Sonic Boom Interview 1997
(Conducted by e-mail – 1/24/97)
Jester: How did you first get involved with music?
Bryan: I always flirted with music, playing piano, guitar, drums when I was young, but it wasn’t until I was about 18 that I bought a keyboard and started to sequence tracks. Computer sequencers were becoming popular and it seemed like the best way to make electronic music. “Tension Filter” contains the first group of songs I constructed in those formative years.
Jester: What kind of musical training have you had if any?
Bryan: A little piano, but it was my computer knowledge that gave me the opportunity to make music on my own.
Jester: How did your arrangement with Fifth Column Records come about?
Bryan: I saw a video clip of Chemlab’s “Filament” on 120 minutes and decided to send my music to Chemlab. Jared called back and said he was interested in hearing a real studio demo, so I sent him ‘Deep Into The Holes of My Soul’ which immediately got me a deal.
Jester: When you sit down and write a new track, do you use any formal compositional method?
Bryan: No, I usually start out with a carefully crafted (not sampled) loop (drum, bass, anything rhythmic) and work from that.
Jester: What is your biggest musical influence?
Bryan: I’ve always likes Meat Beat Manifesto, Foetus, Nitzer Ebb, etc. right now I’m not terribly excited about any industrial bands, but I listen to Tricky, Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Surgeon.
Jester: What is your favorite track that you have ever written?
Bryan: Probably ‘Resonance’ off of “Funkyhell”.
Jester: Why is ‘Resonance’ your favorite track?
Bryan: ‘Resonance’ was put together with components that you would never expect to hear together. That’s what “Funkyhell” is all about. Slow loops, feedback, static, raw analog synth tones, and seductive vocals. It represents my favorite three minutes of music and the Haloblack sound I’ve longed to create.
Jester: What other musical projects have you worked on besides Haloblack?
Bryan: Only Hellbent so far. I’m focusing on a project called Regulator which will be my version of electro-techno bleep. Other than that, I did some studio and sound work for Prince, and I made some sounds for Tricky. I also contributed some Haloblack and Hellbent edits for a PC game called ‘Rebel Moon’.
Jester: How did you manage to get the job as keyboard tech for a Prince tour?
Bryan: I was asked to play at his studio for a special party, and he had the show taped. I got a call the next day to come in for a job. I think he got wind of my version of “Irresistible Bitch”.
Jester: Would you be interested in collaborating with other artists?
Bryan: It’s always difficult succumbing to other peoples ideas and work methods. Although I like to work with people like Eric Powell of 16 Volt, and Levi of Thrill Kill Kult. Hopefully Jared and I can rip off TLC again on the next Hellbent.
Jester: How did you arrange to go on tour with Cobalt 60 this spring?
Bryan: We both were working with the same booking agent that was supposed to put the Machinefest together. As with any industrial tour, it’s never likely to really happen.
Jester: Can you describe what your live performances are like?
Bryan: Heavy emphasis on electronics, mid-tempo, and spine-chilling as opposed to bone grating.
Jester: Why are almost all of your vocals whispered instead of sung?
Bryan: Whispering for me is more seductive. I really wanted to distance myself from the aggro chant thing.
Jester: How much input did you actually have in the Hellbent project?
Bryan: I did the music for six of the tracks, as well as some lyrical input and I sang on about half of the tracks.
Jester: Why hasn’t the ‘Balance’ remix with the whale song ever seen the light of day on one of your releases? (I got it on an early demo you sent me)
Bryan: The remix of ‘Balance’ is going to be released on a Fifth Column Records compilation soon. There is an E.P. of remixes and b-sides that I can’t wait to release someday, I’m just waiting for the right opportunity. A song called ‘Hard End’ will soon be released on another Fifth Column Records compilation of a few bands from the label. A lot of my time in the studio is spent doing remixes. Sound collages more than proper remixes. I’ve never released them yet because I hate putting remixes on with album tracks.
Jester: How did you get involved with making sounds for Tricky of all people?
Bryan: We met in Minneapolis last year. I was going to give him a tour of Prince’s studio, Paisley Park Studios (where I was working at the time), but that didn’t pan out because of his manager. So I gave him the e.p. of remixes and b-sides I had just finished at the show. We met up again in Portland soon after and kept in touch when he was back in London. I made him a DAT of sounds, mostly static and loops which may see the light on a future release.
Jester: Do your live performances contain any type of audio visual aspect to them?
Bryan: Before I made electronic music, I was studying film and video. So the first few shows had animation and video. After about three or four broken monitors I decided it was not financially practical. I am working on music animation videos right now though.
Jester: Which track did Jared sing on for Hellbent?
Bryan: Track 2, “Sleeper” We also worked on ‘Anti-Cool’ together lyrically, but he was in NY and the mix had to be done in a day. So we ripped of TLC’s crazy, sexy cool vibe.
Jester: Whose idea was it to put together the Hellbent project?
Bryan: Eric of 16 Volt and I had talked about it throughout our tour together sometime in 95. We just wanted to get away from guitars for awhile and experiment with electronics while keeping the hard dance vibe.
Jester: Will we ever see Hellbent tour as a full band?
Bryan: Other than the brief tour of myself and Chemlab and 16 Volt as Hellbent last year, there are no plans in the future, but we never announce Hellbent shows anyway.
Jester: Where does more of your motivation and influence come from in your lyrics?
Bryan: Pure unaltered inspirations from experiences of any kind. Almost too abstract to follow, but not quite poetry. I work with themes and ideas. Words, not stories per say.
Jester: Where do all of the sounds that you use in your music come from? Are they sampled, constructed, altered from presets?
Bryan: I work everyday on sounds and loops. Probably too much, but I never sample other people’s music or other man made sounds. I really enjoy experimenting with mistakes that turn into cool grooves. I have a lot of methods of creating sounds that will hopefully never be recreated. I take alot of pride in the music being original and inspired. I can’t even think about what pop hook is going to sway the most listeners as possible. I realize that I may only attract a small percentage of people to my music, but at least those people are getting more from my music than they would from major label industrial shit.
Jester: What is your primary motivation for making music?
Bryan: Creation. Nothing in the world interests me more than making a cohesive piece of art that is somehow as challenging and inspiring to the listener as it is to the person who created it.
Jester: Where do you see Haloblack going musically in the future?
Bryan: I think Haloblack will always be around in an underground fashion. I have no desire to be on MTV and I’m not making records for money. hopefully the people who discover Haloblack will appreciate the fact that I’m not selling out and will continue to make music with more integrity and importance than Gravity Sucks or whatever pathetic formula band is around at the time.