Ataraxy & Vomit Bucket Productions Interview [2015-03-28]Gag G is a German noise artist & label runner- he’s behind HNW/HN project Ataraxy, and also runs underground DIY noise/grindgore/ what ever label Vomit Bucket Productions. He’s been active with-in the euro noise scene since 2009, and he’s surely one of the most friendly & approachable noise-heads your likely to have ever come in contact with. He kindly agreed to give M[m] a email interview discussing his introduction to noise, his work with Ataraxy, and his label Vomit Bucket Productions.
m[m]:What was your first introduction to experimental/ extreme Sonics? And what were some of the releases that made an impact on you? Gag: The first time that I ever got in touch with harsh noise was when my goregrind project Vomitous Discharge was invited to a split with the Brazilian (harsh noise) project Whorifik and another artist. That was in 2007 and I remember that I really didn’t enjoy that kind of music back then, but that didn’t keep me from doing the split with those guys anyway.
It took about 2 years until I came across the noise genre again, this time via the net-label section of Smell The Stench, and I downloaded several releases from there that seemed interesting to me. It was mostly ambient and similar stuff at first, but later I also listened to some noise and harsh noise material from there and somehow started enjoying it in a way. I guess it was just something completely different from what I was used to hearing and that sudenly raised my interest.
A few months later, I found the Italian harsh noise artist Ezcaton on myspace and contacted him about a possible trade, because I really liked his stuff visually and the tracks he had on the page sounded very good. The items I got from him certainly had quite an impact on me. Next I got to know Fukte, also from Italy and in fact a friend of Ezcaton’s and that stuff also left quite an impression on me, mostly due to the highly experimental character of the music and the use of handcrafted instruments and/or tools and other things that you normally wouldn’t expect to be used as instruments when you have a metal background like me.
m[m]:When did you start creating your own noise, and what influenced you to create your own work? What was your first project?Gag: A few months after I got in touch with Ezcaton, I started wondering how this kind of sound is done. I figured you need some sort of source and heavy distortion and volume boost, so I tried to achieve something noisy using a microphone and a guitar distortion pedal that I already had and it basically worked. That fascinated me quite a bit and I immediately recorded several tracks and decided to start a project. This initial minimalist approach changed after a short while, but the first 2 Ataraxy releases were done in that way. So Ataraxy is in fact my first noise project and also the only one I ever started; all other projects I have/had were other styles, namely goregrind/grindcore (Vomitous Discharge - RIP), noisegrind (Schiss - RIP), noisecore (Splattered Nachos - RIP; The People’s Noise Project - on hold) and gorenoise (Sewage Cocktail - RIP), besides my death metal band Pesticides (RIP).
m[m]:In 2007 you started your own label Vomit Bucket Productions- why did you decide to do this? Gag:To be quite honest, I guess you could say my label really started as a joke. At the time I was about to self-release a professionally done CD-R from Vomitous Discharge and since it was something more professional and nice looking,
I thought having a label logo and catalog number on it would be cool. So I just invented Vomit Bucket Productions, the name being inspired by my project’s name,obviously. From then on, every time I self-released something from Vomitous Discharge, the release would show the VBP logo and a catalog number. In 2008, I also released some material from a few side-projects of mine on VBP and also did a re-release of a demo from Pesticides, so I guess you could say that 2008 was the year when my label really started. Then in 2009, things with VBP became much more active after I started The People’s Noise Project and released several splits with other artists on my label. Finally, the first release that did not feature any material recorded by me at all was released in the summer of 2009, a split between Ezcaton and the Japanese NRYY. I really enjoyed interacting with the scene, getting to know more people, trading and producing low-budget DIY releases, so this transition from a label releasing just my own stuff to one that also puts out material from others made sense.
m[m]:Please pick ten of your favourite releases on the label & explain why they mean so much to you? Gag: That’s a really tough one because every release I put out on VBP has something special to it that made it worthwhile for me to release it. But the top 10 would probably be these:
• Flactorophia/Demonic Dismemberment/Eternal Mystery/Vomitous Discharge/Engravor/Vomitorial Corpulence “6-way Sin Decomposition” split CD:
In retrospect, I guess the music on this release has a sort of demo quality only and isn’t that fit for a professional release. However, this release was a really cool collaboration between all parties involved and I think it was also a pretty nice thing for the Christian grindcore and goregrind scene, as there hasn’t been anything like it before. Besides that, it’s pretty amazing for me and Vomitous Discharge to actually be on a split CD with Vomitorial Corpulence, which is still one of my top favorite grindcore/goregrind bands ever!
