Whenever I wear my Knifedoutofexistence t-shirt, people label it as “morbid” or “violent”. In fact, I remember you mentioning that the project and the title actually derive from a positive place. Would you mind elaborating on that?
I get this a lot. People are always telling me of the odd looks friends, family and co-workers are giving them for wearing my shirts. It references a quote from Howard Bloom, which I became familiar with because of its use at the end of the Column Of Heaven debut, Ecstatically Embracing All That We Habitually Repress. “When you find the Gods inside yourself, you’ll find the God of War. You’ll find the God of bloodlust. You’ll find the God of genocide. And he will be one of the most powerful passions in you. And you have to knife him out of existence. You have to freeze him in his own private Hell, and make your positive Gods the Gods that take you over. And by ‘the Gods that take you over’ I mean you have to find those passions that are so much more powerful than you, than anything you’ve been allowed to express in your life, and making those things the things you work on. In other words, not putting off until you’re 40 or 50 the things you feel passionate about at the age of 15 and 16 – but going directly to those things, and trying to implement them when you’re 20.” The quote resonated with me a lot when I first heard it, still does, and worked for the project on a number of levels.
I do this project as a way of dealing with the negative parts of myself, which I see as the negative gods referred to in this quote, and also as way I can pursue my passions independently. When I was younger, I never really could, and still can’t, play an instrument and would just make a racket on whatever instruments I got hold of, much to the dismay of their owners. I remember being kicked out of the music room at school for making feedback with the school bass guitar. Knifedoutofexistence is what those things have gone directly to. To put it more briefly, the name means getting rid of negative feelings and focusing on passions. It has nothing to do with murder.
Could you outline the context behind Immaturity Of Movement? I understand that it’s at least partly based on your experiences living with dyspraxia.
I read a book years ago that was more aimed at parents of Dyspraxic children, and very early in the book it said that “dyspraxia is defined as an immaturity of movement”, and that definition stuck with me. That motor skills, though this record mainly deals more with the emotional aspects of the condition, get to a point and don’t grow up beyond this, that part of your abilities never reach their adult potential. I won’t talk too much more about it as there is a thousand worse things people live with every day, and I’m not looking for people’s pity with the record. It’s just me thinking about my own mind and how it works in relation to and because of the condition.
One of my favourite aspects of the record is the air between your noise and the recording apparatus. It’s clear that this isn’t a straight-to-desk job, and I often feel like a vicarious observer watching you work. How were the tracks recorded, and what was your thinking behind this recording setup?
Each track on the record was recorded differently, and covers the most of the ways I generally work. The first track was a case of working on headphones and recording separate tracks and layering up, the second is a live recording and the final track was a one take effort in a practice room. I was keen to capture the different ways I work on the record, to give a more complete document.
It’s been two years since KOOE began. How has the project changed over this time? I understand that you consider Immaturity Of Movement to be the most accurate document of the project so far.
Knifedoutofexistence has changed from a small side project flirting with a style, or lack of style, I was interested in, to a full all-encompassing project that takes priority above all other ventures. Originally I didn’t care much at all for dynamics and quality, the more lo-fi the better. I think it was a kneejerk reaction at the time, wanting to do something completely unstructured compared to the more structured music I was involved in, whereas now I give an awful lot of consideration to the way a piece evolves and the path it takes, and recording wise I try to make things sound the best I can, or at least how intend them to. I certainly don’t now try to make it sound of the highest quality, but make appropriate level recordings. The concept behind it has really evolved and I have a very clear idea of it now. It’s become increasingly inward looking and analytical. I think I’m basically have a more mature attitude towards it now, and I also know what I’m doing a lot more, there’s a lot more experience behind it now. I definitely would say that, I think you get the best idea of what the project is like and about from it more so than any other release.
You’ve primarily released your music on cassette up until now. What is it about this medium that appeals to you in the context of KOOE?
I like analog formats for music, CDs just didn’t hold the same appeal for me. CDs, it seems to me at least, have become merely a medium to store music on before it’s put onto an iPod, where as tapes and records are more these physical objects of desire. Sonically, I also think that tape saturation suits extreme music, punk, grind, noise and so forth, very well and it just sounds right. I like the physical objects and they’re a reasonably cheap format to put out. I enjoy making artwork for a J Card more than I would a CD front and back, I like having this one little shape to spread everything over. Knifedoutofexistence is purely me and done for myself, so I only put things I’d buy. I don’t like CDs, and my flat is overrun with tapes, so it was no question for me what format I was going to primarily release on.
In knowing that this release was coming out on vinyl, did you approach the music differently at all? For me, there’s something more definitive and elaborate to vinyl in contrast to tape…
The music was approached in much the same way as normal, but just with a mind to improve on the past and make a complete feeling finished article. There was a conscious effort to keep a theme throughout the tracks and make them feel cohesive. I really tried to make each track interesting, and something that would appeal to and not bore me personally as a listener. Like you say, a real record feels like something much more than a tape. It feels like more of a statement and more serious release, so I approached it with that level of seriousness. I love records and a large amount of my time is spent doing things related to them and I wanted this release to have respect for the format that I do. I didn’t want it to be a throwaway one listen curiosity, I wanted it to be something that a person so inclined could really get something out of.
Perhaps this has already been addressed through previous answers, but how does limitation – in any of its forms – feature in your work?
I would say I am limited by the fact there is only me and four channels on my mixer. There’s only so much I can do with my own two hands, so that limits me. I enjoy that limitation thought as I think the minimalism keeps things from becoming too crowded and allows each element to have it’s place. Other than that, I try to afford myself as much freedom as possible within my work.
You play live a lot. In fact, you’re off on tour with Water Torture as we speak. What’s going through your head when you perform?
Since the age of around 17/18, playing live for me has become something I feel a need to do, so I do play as often as I can. When I play I usually go through three stages of thought, initially I will be concentrating on getting the sound correct and starting things going in the direction I planned so I can get myself into the mindset I need to be to perform. Once I have immersed myself, I will be thinking about the lyrical matter and all range of things connected to that, so typically I will be feeling very angry or frustrated at this point, towards the end and immediately after I’ll be thinking basically nothing if the set has gone correctly. When everything works, I feel incredibly calm and empty. Cleansed.
Aside from the aforementioned tour, what else is next for you?
There are splits with Upward and Wet Nurse ready to go, both of those should be out soon after tour. There’s split with Ruined, gloomy shoegaze from Grand Rapids, and VIIOFIX, drone from one of my best friends, planned too. I will be touring again in the UK in October as part of the Carrion Sunflower band. Working again with Cremation Lily will hopefully happen, I should be submitting some material for a collaborative project and playing some more shows. There are plans to release the live collaborations with dead wood, and also tour Norway with him at some point in 2015. Those shows may be with Svartvit also, if not, more shows with him too. Having that all written down in front of me makes me realise I have more than enough to get on with.
Thank you for taking the time to ask these questions. Love always.
knifedoutofexistence on Bandcamp – knifedoutofexistence.bandcamp.com