On the 13th of each month, Arvo Zylo’s gonna post a the results of an interview … well, a questionnaire directed toward an artist or someone else in the music biz, or just whoever Arvo ends up recruiting. To get to know them better. Most of these will end up on his label’s site, No Part of It. The first one is Arvo’s interview of … himself. So I’m posting it here!
1. What kinds of things have you been getting into lately?
Currently reading a book called Extraordinary Knowing, by a psychoanalyst who decided to explore psychic phenomena in an honest and balanced way. She uses a skeptical and scientific approach to interviews and documents of psychic experiences with her clients, respected neurosurgeons, and others. She really does seem to try to be fair to both sides, both with science’s inability to measure outside of controlled environments, and how most of the so-called psychics she tried to visit are vague and insincere. On deck is The Miracle Club by Mitch Horowitz, and Outwitting The Devil by Napoleon Hill, only recently released although it was written shortly after his most famous book Think and Grow Rich in the 30s. He claims to be channeling the devil and arguing with him, but so far, I find it more useful in hearing his personal story as he got to the point of being widely published and demonstrating his philosophy. I also read Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Panic Fables while doing laundry and I find them stimulating. Comic strips he did in the 60s.
As far as recordings, selections include:
Merill Womach (Thanks Witchbeam), filling the gaps of knowledge about early Merzbow, Rapoon, and Nocturnal Emissions, trying to will more female-fronted Turkish psychedelia into my personal ether, really enjoying the patience and precision of Aube, plus there has been a fair amount of Sanford Clark, Cherubs, Cold Showers, Bruce Lamont, Killing Joke, trying to pin down all that I like about Xenakis, Penderecki, Charles Ives (thanks Blake) and if I’m honest, more accessible music has seeped into my radar since I more or less left my radio hat in Chicago, so it has included Lana Del Rey’s “Ultra Violence”, too much Danzig (an artist I didn’t like until recently), and just in general, I’m having a sort of “metal mid-life crisis”, because there was only enough metal around in my childhood to make me wish there was more, so a lot of Bathory, Motorhead, and, yes, Twisted Sister.
2. What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby? If you don’t like that question, what do you have to say about true art (vs. “entertainment”)?
In this interview series GX Jupitter-Larsen refers to it as a “mission”, and I’m going to “borrow” that.
As for art vs. Entertainment, I look at it as a conversation. I don’t want to talk to someone who is full of shit. They can dress like David Bowie or Andy Warhol if they want, but you know, it’s the street smarts that sets meaningful (IE healing to the soul) art apart from charlatans. Totally subjective, only because some people don’t have much soul to work with.
3. How would you describe what you do?
In short, I’m a failed minimalist.
4. How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?
At first, I dropped out of art school and I tried to be a keyboardist/programmer in an industrial band, but tried to do to much with the drum machines and made them overload, then I made recordings where I pushed the capacity to overload further, until it malfunctioned and sort of sounded minimal, then I got to a point where I layered enough loops on top of eachother that the computer crashed, and the result sounded minimal sometimes, and now I am getting better at spreading things out across different approaches, and I still like repetition, but it’s still nowhere near minimal.
5. How would you describe your philosophy?
There is a little bit of Vedic, Eastern, this and that, armchair magician, etc. The book series Conversations with God was pretty aligned with how I’ve felt most of the time. In essence, I try to see both sides and not think in terms of black and white, and it’s getting to the point where I can kitty to the whole “we are all connected” bit, but I still prefer for lightning to strike more in some places than others.
6. Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods? If no, then maybe you’ll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not).
Yes. I am very curious to see what of quantum physics comes out alive after all of the overblown clickbait articles are done, but “Quantum entanglement” makes sense to me and so do “multiverses”. If so, then there is a parallel universe with every single possibility, just out of reach of the human senses, and Oscar the Grouch can be god in one of them, if you want. What does that mean to us now? Anything you want it to mean. As for conspiracy theories, I do enjoy the idea that people are going around underground trying to find reptiles, and the theory that certain sonic frequencies generated by these tunnels can cause people to hallucinate and see reptilian humanoid creatures.
