We now join Florida based artist, Alien Nesby aka 23, A23P, and Piss Ant, to talk about how he defines his music, how he got started as a Noise Architecture artist, and what goes into this Alien world of his.
Could you describe your music for us?
23 is sort of hell bent on this. If I sit down and if I know where everything goes, how it gets there, and why it'll work, I know it's wrong and anything but the right direction. It means I'm just emulating the comprehension of my environment and not actually dealing with anything truly revealing.
There's a duo I'm part of called Piss Ant that essentially rolls with that same aesthetic.
A former label [that] I was tied to described 23 as "Post Industrial EBM." I suppose Piss Ant probably ends up falling in some kind of "Industrial" domain as far as most people are concerned. Both are just Noise Architecture to me though; I don't head into either project worried about how or who will be willing to accept the work. People can call it whatever they want, I guess.
A23P is a lot more simple. I still try to throw something a bit unique into the works, but overall it's just a throwback to Acid in conjunction with various forms of EDM.
What first got you into Acid music?
James Christian, Wink, Scott Henry, Chris Fortier, the Crystal Method, Kimball Collins, and a number of other folks were at the event (Hyperspace III) and had a lot of heavily featured 303 material in what they threw down that night. I finally caught the bug. I left that night and decided I had to do some work in that area.
Your shows are all live electronics performances... Tell us about your shows and the work that goes into them?
The demands for 23 shows have become pretty heavy. I can't do them alone. Someone else gets brought in to do vocals, a drummer gets brought in, one to two guitarists get brought in, and then I'm tucked away behind a mound of synths, samplers, and what not.
With A23P it's basically live/improv'd sequence programming and manipulation; even a lot of the sound design is kept in the on-the-fly domain.
How does the improv nature of your live work translate to laying down a track in the studio? Do you still maintain that liveness in the studio, or do you find yourself rerecording takes?
On the other hand, 23 music tends to be more of a studio development process. I figure out how things might be able to translate into the live domain afterward. So sometimes tracks end up rewritten for live use and there have also been times where I can't figure out a way to translate the song over without the use of backing tracks or something, at which point, it just gets tossed out of live-play consideration.
Piss Ant (PA) is pretty much all improv'd and done live. I do some edits to what's recorded, and then the other half of PA, John Sullivan, reassembles those edits in sort of a DJ mix-type fashion to come up with a finished piece.
What bands, artists, and people influence and inspire you?
But really, I don't tend to listen to electronic music on a regular basis. These cats from Japan named Mono have been making a pretty big impact on me as of late, as have Daturah, Ror-Shak, Bee Hatch, and these cats Yndi Halda. The first two Rabbit Junk albums impressed me a good deal as well.
We're curious... why "Alien"?
Guys wanna go out and get laid and I'm content sitting down studying sound design, political science, philosophy, music theory; the only real point and main goal to life is Gnosis as far as I'm concerned. The whole keeping up with the Joneses, what's on TV, what's going on in "the scene" just doesn't interest me, so I end up sort of socially inverted I guess....and "alien."
On your websites, you frequently mention Future Retro gear. How do you like to use the 777 and XS in your music and what do you like most about them?
I think the 777 is arguably the most perfect synth ever crafted, as it hits to the closest balance I've ever encountered between potential timbral capability and intuitiveness. It has a decently wide timbral pallete, but it's concise enough so that you always know exactly where you're at by just a glance. The sequencer is that same way--it's simplistic, but very flexible within its own boundaries. I've used it a ton to sequence filters via CV, notational sequences of other synths, filter other audio signals, and so on. I love it most as just a sheer synth, though I've done a lot of drum creation work with it, weird effects, leads, and all sorts of stuff really.
The XS reminds me of a modular 777 in a lot of ways, but a 777 that heads more into the timbral capability direction. Oddly enough, I think my most rare use of it has been as a straight-up individual synth. As a result, I've been using it a ton for effects purposes, extending the architecture of other synths, and all sorts of stuff. It's like a Swiss Army knife. But as an individual synth, it's really cool as well; it just lends itself to so many other things though.
