J Simpson

Dec 262012


Arrington De Dionyso has been an active psychopomp of the American experimental underground since 1997, when he began the popular K Records group Old Time Relijun. Since then, he has donned and discarded many different mantles: reluctant spiritual Godfather to a bunch of colorful hyfy basement dwelling youngsters, to his Shamanic James Brown persona he adopts to front his current band, Malaikat Dan Singa. His music runs the gamut from fritzed out Fire Jazz to lo-fi jaw-harp experimentation to Trance Panic No Wave. There’s a little something for everybody.

In this interview, the conversation ranges as far as his musical tastes. We discussed World Music and Rainbow Metal; skull candles and the void. Arrington is humble but passionate about the topics he is interested in. He is a fount of wisdom and knowledge about a wide pedigree of esoteric folk music, but speaks in a down-to-earth manner that is easy to extract information from. It was only my second real interview, and he put me immediately at ease, allowing a wild sprawling conversation to occur.

Since this interview, Arrington has flown to Paris to open for the legendary Dutch anarchist group The Ex, playing with the equally legendary Ethiopian saxophonist Getachew Mekurya, before touring Europe for a month. I’ve seen him play a half-a-dozen times in the elapsed time, from sweaty nightclubs to a vacuous art gallery – he’s as complex as his music, with a wide variety of tricks up his rainbowed sleeves. A testament to the hidden but vibrant experimental community of the American Pacific Northwest.


Chain D.L.K.: How did you end up getting into Mongolian/Tuvan music?

Arrington: I have always experimented with my voice. When I was really, really young – being a Stars Wars fanatic at 3 years old, I did my own fantasy version of all the different characters. So I made a Darth Vader noise, and a Chewbacca noise, light saber noises… all that kind of stuff. One of the sound effects that I made was khagaria throat singing (does a Mongolian Darth Vader impersonation); that was how I did a Darth Vader voice. By vibrating the vocal folds in the back of the throat, you get to that same sound. I was always making imitations of animal sounds, and motor sounds, and spaceships, and dragons; that kind of stuff.
I think I was getting into Blues, like Howlin’ Wolf, some of those kind of singers, I think I was getting into that kind of stuff before I heard throat-singing for the first time. And then I heard throat singing on the radio, NPR did a little special about it in probably like 1990. So, in 1990 I was 15, and I heard it on the radio and was like “Well, that sounds kind of lot like that thing I used to do when I was a kid, when I was making spaceship noises”. So I just put it together, and to me it sounded like this sort of Shamanistic vocal sound. Back at that point, there was no internet, you couldn’t really research stuff like that very easily. So I had to look through the backs of books about World Music, and try to find references to throat singing, and there weren’t any books about it back then, at least not in English. So I had to do a lot of research about it on my own, and there wasn’t a lot of information about it back then. Whatever I could listen to, I’d find a way to make sense out of it.
Chain D.L.K.: So you were probably listening to music from all over the map at that point?

Arrington: Before that, I was listening to music from all over the world. Where I grew up, I was pretty isolated from any “Music Scene”… there was a very specific “skater punk/hardcore punk” scene. I went to shows ‘cuz I was into that kind of energy but the music wasn’t really all that interesting. So I just would listen to records from all over Africa, Asia, Indonesia, Native American music… there just weren’t records of throat singing back then. It had been like a Soviet thing. So when that stuff started coming out in America, it was sort of a big deal. I met Huun-Huur-Tu in 1995, and at that point I’d been really heavily into throat singing for a couple of years. I ran up to them back stage and sang for them and they were like “Wow! We’ve met Americans who’ve tried to do it before, but you’re the best American throat singer we’ve ever heard. You must be a reincarnated Tuvan”. They’d only been on tour a few times, they probably hadn’t met that many. Nowadays, there’s lots of people who try to do it. Back then, I was one of the only ones…


Chain D.L.K.: That was around 1995, you said?

