Friday, November 30, 2007

Wesley Nisker

Wesley Nisker

A little over ten years ago, I happily stumbled across a book called "Crazy Wisdom." The paperback advertised itself as A provocative romp through the philosophies of East and West. A quote on the back said the book would serve as the missing link between sit-down meditation and stand-up comedy. Of course, I bought and read it right away. I've since referred to it as a kind of life-long companion... So very much of it rang so very true, for me, especially at the time.

"Crazy Wisdom" was written by Wes "Scoop" Nisker, and it was only after recently re-reading the book that I noticed in the introduction (I must have skipped it the first time around) that the author is also a sound collage artist! My interest in sound collage pre-dates having read this book, which is why it's strange I somehow missed this fact initially, especially considering what an impact his book had on me at the time. I was in my mid-twenties and for the first time allowing myself to really think critically/creatively about the concept of meaning in a meaningless universe... Hopefully you've made your way through a period like this at some point in your own life as well. If not, check out this book if you want to get started.

Nisker was a newscaster and commentator, from 1968, at a radio station known as a voice of the anti-war movement, and had the freedom there to present his views in the form of some seriously edited audio tape, featuring the voices of then-current politicians, rock and roll samples, sound effects and other recordings of the era. The results were broadcast at KSAN in the late sixties and seventies and the best tracks were, more recently, put together on one CD for a program on National Public Radio.

He's worked as a morning show radio host, in addition to his roles as radio producer and commentator, and is cofounder (and coeditor) of the International Buddhist journal, Inquiring Mind. He's won The Armstrong Award for excellence in FM programming (1976), and The Bay Area Media Alliance Meritorious Achievement Award (1986). He's a comedian, author, Buddhist meditation instructor and sound collage artist...

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Wes "Scoop" Nisker...

*Name: Wesley Nisker

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: Wes “Scoop” Nisker

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Tape manipulations, with a razor blade.

*Another genre descriptor: The only news you can dance to.

*Is there a story behind your name? I got my nickname Scoop in the late 60's, when I was the news commentator for the infamous underground station KSAN in San Francisco, and was receiving communiques from various groups about their protests and manifestos. I also had an inside witness to the Chicago Conspiracy trial, and the DJ's started calling me "the Scoop."

Berkely, California

*Original Location: Norfolk, Nebraska.

*What is your creative/artistic background: Comedy, journalism, philosophy, Buddhism.

*History: 39 years.

*Born: I was born in 1942, just before the "baby boom" in a small town, Norfolk, Nebraska. I was the only Jewish kid in my schools, and as I grew up, which may have been the beginning of my life as an "outsider." It's all detailed in my book "The Big Bang, The Buddha, and the Baby Boom."
*Motivations: Women, peace in the world, and money.

*Philosophy: You must get people's attention if you want to tell them something.

*How would you like to be remembered: As I am.

*Web address:

Episode 194, Some Assembly Required

Episode 194, Some Assembly Required

01 Double Dee & Steinski – “Voice mail (the sugarhill suite)”
02 Wes Nisker – “Untitled - Track 04”
03 DJ Design - “Never Be The Same”
04 Team 9 – “Screaming pro”
05 Stark Effect – “The Real Thing”
06 Listen With Sarah – “Ramblin' Andy”
07 The Bran Flakes - “Kitty Takes A Ride (Kitty Mix Up)”
08 Joe Frawley – “Cabin Fever (Tangerine, Part I)”
09 Lenlow – “Last night”
10 89 Skratch Gangstaz – “Director's Cut”
11 The Tape-beatles – “The American Adventure”
12 People Like Us – “Like”
13 Wayne Butane – “WB-Backwash11”
14 Girl Talk – “Smash Your Head”
15 Go Home Productions - “If Your Girl Was Stoned”

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Steve McQuillen

Steve McQuillen

Steve McQuillen is an artist who I have to say I've always had to hesitate to play, on the show, thanks entirely to the project name he was using. I'm still not sure if it's legal to say it on the air, though I have on occasion. Read his Q&A below, for a full explanation...

He's a sound collage artist who has worked very hard at his craft though, so of course I have to give him credit, though I do still worry about whether it's okay to actually give him credit, when I play his stuff on the airwaves. Who knows what the standards of decency are from one area to the next, in this country (the rules change from one neighborhood to another, as I understand things). So, this might be a good story to illustrate the value of choosing a name wisely...

Or not. A lot of sound artists are much more focused on the internet these days, and the on-air radio programs which will actually air this type of material are extremely few and far between.

