Sound Field


Noise and Experimental Music Is for Everyone

Dreamcrusher is a rising star in the world of noise and experimental music. Here our host Linda Diaz meets up with them to talk about their sound and the diverse history of experimental music. From artists like Sun Ra and Julius Eastman to musicians like Wendy Carlos and İlhan Mimaroğlu. We also got to see a socially distanced, life changing Dreamcrusher performance.

AIRED: October 21, 2020 | 0:12:44

- When we asked who you wanted to see on Sound Field,

this is what you said.

(noise music)

In the world of avant-garde music,

historians mostly talk about white man's contributions

to the genre.

Oftentimes overlooking the presence and musical offerings

of the LGBTQ, black and POC artists.

We wanna explore noise music, its origins

and the underrepresented artists who create noise

and experimental music.

One of those artists is the rising

underground musician Dreamcrusher.

- I should make this very clear.

I mainly call myself a noise musician

because white people hate when I do that.

My music's a bunch of different stuff.

You could like classify it as noise,

but I'm really not into the whole genre purism thing.

I think it's really whack.

- My usual co-host Nahre Sol is off working on her album.

So I asked musician and vocalist Linda Diaz to meet up

with Dreamcrusher in New York city.

(noise music)

- Who comes to your shows?

And if it is a lot of like black queer people

and or artists, how does that influence them?

Or how do you feel

like that impacts them at your shows?

- Historically with punk shows or noise shows or whatever.

So many queer people

and just young people in POC, like don't feel comfortable.

(noise music)

Like a lot of queer kids come to my shows now.

It is nice to like say that you're a thing

and people who are also that thing feel affirmed

by it and show up and show their face

to you and tell you how your work affected them.

That's like, it's amazing.

And it gives more meaning to the work, which is cool.

(noise music)

- So what is noise music?

Noise is hard to define and most people agree

that it's subjective.

As music theorist Torben Sangild put it,

"What is noise to one person can be meaningful to another;

what was considered an unpleasant

sound yesterday is not today."

The term noise dates back to 1913 when futurist artist

and musician Luigi Russolo published

his groundbreaking manifesto,

'The Art of Noises'.

Russolo said that the industrial revolution created

an entirely new landscape of sounds to explore.

The noises of metal screeching and the construction

of skyscrapers gave listeners a

greater capacity to experience new sounds.

Another influence on composes of the era was

World Wars one and two.

Life was a lot bleaker back then

which led a lot of musicians and composers to experiment

and move away from melodic music.

Since then, the genre has been shaped

by art movements such as Dada and Surrealism.

One of the greatest influences

in noise has been the Fluxus movement.

These artists emphasize the artistic process

over the finished product.

Listen to Ben Patterson's paper piece

which was created by giving five performers pieces of paper

and directions on how to crumble, scrub, and twist them.

Ben Patterson, a black artist born in 1934 was one

of the co-founders of the Fluxus movement.

But his contributions are often overlooked for his peers

like Yoko Ono and John Cage.

This gets us back to Dreamcrusher, performing

at Saint Vitus bar in Brooklyn, New York.

(noise music)

What does your music sound like

or how do you make a song?

- There was this kid that like, had never gone to a show

of mine before that like walked up to me.

It was probably in Philly.

I feel like kids are a lot more vocal in Philly.

Then he walks up to me and he goes,

"That sounded like a plane crashing

for like half an hour."

(noise music)

I make all my music mainly on a computer.

More recently I've been using a lot more samples.

Yeah I make like 90% of my own sound effects

and stuff like that.

I just downloaded a program.

Honestly I still don't know what I'm doing.

I just like mess with stuff.

And then like, hopefully it comes out right.

- What program did you start on?

Like, was it like a garage band situation?

Was it like a phone, voice note type thing?

I still do most of my vocals on my phone.

I still use FL Studio for literally the first 12 years

that I made anything.

It was the trial version

and I couldn't save anything.

And then if I like, didn't like how it came

out I would like just do it again.

(noise music)

Dreamcrusher's ability to record,

distribute, and design their own handmade tapes

and albums, perform hundreds of shows

and create heavily nuanced soundscapes with socially

and politically charged lyrics has made them a staple

in the world of postmodern noise music.

- I mean, put it like this

like, one of the times we played together

and Allusive saw you, was just like, Oh, it sounds

like a planet is being born.

And I was like, yeah, yes.

- That's what he said?

- Yeah.

But essentially, yeah, you were a world builder

and also just like a sweet, like projecting

of love type of person.

You know what I mean?

Like there was a genuine sort of sense

in your spirit and what not, so.

