Stark Effect is California's Dr. David Dixon. He's a lecturer in physics at California Polytechnic State University and a member of the Snuggles Collective. His work has been included on compilations such as Boom Selection's "Never Mind the Bootlegs" and Free Speech For Sale. He's been featured on The Dr. Demento Show and XFM, and does everything from dictionaraoke tracks and mashups to sound collage and "mic in" tracks. Check out his website for more information and lots of free downloads.
Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Stark Effect...
*Name: Stark Effect
*Members: Stark Effect is just me, David Dixon.
*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Everything I do could be done by anyone with a PC, the appropriate software, and a keyboard acting as a MIDI controller. And an idea.
*Is there a story behind your name? Since I'm a physicist by training, I figured I should have a physics-oriented band name. I briefly considered calling myself the "Bersenheig Unprinciply Certaintle,” but thought it too abstruse. I settled on "Stark Effect" because it actually describes a physical phenomenon, namely the shift of electronic energy levels of an atom under the influence of a static electric field (named for Johannes Stark), but also because "stark" can be interpreted as "harsh" or "blunt.”
*Location: Los Osos, CA
*Original Location: I was born and raised in southeastern Wisconsin, near Milwaukee.
*What is your creative/artistic background: I wrote my first song when I was 6, on an air-driven organ that had special keys for playing chords. Early songs had titles like "Mellow-Dee.” Dr. Demento's show had a huge influence on me, to the extent that my first username on BBS's (bulletin board systems, for you young'uns) was "Mr. Parody.” I wrote "In The Gravy" to the tune of The Village People's "In The Navy."
*History: I listened to a lot of "new age" music (Vangelis, Jarre, etc.) during my formative teens, and had a series of Casiotone keyboards that got a lot of attention. My first formal lessons came in college, when it was already too late. During my first year of grad school, I recorded a tape of my own instrumentals (played on a Kawai K-4, which I still have), and shopped it around to various new age labels. I still have the rejection letters, somewhere.
*Born: April 7, 1970
*Motivations: What motivates me is that I want people to have an emotional connection to what I do. When you make a mix tape for a friend, you choose the tracks that convey beauty, or longing, or sadness, or jubilance, or surrealistic "what-the-f***?" I choose samples the same way. My primary influences are twofold: Steve Reich and Negativland. Steve Reich's "Different Trains,” using samples of Holocaust survivors as musical instruments, totally rocked half of my world when I first heard it in the early 90's. Negativland's collages rocked the other half. I bought a sampler and did some rudimentary explorations (which can be heard on my website, under "juvenalia"). These artists opened me up to using human speech as a musical element, which is what the Stark Effect tracks are all about. The "mic in track" songs, recorded between 2001 and 2004, are the best things I've ever done. I haven't been artistically active for a couple of years, because I feel like I've taken the "mic in track" idea as far as it needs to go. I have no immediate plans to make new music.
*Philosophy: The mathematician Carl Gauss had this as his motto: "Few, but ripe."
*How would you like to be remembered: I'd like to be remembered as someone who'd be memorable.
*Web address: All of my music can be downloaded for free at: