Wall to wall Noise [2007-02-05]The Rita (aka Canadian Sam mckinlay) is one of the harshest noise projects around, creating what is called ‘wall noise’. Among more ltd items so far he’s released; Lake Depths Lurker on the Harsh noise label, Bodies bear traces of Carnal Violence in 2005 and last year Thousands of dead Gods both on Pacrec/Troniks. Death of a Thousands Gods appeared on my best of 2006 list (I reviewed of it here). Sam Kindly agreed to give me an email interview.
m[m] When did you start making noise? Where did The Rita name come from? And were there any other projects before The Rita?
Sam I first started making noise recordings around 1996, which also marked the year of first cassette release on Almos records entitled Creature Drowning You. The name of the project The Rita was taken from the name of the barge that is used to take the scientists up the Amazon on the movie The Creature from the Black Lagoon. I have a huge interest in the Gillman, and also an obsessed interest with silent and early talkie-era actresses, so I liked the almost aesthetic feel of having a woman’s name for the project. There were no noise projects of my own before The Rita, but I had and still have connections with Kevin Rivard of the amazing Canadian noise project Vote Robot. He helped me a lot with the ‘technical’ side of what I was after for The Rita and let me have full use of his room of various keyboards, Theremins, overdrives, 4-tracks, mics, etc. to get me started. Before and up to then I was primarily into minimalist painting and installation (landscape and otherwise), so the noise was a direct offshoot of my art interests.
m[m] You mentioned you were involved in minimalist painting and installations- are you still involved with this today? and what themes did your art deal with?
Sam Practically all through my four years in University I was heavily interested in minimalist hard edge painting eventually spreading into floor works, landscape pieces, and eventually concept based textual and photographic interpretations of areas and space. Some of the works were strictly for study of balance, tension, imbalance, barriers, until I began to look at social and animal predicaments in space. The more socially based works were stages to build a conceptual style basis for space interpretation, markings, etc. One of last pieces was the charting of a large hillside that followed marmot holes with a number of large wooden posts. The post dynamic/hillside of posts was then photographed and, charted, and then re-interpreted into a large black on black painting charted with lead. Obviously I had major influence from artists like Ad Reinhardt, Richard Serra, Barnett Newman, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Long, George Trakas, Kasimir Malevich, etc. I found these days at University very important to my noise work as it gave me an intense look into the same themes, but paralleled with audio textures, tonal structures, violent workings from subtle imbalanced changes, etc. I still like to take notes and do the occasional plan today for an installation work, but most of my creative energies are saved and expended on harsh noise.
m[m] Thousands of Dead Gods features recordings of sharks as source material – where did these come from? Where did your interest in sharks come from? And have you ever been up close to one?
Sam A few years ago, my girlfriend and I went on a Great White Shark cage diving drip out to the Isle of Guadalupe off the coast of San Diego. It was on the verge of being off season, so we only saw one Great White during the week at sea, but I got to get some brief recordings from the deck of the on board antics as the shark cruised in for the bait, etc. Unfortunately I wasn’t in the cage for my turn during the action, but I got to see the monster cruise right by the deck, turn back, go for the bait, etc. A humbling experience to say the least. The rest of the audio recordings are taken from my collection of raw Great White Shark cage diving film footage from other collector sources. I have been heavily into sharks for as long as I can remember. I’ve been close to sharks on many occasions (whenever possible) like many of us in various aquariums; standing there staring at them for hours, but I haven’t had the privilege to swim with a monster Tiger (no matter how many hours I spent snorkeling beyond the swimming buoys on Kaanapali Beach, Maui), Bull, or Great White shark. I’ve only gotten to swim with Leopard sharks and rays – smaller sharks species’. Hopefully in the coming years with trips to the Caribbean and South Africa I can make some lifelong obsessed dreams become reality.
m[m] Your first Release on Pacrec/Troniks Bodies bear traces of Carnal Violence clearly has a Giallo influence- what film samples or sound samples were used? What’s the first Giallo film or European horror film you saw? & what stand as some of your favorites?
Sam Years ago I culled the murder scenes from 45 different rare 70s Gialli onto one VHS tape (and subsequently a DVDr). Later, I made the best out of the collection I had materialized by also using the better scenes as the raw source sounds for Bodies Bare Traces of Carnal Violence. It’s hard to remember the cross-referenced notes and scene use for the recordings, but I know that some definite favorites are on there such as So Sweet So Dead, etc. The first Giallo I have ever scene was Sergio Martino’s Strange vice of Signora Wardh, which was a great one to start with as it featured a great twisty plot, actress Edwige Fenech, actor George Hilton, and some great black gloved razor murders. Of my collection of Gialli, my favorites are Calling all cars, Case of the scorpions tail , Five women for the killer, Death walks in high heels, Giallo A Venezia, Death steps in the dark, Vice wears black Hoes, Strip Nude for your killer, So sweet So Dead, Strange vice of Signora Wardh, etc. There’s too many to list here, but there’s a top ten.
m[m] Do you have any other audio related interest other than shark sounds and Giallo movies, that you can see working into your future work?
