Thank you so much for donating your time to us. How is the summertime starting for you?
MB > Loving the temperature and hating the sunlight.
To get a concrete start, could you please give a few pointers to who and what you are?
MB > I have been trying to figure that out for years! In regards to music I am just a guy that creates soundscapes to accent and vent thoughts and feelings a conversation cannot express.
Something I always wonder about for experimental composers: What is your first recollection of sound? What ignited your will to do something with sound?
MB > According to my Mom I was drawn to sound before I was born. Supposedly I would kick when she blasted music while she was preg. I have a weird eidetic memory and remember fixating on the faint buzzing and vibration the pipes in the walls in my bedroom made when I was about 5. I spent a lot of time in hospitals and private mental institutions and had so many CT scans and EEG's and experimental sleep studies when I was a kid and feel like my brain was somehow circuit bent into a weird DIY synthesizer. There were a lot of interesting sounds in those places an out of boredom and a lack of interest in everything involving other people I would lay in my bed for hours and silently talk to the thoughts inside my head alongside the electronic beeping that seemed burned in my brain from all the tests they did. I was about 6 when that started and growing up like that I completely lost interest in traditional harmony and some mainstream sound.
From 6-17 I was doped up on so much medication I practically had my own satellite radio in my head. When the time came to interact with others and leave my head it was hard for me to take things like Madonna seriously. It took time and patience to open my mind, accept, learn and adjust to the general mainstream and when I did I guess I took the good parts and left the rest. Anything I have felt through my life I felt intensely and to a point where I could not express it completely with actions or words. Music has helped me to express these things better than anything else I have tried and still not completely. I have lived an extreme life complete with Roadblocks, helicopters, water divers and K-9's after I ran away at 10, driving the janitors car into my school at 15, you name it. I did all of that to express myself because words weren't enough and all I needed was a laptop, a guitar and to be left the fuck alone. Once I realized I should have never been on medication and hospitalized I stopped being depressed and thinking all the time and I started getting very angry and could no longer talk to my thoughts like I used to. I was traumatized and that is when I found music.
I have put 20+ years of those sounds and thoughts into my music. Though I have moved past the initial inspiration and train of thought I had in those hospitals I did revisit it all and I used it to guide me through the creative process. "Medicine" and "Rites of Zen" were written strictly with those sounds. Those experiences wrote the music. The siren sample in "Psychological Warfare" represents a siren that haunted me most of my life which I initially heard at a miserable place called HCA Riveredge Hospital. I love that you asked this question because I have never really answered it and often wonder the same thing about other musicians like Genesis P-Orrige and Steven Stapleton. I can't understand doing what they do without a similar motive or experience so it would be nice to know what more could inspire such a cerebral outpour of creativity. At times it is too much for me to focus on the past or particular emotions, thoughts and experiences so I will try to create a balance between the abstract and the experience.
Do you have any formal training in music or are you self-taught?
MB > I am self-taught.
Now, I've become acquainted with a couple of your works and I'm very impressed with your sounds. Would you care to shed light upon the themes and moods you want channel?
MB > It all depends on the place and the time. "Medicine" and "Rites of Zen", which I did in 2009 are basically transcripts of thoughts and emotional states through an experience from my childhood. "Medicine" and "Rites of Zen" are roughly sound paintings of a traumatized and mentally disturbed child and the titles are all separate images that are unrelated. "Psychological Warfare" which I did in 2005 and released in 2006 has a more structured sound more musically inspired by Godflesh but lyrically inspired by the psychological system and organized religion. Two of three things that raped me out of a childhood and two things that fuck us all up.
"NREM" which I released this year after once again revisiting my childhood and translating thoughts. "Il Sesso Che Uccide" which I also released this year is inspired by destructive people I have known in the last few years. I transcribed cracks in a sidewalk, broken windows and the texture of a crumbled photo into chord structures for many tracks. The last track I finished which will be on a future release is undoubtedly the most emotional track I have done and was written from a transcribed electrocardiography chart.
In a review I noted that the song titles and the music of "Medicine" speak two different languages. What are your views on the subject?
