Sunday, April 27, 2008

Value Village People

Value Village People

In a live context, Value Village People are Canadians BLeeK Swinney and Luke Meat (It's all BLeeK in the studio). Luke also hosts the radio program ANoiZE, at CiTR (101.9 FM) in Vancouver, where he serves as the station's Music Director. BLeeK is the man behind the curtain at online radio stations Exquisite Corpse and 80's Seattle radio station tribute, KJET, as well as the broadcast version of Exquisite Corpse, which airs Thursday (7:30-9PM), also at CiTR.

BLeeK is also editor of Speck Fanzine and part curator of "24 Hours of Radio Art," an annual day-long subversion of the usual programming at CiTR, in which the station plays nothing but radio art for an entire 24 hours.

Value Village People have at least four records, at least one of which is available to download at their website. You can hear specific tracks at their Myspace page as well. Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with BLeeK of Value Village People...

*Name: Value Village People

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: Not really, no.

*Do you use a pseudonym? Yes. I go by BLeeK but my given name is Kerry.

*Members: BLeeK Swinney and Luke Meat. For the recorded works it's been just me, though my buddy Luke Meat supports me very well for live events.

*Founding Members: BLeeK.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Digital Deconstructions, I guess.

*Another genre descriptor: I've called my stuff "Plunderfunny" and "Avant Tard" (akin to Vicki Bennett's "Avant Retard").

*Is there a story behind your name? Ours is the BEST name in the genre, hands down. "Value Village" after the second-hand-store chain, which recalls where one finds some of our source material and the recycled nature of sound "sampling,” and "Village People" for the obvious musical band reference and elements of campiness. "Value Village People" as a whole sounds perhaps like a low-rent Village People, as well as plundering two well-known names.... It works on many levels.

*Location: Vancouver BC Canada.

*Original Location: BLeeK is from the Tacoma/Seattle area and Luke Meat comes from Red Deer, Alberta.

*What is your creative/artistic background: BLeeK has an Associate of Arts degree and 24 years of independent radio broadcasting.

*History: BLeeK and Luke realized a bizarre commonality while mixing noise together for 24 Hours of Radio Art, in 2001. We had previously created murky industrial/noise tracks years before meeting.

*Born: BLeeK was born in McMinnville, Oregon. I think Luke was born in Red Deer, Alberta.

*Motivations: Good question. Ultimately, I think I'm a pretty pessimistic person and I make this type of "music,” funny or creepy, as a release. A kind of therapy. Plus, I have to be entertained by it for a long time after it's made or it’s not worth making. My friend Alison Benjamin said the VVP CDs give her nightmares and that's kind of where they may come from as well. Many of the tracks which sound evil or misogynistic or cruel are responses to my horror or sadness about current events and ignorance. I'm actually one of the kindest people you'll ever meet. Some other tracks like "A Dead Child Shall Lead Them (Full Moon)" are only meant to sound beautiful and are also a tribute to Tones on Tail, a favorite of mine for many years.

*Philosophy: If I'm making the tracks to appeal to someone besides myself, no one will want to hear them. And... Nothing is gonna save us now.

*How would you like to be remembered: A sensitive, weird and creative person that never grew up.

*Web address:

Episode 206, Some Assembly Required

Episode 206, Some Assembly Required

01 Aggro1 - “Let My Baby Scream”
02 Wax Audio – “God”
03 DJ Food – “Let The Good Shine”
04 DJ Jay-R - “Supercent”
05 The Tape-beatles – “From The Tide Or The Wind”
06 Keltech – “One Man And His Deck”
07 Lecture On Nothing – “Untitled”
08 Party Ben – “Tender Umbrella”
09 Wobbly – “Guy guy”
10 Value Village People – “The Madness of King George”
11 Escape Mechanism – “Oh Well”
12 David Weir – “The Redemption of George W.”
13 Realistic – “Post-Corporate Fantasy”
14 Ros Bobos – “I Understand, Peter”
15 B'O'K - “136ish”
16 Copycat – “Stand by for the floor”

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

National Cynical Network

National Cynical Network

The National Cynical Network is California's Phineas Narco, the man behind the "found sound radio" program, "Plundercast," which can be heard online Tuesdays, from Midnight to 3am (EST), and Fridays at 10PM, on The Sensory Research Network. The program is a live streaming audio broadcast featuring many of the artists associated with the Snuggles Collective, a group of DJs, composers and audio artists who met through a Negativland Fan Club of the same name.

