The following is an interview with Jairus Khan, the founder and sole member of the project Ad-ver-sary, who recently released the project’s debut “Bone Music” on Tympanik Audio.
Chain D.L.K.: Tympanik’s press kit noted that you were an industrial/techno dj and promoter for several years prior to releasing “Bone Music” What prompted you to move to the next level and produce your own music?
Ad-ver-sary: That’s a tough question to answer. All of the big motivations were personal ones, I didn’t plan for actually releasing anything, or touring, or anything like that. There were some things that I needed to express, and there were some things that I needed to figure outabout myself. Ad-ver-sary was the best way for me to do those things.
Chain D.L.K.: Ad-ver-sary’s myspace page indicates that you are influenced by Coil and The KLF. How do you feel these artists have influenced your sound?
Ad-ver-sary: What I love about Coil is that they make rich music from unconventional source material, and then they put themselves into that music through ritual and tears and blood — and not in a kitschy, tongue-in-cheek way. I think that’s a really beautiful thing. Taking years to record an EP because they only worked on it during the Summer Solstice, or writing an album to help channel male sexual energy or facilitate a psychadelic time-travel trip; they have an unashamed approach to writing music. They don’t care if anyone believes what they believe, and they’d be just as arcane if no one was listening. It took me a while before I could appreciate that.The KLF are like the Anti-Coil. They took completely meaningless sounds, put them together in completely meaningless, by-the-book ways, and still managed to do things that no one else in music was doing. It was two guys who were at the top of the game and wrote the rules until they got sick of it and decided to leave. They left behind a lot of incredible music that didn’t mean anything at all to anyone, themselves included. And it took me a while before I could appreciatethat, too.The most important thing to me when I’m writing is that I really enjoy what I’m writing, and that I’m not settling for “good enough”, or falling into that music-by-djs-for-djs trap which seems to swallow so many people. That’s where I find I’m influenced by artists like Coilor KLF. Attitude and process more than tone or timbre.
Chain D.L.K.: Are their any non-industrial/electronic influences on your music?
Ad-ver-sary: I can definitely hear Talk Talk and Mogwai when I listen to Bone Music. Maybe some Can or Pink Floyd if I’ve had too much to drink.
Chain D.L.K.: What prompted you to name your musical project Ad-ver-sary?
Ad-ver-sary: It’s very difficult to communicate with electronic music. Most of the songs are about my experiences with conflict, and I named the project to help express that.
Chain D.L.K.: Some critics have argued that industrial/dark electronic music is pretty much dead. Do you agree with this view? What is your opinion of the current state of industrial/EBM music?
Ad-ver-sary: Have you ever listened to the lyrics of ‘Chickenshit Conformist’ by Dead Kennedys? That’s how I feel about industrial. The music is doing fine, it’s the attitude of the people involved that’s the problem. A lot of people have gotten into a routine where they’re going to an industrial night week after week wanting to hear something familiar, instead of going week after week to hear something new.My partner and I DJ every week, and there’s always enough great new music that we never have to play Dead Stars or Head Like A Hole. FLA and Ministry’s last full-length were their best albums in at least ten years, Diskonnekted and Brain Leisure have picked up where Haujobb left off, and there’s a lot of people pushing the edges of the genre. Insurgent Inc. is doing some fantastic industrial-metal crossover, same as Left Spine Down’s doing with punk and Memmaker’s doing with old-schoolrave.So, no, I don’t think industrial music is dead, I just think there’s a low signal-to-noise ratio. A lot of people have forgotten that industrial is an experimental genre, and if DJs and audiences don’tparticipate in that process by being open to new music, what they’re really saying is “forget the industrial, I just want the pop.”
Chain D.L.K.: What you describe in the clubs is definitely something that is noticeable, the same people coming week after week dressing the same way and wanting to hear the same thing. Why do you think that so many people in the industrial scene have bad attitudes? Why do you thinkthat people are not as interested in hearing anything new, but instead want to hear Dead Stars Part 189?
