Interviews & Essays

With the main page having become sort of a real-time blog, makes sense to sort out the many essays and interviews I’ve done, no? While focused mainly on music, I certainly have been known to write about other things<3

 
 
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Towards A New "Wot-U-Call-It?": On Post-Genre UK Bass Bobblers, the Abstract Reality of Scenes, Genre Science, and the Constructive Mythos of the Hardcore Continuum - Introduction

As I’ve been documenting via the For A Song feature of this site for the past three months, I believe that understanding what has happened in UK dance music in the past five years (and weighted against the previous quarter century) and the music continuing to pour out from labels like Timedance, Wisdom Teeth, Mistry Muzik, Cold Recordings, Hessle Audio, Hemlock, and many others is tantamount to deciphering what it means to producer forward-thinking dance music in a period where genres are both irrelevant and more potent than ever before. For music that gets classified by writers as either ‘techno’ or ‘bass,’ it’s in hearing this music one becomes confronted with the staggering inadequacy of our current genre language, and perhaps the concept altogether. In such a conceptual vacuum, theory would often prove a helpful light in the dark, but at a time where most music writers have seemingly run away from it, it helps to understand its role in the shaping of UK dance music via Simon Reynolds’ hardcore continuum concept (or historical fact, depending on who you ask). It’s a lot of ground to cover and so to make sure I don’t lose my mind or point, I will be writing this extended essay in parts, starting with this introduction that uses a 2010 Martin Clark blog post to situate us both within the present moment and to prepare us to explore what came before it. OK, let’s get to it….

 
 
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I'm A Demisexual Dude! Now What?: Explaining Demisexuality (Without Explaining It Away...Hopefully)

Ever since I came out as demisexual last October, it seems like I've been writing about it nonstop, both as a means of self-interrogation and to try and turn my experience into a series of articles about what it means to come out and live as a demisexual male in NYC. This is meant to be the introduction, more or less, to a series of topics and ideas that I will go into much deeper detail on in upcoming essays. Read on to learn about the relationship between demisexuality and asexuality, what never to say to a demisexual person, and other essential info for those looking to learn more about this newly conceived sexual orientation.

 

Reactionary Caution: A Talk With Artist Kamco Rayden On Queer Sex, Culture, and Racism

One thing generally keeping me together is the amazing friends that I have and the wisdom they constantly impart to me. Kamco Rayden, who is the performance artist The Psychic Masseuse, came into my life earlier this year and has had a massive impact on it. Namely, he’s someone who I sincerely enjoy talking with for hours on end as I always seem to learn something from him. During a five-hour chat last week, it occurred to me at one point to record about ninety minutes of our conversation and transcribe it as it touches on a wide range of topics neither of us see people talking about openly.



 

Talking With Artist Maggie Connolly About Being Asian-Inspired and Educated, Female Bottom Power & Flashing Colors


It's funny the people who pop up back in your life, even they're not particularly aware of it. Having gone to college in Grinnell, Iowa with the ceramicist and painter Maggie Connolly, it wasn't until I happened upon a drawing of hers a year or two ago that I got the sense that I truly missed out on not having spent time getting to know someone whose interests clearly overlapped with my own. Yet, since reconnecting with Maggie and exchanging emails, I've also gotten the distinct sense that she, like myself, was much different than the person I knew over a decade ago, yet also more herself; more direct, more confident, and passionate as ever. So I'm quite pleased to share this extended interview where she catches us up over the unexpected path she's embarked on, currently residing in Japan where she studied ceramics while still pursuing her work in other mediums. It's a delightful and blunt conversation and one that reminds me why I run this site. Enjoy!

 

Talking With Artist Apollonia Saintclair About Erotica's Infinite Field of Discovery, Fables & Female Narrative Engines

Now for something totally and wonderfully different... Following on from a solid five weeks of posts about music, including the must-read interviews with Medical Records' and Unseen Worlds' respective Troy Wadsworth and Tommy McCutchon, I'm beyond thrilled not just to return to the visual arts, but to do so with a genre of art that I'm not incredibly super familiar with: Erotic art. I'm still not sure how I first came across the work of Apollonia Saintclair, but I still can't forget the peculiar feeling of confused tittilation I experienced as I began digging through her considerable body of surrealist-informed erotic art. Even before I started digging into her different and highly engaging interviews, I knew I had to at least attempt to interview her as I was deeply aroused and challenged by her singular sense of what's sexy and compelling to look at. Kindly agreeing to an email interview--which I'm now starting to grasp just how fortunate that was considering that she's what the youth might call "a big deal"--the timing worked out quite well as Saintclair is currently promoting her first published collection of her work, Ink is my Blood. Read on to learn about narrative engines, symbolic fields, and surrealist erotica.

