Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Evolution Control Committee

The Evolution Control Committee

I ran across The ECC's Double the Phat and Still Tasteless release at an independent record store in Minneapolis a little over ten years ago. Intrigued by the album's odd packaging, I was excited to find out it was a sound collage record and snatched it up right away (the CD came wrapped in a hollowed out floppy disc). Not too long after that, at another indie record store, I was pointed to their Compact Disctructions, a kit with instructions on how to destroy CDs in ways which resulted in "creative playback." Clearly this was a group worth exploring further!

The Evolution Control Committee is primarily Mark Gunderson (or TradeMark G.), although there is a larger collective involved on some level, in activities best left described by the ECC. I interviewed Mark in 2003 (download episode 57 for a great introduction to the project) and had him out to perform at both Theatre de la Jeune Lune and The Rogue Buddha Gallery that year. I wrote about these shows at length in this blog post from last year.

The ECC have released cassettes, vinyl, CDs and videos. They even claim to have released an album on Wax Cylinder, if you can find someone with a player! For more information about the ECC, read on or visit their website. I'd also recommend checking out my previous blog post about the group. Check it out HERE. Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with the ECC!

*Name: The Evolution Control Committee

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: The Evolution Control Committee, Music Division. A lot of people don't realize that we're actually just one division of The Evolution Control Committee, the policy-making organization for evolution. The ECC's mission is to plan and guide the flow of evolution in all areas of life: biological, political, artistic, etc. So, we're the division responsible for the world's musical evolution. Sometimes people incorrectly credit me (TradeMark G.) individually for The ECC's collective work. Additionally, some members (myself especially) have been involved with many other related projects of The Committee which are occasionally similar. A partial list of related projects: Cheese & Pants Theater, Gaga, The Weird Love Makers, MelloDeath, and The Mood Swingers.

*Do you use a pseudonym? er... ahem... well, my friends call me TradeMark, though my parents call me Mark Gunderson. You can choose which role you want to be.

Four or more, depending on how generous the upper management of The Evolution Control Committee is able to be... like many non-industry think-tanks, The ECC is often budgetarily thin. I'm the core member that you're most likely to associate the band with. In addition to me, you'll also see the names of my brother Mike Gunderson on the project, our DJ Pantshead (formerly DJ John Philip Suicide), my assistant Frillypants, as well as others.

*Founding Members: My brother and I, who launched The ECC's Music Division in 1986. (Which makes this year, 2006, our 20th anniversary!)

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations:
I can think of tracks which have been 100% of any single one of those methods, and many which are combinations of them. Nowadays, we definitely favor digital and use that almost exclusively.

*Another genre descriptor: We still like "Plagiarhythm.” I don't dislike "Plunderphonics,” but Oswald's style always seemed to treat rhythm and the beat like an unwanted child. We love it, and the term "plagiarhythm" makes that apparent. Nowadays "Mash-Up" is likely to swallow both of those terms into its scope, and I'm actually fine with that term (except, perhaps, for its awkward, epicurious sound to our American ears).

*Why you use this descriptor: I think it's pretty obvious -- "Plagiarhythm" is plagiarism with rhythm. And that describes our music perfectly.

*Location: Currently, San Francisco...

*Original Location: ...originally, Columbus Ohio. The Evolution Control Committee's main headquarters are still based there, with San Francisco as our new satellite, music-focused branch offices.

*What is your creative/artistic background: Classically trained in piano, trombone, violin; later self-taught in synthesizers/sound synthesis and accordion; much later unlearned most of it in favor of sampling/mashing. I have an equally abortive past with computers, and have a degree in computer science which kept me semi-gainfully employed at legendary has-been CompuServe, among others. I also was doing some microelectronics work when I was younger (around 13 and 14) which I've revisited to build things like our Thimbletron instrument.

*History: I co-founded the Music Division of The Evolution Control Committee in 1986, or at least, that was the earliest date that work under that name emerged.

*Born: My brother Mike and I are twins, and were born in 1966, in Columbus Ohio. Sorry, but I'm not too clear on the details of our DJ.

*Motivations: As mentioned previously, it's The ECC's mission to plan and guide evolution, so it's the Music Division's mission to apply that to the world of music. If The ECC's policy decisions say that humans will develop a sixth finger, we need to design instruments that use it. That's our job.

*Philosophy: We're probably best known for our sample-based music, and we do this to shed light on a glaring disparity: the idea of cut-and-paste is so basic that you learn it in kindergarten, with safety scissors in one hand, non-toxic paste in the other, and an old magazine and blank construction paper in front of you. And yet, if you had an art show of this work, it would attract a blizzard of cease and desist orders from a cadre of corporate intellectual property lawyers. In a world where pre-schoolers are outlaw artists, something is amiss.

*How would you like to be remembered: As the people who corrected that. We want to see remix culture legalized.

*Web address:


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