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ISSUE TWENTY ONE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2015

MC LARS | CHELSEA WOLFE | BORIS ELDAGSEN | DORIAN DAWES MERSEYTRONICA: SPOTLIGHT ON LIVERPOOL ELECTRONICA


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e are all reborn. We are born and our lives are chosen for us. We grow and learn to choose a new life for ourselves. Once we figure out what we want to do we decide to do something else. We are reborn from birth to death to rebirth to redeath. Artists know all about rebirth and their many deaths. Art thrives and then reinvents. Sometimes we have a rebirth while only half finished with the canvas. I am reminded as we come through the seasons of creation. Everybody loves to be reborn over the holiday season, especially if they’re shucking away all of the corporate gratuitousness. If that doesn’t do it for you there is always the new year to be reborn into. Rebirth is a study of self, executed exceptionally well. The courageousness of the individual blending delightfully among the many colors in the crayon box with art, music and culture. The words that flow so smoothly off the tongues of the reborn. Those who have found themselves or uncovered another piece of their thousand-piece puzzles. The pieces of our culture in Fourculture,

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IAMX | Photo by Andrew Ashley PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW ASHLEY


features Merseytronica: The Liverpool Underground Electronic Scene................ 6 The Rebirth of {X} Chris Corner Discusses His Origins, Mental Illness and a New Chapter of IAMX............................. 16 Boris Eldagsen: a Study of the Self in Visual Poetry................. 34 MC Lars: the Self Proclaimed Originator of “Post-Punk Laptop Rap” Returns with His Fourth Full Length Album............ 48 An Interview with Chelsea Wolfe.................. 54 An Excerpt from “The New Dawn” by Dorian Dawes.............. 62

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MERSEY

THE LIVERPOOL UNDERGR

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TRONICA

ROUND ELECTRONICA SCENE BY M I K E S TA N T O N


THE EMOTION OF WAVES AND LO FIVES

I

’m at The Well Space in a bohemian part of Liverpool, it’s a Friday night and a crowd is starting to gather in the building. It’s a creative space, used by artists, musicians and designers because of the inspiring atmosphere. I think it’s an old warehouse, a tangible link to Liverpool’s illustrious industrial past. The walls are white-washed and roughhewn. The floor is wooden with tables of different types and sizes set out with mismatched chairs. At the far end is a staircase leading up to a first level mezzanine office packed with theatrical costumes. To my left standing on a slightly raised platform is a long trestle-type table with curved wrought iron legs covered with a large dark cloth and setting up all manner of electronic equipment on that table is an unshaven, slim, nervous looking guy with unruly dark hair. He’s quiet, modest, wearing dark jeans and a hooded top, probably in his early thirties. He keeps producing equipment from containers and flight cases, connecting cables, wiring and flicking switches. All the time I sit observing the audience. There are men and women of all ages taking their seats, talking excitedly, drinking from bottles, glasses of wine. The ceiling is adorned with sparkling string lighting casting eerie, jerking shadows against the walls. A projector beams a circle of yellow light on the wall behind the young man setting up his gear. He stands behind his table of distortion pedals, mini synths, sound mixers, samplers and drum machines. A slight nod to indicate he’s ready to begin, the projector replaces the jaundiced light with jumpy abstract images and he starts. Low infrasonic rumbles boom from the speakers and fill the space. Analogue sounds. Phased distortion and machine hum leak from speakers as spectral synth chords merge with distant percussive sounds and warped samples. Stephen James Buckley or Polypores as he is performing tonight, leans over mixers and samplers, tuning the waveforms, coalescing the spider-like soundwaves into amorphous washes. It is compelling. The sounds haunt the surrounding space and congeal into the dark corners. It is akin to being at a séance, with Buckley as the medium and the sounds he conjures arcing phantasms. Polypores is the opening act at Emotion Wave, a night bringing together some of the finest, most innovative and exciting electronic artists in the North West of England. Curated by Neil Grant, himself an accomplished musician with his own electronic act Lo Five, he is also a producer and remixer. His love of the genre has compelled him to

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capture this scene like scent in a bottle and display it for those who crave and seek ‘the other side of music’. We will return to that October night in Liverpool but first we meet Neil, the force behind Emotion Wave and how he arrived here at The Well Space. Growing up Neil listened to his dad’s record collection — Beatles, Dire Straits, Kate Bush, Bruce Springsteen, some classical guitar music like Concerto de Aranjuez and Cavatina. Then in his teens he discovered Nirvana, kick-starting his learning the guitar. Encouraged by his school headmaster he embraced the music of Jimi Hendrix, leading to him being in a band for a few years and listening to a lot of Verve, Radiohead and Super Furry Animals. I was able to chat with Neil about his beginnings in electronic music, the bands he used to go and watch in the city, Emotion Wave, how he got into creating his own music, his own project Lo Five and who we should be looking out for. Have you always been a fan of electronic music? To be brutally honest, no I haven’t. In my teens I had a snooty view of electronic music as being quite cold and distant – new wave synthpop stuff like Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode and Gary Numan were all I had to go off in those days and it just didn’t talk to me. I can appreciate them a bit more now as being intentionally distant and isolated, but at the time I saw them as lacking in feeling or soul. It was only when I was 18 or so, during a break in band rehearsals, a friend played this free NME CD that had Boards of Canada’s “Roygbiv” on it – and it flipped a switch for me, it was a complete turning point in my appreciation of music. I Neil Grant, curator of Emotion Wave

must have played that CD a few thousand times. It was the first time I heard electronic music that had an emotional impact on me, but I couldn’t explain why, that was the appeal that kept me going back for more – how is it that a bunch of notes played in a certain order can get this response? After that I was hooked, total BoC fanboy ever since – even now most of the electronic music I listen to now seems to owe something to them. When growing up in Liverpool, did you go and see bands play in the city? Which ones were you a fan of? The first band I wanted to see was Gomez. It was a thrill to see lads my own age, in a band, doing so well. They all seemed really accomplished players and writers and I guess that was why they were the first band I could relate to as a teenager. After that the whole Bandwagon scene happened, with bands like The Coral, The Zutons, The Bandits and Tramp Attack regularly playing the Zanzibar. It was amazing at the time, that you could go down to the Zanzibar and see all these amazing bands, sometimes with them all on stage together playing Lonnie Donegan skiffle. I have to admit to feeling a bit gutted too though — like I’d somehow missed the boat for making music or something. Which venues did you like going to? Apart from the Zanzibar we went to the Lomax and The Picket to see bands play. There was a distinct lack of good music promoters back then I recall, things are better now – but the focus is still on guitar based bands or club nights. What started you off making music?


POLYPORES AT EMOTION WAVE It was being asked to join a band that got me started. Back then I didn’t have the knowledge or financial means to buy a synth or a computer. The band I was in applied for a Princes Trust grant, which led to us getting hold of a Fostex 24 track recorder. That taught me a lot about the whole mixing process and got me interested in the production side of things. After I left the band I got a copy of Cool Edit Pro – which would be the start of me using DAWs (digital audio workstation) for music production. Tell me about Emotion Wave. Emotion Wave is a night where we have three local producers play a 30 minute set each, with DJ sets in between. It’s a very relaxed, laid back affair designed to give local producers a platform and the right audience to play to. It’s not like a usual gig. You can sit down, have a beer and chat to your pals, all to the sweet soundtrack of quality locallysourced electronica. It’s not a club night for house music or techno; it’s geared towards the other end of the electronic music spectrum, stuff you wouldn’t normally dance to. What was the thinking behind setting up this night? Emotion Wave came about after experiencing a few frustrations I was having when trying to get my music out there in a live setting. It was weird because I’d had some positive local press and radio play, but there didn’t seem to be many opportunities for me to play, or see other similar local producers like myself play live. Most of the venues only deal with certain promoters, then, when you get in touch with the promoters they’re not really interested, as they don’t think there’s enough of a financial incentive in putting on relatively unknown electronica producers – that’s my personal experience anyway. I did play a couple of festivals but that was because they’d try and include as wide a range of genres as possible, but even then the gigs didn’t seem to work for myself or the other electronic artists. With the gigs I’ve played, they’ve been in a traditional gig setting, which I don’t think translates very well. You’ve got an audience stood expecting to be blown away as they would seeing a decent guitar band play, but there’s no band, just a person stood behind a laptop or a synth. It’s less about the performance and more focussed on the music with electronica, unless you’ve got visuals and lights. Those experiences put me off wanting to play live and I’m sure it put others off too, as a few of the artists I’ve featured at Emotion Wave have played maybe once in the last year, some none at all. Sometime afterwards I was talking to a friend who had the opposite problem – saying there were too many open mic nights in Liverpool. That

LO FIVE AT EMOTION WAVE

gave me the idea of doing something similar for electronic music: a place where local producers could play live, in a quieter, less intense environment. The reasoning is that a lot of electronic music is there to be listened to, rather than danced or moshed to – so the environment has to cater ac-

cordingly. After that occurred to me I called into a new venue right next to where I work called the Well Space. It’s got a really cool, creative, friendly and unpretentious feel to it – and when I told them about my music and what I’d like to do with Emotion Wave they invited me to host it there. www.fourculture.com 9


So, is there a strong electronic music scene in Liverpool and the Merseyside region? I don’t feel like there’s a strong scene at present, but it feels like it’s starting to grow. Ultimately I’d like Emotion Wave to act as a hub for like-minded people, not just producers but anyone who’s into this sort of music, to get together and enjoy it and make new relationships. I want to keep it as open and accessible as possible, I don’t want it to turn into a closed-off clique where you have the same people promoting themselves by latching onto well-established artists. There have only been two nights so far but it feels like there’s a tangible appetite for it, it’s been really easy in a way to get people to play and people to come along. Already I’ve met and started collaborating with other producers and labels and I know some artists have had other gig offers off the back of it - I just hope it all continues. Are there other similar scenes around the UK that you are aware of? I’m pretty oblivious to the wider electronic music scene so I couldn’t say. You seem to get these pockets of people based around a label or a venue, I think once people become aware of that they gravitate towards it, want to be a part of it in some way. I know myself and other producers don’t feel like part of an electronic scene though, which was part of the reason for setting Emotion Wave up. Is the Liverpool ‘sound’ unique? I think there’s some difference, though it’s hard to say what. All I can say is that there seems to be a huge variety in the sounds I’m hearing, from spacious ethereal ambient to dark industrial drone – and loads more in between. I don’t think this just applies to electronic music. There are currently more venues and promoters and bands in Liverpool than ever before, catering for a lot of tastes. There’s a lot of crossover stuff happening, not just with music but with dance and performance artists too, that I haven’t witnessed before and I think that’s helping musicians break away from established ideas of what a constitutes a band - so I think it’s encouraging more artists to come out of the shadows. Tell me about Lo Five. Lo Five started around 2012, after my last band split up. I came to the conclusion that bands only seem to work when there’s a shared vision and it felt like we were just meandering aimlessly. I’d also become a parent so couldn’t devote the time to rehearsals – that gave me the perfect excuse to dive into a solo project. Creatively it’s been the most satisfying and liberating project I’ve ever started. I’ve never had an