He's a huge Negativland fan, and a proud member of the Snuggles Collective, an email newsgroup for audiophiles, culture jammers, and digital cut-and-paste collage artists which began as a fan club for the band. There are soundfiles at his myspace page, and videos at his page at YouTube. His work is very politically motivated, and he's been censored by the popular video sharing site at least once. Further proof of the fact that he's certainly not afraid of offending anyone...

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Steve McQuillen...

*Name: Steve McQuillen

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: The Piss, aka Orina Maloliente. These days they call me Pissy Steve, as I'm generally an arrogant and argumentative person despite being a skinny geek in my thirties. My noms de guerre are really dumb but honest. As a temporary house rule, I once forced guests to tape record the sounds of themselves using the bathroom and to provide commentary, or else they couldn't use it. When it felt as though enough material had been collected, the most notable moments were assembled into a forty-five minute collage called "The Piss Tape." Pranking has always been a favorite pastime, so taking the piss certainly seemed to come out rather naturally.

*Do you use a pseudonym? Culler (working title for a project which is currently marinating).

*Members: One.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: I've been constructing digital cut-and-paste collages since 2000, when I finally dumped my beautiful, hissy four-track tapes for hard drives and such. I had been mixing feedback and other noise onto cassettes from 1995 to 2000. When you switch from a trusty, comfortable setup to a series of tools which truly make your job easier, it feels like you're cheating on your girlfriend or trading in your trusted spouse for a newer model. But then you two begin to make a new kind of sweet love together, and it's on. Lately, most of my audio tracks and videos have been focused on U.S. politics. I believe that all of the abhorrent behavior of the Bush/Cheney administration and the rest of the current Republican Party has sparked an interest in (national) politics for many people, as it has for me. Perhaps, in the years to come, this fact will help to offset the extensive, worldwide damage which has been done by these brazen gangsters.

*Another genre descriptor: Episstemology (no, not really).

*Why you use this descriptor: "Hyper-edited collage," I believe was how my friend stAllio! described a certain style which I tend to employ.

*Location: Atlanta, GA 30331, USA

*Original Location: Batavia, NY 14020, USA

*What is your creative/artistic background: I took a photography class in my freshman year of college. I have a friend who has an MFA and works for museums. I nearly won a radio jingle contest once. I heard Negativland on CBC Radio Two's "Brave New Waves" show in 1995. How's that for artistic cred?

*History: Twelve years.

*Born: October 26 (also Hillary Clinton's), 1975, Batavia, NY, USA

*Motivations: Before I shuffle off into nothingness, I'll enjoy throwing my little, irregular instincts about art onto the broad mosaic of human history. It's something like using your turning signal or voting. Even if most people will never invest their time nor energy in doing it, I'm going to do it because it could make things better, especially so if more people would do it.

*Philosophy: Creating sounds or images is much like cooking meals to me in that one doesn't necessarily need to generate each ingredient from scratch to be a good cook. I tend to cull portions from other creators' works (i.e. snippets from films, records, TV broadcasts, web media, etc.) and throw them into my cooking pot, much as a chef goes hunting for the perfect groceries and then processes them. And this hobby started shortly after I heard some of Negativland's emancipating work.

*How would you like to be remembered: A proper remembrance of me should doubtlessly include a healthy discussion of my deep sympathy for the proverbially righteous and brave underdogs of the world, my nearly extreme emphasis on the importance of truth and facts, my problematically obstinate nonconformism, and my ridiculously fast skating ability on a freshly resurfaced ice hockey rink. Just be sure not to let anybody start to do anything stupid like praying or suggesting that I'm still around in some other form, at least not without throttling them once for me.

*Web address: Admittedly strangely, I still don't even have a proper web home for my work, but the ubiquitous corporate solutions of youtube and myspace are filling that gap at present.

Episode 59, Some Assembly Required

Episode 59, Some Assembly Required

01 DJ Pantshead - “Technobilly”
02 Orchid Spangiafora - “Coarse fish”
03 Negativland - “Bite back”
04 Carl Stone - “Flints”
05 DJ Haste - “Styles to kiss”
06 The Piss - “Sound art”
07 The Button - “What’s prayer”
08 Realistic - “Hopeless romantic tragedy”
09 John Oswald - “Clouds cast”
10 People Like Us - “Well I”

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Friday, November 16, 2007

EBN Videos

EBN Videos

My phone interview with one of the two founding members of Emergency Broadcast Network is featured in episode 193 of Some Assembly Required - check it out HERE - and since the group is of course known primarily for their video work (which I was obviously incapable of sharing via the radio show), I thought I'd use the blog this week to point to some examples of Emergency Broadcast Network's video work on the web...