Arrington: 1993/1994/1995, I was heavily into it. I was doing it every day, any chance I had I was practicing, trying to build skill. And then, incorporating that into my music I was making, not doing Mongolian music but using that vocal technique. People like Paul Pena, (subject of the 1999 documentary about Tuvan throat singing, Genghis Blues), do it in that Blues way, but I wasn’t… I guess I have my own opinion on it.

Chain D.L.K.: You try to keep it more traditional?

Arrington:  There’s something about… I’ve heard some other people who sort of do it like “throat- singing-and-Delta-Blues-combined” and it always comes across as kind of hokey.

Chain D.L.K.: I know what you mean. It’s like those “Blues Fusion” records…

Arrington: Just make the music you want to make, I guess, but it it’s this weird pastiche. Sometimes you see people come up on stage, and they’ve got this Mongolian shepherd costume on, and its like “Dude, why the fuck do you have to dress like that? What do you even know about that shit?” I’ve never made any claim to be performing Mongolian music or Tuvan music. I don’t even consider what I’m doing to have that… It has no more or less reference point than, let’s say there’s some dude in Japan who wants to play sitar in his rock band. That’s not Indian music! Let’s say there’s some dude in Costa Rica who takes up digeridoo; they’re not playing Australian music! Someone in Russia wants to play Ukulele, they’re not playing Hawaiian music. You can use tools. A Tibetan monk could be using a MacBook to download their scriptures from a database. It’s just a tool. You can use your voice any way you want to.


Chain D.L.K.: With this style of music, what I call “Trance Singing”, it can have a ritualistic effect on the people who hear it. Do you have any thoughts on that, or on live events as ceremonies?

Arrington: You have to be careful with that. There have been a few occasions where I’ve really been able to perform in what I consider the “proper” context for a ritual/ceremonial event, and I say proper in quotation marks. Like tonight, we’re playing in this lounge, bar, kind of club. This is a business that is established to be a gathering place where people will purchase and consume alcohol. Maybe forget about their troubles at work and let loose for a couple of hours. We could draw a connection between this kind of commercial establishment and this ancient, archetypal notion of gathering with your brethren and consuming a sacred beverage and reaching a transcendent hallucinatory Shamanistic place where you’re gazing into the void. But most people coming to this kind of venue aren’t reaching for that kind of illumination. If in some way our rock’n’roll performance in a bar… we might draw some tenuous archetypal connection between 21st century bar culture and reaching towards transcendent, illuminated, enlightened kind of ritual context. We can draw that parallel, but it’s weak. Now, I’ve done some concerts with Malaikat Dan Singa where we’ve performed with bonfires, or in very intentional art venues, and it’s really cool to have that kind of context set up for you. But I feel like with everything I’m saying, I’m kind of backtracking a little bit. If there’s something in the music itself that we can somehow transmit that will carry over no matter what kind of venue we’re playing, then I feel really good about that. I feel really good about being able to just communicate that intense… I call it “gazing into the void”. I want to make music that brings you to the very brink of absolute nothingness and absolute infinity and you can’t tell the difference between what’s what and you just gaze into that vast, vast void of nothingness or everything. If someone can show up here on a Friday or Saturday night thinking “I’m gonna hang out with my buddies and have a couple of beers! I heard there’s some band playing… Molly, Mali, I don’t know what it means. I can’t even pronounce it”. If they can come to that, totally unexpected, and be like “What the fuck was that? That brought me to another place. I went into trance. I started seeing shapes and colors”. If we can bring that to people when they’re not even expecting it, then I think we’re doing a service.
I’m gonna backtrack one more time. It’s 2012; different avenues of Pop Culture have been permeated with this 2012… there’s a lot of futurism, and kind of New Age investigations. You can talk about Ayahuasca, DMT… it can be a very mainstream conversation, ‘cuz a lot of people are talking about that kind of stuff. Every now and then, I’ll see bands that maybe perform in costumes, or light a smudge stick before a concert, or have different projections of coloured lights, and they’ll get really steeped in this ritual vibe. I think, when there’s a choice, as far as Malaikat Dan Singa is concerned, I’d rather present it in a way that still keeps people guessing. You still present yourself as though you’re a rock band, just gonna set up and play some tunes. Because then, when you’re not wearing all kind of fancy leaves and shit in your hair and you’re not doing big face paint, and having bones up on stage and skull candles. If you just show up like you’re just going to do your thing then you can really pull the rug out from under people’s feet and drop them in that chamber of new, expanded consciousness. When you go up with all the lights and gadgets and costumes and things, then its like “O, I get it, its one of THOSE bands!”.