agenda or felt tied to any genres or scenes, I’ve always felt like an outsider - so just do whatever I feel like at the time. I guess that’s why a lot of the tracks on my EPs sound quite different to one another. I’ve self-released four so far, and worked with a couple of labels on repackaging some of them. I’ve been surprised at the reaction to be honest, when I started I wasn’t even planning to put the tracks online, but when I did I received a lot of encouragement. It’s been an all-consuming project but one I’m so glad I’ve started. I’m formulating ideas for an album and it’s going to be different to my previous releases. I’m gathering lots of field recordings at present, making my own instruments and percussion. I’m taking my time with this one. It’s going to be more personal, intimate and cohesive. In the meantime I have an EP out on The Beauty Of Melody records called Ridin’ On Air. Not only do you create music you produce and remix other artists and bands. How did this come about? It’s always something I wanted to try, because it gives you the chance to apply your production sensibilities, without having to worry too much about composition - but it took a while for me to get the skills and confidence to give it a go. With remixes I want to hear something completely different from the original track, rather than adding on some cheesy house beat or something. I wouldn’t even attempt a remix if I didn’t

think I could bring something original to it. Who have you worked with? It was only after releasing an EP that got some airtime on local radio that another local band, Holy Thursday, got in touch and asked if I’d like to remix one of their tracks. I’d already heard them and thought they were brilliant, so said yes immediately. The track they wanted remixing, ‘She’, was really good to begin with, so I felt I’d have to really screw up to go wrong with it. I also did a remix for Peaking Lights as part of a competition – again I like their sound and track so gave it a go, mainly to see if I could do something that stood out against the standard club remixes. Since then I’ve been working on a couple of remixes for an instrumental/electronic band called Loka, who I bumped into at the Oxjam festival (a Wirral-based music festival). I went round to the bandleader Tom’s house and was blown away by his musical knowledge and the array of instruments and sounds he used on each track. They recorded a lot of it at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool so it was good to play with professional source material. I’m hoping they’ll be released soon as I’m really happy with how they both sound. Who would you like to work with? Tom Fec is consistently brilliant, I appreciate the whole image and mythology he’s built around the Tobacco persona, it’s the complete package. Forest Swords is incredFADED GOLD


ible and it’s exciting to see a local producer carving his own path with such originality. I’m liking Wax Stag and Luke Abbott at the minute too. Tycho and Helios are other favourites who hit the sweet spot. For the time being though, I’m interested in working with local artists and musicians - exploring the possibilities for collaborating not just on tracks but on live performances too. It’s started happening already, recently a few of us contributed to a compilation album that was a response to a Jackson Pollock exhibition - I’d like to do more of that. Who are the bands/artists we should be looking out for? In terms of electronic music, Polypores played the last Emotion Wave and totally blew me away with his 70s dystopian bleakness – that was his first ever gig too. I’ve been listening to a guy called AGP (Andrew Gordon Parry) a lot too recently, he’s been remixing one of my tracks and it sounds better than ever. He’ll be playing the next night hopefully. Thanks Neil.

A RETURN TO THE WELLNESS (SPACE) Emotion Wave is now in full flow. Stefanie Chew aka Faded Gold follows Polypores with her ethereal, otherworldly music, like Thomas Edison’s fabled spirit machine has caught the essence of Kate Bush and beamed her through a spectral projector. It is multi-layered and sensuous. The pastoral quality of the songs are countered by harsh and jagged sampling that infiltrates the layers of shimmering gauze. Stefanie’s clad entirely in black with a wide brimmed black hat that gives the impression of a sorceress caressing her keyboard and manipulating sound through a laptop. It is haunting, arresting and intoxicatingly beautiful. The sounds are clouds creating thunderstorms for her voice to flash across like lightning. It is heady and utterly bewitching. Her sound is familiar yet unique with all the poise and precision of a classical musician. It recalls the likes of Ulrich Schnauss, Tycho and Boards of Canada. The audience is transfixed. This is the true essence of Emotion Wave; to contrast the dark electronics of Polypores with the electronic shoegaze-infused beauty of Faded Gold is what draws people in and creates this ‘happening’. Afternaut is the final performer. Adam Rowley creates moods and atmospheres and displays a natural instinct for creating space, allowing sounds to form, shape, spin and twirl around our heads. Glitchy waves

AFTERNAUT of silvering groove combine with near Tangerine Dream-like minimalism to match the abstraction of projected images behind him. His sound perfectly complements what went on before, offering hints of Polypores’ dark, analogue hauntology with Faded Golds’ pastoral, shimmering ambience. Afternaut deals in epic sci-fi soundtracks, music to accompany slow-spinning space stations in the cold vacuum of space or Capital ships warping into Witchspace . His set is fluid, full of slow building sequencers and samples creating emotion and energy. It is the perfect dénouement to the evening’s proceedings.

AFTERNAUT: A CONVERSATION WITH ADAM ROWLEY I spoke to Adam about Afternaut, the current scene in Liverpool and Emotion Wave: Hi Adam, tell me about Afternaut? Afternaut is a project that I’ve been working on for about 5 years now. I explore sound in music and experiment with how it can be processed and manipulated. I like the unpredictable nature of complex systems when they’re layered up. For example, recently I’ve been looking at how comb filters react with FM synthesis. For something that’s completely electronically driven, the results end up sounding completely organic. My album, Skywave, was inspired by recorded audio taken from a shortwave radio. I then used spectral editing to focus on certain sounds and frequencies and built instruments from the samples. The music of Afternaut started off quite ambient but over time has evolved into much more energetic and cinematic territory.

things that happen to sound when it’s manipulated and I’m obsessed with anything that makes a noise! I often get a sense of a mood or feeling within a sound which then grows into something bigger and eventually becomes a track. I’m also inspired when I hear other artists working with audio in a nonstandard way. It always makes me want to get back to my studio and try new things. You’re originally from York, what brought you to Liverpool? I actually moved over to Liverpool for work. I’m a sound designer and I work on video game audio and music. I came over to work on a PlayStation game called Wipeout, and more recently Driveclub. Liverpool has a large community in the games industry, for similar reasons to why the electronic music scene is so strong. It’s the magic balance of really great people with creative talent and technology.

Do you think Liverpool has a burgeoning electronic music scene? Absolutely, it’s really quite progressive. What inspires you to write? It took me by surprise when I first moved It’s usually when I’ve learned a new over, there’s a lot of encouragement and technique or have experimented with new passion from other artists in the city. There technology. I’m fascinated by all the weird are also a lot of projects that happen just for www.fourculture.com 11


one off events, then it’s on to the next thing. Hollywood (even though they weren’t strictIt’s always changing and growing. ly electronica) but it was mainly the guitar bands that dominated. It wouldn’t be until Do you feel part of it? the nineties that a band would emerge and I really do feel part of it. I’ve received so re-fire the electronic scene in Liverpool. The next major player was Ladytron, much support and encouragement and it’s certainly played a part in how my music has formed in 1997 by Liverpudlian producers and Dj’s Daniel Hunt and Reuben Wu. Hunt kept moving forward. established indie record label Invicta Hi-Fi How did you get involved in Emotion and ran a club night but it wasn’t until Helen Marnie and Mira Aroyo joined in 1999 that Wave? I went along to the first Emotion Wave their sound became fully realised with their event which was great. There was a really 80’s new wave inspired electro-pop. Emergnice atmosphere. I didn’t chat to Neil that ing out of the late nineties electronic revival night, but shortly afterwards he got in touch they combined cold sci-fi synthpop with the asking if I’d like to be involved with the next rich textures of shoegaze and the song-drivshow. Neil’s done a great job of putting the en sensibilities of indie pop. It was a sound, shows together; the artists playing have much imitated but remained their own. A scene was growing nationally in the really complimented each other well. I’m first decade of the 2000’s with similar bands looking forward to what he has planned for emerging. Bands like The Bravery, White the upcoming shows! Rose Movement, Client and Ladyhawke, all retro-synthpop with often cold, disconCheers Adam. nected vocals and analogue synth leads. This appetite for retro-electronic acts lit the fuse for Liverpool. A bar and music venue, MERSEYTRONICA: ORIGINS Korova, was established on Hope Street in To trace the origins of electronic music Liverpool in 2005; based on Ladytron’s club in Liverpool we must go back to the 1970’s night EVOL it was setup by Hunt and Wu and and to two lads from my home patch, the a couple of city club promoters to capture Wirral (a small peninsula between Liverpool this scene. Some of the leading acts of the and North Wales bordered by The River Dee, time graced the stage: Simian Mobile Disco, The North Sea and The River Mersey) who Hot Chip, The Long Blondes, Japandroids, formed Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. 2manydjs, Chromeo and Friendly Fires. One of the most important bands to Andy McClusky and Paul Humphries emerge from this scene was Outfit. were pioneers in bringing Krautrock influFormed in 2011 in Liverpool and forged ences into the predominantly New Wave infused Liverpool scene of the late 70’s. from the embers of synthpop band Indica Bands such as Teardrop Explodes and Big Ritual among others, Outfit are a progresin Japan were emerging in the post-punk sive, melodic and emotion-fused art-pop scene when OMD with their tape machines band. Intricate and refined, they produce and modular synths started composing synth and piano led music redolent of Tears for Fears, Prefab Sprout and Talk Talk. Kraftwerk-inspired electronics. Supporting bands like Clinic and LadyLiverpool, like other major cities around the UK, was a hotbed of creative talent, em- tron, they quickly established themselves ploying the punk ethos of ‘have a go your- as emerging talents, pushing the Liverpool self’ approach to music. Andy McClusky scene into the limelight. Similar in many recalls buying his first keyboard from his ways to close neighbours Mansun (hailing mother’s catalogue and paying it off weekly from nearby Chester) they perfectly evoked while Paul Humphries was adept at con- the smooth production sound of the 80’s structing his own synthesizers from bits while still sounding fresh and current. Songwriting and high-end technical artof electronic equipment he could find and abandoned synths in skips. Coupled with istry is at the core of what they do. Their the use of tape machines, this DIY method songs are deft and sprawling, deconstructgave OMD their unique sound. Clubs like ing traditional pop structures to form melanthe Erics on Mathew Street (opposite the cholic and nuanced symphonies. Consistlegendary Cavern) were the perfect venues ing of Andrew Hunt (vocals/synths/guitar), for bands such as OMD to perform to an Tom Gorton (vocals/synths), Nicholas Hunt enthusiastic audience seeking something (guitar), Christopher Hutchinson (bass) and different. From these humble beginnings David Berger (drums/ production), they enOMD went on to become one of the most joyed success with their debut album Persuccessful synthpop bands in the world and formance in 2013 and have followed that up with Slowness, released in the summer of are still performing today. Throughout the 80’s the odd Liverpool 2015 to universal acclaim. band emerged, such as Frankie Goes to I managed to grab a few words with 12 www.fourculture.com

Tom Gorton curator of synths at Outfit and asked him about (among other things) the electronic scene in Liverpool. When you first started with Indica Ritual was there a strong electronica scene on Merseyside to speak of? I guess it wasn’t so much an “electronica” scene, but the Liverpool scene was as strong and creative as I’ve ever experienced, albeit with not as much commercial breakthrough as we’re perhaps seeing now. We were all playing in each other’s bands, putting on nights every week in Korova, houses, tequila bars — anywhere we could. In many ways it was the golden age of my creative “career” despite the fact that there was no career to speak of. Names that must be mentioned would be Indica, aP.A.t.T, Shit The Bed, Balloons, Steal Gandhi, The Laze - we were all tight.. I truly believe that Kling Klang are one of the finest synth bands to have ever graced this earth, too. Who were the bands that inspired and


OUTFIT Photo by Andrew Ellis influenced you? Were you influenced by Merseyside bands such as OMD, Ladytron or China Crisis? Any others? I’m not sure that at the time we were particularly influenced by those bands. I was a huge Ladytron fan, but never really saw them as a Liverpool band, it was only later on that I realised they’d been around and had so much to do with Korova and influencing the wave of bands that came through in Liverpool during 2006/7. There was a big electro scene at EVOL, one we were a big part of - either playing or watching. My dad is a big China Crisis fan and it’s only later that I’ve really come to appreciate how influential and important those bands were and how much experimental and romantic heritage Liverpool has. Have you come across the current crop of artists such as Lo Five, Afternaut, Faded Gold, Mitternacht, Queen Maud, Friend Within or DROHNE? Are you a fan of any?

