Thug Entrancer “I don’t like what it takes to be a musician in this day and age.”

In recent months, Ryan McRyhew has returned to Denver after a two-year stint on the South side of Chicago, where he lived with his wife, Kristi Schaefer, as she completed a grad-school program in social work. We’d crossed paths many times over the years prior, mostly at Rhinoceropolis, the fabled DIY venue located in the Rino district of Denver, where he was either performing or sitting behind a table selling tapes from his Laser Palace label while some other youngster with a sampler was bouncing off the walls on the other end of the room. McRyhew’s musical career, though refined and developed in Chicago during this time, was born and raised in Colorado. He started out channeling his obsessions with goth and industrial noise through chopped beats in a duo called BDRMPPL and eventually hit a stride providing the musical underbelly for Hideous Men, a long-running project between him and his wife.

Fast-forward to 2013 and McRyhew was just starting to scratch the surface on a new musical identity that would become Thug Entrancer. The project had the bounce of juke and footwork, but with a dream-like lucidity that came with using polyrhythms, odd time signatures, and breathing dynamics. After a string of small-run cassettes and digital releases, the Thug Entrancer guise caught the attention of Daniel Lopatin and his Software imprint, resulting in this year’s outstanding debut full-length album, Death After Life.

Behind the neoprene veneer of McRyhew’s music, steeped in the plastic, metallic textures of synthesizers and programmed beats, is a real human being with a little round belly; a small nose; short, brown hair; and lips that are drawn with a nearly permanent smile. McRhyhew, who is playing a handful of shows this week, is discovering the importance of living life in the moment while realizing his spiritual self through music, and he recently chatted about this and more with Tiny Mix Tapes.

So how does it feel to have the album out there?

It feels great. It’s very surreal for me right now to have attention on this very personal process of mine. This record that I finished a year ago, too, that’s been sort of dormant for about a year, and then now it’s… It just feels good that it’s in someone else’s ears.

Was it something that you left alone for a while?

I think making it was about a two-month process, but it was just me recording nightly, dialing in these songs in a live setting…

You’ve had a hand in so many different projects over the years. Does it feel like you’re settling into something that resembles a main focus, or will there ever be such a thing in your life?

As far as I can say, this is absolutely my focus. I mean, the whole preface of Thug Entrancer was that it was music that I always wanted to make, but never felt like it was appropriate to make. Living in Denver, there was always this sense of having your hand in so many different genres and being influenced by so many different things that finally I just got to dial in and focus on this one thing. And still, the record is all over the place in terms of electronic styles and what I’m into and influenced by. But it’s definitely the most focused, instinctual record I’ve ever made.

Did you feel like in some ways you had to isolate yourself to get it there?

The record was really the sum of me living in Chicago and having that isolation. When Kristi and I moved out there, I knew one person and we had only been to Chicago twice, so we moved out there and she jumped straight into grad school and I had all this time to just develop. Really, my first few months there, I didn’t make any music, I just absorbed my surroundings, which is kind of a new process for me because being here I was playing so often and so involved in putting on shows and releasing things through Laser Palace and being intentional about Denver being this big deal, you know? So I uprooted, moved to this lonely island of Chicago and developed from there. It was an intentional isolation, but it also is a huge city and coming from Denver, it was pretty overwhelming to navigate.

So are you happy being back in Denver now? Are you still feeling that sense of isolation here as well, or are you feeling the itch to reintegrate yourself into more collaborative projects?

I feel [that isolation] here as well, mostly because a lot of my old community left around the same time I left. Things have changed so rapidly here, and I think when you’ve had an experience and then you come back to a place with that experience, it’s very hard to translate. I had this intense… the last two-and-a-half years of my life have been so intense and incredible, but how do you even begin to communicate that to people who weren’t there with you and didn’t go through it? It’s very weird, this weekend will be the first weekend I’ve had here in Colorado. I’ve been flying every weekend of the year. So in a lot of ways I don’t really feel physically connected to this space at all. It’s odd.