I realize the links in this post may quickly become outdated, as things move around quite often online, but it should stay current at least as long as episode 193 is new, here at the SAR site - so that's worth something, hopefully.

To learn more about Emergency Broadcast Network, check out my feature on the project (including a phone interview with Gardner Post, who co-founded EBN with Joshua Pearson in 1991), then check out some of these links, to watch examples of their ground breaking video collage work:

* The SAR interview with EBN's Gardner Post (Episode 193)
Emergency Broadcast Network Videos:
* Joshua Pearson's personal website
* EBN videos at
* EBN videos at
* EBN videos at

Episode 193, Some Assembly Required

Episode 193, Some Assembly Required
Featuring an interview with EBN's Gardner Post

01 Emergency Broadcast Network – “Get Down Ver. 2.2”
02 Emergency Broadcast Network – “EBN Station Promo”
03 Emergency Broadcast Network – “Kill The Enemy”
04 Emergency Broadcast Network – “Move Toward The Middle”
05 Emergency Broadcast Network – “Watch Television”
06 Emergency Broadcast Network – “Homicidal Schizophrenic (A Lad Insane)”
07 Emergency Broadcast Network – “Electronic Behavior Control System Ver. 2.0”
08 Emergency Broadcast Network – “3:7:8”
09 Emergency Broadcast Network – “State Extension”
10 Emergency Broadcast Network – “We Will 'Raq You”
11 Emergency Broadcast Network – “What's Happening?”
12 Emergency Broadcast Network – “Total Smoothness”

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ergo Phizmiz

Ergo Phizmiz

Ergo Phizmiz is a sound artist and a DJ at WFMU. His radio program (Phuj Phactory) features sound collage, vintage vinyl and music from animation and ballet, along with vintage comedy and musical comedy. He's put out almost a dozen records on his own, and has collaborated with artists such as People Like Us and Irene Moon, just to name a few.

As a composer, he's created sounds for film, installation and radio. He has albums out on over a half dozen different labels. You can find out more info at his website.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Ergo Phizmiz!

*Name: Duke Ergo of Phizmiz, Sensual Belly Dancer of Troutmask Pond

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: Baron Ergo of Phizmiz, Taut Bassoon of Sardinia

*Do you use a pseudonym? Lord Ergo of Phizmiz, 31st Tap Dancing Champion of Erith

*Members: One

*Founding Members: Him

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Either all also none. I try to make "music without limits" - which is a quite lovely phrase coined in this context by the great Vernon Lenoir.

*Another genre descriptor: Trombone Wielding Warrior of the Soft-Shoe Shuffle

*Location: Olde England. Currently residing in the Southern areas.

*Original Location: The Northern Lands.

*What is your creative/artistic background: Inability to do much more than draw pictures and compose music. Began writing operettas as a teenager which somewhere along the line evolved into what I do now. I took a few years off to stand on stages and shout things at people, then found a mixer and didn't stop.

*History: As long as I can remember.

*Born: 1980

*Motivations: The truth of this matter is that I'm perpetually pummelled by a ceaseless cacophony of just-about fully-formed ideas, and am constantly driven by the need to try out new things. Only yesterday I engraved "Born in the USA" onto a piece of plywood and developed a system for playing it like a record by rubbing it up and down my back. Now I've developed a new method of sound reproduction but can't sit down.

*Philosophy: Eat, drink and be merry.

*How would you like to be remembered: That would be very nice, thank you.

*Web address:

Episode 192, Some Assembly Required

Episode 192, Some Assembly Required

01 DJ Shortfuse – “Unpleasant Thoughts”
02 Soundhog - “Thinking Of No One”
03 Negativland – “We Are Driven”
04 Escape Mechanism – “Left To Say”
05 B'O'K – “Iraq: I Want Your Oil”
06 Wes Nisker – “Untitled (A Decade In Your Ear)”
07 DJ Tripp – “We Will Rock Beverly Hills”
08 The Tape-beatles – “Schwa For Frog”
09 Hal Wilner – “If I Had Known”
10 Wayne Butane – “Untitled (Backwash segment)”
11 Lecture On Nothing – “Addiction”
12 Go Home Production - “How Does It Feel To Be Rich Man (2003)”
13 Ergo Phizmiz - “Chop Sue Me”
14 Wax Tailor - “There is Danger”

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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Jan Turkenburg

Jan Turkenburg

Jan Turkenburg is a former busker, and current Dutch primary school music teacher, who I recently found online. His composition, "Tribute to 365 Days Project" (Parts 1 and 2), was made in response to a challenge issued by Otis Fodder, whose "365 Days Project" was a daily dose of strange and often obscure audio, uploaded every day for a year. The challenge was to create music, using his project as its basis.

You can find out more about Jan Turkenburg at his website. Otis Fodder's 365 Days Project has been archived at both WFMU and, and can be explored HERE. Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Jan Turkenburg...

*Name: Jan Turkenburg

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: “De Zwervende Keien,” “Marcel, Jan and the Dutch birds”

*Members: Well, it's mostly a one-man project by yours truly: Jan Turkenburg. On some pieces I get some help from my wife Wilma Turkenburg. We used to perform as a cheesy kind of folk duo, but now Wilma only appears very rarely on tracks. Even more rarely I get some help from my friend and colleague music teacher Marcel van der Wulp playing horn. On pieces where Wilma is involved we still use our former group name: De Zwervende Keien (Dutch= The Drifting Boulders) and Marcel and I call ourselves Marcel, Jan and the Dutch birds.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Well, these are difficult ones to answer for me. I refer to my pieces as "splogwroughts.” I use any kind of sound carrier or live musical instrument to make the works I'm making. My first digital works consisted of cut and paste works using samples only, but I gradually started to add flute, keyboard, guitar and later other instruments on top of it. I try to construct pieces like I've been taught to paint in secondary school. Most of the time I begin with rough outlines of the whole composition. But sometimes, like the first two 365 days tributes, I just start with a few samples and intuitively just cut and paste along. It really depends on what mood I'm in.

*Another genre descriptor: splogwroughts

*Why you use this descriptor: Splogwroughts (also sometimes named splogworks) naturally comes from Splogman's wroughts or works. The name Splogman originally has nothing to do with today's meaning of splog (spam/blog). I began using the pseudonym Splogman, around 2000 when googling on splog or splogman still didn't lead to any result. It's a Dutch abbreviation of flexidisc log (Slappe Platen LOG), because one of my first websites was a weekly log on flexible corporate records.

*Location: The Netherlands

*Original Location: I'm very, very Dutch. My father's family records go back to the fourteenth century Netherlands. From my mother's part I might have inherited some 18th and 19th century German and Jewish genes ;-)

*What is your creative/artistic background: My father gave me my first music lessons when I was a kid. After school I took recorder lessons when I was between 8 and 12 years old. I gradually switched to flute when I was a teenager. I learned a bit piano from a friend. I took saxophone lessons at 22 years, after which I was a busker in Antwerp, Belgium. After that I played and sang in the British-Dutch-Belgian band The Stepping Stone Visit. Finally I went to the music academy in Zwolle, The Netherlands to get a full degree as a music teacher on all Dutch school types (from kindergarten to secundary school/highschool). Now I'm a fulltime music teacher at one of the biggest primary schools of this region.

*History: I started creating music this way in 2003, after a long period of hardly having composed anything anymore. It was pretty much Otis Fodder's challenge to make music based on 365 days material that pulled the composing trigger again.

*Born: I was born in 1964 in Vinkeveen, a small farmer's village near Amsterdam. Wilma was born in Zwolle where we live now.

*Motivations: I've always been fascinated by the possibility of recording and manipulating sounds, cutting bits and pieces out of their original context and giving them a new meaning in another context. But it's also a strong urge, an inexplicable need, a neurotic disorder or compulsion to create music and produce sounds.

*Philosophy: Music is just vibrating air. Beauty is in the ear of the beholder.

*How would you like to be remembered: Someone with a contagious obsession for music.

*Web address:

Episode 191, Some Assembly Required

Episode 191, Some Assembly Required

01 Freddy Fresh - “Humdinger”
02 Wax Audio - “This Crusade”
03 dj BC - “Groovy Burnin' Heart”
04 X-ecutioners – “Feel The Bass”
05 Nick Boffo - “Star Spangled Haircut”
06 Escape Mechanism - “Why Does The Light Fall?”
07 Bobby Martini - “Catch A Lovesong”
08 McSleazy – “Unworkable”
09 Jan Turkenburg – “Tribute to 365 Days Project (Part 1)”
10 Jan Turkenburg – “Tribute to 365 Days Project (Part 2)”
11 Genji Siraisi – “Wh'ever”
12 Lecture On Nothing - “Chicken Sludge”
13 Jeffrey Sconce - “Electro-smoky”
14 Noisy Stylus – “Broccoli Wars”

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