 

The Magical World of Buttechno

Believe it or not, I’ve been meaning to move away from these lengthy-ass catalog reviews, but here’s the thing: when dealing with an actually compelling artist, it’s only by taking in the breadth of their whole catalog that things really start to make sense. Moscow’s Buttechno (née Pavel Milyakov) is the perfect example of the type of dialed-in, post-gene artist whose far more interested in forging his own sound than blindly emulating what’s come before. That said, he’s also representative of the way many of our young artists are engaged with the past in a non-vampiric way that actually fosters the new. Onwards!

 

Zurkonic's Favorite Releases for January-April 2018

Do you remember when ‘best-of’ lists only came out once a year? Oh, you don’t? Well, that’s fair considering that they’ve become the preferred way to transfer information, especially of the entertainment variety. Whether it’s the quarterly report, monthly best album lists, or genre-by-genre breakdowns each month, it’s not just a matter of bemoaning the laziness of online culture. As we’re so often reminded, there is more music out there and accessible than ever before. Whether we choose to be passive vessels for algorithms to tell us what’s up or put in the actual work (even if it is just a matter of researching online), I don’t think we’ve ever had more freedom as music listeners…indeed, one can now cultivate one’s taste at an almost molecular level. It’s just that very few people actually take advantage of this startling freedom. And I get it to a point; when I worked in marketing for a decade, I can’t say I really put even 10% of the effort I do now into finding music I actually like. But now you’re getting a solid 30% so dig in and reap the benefits;)

 

Musics 2017: Zurkonic's Favorite Albums & Reissues

Oh shit! Another one! After my inaugural year-end favorites list from last year, I'm back at it with a vengeance, folks! Look, end-of-year lists are easy things to make fun of because most of them come out before the year is even over and if you read enough of them, well, it starts to feel like you're reading the same list again and again with maybe a couple surprises if you're lucky. As I'll touch on after the jump and in my albums round-up, 2017 was unsurprisingly chockfull of music writer soul-searching and shit-talking (hi!) due to the fact that no matter how well-intentioned professional music writers are, they largely exist within an industry echo chamber in which those with money and/or hype tend to reap the lion's share of attention. Not to mention that social media accounts and fan blogs can now command infinitely more attention amongst certain fanbases then a professional music writer could ever hope to. With so much bad news facing music critics, one might think this would be a time to focus on honing one's craft and trying to remind audiences why negative reviews serve just as important of a function as positive ones but...oh, what? They don't do those either, anymore? Yeesh, well, looks like another television critic can look forward to getting the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism next year cuz y'all fucking up! Oh well, plenty more to discuss and more importantly, so much music to devour! Grab a fork and plate and let's get chomping!

 

2017 In Musics: Zurkonic's Favorite Singles & EPs

The time has come!!! 2017 is finally in the rearview mirror, a likely far worse year is just getting started, and thus, what better time to share with you the first of my two-part round-up of my favorite musics from 2017?! Before we get to new and reissued albums, let's talk about the new and reissued singles, loosies, and EPs that continue to drown us in equal parts quality and quantity. Don't get me wrong; there was a ton of shit music in 2017. But it was also the year where Selena Gomez recorded a song I truly loved (I think you can guess which one). However, with the exception of a few singles that are in every other list, the focus here is both on my favorite tracks and EPs and those that seem to have passed many other music writers by. With more good music available than ever, we're seeing a flight away from discovering underheralded gems as it's much easier to just tow the consensus line and feature that track that publicist you like sent you. And it's not like you won't have seen a lot of these records elsewhere...if you put in the work. But if not, well, I got your back with not just my favorite 2017 jams but also the songs I found during the year that had otherwise passed me by. Enjoy, be well, and keep kind.v

 