The last A23P record (Invasion EP) was really those two [777 and XS] in tandem pretty heavily. The XS was carrying out this really swingy Acid-like bassline, and the 777 did all the other nonpercusive bits. For that record, I approached the pieces as sort of a "What would happen if the 303 was actually a synth with some depth?"
The straight 303 timbre has been done to death. It's a cool sound, but there's something more interesting and relevant to me about going, "How do we take that essence and build on it or take it somewhere new?"
On which tracks can we hear FR products?
What other equipment do you use?
Outside of that, around the studio there are two Future-Retro 777 and an XS; an MFB Synth II; a Korg ER-1 mkII; a Yamaha FS1R; a Roland TB-303, two MC-09, an MC-505; two E-mu P2500/CS; an Alesis Fusion 6HD; a Novation Supernova II Pro X; an Auto-Harp; and an Ibanez RG series electric guitar and a custom-built electric guitar.
There are also a couple other smaller synth and nonelectronic instrument oddities, a number of effects units, and some software in play here and there for in-depth sequencing, sample editing, and so forth.
A23P is one of many artists featured on the new Acid All Stars Invasion EP, a throwback to the early Acid House years. How did you get involved with the label Acid All Stars?
You had commented that a number of other Acid All Stars artists (Mainjack/Oedla, Ultraform, Air Liquide) use Future Retro gear. Can you tell us a little more about that?
The next release from Oedla features the XS and the Revolution.
I felt sort of bad for Jered, actually, as I guess I inadvertently (along with Ultraform) had talked Oedla into getting an XS. I ended up ringing up Jered with her [Oedla] on the line to work out some shipping issues and we must have kept him on the line for like a billion hours or something. She has a somewhat thick Swedish accent and as a result, every other word out of Jered was, "What...can you say that again?" and like I said, this was a rather long call.
It was really funny and I'm surprised Jered didn't just start smashing the phone in frustration. He was really patient with us. I got my first 777 back around '98 when FR existed on some small free website, and Jered was just as personable as could be. FR has grown up A LOT since then, but Jered hasn't changed. When it comes to care for their products and customers, I have to confess, I've never encountered a company of any sort that matches up to FR.
The EP has just been released on vinyl and digitally on Beatport. What kind of response have you gotten so far?
What are some of your favorite places to perform?
I just came off a fairly big event and it was just chaos--fire marshalls delayed the venue opening, the time slot went through some weird shifts, a monitor went out on me, and it was just chaotic. In a situation like that I'm gonna be pissed regardless of how the audience takes it in, as even if the crowd enjoys it, I'll know I wasn't at my best.
Conversely, there was an event that I did in Savannah, Georgia not too long ago that was pretty much issue-free. The venue was considerably smaller, but the people were into what was going on, all the artists there were really great, and it just made for a great vibe.
It doesn't really matter where it is or how big the crowd is. If things run smoothly and you get that natural connection with people, it's great.
Do you have any shows coming up?
A23P is going to be in:
It also looks like A23P will be bouncing around Europe, starting in Sweden, around New Year's of '09.
What are you working on right now?
A23P has some more stuff rolling out with Acid All Stars. There's some stuff from me and Computer Controlled (Larry Klienke), some straight-up solo A23P stuff, some stuff from me and Mainjack/Oedla may be around the bend, and hopefully some collaborated work from David Rapp and me. I'm not sure on the release dates for any of that, but from what I understand, the first bits of that may be seen as early as late this year (2008).
There's some new 23 stuff around the bend as well, which the aforementioned David Rapp actually contributed some drumming for, but a release date on that is completely up in the air at this point.
Is A23P/23/Alien doing anything else that we should know about?
Outside of catching A23P live, those recordings are the best way to catch the true essence of what that project is about. A live shoot was attempted not too long ago, but various technicalities came up. But if all goes well, there should be an A23P live DVD wrapped up by year's end (keep an eye on Acid All Stars for additional word; www.acidallstars.com).
What do you like to do in your spare time?
If you could offer any advice or wisdom for people just beginning to make music, what would you say?
23: Thee 23rd Sigil Ov Reason (1997)