MB > There have been many comments about the song titles but this is why I just say "Watch Terry Gilliam's 'Tideland".
In what way do you feel the cover art and titles are bound to your music? How do you build up the whole concept?
MB > I am not a graphic artist and when I decided to record and release music cover art was not in mind. I never even thought about releasing music until an ex started releasing it for me. Writing and recording is all I wanted to do and when I was done with that I would stare at this list from hell: track list, cue sheet, mastering, cover art, manufacturing, distribution, press release, promotion, kill yourself. I don't know how anyone does that. It's miserable and it's exhausting.
After receiving e-mails and feedback from people I continued releasing music because it really meant a lot to me and that is all I wanted. If a few people relate or get something out of it then I guess the extra work isn't so bad. I usually hire an artist for the layout because I put so much into my music and feel it deserves more than a plain background with a name and a title. I am very content with the "Psychological Warfare" layout and think it perfectly represents the music. I love what Niels Geybels did for both "Medicine" and "NREM" and think they both perfectly represent the music. I love the photo Nick Flandro took of me for "Il Sesso Che Uccide". 'Rites of Zen" was a failure but also a learning experience.
How is the creative process for you from start to end? Do you have trouble finding inspiration?
MB > I never set out to be an artist or create for the sake of creating so I only create when I am inspired. I have no interest in artistic expression when I am uninspired or otherwise content. Getting the necessary gear and materials for my material is where my creative issues begin. I can lay dormant for 2 years and one day wake up with the need to create being stronger than my need for food, sleep and shelter. There are times where I feel very supressed or bored and wish I had a consitant creative outlet but I haven't found that yet.
The creative process for me is intense and typically happens when I am in a very dark or dangerous state. When I recorded "Medicine" I did not sleep for about 5 days, I was nearly catatonic and self-destructive for example. When Tim and I recorded the Sick Spider demos I was a completly different person. All of those songs were about other people and their life or situation. I would mentally put myself in their place and write the song through how I imagined them relating to their own personal situation. I was ridiculously happy that year and very uninspired but given an opportunity I wanted to take so for each song I was someone else.
There was only one track uninspired by other people and that was "Star" which was about a life changing epiphany on psilocybin mushrooms. There are dozens of unreleased tracks I have done over the years and they all have long stories. I guess my process depends on my mental state and what I am trying to do. I spent 2 years living in warehouses with dozens of other musicians in the mid 00's and then a few months in a rehearsal space on the west side of Chicago. Those were some of the darkest days of my life and looking back I think music created that and that scares me as well as it confuses me.
Thinking of the different seasons, when are you most creative? Which season do you find most inspiring?
MB > I have noticed a drastic change in sound through the seasons. During winter I seem completely focused on working completely alone on dark ambient, improv and minimal experimental soundscapes and in the summer I seem very dependent on other musicians and strictly into different subgrnres of rock music with very little recording. I love to dance to fast drums and lose myself in it. The few shows I have done were always during the summer.
Can you describe your own evolution as a musician and composer?
MB > I don't think there is evolution. I don't really see a difference. In 2005 and 2006 I was strictly noise and metal and I am more new age I guess.
What do you think of musical collaborations? Is there someone you would really like to work with?
MB > I have actually worked with a lot of people now that I think about it. Not all was recorded though and barely any was released. There have been about a dozen bands I tried to start or was a part of where a song or two was recorded and then something crazy would happen and then everything was over and one or the other would deny the approval to release the music if there was anything concrete to even release. What do you even do when you only have a song or two when the band is no longer?
A lot of really disturbing things have happened with these bands and other solo musicians I have known, worked with, lived with or dated. I am sort of scared and try to avoid musicians in general right now. I guess it would be inappropriate or immature to drop names. There is not one musician I want to meet or work with at all except maybe David Lynch but that will never happen.
Do you have any words to summarize this interview?
MB > I guess I would just like to mention that I am fucking disgusted with what commercial music has turned into during the last decade.
Many thanks again for sharing your thoughts and time with us!
MB > Thank you for the invitation!