Chain D.L.K.: It’s easily categorizable.

Arrington: I want to keep people guessing a little more. I mean, if a band gets more popular, or if more people show up knowing what to expect, then we might have to change our game to keep it renewed every so often.


Chain D.L.K.: That shouldn’t be a problem with you. You release a lot of different kinds of records.

Arrington: Yeah, there’s a lot of different things happening.

Chain D.L.K.: How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard your music before?

Arrington: I usually don’t. I’m usually like, “It’s just my band”. But sometimes you have to put something on a website. On the poster, I think it says something like “Trans Utopian Trance Punk” in Indonesian. I mean, it’s all nonsense. Its just a tagline. I’ll say “Utopian Dancehall”. I’ll say, “We play dancehall.” In Indonesia, I’ll say “We play electric jatilan”, because in Indonesia you can say “jatilan” which means… Jatilan is a style that is very roots-oriented, village trance music. It’s not gamelan, it’s not classical music, it’s just this village trance music. They’ve got all kinds of costumes and dancers and they play these really cool rhythms that are like (sings a rhythm) and the dancers go into trance and there’s this whole culture around that. It’s very folksy, in a way. Its like street music or village music; someone might be having a wedding or a birthday party. They’ll be like “My son’s graduating High School. We’re gonna bring the trance music group. They’ll get possessed and go into trance and have this whole thing going on”. So its like electric jatilan, with this intersection with dancehall, this intersection with the Black Metal stuff sometimes, but really more like Rainbow Metal, in a way. Prismatic Metal…


Chain D.L.K.: I’m pretty Rainbow Metal, myself. Would you talk about this most last trip to Indonesia?

Arrington: I was mostly in Java. I was in Bali for a few days; Java, Bali, Lombok Island. I had never been to Indonesia, and it was a lifelong dream to go there. A lot of people were sort of surprised. They were like, “If you’re going to go somewhere around the world, why don’t you go to Tuva?” and it’s like… I don’t know…


Chain D.L.K.: Java would be more fun.

Arrington: Yeah. Java would be more fun. Its not as cold. The first two Malaikat Dan Singa albums had already been out and I was trying to generate, with YouTube and downloads and things, there was a bit of interest. Indonesian people were discovering the band. Some people who were in the different punk scenes, or Metal scenes, in Indonesia, were like “You’re an American. What’s this all about? Are you going to come to Indonesia?” Eventually, I had people say “When you come, man, I want to set up a concert with you” or “If you come, my band wants to play a show with you”. So I was getting a lot of interest, people were writing me, curious about what we were doing. At a certain point, I figured there was enough going on in Indonesia that I could string together some shows and I could get some local musicians to kind of be my band and do some shows out there, and it’d probably be this really amazing thing. It worked out really well. I spent a couple of months raising money. I spent a year getting all the contacts I would need, and figuring out how that would all work logistically. I networked with some arts organizations there, so I’d have places to stay, and I could do art shows AND concerts. There were a couple of places where I did these workshops with art school students. I did two different workshops for singing and voice, with more like High School students. It was an amazing time. It was amazing to get to play with Indonesian musicians. There’s a lot of interest from younger people, who are interested in the more contemporary expression of experimental or noise or improvised music, but they want to see if they can find a uniquely Indonesian approach to those contemporary kinds of dynamics. I had some very meaningful interactions with some musicians … groups that are doing Doom and Black Metal-type music using all traditional instruments or people who are doing this totally crazy freeform breakbeat dubcore, using all samples from gamelan music. Or other groups who are doing really extreme improvised noise, but you can tell they are coming from a deeply Javanese traditional background, yet they want to do it in the 21st century. They want to present something in a really new way. It’s so fascinating to imagine the possibilities. That’s what this project is all about; it’s about imagining possibilities. I was like, “What would I come up with if I were to take dance hall rhythms, weird metallic sounding guitars all in pentatonic tunes, and I sing in Indonesian, but have Krautrock bass lines throbbing through everything. If I just imagine that kind of sound in my mind, why shouldn’t I find a way to actualize that? And I’ll put drones behind it, and raga-influenced Free Jazz bass clarinet. It gets to be so extreme in this imaginative landscape of music that it doesn’t sound like “O, I’m going to combine this, and i’m going to combine this…” It doesn’t sound like that! It sounds like something so uniquely left field, that it’s not just a collage or a pastiche. Its its own imaginary syncretic hybrid of living, breathing, newly actualized form of music. There’s so many things… there’s a dozen different things that you could say, “Well, it sounds a little bit like this, or a little bit like this”, but you can’t say its just a mix of all those different things.


