Soon after the release of “No No” for 1080p, which launched the tape version, and Software Recordings (vinyl and digital versions), we had the chance to get to know Baltimore-based Matt Papich, the brain behind the curtains of Co La. His funny, oblique sonorities and stylistic mimicry could be thought of like the jerky movements of an actor who is trying to cover a wide range of human drama from behind the curtain, in between the audience and the contemporary stage of the modern world. Matt’s amazing investigation of the sensual and emotional aspects of terrestrial life, according to the introductory words attached to this record, manages to act like a fun-house mirror by rendering an oddly emotional and alien dimension. Check out Co La’s interesting sonic emulsions for yourself!
Chain D.L.K.: Hiya Matt! How are you?
Co La: Hi, I’m good.
Chain D.L.K.: So you combed your hair…it might seem like a stupid question, but I think the relationship between a person and their own hair is very important…what’s yours like?
Co La: I love going to the barber. The track ‘Make It Slay’ from Moody Coup is my barbershop track – it’s made up of scissors and saxophone, and big, doom-inducing impact sounds. My hair is commented on fairly often, because of the color. I’ve realized more and more how much meaning has been given to red hair in pop culture – in cartoons, there are almost always redheads, and they are often the villain. In Norman Rockwell’s work, redheads play a constant role.
Chain D.L.K.: Who was Matt Papich before Co La? Who was Matt Papich after Co La?
Co La: My outward interests have changed, but the questions and investigations have stayed more or less the same. My practice is fluid; I’ve always worked with sound, flavor, and spatial art – sometimes simultaneously, other times discreetly.
Chain D.L.K.: Did Baltimore influence your brainchild in one way or another?
Co La: I’ve lived in Baltimore for most of my adult life, so yes, I do think it influences my work. The radio here – 92Q, is a constant inspiration. Club music and clubs like The Paradox have steered me dramatically. The DIY scene is also always changing and thriving; I try to keep up with it, and this influences how my music functions and what it means.
Chain D.L.K.: Would you label Co La’s style as deranged club music?
Co La: Yes, I think deranged is an apt word, for this new music especially.
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve read many interesting things about the idea behind No No, but it’s better to let the author speak about such a delicate matter…can you explain it?
Co La: No No is an anxious record for me. I made it over a 6-8 month period when I had dismantled some of the primary structures in my life, domestically, in relation to work and personally. So it reflects that in some ways, and it deliberately pushes to extremes – I wanted to make something that would be even distasteful in a way. It’s dance music in Baltimore, but in most other places, it is deeply experimental and outlandish. Its surface is slick and mostly cold – but, I think there is also a kind of humor in this record that did not exist before in my work; it becomes more apparent with time as the initial reactions wear away.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s the strangest sample you inserted into No No?
Co La: In my opinion, none of the samples are so strange on their own. The uncanny feeling comes from combinations, where memory and expectation are both playing a role – when the listening process includes both clarification and confusion at once.
Chain D.L.K.: …and the most difficult to recognize?
Co La: There are quite a few samples of old hard drives starting up and spinning. I would imagine those are unrecognizable to many people.
Chain D.L.K.: I’ve also read that No No was partially inspired by the American news cycle and the so-called f5 syndrome…are you planning any updates related to forthcoming presidential elections?
Co La: Well, there are more songs from the same era, songs I’ve used in live performances or mixes…I’m kind of watching the potential meaning of those songs shift. They are slippery right now – I can imagine them making sense soon.
Chain D.L.K.: Which sample would you attach to each candidate to the supposedly highest function in the U.S.?
Co La: I don’t really think of samples that way. But, I’d say the candidate I’d most like to sample is Sanders.
Chain D.L.K.: While listening to some of your stuff in No No, older, seemingly abstract collages came to my mind…I could mention Tal, Bisk, The Rip-Off Artist…first of all, would you consider Co La’s output an abstract work?
Co La: It is abstract, this record especially – it barely relies on melody, and emotionally it’s obtuse. No No can be very functional, though; performing sets of this material is intense, as the audience becomes involved in enacting a narrative in a way. It’s a journey set.
Chain D.L.K.: Any past releases that you could consider somehow related to “No No”?
Co La: I don’t think about that so much.
Chain D.L.K.: Some consider “No No” as an investigation into terrestrial life…do you consider yourself a sort of alien?
Co La: I’m told I am an alien, but I feel very stable on earth.
Chain D.L.K.: Why did you match sequences of bubbling water to “Barricade”?
Co La: Barricade is a formal track, and it functions well as a club track – for dancing. So, it’s a formal approach really, making a construction. The bubbles samples make us want to move as they sound, and it opens the room up for bodies to move. With the kick drum occupying such low frequencies, the bubbles have a kind of uncanny effect; they help shift our perception of the room.
Chain D.L.K.: One of my favorite tracks is “Noon (Blue)”…could you describe its elements in more detail?
Co La: Noon opens with an Alto Saxophone…a drum kit that is made of pressure relief sounds and some kick drums…there is a classical guitar Kontakt instrument…samples of dogs barking…field recordings I made of driving and listening to gospel radio in Baltimore…there are guitar harmonic samples from an electric guitar…. an Ableton Latin drum kit playing rolls….
Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to make videoclips for some tracks of “No No”?
Co La: We’ve made some, teasers in a way. A longer video piece called Shrink will be released soon; its a companion to the album in some ways.
Chain D.L.K.: Have you performed it on live stage yet?
Co La: Yes, in Baltimore, NY, LA, Portland, and Seattle.
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress???
Co La: Always!!
visit Co La’s soundcloud at: soundcloud.com/co_la