회사AUTO “This is how pop music feels; this is our perpetual desire to consume; this is our reoccurring problem; this is our ideological trap.”

Demolishing art you make is a frequent occurrence while creating a masterpiece. Well, my boiii 회사AUTO not only intentionally creates sonic disaster areas, but thrives on hearing what DOESN’T work. And having smashed together 10 releases, he JUST RELEASED something WAY different than before, drawing from intentional mistakes to a variety of thought-provoking tunes.

As both a producer and vaporwaver, he’s making something extremely different. Sorta. Entitled Neon Beige, 회사AUTO’s new album continues his initiative to grab from all across the musical spectrum, but this time he’s gone almost entirely hands-on in synthetic sound creation, as opposed to having been perceived before as a mostly sample-based musician. From Zaturn Valley to 회사AUTO, we spoke about everything you need to know to prove the fellah is human, but without a name.

Now, 회사AUTO, you are in FACT a human, yes?

Half human, half emoji ^_^. Emojis express emotions deeper than any Shakespearean sonnet. Our generation’s Sistine Chapel. Religions, tears, and rebirths all condensed into text form. Now here, we have something very strange, let us observe this thing: 회사AUTO = company car. Half-Korean, half-German. Always taking you to places; some desirable, some horrid, yet nevertheless, perpetually moving. Is this more of the same or something new? Let’s see and discover together, at first in the third person, then finally a bit more personally and naked.

Do you find people have trouble initially understanding the name?

How can a trans-human aesthetic be created and also related to message more than a cultural lens or individual ego? How can music serve rather than take and require? There is little to no ego to 회사AUTO and no one face to this project. It is faceless. While masks are liberating, facelessness creates a void that helps fill the listeners’ minds with personal subjective reality, not the creators; thus we are freed as little to no imposed image or cultural willfulness is pushed onto the audience.

Are there any other major challenges/problems have you faced since establishing 회사AUTO?

Maintaining individual ethic amongst a sea of seemingly similar aesthetic and/or labels, 회사AUTO never equals anything and serves no one for nothing, thus can appeal to anyone. The project takes, creates, samples, spins, chops, and glitches out. The listener and the creator have a similar connection: neither knows what to expect. Where is this music coming from? Is this reality? Is this creation? Who is creating it? Is there an actual person or merely just a house of mirrors? This is not known.

Where along the line did you aspire to make the change in 회사AUTO from _N to Neon Beige?

There is a push and pull, ebb and flow between accessibility and experimentation. What makes Bruno Mars and Brian Eno both appealing? Sometimes we want sugar; easily digestible things that can make us feel instantly good. Overdo this, and sickness happens. Sometimes we need something deeper; instead of reading Dick and Jane we read Dostoevsky, instead of listening to Mariah we turn on Liszt.


Pop music is fun, easy, and cool, but it is reminiscent of [this is reworded] the High Fidelity Cusack quote, “What came first, the music or the misery? Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable or were we miserable because we listened to pop music?” Slavoj Žižek describes this so clearly [also reworded, ad libbed], when he stated, “What we desire is what is cool. Like a can of Pepsi, we drink it because we think it is cool. It should refresh and quench, but au contraire, it leaves the consumer feeling more thirsty and unsatisfied.” This is how pop music feels; this is our perpetual desire to consume; this is our reoccurring problem; this is our ideological trap. Sometimes a soda is wanted and we will continue to want, but never be filled. Mostly, we need water and something with actual substance.

Changes made for this project have not followed the conventional path of what should be; why follow the path so often traveled? There is no hype to fill or aspect to assimilate into; this project centers on the rectification of inspiration. There is no genre or label or face, there is continual change, and there is consistent creation. There is no failure and there is consistent failure — it is life! It is also dreams, but are dreams not part of life? Nevertheless, it actually occurred. This music was created and couldn’t have been created any other way. What was released is released; it happened and there is no turning back.

회사AUTO was born from rotting garbage that would eventually be used against the system it came from; this became a new creation that was blessed by the interwebs, only to be destroyed and birthed again. The cycle perpetuates.

What’s been your greatest failure as 회사AUTO?

회사AUTO began as a representation of Shiva. The embodiment of the metaphorical form — not creation, not maintenance, but destruction. This was done with the purpose of leading to new life. Previous work was created, and then maintaining this finishing product became stale, so destruction was necessary in order for new seeds could germinate.