Phineas Narco has been involved with quite a few projects, including "Midnight Voicejail," which was a creative audio documentary focusing on a voicemail "Box Scene" which started in Silicon Valley in the mid 1980's. He's also a solo sound collage artist, and was featured on 2000's Droplift Project CD.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with The National Cynical Network's Phineas Narco...

*Name: "The National Cynical Network"

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: 'NCN' for short. Sometimes pieces are said to be done by 'National Cynical Radio.'

*Do you use a pseudonym? Yes. Phineas Narco.

*Members: Used to be 3. Now it's just me, and the occasional friend or contributor who comes along.

*Founding Members: Phineas Narco (myself), Alexander T. Newport and Ronald Redball.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: 'Digital Deconstructions' I think fits best right now.

*Another genre descriptor: Yeah, 'Mediage' was a term I coined (making me a 'Mediagician' I suppose), but I don't use that term much. I tend to just use 'sound collage' to describe what I mainly 'do' when people ask, like at parties. That seems to be the most accessible term for people cuz they're usually already familiar with the term 'collage' in the visual sense of that medium. After asking what I do, people will sometimes kind of frown, scratch their heads and say 'do you make much money doing 'sound collage?' And the answer is 'No.' This confuses them even more.

*Is there a story behind your name? 'Phineas Narco': Both names are from Greek mythology. 'Narco' is a shortened surname version of 'Narcissus' cuz I tend to be kind of a self-absorbed guy, I think. So I put those names together to describe how I saw myself. Incidentally, I never intended 'Narco' to refer to 'drugs.' Some people make that assumption. Friends call me 'Phinny.' 'The National Cynical Network' name was thought up by Ronald Redball and was originally the name of one of the 'Over the Edge' shows that Ronald did with Don Joyce and Al Newport. 'NCN' is also a bit of a goof on or, mix-up of, 'CNN' which one of the logos reflects. (Please don't sue us).

*Location: 'We' are from Silicon Valley, California (San Jose and its immediate environs).

*Original Location: Oddly enough, all three of the original members are from around the Michigan/Ohio area of the Midwest before our respective families moved to California when we were all kids. We all met when we were in our 20's through our association with the Negativland 'Over the Edge' radio show.

*What is your creative/artistic background: In the 70's, as an easily bored teen raised on TV and movies, I was already into capturing and playing with media. I used to bring portable tape recorders into theaters and drive-ins to record the movie sounds to listen to later. I would make mix tapes for friends. I'd tape the TV sound too, pre-VCR. I was interested in putting together paintings, models, dioramas and puzzles as a kid. I'm self-taught in terms of editing and mixing audio but I took 2 or 3 courses in art and 'art appreciation' at local colleges many years ago when I flirted with higher education. In the mid-eighties, I fashioned my own mixer (not knowing what a mixer was) by connecting a couple VCR's and a stereo tape deck and did sound experiments. I frequently called into the Subgenius and Negativland radio shows on KPFA to talk and inject material into their live mixes. I met Don Joyce in 1987 and have done maybe a dozen shows with him since then. (I will be on 'Over the Edge' on the last show of July, 2008 btw!). Starting in 1998, I spent a few years at KFJC (Foothill College's Radio Station, in Los Altos Hills, CA) where I put together a somewhat weekly feature called 'Midnight Voicejail.' The show was about a real voicemail community in the 80's in Silicon Valley and gained some media attention at the time. Ronald and I had a cut on the secretly famous CD 'The Droplift Project.' A piece called 'Free Will' which got some college radio play. Since that time, I've done a series called 'Needle in the Red' and nowadays I do Plundercast on The Sensory Research Network, which I webcast live Tuesday nights at 12am and Friday nights at 10pm (all times EST).

*History: I put the formation date at 4/20/98, so this month (April, 2008) is our 10th Anniversary.

*Born: I am a 'Barely Boomer' just barely being in the Boomer generation by a week or two (by some calculations of it's span). Al is a year or two older than me, Ronald is 2 or 3 years younger than I am. All originally from the Midwest. Al now lives in the UK, and is married and writes books. Ronald is probably somewhere in Cupertino, CA. He and I have not been in contact for several years.

*Motivations: I have to do something that's interesting and stimulating, for me, or else I get horribly depressed, so it's largely a form of occupational therapy you could say. I'm also motivated by a need for self-expression and the evasion of boredom. I really want to create something so beautiful that people will not want to destroy it just because it's legal status is a bit dubious.