Chain D.L.K.: Earlier you described your music as Black Metal. How so?

Arrington: Well, that’s one of a dozen things or so you could throw out there. I’m not really big into any metal scene. Some of the newer bands, you know that band Liturgy? I’ve been kind of following what they’re about, more in an ideological sense, and I think they’re onto something when they talk about “Transcendent Metal”, in this very William Blake/Walt Whitman way, in this American spirituality influencing this transcendent, boundary pushing way. Transcendent and transgressive. I’m very interested in that kind of thing.


Chain D.L.K.: You just recorded a new album? That just came out?

Arrington: It’s called “Songs Of Psychic Fire vol. 3”.


Chain D.L.K.: Was that recorded in Indonesia also?

Arrington: No, that was recorded on the Equinox, in Olympia. It was inspired by my last tour in Europe, I did a show in Sweden. This very strange location of these ruins of this 4000-year old fortress, at the very top of this steep hill. These rocks came down into a corner, it was almost like a little patio between these giant boulders. They had organized a very unofficial sort of concert; we ran 300 feet of cable to plug the amplifiers in. On that tour I was doing things exclusively with voice and tape echo. It was a really inspiring show. They had a big bonfire going. I was singing and performing, really feeling like I was getting in touch with the spiritual energy of that spot. I was really talking to spirits, more than talking to the audience – there were less than 10 people there. It wasn’t about the audience, it was like “I’m going to sing to these rocks, and the breeze, and the smoke, and the clouds”. When I got back, I wanted to go to the studio RIGHT AWAY and capture the power of what that concert had meant to me. I did it all in one night and released it.


Chain D.L.K.: Is there anything else you feel people should know about your music or what you’re up to?

Arrington: Check out http://arrington.bandcamp.com. I’ve got all those new recordings. I do a lot of recordings with a 1940s-era lathe cutter, and I’ve been releasing a lot of that stuff online. I record directly onto plastic plates, old style record technology. Those recordings have a very unique sound – the way they are recorded is a very trance-inducing process. I go into trance when I make them. When you make them, the records will skip a lot, and you’ll get these really crazy rhythmic surprises. You wouldn’t think of composing it that way, but it happens accidentally and then you get these locked grooves, and you can use that locked groove for the basis of a new song. So I’m getting really deep into these very trance-and-hallucination inducing sounds, just because the repetition is so off-kilter, that your mind goes into pretty far-out places with it. You feel really alive with it, it’s so satisfying. You can listen to it all for free, on Bandcamp. You can also check out my tumblr (http://arringtondedionyso.tumblr.com/); I’ve been active painting a lot, doing a lot of drawings. The artwork is connected with the music in a lot of ways.


visit the artist on the web at:

May 152012

Listening to noise music is a visceral experience. Its piranha teeth treble and monstrous, soul-shattering bass make yr reptile brain run and hide, bringing on a focused clarity, a determined calm. Noise music also often has a physical quality, like some contact mic’ing a cinderblock,  the sonic architect sculpting subatomic slivers of microsounds. Noise albums are often a document of these funky art sound rituals. It has a homespun quality, often times endearlingly cheap, what we like to call a ‘shitty noise record’.

