Interview: Misandr – Alaska based enby noise artist talks “This Can Not Continue” and more.

Posted by Morgan Y Evans - Walking Bombs on Wednesday, February 20, 2019 at 5:33 PM (PST)


“The fact that oppressive institutions and nations born of colonial hegemony, demonize, profile, police and punish the survivors of ongoing genocide and attempt to dictate where they can and cannot live is morally bankrupt, and yet here we are.” – Misandr

One of the best parts about blogging is I always love the chance to help boost amazing work of all stripes by fascinating, forward thinking people. Be it Spellling’s dope slow come down beats and chill as heck textures plus stunning vocal work on Mazy Fly or the harrowing new cinematic Hether Fortune track “Sister” (which was so powerful live) or the latest ominous yet massive doom-opus from Candlemass , there has been so much good stuff already in 2019 to share. And we need it, cuz it is rough out there right now for a lot of people.

One of the most awe-inspiring things that landed in my promo box this year so far was the much-anticipated Tridroid Records split from somewhat mysterious noise practitioner MISANDR and whitephosphorous, “This Can Not Continue”.  The release just went up for pre-order very recently and is a must hear rejection of bigotry and hatred funneled through the lense of sonic vertigo and alienating physical sound avalanches paired with razor keen current event subtexts. The split title This Can Not Continue is both a perfect and simple fact for the horrors going on in the world as well as an apt summary of how the music and content is so intense that it tests the bounds of human endurance until a flip switches and you somehow are comforted by the harsh swirl of cacophony and distress.

Thanks are to be extended to Misandr who allowed us to interview them via email for a VERY insightful and rewarding exchange. I can’t do it justice summarizing but topics include inverting fascism on itself, ableism, noise as self-catharsis, the project’s past and future, the dangers of xenophobia and so much more. Super thrilled to be publishing this and hope you all will read it and enjoy near drowning in this artist’s emotionally exhausting new single on the Tridroid split as much as I did.

Read more BELOW and hang in there, folks.

 The border crisis is so manufactured and xenophobic, straight up. What prompted you to want to do a song on the subject, especially from far North where you reside?

I was working a job out of town on a crew of three men and myself, two of whom having had been part of that department for several years. I noticed a very visible swastika tattoo on one of those individuals the first day, but wanted to give him at least enough of a chance to confirm/disavow. Sure enough, one morning at breakfast, the subject of the refugee/migrant caravan (originally termed Viacrucis del Migrante, the “Migrant’s Way of the Cross,” by Pueblo Sin Fronteras, the organization who coordinated the Holy Week caravan in 2017) came up and he proposed the idea of killing every person as a warning and message to anybody else who might “dare” to be a refugee.

I had struggled to find work throughout much of 2018 and had finally found myself in a field that I enjoyed immensely and paid well (relative to the astronomical degree of wage stagnation and wealth inequality), so the thought of engaging in heated argument, especially ones that might put my ability to pay for insurance-excluded medial costs at risk, were less than appealing, but the casual proposition and acceptance of mass murder stuck with me. I made it a point to always take my line6 interface and drum machine when I’d get sent out of town, so that I could at least have a way to create something while away from home. That evening I recorded what would become the core of the track. For whatever reason I had Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” on the mind and wanted to create a really incendiary rip-stomping punky type song. I hit upon the image of an efficient bureaucratic/administrative complex where refugees are admitted at the southern border and for each person granted asylum, one American fascist would be executed. In general I’m not a fan of authoritarian extrajudicial killings, so in this hypothetical scenario, it would be an essential part of the process to offer the fascists the opportunity for redemption by providing community service to marginalized/vulnerable populations as reparations/recompense. It particularly tickled me to think of the labyrinthine bureaucratic nightmare-machine flipped on its head to serve the people it currently oppresses. That’s the acute background on the piece, but there’s a greater context/history surrounding my own perceptions and experiences that contributed to the germination of the idea and its implementation.

Alaska is full of immigrants and colonizers. Less than 15% (!!!) of the state’s population is indigenous and roughly 67% are white. Certain areas of the state can get extremely monochromatic, the situation usually being either: white resource-extraction towns or indigenous communities. However, overall Alaska is incredibly ethnically diverse, with good representation of many broad groups, and my hometown especially so. As a result, I’ve spent my life in an environment where I feel and observe the positive effects of a multicultural society every day. The fact that oppressive institutions and nations born of colonial hegemony, demonize, profile, police and punish the survivors of ongoing genocide and attempt to dictate where they can and cannot live is morally bankrupt, and yet here we are.

What is some of the experimental music that inspired you to start your own project and how long has Misandr been active? I feel like I hear a little old school Ministry in there at times, but way more deconstructed.

The first cd I ever bought with my own money was Rob Zombie’s Hellbilly Deluxe in 2000 and it very much set the stage for a predilection towards processed industrial drums, distorted guitars, and assembly-line industrial groove that has continued to this day. Some of the more specific groups and artists that contributed to the impetus to begin creating are: Godflesh, Saul Williams, Marilyn Manson’s 90s output, Public Enemy, Steven Wilson, Prince, HEALTH, Gnaw Their Tongues, Author & Punisher, Khost, Anaal Nathrakh, Kælan Mikla and Type O Negative.

I first started writing and recording material under the MISANDR name in autumn of 2014 after an acrimonious split from the band I had been playing with that year. Motivated largely out of spite, and having very little skill/knowledge, I taught myself to play bass, operate recording software, and the functionality of various effects/equipment. By autumn of 2016, I had about a half-hour’s worth of material I was proud of, and released “Absence of Absolution” as record of all of the things I’d learned in two years, as well as a “musical resume” of sorts.

Incidentally, while I was not intentionally channeling Uncle Al on this track, my friend Richard Weeks did render “this is like if Ministry did a noise track,” as commentary/feedback, so there’s at least precedence for the sentiment.

How did the split with whitephosphorous come about and working with Tridroid Records on the release? What formats will it be available?

I correspond with Richard fairly regularly, and around the time that their Gaylord split with Neckbeard Deathcamp was coming out, they suggested to me that I should do a split with whitephosphorous. So I sent a twitter DM and here we are. The two of us had been aware of Tridroid’s presence as an honest and transparent, queer-lady-owned entity that had put out some dope albums so we sent another twitter DM, and things progressed from there. At current the only formats that have been discussed are cassette and digital.

You are working on an upcoming full length, correct? I remember you mentioned and wondered if you could elaborate on anything yet?

Yesssssssss! I performed more shows in a four month span last year than I ever had in my life (including a local Warped Tour battle of the bands at Alaska’s most-famous bar, to the bemusement of the judges), and developed a practiced and fairly consistent set using very bare-bones, very transportable equipment. I’ve been further refining and expanding the pieces that were part of that, along with some new ideas. Two of the songs, as one track, “Invocation/Decolonization,” are available on the Worldwide Organization of Metalheads Against Nazis II compilation. Further from that, some of the things you can expect: brickwalled final mixes, perversions of Roman Catholic liturgical passages, seismic bass, assembly-line drums, and chuggy industrial grooves.

Any thoughts on the Skullflower controversy? Not sure if you saw the Quietus article.

I think I skimmed the Quietus article, but I also don’t think I was at all familiar with them prior to current events. I’ve listened to a single Whitehouse album exactly once and thought it was boring as hell, so I’ve never had any emotional attachment to this dude. To me it just seems like another edgy noiseboy OG that’s always waffled with far-right nonsense, whose filter has slipped over the years and made their bigotry much more immediately apparent.

As a non binary artist, do you feel more welcome in the current climate of extreme music? I mean, your music itself is not the most mainstream style haha but it is even harder to be accepted when there is also enbyphobic bullshit out there. As multigender myself it is odd because politically it is such a divisive and ugly time but also there are such welcoming factions and pockets of safety and compassion, little rebel queer friendly alliances, that are lifesaving to see and be received within. Thoughts?

I’m both very white and very masculine-presenting, so there’s a lot of bullshit that I don’t deal with solely based on that. I also tend to be as unobtrusive as possible in public to further minimize the chances of me having to deal with bullshit. Overall I find the entire concept of gender as incomprehensibly vast and gendered roles as distasteful, so I try to minimize the degree to which I have to deal with them, and due to the aforementioned personal traits, that’s generally fairly easy. I’m very fortunate to have a very supportive immediate family and home life, and I’ve found a pleasant online network of friends across the globe. That said, I have very little connection with any local cultural communities, and while I know there are good people throughout many of the groups in Alaska, the vast majority of my experiences have left me disappointed and unmotivated to further engage.

Would you see this project more as a sort of structural, textural statement with political elements at times or does it also speak to your own personal need for catharsis? You seem like someone who has empathic tendencies like me, perhaps. I sponge things up and then sometimes need to compartmentalize if I can’t work it back out through art.

Ideally both. The give and take, tension and release are at the core of both my creative drive, and artistic intent. It’s undeniable that we’ve recently seen a strong upwelling of explicitly leftist extreme music, with a variety of approaches and core personal issues. While this greater trend is excellent, and something I encourage to continue, there’s always room to improve. It’s been my experience that disabled people are, and have been, underrepresented at best, or ignored/talked-over in both activist music circles, and organizations that espouse inclusivity. Within that greater context, the structural and textural statements exist as political statements in and of themselves, while also being expressions and representations of personal catharsis.

I had some pretty severe fine motor delays as a child, but was highly verbal. I needed physical therapy to be able to manipulate objects and learn how to write, and even to this day my sense of touch is, shall we say, warped and distorted from what society considers standard-issue. It’s been my conclusion, after a lifetime of dealing with this and other sensory issues, that the human sense of touch and hearing are inextricably linked. After all, as I understand it, the inner ear is a system that receives and translates vibrations in the air into sound data the brain then responds to. While I’m sure there are plenty of neurotypical people who enjoy static, noise and other harsh frequencies based on their own standards of enjoyment, I think the autistic/neurodivergent sensory existence can often give a predilection for enjoying unconventional sounds and methods of aural expression. Something I’d very much like to do more of is create personalized/customized aural stims for other neurodivergent people. I certainly find immersive, warm baths of static waves to be very comforting, and I know I’m not alone in that.

Wow, that is so cool you say that as I know when I was in recovery years ago I found it very calming oddly to listen to TV static. Hmmm.

At the end of the day, it’s unlikely that a neurotypical person is ever going to experience a full sensory overload/meltdown, and that lack of empirical knowledge leads to a damaging and dangerous lack of empathy from them towards some of the most vulnerable. It is one of my core intents to simulate a sensory overload/meltdown. I want people to have a visceral experience and at least begin understand how powerless and terrifying it is to be caught in an inescapable sensory hell.

How did you get some of the intense sounds on “Overtures Of Annihilation”? or is that a trade secret?

I’ve always had a disdain for informational gatekeeping, and want creative expression to be as accessible as possible, and so I’m always happy to discuss gear, technique and processing. Lack of technical ability should never stand in the way of creative expression.
The great skeleton of “Overtures of Annihilation” is the track I recorded from my drum machine (an Alesis Sr-16 if you’re interested), a mixture of programmed beats and improvisational interludes, that is then fleshed out by running through five different plug-in chains.

The only other things going on are the vocals, which I process in a variety of ways, often involving ring modulation and bit/sample rate reduction, and a “solo” that I recorded on a signal chain that has become a cornerstone instrument/signal source on par with my drum machine and electric bass. I use a Rochambeau Musical Apparatus Crustacean Classic (http://www.rochambeau.net/crustacean/ please buy gear from him so he continues to make amazing circuitry) into an Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine into a Moog MF-102 Ring Modulator. How I process the signal that I get from that setup varies wildly, but those three together can provide an immense breadth and depth of sound and textural saturation. If there’s anybody who wants any more specific information than that, I’m happy to provide it.

Support Misandr HERE.

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