Solanic Interview with Scott Sturgis

Автор: : 28 December 2015

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Interview by Dmitry RecFrag
Translation by Katherine Pnevskaya

Interview with Scott Sturgis, the founder of such projects as Converter, Pain Station and Lowness. The author of the phenomenal album "Shock Front" which has changed the idea of sound and approach to writing post-industrial music.

- Who are you by education? What is your occupation now?
Scott: - Well, I didn’t go to college. I knew it wasn’t for me. Currently, I work from home in a sort of data entry position related to health insurance for Washington state’s lower income population.

- Do you have a family?
Scott: - I do. My wife of 20 years, Jenny, and our dog, Rain.

- Do you live in Seattle now? As a place with specific weather and atmosphere, does this city evoke certain mood? By the way, what is your attitude to Grunge?
Scott: - Yep, I’ve lived in Seattle for the past 15 years. Living here does evoke a certain mood, yes, but it’s different for everyone. Many people here love the nine months of clouds and rain so it doesn’t affect them emotionally. For others, it can be very difficult. But overall, it really isn’t as dour as you might think. People find ways to enjoy it. Me, I love the sun now more than I ever did and I value every chance I get to soak it in. I’m not a fan of the clouds.
As for grunge, I was never a fan. I think when it broke I was still listening to industrial only. I had a chance to see Nirvana at a very small venue in maybe 1990 or so, but I passed it up because what the hell did I care? They still play that shit on the radio here.

- Have your music taste changed over time? In particular early releases by Ant-Zen are still interesting for you?
Scott: - Oh yes, they have changed substantially. I listen to so many more types of music now than I did 10-15 years ago. I still find the early Ant-Zen releases very interesting, yes. I listened to all of it, so it’s still very much a part of me.

- What kind of equipment have you used for producing albums by Converter? Has it been changed from album to album (from project to project)? I heard that you've used only one sampler.
Scott: - I heard that you've used only one sampler. Everything I recorded from about 1995 to 2003 was written on the Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler only. Even vocals on the later Pain Station albums. In 2003 I bought a Roland MC-909, which was a terrible piece of equipment to work with. I still have it in the closet and I would almost rather smash it than sell it. With that plus the ASR-10, I wrote most of "Exit Ritual". I also recorded and performed the s.sturgis In a Haze CD with the MC-909 alone.

- After producing "Shock Front", did you have thoughts that you created something notable in comparison with others?
Scott: - No, not at all. It was a direction I was leaning toward with Pain Station and I just wanted to keep that idea going and try something new. I sent demo cassettes to Ant-Zen and one or two other labels. If I remember correctly, S.alt had the cassette in his car for a month or so, forgot about it, and then came across it again and contacted me.

- Which of your tracks, in your opinion, is the most successful?
Scott: - I guess it depends on what kind of successful you mean. If you mean within the scene, I suppose I’d have to say "Death Time". It seems to be the most well-known song.

- What is your approach to work on albums? Did you write some number of tracks and then compiled them in one album or it was initially created as a story? By the way, do you tend to combine a lot of material with some concept? Can you name your music ideological?
Scott: - The approach depends on the project. If we’re just talking Converter, it was mostly just a compilation from a selection of songs. I don’t think any of the releases had a specific theme, but instead more of an overall sound. I have written albums that were more concept and theme-oriented, but for other projects. I can’t really say that I have any sort of ideology to what I have written. I’m not a trained musician in any sense, so anything I’ve written has been sort of pieced together in whatever way felt right at the time.

- I find "Exit Ritual" the most heavy, dark and not-for-club release by Converter. And how do you see it? What is the idea of this album and what it expresses?
Scott: - "Exit Ritual" was an experiment for me in some ways. I was writing with a new piece of equipment (the MC-909) and trying to combine some part of the older Converter sound while attempting new things with the new piece of equipment. Some of the more ambient songs were written on the ASR-10 alone, so they sound a bit different. I also did a lot of post-production editing with software so that was something new as well. I wanted the album to express a sort of ritualistic vibe in the sense that you can sit and listen and sort of trance out to the repetitive nature of the songs, whether they are sort of quiet or in-your-face harsh.

- How often have you played live? Which performance is the most memorable for you?
Scott: - I honestly have no idea how many live shows I played over the years. Not nearly as many as most acts for sure. I stopped playing live a little over 10 years ago, basically because I’m not comfortable in the spotlight so to speak. The most memorable show was for sure Maschinenfest 2000. It was an absolutely amazing and life-changing experience for me.

- Do you focus on visuals? If you had a possibility to make a movie, would you like to try your hand in it?
Scott: - I’m definitely a fan of the visual arts, but I’m in no way creatively gifted in that area. I did create my own backing visuals that were projected during a few performances, but it was very lo-fi from VHS. I don’t think I would have the confidence to even attempt to make a movie, even if it was just me working on it alone.

- Why have you decided to stop working on the project Converter? Are you planning to revive it?
Scott: - I feel like I accomplished what I wanted to with Converter creatively, so I was satisfied with my output and felt like it was time to try something different. I have no plans to revive it, no.

- I would like to ask you about your side-project Lowness. What is the concept? Are the other releases planned?
Scott: - There was never an overall concept for Lowness and that’s intentional. I just wanted to use it as a vehicle to explore approaches to writing that I hadn’t attempted before. For example, utilizing guitar on the "Undertow" album. I have no plans for future releases at this time, but it’s a possibility in the future.

- Was it easy for you to delimitate your projects?
Scott: - I think so, because I felt like each project I worked on had its own purpose and its own approach when it came to writing for it.

- Tell about Auricle Media label. Who came up with the idea to found it? What is approach to selection and producing releases?
Scott: - I think the idea for Auricle Media was pretty much mutual between myself and Karloz. We both wanted to create an outlet to release our own side project ideas by our own hands (Notime, Broken Fabiola). We tried to grow from there and it didn’t really work out, but I think Karloz carried on with it.

- Could you name some events, people or things which have made you who you are now?
Scott: - Seeing KISS live in 1979 shaped the rest of my life.

- How do you rest usually? Do you have a hobby?
Scott: - I like to spend time outdoors when the weather permits. Taking walks with my wife and dog, riding bicycles on one of the many trails in the area, spending time near the water or just hanging out in the backyard. Indoors, I watch a lot of NHL and NFL (Pittsburgh Penguins/Pittsburgh Steelers) when they are in season.

- Do you keep an eye on noise scene now? Can you distinguish something special? Or what kind of music is close to you now?
Scott: - I don’t pay much attention to it, no. Aside from various releases that I receive from Ant-Zen, I really don’t listen to it at all anymore so I don’t know what the trends are nowadays. I listen to a bit of almost everything. Noisy indie rock, psychedelic, metal, stoner rock, classic rock, blues, jazz, funk, dub reggae, old hardcore, hip hop. Pretty much everything but the current pop garbage on the radio, country music and classical music.

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