caused you to get into music and what are some of your inspirations?
Almark: I’ve been a music lover since I was a child in 1983, I was 6 at the time so music as you well know was pretty huge back then. My mother would play her records, plus I grew up with VH1, Mtv etc. We had music playing all time. When I was 15 in 1992 I started to play the guitar, my first instrument, then wrote songs and learned to play and sing, playing in a few bands locally, some I played for bass and others I played guitar, but that didn’t last.
I started listening to Industrial, metal and other things. I was heavy into grunge at the time, you know Nirvana, Soundgarden, AIC. A friend in highschool let me borrow his Ministry CD and made me a tape of Nine Inch Nails, Broken. Once I heard those bands I was like “this music is really amazing” I just loved the whole raw aspect of Industrial, then in 1995 some friends brought over a DOS program called iplay, it was this mod player, you could play mods in DOS they had downloaded from the local BBS. I got into the techno aspect of music. By the time 1998 came around I downloaded one of these tracker programs so I could try my hand at experimenting with electronic music, I downloaded Fasttracker II for DOS, it was free and made by a Swedish or Norwegen programmer. FT2 was very oldschool, yellow and black or whatever color you wanted. You had patterns on the screen that moved vertically up and down, all in hex code. You could play music with your computer keyboard, it fascinated me.
I got down to messing around with it and wrote a couple of songs, one was called Goth, the name says it all, dark and moody, but had Industrial elements. The mod scene was huge in the late 90s. Once 2000 rolled around I had learned how to use FT2 pretty well, doing appreggios and so forth and making music. I made a DnB type song. A friend of mine at my job sold me about his setup and was willing to sell his Yamaha DJX Keyboard and Mirage Ensoniq sampler, along with a Peavey effect processor, Roland TR-505 drum machine and Yamaha SY2 and I got those for about 200 USD since he let me pay it off in months. This is what really got me started in Electronic music.
About this time I heard the Aussie band/person aka Tom Ellard ‘Severed Heads’ and had never heard that kind of music before, it was poppy, catchy and retro sounding, his music was the driving force for my beginning experiments in Electronic music. My friend who sold me his gear introduced me to Severed Heads. At the time I was using Cooledit Pro instead of Fasttracker II, getting into the side view recording and Cakewalk Pro 5 to record midi sequences. I wrote about 30+ songs that year while making them in my dark apt late at night after I got off work, just me and the computer with the phosphorescent glow of a CRT screen, those were the days.
Alex Spalding: What do you have going on with this new material you’ve got coming out?
Almark: Well I’ve been working on an album called -ATD- and this was the next big thing after “Thought Patterns in ‘Documentary’ Form” I first got the idea to create the music like usual on my computer in 2012 and send it through my Sony tape deck; this didn’t work, it was more trouble than it was worth. So I opted to go completely digital while creating a analog atmosphere using various VST plugins and techniques. The idea was to give unique names to each song, creating a theme if you will of Digital and Analog. I remember years ago seeing on CDs from the 80s and 90s ADA or was that ADTD, I cannot remember, either way it’s where I got the idea for the name. Why not make a album called -ATD- or Analog to Digital using themed names and vibes according to the mood set to those years, a tribute to the essence of early electronic music, post 70s, right before new wave, more post-punk Experimental underground stuff, but all from the vibes built up in me from the early age of 6, Wham and so forth, Thompson Twins and more. We tend to grow up remembering these things, I wanted to get them on paper or should I say screen using (ableton live) So -ATD- is a very involving album started a few months after Documentaries.
-ATD- has been in the works since July 2013, and ever since then I’ve been toiling away – laughs…
… trying to accomplish this themed wonder. The album has Retro, analog, New Wave, Post-punk, Darkwave, EBM, techno vibes. It’s nothing like my last. Since avant-garde has become the norm for me and I continue to progress into otherworldly landscapes, who knows what the future holds, the imagination is my inspiration.
Picture if you will those commercials you use to hear on tv programs like PBS, the BBC and other things, those moog type sounds, that’s kind of the idea, being influenced by tv and other things as a kid, this album is like a child in 1983 growing up to the mood of these sounds, movies, music and the general beginning of electronic music. -ATD- is fourteen years of progression musically in me toward electronic music, the ideas culminating. My expertise gaining strength and knowledge through modern technology and influences. -ATD- is one of those albums that you would have to listen to, to finally absorb what is going on and 4 songs do not give the whole picture, there will be around 14.