I know and like Faded Gold and DROHNE, but I guess because I’m one of those pricks who moved to London I’m slightly out of touch with Liverpool’s electronic underground. Have you heard of Emotion Wave (electronic music night organised by Neil Grant (Lo Five) and put on at The Well Space every three months or so)? As above, ‘cause I’ve moved to London I’m a little out of touch, so I haven’t heard of this night. I’d probably sum up my taste in electronica as “emotion wave” though so I reckon it might be my thing. Which electronic muisc acts should we be looking out for on Merseyside at the moment? Dialect, Kepla, James Binary, Esa Shields, Claire Welles would probably all just about fall under the umbrella of “electronic music acts” and all are brilliant, unique artists making exciting, cloaked, defiantly underground music that boldly claims

its place underneath the obese terrain of the mainstream. Nice one Tom. So, there is more to Liverpool than the Beatles. Electronic music is growing and becoming a part of the fabric of the city. There are a number of exciting bands emerging and as more spaces are requisitioned for these acts to perform in the scene will continue to grow in strength. What started back in the 1970’s with OMD has become a diverse and culturally relevant movement. Thanks to promoters like Neil Grant this underground scene has been nurtured, encouraged, fed and has allowed artists to find a home for their voice and vision. Other artists to look to the skies for Evian Christ, Kalax, Friend Within, ExEaster Island Head, Queen Maud, Wave Machines, Baltic Fleet, Bantam Lions, Leon Mitternacht, Mark Lawless, V E E D, and BODY. www.fourculture.com 13


Frank Cotolo’s “Man of La Mantra” is now available on Amazon

A man on the brink of great success narrates a postmodern and abbreviated rendering of Don Quixote de la Mancha, set mostly in Brazil, with rambunctious humor during his personal journey for beauty and purpose.

PRO CEE DS S UPP ORT FOU RCU LTU RE 14 www.fourculture.com


Playing the #electronica you didn’t realise you loved.

THURSDAYS, 5 PM EST/10 PM GMT on www.fourculture.com

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Chris Corner Discusses His Origins, Mental Illness and a New Chapter of IAMX BY DEREK O’NEAL PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW ASHLEY


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C

hris Corner’s career has taken him on quite the journey. From studying astrophysics and art in London to making music in his downtime, to the establishment of Sneaker Pimps, to the breakaway and transformation of IAMX, Chris is a musical monster. IAMX began just over a decade ago, and during that time, has independently produced and released six albums, the latest of which was just released on October 2nd. Metanoia, as it is appropriately titled, is derived from the ancient Greek words metá, meaning “beyond” or “after,” and noeo, meaning “perception” or “understanding”. Simply defined, Metanoia is “a spiritual conversion” or “a transformative change of heart” – it is the process of fundamental change in the human personality. For IAMX, Metanoia is a combination of self-reparation, adaptation, and rebirth. What induced this rudimentary reincarnation? A psychotic breakdown. A struggle with stress, depression, and chronic depression. “Unfortunately or fortunately, mental illness has given me a lot to write about,” says Chris of his inner conflict. Metanoia is a return to the simplistic roots of IAMX – “one man, one room, one computer” – and the result is profoundly personal and a psychological promenade through the mind of the master. Initially, afraid that creating music was one of his triggers, Chris completely avoided the subject and decided that he was done with music altogether. But, after a well-needed break from the industry and a bit of therapeutic rehabilitation, IAMX is back on the scene with the best album of its career. How often do you get the chance to talk on the phone with someone that you respect and admire? The answer for most of us would be seldom, if ever, unless speaking with friends or loved ones. I had the rare opportunity and pleasure to speak with Chris on the phone about everything from his musical origins to his struggle with mental illness to the creation of Metanoia to his plans for the future, and we even played a little word association game.

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How did it all start out? How did Chris Corner begin his music career? Well, in school I was more of a scientist. I was doing science and art, but music was really what I would do in my downtime… what I would do on my holidays. From an early age, I was forced by my uncle, who I was really close with, to listen to quite odd music. I mean, the first thing that he actually played for me was quite self-indulgent music like David Sylvian and Japan and weird Jazz. So from quite early I was sort of brainwashed with unusual music, and I think that sort of set the stage for my own journey. It was very normal for me to listen and to be very analytical about music. But I did do that on the side for a long time. In college, I was studying science… I was actually studying astrophysics. In my holidays, I would make music with my sister’s boyfriend [Liam Howe], who was a bit older than me. We ended up forming this band, Sneaker Pimps. That’s what we were doing in our holiday time. We actually got interest from small labels to make this kind of underground, white label stuff in London when I was studying in London at the time. At some point, we just decided to write some songs. That became the first album. People got really excited and we kind of became this commercial project quite quickly. I was really young. I didn’t really know what the hell was going on. What happened after Becoming X? After the success of that first album, I think we both realized that we really didn’t want to make commercial music. I mean, we loved what we were doing, but we didn’t like how it was dressed up, how it was perceived. And everything just really got out of control. So, on the second album, we fired the face, the front person of the band, who hadn’t written anything. We’d written everything — but she had been the face of the band and we basically committed commercial suicide. I started singing, and that was the point where I began to realize that that was what I really wanted to do. The second album became a very, almost an antisegment to the first album to show everybody that that’s not actually who we were… this is who we are. Take it or leave it. That was the beginning of my own transformation into becoming a kind of confident, professional musician. A couple of albums later, I stopped working with Sneaker Pimps and I created IAMX. I was writing so much material for that band that was very personal… a lot of work went into it and I didn’t really feel like I wanted to give that to the band. I didn’t want to collaborate on that stuff, and it became really clear that I had to do this solo project, at least on the side. Once I had begun, I realized that it was consuming 20 www.fourculture.com


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most of my time and that’s when IAMX was born. And here I am now many years later. So I learned that your creative process is a bit chaotic. Can you describe your overall creative process – chaos and all? Well, the way that I work, technically, is chaotic. Emotionally it’s chaotic as well, I think. [laughs] It’s just – I’m a very impulsive person. I’m not very organized. I’m very emotional, but I’m also very interested in technology, so it’s a bit of a strange contradiction in a way. When I make music, it’s very much about experimentation and quick ideas and moving fast and moving impulsively. I don’t have time to organize my material. Everything’s all over the place, but in my mind, I know where everything is, so I don’t need to organize it. When I’m making a record, it doesn’t really stress me that it’s so chaotic. I tend to isolate myself. I think that’s the one thing that I do to almost protect myself from becoming overly stressed, because, maybe because it’s so chaotic that I need to be away from everything else so I’m not distracted by anything else. I need to be in the right environment. I need a lot of space, a lot of time to go inside, to explore the innate world. My records are very self-exploratory…Is that a word? Yes. [both laugh] I feel like a lot of the time that everything that I need to be inspired by is already inside me. I don’t feel like I need to trace a story or go look for things. There’s an endless supply of stuff inside that I can tap into but the actual process is quite simple. I’d often write a song on an acoustic guitar or a piano or the basis of a song. Then I’ll usually translate it into the electronic realm. From there, I will create atmospheres. Again, it’s not a specific structure. I always like to create the atmosphere of the song before I go much further, so I have like – basic chords, some random words – and then I like to lose myself in it. I need to create this atmosphere and I spend a lot of time on doing that with the sound design. And then slowly piece it together, a bit like a jigsaw. It will come in bits and bobs. And because I’m making a whole album, it’s very much like a jigsaw where there are just many, many different pieces and we slowly piece it together. I don’t finish a song and then go to another song. I have all of the songs going at the same time…and I guess that’s the chaotic part. The lyrical content is quite chaotic, because it’s like an emotional, impulsive response. It’s when I sit with the guitar, I have this kind of baby language that I sing. So I’ll sing random syllables and tones and I don’t actually know the words that I’m singing, but I know subconsciously that there’s www.fourculture.com 23


something trying to get out – a bit like a baby. Eventually I’ll hear a tone or a syllable and I’ll project that into a word. And then I’ll say that word, and usually it does work out. It’s a bit of an odd process and it’s all over the place. I don’t do lyrics and then drums, and then – it’s all happening at the same time like a big jigsaw. Nice. So, sometimes it’ll start out as a just a word or an overall theme that pieces itself together? Yeah. I mean, with this album, it was actually a bit more of a concept, which is quite unusual for me. After going through a turbulent, psychological period, it was very obvious to me when I came to write that I had to write specifically about that. Every song is pretty much about that time and, quite specifically, about certain mental health issues or whatever was going on during that period. In that way, it’s probably the most concept-like album I’ve ever made, I think. You moved to Los Angeles before the creation of this new album, Metanoia. What about sunny L.A. spoke to you and sparked your flame? 24 www.fourculture.com

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this place for many years. I think lots of people do. In the beginning, when I would tour here, I hated it. I thought it was fake and plastic. The whole cliché world of Hollywood…I found it really disgusting in a way. Over the years, and coming back, and making friends that weren’t anything to do with the music industry or the entertainment industry, discovering the other side of L.A. – the beauty of it, the relax-ness of it…I just slowly fell in love with it. I really didn’t think I would. It really surprised me, because I lived in Berlin for many years. Berlin is almost the antithesis of a big, rich city. It’s a bit like an artistic orphanage. People come from around the world to live cheaply and to experiment and find themselves. It’s quite a transitional place, but it’s great for art. It’s a great place to be quite self-indulgent. I was quite self-obsessed there, I think, for a while. I would always end up making albums in the winter, which was quite depressing. It was very heavy and eventually I just felt like I had to have some sun. The winters became too hard and I wanted to get out of Europe. I also wanted to be able to work, so California seemed like a good place where I could actually focus

on some career stuff and also be in good weather. And I had some friends here, so it just seemed the natural place to be. As you stated previously, this album was, in part, sparked by mental illness. You were suffering from depression and chronic insomnia. Can you tell us a little about this dark time in your life? Sure. I’ve always been prone to bouts of emotional turbulence. I had never really put a name to it. It’s something that I had found my own way to deal with over the years whether through drugs or self-medication or obsessive work. I always found a way to distract myself, but eventually it can catch up with you. I was in a period of quite high stress, overworked, and I just burnt myself out. And once that happened, it was like an explosion. It was like a rush coming out – this thing just totally consumed me. I stopped sleeping for, I don’t know, many months. I’ve always had trouble with insomnia, but when it first began, it was a very scary time. I think I was sleeping maybe an hour a night for about five weeks in the beginning and that was very worrying. I thought there was something else wrong with me, maybe like a brain tumor or something dramatic like