Sam Sometimes I want to see myself working less and less with raw source sounds, directing myself into just stricter white noise utilizing airless, common static sources, but I always find myself drawn to outside personal sources. I want to work with 2-stroke motocross engines more in the future as they have a little crisper of a tone than the 4-stroke of my own that I have used in the past. I also want to work more with violent and abrupt source sounds that force me to bury them and interpret them into walled, crumbling, noise. I really like how the dynamic of sparse and airy sources can always eventually culminate into heavy crushing pieces. You can really see the power of the initial violent source as it gets seemingly pounded flat and spreads into itself with cascading walls of distortion.
m[m] Are you a fan of Giallo/horror soundtracks- if so have you got any favorites?
Sam I’m more of a fan of Spaghetti Western and Euro-crime soundtracks, specifically the ones by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis and Morricone, but I do have the odd Giallo soundtrack recording like the soundtrack to Strange vice of Signora Wardh.
m[m] How do you mange to create such a dense wall of sound? And how long will it take you to crate/ layer up a track?
Sam In the past I used a 4-track analog recorder to layer and layer calculated noise recordings. Hours and hours of seeing what goes well with what, what spaces I can fill with different forms of violence and wall-like structures. Through years and years of work in fine arts, I became really adept at regulating heavy pre-planning stages with notes and planning my structures, and this has translated more than ever with my more recent recordings of the past couple of years. Most of my work now is recorded ‘live’ after many tests, line working, stage changes, etc. If the recording doesn’t work out as obsessively ‘planned’, I do it over and over until I have what I initially wanted. Remixing also comes into play sometimes, usually with a repeated live feed into the EQ’d mixer again to get various tones and rumbles to shine through where I think they’d be best. I’ve really pared down my equipment as of late as well to put more focus for myself on the sources themselves. For me, it brings about a more personal subtlety to the work.
m[m] was your early work still involved in making wall noise and as you mentioned your involvement with minimalist painting- have you ever considered doing ambient type material?
Sam I have a heavy mid 90s America noise influence, so my earlier noise was a culmination of those styles. The material featured crashing violence, feedback mic work, some occasional droning undertones, delay, etc. It was a great release, but also a building block for more studied works. University came around and I focused wholly on what I was up to with visual installation, concept, painting, and even performance pieces. As I said earlier, this played a major card in developing what I wanted to eventually do with harsh noise. I already had inklings of this visual/noise crossover mentality with the early influence of Dead Body Love and the cassette Lo-Fi Power Carnage. When I got my Bachelor’s degree and started recording noise again, I initially found it as a welcomed release again with more technical and varied analog concepts, but as the years wore on, I found myself getting really strict again with the same themes that I studied for years in University. Almost like a magnet, I found what where my pure interests lie in my love and dedication for harsh noise merging with my personally meditated concepts of the visual arts. I don’t really have a serious interest in ambient works, but the term ‘static drone’ has been splashed around a lot lately with some of the works of myself and of others. The works of Werewolf Jerusalem have been a major influence to me in the last few years as Richard’s works certified for me that ‘harsh wall-noise’ and ‘static drone’ can be one and the same as they both tackle themes of tonal arrangements and mid 90s crunch worship. The early masterpieces of Black Leather Jesus also display the ‘static drone’ direction with utmost obsession, and my interest in this genre is the closest I want to personally get to themes of ‘ambient’ in my own work.
m[m] There’s a new disk just out on Pacrec/Troniks called Total Slitting of throats, what was you involvement in this as your name is mentioned on the back cover?
Sam Total Slitting of throats was a project that I wanted to do which also involved some of my more respected noise colleagues. I made them all give me over an hour’s worth of unchanging recorded wall crumble to their specific taste to be then all mixed together to garner an all powerful work of wall noise. A friend of mine mixed the tracks for me on pro-tools, and the result was amazing. The different projects’ subtleties come to the surface as the listener gets pummeled for the duration of the material making the final result of the recording a realization into what can be articulated from a massive, culminated noise wall. The first edition of TSOT was from my label Militant Walls in an edition of 100 pro-cdrs. As you mentioned, PACrec recently re-released the material in the CD format, which makes this ‘dream come true of a recording’ become that much more of an obsessed reality.
m[m] What have you got lined up in the future release wise?
Sam I’ve taken steps to try and consciously slow down on recording in 2007, but I have slated for release collaborations with Prurient, Damion Romero, and Werewolf Jerusalem. Other side projects with others in the works are more Zenta Sustained and Edwige recordings, plus new collaborative projects such as Incision and Wallriders. A great tape set I’m included in dedicated to the Nhra is also in its final stages from Goat/Philosophy Shop, plus some heavy wall themed cassette sets from other labels.
m[m] Any thoughts about touring over in Europe?
Sam Of course I’d like to make it over to Europe some time – especially for a harsh noise tour, but there’s always the logistics of the money involved, etc. that I haven’t had time to try and make a reality. There are some tour plans this year, but the official details have yet to be finalized and announced.
Thanks to Sam for the interview- to find out more about The Rita go to here. all pictures are of The Rita’s recent live performances including one With The Cherry point And have been used by kind permission and are © Sam mckinlay