Tommy McCutchon of Unseen Worlds Chats C-Schulz, Formats & Ethiopiques

One of the first deep dives I wrote for this site was spurred by the Unseen Worlds' 3xLP compilation of legendary computer music performer Carl Stone. Not knowing the label already had another release coming next month in the form of C-Schulz's FRÜHE JAHRE, a vexing, seemingly genre-less collection of late 80s and early 90s electronic music released by the German eccentric, when contacted by the label's founder Tommy McCutchon with the idea of reviewing it, I couldn't help but ask him to go one step further and do an interview. Tommy was more than game and turned in an interview that makes for an accidentally perfect follow-up to the journey down musical memory lane that Medical's Dr. Troy took us down last week. Delving into reissue trends, the arbitrary qualities of musical formats and audiophile tendencies that led him to start the label, in addition to sharing his thoughts on streaming, vinyl, and Ethiopiques, this is a must-read imho. Enjoy.

 
 

Auralbiographies: Medical Records' Troy Wadsworth Talks Texas, Too Pure & Techno

This is one that has been a minute in the making, but also one of those interviews that when you start editing it, you realize how little work you actually have to do because the person you're interviewing is so passionate and earnest about their contribution to the contemporary underground musical discourse. I first met Troy last year online, much like I do a lot of my new music buds these days. A fellow member of a nerdy-yet-not-nerdy-enough record collector group on the ol' FB, the type of sincere enthusiasm Troy brings to running his label Medical Records label and its techno-focused Transfusions sub-label was evident from pretty much my first interaction with him, enthusing about the different records I would post (and vice versa). He's the type of "music dude" who may work in the "industry" but like Pete Swanson or Matt Werth of RVNG,  he's actually a music fan--turns out that the vast majority of people working in music don't really like it, or at least I've found that to be all-too true (and so, so sad). In an attempt to try something a bit different, Troy and I didn't actually talk much about the label as much as the years leading up to it, with him serving as tour guide through his own musical history. We touch on his days as a music fan growing up in rural and Dallas-area Texas, his deep and abiding love for such disparate genres as industrial techno, synth-pop, Neue Deutsche Welle, Minimal Wave, 90s UK indie, and much more, giving some crucial insight into how Medical Record's 'eclectic' output came to be.

 

Feeling the Rhythm with Mischa Lively's Hallucinatory Drum Excursions


Hailing from Nashville, Tennesse--a city that puts a special value on live music of the roots variety--Mischa Lively might seem like a bit of an anomaly. A trained drummer and graphic designer with an abiding love of percussive and atmospheric electronic music, he utilizes his live music background to devastating effect on the Pillow EP released on the nascent Racecar Productions, a record I reviewed just a couple months back. Despite his shallow catalog, I wanted to know more about this up-and-coming producer, if only to learn just how he comes up with his brain-scrambling beats and live quality of a music whose most common critique is that it lacks personality. Feeling like I knew the gentleman otherwise known as  Blake Barton just through the four tracks I happened to own, I had to find out just what he was actually like. Shocker, he's a pretty fucking cool guy. And growing up in a region of America where live music is especially valued, he had more than a few fascinating observations to share about how Americans view electronic music, the healthy scene hiding in plain sight down south, and how he's managed to so successfully marry acoustic and synthetic soundscapes, sounding like a one-person band from 2117. Learn more after the jump (have always wanted to say that, shout out 2007 internet).

 

Exploring the Constructivist Noir of Oleg Buevskii

Well, this was a pleasant surprise. Having followed the IG account of the Russian artist Oleg Buesvkii for some time now, it didn't occur to me until last week that he was someone I should definitely try to interview. And in spite of his often dark and curiously unsettling images, the artist himself was an absolute delight, answering each question succinctly and with the sense of purpose that exudes from his carefully belabored pieces that pop the lid on so much we'd rather keep closed, unveiling the impossible in the process. So strap in, it's gonna be a heady ride!

 
 

Rant 1: On Peep, Posner & Pills

Lil Peep's death due to an overdose recently crystallized a lot of fears I've had about the ever-increasingly blasé attitude within the younger rap crowd about mixing opiates and benzos and just doing excess to excess. Conversely, I found myself hearing the remix of Mike Posner's painful "I Took A Pill In Ibiza" and was kinda gobsmacked at how its own anti-drug message got buried under the aspirational hedonism of tropical thoughts. And I just sorta went from there...trying to start vocalize a lot of the rants I find going on in my head as it helps me to both get clarity while also getting buried in thoughts...fun times!