• Musikantenstadl Massaker / Vomitous Discharge split CD-R: In my opinion, this release features the most energetic and aggressive Vomitous Discharge material and the songs on it are quite special to me. That because of the lyrics, but also because they marked a certain transition of the project from goregrind to grindcore. Besides that, this release is a product of a good friendship with the guy from Musikantenstadl Massaker (which I still really enjoy for being amazingly funny, in my opinion). Back in the day, we talked on the
phone quite regularly, however we sadly lost contact some years ago. I still hope to hear from him again someday.
• KZ9 “See you in Valhalla mighty Michael” CD-R:
KZ9 is really my favorite noisecore band. The fact alone that none of the members can actually play his instrument makes it extra amazing for me, I just love this!
I have all their releases and it’s always super entertaining and funny material, obviously quite politically incorrect in many cases, but hey, one shouldn’t take everything too seriously all the time anyway. In any case, I think this recording is one of their very best, amazingly funny tracks and artwork, I’m really glad to have released this!
• Antidemon “Anel de Demonichaos Live” CD-R:
In summer of 2009, I had the extreme pleasure to get to know the guys (and girl) from the Brazilian Christian death metal band Antidemon in person. They did a
European tour and stayed at my house for 6 days, which was an amazing time. My death metal band Pesticides played a gig in a youth center with them and my best
friend’s dad filmed both gigs with a hand camera. When I watched the stuff later, I was quite stunned by the sound quality of the Antidemon footage and offered
them to release the audio track of their gig on CD-R. They gladly accepted and were pretty amazed with the sound quality themselves. To this day, this simple but
nice release is a great reminder of an awesome week and night for me.
• Ezcaton “Bacteria” CD-R:
As mentioned earlier, Ezcaton is quite a special project for me, so of course I was interested in releasing an album of his. I can safely say that this is the very best harsh noise material that I released on VBP so far. It’s a great display of how good and creative that guy is and what a pity it is that he’s not that active anymore nowadays!
• Ataraxy “Creation” special package mini CD-R:
This recording was quite an experiment for me, adding a layer of narrated words to my noise that creates quite an extreme contrast and strange atmosphere due to
the soft and calm tone of the girl’s voice. It was also the very first time I did a special handmade packaging and I think it turned out really beautifully; it’s
very nice to look at.
• Insomnia Isterica / The People’s Noise Project “Collaborative Shit Session 2010” CD-R:
This recording is pure madness! I visited my buddies from Insomnia Isterica in the spring of 2010, it was the first time we met, and we already agreed in advance that we would do a noisecore session together. When we got to the rehearsal place, we simply grabbed the instruments and started without much blabla and planning,
and it worked just so well! We changed instruments at some point and for me the very best session is really the one entitled “Kinderscheisse” with me on vocals
(there are 3 different sessions in total). That line-up was really ideal and the recording is a total blast. There are several unbelievably crazy moments in it that
still make me crack up in laughter ever time I hear them!
We actually did another such recording about a year later and one more around new year of 2014 (the latter still unreleased) and again, the sessions with the
“Kinderscheisse” line-up are clearly the best.
• Ataraxy/MeVdA “Easter” collab mini CD-R:
When I met the Insomnia Isterica guys in early 2011, their drummer (MeVdA) and I also did a noise session, besides the second noisecore session with his bandmate.
We set up the whole recording equipment together and thought well about what to do when etc., but still leaving many things open to allow spontaneous things. The release is themed around Easter, so the death and resurrection of Jesus. We’re both Christians and it was Easter time when I visited him, so that choice of topic was a logical and obvious move. In any case, it’s quite amazing that there are some unplanned but more than fitting things that are pretty astounding buried in the 3 tracks. The most amazing one to me is in the “Resurrection” track; it features a moment in which it really sounds as if a huge stone is being removed from a tomb, but we don’t know what we did to achieve that… It’s as if that sound was just meant to be there.
• Ataraxy “Blötmann” mini CD-R:
This one is really special to me and my family because it’s dedicated to my younger brother who died at the age of 9. When I was cleaning up an old PC at my
parents‘ house, I found a drawing that my younger brother had done in Paint at the age of 7 or so and it really made me laugh. It’s entitled “Blötmann”; correct
German would be “Blödmann” and that translates to “dumbass” or “idiot” and well, the face he drew is really really dumb :-) It’s a perfect display of the whacky
humor he had and which I share. So I decided to use this pic on a release dedicated to him, which is something I wanted to do for a long time already. The recording
to go with it is pretty “immature” on purpose; child-like, if you will.
• i AM esper “The Forward Momentum” CD-R:
This album is just amazingly beautiful, I really love it. The atmosphere is wonderful, the melodies and harmonies are perfect. Certainly one of the best, if not
the best recording this project has ever produced, and it produced a lot. And of course, a stunning artwork to go with the dreamy music; it’s just a perfect package.
(The Cosmic Noise Waves / Ataraxy “Valles Marineris” 3 mini CD-R box also needs to be in this list here, but we’ll be discussing that one a few questions later :-))
m[m]:one of your most consistent & rewarding releases was Ataraxy’s 2012 4 disc set “Dear Diary”. Could tell us a little bit about how this release come about? Over what period of time it was recorded? And what you see as it theme? Gag: Thanks a lot for the kind comment, I’m very happy about it :-)
That release is certainly one of the most ambitious I’ve ever done with Ataraxy. I don’t remember exactly how I got the idea, but I wanted to do a sort of audio diary to capture the happenings in my life over a certain period of time, until I had enough material recorded to fill 4 CD-Rs for a 4 disc box. In the end, it took about 5 weeks from early May until mid-June 2012. I set myself a few rules to follow: There shouldn’t be more than one track per day and I shouldn’t think too much about the setting of the equipment before recording but do things rather spontaneously. There were some quite active weeks with a new track almost every day
and others with some days in between the recordings. I actually travelled to Italy for a week in this period, so that week wasn’t very active, however I recorded some river sounds there which I processed into a wall when I was back home.
Topic-wise, the tracks are pretty diverse. When I started the recordings I was studying for an important exam at university, so a few tracks revolve around that.
Then there was something linked to a girl I liked at the time, something about my grandpa, the anniversary of my church, general moods, reflections about a movie I just watched, a female comedian from Germany that I enjoy etc.
m[m]:Has you set-up changed since you started & what's you fav bit of kit? Gag:Yes, it has changed quite a bit since June 2009. I started with a pretty small but experimental setup, which involved mainly a microphone and the Digitech Death Metal distortion pedal, along with some objects that I used to create sounds. The main noise came from blowing air into the microphone. Some months later I switched to my main and also favorite instrument/source: a walkman that’s not playing anything, it’s just plugged in. For some reason it generates a signal, as long as there are batteries in it, which works really nicely for harsh noise and especially for HNW. Still in 2009, I also generated many sounds by feedbacking my mixer, but stopped doing that some months later because I didn’t feel like wrecking it.
I did some stuff with radio static as source as well, also plenty with contact microphones, but the walkman remains my favorite source.
Pedal-wise I’m still using the Digitech Death Metal pedal, which I consider the best pedal overall, especially for HNW, along with several others that I bought during the years. Besides several cheap Behringer pedals (Digital Delay, Bass Synthesizer, Super Fuzz, Bass Overdrive, Ultra Vibrato), which work very nicely for noise, I also have the Rocktron Zombie distortion, which is nice for adding some crispy textures, and the must have DOD Death Metal, though I actually prefer the Digitech pedal; it’s louder and more extreme, in my opinion. I also got a Boss Heavy Metal distortion, which is helpful for some high frequency boost sometimes.
In rare occasions, I also use the Digitech Vocal 300 pedal for noise, because it has a wide range of possibilities. There’s also a V-Amp from Behringer that offers quite a lot of sounds and which I will probably use rather often in the future, but I still need to thoroughly test this one.
m[m]:Over the years you done many splits & collaborations with a whole host of projects- but one of the most rewarding was the two spilt you did with North Germany
based UFO obsessed HNW/ambient project Cosmic Noise Waves ( who formally went under the name of Malevolent Alien Being)- how did these come about & have you any
more planed? Gag: I’m glad you enjoy these 2 releases so much, thanks!
The first split (with Malevolent Alien Being) happened after I contacted the guy about a trade. Most of his music is available for free on the net and I really enjoyed it as a whole, especially in combination with the UFO and alien thematic. Of course I was also interested in doing a split with him and some months later it happened (“Martian Impressions”). After I first got in touch and we did a trade, we started sending emails to each other quite regularly, developing a friendship after a while. Some months later he told me that he’s putting an end to M.A.B. and will do Cosmic Noise Waves instead, because the alien theme felt too limiting for him after a while; instead he wanted to be able to cover space topics on a broader level. Another change was that he stylistically switched to ANW and DNW. Because I had done collab-splits before that feature some solo tracks besides a collaborative recording and always enjoyed that very much, I thought it would be really cool to do something like that with him, given that the different kinds of walls we create would surely result in a rather diverse and interesting release (“Valles Merineris”). Indeed his solo track is quite different from my rather brutal HNW recording, which I personally consider one of my best, and the highlight of the release is certainly our collaboration track. Both of us love the result, it’s very atmospheric.
And indeed, yes, we do have another collaboration planned! He’s planning a series of thematically linked recordings with C.N.W. and one of those will be a collab track with me. We both look forward to that already and hope it will be equally nice or even better than the first one we did.
m[m]: How do you feel the noise scene has changed over the years- and what do you see as positive/negatives? Gag:It’s always a bit difficult for me to really say something about that because I’ve only been a part of the noise scene since mid 2009, so not that long yet. I have the impression though that the interest in physical releases has decreased over the years, and in turn, the interest in net-releases increased, which often makes it hard for DIY labels to get actual support from people buying the stuff and not just trading (as cool as trading is). Some artists also have really insane amounts of net-releases that do make me wonder about the effort that goes into each release and their quality, but ok. What I generally see in a positive way is the openness of the scene to different people and opinions, there really seems to be freedom of speech and expression.
That’s something I favor, even if I don’t agree with everything and everyone, of course. I’m afraid this openness doesn’t count for parts of the HNW community,though. As much as I like the music, I can’t get rid of the feeling that the HNW scene partially is a pretty closed and elitist group of people. I myself am not into elitist thinking at all, so this mindset is something I can’t relate to or fully understand.
Otherwise it’s nice to see the noise scene really active, with new projects being formed all the time; basically anybody can get involved if he or she wishes to.
The downside of this is that many projects also disappear as quickly as they appeared, which can be a real pity sometimes.
What I also really like is the highly experimental nature of the music of many artists, which often involves special hand built instruments etc. While my own stuff is created mostly with a rather conservative setup these days, I really love and admire it when people use self-made things. That’s especially nice to see at live events; it’s always a pleasure to discover what hardware others use and what kinds of sounds some really unusually looking gadgets are able to generate.
m[m]:Are you working on any new noise releases yourself, or have you got any new releases lined up for the label?
Gag: I’m not as active with recording noise with Ataraxy as before, due to various reasons such as work and running an own household since only a few months now.
I do have some Ataraxy releases in the pipeline, though, and I will surely plan more once these are completed. The next releases that should be done are splits
with She Destroys Hope and Kaelteeinbruch, both from Germany like myself. Otherwise I have a specific idea spinning in my head every now and again for a long time
already and I would like to make it real in the shape of another full album, probably professionally manufactured, but we’ll see.
Thanks to Gag for doing the interview. Head over here for Ataraxy’s blog: here You can find out more about Vomit Bucket Productions here