Alex Spalding: Considering your diverse influences and having come to work on the web, have any of your attitudes or opinions on the use of the internet to spread, promote, release music changed over the years? How do you feel about internet-music, the sort of culture that’s sprung up around it (for instance the dedicated fb groups of artists in the Experimental Music genre)?
Almark: Since I began making music way before people were listening to tons of video, or having a way to reach out with IM’s like Skype; instead we had ICQ in those days and that was about it, other than chat rooms and IRC channels, or mplayer. But that was the big stuff of the net in those days. It wasn’t like you couldn’t find things, they were very well hidden. So the whole “social media explosion” wasn’t born yet, not until about 2005/ 2008.
I hadn’t released my music to the world until 2010 actually.
So in those 10 years only a handful of friends and my family had heard what I was making. It was a real decision to release my music because it’s so personal, I wasn’t scared to release it though. I hadn’t played this music live yet.
It felt very much like a part of me that I didn’t want to share, but once I did, breaking though the “I’ll see what happens experiment’ it just got more interesting. I think the internet has allowed the indie musician to live their dreams, because before these days you had to rely on a music label, even major ones and it was hit and miss, I never went through those doors.
So the internet has tied together everyone because we have facebook connected to twitter and so on. Soundcloud has been a big help getting your material out and I enjoy bandcamp as well. Also for a while I didn’t sell my music, not until this year, better late than never? It’s getting more amazing for the musician, and there is a lot of music out there, once you dig around you will find amazingly talented people, they blow me away every day.
Twitter is my place to promote and I do it constantly, it’s a hobby and a profession now, I do make a little bit of money from music, but music is what I love, not money.
Alex Spalding: How do you feel you relate to the electronic scene?
Almark: I consider myself post modern, because when I hear things like my album 1984 show I can’t compare it to anything, it’s out there man.
People notice this when they hear my music the first time, some think I sound like this person, some think I sound like that one. But most people hear originality, I’m not into doing what other people do. Since I’ve been doing this for 14 years I’m turning into half a vet, at least I would hope that’s true. I’ll call myself a vet in 15 more years from now – laughs.
I do my own thing, completely ignoring all aspects of the modern world, music just comes to me through life’s experiences, or a thought, or a photo, I was told last year that it all sounds very avant-garde. And in the beginning I drew on abstract feelings for my music, it’s always been abstract via industrial stuff, just progressed over the years, sometimes I re-visit the old ways of how I began, because roots are important and they keep us alive as a musician.
My blog is a braindump of a lot of words regarding what I do musically. What is avant-garde? No one really knows, but what I can tell you is we do our own thing, we draw from influences and use them like tools to make a new thing. I do have influences in even DnB, ambient, Darkwave, Chillout, Industrial, Trance, EBM, House and more.I do not care for dubstep, or trap. I also enjoy Dub at times…
(Alex Spalding): . o O (I’m hungry. I feel like I want… something tomatoey. Pasta, maybe. Wish there was something like that here. It’s funny how a person can be in a mood for tomato, but never just go eat a tomato. It’s always gotta be in a sauce or something. Maybe I should try that some time, to satisfy the urge. Maybe chew up some basil and take a large bite of a vine-ripe tomato. Mmmm. *stomach growls*)
… in fact my song ‘Implode’ is like a abstract glitchy dub.
The older I get the more I appreciate Classical music too and that somehow has crept into -ATD- on certain songs, a Electronic post-electronic thing going on there with those little snippets of Classical, it’s hard to deny hearing them, now that I listen to the album in a whole.
Wow-and-Flutter is a good example of this from -ATD- and that’s up for listen on my bandcamp.
It has this safari dark moody thing going on, I have no idea how I started writing that craziness.
I write these little fantasy melodies, don’t know how they come about, just go with the flow you know? I like layers of instruments and moods, changing one chord progression and laying another over it like they do orchestrations. It creates a real hypnotic mood that way, just moves me a lot. You witnessed that on my album Documentaries; great write up thank you.
Incidently, Plane Ride to London was written on the fly, so all those chords were made up on the spot, it made it more interesting, but the setup for the other parts were pre-live
Alex Spalding: Haha, really?