that. Physically I was fine, but there was something that had changed – fundamentally changed in me – and there was no way of distracting myself anymore and it just got worse. I did an American tour, which was great, but by the time I got back, I was still struggling with the same issues. I was just mentally shallow and it quickly became very clear to me that I had to just stop and I cancelled everything. I stopped working and went home to England to my family. I went to a clinic there and I was treated for insomnia, depression, and anxiety. I stayed there for about six months and that was a very amazing time. There was so much suffering, in a way, but there was also so many things that just came out, like connections with my family and learning to slow down. I learned so much about myself. I had a lot of therapy and it really was a transformative time – a bit of breakthrough in the end. At that time, I was also very scared of making music. Music became quite a threat…I felt it was like my enemy because there were so many triggers that were pok-

ing my illness, specifically the depression. You have to weed out what is actually hurting and what is nourishing you. Eventually, I realized that it wasn’t music, I was just panicking about everything and I slowly rebuilt my relationship with my own work. Over maybe like a period of a year got back into writing again. It was brilliant Good. I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say we’re glad that it was not a brain tumor. Yeah. [laughs] I read that this album was a return to the IAMX roots of one man, one room, one computer, which allowed you to stay true to yourself while conquering your illness. Would you say that you’ve conquered the illness? I mean, you throw so much of yourself into your music...Is this a battle that can ever truly be won? It is in the sense of living with it. You can’t change who you are. I mean, you can work with who you are and improve who you are, but the fundamental, core belief

that you have will be there. It’s really how you perceive it, how you deal with it, and where you put that energy. I’ve just been through a period of reinvention, but also immense learning. Life’s hard for everybody, but if you do have the unfortunate disadvantage of having mental illness at some point in your life, then you do have to take it very seriously and learn how to deal with it. Everybody has their own recipe to do that, but I do feel that I’ve won the battle of acceptance, of accepting that problem. I mean, that is half the battle – to say it exists, put a face to it and learn to live with it. The denial only strengthens those demons, you know. I heard you bought a cabin in the middle of the desert to help complete working on this album and that the desert offered you the isolation and the quiet that you needed. What is your ideal creative environment? That kind of environment, I think, is ideal. I need a lot of calm. It doesn’t have to be total isolation like that. That was just

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because I had become almost obsessed with the desert for a while. It was so attractive. We don’t get to see much of that in Europe so it was a real novelty for me and it’s so beautiful out there. I just felt very, very at one with nature and that helped me to just focus, to get into a rhythm, as well as being away from everything…just focusing on music. I would drive along the desert roads, listening to the album. It just put a real nice context to the album. It felt like that was place it was born and that’s nice for me to remember. I’ve actually had the pleasure to listen to the new album and I must say, it feels like your most personal work to date. My favorite songs are actually tied between “Say Hello Melancholia” and “Insomnia”, with “Look Outside” not far behind. I think those are definitely my three favorites. What would you say is your favorite song from the new album and why? I think it’s probably “Look Outside” because it’s a very cathartic song. It wraps up the feeling of some kind of revival or rebirth. It feels like in its simplicity and its quite positive message of just looking at nature. In the sense of, you know, that’s all you really need. And being at one with, I guess, with my issues. And that’s what that song is about. It’s me sitting in that cabin, looking at the desert and feeling good. Quite simple. You directed and edited the music video for “Happiness”, the first single from the new album. Tell us about making the video. It was actually a rush job. [laughs] We had somebody else that was going to do it, but they dropped out because of some other work commitment reasons. I was thinking it would be way too stressful for me to get involved but I was forced at the last minute to come up with a concept. It was very much like, okay, well it has to be very simple – one room, one black space, and just one technique, which was the ultra-slow motion. And then a lot of the imagery came out of experimenting with the edit, so I did have these images, but it was quite random in my mind at that point – a bit like when I make the record, where there’s definitely this subconscious knowing, but my doing mind hasn’t really caught up yet. So I knew there was something good under there, I just had to trust my gut and get them into the edit, it really started to make sense. It became more of a concept. The idea was to really paint pictures, to not to have this narrative or anything like that. I really don’t like that in videos, when it’s some cheesy little story or something. In the end, it came actually much more beautiful than I expected. I was lucky to work with some great people who

helped me to do that. It was much more of a positive process than I thought it going to be. We just shot another one for the next single, but I didn’t do it for that one, because I have to rehearse and I have to do other things and have a life as well. That actually leads into my next question. The video for “Oh Cruel Darkness Embrace Me” was directed by Danny Drysdale. What can you tell us about the making of that video? Yeah. Again, it was another rush job. It seems like that’s just how the music industry works, or definitely the indie music industry: very rushed, very cheap, very raw. You just have to get on with and move forward. The idea was to do quite a simple performance video, which is something I haven’t done for a while – the live band in a room and playing the song. That’s actually quite un-IAMX, so I’m really excited to see it. It was a lot of fun to scream and jump around and do all of that kind of stuff. This song is a bit more fun and borderline commercial than, I think, others on the album.

“Indie artists will never be rich – they never were rich. You know, the money is always at the top. It’s really just about faith, survival, and being adaptable.” Of all the songs that you’ve written and recorded, which one stands out as your personal favorite and why? Hmmm. They’re all my babies, you know? It really depends on my mood. I do have a bit of a mild, schizophrenic personality...I’m very up and down with what I like. I jump around a lot. Sometimes I just want to lose myself in a trance to some kind of drugged up dance music, and then the other times I want to sit down and play a weepy guitar song. So it depends on my mood, really. I think that is the essence of IAMX is that it is a bit of a genre-hopping, eclectic mix. At the moment, probably the most personal and the most specific is “Insomnia”, because it basically wraps up the whole past two years of my life in one feeling. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite song, but it’s definitely the most personal and poignant. What will the live IAMX lineup look like on this tour? www.fourculture.com 27


It’s four people: drummer, two keyboards, and me with a keyboard as well. Janine [Gezang] on keyboards, will be playing bass sometimes. Sammi Doll and Janine will sing sometimes. Jon Siren is on the drums. It’s going to be quite a bit more electronic than the past events. We recently did a little experimental residency in L.A., which was four shows in a small club. I experimented a lot with – before I made the album, actually – with the more electronic side. And now that the album is finished and it’s a bit more purist in its approach – it’s a bit more electronic than the previous albums. It felt like a no-brainer to do that with the live show, so it’s good. It simplified the setup a bit. It’s going to be still visuals and intense performance and probably some crazy costumes here and there, depending on how drunk we are at the time. 28 www.fourculture.com

We all know you’re very big on the visuals. Can you tell us about the visuals on this tour? I know you’ve worked with Valquire Veljkovic in the past. Will you be doing the visuals yourself this time around? I am doing it myself, throwing in lots of random stuff from everywhere — from DVDs that I have, from IAMX videos, from online, crazy things that I’ve stolen or whatever. It’s going to be a big mixture of things. It’s pretty nice, actually! What do you think about the digital age of music and streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music? Well, we all struggle with that. We still struggle with it. Business is business. I think the more I learn about the world, the more cynical I become about corporations

and consumerism and all that stuff. It’s all part of the same problem. One of the things that I’ve tried to do in the way that make our business or we survive is to appeal directly to fans and to have a close, working relationship with them through crowd-funding or merch or whatever it is. You have to be adaptable. I think what I’ve noticed is that making music becomes just a lot more complicated. You have all of these tiny little streams coming in from all over the place. It’s possible to survive – it’s not very neat, but you do have these little trickles that come in. Most of the problem that I have now is just trying to figure it all out. It’s the Wild West, you know. You can do it any way you want. We have found a bit of a formula for us, which is working okay. Indie artists will never be rich – they never were rich. You know, the money is


for your last album, The Unified Field, and reached your target goal within an hour, which was overwhelming. By the end, you had reached 817% of your goal. You opted to use PledgeMusic again for Metanoia and have already reached 210% of your goal. In your experience, what are the pros and cons of using crowd-funding? The pros are that if you make your goal, you can produce and release an album. That’s the main expense, and if you’re not a commercial band, it’s expensive to do that. You can do it digitally, of course, but it doesn’t mean that you can actually start or have a career. You need funding, so crowd-funding is great. You have to be, I think, transparent. You have to be honest. Before we did it, we were very nervous, because we didn’t want to feel like we were begging. We didn’t want to feel desperate and all of that kind of stuff. We don’t get the money from commercial record companies so we have to come to you. We know you care. So let’s just cut out the bullshit and go to the people that care. And that really worked well. When we did the first campaign, we started pretty low with our goal, because we were very nervous. That’s why it looks kind of impressive that we got an 800% goal. It was a very heartwarming, incredible thing to happen to us. So, the second time we did it, we had a more realistic goal. Both were similarly successful. This last one was a bit more successful than the first one. What’s great is that you get a great interaction, you get exposure – it’s almost like promo. You can set all of the rules yourself. You can put any product that you want. You’re creating your own music industry.

always at the top. It’s really just about faith, survival, and being adaptable. I think that’s the main thing is adaptability. And creating your niche and not trying to please people, because people can smell that. You still have to sort of stay true to making something good. Just because you have the social networking tools – if you still put shit out there, you can have 100,000 likes, but that doesn’t mean anybody is going to come to your show. It’s really still about the art, because people are so hungry for art. They always will be. Just be adaptable. Find ways to create your own niche and sell your own product. I don’t really have that much advice. It changes so often. We’ve found some kind of way to soldier on, you know? You mentioned crowd-funding briefly a moment ago. You used PledgeMusic

And the downside? On the downside, it’s a lot of fucking work. You get very excited when you see the money coming in. You get very excited and you think, okay, well let’s just put something else up. Let’s put another thing up. Let’s add this. Let’s add that. The first time we did that and that was a big mistake, because we added all these things and when it came ‘round to supplying those things, it was just so much work. I think that was the beginning of my breakdown, actually…I had taken on way too much work: remixes, making videos for songs. So the second time we crowdfunded, we did it much smarter. We didn’t do as many offers and things. You have to be quite careful about what you offer, because you do have to see it through. A lot of bands don’t quite see it through and that’s where you can really fail. You don’t want to disappoint people. We have a good system of doing it. Janine, who’s in the band, manages the band now. She manag-

es all of the crowd-funding projects. She’s incredible. She’s an expert in that whole thing. I try and stay out of the business side of things as much as possible. So when you’re not busy writing songs or recording, how do you spend your free time? Any hobbies or favorite pastimes? I like film. I like to watch films and I like to make visuals and things like that. I’m generally always working. I love architecture. There’s a lot of really nice, modernist architecture in this area. I like to jog around and fantasize about art… I actually have friends here in LA ‘cause I haven’t really had friends for a long time and that’s a new experience for me. It’s nice to be social. It’s really rewarding. I’m having dinner with friends much more often. It sounds quite basic, but that’s something that I haven’t really had for a long time. So, that’s really nice. Otherwise, there’s nothing really spectacular in my life. I have a dog. I love my dog. Yes, tell us about Polar! She’s beautiful. She’s a very special dog. She was a rescue. She was definitely abused before I picked her up. She was very nervous and can be quite aggressive, but now she’s really loving. She’s relaxed a lot more with me now. But it was very difficult in the beginning. She’s a beautiful little Pomeranian mixed with American Eskimo. The new love of my life. She’s a beautiful, little, white fluffball. Yes! [laughs] It doesn’t go very well with black clothing, though. You mentioned Liam [Howe] earlier when you were talking about your journey. I know that earlier this year, back in May even, he tweeted about possible Sneaker Pimps releases in 2016 to mark the 20th anniversary of Becoming X. Will you be involved in this project at all or is this kind of Liam’s child? I hope that he finds the time and energy to drive it, because one of the reasons why we stopped doing it was because, I had started to write a lot more personal material that I was offering to Sneaker Pimps. I was putting it on the table and I felt like I was driving it too hard. A lot of the energy toward the project was coming from me. Perhaps I was just a little too controlling of it. In the end, I could see that those songs weren’t meant to be, even though they were officially written under the publishing contract of Sneaker Pimps, which unfortunately, that’s what a few of those songs have to be labeled as…an example is a song like “Missile”, which was written at the time of being of Sneaker Pimps. Officially, www.fourculture.com 29