Of the millions and millions of xeroxed, hand-stitched, bound in aluminum documents existent, there is the disembodied sense of a human hand, tweaking the mixers to sculpt the air, to try and tame the raging machines. You can see where they have pasted the covers, or the tape run backwards. Listening to Arvo Zylos music, you get the sense that he loves handmade things. His fingers are in every element of the production. He promotes his own material. He makes the records and record sleeves himself. he sends off mutant transmissions into the aether with his Delirious Insomniac Freeform Radio program, where he spews his own underground noise, and helps spread the gospel of other sewer-dwelling mutants. Listening to and looking at his creations, they are uniquely personal and utterly sincere. He seems like a person with a curious mind, who wants to see how things will sound. He has a refreshing, old school industrial vibe to his sensibilities, working with influential noise artists like Boyd Rice and GX-Jupiter Larsen from The Haters. You can practically visualize the sparking machines, the tinny radios belching static. His experience and craftsmanship, as well as a history in the visual arts, allow him to properly place artifacts in the sound field, yet he never stops moving forward and trying new things, and he’s not afraid to fail.

Over the span of several thought-provoking e-mails, Arvo Zylo and Chain D.L.K. Discuss his background, what makes good noise music, post-industrial folk music, the inevitable philosophical discourse, and getting paid to review records wrapped in toilet paper.

Many thanks go out to Mr. Fingers, for taking the time to answer our questions.


Chain D.L.K.: Do you feel like living in the city has something to do with yr fondness for noise? Is it something you embrace, or is it something you are inoculating yourself against?
Arvo Zylo: I think it’s great that noise is like a post industrial form of folk music to some degree.  People may have carried around banjos or ukuleles and played music on their back porch or where ever, now they can and perhaps are starting to carry around a suitcase full of pedals or in the case of GX-Jupitter Larsen, a box with a modified, battery operated noise maker inside of it, or Tim Drage going around with a cart of amplified portable noise. Andy Ortmann rides around on his modified dirt bike with a miniature amplifier.  I think people are slowly starting to find the drum circles and sing alongs to be culturally irrelevant or at least less practical in the context of overstimulating technology and bling shit all over the place.
Living in the city probably does have something to do with my fondness for noise.   I live between two hospitals within a 6 block radius, so I hear lots of ambulances all of the time.  I recently finished work on a composition of ambulance sounds, in the context of layering and looping, sometimes they sound like an accordion or a flute or something.    And I ride the “L” trains on a regular basis.  I like the sounds of speeding, screeching trains a lot.  My floors are very thin and my neighbors can hear everything I do, so sometimes I play 5 radios at once or a locked groove at full volume and so forth, because I like it and because it gives me an element of privacy.   Sometimes my neighbor plays his acoustic guitar and I put my belt sanders in a pile off sheet metal, mounted on a scaffolding frame or a metal tool box and just let it go until the sanders go out.  I tell him this is my form of “jamming”, that there are certain tones I am looking for, and it’s true.

Chain D.L.K.: How did you get into it (making noise) in the first place?

Arvo Zylo:  Around 1999 I was considering myself a visual artist, I had received a number of awards and I had been commissioned to do a number of pieces, and it was all I was ever interested in all of my life up to that point.  I also had a drum kit that I never had that much chance to practice, my family was divorced with split custody and collectively moved around a lot from house to apartment and so forth, I lived somewhere new every year.   But  I would have a beat going and wish I could take it and loop it and play over it, instead of learning how to play.   After high school I went to an art school, and one of the classes I took was Figure Drawing.   Now when I was a kid I used to write and draw with both hands at the same time, 2 crayons at the same time or when one hand got tired, the other hand kept going with the crayon.   The teachers constantly complained about my handwriting being messy and my parents eventually made me choose a hand, so I write and draw with my left hand and I do everything else with my right hand.  I also write or draw in a way that people have found to be strange in the past.   My handwriting is still insanely messy.  So my Figure Drawing teacher kept riding me telling me that I’m doing it wrong.  I kept telling him “this is a drawing of a nude model, it is not any different from anyone else’s drawing of a nude model except for maybe minor stylistic things”.
Eventually he kept nagging me and I just told him that if I wanted to take someone’s opinion I will get it from someone who didn’t settle for a teaching job.   I hated the factory mind state of art school, to just pump out successful commercial artists by this god given formula implemented by uninteresting, dispassionate teachers.   I think in the same week, I happened to do acid that worked for the first time.   The other times it was just a body high or it was a dud.  My friend and I sat in his basement.  We had been in a band and we had resigned to getting me to learn how to play keys, programmed stuff, and drum machines, since I could never find anywhere to practice drums.   He put the drum machine and the synth versions of the Elektribe series in front of me, and he put the mushroom cloud montage at the end of Dr. Strangelove on repeat on his DVD player somehow, and I went at it for it must’ve been 8 hours straight.  I thought I was making industrial dance music, I had no point of reference for experimental music, I listened to KMFDM, Atari Teenage Riot, and a bunch of punk and metal.  I thought that Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson were the most experimental people in the world.  I hadn’t listened to Einsturzende Neubauten, Coil, or Foetus yet,  in the case of Coil and Foetus it was because a friend heard some cassette recording of mine and said I would like this stuff.  I thought that I was making practical music, that DJs at clubs would play it, but it was the most insane shit in the world.
Anyhow, ever since that experience I have rarely looked back to visual art, and I only like art that is challenging, I couldn’t care less about someone being able to replicate a photograph with a paintbrush.  And I hate talking about drug trips but there was an experience of synaesthesia and it’s something I get with everything I like, movies, paintings, sounds etc.  Colors fly out of everything I like.  Everybody can look at me like I’m a whack job now, but it’s true.   Around 2003 I had already been recording for 3 years, and Aphex Twin and Einsturzende Neubauten were still mostly my points of reference, but I hardly ever thought I sounded like them.  I discovered Wolf Eyes and Merzbow around then.  In 2008 I compiled a locked groove record. I went around on myspace listening to experimental stuff and asking people to send me tracks.   This is how I discovered Sudden Infant, ANAKRID, Black Leather Jesus, Cock ESP, and the “underground” mail order scene as it were.  Before that I was just buying noise at shows and record stores, asking them to special order stuff and whatnot.

Chain D.L.K.: Do you have occult/metaphysical/philosophical intentions behind the music that you make?
Arvo Zylo:  There are occult intentions behind everything that I do, but this is in the context of me currently believing that it is part of an inward transformation process, a transformation of the mind state and how that projects itself into the world.  It has nothing to do with other people, I don’t want to pull strings on other people with cosmic mojo, I have read very few occult books.    I don’t record to put love spells on women or anything, I don’t try to invoke any demi gods when I record.   When I start to work on something, the idea takes on a mind of its own and it sort of decides on its own when it is finished, and this is not genius talk, it’s just how things go for me.  You can call it automatic writing or scrying or whatever but it is a process that could be considered meditative in effect, and at least somewhat spiritual in the sense that I am creating something that goes out into the world, gets misinterpreted, insulted, praised, or ignored and returned to me.  And as a result of following through with these ideas, I get more ideas, and sometimes I have no idea where these ideas came from.  This is something that I like, and I don’t care if it’s original or innovative, I meddle with something until it has some kind of animal mystery to me, mystical or not, it’s like playing tug of war on a feedback loop with aliens.