Almark: yes – laughs
mostly the beginning part of Plane Ride to London, it’s a special song, does something to me every time I hear it. When Blown Glass transitions into it just give me chills. all those delayed synth parts at the end of Blown Glass, you seem to appreciate the video, the video really creates emotions in me that are overwhelming at times. I guess I’m a artist at heart
Alex Spalding: Do you have any (other) available stuff to entice us with in anticipation of the new work?
Almark: I plan on making videos to -ATD- soon, 3 songs Tape Head, Wow-and-Flutter and IC.
There is a lot of video layering in that video Blown Glass, I guess it’s avant-garde, though I don’t like to over use the word. It’s certainly abstract and emotional.
I plan on making at least a ‘Tape Head’ video in a few days, just need to find the material, it’s hard to come by, YouTube removes the good stuff, have to look around.
Since I take things and use snippets of them to make a new thing it’s not breaking copyright, it’s art you know?
Material is hard to come by, I wish I could find things that really fit me, sometimes I look for days.
I did make a video to Plane Ride to London Remix by Dajoka. My friend remixed my song into DnB and I created the video to it.
Alex Spalding: So, have you done much live playing and things?
Almark: The answer is yes, I live stream over the net, like I did early 2013, those albums like Documentaries and 1984 show. I do a long setup, weeks usually and get the sounds ready, but not the music. I then create everything and play it that night, looping parts and playing keyboard with each track, all created on keyboard via Ableton live through VST soft synths. I also sample a great deal from movies for certain online shows, anything I can get my hands on, and make instruments out of those sounds to create entirely new sounds, playing them like strange instruments over the keyboard, it’s how the mid part of Plane Ride to London was created, the swell part. I also create structured planned music, but 2013 was the year for me to expand into on the fly, it was fun. ATD is structured and planned.
-ATD- will be released through fwonk* records again, they have done me a real service. they are anxious to hear the album and so am I. Plus my gathering of fans are anxious. fwonk are UK, love being on a net-label from there.
Alex Spalding: That’s cool.
Almark: Real professional people. So the album will be free through them and pay through my bandcamp, itunes etc.. Of course through my bandcamp there will be bonus tracks plus PDF download booklet. I plan to do these things very soon. I’ve been making up things in my head for days trying to get plans going, I do a lot of stuff in my head. Then begin the process, video to blown glass started that way, weird isn’t it. though the video wasn’t exactly how I envisioned it, at least after the guy blows the glass, the bird thing was just progression and experimentation., but it all worked out. When you do it all yourself it becomes habit, I often wonder how it all comes about. Solo artists are quiet alone people, I’m not exception but I don’t live completely alone. I guess i have a lot to say because this is our first interview. I’ve been interviewed on RKC before, that wsa text. Then Dr. Bones on voice and that was fun. after a while I said -ATD- will be released in Spring and so Spring is here and April is coming and April is the final release date. Sometime this April it will be released, I’m hoping middle of the month but no later than April. -ATD- has been a lot of toil mainly due to my computer crashing every day 3 times or more a day from Aug till I replaced my dying HD. So I lost 3 months of time writing.
Also your other guy who did the review on Tape Head single did a suburb job as well. Superb. we’re not in the suburbs – laughs
Almark: Weird is good, I’ve read some really dull reviews before, I mean it’s too stainless. Too sterile. it’s hard to really get all this out because I have so much to say, the emotion of music and more, It’s endless and it would fill pages and pages of your interview, but I hope this helps so far. thats why I have a blog synthoelectro a music bio of almark
I rant sometimes on the utter awfulness of modern music in the mainstream – laughs
I don’t dig dry synth sounds so much, unless they are something that fits the song for me. I like things to be a little wet
I notice you are on Sirona-Records, I got on with Fwonk* I imagine both net-labels are just as good. I’ve heard of Sirona-Records before.
Alex Spalding: Gotta say, I’m digging IC – #3 single from -ATD-. It has maybe a flavor of Moroder, or maybe Legowelt, or even Tangerine Dream.
Almark: I heard Tangerine Dream when I was making it awesome that you think that It wasn’t intentional just hit me that way thanks though I haven’t heard Moroder or Legowelt.
Alex Spalding: For more avant-garde sounds from Almark, please visit his bandcamp… by clicking this bandcamp link: