On A Quest To Experiment [2016-04-01]Joseph Szymkowiak has been active in the field of experimental music for six years. His quest for unusual sounds has led him to explore a wide variety of genres, from Noisecore to Ambient, going through Free Improv and Harsh Noise Wall. This variety of interests is also well documented by the label he created : Nahàsh Atrym Productions. Joseph has kindly agreed to give an interview to Musique [Machine] and discuss the deep thoughts and feelings he attaches to his experimentations.
M[m]: How did you discover the noise genre? Joseph I came to noise through Grindcore bands (Tumour, Mortician, Anal Cunt, Urine festival, CxMxPx, Anal Birth, 7 Mon, Gerogerigegege) and also Venereology by Merzbow, which remains my favourite album by this artist and the closest to HNW he ever did as far as I know.
M[m]: what was your first noise project?
Joseph Toltem. It was ''wall guitar''. I had sent a copy to Ron Lessard with the idea that he would accept to release it on his label. However, he misunderstood it for a call for trades. This was a funny experience from my beginnings in the scene. Apart from that, the second and only copy allowed me to meet my friend Eric Duriez (Prozack Maurice, Psôm, 2 :13pm, Käyäk) with whom I collaborate often.
M[m]: what was your introduction to Harsh Noise Wall? What did you think then?
Joseph My encounter with pure HNW was the Angström project by Grégory Henrion and his great label Anarcho Freaks production (which did strictly HNW at that time). It was a revelation, just what I had always been looking for without knowing it. This music, static, emotionless, totally nihilistic and allowing to reach a state of trance was perfect for my psyche. It allows me to calm my anguish, relieve my tension and sleep. It is a functional music and by domino effect, a ritual.
M[m]:Speaking of which, do you listen or have you listened to other functional music ? I'm thinking of what ranges from traditional ritualistic music to Hardcore Techno, whether these sounds are taken as vehicles for dancing, taking drugs or both at the same time...
Joseph Oh yes, I was a teenager in the 90's, so I went to a lot of free parties. Taking psychedelic drugs in a forest with 80kw of sound has been a near-shamanistic experience. I was reading a lot of Castaneda at the time and it must have been influencing me. However, I saw extraordinary things thanks to magic mushrooms, things that will remain carved into my memory until the fateful day I will leave this world. Rituals, whether they are mystical or musical (these often go hand in hand) are an integral part of my spiritual quest to see beyond what is visible. There is nothing religious in this, there is nothing I despise nothing more than priests and bigots. I have no faith whatsoever, I am only convinced that all is connected and that we are part of this ''all''. Thus, with a special sensitivity, it is possible to listen to this cosmic flux that goes through the whole universe. Science is closer and closer to proving what mystics could feel.
These days I don't listen to Techno anymore because it is too much connected to parties and hard drugs excess. It is the past for me. I'd rather transcend myself through other means, softer but no less efficient, and I accompany this quest with HNW, drone or Dark Ambient.
M[m]:your projects are thematically far removed from the current cliché. It seems to me you're exploring very personal themes. Can you talk about what influences your music and visuals?
Joseph According to the people close to me, I have a complex and multiple psyche. It doesn't necessarily translate into a duality but rather into his manner of the Tao sign, with the good interlocking with the bad and the bad interlocking with the good. That's why I can explore themes that might seem mutually exclusive at first sight. Themes that form a whole. I think all of my projects are to be understood as part of a whole. They are connected by the primitive energy of my individuality and honestly express who or what I am.
I don't have a career plan, so I'm going where my moods take me, whether that sticks to the genre's image or not. However, to go as far as saying that my visuals are removed from the genre, I'm not sure... No, I don't think so...
M[m]:How do you articulate all this with the nihilism you previously mentioned and that you had initially perceived in HNW? Has your perception of the genre evolved over time ?
