Happy birthday, Some Assembly Required! To celebrate SAR's 9th birthday (as well as the 200th episode!) we're playing musical chairs: For this week's Q&A, Jon will switch places and take the interviewee chair. And the honor of sitting in the interviewer's chair goes to me: TradeMark G., of The Evolution Control Committee.
Listeners of Some Assembly Required know well the familiar voice of Jon Nelson, who has hosted SAR since its inception. But his founding of this show is no accident -- did you know Jon is an audio collage artist himself? And did you know Jon is a NON-audio collage artist too? Few know what Jon does off the clock, and for this special occasion, I convinced him to take the hot seat so we can all learn more about him.
As I recall, I first learned about Jon from his own audio collage music under the name Escape Mechanism. I remember complimenting him on how clean the sounds were, and that his attention to detail really carried through. I wasn't the only one to notice -- his debut CD was reviewed in dozens of publications, and even a profile in WIRE Magazine. It also cemented his involvement in the cut-n-paste art world, resulting not only in the SAR radio show (syndicated to dozens of radio stations weekly) but also Jon's Festival of Appropriation, and his involvement in the Sound Unseen film festival. His own visual art regularly exhibits in galleries, with a major solo show coming up...
Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Escape Mechanism...
*Name: Escape Mechanism
*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: My name is Jonathan Nelson...
*Do you use a pseudonym? I host Some Assembly Required as Jon Nelson, and use the project name “Escape Mechanism,” when it comes to my own work as a sound collage artist.
*Members: Both Escape Mechanism and Some Assembly Required are solo projects. However, I have been supported and encouraged by a lot of people, including Amirali Raissnia, Gregg Boullosa, Corey Hanssen and Jayme Halbritter, who were the principle players in a short lived, but fun extension/combination of both projects, where we personally mixed sound collage live, both on the show and in performance spaces around Minneapolis. There have been many other players on that front, and many more who’ve been involved in other areas. For instance, I'll forever be in debt to Catherine Campion and Kate Iverson, for the major roles they’ve played in helping to promote Some Assembly Required over the years.
*Founding Members: Just me...
*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: I started working with a single dual cassette deck, in my teens. I’ve discovered, through many interviews with SAR artists, that this was in no way unusual. Years later, I learned to manipulate reel to reel tape recorders, using razor blades and wax pencils. I eventually got involved with college radio, in Minneapolis, where I was trained to edit digitally. So, mainly digital, but some tape... and very occasional experiments with vinyl.
*Another genre descriptor: It’s not really a genre descriptor, but Escape Mechanism’s catch phrase is “100% recycled,” because every sound incorporated into my collages is recycled exclusively from the media environment. In fact, SAR actually started out as a showcase for other artists who were 100% recycled. Fortunately, I decided to widen the parameters just the tiniest bit and we’ve been focusing more generally, on sample-based music and audio art since 1999.
*Why you use this descriptor: See above…
*Location: Minnesota. I’ve lived in the city of Minneapolis the longest (over ten years), but have spent lots of time in other places, namely Duluth (MN) and Chicago (IL).
*Original Location: I was born in Dallas, Texas.
*What is your creative/artistic background: I loved to draw when I was a kid, and got interested in Xerox Art, Sound Collage and Photography in high school. In college, I studied Fine Art for a few years, before my interest in sound collage propelled me toward a major in Production for Radio. From there, I got involved at my college radio station in Minneapolis. Eventually, I set up my own little production studio, and released my first album, an EP, in 1997, with a full-length follow-up in 1998. The radio program has been my main focus since then, although I have put out a couple of live albums – one with my own band (on Recombinations, in 2004) and another with Steev Hise, The Tape-beatles and Wobbly (on Staalplaat, in 2002). I’ve also been showing my visual assemblage work, and mounting sound installations, since the late 90's.
*History: My family moved to the suburbs of Minneapolis when I was 7 years old, and to the suburbs of Chicago when I was 17. I spent over three years at The Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and then Columbia College, in Chicago, through my early twenties. I was moving back, again, to Minnesota not long thereafter, and ended up volunteering at KUOM for just over a decade, where I started working on Some Assembly Required. I’ve worked all kinds of jobs in the meantime, and tried to be as creative as I could be, in spite of everything else that was going on.
*Born: Texas, 1974.
*Motivations: To champion works which illustrate the beauty of that which is Strangely Familiar… and to create some of my own surreal tracks as well.
*Philosophy: Some kind of a cross between the Road Less Traveled and the Middle Path.
*How would you like to be remembered: As a creative person - an artist - who tried very diligently to introduce a rather under appreciated art form to a few people who may not have noticed it otherwise. Hopefully I was able to encourage a little creativity in the process.