A couple weeks ago, I was handed a split cassette from infamous Shanghai noise artist Torturing Nurse and our own local electronic guru thruoutin. Here were my initial thoughts –
It literally sounds like my walkman is tearing itself apart from the inside – a mechanical virus that eats away at the circuits, coils, and organs of the contraption. The fall of technology at its very foundation giving way. It’s horrifying, uncomfortable, and utterly captivating – a descent into aural hell.
Yeah, unsettling indeed – so much, I had to get in a few questions with the two artists just to assure the world, that everything is alright with these two. Have a read….
– Describe the first time each of you saw each other live? What stood out the most?
Junky: I would say the pipa and laptop combo. A non-native playing a Chinese instrument is interesting.
Brad: The first time I saw Torturing Nurse was at 696 Livehouse in Shanghai. Before the show I chatted with him and he came off as a regular, reserved guy. Shortly after he stood behind his table of gear, put on a ski mask and unleashed a sonic wall of terror. It was a tidal wave of noise with abrupt stops and starts with guttural screams. The contrast between his live perforce and the man I had just had a conversation with stood out immensely.
– What’s your relationship with cassette?
Junky: I like to publish in analog formats. Tape has a special flavor.
Brad: Early on I used cassettes to tape my own mixes off of the radio. My mom bought me a dictaphone when I was in middle school and me and my friends used to tape fake pro-skateboarder interviews with it. I would go back and forth between Ed Templeton and Tony Hawk talking about how high they could ollie. In high school and college my car still had a tape deck so I would often go to thrift store and buy cheap cassettes. I found out about a lot of bands that way. It wasn\’t until recently when I released the split \’Peak of the Moon\’ with Noise Arcade until I started getting back into them.
– What’s you approach to making music?
Junky: I just try and relax.
Brad: I like to sit down with a concept and work from there. With my half of this split I wanted to \’misuse\’ or \’abuse\’ the software to generate sounds that wouldn\’t necessarily be produced by it. In other occasions it\’s just sitting around with loops and seeing where song goes. Collaborating and improvisation is a different thing completely. Music making in those realms depends on the person and the environment.
– Before recording, is it important to get into a certain mindset? How much preparation goes into these recordings – or is it mostly improvisation?
Junky: Yes, before recording I look at which material and equipment I want to use. When I\’m recording though it\’s all improv.
Brad: Mindset is important. You have to want to work on the songs. For this sort of noise release there\’s less preparation as far as recording instruments or vocals, but a lot goes into the selection of the sounds. My half of this release was arranged piece by piece rather than improvising for a given amount of time.
– What instruments/contraptions are you two fiddling with here?
Brad: I used my cell phone, Audacity and Ableton.
Junky: Various block of wood or metal, pick ups, turntables, vocals and so on.
– I find these tracks akin to shock theory? Are you looking for a particular reaction out of listeners or is this really just a free-for-all?
Brad: For me they are quite pleasant. Some of the sounds have a washing of the ocean, static on the television feel to them. That relaxes me a little. However, other parts less subtle. The listener can decide for themselves what to think. The sounds were really just made for me to play around with some new ideas and share with a couple friends. I\’d recommend that the listen give the split a full listen before turing it off just because it might be irritating at first.
Junky: I do it to adhere to people\’s inner comfort.
– Since you two started making ‘music’ – how was the harsh noise scene developed in your respective cities or elsewhere in China?
Brad: I would say the full-on noise scene in Beijing isn\’t as big as in other cities around the world but it\’s tolerated and allowed to function within the avant-garde and experimental circles. XP did a festival a few years back called \”Sally Can\’t Dance\”. That was the first time for me to see so many noise artists performing in Beijing. I haven\’t seen it growing too much independently but rather fusing with other genres. Although there are noise artists in Beijing, the guys I see making this kind of music are coming out of other cities like, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Changchun and Guangzhou.
Junky: There are more and more musicians and performances are increasing.
split between thruoutin(USA) and Torturing Nurse(China),thruoutin side is mixed experimental music/field recording and TN side is mixed harsh noise/field recordings,pro duo c60 cassette tape format,50 copies made,if you interested,send payment to paypal:firstname.lastname@example.org,8 euros(included ship to all of the world)