Sunday, March 30, 2008

Oh Astro

Oh Astro

Oh Astro is Jane Dowe and Hank Hofler (and sometimes Stefen Robinson). The married couple/duo lived in Tokyo for a few years before settling in the college town of Normal, Illinois. They have a couple of records out on the Illegal Art label.

Jane Dowe contributed to the Deconstructing Beck compilation, in 1998, and was the driving force behing the first Oh Astro release. Hofler has performed with artists such as Otomo Yoshihide and Merzbow and originally performed as Jane Dowe, instead of his wife, before performing under his own name, and eventually became a partner with her on the Oh Astro project.

Hofler is currently a teacher at Illinois State University, in an Arts Technology program at the college. Jane Dowe has been focusing more recently on video installation. Their 2007 release, Champions of Wonder is also available via Illegal Art's Download Club.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Oh Astro...

*Name: Oh Astro

*Members: There are two main members, Jane Dowe and myself (Hank Hofler). Stefen Robinson (aka Yea Big), has contributed to enough tracks that he's considered a part-time member.

*Founding Members: It started as Jane's project, although Stefen and I were already in the shadows. We were all hanging out quite a bit and discussing how experimental computer processes could be applied to a more pop-like music.

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: It's all computer and software-based music. We have used a mic and some external controllers, but it's mainly the computer.

*Another genre descriptor: I'm not sure. I'd prefer to just call it music. We're trying desperately to make music out of unconventional methods. Some reviewers have been using the term poptronica, which I kind of like, but that lumps us in with artists who we really don't have much in common with. I also like the term micro-sampling, but that has its problems as well. Similar to the terms you mention it focuses more on the technique rather than the end sonic result.

*Location: Illinois

*Original Location: I'm originally from California, but it's been years since I lived there.

*What is your creative/artistic background: I grew up playing the piano, and eventually picked up the guitar, then studied composition at the university, which led me to the electronic music studio. After that I've been pretty focused on electronic music. Jane also has a musical background, but her current direction is moving more towards working with video for gallery installations.

*History: This is the first CD we've earnestly created as a collaborative effort. I was involved with the first EP, but it wasn't really a collective project at that point.

*Motivations: I'm not sure. I have a compulsion to create this type of music. It doesn't really make much sense in the grand scheme of things, but I guess all artists have a need to create and communicate with the world in their own way.

*Philosophy: Music can be one of the most magical experiences, and we're definitely seeking that unexplainable transformation. We've felt it in other music and we're somehow trying to replicate it.

*How would you like to be remembered: I would love to have a positive impact on the world, but I mainly hope that my kids remember me as a decent person.

*Web address:

Episode 204, Some Assembly Required

Episode 204, Some Assembly Required

01 Oh Astro – “Hello Fuji Boy”
02 Value Village People - “The Gentle Art Of Verbal Abuse”
03 Nathan DeWitt – “No; Nobody”
04 B'O'K - “Given Away”
05 Go Home Productions - “Pink Wedding”
06 Brian Joseph Davis – “Prince”
07 DJ Shiro – “Science Friction”
08 Cassetteboy – “Anyway, Right, So I Said To Her”
09 DJ lobsterdust – “SaySayism Allstar Jam”
10 Kid Koala – “A Night at the Nufonia”
11 DJ Linux – “Shoot First”
12 Whimsical Will – “Hey Batman!”
13 Twink – “Hot Diggety”
14 Negativland – “Time Zones”
15 Party Ben – “Somebody Rock Me”

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Saturday, March 22, 2008



Coldcut consists of former art teacher Jonathan More and computer programmer Matt Black. They've been at it since 1987, when they released the UK's first sample-based record (Say kids, what time is it?) as a white label single. The duo started their Solid Steel show on Kiss FM the following year and had co-founded the record label Ninja Tune by 1990. Since then they've released over a half dozen albums along with countless remixes and singles.

Ninja Tune has released albums by over sixty artists, including DJ Food, Kid Koala and Amon Tobin, to really just scratch the surface, and Solid Steel has evolved into a series of DJ mix CDs, a weekly podcast and live nightclub events showcasing Ninja Tune artists. It remains a highly respected radio program on the BBC's London Live radio station as well.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Coldcut...

*Name: Coldcut

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: It is either Coldcut live or Coldcut DJ set.

*Do you use a pseudonym? Matt Black is a pseudonym, Jonathan More is not.

*Members: The core members are Matt Black and Jonathan More. We also have Raj Pannu on turntables and Juice on MC duties.

*Founding Members: Matt Black and Jonathan More

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: Err buskers maybe, or all three of the above.