we have to mark it as those three writers, but it was really my song. There were a few other songs that are obviously IAMX to me. Sneakers just became less appealing to me because I didn’t want to collaborate on those songs and no one was really driving new material. Liam had a different concept and he wanted to get more into production and working with writing from studio work. He hated touring so IAMX was born out of that and Sneakers was put on ice. I would love for him to drive that, because I would be very happy to conjugate and be part of that again. But I will not drive it. That’s for sure. It’s too much of a headache – too much energy and I’d rather put that into my own project. If it is driven by him, I will gladly join. We’re going to have some meetings about it and talk about what we think is achievable. If that goes well, it might happen. Now I’d like to see if we could play a little bit of a word association game. Give me one word or phrase that you think would embody that album or describe that album as a whole, not using one of the words from the title of the album. Okay, okay! I know I’m putting you on the spot and it’s kind of crazy, but let’s see where this goes…So for Kiss + Swallow? Hmm...Glam noir. The Alternative? Holy fuck! Uhm... [laughs] Transformation. [laughs] Goodness. Kingdom Of Welcome Addiction? It’s fuzzy and it’s floating. Uhm. [laughs] Fuzzy floating. [laughs] It’s what comes into my head. Volatile Times? The beginning of the bad stuff. The Unified Field? Waking up. And lastly, Metanoia? Rebirth. That’s great! So where do you see IAMX in five years? I see it perhaps growing a little bit. I mean, that’s why we do it, I guess. I want other people to hear it. I want to help people. I think that seems to be something that when I was really sick, it was something that I could really cling onto. The idea that what I do can help…that was a very nice feeling and it made it worth it. I want this to be a project that can help. Perhaps expose issues 30 www.fourculture.com


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that should be talked about. I don’t mean in a political sense, but more about the human condition. Keep writing about stuff like that, because that’s all I really write about anyway. Maybe a little bit more financial security with it, so it can flourish a bit….I don’t think it’s going to shoot off into the moon, but I would like it to grow a little bit and to just keep connecting with good people. Are there any creative endeavors that you want to pursue and haven’t? I really want to build a house. I’d love to do that...with my hands. That would be something… You said you were into architecture... Exactly! I feel like you could design it and build it. I think it’s definitely in the realm of possibility. Yeah. That is one life goal for me. I also want to do some instrumental stuff outside of IAMX. At some point, you just get sick of hearing your own voice. [laughs] It would be nice to do some things where I’m not just screaming over the thing all the time. And maybe collaborate with some other talented people in that. What are your four things that you could not live without? Love, of course. I think sex as well… even though maybe they’re part of the same deal there. Wine – red wine. And art. Speaking of wine. What was the idea behind your wine line – the Happiness wine and the one previous? It’s something that I always wanted to do. I always found band’s merchandise so predictable and boring and just really catering to a certain duty crowd. I wanted to go away from that and offer a few different things that maybe I would like to buy if I was going to buy some merch. So wine was definitely one of those things. We had a friend in Germany who is German aristocracy. His family had been making wine for 600 years. We managed to get him to make us a batch of wine, which we sold. When IAMX moved to the U.S., I looked into Californian wine which would have been amazing, but a friend actually had something from Seattle. We ended up with a really nice, full-bodied Cabernet from Seattle called the Happiness Wine and I’m very happy with it.

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BORIS ELDAGSEN: a Study of the Self in Visual Poetry

BY NADIA SAYS Images by Boris Eldagsen

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I met Boris a couple of years ago before the premiere of his project “Superhigh” in Berlin, with the support of Arte TV. “Superhigh” was fun and opened many possibilities to turn museums into fun places. I met him again a few time for coffee and discovered a well-rounded artist who was comfortable with photography, video, installation... and giving workshops. I mean, isn’t it great when an artist likes to share his skills? Boris tells us more about being an artist from a logistical, personal and almost metaphysical point of view. Oh, and by the way, this is what we were up to last month. Check out all in interviews and pictures in issue 20.

Boris, in just two months, you've had shows in Germany, Italy, Croatia, Romania, Russia, Brazil, India and the USA. How does an artist get shows in so many places? I have galleries in Paris and in Lisbon representing me since last year, but galleries mostly concentrate on selling and PR. Their target group is collectors and press. There are not that many agents in the art world. They belong more to the entertainment, music and media world, working with event organizers and editors. It is mainly curators who help me to get into places and they want to have a direct unfiltered experience of who I am. I connect with them at festivals, introducing myself via reviews, exhibitions, artist friends. Then I stay in contact over Facebook and my newsletter. We meet again at the next festival and so it continues — professional and personal relationships grow. If your work stands out, it spreads. No casting couch, no sex magic involved! How do you manage your travel and at-home working time? In my photographic work I am interested in hijacking places and situations. I transform what is in front of the lens to show a reality beyond time and space, what I would call the unconscious. This means that I can work wherever I am. I do not need a studio or a special location. I need the nighttime, my camera, and a laptop. And sometimes an adventurous volunteering model. 36 www.fourculture.com


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“Teaching art is a very personal, intimate practice, like therapy or giving birth. You need respect for the student, authenticity and insights in what you do.” And how about your art time and your art business time? You are really interested in the organization of things, Nadia.

human. As we can all disappear into something larger or smaller, it can also come in a positive or negative form, upward or downward: drugs, love, sex, hypnosis, religion, mass events, extreme sports...The list is endless, depending on time, culture and Yes, indeed! And such is my passion to Would you like to participate in one of imagination. keep working on this. 
 my imaginary time management workshops? You might be disappointed: 20% of Any more plans with these two projects? my art time goes into the production of new Would love to do more “SUPERHIGH work, 60% into getting it out there and 20% is preparing exhibitions. I wish this would be Yourself!” events with museums. At the different. I would love to have a Japanese Dutch Van Abbemuseum my partner Saassistant and a hunchback receptionist bine Taeubner and I installed a routine around our central video work, hackfrom France... ing the museum’s collection and placing How does a photographer or videogra- how-to-posters next to famous art works pher manage to evolve from showing of the 21st century. Visitors SUPERwork to talking about it in conferences HIGHed themselves through DOPAMINE ASMR, 12 CYCLE METH BREATH, or at workshops? How did you manage DISCO, BIG BINAURAL BEATBOX, CONCHA to diversify your activities? CONSCIOUSNESS, CHRONOSYNCLASThe journey of an artist goes inside. It TIC INFUNDIBULUM, KNOCK OUT KISS, is about awareness, consciousness. Your EYEBALL LICKING, ENIGMA, GANZFELD, work evolves with you. The more you are JENKEM, KNOCKOUT KISS or PORN. conscious about who you are and what you And the museum’s staff wore 'TRIPSITTER' do, the easier it becomes to talk about it and t-Shirts and took care of the visitors. to teach. Teaching art is a very personal, As for THE POEMS, they are currently intimate practice, like therapy or giving birth. travelling the world of festivals and they You need respect for the student, authen- are constantly evolving. I have been workticity and insights in what you do. Then ing on this for six years and since I’ve beyou can help others to become more con- come more installative, mixing wallpaper, scious of their own selves and their artistic video and photography, the work takes practice. off. I feel like freshly fallen in love, there is so much more to explore and experiYour most two recent projects are SU- ence. I am touching on the idea of the PERHIGH and POEMS. What inspired Gesamtkunstwerk. My installations now you and are you happy to keep on work- feature photographs in five different sizes ing on them over time? on large scale wallpaper. The images are It is all connected. SUPERHIGH is a clustered, hung like groups of connected mockumentary casting show about altered emotions and memories. The size variastates of consciousness: six candidates tions force the viewer to change roles and showcase their methods of getting high distances: from being the giant looking at without drugs, and a jury on drugs judges a tiny picture to being a midget walking their efforts. THE POEMS is a photo and through huge wallpaper. I can't imagine video meta series that works on uncon- stopping with this work and starting somescious levels. And the overall umbrella thing new yet. I want more, more, more. of my works is called ‘How to disappear completely’ and presents explorations of a Are you already thinking of new timeless human phenomenon: the urge to projects? lose oneself. In referring to this phenomI left myself a loophole for new artistic enon as either ‘Mysticism’ as in religion, projects, which I call DUETS. Small collab‘Transpersonality’ as in psychology, ‘Desire orative works with other artists. Collaboratto Escape’ if you refer to Huxley or ‘Trans- ing with others opens up new ways of thinkgression’ if you prefer Bataille; there has ing and working. The challenge is to identify always been a redemptive mode to being the strengths and not the weaknesses of www.fourculture.com 41


the involved artists. If you manage to create an artistic dance with the strengths, you can create an outcome that you will never be able to produce alone. Does your work reflect you as a person? The artist’s journey is a journey of consciousness, of going deeper, of becoming aware of the vast sea of the unconscious. As far as it shows my personal unconscious, it reflects me as a person; but if Jung is right and we also share a collective unconscious and psychological archetypes we all react to, it reflects also you and others. If you were not an artist, what else would you do? I would possibly be a spiritual medium or a gender-fluid Domme. Or something in between, like you are. And would you still do it in Berlin? Where else can you have so much fun?

For more information on Boris Eldagsen, visit: www.Eldagsen.com http://Superhigh.arte.tv RECENT & UPCOMING SHOWS: 2.6-3.7: Other Identity, Loggia dei Mercanti, Genoa in Italy 11.21-12.13: PHOTOLUX Biennale Internazionale Di Fotografia, Lucca in Italy 10.15-20: Language of Memory, Krasnodar in Russia 10.15: Turn Around Bright Eyes, Berghain, Berlin 10.7-10: Simultan Festival, Timisoara in Romania 10.1-10: Festival International de Fotografia, Belo Horizonte in Brazil 9.25-30: Just Another Photo Festival, New Dehli 9.16: Turn Around Bright Eyes Spin-off, MINY Media Center by IFP, New York 9.11: Night of Emerge, Organ Vida, Zagreb 9.4: Slideluck Roma II, Arena Chiostro Di San Pietro In Vincoli, Rome 42 www.fourculture.com


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The self-proclaimed originator of “post-punk laptop rap” returns with his fourth full-length album BY MARGUERITE O’CONNELL

48 www.fourculture.com PHOTOGRAPH BY NICK KARP


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Andrew Robert Nielsen, better known by his hip-hop moniker MC LARS, is the epitome of an indie artist. Steeped in the DIY ethos of his punk rock origins, Lars arrived on the hip-hop music scene in the late 90’s, laptop in hand, determined to forge his own path. And now, a little over a decade later, he is considered an elder statesman of underground hip-hop’s nerdcore scene, a genre he helped create by fusing punk beats with a literate sensibility. As the self-proclaimed originator of “post-punk laptop rap,” he was among the first artists to sample post-punk and emo bands and to take his laptop on stage while performing. In 2004 he released The Laptop EP, his first record as MC Lars and has been a successful, self-producing, recording artist ever since. Over the years Lars has released three full-length solo albums, four EPs, and undertaken a number of collaborations. He recently completed his fourth full-length album, The Zombie Dinosaur, which drops on November 6th. The album was funded entirely by a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $42,000 from individual supporters.

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veritable vortex of energy, MC Lars is a hard man to keep up with. In addition to recording, producing and releasing a new album this year, Lars returned to play the SXSW Music Festival in March (he has already been announced as a featured artist for SXSW 2016), toured the UK with Suburban Legends in April, played Warped Tour (his third time) over the summer, and is currently on The Joyful Smiles Tour with Koo Koo Kanga Roo. And he doesn’t slow down when he leaves the stage. During his down time on Warped Tour he taught workshops on how to make beats and write rhymes, the cultural history of hip-hop, and the current state of the music industry as part of The Entertainment Institute (TEI) – the educational arm of Warped. When not in the studio or on tour, Lars can be found in classrooms teaching kids and young adults about the connections between hip-hop and literature, or what he affectionately calls “lithop.” And in his free time, he works as an advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and on behalf of several other charities. Despite his crazy schedule, Lars recently took the time to talk with me about his new album, his future projects, and where he finds the energy and motivation to do it all. Lars is inspiring, down-to-earth, funny, and smart. And our conversation revealed that he is so much more than just a recording artist and the CEO of the independent record company, Horris Records. He is also a writer, producer, cartoonist, public speaker, educator, advocate, and creator of educational television program for kids. With an English degree from Stanford University and a polite, soft-spoken demeanor, 50 www.fourculture.com

Lars isn’t exactly what you expect when you think of a hip-hop innovator. Yet with his literary rhymes, pop-culture references, and punk rock influences, he has pushed hip-hop’s boundaries while creating music that reflects his passion, intelligence, and sense of humor. Despite all the labels that have been attached to him, Lars describes himself simply as “a musician, rapper, and teacher.” After getting his start playing in punk rock and hardcore bands, he had already moved on to the hip-hop scene by the time ‘nerdcore’ was officially born. “My friend, a Brooklyn rapper named MC Frontalot, coined the term to describe the mix of hardcore and nerdy rap we were doing,” he explains. “But in conversations with people outside the music industry, talking about things like ‘post-punk laptop rap’ and subgenres of hip-hop tends to make the conversation too esoteric and complicated. And really, in the end, a musician, rapper and teacher is who I am.” To say Lars is excited about his upcoming album is an understatement. It took him over eighteen months to make Zombie Dinosaur and Lars thinks it might just be his best album yet. And “The Dip,” a song inspired by his favorite movie, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, is not just his favorite track on the album. It is one of his favorite tracks he has ever done. Lars had more than 40 tracks for the album and worked with his friends Jim Greer (Foster the People, Macy Gray) and Damondrick ‘D.J.’ Jack (K.Flay, Jidenna) to narrow the track list down and put the album together. “I’ve been lucky to find people that I trust to work with,” he says. Thematically, “The Zombie Dinosaur is a metaphor for the unstoppable person who just keeps going, at any cost. It’s

about the underdog’s survival,” he says. Sonically, the album is a return to the happy, high energy, punk rock inspired vibe of his first two albums, The Graduate and This Gigantic Robot Kills. Also on display is the multi-layered, pop-culture inspired songwriting for which Lars is known. The album drops references to The Legend of Zelda, Comic-Con, Roger Rabbit, Jedi, reunion bands, and even Hans Moleman, the geriatric former mayor of Springfield from The Simpsons. “Using cultural references is like a shield,” explains Lars. “I get to say something personal in my music, but by buffering the message with humor and pop cultural references I’m able to make the message broader and relevant to more people. For instance, on one level “Dragon Blood” obviously refers to Game of Thrones, but on a deeper level it is a message about post feminism, too.” A star-studded affair, Zombie Dinosaurs features a multitude of guest artists including Watsky, Kool Keith, Spose, Roger Lima (Less than Jake), STZA Crack (Leftöver Crack), Brian Mazzaferri (I Fight Dragons) and Monte Pittman, (guitarist for Madonna and Prong). Collaborating is nothing new for Lars who in the past has worked with “Weird Al” Yankovic, KRS-One, Sage Francis, MC Chris, MC Frontalot, and K.Flay. He has also played shows worldwide with a long list of artists that includes T-Pain, Snoop Dogg, Gym Class Heroes, Bowling for Soup, Wheatus, Say Anything, Brand New, Simple Plan, and Nas. He says that working with “Weird Al” Yankovic was a special thrill for him as “Weird Al” is the artist that most heavily influenced him. “I have always been a fan and loved how he could be very satirical and smart when talk-


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PHOTOGRAPH BY NICOLE MAGO


PHOTOGRAPH BY NICOLE MAGO ing about other genres and cultures,” he explains. Being a true DIY indie artist is both exhilarating and exhausting. Lars says that being on your own means never being in debt to a corporation that can tell you what kind of art to make or rack up huge unnecessary expenses on your behalf. “But creating artistic content costs money and I’ve had to learn to do things cheaply: producing on my laptop, doing videos on reasonable budgets, using crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, as well as finding passive sources of income, like Spotify and YouTube.” Lars is a veteran of Kickstarter and has three successful Kickstarter campaigns to his name. “Crowdfunding is an exciting option for an independent artist, but it is labor intensive. And all the time you spend on administration and mailing of incentives is time you don’t get to spend on your music,” he says. “On my first Kickstarter I thought it was really cool to see people all over the world supporting my music. But when I decided to offer t-shirts and other merchandise as incentives, I didn’t anticipate the huge cost of mailing stuff. I have learned along the way how to struc-

ture levels of incentives so that I didn’t end up losing money due to shipping costs.” He sees Kickstarter as a platform that rewards artists for their hard work in touring, playing small venues, and using social media to build a fan base — a karmic platform of sorts. “Kickstarter is definitely not a platform off which an artist can gain fame and fortune. You have to first put in the time and effort needed to build a fan base in order to have a successful Kickstarter campaign,” he says. These days Lars has his eye on Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows individuals to support artists when they release artistic content or with a monthly stipend, and he may start using it next year. “Patreon provides a way to stay relevant and current by putting your music and videos out when they are done, instead of spending a year or more writing and recording an album, pressing vinyl, manufacturing CD’s, mailing incentives, doing PR for singles, and making videos for individual tracks. In that way, Patreon allows an artist more time to actually create. It is definitely an attractive platform for artists who have put in their time on the road touring.” Education is another topic about which

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Lars is passionate. He enjoys teaching kids about lit-hop, exploring the connections between literature, classical poetry, and the cultural history of rap. “I love being able to connect hip-hop to the words of Shakespeare and Poe and to show the cool kids how literature is relevant and cool, while showing the lit kids how hip-hop is part of our cultural history.” He has even presented two TEDx talks on the subject and is developing a children’s television show about four puppets that travel through time and discover connections between ancient forms of human creativity and more modern forms like rapping, hip-hop culture, and graffiti art. Listening to MC Lars, you can’t help but get excited with him. His passion and enthusiasm are contagious. Lars says what motivates him to keep creating and sharing his art is a desire to inspire others. “I just want to inspire, to leave inspiration when I’m done. And if I can make a living and have fun while I’m doing that, then it's all good,” he says. “While touring maybe isn’t as much fun as it used to be, just because it’s hard work and exhausting, it’s still fun. The day I stop having fun is the day I stop doing it.”


ARE YOU LISTENING?

www.fourculture.com 53


AN INTERVIEW WITH

CHELSEA WOLFE BY NADIA SAYS PHOTOGRAPHY BY DARLA TEAGARDEN

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Because Chelsea Wolfe released her new album Abyss last summer, and later a video for the first single “Carrion Flowers” and started a USA and European tour this fall — and because she generally rocks our electro-metal world, we had a chat about these things of music, video, styling, and the industry...Her music might be dark, poetic, and dramatic, but Wolfe herself seems to be a pretty grounded genuine person with some wisdom to share...but don’t just take my word for it, rather read hers.


How do you feel about LA? If I’m honest, LA is not for me. I’m from Northern California originally and it’s a bit more slow-paced there, with more mountains, rivers, trees. Southern California is desert, beaches, sunshine. It’s a new kind of beauty for me though and a new kind of darkness that I felt very inspired by for the four years I lived there, but now I’ve moved back out of the city and into the mountains — where I wrote Abyss — and I feel much more at peace currently. Do you enjoy what's around making music, such as video or photo shoots? I love music videos, and there are a few directors I’d really love to work with but just don’t have the budget for it. I made my own video for “Carrion Flowers” for this album, and gathered pieces from designers that I’ve been given or collected over the years and styled myself. It was a good challenge and freeing in a way, but also took a lot of time. I also work with Jenni Hensler when we can (we live across the country from each other) — she’s taught me a lot about using fashion as a form of armor and to tell a story. I enjoy the more personal video and photo stuff because I can really be myself without the stress of someone else’s vision. But I think working with other creative minds is always good and can expand the vision tenfold, so that’s why I push myself to do it so often. Sometimes photo shoots can be very creative and easy with a good flow, and sometimes you get into a situation where the photographer or team starts treating you like a hired model instead of a musician — I don’t do as well in those situations, but I still try my best. I desire to make great visuals that tell a story or expand the music in some way, but no, doing a photo shoot is not my first choice of how I’d spend a day. Talking about styling, many people are influenced by books or movies from their childhood, do you have something like that? The character of Death in The Seventh Seal had an impact on me for sure. Also the way Ingmar Bergman uses contrast and shadow and light in subtle ways that end up being so powerful, that influenced what I’m into visually as well. About death-inspired aesthetics...you are a woman making dark music with lots of metal fans. Is that a comfortable position? I haven’t found any trouble with it, but I also think of myself as an androgynous person who isn’t defined by gender so I might not even notice it. I think of my music as genderless too. Within my songs, “he” or 58 www.fourculture.com


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“she” could be interchangeable or changed to “xe” and would still mean as much and make sense to me. I love metal as well. I see all types of people in the audience at our shows. I have experienced sexism in this industry of course, but it’s not limited to a genre, it’s more like men in positions of power expecting more from you than just your musical contribution because you’re a woman. When that happens I go cold very quickly. I can’t really forgive someone for expecting me to write them a song but then oh, also suck their cock too. I’ll write you a song but if you put your dick in my face without my permission I’ll cut it off. Ok, and would you say that Chelsea Wolfe the artist and Chelsea Wolfe the everyday woman the same person? Actually, over time I think they’ve become closer to the same person. I do put a lot of distance between my personal life and my musical life — you’ll never see me posting photos of my mother or who I’m dating on my Instagram — but also many of my songs come from such a personal place that they’re still really intimate. For this album I was using my experience with sleep and dream problems, specifically sleep

paralysis as inspiration and guidance, so it became especially personal and I started to become more ok with that. I am finding that I can be more myself on stage with each tour and also I think just getting older helps you to not care so much about what people think about you, or care so much about being perfect. The strive for perfection can eat a person up... it’s better to just be yourself. And if you weren't a musician, what would you do? Who knows? I wasn’t very good at working in an office or a café. I accidentally charged a woman $2,000 for a glass of wine once. Numbers don’t really make sense to me. I worked as a massage therapist for a short time before fully diving into music. I’m into the realm of healing. People who would come to me would often start to cry during the massage or tell me their problems and say that I had a vibrant sort of energy that came out through my hands. But I didn’t feel qualified to be in that position. Instead I take inspiration from the frustration of unanswered questions and channel them into songs. I hope I can still help people in that way — I know it helps me, to confront things that are very difficult but also very present

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Check out the album trailer here.

in the world. Are you the kind of person who holds onto memories, is elegy a good state of mind or do you prefer to look forward only? I most often look forward, but part of that is because I’ve never had a good memory. But also I turn off my nostalgia most of the time, in order to keep moving forward and creating new things. Finally, talking about love…are you romantic? I’m not romantic in a typical sense. I don’t need flowers to feel loved, and I’m not interested in playing games. But I do consider connections with other people on a really deep level. Do you think love is easy in our modern society? I think it may be quite hard to meet good people in the real world. Especially now that the internet creates such a barrier and facade. Is love what makes the world go round? Nature makes the world go round, but love is part of nature.