*Philosophy: I don't think it really has a definite philosophy or ideology other than maybe 'No Ideology or Philosophy'. It's all over the map. And that's okay. It doesn't like to be pinned down, so I don't try. I really just aim for creating programs that I find personally interesting and wonderful, and that I like to listen to. And then people 'out there' can decide, from that pool, what they find interesting and wonderful, and I'll promote that. The work has had it's 'dark and loopy' periods, but I am now aiming at pulling something humorous and sincerely uplifting from all the cynicism and bleakness. So that's kind of where it's at now.

*How would you like to be remembered: 'Fondly', I suspect. But I'll be dead too, so it won't matter. Or else, if I'm coming back as someone else, I hope I am able to discover my work, in the next life, and continue to listen to it. Then I could remember myself fondly. That would be nice.

*Web address:

Episode 66, Some Assembly Required

Episode 66, Some Assembly Required

01 DSMO (Ronan & Friends) - "Dubyas for war"
02 Big City Orchestra - "Regime change"
03 Dept. of Corrections - "GWO terror mix”
04 Unknown - (GWB doctored speech)
05 National Cynical Network - "Rape of the union address"
06 Atom Project - "GWB"
07 Big City Orchestra - "Confident"
08 Deejay JC - "State of the onion 2003"
09 Theforger - "Let's roll"
10 Dept. of Corrections - "GWO2002"
11 The Mentally Ill - "The good, the bad and the dubya"
12 Big City Orchestra - "Yank"
13 J. Buckley - "George the genius"

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Saturday, April 12, 2008



team9 is the Australia based bastard pop artist, Neil Mason. He's been making music, mashups and remixes for over ten years, and has worked with Stereogum (Spin Magazine's 2005 Readers Poll Winner: Best Blog) to compile "best of" mashup mixes in 2006 and 2007. Let's hope for 2008 as well... He's quickly joined my own personal top ten list of favorite mashup artists. Check out his website HERE, for more info and lots of downloads.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with team9...


*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: I’ve made stuff under the name Ruff Muff, Found Sound Orchestra, PleasePlease and Amstrad Rockers.

*Members: The band is mainly me (Neil Mason). When I make originals, I might ask others to get involved – kind of a collective thing.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Back in the 80's I used to use an old Amstrad 4 track tape deck thing that I’d use to mix and splice stuff together – more ‘tape manipulations.’ They were pretty terrible but looking back they were very much connected to what I’m doing now with a PC. I use a combination of Acid Pro and Reason. I started using Acid in 1999, probably one of the first versions. It was a bit of a cop out at first because I used mainly loops and soundfonts but I’ve followed Acid every step and it’s now a fully fledged studio – I can’t really see me trying anything else. It’s loaded with vsti’s and fx – everything I need really. Although I’m looking forward to the new Arturia synth – providing my Wife lets me buy it.

*Is there a story behind your name? team9 was originally a collective so the team thing worked at that time – it’s been watered down to just me now but occasionally some of the old crew drop by to add something. The number 9 comes from a John Lennon obsession - he was fascinated by the number 9 and it’s always been a number that has followed me around. I don't like the name now - my wife thinks it makes me sound like a boy band but it’s kind of stuck.

*Location: team9 is based in Perth, Western Australia. It probably couldn’t have existed anywhere else. Perth is the most isolated City on the planet. It’s a beautiful place but music wise it's very rock focused. There isn’t a huge amount of computer based electronic music being made here – Melbourne is the place for that. Initially it was quite easy to get myself heard in Perth. I sent some original stuff to the local station and they featured it for a week. Selling my music to labels though was soul destroying and I very quickly gave up trying to push it. The internet and bootleg scene was a good fit for me. Make a song in an hour, put it on the net and it was getting airplay within 3 hours. Perfect for someone with ADD.

*Original Location: I’m from Leicester in England originally. I moved to Australia when I was 19, travelled round and settled on Perth. I still miss the old place every now and then but life is good down here. Plus I need to be near somewhere with good surf and there isn’t much of that in Leicester.