Chain D.L.K.: I feel like if more people were aware of the roots of a medium, in this case 20th century classical music, musique concrete and the avant garde, they would take pride in it, they would champion it. I mean, would you say Varese is ‘just noise’? Or Scriabin? Or Stockhausen? Those were serious dudes, they changed the ways people listened to the world around them, introduced sampling as a viable method, opened up the western classical tradition to the zen flow, a la john cage. East and west, left and right hemisphere, there’s so much territory to be explored, its ludicrous that people feel like things are played out.
Arvo Zylo:  For me this goes back to the concept of honor, and to me there is no formula for honor.  You can be stylish and still be honorable, you can have substance and still be honorable, you can not really say anything and still be honorable.  You can have all of these things and not be honorable.  You can certainly have a “maverick arrogance” and not be honorable.   Honor is something that is lost and not gained, and it’s not up to anyone else to decide what is honorable.  Whatever you are experiencing right now is going to change, you decide what is honorable and whether that action is going to still be honorable in 20 years.  I sure as hell don’t care about becoming a historian in order to make someone else happy with what I do.    I agree there’s a lot more territory to be explored, that in itself is the challenge, to challenge yourself and maybe, as a result, other people.  The place where ideas come from is not a narrow place.  The question is, why haven’t you shown this new territory to other people?  We’re all self-conscious and murmuring about something, some of us are more thoughtful than others.  Noise is great because it  fosters a rejection of morals and idealism to some degree, but that doesn’t mean that there are a bunch of little Nietzsches running around.  You can’t be like someone else, and you can’t especially be like what someone else wanted people to perceive of them, you can’t impersonate originality. And to hell with Nietzsche anyway, you probably wouldn’t want to live like he lived, and he probably would have wanted you to throw him out the window.   I looked up a passage from Nietzsche, I think you’ll like it.
“No longer raise up your arm against them [the “flies of the marketplace,”]. Numberless are they, and it is not your lot to shoo flies. Numberless are the small and miserable creatures; and many a proud building has perished of raindrops and weeds.”

Chain D.L.K.: Do you get into 20th century classical music?
Arvo Zylo: I like Shostakovich.  I like Richard Strauss’ “Death and Transfiguration” a lot.  And there is finally something about this online!  Airs to Charm A Lizard!  I have been hearing this late at night on the classical station for years, and I have never found it online until now!   Anyhow, I listen to the classical station a lot at home, not usually without another radio going as well, but I know I do like Wagner, Korsakov, and Beethoven a lot more than the shit that they play on that station that is 20th century or contemporary.  I sort of lean towards soundtracks when I’m trying to get that.

Chain D.L.K.: Do you listen to much rock ‘n roll/metal/punk?
Arvo Zylo: I’m really into what is going on with lo-fi cassette tape black metal and punk.   I basically listen to Wm. Berger’s My Castle of Quiet in order to get my fix of that though.   I like Raspberry Bulbs and Dark Tribe a lot.   There’s a guy in Chicago named Mac Blackout I like, he went from doing punk to sort of branching out into solo 4 track recordings that border on (probably accidental) dark wave and glam rock, but still feel like a punk record.  I still like Slayer, The Shitlickers, Genocide SS, Los Decayes, GG Allin – stuff like that – but like hip hop, that stuff comes from a kind of juvenile mind state and as a result I only want to listen to it when I want to break stuff or beat someone up, so not every day anymore.

Chain D.L.K.: Anything recently that you’ve been digging?
Arvo Zylo: I just got a package with some new Nundata material, and I can’t wait to hear it.   I like the analog one-take works of John Boyle –  a guy that came out of nowhere and into my mail box at the station.  I just wrote a review of the Dissecting Table tape on Danvers State, I’m really into that tape.  I’ve always liked what Death Factory is doing, and he has a new thing out on No Visible Scars.  I was going to release it but I said it was too long.  I’m an asshole.  I think it’s excellent though.  Michael Esposito and Francisco Meirino just did a CD that is great.  There’s a CD by Elainie Lillios that is really good, that came to me at the radio station without prior correspondence and I’m really glad to have discovered it that way.  The only contemporary stuff that I really listen to is experimental, otherwise I get what I want from other people’s’ radio shows, or I listen to old stuff.