Joseph Nihilism is a philosophical point of view from which the world is deprived of any meaning, goal, understandable truth or any values. I seem an acceptable definition of HNW according to me, at least three HNW of a few years back. As of late some new projects have been appearing with childish or mainstream thematics and I don't understand why. This tends to push me away from the scene and makes me less willing to listen to what crops up. Sincerely, an album with a pop singer or a cartoon character on its cover causes me a violent nausea. It is simply unbearable.
Joseph HNW is the rejection of everything. HNW is confinement. HNW is the primal expression of a wild animality. However this is not a manifest, it would be a manifest that I don't even apply to myself.
Maybe it's nihilism, the lack of a common direction, an absolute chaos where one does what one wants. A huge, buzzing maelstrom.
After all, we are looking for absolute freedom and we have certainly found it eventually. One day will come when we will stop destroying to build everything up again. We have already started, we build walls and more walls, all over the world, partitioning ourselves in order to stay connected.
No move, no change – No respect.
M[m]:What gear do you use ? I suppose you don't use the same for a Harsh Noise project like Uv Ursa Spr than for a Harsh Noise Wall project like Black Matter Phantasm.
Joseph As a matter of fact, I do. I use all my gear differently for each projects. I'm always changing my set-up, which is composed of stomp boxes for 95%. The rest consists of small modular systems, Korg rhythm box, small radio, dicataphone, cd player, junk metal, springs, contact mics etc.
M[m]:Recently you have been producing pieces that seem to be further away from noise, whether under your own name or under the alias White Matter Phantasm. How do you approach this more ''musical'' realm and what is the meaning of the opposition Black Matter Phantasm / White Matter Phantasm ? Once Joseph again, there is no opposition, but a complementation between these projects and all the others. Each of them is a part of the construction (and I ignore what it will look like when it's done building). More musical? I have no idea. I have made music into the past, maybe it is something that is hard to let go completely. I recognize myself more in the ''Fuck Melodies, Fuck Compose, Fuck Music'' stance, but will all err on the side of excess.
M[m]:I know you have just closed down your label, Nahàsh Atrym Productions. Why did you take this decision, and did running this label bring to you?
Joseph I didn't close it down; I must have expressed myself badly. It is in ''stand-by'' but it is still active. I need time for my own projects. Perhaps in the future Nahàsh Atrym Productions will be more compilations-oriented, but nothing is decided yet.
Running a DIY label as an outsider is both exhausting and gratifying. It allows encounters and most of all exchanges.
M[m]:what are your favourite releases on Nahàsh Atrym Productions, or those that have a special meaning for you.
Joseph Without question the Slow Death Records retrospective. And the Saturn Form Essence album. Now, it must be understood that I only accept albums that resonate with me therefore each release on Nahàsh Atrym productions is a completely honest one, even if it means upsetting people who cannot handle a refusal. It is a work I do with passion; I don't want to release something half-heartedly. That is why I am so demanding in my selection: I only want to release things on my label that I would buy myself.
M[m]:You have just published the first issue of your fanzine Vajra, which comes with a compilation. Can you define what you wanted to achieve with this publication?
Joseph I consider myself as an artist more than a musician, so it only logical that I should extend my musical art to a more visual one.
I had nothing set in my mind, just the craving to compile some graphic pieces on paper and I'm happy with the results.
M[m]:what are your projects? Any planned releases?
Joseph I always have lots of projects going; listing them would be too long and tedious. For the future, I crave for drone, harsh noise, hnw, power electronics, various experimentations, I want to live, enjoy what I do and keep on creating to my heart's content.
Here is a list of my projects :
RÜN : Noisecore
Käyäk : Noisecore
Black Matter Phantasm : ANW/HNW
G. J. Schaeffer : HNW
Uv Ursa Spr : Noise
White Matter Phantasm : Drone/ANW
DAAD : Power Electronics
Joseph Szymkowiak : Experimental
New Big Band Direction : Free Noise Wall
Public Morbidity : Harsh Noise
Thanks to Joseph for his time and his very thoughtful answers.
You can hear and buy Nahàsh Atrym Productions releases on Bandcamp here
and this is Joseph's personal Bandcamp page hereJulien Skrobek