*Another genre descriptor: Not as such, audio visual tricknology.

*Is there a story behind your name? We started working together over a butcher’s shop in London... surrounded by coldcuts of meat. Our cutz are the coldest.

*Location: London

*What is your creative/artistic background: Jonathan More: Teacher 3D design art graduate. Matt Black: Computer programmer, science graduate.

*History: 20 yearssssssssssss

*Born: Jon More: Oxfordshire, 22/03/1957. Matt Black: London, 14/03/1961

*Motivations: Creativity, stupidity, love, anger, tea.

*Philosophy: It only hurts when you stop.

*How would you like to be remembered: As the plinth, not the statue.

*Web address:

Episode 65, Some Assembly Required

Episode 65, Some Assembly Required

01 Coldcut - "Say kids (what time is it?)"
02 Cassetteboy - "Magic watery stickers"
03 Cassetteboy - "A black swan bit my red shoe"
04 Cassetteboy - "Sick as a dog"
05 Cassetteboy - "Hideous krow"
06 Negativland - "The perfect cut (good as gold)"
07 Larry Stepniak - "Amnesia"
08 DJ Brokenwindow - "Oh yeah uh uhh"
09 Cassetteboy - "The sea dogs"
10 Realistic - "Larry likes greeting"
11 Rik Rue - "All the mistakes of experience"
12 Beyond There - "On wax"
13 Hal Willner - "If I had known"
14 David Shea -
"Untitled (Let's Entertain)"
15 Protocol Helix - "Nekro-meater"
16 Big City Orchestra - "Bulldog"
17 Myeck Waters - "The banjo"
18 Rik Rue - "Clicking over (for Jap Blonk with thanks)"
19 David Shea - "Untitled (Let's Entertain)"
20 Carl Stone - "Boo-dop"
21 DJ Brokenwindow - "Leave it turquoise"

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Thursday, March 20, 2008

Secret Mommy

Secret Mommy

Secret Mommy is Vancouver's Andy Dixon. He has six albums and EPs, including "Hawaii 5.0" which we've been playing a lot on the show. He co-founded his first band (d.b.s), when he was twelve years old and has continued to play guitar and write music ever since. He's also a graphic designer, and runs his own record label (Ache), when not performing in the band Winning, or as Secret Mommy.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Secret Mommy...

*Name: Secret Mommy

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: The Secret Mommy Quintet

*Do you use a pseudonym? Yes, Secret Mommy is not my real name.

*Members: Secret Mommy is me, Andy Dixon, but I love to work with other people, sample other musicians, and play live that way as well.

*Founding Members: Andy Dixon

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: I guess I'd go with digital deconstructions.

*Another genre descriptor: I really try to stay away from anything like that. It seems to me that describing your own music creates boundaries.

*Is there a story behind your name? It doesn't mean much! It's a totally ambiguous name which more or less congealed out of thin air.

*Location: Vancouver, Canada

*What is your creative/artistic background: My first band was called d.b.s. We played our first show when I was 13. I was in that band, playing guitar and writing songs, until I was 22. I've been an active musician in the punk/underground scene for 15 years.

*History: Secret Mommy has been around since 2003, so 5 years.

*Born: I was born in Vancouver, in 1979.

*Motivations: I have no idea. I guess I simply can't help it. I love creating. I don't know how to do anything else.

*Philosophy: I think it changes from album to album. For example, Very Rec, my album
created entirely from field recordings of public space and recreational activity was a stab at the mounting quantity of careerists in a once "do it for the love of the music" music scene.

*How would you like to be remembered: As someone who created purely, with no restriction.

*Web address:

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Episode 203, Some Assembly Required

Episode 203, Some Assembly Required

01 ComaR – “Billie Jean, My Love”
02 Realistic – “Conversation Hearts”
03 Secret Mommy – “The Drink”
04 diGBox – “Fear”
05 Wobbly – “Not breached”
06 Antediluvian Rocking Horse - “Lost Sky Daffodil”
07 CCC – “Lust Train”
08 Madlib - “Freeze”
09 The Bran Flakes – “L'Inverno”
10 Stark Effect – “I Got You Babe”
11 DJ Foundation - “Sunni & Shia / ‘I Shot You Babe’”
12 LOO & PLACIDO – “Should I Stay Or Should I Boogie”
13 X-ecutioners – “Play That Beat”
14 DJ Foundation - "usa”
15 team9 - “When will my cheated heart”

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Social Security

Social Security

Social Security is a Georgia based audio collage duo featuring the talents of Joe Scagnetti and E. Robert Frank. They've contributed tracks to compilations such as The Droplift Project and Free Speech For Sale, and Frank also works on a project under the name Digital Poodle, which he calls The Great Directors. The project is based very loosely on the careers of five well-known film directors, for no other reason than the fact that Frank needed a non-personal subject on which to write lyrics. Both Poodleface and Social Security claim an interest in the Absurd as a primary motivating factor.

There are soundfiles and videos to download at their website. Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Joe Scagnetti of Social Security...

*Name: Social Security

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: I performed some of our Social Security material solo at the Atlanta Laptop Battle as El Hadron (accent over the o).

*Do you use a pseudonym? Both band members use multiple pseudonyms.

*Members: Two

*Founding Members: Joe Scagnetti and E. Robert Frank (these are our main pseudonyms).

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: I just call us "audio collage,” but primarily our work is done with digital wave editing, supplemented by anything else we feel like (guitars, synths, tape squeals, AM radio, feedback).

*Another genre descriptor: We don't have any of those fancy nicknames for our music.

*Location: Atlanta, started while we were both at Georgia Tech.

What is your creative/artistic background: I grew up with a music-loving mother who had me playing piano (at first accordion) at an early age. I believe that I had some raw musical talent, but a lack of attention span made me a very poor student. I had lessons off and on but quit before I even got to high school. I also made an abortive attempt at guitar lessons in high school, but I don't think my stubby hands will ever allow me to "unleash the f**ing fury" like that. However, I have been a computer geek since elementary school, and I have always enjoyed creating things. In fact, I have a bit of a complex where I can't just passively enjoy a hobby and have to become a creator as well. This applies to just about anything I enjoy, from video games to crossword puzzles to music to comedy. While in high school, I was in the BBS scene. In those download areas, I stumbled onto .MOD files and had to start making my own songs with ScreamTracker. Later in college I moved up to wave file editing with CoolEdit. Nowadays all the kids love their fancy toys like Ableton Live and Reason but I pretty much stick to CoolEdit or custom code that I've written. I do want to learn Ableton though... Rob (the other band member) has been in a large number of bands since he was a teenager, many of them traditional rock but always with a bit of a weird twist. He is an excellent guitar player, and his musical ability carries over to just about any instrument he picks up. He uses keyboard synths quite a bit now, and I believe he is completely self-taught there, but he's still better than me. He is also excellent at constructing electronically, and he has been focusing on audio/video collage songs including original music. Most of this he does under the name Poodleface. Also he was on American Idol once.

*History: The first Social Security track was made in 1998, I believe. So 10 years now.

*Born: We were both born in 1978, a few months apart. I grew up around Fort Lauderdale, FL, and he grew up in Macon, GA.

*Motivations: The aforementioned creative complex compels me to grab the steering wheel. I get a thrill like no other when I feel like I have created something of value, no matter what it is. I have a favorite quote by Albert Camus which says, "The absurd joy par excellence is creation." Another quite good one from Nietzsche: "We have art in order that we do not die of the truth." I mean it quite literally when I say that to me the purpose of life is creating things (perhaps followed closely by comedy).

*Philosophy: I'm not sure you could say there is much of one, other than to create and to have fun. We were influenced by Negativland and other audio collage greats who tend to recontextualize samples to make social comments, which is definitely something we like to do as well, but that is not the entirety of what we do. Sometimes you just want to combine sounds because they work well together or perhaps form something absurd. I can say though that our name is meant as a sort of joke. Obviously the phrase "Social Security" has a certain connotation due to that crusty old government program that is falling apart (which is another joke in itself), but when we chose it as our name we intended it more as the concept of feeling secure in social settings (e.g., buying clothing from the right designer or getting the stylish haircut). This ties into the themes of cultural hypocrisy and the advertising machine which we enjoy referencing with the sources we sample.

*How would you like to be remembered: If we're remembered at all it would be no minor accomplishment. We are a relatively unknown, non-prolific group. That said, I personally would like us to be remembered as the greatest band that ever existed, as well as the ones who brought peace to the Middle East.

*Web address:

Episode 64, Some Assembly Required

Episode 64, Some Assembly Required

01 Klarc Qent - "Junk jazz"
02 Mr. Dibbs - "Delta bound"
03 Steve Fisk - "The firin' line"
04 Hal Willner - "A night at the playpen"
05 The Tape-beatles - "Scream scream scream"
06 Myeck Waters - "Hey mister storyteller"
07 Social Security - "Hi, bye"
08 Donna Summer - "The man who was Thursday"
09 Carl Stone - "Round midnight"
10 Asterisk - "I have a peanut butter knife and a cheese knife"
11 Deejay JC - "Friends don't let friend watch Friends"
12 The Button - "The subconscious mind"
13 Myeck Waters - "I love dirt"
14 The Angel - "Strange times"
15 Realistic - "Beating carpet mites"

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Listen With Sarah

Listen With Sarah

British composer Sarah Nelson has been working (with co-producer, Peter Nelson) to produce tracks under the name Listen With Sarah, since 2002. She's described her output as everything from avant-garde, computer music, cut and paste, dada, dance music, downtempo, drum n bass, eclectic, electronica, experimental, leftfield, mash-up, music concrete, plunderphonics, sound collage and techno, not to mention all the made up names she's come up with! I'm not overly familiar with all of those genres, but her work fits right in around here, thanks to her liberal use of sampling...