*What is your creative/artistic background: I can’t class myself as a musician. I can play a little piano and guitar but rely heavily on the quantise button. I love music though. I have since I was a kid, which is quite unusual given that my parents taste in music is s***, for want of a better word. I think that today’s technology allows anyone to tap into their creative side, whether that be using Photoshop for art or Acid for music. However, it also helps to have a good understanding of what works. For me, I like to think that I know what sounds good together, whether that’s mixing a vocal over an instrumental and coming up with chord progressions and riffs. It’s one thing having the tools, it’s another thing being able to use them. So, in short, 10 years ago I was s*** and now, thanks to computers, I’m not quite as s*** as I used to be. Does that answer the question? Probably not.

*History: team9 started out in 1997 as a band. We thought we were Oasis but it was really just an excuse to get drunk and high. We did record an album though that scored some good reviews but we collapsed under the weight of our drug fuelled egos. I have to say drug fuelled because I typically don’t have an ego, I have the opposite of an ego, whatever that might be? So anyway, yes, started out in ‘97 and then it became a very loose collective in about ‘99 and then slowly it dropped down to me. All alone. With no one to talk to.

*Born: November, 1970

*Motivations: I do it because there is nothing to watch on TV, plus it’s become a kind of addiction. I can’t walk past the computer without switching it on. Once it’s on I can’t help but try things out. I suppose I’m motivated by a creative urge that has only got bigger in recent years. It’s good to get ideas out of my head, kind of a therapy. God, this sounds like I’m a nutter. I’ve never really thought about it to be honest. I like to think that I’m getting better at what I do and I think that motivates me and keeps me going.

*Philosophy: I don’t have one.

*How would you like to be remembered: I’d like to hope that my music made a handful of people smile, but ultimately, and this is going to sound incredibly corny, I’d like to remembered as a good Father, Husband and Son.

*Web address:

Episode 205, Some Assembly Required

Episode 205, Some Assembly Required

01 team9 - “Britney - Dead or Alive”
02 Think Tank – “A Knife & A Fork”
03 Tom Recchion – “Musaphonic”
04 Anon – “My name is funk soul brother”
05 Uncle Bela – “O Fortuna”
06 DJ Storm – “They Can't Hang”
07 Forty One – “Mr. Sea Dragon (Part One)”
08 Forty One – “Mr. Sea Dragon (Part Two)”
09 Lenlow – “Bjorn Slippy”
10 Realistic – “Larry love said”
11 DJ Shadow – “Building Steam With A Grain Of Salt (alternate take)”
12 Cassetteboy – “Bill Hate Figure”
13 Junkshop Coyote – “Invoking The Spirits”
14 Futuro – “She Tracks My Tears”

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

April 6, 2008

April 6, 2008

This week's show (Episode 16) was produced, and originally aired, in 2001. It features one of my very first interviews, with Plunderphonic's John Oswald. I've been looking forward to slipping this episode back into the current schedule for awhile now, though I'm always a little hesitant to share some of the older episodes... In spite of this fact, we'll be reintroducing a few other interview episodes from our first year, in the coming months, so stay tuned.

Since this interview is now almost seven years old, I suppose I should fill you in on what Oswald has been up to since then. I can try to scratch the surface anyway, as a little research shows he's been extraordinarily busy.
The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that although it had just been issued, at the time of this interview, I don't believe we mention his 2-disc retrospective, 69plunderphonics96, which was released with a 46-page Hardcover Book. He was featured on the cover of WIRE Magazine in 2002, and has kept busy since then playing saxophone, on a few records actually, working with a number of musicians, including Cecil Taylor and Fred Frith. His solo dance opera Spinvolver debuted in Berlin, in 2003, and 2004 saw the release of his DVD of "moving stills" called Arc d’apparition, which collages original photographs of human beings slowly fading into one another.

There's plenty more information online. Check out his website, or his Wikipedia entry, for all the latest, and check out the Some Assembly Required interview with John Oswald HERE.

Thanks for listening,
Jon Nelson

Episode 16, Some Assembly Required

Episode 16, Some Assembly Required
(featuring an interview with John Oswald)

01 John Oswald - “Pretender”
02 John Oswald - “Brown”
03 John Oswald - “Anon”
04 John Oswald - "Untitled (from Grayfolded)"
05 John Oswald - “Angle”
06 John Oswald - “Mad mod”
07 John Oswald - “Urge”
08 John Oswald - “Case of death (part one)”
09 John Oswald - “2 net”
10 John Oswald - “O’hell”
11 John Oswald - “Dab”
12 John Oswald - “Sonic Euthanasia”

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