UNSUSTAINABLE #1 - this will not always be happening but it is happening right now
19 August 2016 by Sancho Murphy
As an individual that lives under a habitual rock at times and naturally preferring organised melodies and catchy hooks in most of my own personal music choices, the exploratory sensibilities of sounds in experimental music is something I am only just beginning to dip my toes into. I don't actively seek out experimental content, and rely on most of my creative pals that sling recommendations in my general area to give things a go - which is why I am bulk keen on Unsustainable #1 at Lobrow Gallery & Bar!
Unsustainable is the collaborative product of local Canberra dudes Paul Heslin & Reuben Ingall. Both are sonic manipulators in their own right and connoisseurs of the eclectic realm. We sent over some questions to get an insight into Unsustainable, what to expect, other projects on the go and general chats.
Have a read and see you tonight for an auditory experience of discovery!
Squeezing out the stock standard Q's, what is Unsustainable? Why the name? When did you start doing your thing & why?
RI: So far it’s one gig, the first in a tentative series organised by Paul Heslin and I. Our schtick: gender-diverse two-act lineups, one interstate and one local, guaranteed artist fees, cheap on the door, wear any losses ourselves. In part, the name is a lighthearted dig at the way many see the sustainability or success of an art practice as tied to its profitability.
PH: It also honestly references the limitations of the endeavour, “this will not always be happening, this will not always be happening, this will not always be happening, but it is happening for now”.
I'm a bit of a n00b to the sounds of 'eclectic weirdo DJ's', but I'm enjoying this journey of discovery - if you could present a Unsustainable gig anywhere in the world, any point in time, with any lineup imaginable, who, what and where would it be? And Why?
RI: I really don’t know I almost can’t cope with the scope of this question. Maybe take some 90s acid techno to a side-stage at Woodstock ‘69? I guess it would be a test as to whether humans can dig music right out of the blue, or if we need to absorb all the musical and cultural development up to that point to ‘get it’. My intuition leads me more towards a ‘learned appreciation’ theory, so perhaps we’d just be making beatniks confused/angry.
Though impossible to let personal tastes not influence, within the creative industry one of the most important attributes of a curator is the ability to be discerning. What's the process of deciding who fits on an Unsustainable bill? Or who you collaborate with?
RI: We’ve come up with a standard pitch which includes the promise of a couch to sleep on. We’ll just hit up peeps we wanna see play.
PH: Yeah, I think that was the really simple first pitch - “who is awesome and we can get to Canberra”. By keeping it infrequent we don’t have to compromise on anyone we do not 100% think is great.
I ask this question in most of the blog interviews, it's standard but I do get a different response each time and I'm intrigued to hear yours - what do you think will happen over the next 5 years in the Canberra music 'scene'?
RI: Each passing year will be considered the best yet for the scene, but also the hottest on record for the planet, precipitating a rise in sea levels and bleak af doom metal bands.
PH: Woaw, that got heavy real fast. I think my experience with the Canberra music scene has always hinged around key individuals - people like Warwick Smith, Shoeb Ahmad, Danny Wild, who do an extraordinary amount of lifting. I think the future depends on people like that stepping up, and giving the rest of us room to breathe and grow.
So, I'm trying to dig into a layer of your evolved & eclectic musical tastes, surprise me! What was the first CD that you bought?
RI: Basement Jaxx - Where’s Your Head At single (had like 5 remixes on it)
PH: The Romeo and Juliet Soundtrack, the one with the original soundtrack (Dust Brothers?) NOT that sick Radiohead song.
Following on, what album are you most proud of in your collection?
PH: I have a Swans record signed by Michael Gira, that is pretty spesh. Although, probs most proud of my Jonny Telafone demo CDs from back when he lived in Canberra.
What are you doing right now?
RI: Everything and nothing, I’ve got 20+ tabs open in my browser.
Close to everyone listens to music, but how we listen is changing. Where do you think you listen to the most music?
RI: Close call between my studio and the ‘living/dining area’ (especially while cooking). Not much of a headphone listener though I know Paul is.
PH: Walking to work has always been prime listening time for me. I live about twenty minutes walk from work, so an “album” fits perfectly there and back.
This is where Sancho's Dirty Laundry blog counterpart & Dolly Parton fanboy, HOUL interjects with his pearls of wisdom & unparalleled questioning technique (he also constructs sentences alot better than I).
Instead of getting the same facts about yourself that you dribble out for every interview, name, age, interests, girth etc, let’s instead get this interview started with some lies you tell about yourself to others.
RI: “I really enjoyed your cover band’s set”
What speed do you prefer your music to be listened to? I know that Dolly Parton has a lovely resonance at 78 RPM whereas something more contemporary like the Law & Order Theme Song adopts a beautiful uniqueness at 45 RPM.
RI: It all depends on the track and the mood I’m in. At a slower pace, there’s more time to dwell in that anticipation of the next beat or phrase (delayed gratification?). The musical and emotional climax of the chorus comes after a longer verse and so it hits you even harder. I’m also a fan of gradual deceleration.
With some songs (eg Eric Carmen’s - Hungry Eyes from Dirty Dancing) I’m so accustomed to my own slowed version that when the ‘normal’ version comes on it feels way too fast, frantic, anxious, ALL WRONG, PANIC ATTACK. Peep my radio series SLOWTUNES all about slowed down music at www.reubeningall.com
I’ve had the pleasure of listening to, and watching, Microwave Drone Ritual (although the resulting pie was offered to another lucky punter) can you go into the origins of this a little more? Did you experiment with other microwavable food products before settling on the pie? Was it always a Mrs Mac’s or do you mix it up sometimes?
RI: When I got old enough to handle my dad’s lawnmower it became my job. With the big earmuffs on I would hum along to the motor’s dronedoom tone. I also found myself humming harmonies with other appliances until I had the idea of turning it into music in around 2008 when I lugged a huge, heavy, 'sideoftheroad' microwave home to find that it didn’t work... crushing.
It finally came together when I scored an unwanted microwave at a Housing Co-Op party at the end of 2013. The debut gig was first time I’d run it at the full 20 minute length, and if I’d gotten the microwave’s power settings wrong (or let the frozen pie thaw too much) it could have been a smoky disaster. When I performed it in Hobart I used some local organic brand of pie, but the microwave I borrowed didn’t cook it all the way through! Btw check out the tape (below).
You perform under your slave name, Reuben Ingall, as well as under the moniker Dead DJ Joke. Where did this divide come from? Under which one do you feel more free to make music?
RI: I guess it’s a hopefully-tasteful / purposefully-tasteless divide. Both modes are very much free-play time though. Other than the Dead DJ Joke alias for my mashups and DJ sets, I’ve resisted splintering my output into different pseudonyms despite making a pretty wide range of music over the last decade. This is partly because managing any extra web-presence / social media would be a chore!
On a different note, can I just commend you on the sheer volume of your bladder, and the legibility of your handwriting, or rather 'wang-writing', as evidenced by your beautiful series of work My Name In Piss. It’s an ability so many of us ignore, choosing instead to use urinals and toilets, like we are told we should, conforming and confining our latent ability. You, however, release your goods to the wind. Have you had any close calls here? Many midstream interruptions or names left hanging? Do you determine hazards first, wind direction, curbs etc, before you start or do you just let the stream take you where it will?
RI: Thankfully no close-calls with either headwinds or bystanders. I’m pretty practiced with it now so actually the biggest challenge is the lowlight phone-photography, though in recent years I’ve gotten better at finding deserted street-lamps. I started it in 2010, sporadically adding to the collection since then, but it’s still 'funny-awkward' when someone who has known me for a while discovers it for the first time. I’ve got plans to turn it into a coffee table book someday I’ll bug you for crowdfundcash when the time is right.
Let’s put all this seriousness aside for a moment, and get a little silly, shall we. What is it like working as a musician in Canberra? Given the comparatively small scene in relation to larger cities, do you find that things become insular and stale, or does the close-knit connection promote growth and experimentation?
RI: I think one of the benefits of a small scene is the eclectic and mixed lineups. Like, it’s actually good that there aren’t enough bands within ‘X’ narrow niche to field a full lineup of them, so folks can’t get too insular within a genre. This breeds broad taste + collabs + openmindedness = my bag baby yeah.
To wrap up, are there any questions you wish you were asked in your interviews, but the interviewer is too stupid, oblivious or unfamiliar with your work to actually ask? Something you really wish to say but are never afforded that opportunity?
RI: Darude’s - Feel The Beat is 100% superior to Sandstorm *drops mic*
Catch the very first and irregular instalment of Unsustainable at Lobrow Gallery & Bar tonight!
LOBROW GALLERY & BAR
Level 2, 181 City Walk, Canberra
Fri 19th Aug // 8PM // $5 entry
MARCUS & ALPHAMALE - Eclectic Weirdo DJ's
(SYD, Marcus Whale, Collarbones, Black Vanilla, Scissor Lock)
A ~rare~ solo set of non-album material
that album tho https://marcus-whale.bandcamp.com/
(CBR, Cilt, Are You There God It's Me Margaret?)
Viola x voice x electronics
Facebook Event for more details.