Ad-ver-sary: I don’t think the industrial scene has more attitude or ‘same-ness’ than any other music culture. I mean, we’re all creatures of habit, and I still wear my 90s band shirts.At the end of the day, a community — any community — isn’t defined by the people with shitty attitudes, it’s defined by how everyone reacts to shitty attitudes. We can stop going out and bitch and whine about how the scene is dead — like all the punks did ten years ago — and condemn ourselves to a future of mostly-shitty music. Or we can look for new music, buy the albums, go to the shows, and define what tomorrow’s music will sound like. To me, that’s much more interesting than tilting at windmills.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you think that there is a correlation between changes in the music industry and the lack of enthusiasm for new music.
Ad-ver-sary: There might be an correlation between consumer apathy and the state of the industry, but if there is I can’t relate at all. Technology and today’s ease of distribution make me more excited about music, not less.
Chain D.L.K.: Ad-ver-sary’s sound, while primarily electronic, sounds more organic and fluid than most other electronic artists (I think this is where the Coil influence is most apparent). What techniques and/or gear do you use to achieve that effect?
Ad-ver-sary: I work entirely in software, and the software I use is the same software everyone uses, so I try to focus on how a track makes me feel physically, instead of thinking about how a kick sounds or how well shelved a synth is. The track Bone Music was an extended experimentwith this process, I wrote it entirely based on how I thought the music felt, not how it actually sounded. That’s where the title came from. It was music for my bones, not for my ears.
Chain D.L.K.: Are you a formerly trained musician or self-taught? How do you feel your training, or lack thereof has influenced your approach to making music?
Ad-ver-sary: I’ve never had any kind of musical training, outside a handful of childhood piano lessons. I wish I had, though, I don’t think there’s any glamour in being self-taught. Whenever I listen to artists who are classically trained (like Trent Reznor or Stendeck), I’m amazed bytheir command of melody, harmony, structure… There are a lot of people making electronic music, but very few musicians, and I can’t count myself in that number.
Chain D.L.K.: Why did you decide to make Ad-ver-sary a primarily instrumental project?
Ad-ver-sary: I’ve written vocal tracks, but I don’t think I’ll ever release them. I can’t think of anything that makes me feel more naked than singing does, and that includes actually being naked. I’ve tried recording a few covers to try to distance myself from the songs, if I was going torelease anything where I’m singing, it’d likely be a cover.With that said, I’d like to try working with guests for some non-instrumental work. Both of my sisters are musicians, and incredible vocalists, but we live in three different cities. If we can ever get our shit organized to hang out and record, something might happen there.
Chain D.L.K.: Tympanik Audio seems to building a reputation as a being a sourceof fresh and innovative dark electronic music. How do you feel that Ad•ver•sary and its label mates are contributing to revitalizing the genre?
Ad-ver-sary: I don’t want Ad•ver•sary to be genre-defining, genre-revitalizing orgenre-breaking, I’m quite content with just having it heard at all. I think it’s acts like Stendeck, Autoclav1.1 and Disharmony that are a breath of fresh air. I mean, the #1 artist right now on the Deutsche Alternative Charts is Xotox. They make great dance music, but they’re not really doing anything new. You’ve got a lot of high-profile acts like that — KiEw, Feindflug, Noisuf-X — and that’s not a criticism, they’re all very good at what they do, it just so happens they do a lot of things other people do; but when I hear Stendeck, it doesn’t sound like anyone but Stendeck.
Chain D.L.K.: We all have musical guilty pleasures, what is yours?
Ad-ver-sary: Imani Coppola – Keys 2 Your Ass.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there anything you would like to add?
Ad-ver-sary: I don’t think many people have realized that they don’t have to rely on local promoters or clubs anymore for new music. If you hate your DJ, it’s easy to look up other playlists online and download whatever it is they’re spinning in Russia or Denmark. One of the easiest ways to improve a shitty club night is to request great music that the DJ has to look up.
Visit Ad-ver-sary on the web at:
[interviewed by Mike Grillo] [proofreading by Mike Grillo]