Sunday, March 12, 2006

March 13, 2006: Animals Within Animals

March 13, 2006: Animals Within Animals

Uploading earlier made a world of difference, so I'm going to continue to upload each week's podcast on Sunday afternoons. What this means for those of you who use iTunes, is that (hopefully) the podcast should be available there by Monday, or Tuesday at the latest. So, enjoy! Episode 94 is on the way...

This week's Some Assembly Required Q&A is with Animals Within Animal's co-founder, stAllio! I have no idea how to punctuate that sentence - because he actually spells his name that way, with an exclamation point - so I guess I should put a period at the end, but it didn't seem right, somehow... Anyway - stAllio! is a writer and copy editor, living in Indiana, and he submitted some very detailed answers about Animals Within Animals for the SAR Q&A, which I will publish here in their entirety...

Animals Within Animals is a collective which boasts over thirty members, though the core membership is somewhere between a more traditional five-piece (at least when playing live), to a group of just over 25. They currently have three releases under their collective belt, and have appeared on a half dozen compilations, including Dictionaraoke and Free Speech For Sale. With a roster of this size, I could go on and on about all the different projects and activities, but this is going to be a much longer post than average, as it is, so... Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with stAllio! of Animals Within Animals...


Animals Within Animals

*Name: Animals Within Animals

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: We generally abbreviate it AWIA. Personally I'm not big on using uppercase letters so I abbreviate it awia. We're cool with however you want to spell it, but I like to spell it that way because it lets me rip off the logo from the aiwa corporation.

*Do you use a pseudonym? Generally, all the group's collaborators use pseudonyms. Obviously stAllio! is not my given name (though I understand Stallio is Italian for Stanley, and in Italian, Laurel and Hardy are called "Stallio e Ollio").

*Members: AWIA is a loosely organized collective. Membership rules are very relaxed. Some of our members do little other than collect (or create) a few samples. Other members (like me) also put in a lot of time actually producing the music that we release. As such, it is very difficult to give a true (and meaningful) number of band members without categorizing them into groups such as active, inactive, potential, etc. If we included everyone, including those who have technically not done any work yet, it would be something like 30-40 or more people, but only a small number of us play a significant role in the group. When we play live, we typically have 2-5 or so get together onstage. Only a handful of the 30-40 people have been involved with our live shows.

*Founding Member: The band was founded by me and Lander Kitt. For years, we promoted Lander Kitt as an extremely reclusive artist who never traveled, appeared in public, or even answered his email. There was an interview with him around '99 or so, but that was the extent of his public communication. Eventually it was revealed that Lander Kitt was in fact a brown tabby cat, which was why he never left the house or answered emails. Lander eventually passed away this January. I must note that anytime Lander was credited with performing in a track, the track did involve sounds he'd generated, whether by meowing, walking across a keyboard/sampler, purring, etc. I even thought about releasing a Lander Kitt solo album, but he was a quiet cat and not easy to record, and with his passing that will now never happen. It might have been interesting, though. Other members from those early days include Dr. Butcher M.D., murkbox, Mainline Crux, and Chicklet McSexy. They are all humans.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: We're more digital than anything else, but …different members work differently. We have some members (like unszene) who work primarily with tape. Other members (most notably bobby vomit) work mostly with vinyl. Our first release, "Yard Ape," was mostly analog, recorded on a 4-track, but our subsequent material has been predominantly digital.

*Another genre descriptor: I generally describe it as somewhere between collage and hardcore/harsh noise.

*Location: Much of the band is located in central Indiana, primarily Indianapolis, but also Muncie, Bloomington, and surrounding areas. All the members of the "live" version of the band generally live in this area, but because of the group's open collaborative nature, we have worked online with a number of people from both coasts as well as Canada. We have never met most of these non-midwestern members in person.

*What is your creative/artistic background: I have a BA in writing and work as a copy editor in the publishing industry. I was always interested in music but wasn't good with traditional instruments, so I wasn't really able to do much with music until I got into recording tech and computer composition, etc. Several of our other members have art degrees and/or have backgrounds in rock music, dance/rave music, etc.

*History: AWIA was founded in 1999. I'd already been making music for a few years at that point.

*Motivations: This is really hard to answer. I create because I am compelled to and it's fun. I make the kinds of music and art that I find interesting (and that I can figure out how to do). I've always been interested in ironic juxtapositions, so when I got into sampling and collage it felt very natural. Hopefully, my answer below gets at what you're looking for.

I founded AWIA because I'd been making solo music for a few years and I wanted to collaborate with other people. I wanted my collaborations to be productive, so that if I only made 1 or 2 tracks with someone, I would have somewhere to put those tracks, rather than having 20 unfinished side projects. So, I created Animals Within Animals as a "catch all" project, sort of modeled after the band Pigface, where I could put anything I 'd done with other people and call it a "band."

Not long after that I started to get really into Negativland and audio collage, and so everything I did in that vein got the AWIA name stamped on it regardless of whether other people worked on it. Eventually, I realized I wouldn't be able to keep the collage side out of my solo work and stopped doing that.

Some time after that, AWIA started doing live shows, primarily for the recycled rainbow events in Cleveland. At that point, the band changed again, becoming much more raw and noisy (which was sort of where we'd started out).

It's hard to say exactly what AWIA is or what we're about at any moment. It's partly about doing interesting work and collaborating with other people. We don't always collaborate as much as I'd like--many of our tracks only have one "producer," regardless where the samples come from--but I like hearing what other members are doing, being influenced by that, letting our records go in directions I wouldn't have expected.

I like making stuff that's funny, stuff that's political and humorous at the same time, or stuff that creates cognitive dissonance; and I also like finding unusual sounds and making beats and stuff like that. I don't want to be stereotyped as jokey or novelty music. I really despise that term "novelty music."

For me, AWIA's music is about samples and noise. Beyond that, it's really about whatever we want it to be at that moment. The stuff we're working on now is kind of about merging the divergent aspects of the group, the meticulously composed studio work vs. the really raw, noisy live version of the band. Part of it is remixing our old live material into new compositions. Right now I'm really interested in exploring a kind of hyper-editing where I take lots of different little noises and splice them together in a rapid fashion. It's kind of like musique concrete except there's a funny/obscene vocal sample every 15-30 seconds. Other members might put a different spin on it. And after we're done with our new record (tentatively titled "Parts is Parts"), I can't guess what might come next.

*How would you like to be remembered: Fondly. Simply being remembered in a field like this is significant. If people are still listening to AWIA however many years from now, that in itself would be great.

*Web address:


Thanks to stAllio! and Animals Within Animals for this week's SAR Q&A! Check out their website for lots more information about the band's many members and side projects.

Stay tuned for episode 94, featuring a track by Animals Within Animals and 16 other appropriation-based sound collage artists from around the world. Enjoy!
Thanks for listening,
Jon Nelson


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