Chain D.L.K.: What were some movies, books, and paintings that informed the music that you make?
Arvo Zylo: Tough to say.  In the conventional sense of the word, I failed at doing what I set out to do in most of the recordings I’ve done, they took shape and changed the rules that I set in the first place.  I also think with the level of insomnia I experienced and the amount I drank, it made the idea of being “informed” by something somewhat problematic.  However, I can say that “The Woman Chaser” both the book and the movie informed me in a profound way.  Tetsuo was another one.  Oscar Wilde, Charles Bukowski, Jackie Gleason, Edgar Allan Poe, Hunter Thompson, Anton LaVey, Alfred Hitchcock, David Lynch, Max Ernst, Dali, Christopher Ilth, Yasutoshi Yoshida,  Steven Stapleton, Karel Teige, Fellini, Fritz Lang, Gaspar Noe, definitely informed me to various degrees, a lot of times in the abstract tone that they set.  A lot of this stuff I haven’t revisited in years, but it has informed me.
Anton LaVey wrote “if you don’t know anything about music, get a sequencer”, and this was right around when my friend bought a sequencer, then I bought one, and I still don’t know anything about music but I enjoy it.  A lot of this was when I was younger.  I disagree with Steven Leyba on a lot of things, but I like his attitude towards his work, and so I guess I am informed by that.  I think that people stop being terribly impressionable in the way that they initially understood themselves to be impressionable after they become 25.  For the last 7 years or so I am informed by the last thing I have done, I don’t find myself seeing opportunities in other people’s’ work, unless I am listening to sound effects records.   This is mainly because I have come to find a certain tedium in experiencing something with the intent to write about it or incorporate it into my radio show, I think I’ve gotten to a point where the radio show is also like an idea and it takes on a mind of its own, so I can separate it from my every day life.

Chain D.L.K.: Have any background with goth?
Arvo Zylo: I find that gothic oriented people are often the most unpretentious and friendly people to talk to, as far as my experience in Chicago goes.  But I especially like people who don’t fit the mold, and it’s one thing to dress gothic, and it’s another thing to be intrinsically interested in all things dark, macabre, and strange, and just happen to be wearing black.  I used to go to plenty of gothic nights and I have plenty of gothic friends, but I’m more interested in it as a cultural phenomenon rather than a musical phenomenon, I don’t like Morissey or Wumpscutt or most of the other stuff that is happening at goth clubs musically.  I like Bondage as a transcendent means, and I like to go to these play parties and watch people who I thought normally listened to techno and wore shiny shirts get their asses whipped by one of my dominatrix friends.  Bondage for me would need to be coming from an incredibly witty woman, I have no interest in some booby girl calling me a dirty little boy, especially when she probably squeals like a Catholic girl in bed.  I need it to be more cerebral.  A friend of mine used to run a DJ night were he would play Merzbow for me while another friend was whipping me with chains and that was good.

Chain D.L.K.: How old are you?
Arvo Zylo: As soon as I turned 30, I felt like everything became automatic.

Chain D.L.K.: What do you do to pay the bills?
Arvo Zylo: I do a few different things and I’m not offended by the question but I always like to keep that kind of stuff outside of a creative context.  I like that I never have any dreams about the work that I do and I would like to keep it that way.

Chain D.L.K.: What’s the most successful you’ve been with your art, so far?
Arvo Zylo: Finishing something is success enough.  The act of finishing what you started is reward enough. I can’t finish something in one night.   I don’t have a portfolio because I have given away most of the visual work that I have done.  For some reason, when I am done with a piece of art, I don’t care much for keeping it.   Even if it represents a proud moment, I’m just not attached to it.  I would say that a moment of success was to paint a picture of a woman, have it be realistic, and then have it end up looking exactly like a woman I ended up meeting and being in a relationship with later.  All through school I received awards and was commissioned to do work, but I don’t care about that.  Even in grade school, kids gave me money to make a comic book, and I hand colored ever xerox copy of it for them.   I don’t look at art galleries as any kind of dignified resting place for a piece of work, nor do I look at someone’s home as one.  For some reason though, with recordings it’s like I have to keep promoting it in order for it to feel finished.  I can’t be satisfied with some disc or some file that I have completed, I needed it to echo out into the world before I am done with it.

 visit the artist on the web at: nopartofit.blogspot.com