I’m not embracing death fully, but not fully being afraid of it and knowing that that’s the thing that you and I have in common, and that we all have in common in this room. You know, we’re all going to die.

It has changed a lot. What are some of the positive things you’ve seen since you’ve come back? Is there anything negative that you’ve noticed?

On the positive tip, it’s so cool to come back and see all these new faces making new art and music. There’s so many young kids here that I think came up in the past few years when I wasn’t around, living at Rhino[ceropolis] and doing these really creative things, and I think that’s so inspiring. But on the flip side of that, I feel so disconnected from it. Part of it has to do with my age. I think at this point I didn’t want to continue the DIY thing forever. I love it, I love it with all my heart; it’s where I came from. But there’s a bit of maturity and dialing-in, and figuring out your identity and developing it instead of being so aware of what’s going on around you, and so focused on putting a community on the map. Because Denver has this isolation, it has this sense of urgency to show the world that it is this magical place. And I think it is. It really is. But the older you get the more you’re just kind of like, “It is magical. So is Des Moines, IA, and New York; so is California.” There’s all these little hubs of magical creativity that I don’t think are more important than any other.

It’s a lifestyle thing too, man. I mean, I don’t want to hang out in warehouses until four in the morning anymore.

It can be disappointing but it’s also a fact of life. I’m constantly embarrassed about all the great stuff I’m missing.

I feel like at this point my politics and my art and my identity have become a lot more subversive, which I feel is a little more impactful. It’s a little more malleable and I’m able to reach out to people beyond warehouse walls and really connect with people.

Like that experience has made your message stronger.

Absolutely, I feel like it’s just a little more… permanent in that way, because I’m able to communicate with everyone and meet people where they’re coming from and try to relate that to what I do. Especially with this record, I’ve had so much attention from people who would never listen to this kind of music. But they embraced it for some reason that I’m not aware of. I’ll meet people at shows that are just, like, “I just got off of work and wanted to check it out. I read some review on Tiny Mix Tapes or whatever, and I came to the show…” And they’re completely unaware of my process or the people I’m associated with… and I love that so much because I feel like I’m doing a good job. If I’m able to trick people into experiencing something experimental or progressive or weird, and they don’t really feel alienated by it, I feel like that’s awesome to me. That’s the kind of the thing that I’ve always wanted.

How old are you now?

I just turned 30.

Where did you see yourself at 30, 10 years ago?

Honestly, right here pretty much. I never felt very comfortable in most of my… you know, driving around, playing DIY spaces and living this sort of punk, travel-music life. I never felt comfortable with it, and I always saw myself as always making music. That’s all I’ve ever known for my entire life is just how to make music, and I think that’s why I’ve adapted into different projects and different identities. Because things change but I just want to keep going… I started BDRMPPL making harsh sampled noise with a little bit of rhythm, and it was so sloppy and it was so punk, but I always wanted to refine myself and refine the sounds and have this — not necessarily an intellectual relationship with sound, but a little bit more intimate. That’s what I’ve been working toward this whole time, where I see myself now. [laughs] — Or back then.

You were talking about your travel schedule a little bit earlier… That is a completely new thing for you. How are you adapting to the schedule? You’re a professional web-developer, right? Is this getting in the way of your job? Do you see that as your profession still?

I feel like they’re very… they’re very related and supportive of each other because if I didn’t have that consistent, 9-to-5 sort of thing, I’d probably… I dunno, I need stability to function.

Are you employed by someone, or do you have your own LLC or something like that?