7. What would you say was your most definitive experience?
Oh there are moments of love and serendipity, and especially New Orleans, etc, but I would really have to say that spending the night in a haunted cemetery as a skeptic and experiencing such an overwhelming (and oddly pleasant) series of paranormal events caused me to take the notion of “trances” and “ghosts” in a much more respectable light, which gradually turned my philosophy completely upside down.
8. Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you’d like people to know about you, that you don’t think anyone would ever ask?
I am going to put out another Blood Rhythms LP next year, and it will come with a lot of things that feature a lot of help from collaborators. There are other things that I’d rather keep under my hat.
My first love was visual art and I was ambidextrous when I was a kid. I used to draw and color with both hands, sometimes at the same time. I was forced to choose a hand at the age of 9 or so, and so I write with my left hand and do everything else with my right. I always wonder how that affected my brain and how it would have benefited me to keep writing with both hands (my handwriting certainly has not improved in any case!)
9. Would you care to name any theoretical “desert island” records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of “perfect”?
1. Rex – Slider ….is the one.
If I had to pick one track it would be Beethoven’s “Allegretto” from his 7th Symphony. Or “Night Owl” by Cliff Edwards.
If I had to pick one noise track, it would be “Double Nature” by MAMMAL
Mnemonists – ROTO LIMBS
COIL – Ape of Naples, Scatology, Horse Rotorvator
Nine Inch Nails – Broken
Gandalf – Gandalf
Foetus – DEAF, HOLE, NAIL, GASH
NAMANAX – Cascading Waves of Electronic Turbulence
Renaldo & The Loaf – Songs for Swinging Larvae
Snakefinger – Greener Postures
This collection of Ennio Morricone’s “Experimental” music.
The Manson Family Sings The Songs of Charles Manson
Ferko String Band – Happy Days are Here Again
Nurse with Wound – Soliloquy for Lilith, Thunder Perfect Mind
Bobby Hebb – Sunny
The Young Rascals – Groovin’
Rudimentary Peni – Death Church
Wendy Rene – After Laughter Comes Tears (Complete Stax & Volt Singles + Rarities 1964-1965)
Any collection of Fats Waller, Cliff Edwards, Jack Hylton, Al Bowlly, Don Baker, would be good.
10. What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?
I guess it was shortly after Twisted Sister’s single for “We’re Not Gonna Take It” came out. I really remember my grandmother having some sort of record player that would play a single on repeat without doing it, and I coaxed my aunt’s metalhead friends to keep playing it on repeat while I bounced around. I went on to play that song a lot through a lot of my childhood.
11. Are you able to appreciate other peoples’ creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws? To what extent?
There are ways to take an idea and make it your own. No one really owns the ideas anyway, but unceremonious lifting of other peoples’ ideas, and especially doing a half-ass job of it is not tolerable for me. It renders a person’s work useless in my eyes. And it’s usually the doing of these rather selfish, mean-spirited, rude, and manipulative types who also abuse people, rip people off and so forth. To hear that George Harrison almost certainly stole synthesizer tapes from a studio intern and pawned them off as his own as “Electronic Sounds” is unforgivable to me. You might as well be danglin’ a baby. I can forgive shortcomings, and plenty of people who are rough around the edges, but not the particular conniving narcissist weasel/snake oil salesman type.
12. Do you have any heroes or heroines? Who are they? Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out.
I feel an unspeakable kinship to Cliff Edwards, Fats Waller, and Marc Bolan. I’m not saying they’re heroes, and I can’t say why it’s more than admiration to me.
13. What would you like to have on your epitaph? Or what is your favorite quote?
JG Thirlwell quoted someone in an interview and I don’t remember who, but … “I write my epitaph every day” would be on my tombstone.
There are a lot of quotes that could be favorites, but if I have to choose one:
“The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute to wit”.