 

On Pitchfork's List Mania and Fake History: How SEO is Hurting the "Most Trusted Voice in Music"

At a time where the idea of "fake news" has become a sobering reality, what does it mean when "the most most trusted voice in music" misrepresents history to fit its own branded narrative? Following the publication of Pitchfork's egregious "50 Best Ambient Albums of all time, I take stock of the website's history to interrogate its content strategy's effect on historical accuracy and the dangers of musical canonization.

 

A Kindhearted Deviant: The Elegant, Cosmic Perversion of Artist Jaime Zuverza


This week I'm thrilled to share my interview with Austin, TX-based artist, musician, and graphic designer of many posters and album covers, Jaime Zuverza. In addition to sharing the same two first letters in our last name, the past eleven months has seen me developing a sincere relationship both Jaime the person and his art. It often feels the more I get to know him, the less I understand his art, but also the more I enjoy it. As I emote after the jump, interviews make for funny bedfellows and while Zuverza seems more like a kindred spirit, I found myself somewhat at a loss for words when trying to describe his art that blends surrealistic styles old and new across a host of mediums. Fortunately, Jaime turned in a truly beautiful interview so throw yourself into his world and get lost in his cosmic desert. 

 

Delayed Youth; Or, Love & Generation Service Economy

Being neck-deep in a couple deep dives right now, an utterly bizarre and just all-around weird experience that happened to me last Monday was just too good not to share. To make ends meet, I've been doing odd jobs via a number of different online platforms, which has been a rich source of material for future stories, essays, etc. Hey, it's not like writers aren't upfront about being leeches...right? Anyhoo, what follows before is a story that while lacking in a big "payoff" does provide an eerie insight into courtship-cum-stalking in the age of the service economy, especially for those who have basically grown up alongside it. Also, it's also a testament to how naive and gullible of a person I am...fortunately I was dealing with a lovelorn 22 year-old and not an axe murderer, or at least I'm pretty sure.

 
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All Of This Is True: A User's Guide To Do Make Say Think

So I used to be quite the post-rock junkie back in the early 00's and few bands got me feeling things like Toronto's Do Make Say Think, a band that drew upon the emotionality inherent in live instrumental music while organically cultivating a distinct set of grooves that would make the fathers of fusion smile. Nonetheless, like most bands from that period of my life, I found myself seemingly outgrowing the group's sound for period, especially after the two less-than-stellar albums released at the tail end of the 00's. That's all changed with the band's new album, conceived after getting back together following their label Constellation Record's Fifteenth Anniversary show, which sees them returning to what made their earlier album such classics while also pointing to new and exciting directions. So to celebrate this occasion, I did the only thing I know how: I reviewed their entire catalog. So without further ado, let's dive on in....

 
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Glitches Get Stitches: An Interview with Artist Phillip Stearns

OK, it's been a minute, but stoked to renew our interview series with this dense and rewarding interview with the artist Phillip Stearns. I was first introduced to him via his GlitchTextiles, a pretty savvy line of bedspreads and pillow cases adorned with patterns captured from different digital glitches. It wasn't until I began speaking to Stearns that I was only at the tip of a wildly inter-disciplinary, almost fractal body of work that takes in circuit bending, signal manipulation, the materiality (and immateriality) of music, and a whole bunch more. So buckle in as we dive headfirst into the heady world of glitch art.

 
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The 2017 Whitney Biennial Is A Leftist Escapist Fantasy With Subpar Art And Overblown Controversy

It's been a bit quiet around the parts so far this month, but I'm planning to change that for the coming months. In addition to having a few essays in the works, I also have several interviews that are in different stages of completion and more articles getting published that I can also share here. And to be fair, much of the reason I've been a bit quiet lately is that I've never really written such a negative review before, nonetheless believed in what I was saying with every last ounce of my being. I was joined at the biennial that day by a good friend of mine who is a former art student of my father's and while we spent most of the time wandering through the exhibition apart, the look of despondency on one another's face only grew as the hours passed. And yet, I did end up discovering a new (to me) artist in an ancillary exhibition on the Whitney's seventh floor; the painter Barkley L. Hendricks and his portrait of Steve charged me full of a sense of pride and defiance that the so-called "political" biennial was utterly missing. I've included some additional thoughts that I didn't address in my review (or didn't do well enough)