(noise music)

- Like when you first moved

to New York, how many shows were you playing?

- Oh yeah, oh yeah.

I've played like, I think 108 shows in 2015

when I first moved here.

- [Linda] What!

- I didn't have a place to live and whoever I was playing

with, I would just like, hey, anybody got a couch?

And I was like sleeping at Penn station for a little bit.

It was like, that was a mess.

But like I made it to shows on time,

did sound check and everything like, ay.

- [Linda] Do a lot of people think

of you as like the first to do what you're doing?

- I think a lot of people think

that, or it's the first time they've seen somebody

like me make it.

And that's a lie.

(noise music)

Although Dreamcrusher exerts their strong beliefs

on individualism in their music and art.

They also consider themselves to be a part

of a community of black, POC and queer noise musicians.

They told the fader,

"I always ask people to research the history

of people of color in noise and queer people in noise.

People aren't paying attention to that.

So my main mission is that I want people to stop treating me

like I'm an anomaly.

Because I'm not."

One of Dreamcrushers musical influences

is the renowned Japanese noise artist Merzbow.

Since the 70s and 1980s, Japan has been a

leading creator of noise music.

So much so that the music scene inspired its

own sub-genre called Japanoise.

Music Journalist Cleary Mallard writes,

"Noise takes it further than any other genre.

Rhythm, melody, lyrics, standard instruments:

all forgotten... Across the world

people experiment with this style, but Japanoise was one

of the greatest catalysts for its existence today."

Fans like Hijokaiden and Melt-Banana thrashed

into the North American music lexicon creating

a globalized alternative, and more importantly, a level

of equality with white noise bands like Sonic Youth

and Psychic TV.

Dreamcrusher was even featured

on a compilation curated by Adult Swim, entitled 'noise'

alongside the music of Merzbow and Melt-Banana.

But wait, the connection runs even deeper.

Masami Akita of Merzbow and Dreamcrusher

are both influenced by free-jazz and the other worldly

music experimentalists Sun Ra.

(jazz music)

Free-Jazz is a form of tonal experimentation

which approaches jazz improvisation in unconventional ways

such as deconstructing chords and tempos

to create discordant compositions in the 1950s

and 1960s.

Artists like Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor,

and poet and musician, Amiri Baraka, all rejected

traditional jazz composition to map new territory

and open doors for experimental black artists to rebel

against resonant, syncopated, politically neutral music.

Instead, these artists spoke their minds

about the times they were living in.

The rise of modern recording and sound processing

techniques, specifically distortion also influenced

the development of electronic and noise music.

An example of this is the practice Musique Concrete.

Where the composer edits and distorts recorded

sounds to make a piece of music.

Listen to 'Wings of The Delirious Demon'

by Ilhan Mimaroglu, composed

by manipulating the pitch of a clarinet recording.

The invention of the Moog synthesizer

in 1964 was a breakthrough for experimental musicians.

These instruments are the precursors to a lot

of computer generated sounds heard in experimental

and noise music.

The instrument was brought into the mainstream

by transgender artist, Wendy Carlos and her album

'Switched-On Bach' in 1968.

She later went on to produce synthesize soundtracks

for Stanley Kubrick's 'Clockwork Orange' and 'The Shining'.

So how were you inspired by Wendy Carlos?

- My mom's a big cinephile and one of the first like movies

from like her era was 'Clockwork Orange'.

It's so sick to see like something

like that, because, so I don't know.

I just, almost every other image of music I ever saw was

like people playing real instruments.

- New York's downtown music scene was also an influence

on the formation of noise music.

Set off by Yoko Ono in 1960 when she opened

her downtown loft for unconventional music performances.

The live music downtown differed

from the more traditional classical music played uptown

by the Lincoln Center.

One of the musicians of New York's downtown scene

what's minimalist composer, Julius Eastman.

A lot of his avant-garde compositions focused

on his identity as a black queer man.

Why do your fans love you so much?

Why do they love your music?

(noise music)

- I hope it's because they escaped through my work.

I hope that it's because I provide

something very unique musically for them.

(noise music)

I don't see a lot of black non binary people like being

in Pitchfork and Stereogum like on NPR or PBS.


But like, I hope that like, people seeing

me will like open the, not open the flood gates necessarily.

Cause hey, they ain't that many of us, but there's enough

of us to like, come on.

- Do you feel like it is a political act,

the art that you make,

or you as an artist?

- I'm just making things that make me happy.

If that's what it takes to affirm other black queer artists

or people of color who want to make

something that they didn't grow up around

or like get any affirmation from it.

And it's like, all right, like I want

to like be able to make space for them too.

(noise music)

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One last thing before I go,

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