(Rules of The Gauntlet: The artist (in this case Vexillary) is sent a butt ton of questions ranging from standard to stupid from which they must choose at least 12 to answer and return them to us with a minimum of tear stains).
Tell me about your new album. The writing, vibe, production/producers, etc.
Yes, it’s called SurViolence and I’m very excited to share it with the world. Conceptually the record is about the unease of life in our modern day society. How decisions are made for us that we never really know if they’re for our own good or not. The title, SurViolence, refers to the vulgarity of surveillance culture and its political roots. It’s really a concept record at its core, looking back, it’s hard to tell the fiction apart from the reality.
Sonically, it builds on the industrial vibe of my latest work, The Brutalist and CrossFire EP. It takes on those classic sounds but adds a unique flavor to each track for a more modern take. There’s lots of variety on the record but it somehow finds a unique balance and stays focused throughout. Very proud of this one. Hope you guys dig.
What are you working on right now?
Venturing into the video production universe. Just putting the finishing touches on the video for the song ‘Maritime Panic’. It’s a collaboration with visual artist and motion graphics expert Luqman Ashaari. I’m taking on the producer and the director role which are new to me so I’m very close with the creation of it. It mashes up Lovecraftian horror elements with body horror vibes while maintaining a contemporary art look and feel. Very thrilled to actually get this one produced after another video idea fell apart earlier in the year. A second video might also be in the works depending on the timing of everything.
How often do you work on your music?
As often as possible. There’s always a track being put together in one shape or form on Ableton Live (the DAW I use to make songs with). I have an aversion to going on long periods without recording and it’s just a good way to stay creative and constantly try something new.
This record promo cycle is the first time I’m not recording for a couple of weeks to focus on promoting the record and all that goes with it. I know the minute I turn the gear back on I’ll be sucked fully into that world. I have a solid idea of what the next record should sound like. So can’t wait, to bring it to life.
Who are your influences?
Musically it’s Coil, Skinny Puppy, Autechre and Depeche Mode mostly. Coil helped me explore my experimental side and the sonic exploration aspects. Autechre and other Warp Records stuff really got me into the abstract side of techno and bass a while back. Skinny Puppy and other electro industrial and EBM acts really shaped my beat making process and brought in the horror influences. I’d have to also list Depeche mode in there in terms of the melodic sensibility and their influence on techno music.
Lyrically, I’m inspired by the words of French writers and poets like Baudelaire and JK Huysmans. Really rich and decadent stuff exploring obscure subjects.
Visually, I’m all about classic movies. Horror soundtracks are a more obvious influence and not to forget about sci-fi sounds and themes. Decadent symbolic artist like Gustave Moreau and his disciples have always been an inspiration when it comes to the mood of my work. Lots of precursors to surrealism there.
What legendary musicians would you like to play badminton with?
Me and David Lee Roth on the same team vs Al Jourgensen and Robert Smith. Dave might get competitive though, I can see him get very serious all of the sudden. But the whole thing would be an excuse to get drinks after with these guys. The guitar players on the court would have the upper hand though so would be a tough match.
What’s the most embarrassing band you listen to?
Lots of hair metal to be honest. Big fan of all of that and the big guitar solos and the gang style vocals. Some of those productions sound huge to this day.
Part of the attraction is the lifestyle aspect. I remember seeing Motley Crue on their farewell tour and there were tons of younger fans. It felt like they were selling a lifestyle more than anything which is why newer generations were tagging along. Doesn’t hurt that they also have songs that stand the test of time.
Describe your face.
Dynamic. I definitely don’t have a poker face and I’m generally easy to read. Pretty elastic too so probably ripe for physical comedy and somewhat pretty I must say. Somewhat.
Stella or Guinness? Why?
Stella for me. I love the lighter beers like a Peroni (very similar to Stella) in the summertime especially. They are easier to drink and remind me of vacationing in Italy. Although, Modelo is quickly becoming a favorite. Been a bit of a journey to get here. I used to be way more adventurous with my selections with lots of heavier Belgium beers in the mix. A good German Kolsch also always does the trick.
Where do your song names come from?
Depends on the inspiration behind the music. Some draw from personal experiences, and other are more abstract. The Brutalist was taken after the architecture movement of the same title and then the song followed with a menacing and yet imposing vibe. With my upcoming release, SurViolence. I’m reflecting my external observations. It’s all about the world outside and the society and the song titles reflect that.
Top five favorite albums?
Tough to narrow down but pretty happy with these at the moment:
1: Coil—Love’s Secret Domain
2: Depeche Mode—Violator
3: Aphex Twin—Selected Ambient Works 85-92
4: Skinny Puppy—Too Dark Park
5: Bathory—Under the Sign of the Black Mark
What master musicians would you like to study with?
Here’s what the ideal curriculum would look like for me. Keeping the list focused on the sort of areas that I’m already working in:
Advanced drum programming: Shackleton and Photek
Mixing: Adrian Sherwood and Pole
Songwriting: Martin Gore
Synthesis and production: Trent Reznor
Development and growth: Daniel Miller
DJ and live performance: Richie Hawtin/Plastikman
Are you artsy or are you fartsy? Explain.
Generally pretty artsy but can get pretty fartsy after a certain Persian dish called Ghormeh Sabzi. It’s pretty heavy on the red beans so don’t judge.
Worst thing ever eaten?
Got pretty adventurous with the Swedish appetizers the last time I was there. They prepared pickled herring 4 ways one night but unfortunately neither form ended up sitting well with me. Nothing their awesome desserts didn’t make up for though. A good Daim cake is hard to beat.
If you had a time machine what would you do with it?
I’d go back to any year but 2020. Your pick. Surprise me. Drinking Absinth with French artists and poets in 19th century Paris would be a dream though.