 
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Talking With Pete Swanson About His New Label Freedom To Spend and The Power of Curation

Well, this is a treat... Pete Swanson is that rare breed of experimental musician who can be considered "popular" in a scene that is as tiny as it is devoted. Having first gained attention at Yellow Swans, his duo with Gabriel Salomon, Swanson experienced a second wave of notoriety after releasing the noise techno opus Man With Potential. Having relocated to LA in the past year, Swanson's next venture will bring his decades of record digging to record nerds around the world as he is the co-founder of the reissue label Freedom to Spend (FTS) alongside Jed Binderman and Matt Werth. Click to read my extensive exchange with Pete on discourse around reissue culture, the role that intimacy plays in the records FTS releases, and why three music heads are redefining what 'deluxe reissue' even means. 

 
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On Pitchfork's List Mania and Fake History: How SEO is Hurting the "Most Trusted Voice in Music"

At a time where the idea of "fake news" has become a sobering reality, what does it mean when "the most most trusted voice in music" misrepresents history to fit its own branded narrative? Following the publication of Pitchfork's egregious "50 Best Ambient Albums of all time, I take stock of the website's history to interrogate its content strategy's effect on historical accuracy and the dangers of musical canonization.

 
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Zurkonic's Favorite Albums and Reissues of 2016

Alas! 2016 is dead and things will surely get better in 2017, right? And if the world turns upside down in the next few months and we all find ourselves under the martial law of THX 1138 android police officers with orange rather than chrome faces, here are 31 fantastic albums written about for you to sink your teeth into. Additionally, I've decided to use this as a place to make up for my past sins of not writing down my year-end list and try to somehow document all of the albums that have tickled my fancy since 2013, which is kind of my personal year zero. So dig in, critique my writing, and most importantly, allow each of these albums to enhance yr dome.

 
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Zurkonic's Top Tracks of 2016

Not being known for brevity, this whole year-end list stuff is taking a little longer than expected. But I at least have my list of around twenty tracks that I've fallen in love with this year and are some of the best. Are they they best? No, no list is the best, girls and boys. They're all varying degrees of good and crappy, so join me as I try to suss out some of the year's best tracks that you may not have heard (though you definitely have heard at least a few!)

 
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How Scott Young's Mystical Punk Sensibility is the Antidote to Identikit Streetwear



We chat with artist, designer, and all-around interesting dude Scott Young as he takes us inside his revelatory work transforming punk-informed backpatches into hieroglyphic hodgepodges for our late capitalism-induced spiritual blues. Dude is on another plane and I was eager to get up there with him as we talked about fashion and punk culture, capitalist iconography and typography, and why now more than ever, it's time to start looking beyond ourselves to another reality.

 
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Tripping the Filter Fantastic: A Chat with Bricolage Artist Dan Hougland

While the majority of "Instagram artists" are rather repellent, often relying on a cult of personality or the highly questionable exploitation of photographing strangers who appear 'poor' or 'sad.' Dan Hougland, known best for his tenure in Brooklyn electronic beat box heroes Excepter, has rather earnestly turned his attention from music to art once he got an Android phone. Making collages, or bricolages, of both pictures of his daily surroundings and found images online, Hougland succeeds in utilizing Instagram as a viable platform for contemporary art and arguably is laying the framework for future Insta artists. Check out our chat after the jump!

 
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Between the Abstract and Tangible: A Conversation with Painter Osamu Kobayashi

Stumbling upon the work of Osamu Kobayashi purely by chance (and a friend's recommendation), I left Underdonk Gallery in Bushwick with something akin to a quiet epiphany. However, I wasn't so sure what that epiphany was and didn't feel the need I often do to immediately try and nail down my thoughts. In reading a recent essay by art critic Jerry Saltz I found that Kobayashi's work, created in that most traditional of mediums, painting, in reifies the writer's ideal of a contemporary art world unburdened by the rigor and myopia of art history and free of any overarching objective, where art is allowed to simply exist. Feeling that Kobayashi's work pointed in a similar direction, I was fortunate enough to interview the artist and talk about labels, styles, and how his work aims to create a space in between genres.