The new album “Esque,” by anti-vowel electronic artist “GRKZGL” is available now through the Angle Rec label. Despite enjoying the album in a “pure sound” sense, the near-total abstraction of the work left me with lots of questions– what could hope to be understood from this album? Was this another example of “message-less” art? It was with these (and a few other) questions in mind that I conducted this interview…
STARTLING MONIKER: Let’s start with the proverbial “elephant in the room.” How do you say “grkzgl,” and what does it mean?GRKZGL: It’s pronounced something like “Grak-siggle”, and has a story to it. One day at a friend’s house we had a discussion on how pet names are too often the same. I spontaneously suggested a cat name, which came out as “Grawksiggle”, and even wrote it down on a piece of paper – which remained on said friend’s fridge for nearly a year! I used “Grkzgl” to sign emails every now and then, and finally figured it would make a good artist name.
SM: I’ve been told you’re from Montreal, but it seems you’re currently in Japan. Is this a permanent move? How is this affecting (or reflected in) your music, particularly “Esque” ?
G: This is by no means a permanent move – I’m only here for a year as an exchange student. Naturally, I’m learning Japanese. What started out as a pretty random choice (literally, one morning a friend asked me “hey, wanna take japanese lessons?”) three years ago has snowballed quite a bit!
It’s actually music that got me interested in Japan in the first place, and on that level I haven’t been disappointed! “Esque” is in a style that I haven’t dabbled with for some time – my last laptop performance was in early June for Le Placard at Mutek, and I have written no new digital material since then. I made the switch to analog suddenly this spring, and haven’t looked back since (though it is a pain to carry all that stuff around!) Also, since Osaka is a very rock’n’roll city, I’d be rather shy to go around playing on a computer. I usually feel safe & weird with my 4 tape recorders, looped cassettes and effects…
SM: One of the most interesting aspects of “Esque” is its general incomprehensibility. Unlike the “IDM” genre tag I can already see being applied to it, ‘Esque” doesn’t even seem to flirt with dance-ability. But it’s also doesn’t seem to be delivering any sort of message, or evoking a idea. I’m very interested and fascinated with creations of this sort– beautiful, but somehow purposeless. What are your thoughts on this?
G: Well, I find “Dékiff” to be the dancy track! I actually used to write some unconvincing “Amber”-era Autechre inspired stuff before I got into more extreme glitch, so to me there are still a few IDM-isms left in “Esque”. But I think you hit the nail on the head, there is not much implied meaning to what I do… As the old cliché goes, it’s up to the listener to interpret my abstractions.
SM: What do you have coming up? (shows, albums, collaborations, etc)
G: Brise-Cul records in Montreal just released a collaboration album with Wapstan called “Garkzistan Vol.I”… basically two long jams recorded in one day last August, a week before I left to Japan. It’s rather heavy stuff… As for shows, right now I only have Korea lined up, but I’d love going to China or Taiwan later in 2007.
SM: Do you have projects under other names, or as yourself?
G: Grkzgl is the only project I have right now. Even if my material varies quite a bit, I don’t feel the need for multiple monikers.
SM: What have you been listening to lately? What recordings would you recommend?
G: Nowadays I obsessively listen to Angel’in Heavy Syrup… As far as noise goes, BusRatch’s crunchy textures are highly inspiring – I recommend their album with Otomo Yoshihide, “Time Magic City”… tasty.