She currently has one album, five EPs, and a seven inch available primarily through Womb Records and Cherryade. Her work is featured on a few compilations as well. Check out her discography, including many downloadable tracks at her website.

Without further ado, here's the SAR Q&A with Listen With Sarah...

*Name: Listen With Sarah

*Are there any additional names used to describe this project: In my early computer experiments, I went by the name 'Mama Bud.' I later settled on ‘Listen With Sarah (aka LWS).

*Do you use a pseudonym? Elvis! Maybe I'll use an anagram for some future project. Anagrams are fun. I'm quite taken with 'Anita Welsh Shirt' and 'Waistline Thrash'...

*Members: One woman (Sarah Nelson) plus computer (Shuttle XPC), with occasional virtual animal orchestra and constant husband (Peter Nelson, listener and co-producer).

*Founding Members: Me (Sarah).

*Tape manipulations, digital deconstructions or turntable creations: I’m a “digital decomposer” - 10 piano-playing digits with silicon chips. So far LWS has been mainly computer-based enmanglement with occasional keyboard twiddling. I gather together various audio samples in digital form (recorded music, speech, TV dialogue etc.) and transmute them using wave editing and loop sequencing programmes.

*Another genre descriptor: "Breakbleet farmcore hulastep serendipity" is my catchy made-up genre name.

*Why you use this descriptor:
Mostly I just like sound of it, but it does also refer to some of the favorite things I've used in my creations, like rhythmic animal sounds, breaks, hula music, chance discoveries and nonsense. I like to think the phrase suggests collage, cut and paste and dada.

*Location: Currently living in East Sussex.

*Original Location:
The 60s. Britain: born in Portsmouth, grew up in Essex and Gloucestershire.

*What is your creative/artistic background:
Music loving parents, who fed my young ears with tasty sounds such as Hendrix, Beethoven and Scott Joplin. Folk clubs. Piano lessons. Recorder playing in a medieval folk ensemble. Truth seeking….philosophy, psychology, mysticism, marijuana….computer programming, or as I like to call it, ‘computer whispering.' Listening. Baking.

*History: My musical computer experiments began in late 2002.

1965 Portsmouth, UK.

One day I began, I liked the results, so I carried on. I knew I’d eventually start exploring computer music, to bring together my musical and technical tendencies, go beyond the limitations of my two piano-playing hands and manifest the sound images in my head. With computer I am unlimited multi-limbed cybermusician. Hear me byte. I do what I do to amuse myself mostly. To immerse myself in sound, drive out thought and forget the passing of time. For pleasure, laughter, therapy, self-expression, following the innocent desire to play, explore and experiment. It’s an outlet for an urge to control and order things. Or disorder things. To obsess, deliberate and arrange things precisely, or serendipitously. Using a computer enables me to slow down and manipulate time, in a way, and to loop until my heart’s content, to listen to things repeating, repeating and repeating. Often I have some craving to hear a particular sound in a particular context or a particular combination of things... Sharing the fruits of all this can feel very good. I like it that some of my music makes people laugh. When I’m in my right mind, my motivation is love.

Be ludic. Be ludicrous. Any sound can be music if you loop it enough. Warning: may contain bulldada.

*How would you like to be remembered:
As you wish.

*Web address:

Episode 202, Some Assembly Required

Episode 202, Some Assembly Required
(Featuring an interview with DJ Spooky)

01 Rob Swift - “Dope On Plastic”
02 Listen With Sarah - “Ramblin' Andy”
03 X-ecutioners – “One Man Band”
04 Go Home Productions – “Baby's Got a Crazy Horse”
05 Negativland – “Asphalt Remix”
06 DJ Spooky – “Galactic Funk”
07 DJ Spooky - “Absentia Absentia (Dialectical Triangulation III)”
08 DJ Spooky vs. Dave Lombardo – “Incipit Zarathustra”
09 Saul Williams – “Not in Our Name (DJ Spooky Remix)”
10 DJ Spooky – “It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, World”

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