In the beginning was destruction, and destruction was 회사AUTO. The destruction was aimed directly at icons. 회사AUTO started as iconoclasm. Iconoclasm begat staleness, and this staleness yearned to rot. Rotting lent nutrition and begat life. Thus, 회사AUTO was born from rotting garbage that would eventually be used against the system it came from; this became a new creation that was blessed by the interwebs, only to be destroyed and birthed again. The cycle perpetuates.

And as this cycle perpetuates, what’s been the most difficult decision you’ve made as a musician in the last two years, and how did you come to that decision?

After receiving a telephone call regarding PR and promotion for previous work, there was the realization that music in this day and age inevitably fed the capitalistic marketplace. 회사AUTO began as the rejection of PR, the rejection of indie, hipster, buzz, hype; it embodied self-destruction and annihilation. All these things required money, and while money was never a problem for these things, it was for this project. Thus, the beginnings were inspired by accelerationist theories manifested through song in an attempt to move the system from the base instead of critiquing the apex of the hierarchy. Inevitably, the movement became solidified as vaporwave and was incorporated into the hegemonic ideology and the constraints that the movement once fought against; it became publicity. It birthed some wonderful artists but also some narcissists.

This was the demise and first challenge; this particular project fought against this by pushing past the set sound and aesthetic while maintaining the core values. The images and genres continually changed in an effort to eliminate any desire to converge with the ongoing solidification [and halting] of the movement. As sloppy or as beautiful as the creations from this project have been, creation will continue in an effort of pure human will. The main message: this can be done, anyone can create, and money should never stand in the way of personal art.

As an educator IRL, do your students support you with your URL artistic endeavors?

Anyone can appreciate art, but art is easier to appreciate knowledge, understanding, skills, and a proper disposition. While some teens and students may like these artistic endeavors, most desire to fill five basic needs that William Glasser easily defines as:

1. Survival — Feeling safe at school
2. Love and belonging — Not being rejected
3. Power and/or Recognition — Actually being significant through control or accomplishment of goals
4. Freedom — To have choices
5. Fun — To be satisfied

While I’d love to share my music, I feel like I am there to help these students move past “Identity vs. Role Confusion” — they don’t want a cool music teacher, they really just want someone who will fill their needs. I have shared with a couple students, but it left them really confused. I mainly keep it a secret, it’s more fun that way.

It seems as though you’ve a slew of instruments in your possession (via school AND especially at home). Which are your favorite and what are your most revered, but still used?

The bread and butter for all these songs from ÄmírecÄ onward is the Korg EMX-1 (ElecTribe). It’s an incredible analog sequencer that creates all of the beats, bass, arps, and numerous textures and sounds. The Fender Telecaster has been central to creation — instead of creating guitar riffs with this, Neon Beige took a left turn and made the tracks sound really dry instead of laying on the reverb to change things up. The electric guitar is a very active machine; playing it requires active human motion — beyond beats, it has been the main, hands-on instrument for 14 years of work.

They take sample work that was sampled and create something that was sampled. Each time this is done, a company tries to own it. But the distance between creator and actual music becomes greater and greater — it’s now a sample of a sample of a sample. And then we sample that, slow it down, chop it up, add some layers, and do it again. Is this disingenuous? Does anyone own this?

A MicroKorg with vocoder — songs such as “Goes Around” and “Spent Money” use this for texture. The chaotic Boss ME-50 multi-effect pedal (seems like everything is eventually plugged into this)… lends a variety of sounds to work with, reverb, delay, overdrive, chorus, harmonizer, sustain, etc. The harmonizer effect on this pedal coupled with the Tele has been used to create bass on some tracks. Ableton Live to sequence, loop, and linearly edit. Midis never used, but samples and heavy editing occur often in early work. Ableton assists creation through filters, sequencers, and the freedom to edit. Editing takes the most time for the majority of these albums and songs. An Akai MPK49. And a vastly diverse folder of music from Peruvian pan flute songs to Terence Trent D’Arby.

One of the most revered but awful tools from Neon Beige is a microphone. It was discovered in a pile of trash on the street outside of a Nori-Bang (karaoke room) while living in Daegu, South Korea. This instrument personifies the: pulled from the trash and unwanted, creation can occur with focus and persistence. This equipment is the accumulation of 14 years of playing music (gifts, gift certificates, lots of spending cuts, eating beans to save). Beans, beans, the magical fruit!

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