Fourculture is proud to announce its first music compilation featuring 20 amazing independent artists from around the globe

FEATURED ARTISTS: Noblesse Oblige

Victor DeLorenzo

Brett Gleason

Misty Boyce

Jaani Peuhu

My Personal Murderer

Loveskills

The Autumn Stones

Electrosexual

Typeface

neutronic

CIGĂšRI

[debut]

Vain Machine

aMinus

Derek Bishop

The Controversy

Thot

Photostat Machine

Danniel Oickle

Proceeds from Fourculture: Beyond the Mainstream will support OnAirTunes.com, the network who hosts Fourculture Radio. www.fourculture.com 61


AN EXCERPT FROM

THE NEW DAWN BY DORIAN DAWES

L

Trigger Warning: This story contains elements of gruesome violence and body horror, as well as topics of mental illness particularly regarding schizophrenia.

ynn Abreski was the first one to notice that the cats were missing. Three cats, one calico and two tabbies always showed up at the backdoor of her diner every morning for food. On a Sunday afternoon in August their food bowls remained untouched. She would have never called the cops about such a thing, but the Sheriff happened to be sitting there at the counter when she walked back out of the kitchen. Sheriff Lisa Cunningham had been serving and protecting the good people of Oakridge for nearly 15 years. There were the occasional DUI's and domestic disturbances, and maybe a couple of bored kids find their granddad's beer and rob some neighbors of their sleep, but nothing too unusual. Certainly nothing their Lisa couldn't handle. Still, she'd begun to look like the job had maybe been a bit too much on her. There were always bags under her eyes, especially lately. The color of her hair had dulled significantly that year, and faded dingy bits of gray were creeping up through the roots. She looked tired, haunted--like a woman

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who had simply seen too much and shared too little. It was the Sheriff though who commented on how distressed and out of sorts Lynn seemed to look that day. Lynn was usually dressed remarkably well in clothes that showed off how much she valued her morning workout and yoga routines. Her biceps could put most men in town to shame. Today her typically immaculate eyeliner was smudged from crying. Her lipstick had either been wiped off or she hadn't even bothered putting any on. "You all right, Lynn?" Lisa said, sipping her cup of coffee. Lynn shook her head. "Fight with the kids this morning. Been tough on them since Harold and I split up. I'll be fine...I manage. I was just-...oh it's stupid." Lisa set her coffee down on the counter. She reached over and touched Lynn's hand. "Just us girls here. Talk." Lynn sighed and turned her back, resting with her elbows against the counter. "The cats. You know, the ones that are usually out back every morning? I haven't seen them in three days. Do you think something happened? Maybe a dog got to them?" Lisa took a large swig of coffee. She set the cup down a bit more harshly than

she anticipated. It made a large clunk that caused her to wince a bit. Her brows were furrowed as if she had been deep in thought. "Careful, Sheriff. I only got so many of those." "Sorry, I'll make it up to you. I'll look into the cat thing." "Don't, it's stupid." Lisa grabbed her hat from off the chair next to her. She laid a tip on the counter and smiled. Lynn rolled her eyes a bit. "I've got a duty to all the citizens of Oakridge," Lisa said. "Even the furry ones." "I'll let the other girls know when they arrive, you stopped by and that this is for them." Lynn said putting the money in the tip jar. "You're a good woman, Lynn. This is a good place you got. It's important to us. All of us." Lisa waved farewell and walked out the door. Lynn faltered at the strange phrase. Not that compliments to the diner were all that uncommon. Lynn's Diner had been a fairly prominent establishment for the six years it had been open. It was the way the Sheriff had called it important, as if this place served some other function than good food and good service. She grabbed her purse and shrugged, walking to the bathroom.


There was still time to fix her makeup properly before her employees arrived and caught their boss looking like a hot mess. Helen Willaby was getting too old and had done too much for the people of Oakridge to be sitting in her kitchen hearing the horseshit being spewed at her on the phone. She was barely even listening to the old man's ranting at this point. She rolled her eyes in the direction of her 23 year-old son Ted. Gygax's rants were so loud even he could hear them. He gave her a thumbs up before he snatched the tub of ice-cream from the freezer and ran off with it. Helen reached out to snatch him before he could get away, but decided the old buzzard on the phone was more important to deal with. The ice-cream could be rescued later. "Well, when you're done lecturing me like I was in fuckin grade-school maybe you'll hear me out. Huh, Leonard? I don't give a rat's ass how old you are or how long you've been in the New Dawn, I'm not gonna get spoken to like a fucking child. When you're ready to talk to me like an adult, we can talk like adults. "...oh shut up, and just hear me out. They're still here. They're in the town. We have a duty to-..." There was a dial-tone. Helen slowly pulled the receiver away from her face. Ted came wandering back into the kitchen, still holding the tub of ice-cream. She hung up the phone and placed a hand on her forehead. "You've got about three seconds to grab me a spoon and share that shit," she muttered. Ted sidled his way to the drawer and tossed her a spoon. "So, what did the head of our order want?" He gave the title a mocking, deep voice as if it were something special. "There ain't no head. Just a dumbass buzzard who thinks he has seniority over the rest of us." Helen dug into the vanilla side of the tub, jamming her spoon in deep. "He's also got a bad habit of talking over us women. Notice how he never talks over your father at the meetings?" Ted nodded. "I notice, Mom. So what was it?" She gave a dejected sigh. "Someone blabbed to him about the Sheriff, Monica, and I wandering out at night to see if the cultists are still hiding out in the woods." "Wait, isn't that what we're supposed to be doing?" Ted looked confused. "Oh no, the war is over! There's no more Maleficarum! We've won!" Helen threw her hands in the air. "We're just gonna incite a panic and attract unwanted attention to the town." "Have we won though? I mean, there hasn't been any kidnappings. Nobody's died, right?" Ted raised an eyebrow. "You'd

tell me, right Mom?" Helen gave him a look. She laid her spoon on the counter and reached forwards to grab his hand. She smiled at him. "We tell each other everything, kiddo. That's how it's supposed to be," she said. "And no...but, we never found the creeps that killed Doug. "They're not gone, Ted. They're still here. Still plotting. Still hurting people. The only thing that's missing I'm afraid is the will to keep fighting back." "You're afraid something's going to happen?" Ted whispered. Helen nodded. She put a hand on the side of her cheek. "I'm afraid something already has. "Michael, if you want me to drive you to school we have to go soon! I've got to get to work!" Monica yelled out the kitchen window. She was dressed in her uniform and still in the process of throwing her hair into a ponytail. She'd spent a little too long in the shower, but had hoped her son would have at least been ready by now. The 15 year-old was out in the backyard still in a t-shirt and boxer shorts in the frigid weather. He kept pacing back and forth and checking underneath the house. "It's Bunker," he said, dejectedly coming in through the back door. "I can't find him anywhere." "He's a cat, he goes where he pleases. Now go get some pants on or something! Have you eaten anything?" He shook his head. She buried her face in her hand in response. He shrugged apologetically and hurried to his room. "I'll warm you up a hot pocket and you can eat it on the way at least. Got money for the cafeteria?" He called out to her from his room. "Gave a lot of it to another kid yesterday. You remember Jonathan, right? People keep beating him up and taking his lunch money. So I forked over some of the money you gave me. I hope that's all right?" Monica raised an eyebrow. "Isn't that a little cliche? Not you, you're fine. But haven't bullies moved beyond just taking cafeteria money from smaller kids?" He exited, still pulling his arms through the jacket. "It's a power thing. They do other things to him too. They wrote 'fag' all over his locker one week." Monica made a visible look of disgust. "That's awful. Hasn't the teachers or anyone done anything?" "Nobody's gonna defend people like us, Mom." "Yeah, well we'll see about that." "Mom, don't do anything that's gonna embarrass him...or me. Please?" Monica sighed. "Fine. But come on by the restaurant for lunch. I'll put something on my tab."

"Thanks." He snatched the microwaved hot pocket out of her hand and bit into it before she could stop him. His face showed immediate regret as he felt a scalding sensation across his tongue. She furrowed her brows. "I'm not saying a damn word. Load up. Maybe we can still be on time enough for Lynn not to yell at me." He was still wincing and grabbing his mouth in pain as she held the door open for him. She rolled her eyes. There was a moment where she froze by the door as he passed her. She blinked several times. It was like a flutter of whispers echoing on the air. She grabbed at the side of her ear with her free hand. The whispers were like wings now, beating louder, and louder. She could hear audible voices yelling, now screaming at her. Monica leaned against the door for support. Michael actually turned around to look at her. He dropped his bookbag. Her mouth hung open in a wordless, soundless scream. "Mom?" The whispers were still there as she straightened and smiled at him. "Headache. It's nothing. I'm gonna be okay. Just gotta get some aspirin. Wait in the car for me?" He nodded, looking a little concerned. Michael was a good kid though, and he obeyed. She watched him for a second before closing the door. The medicine was in her purse, but aspirin wouldn't help. It was a Zyprexa prescription she was searching for. She dry-swallowed the recommended dose quickly and prayed it would be enough. The whispers never really stopped, but the medicine helped keep the visions at bay. It helped keep her grounded in reality. Monica opened the door and ran towards the car. She made extra sure to give Michael a reassuring smile when she got in. "Buckled up?" He groaned and obeyed. "Happy?" "That you won't go flying out the windshield if we wreck?" She pretended to muse about that for a bit. "You know, I'd say that sounds nifty." It was important to look strong for him. Growing up without a dad was tough enough without having to worry about watching his mom lose her mind. Her biggest concern was that he grow up happy, and knowing he was loved. She figured she was doing okay. A schizophrenic can be anyone, she thought, even the single mom trying to raise her son and make ends meet. "I love you, Michael." She said, for no reason at all. He gave her a surprised look, but then relaxed into a smile. "I love you too." Sheriff Cunningham was greeted at her office by a box of donuts. She stared at them sitting on her desk with a raised eyebrow. A long sigh escaped her. "Who is responsible for this?" She said, www.fourculture.com 63


resignedly reaching for a jelly-filled. Bill Peters, the greenhorn deputy and all-around good kid raised his hand. "I thought...well I thought it being my first day and all I should make it special by bringing some donuts for everyone." Lisa sighed. "I'm on a diet, Bill..." She bit into the donut with a mournful expression. His eyes widened. He stepped forwards and snatched the box up in both arms. "Oh! Oh! I'm so sorry! Um, do you think Ms. Partridge-...um, I mean Carol will like them?" "Just...put them out on the front table and leave a note, everyone will be very happy you brought them by." Lisa leaned against her desk, scratching the top of her head. "Oh, and ask Carol if there's been any calls." Carol Partridge stepped around the corner. She was a short woman just slightly younger than the Sheriff and had a kind of nervous energy to her, always fidgeting and speaking too quickly. Her wardrobe seemed like she'd pulled it straight out of an 80's sitcom, probably hand-me-downs from her mother. Nobody felt it polite to ask or comment on, and Carol was a nice enough person that people had long accepted her quirks. "Oh donuts!" She squeaked. "May I?" Bill gave Cunningham a nervous look, asking permission with his eyes. Lisa nodded, placing a weary hand on her brow. He awkwardly gestured the open box towards Carol. She bit her lower lip in response and shyly reached for one covered in chocolate, the other with rainbow sprinkles. "Any calls before I got in, Carol?" Lisa asked. "Nothing much. There was a call from Mrs. Ashbrooke, you know the old woman that lives in the old Oakridge house? She says her cat's been missing for two days. I couldn't get her to hang up so I promised we'd look into it." Lisa grabbed her hat from the desk and placed it on her head. "Thanks for the donuts, Bill. Make sure everyone gets one. You'll be a hero." "Um, it's just a cat, how important could it be?" he asked as she hurried out the office. She didn't answer. She was already reaching into her pocket for her cell-phone. Lisa climbed into the car and held the phone to her ear. Her fingers shook as she listened to the dial tone. "Ted? Let me speak to your mom, something's happened." The city had tried to buy the old Oakridge home for several years. There was always the intention of fixing it up and having it made into a historical site, offer tours and the like to keep it remembered. Benjamin Ashbrooke refused to sell to them, having 64 www.fourculture.com

inherited the house years ago. Josie also wouldn't sell. She made mention that the memories of the house wouldn't allow it, and neither would the cats. Josie lived with twelve cats--twelve cats at least that were known to those in town. She insisted that there were names for each of them. It always seemed like there were a group of different cats up at that place at any given time. Maybe she was just too old and senile to notice that Twilight's fur was a completely different color than yesterday, and the spots were all wrong. In her old age she'd abandoned any thought or impulse to ever going upstairs again, or downstairs to the basement for that matter either. A lot of the old furniture, fine antiques from a forgotten age, went unused and covered in ghostly white sheets collecting dust. Only the cats ever breathed life into those ancient rooms. Sheriff Cunningham parked in front the old manor. What an eyesore that big old house was. It was one of those things that had never been addressed in public, but whispered about in private conversation and pitying gossip. Barely a few blocks away from the church, the lawn was overgrown and the fence was in desperate need of repairs. The wood on the porch was rotting, and on certain days when the wind blew the right way you could hear the walls groaning. On those days it sounded weary of holding itself together, and would just fall apart at any given moment. Lisa climbed up the stairs, stepping over a cat with reddish-brown fur. The door was already open. She peeked inside and called around the corner. "Mrs. Ashford?" "In the drawing room, Sheriff," came a withered voice. Lisa pulled off her sunglasses and walked over the faded rug. She found Josie where she said she'd be, sitting at a table by herself and playing a game of solitaire. Josie looked at her and smiled. "So you reported one of your animals was missing, Mrs. Ashford?" Lisa said, retrieving a notepad from her pocket. "Do you want any tea? I just put some water on to boil." Lisa shook her head. "No thanks, I won't be staying long. Just wanted to ask a few questions. Which of your cats is missing?" "Well, there's a few actually," Josie said. "Foxfire, Midnight, and Whispers...I haven't seen them in over two days. The others all have their own habits, but those three are particularly special to me. They're the most affectionate--sleep by me at night, and are always there in the morning." "Right, can you describe them for me?" "Foxfire is named for his fur, red as you can get. Redder than Malley's over on the

porch. Midnight, also named for his fur, as black as I've seen. Whispers is thin despite how often I feed her. She is sleek and athletic and gray." Lisa scribbled a few descriptions down before resting her pencil. She bit her lower lip. The old woman was right, those three particular cats were noticeably absent from the party assembled downstairs. All of them seemed to have approached the old woman when Lisa entered the house, gathering at her feet and by her side. Lisa had been out here a few times on routine calls, just to check up on her and see how she was faring. They'd never done this before. She stared down at the cats with an open-mouthed, wide-eyed unnerved expression before speaking. "Did you notice anything out of the ordinary? Anyone outside when they shouldn't be? Noises in the night." Josie laughed. "Noises? Oh, Sheriff. There's always been noises." Lisa nearly dropped the pencil. "Pardon?" Josie began petting a fat gray cat that wandered into her lap. "They're loudest at night. Footsteps upstairs and downstairs when you know no one's home. Sometimes though, there's the occasional sound of someone crying, right in that corner over there. "I remember once back when Ben was alive. I came home from playing cards with the girls and he was sitting in the kitchen with a beer, white as the sheets upstairs. I laughed at him. I feel bad for that now. He said he was in the basement doing some plumbing repairs. He said he saw the walls bleeding. Scared him half to death." Lisa's eyes slowly moved towards the ceiling, almost as if she expected drops of blood to begin dripping onto her face at any second. She began to imagine the groaning wood as being something else. She'd seen too much to dismiss Mrs. Ashbrooke's stories. "I don't mind them so much though," Josie continued. "The ghosts, that is. I think Ben is there too, somewhere in the noise. But they've been a bit unsettled lately." There was a loud thud from upstairs, almost as if in direct response. Lisa turned quickly away and began hurrying up stairs. She steadied a hand against the railing. "You are trespassing on private property!" she called out, placing a careful hand on her firearm. She wouldn't draw it, not yet. She didn't want to risk the chance of it being some dumbass kid that wandered in through the front door when the old woman had left it open. "If you come out now and explain yourself, I don't think Mrs. Ashbrooke will press charges!" No answer from the long hallway. She finished climbing the stairs. The hall was


strangely dark despite the mid-morning light outside, almost as if it had a darkness of its own. She took a step across creaking floorboards, listening for the sounds of footsteps to continue. Several seconds of waiting in darkness, listening to the wind and the groaning of the walls, she almost didn't notice the fog forming on her breath. She gasped and instinctively drew her firearm. An unnatural cold had crept over the room. One of the doors slowly creaked open of its own accord, as if pushed by an invisible hand. Through the open doorway Lisa could see a mirror and dresser where the coversheet had fallen. Someone was reflected on its dusty surface. A woman, it looked like. Lisa couldn't quite catch their features through the dust, but there was definitely someone in that room. A terrifying thought flashed through her head. She had memories of her early start as Sheriff in this town. Images still remained in her mind of that small boy clutched in the gnarled hands of black robed figures--faces obscured in shadows cast by their hoods. "I'm armed," she said, trying to remove the quiver from her voice. "Come out with your hands up." The face in the mirror actually began to clear somewhat. It was a woman, but her skin was wrong...faded, almost translucent. Her mouth was also widening. Wider, wider...it was too wide, too big. Lisa's aim faltered as she stared, horrified at the reflection that was looming larger and larger. There was the sound of a door slamming behind her. Lisa turned around to find herself standing in the room with the mirror. How had she gotten in here? She whirled around to face the terrible image only to find nothing more than her own reflection staring back at her. Lisa placed a hand on the doorknob and turned it. It wouldn't budge. She pulled again. It was locked. The door was locked.

The floorboards were groaning now. Lisa stared watching footprints form in the dust, making slow heavy steps towards her. Her heartbeat raced. With one shaking hand aiming her at the empty air, the fingers on her free hand formed a set of horns. Her voice shook as she hastily whispered the words to a spell. The barrel of her gun glowed white for a brief second and she pulled on the trigger. The footsteps stopped just short of meeting the tips of her boots. The room exploded into a blinding flash of light and Lisa's vision was filled with the image of a shrieking wraith-like creature in a tattered dress. The thing had been a mere inches from her face. Lisa watched it fade slowly. Behind her, the door unlocked. Lisa threw it open and marched downstairs, holstering her gun. She could still hear the walls groaning and the faintest of whispers as she moved to rejoin Josie in the drawing room. The old woman had already prepared tea. "You really should try some, it calms the nerves." She said. For once, Lisa did not decline the offer. She was grateful for the old woman's eccentricities. She didn't want to have to explain the gunshot. Josie gave her a funny look. "You're quite lucky, Sheriff. She doesn't particularly like strangers. The others are afraid of her I think." Lisa nodded. "Josie, you were going to tell me if you saw anything before your cats disappeared. Anything weird...well, weirder than normal." The old woman paused. "Now that you mentioned it, three days ago I saw a set of lights in the backyard. Woke me up when they shone right in through my bedroom window! Bright, blasted things." "Lights, like headlights?" "Yes! Now that you mention it, they were kind of like headlights. Should I be

worried?" "Mrs. Ashbrooke, why didn't you report this then?" Josie laughed. "Sheriff, I didn't know what I saw. If I told everyone about every damn strange thing that went on in this place they'd have me locked up for sure." Lisa's brow furrowed. "Maybe not." She tore a blank sheet of paper out of her notebook and scribbled her number on it. "Here's my home phone. If you ever need anything, or see something you're not comfortable sharing with other people don't hesitate to call me. I don't care if it's screaming women in mirrors or bleeding walls or tentacles in the shadows, you call." "Tentacles? My goodness, Sheriff you have an active imagination!" Josie laughed as she took the slip of paper. "But thank you. You're one of the only people in this town who takes the slightest interest in me. Sometimes I feel like you're the last friend I have left." Lisa's eyes softened. She gave Josie a reassuring pat on the back. There was a loneliness in that old woman's eyes that Lisa knew all too well. "Take care of yourself, Josie. And please, if you need me...even just to talk. Call." Josie laughed. "You may regret saying that. Goodbye Sheriff, thanks for peeping in on me. Hopefully my cats will get bored and come home soon." Lisa took a fleeting glance towards the ceiling as she crossed underneath the door. "Yeah...hopefully." Before climbing into her car, she lingered for a moment with a hand on the door. Her eyes were fixed on the upstairs bedroom window. She was almost certain she could see a figure silhouetted there staring at her. Lisa hurriedly climbed into her car and drove away from that terrible place.

Dorian Dawes is a genderqueer fantasy and horror writer who grew up in a small, isolated community that continues to serve as the backdrop and inspiration of their fiction. They have been published in various indie horror anthologies, though they have found greater interest in making their works freely available online. Their current goal is to create fantasy worlds where queer people are allowed to feature prominently with a truly diverse cast of relatable characters. When they are not writing they are usually playing too many videogames or scrolling endlessly through tumblr while silently praying for death. Support Dorian Dawes on Patreon

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SOUNDS | VISIONS | WORDS | VOICES

Fourculture issue 21  

IAMX, MC Lars, Chelsea Wolfe, Boris Eldagsen, Dorian Dawes and Liverpool's Underground Electronica Scene