Yeah, no, I work for this company called The Arland Group that’s a creative agency based out of St. Louis, and has an office in Denver. So I’ve worked with them and I uprooted and went to Chicago, kept the same job. I built this relationship with them where they really respect the fact that I am a musician, and [as] I see it they’re definitely not competing, I just see them as two facets of my life that aren’t related. I think it’s really hard to be a sustainable musician without bending really hard. I’ve never wanted to just make a record just to make money or know that this is the safe thing that’s gonna secure me a lifestyle. I just can’t really commit to that. It’s crazy, traveling a lot; it’s super-hard. I was just in New York and my flight got cancelled because of the storms out there, so Kristi and I flew out at midnight, got in at 6 in the morning, took the train to the Mexican Summer office, did a Boiler Room set, and then hung out for like three hours, and went to the venue, did a set then, and then fell asleep. So that was my weekend; not sleeping and traveling a lot. Which is pretty taxing, you know, but I love it. I’m so eager to show this record and show my music and style and connect to people. Again, I just love all the weird experiences that come with being a musician. It takes you to the weirdest places because people love music and they always want to facilitate it, but they don’t necessarily have the right means… You just gotta meet people halfway and see if they’re a good fit. Fortunately everything has been 100 percent legit with transit and stuff, and again I think it comes back to building up this history that I’ve been working toward. I think it’d be hard if I just came out, made this record, and no one really knew of me prior, or I didn’t have a good body of work to reference before. I don’t think a lot of people are digging into what I’ve done in the past, but I think that it’s all there and I know how to facilitate because of my history of working.

I wanted to talk a little bit about the concept of futurism in music, especially after watching the video Milton Melvin Croissant III (MMCIII, Buddy) did. His work is always in that same, basic visual style, and I’ve always related the two — his visual style and your music. Somehow that connection makes a lot of sense. A lot of the talk about your music and your record is in terms of the history of electronic music, what’s been done in the past. But I think about “Death After Life” more in terms of the future of electronic music. Is there some kind of division there, or… I don’t really know what my question is, it’s more like I want to talk about it.

Yeah, absolutely, I think that’s a great question because when you work with electronic music, it’s such a new concept for people… It isn’t, but it is if you consider the burst of electronic artists and solo electronic artists performing, getting booked like bands would normally do. That’s a phenomenon [of] the last 20 years. It was a lot harder to gain a good reputation as a musician if you were solely doing it electronically, without some sort of niche attachment to it. But I don’t feel like my music is nostalgic in any way, or intentionally so — I could see that it could be [considered that way] because of the tools that I use. But there is this sense of archaeological awareness of electronic music solely because I grew up listening to musique concrete and really, really old electronic music and kind of skipped 20 years of it. I went from that to early-2000s with Fort Thunder and all these crazy noise people, and I missed House when it was happening when I was younger.

Like 90s stuff, Chicago House and stuff like that?

Yeah, it just never resonated with me. And it wasn’t until I started utilizing these tools and then tracing back the development, like the 808 — Where did something like this come from? I always came from a pretty industrial noise aesthetic, so that was my attachment to it, but if you dig into it and see House music (which really was the influence of all music happening now — there’s House in every song) — it came from out of nowhere. It came from the Chicago club scene where disco was dying down, DJs were just showing up with drum machines and playing jams to people. But it felt like a really isolated experience. The crux of what I’m doing is being aware of House, being aware of how electronic music was made, but really trying to have my own identity with it, my own relationship with these instruments. There is this historical sound to it, but I feel like the rhythms and the textures are very futuristic sounding.

I always think of Chiba City and this dystopian landscape… like an empty club where everyone has died and it has this record on repeat.

Is Thug Entrancer some kind of a character that’s not you? And if that is true, I think this music exists in his world. Do you see images like what MMCIII creates when you’re composing your music, or is that by chance that he just nails it?

I think as far as Thug Entrancer being an identity, there’s so much cyber-punk influence. Growing up and reading William Gibson, and even… I’m a total nerd, I used to play Shadow Run, role-playing game shit, and a part of me really loves this fictional world that has such an interesting aesthetic to it, and I think that Thug Entrancer definitely has an identity that is separate. It is a very futuristic, cyber-punk-influenced soundtrack. But I think I’m so based in reality that I prefer not to play into that as much. I think when I’m composing, there are visual elements. I always think of Chiba City and this dystopian landscape… like an empty club where everyone has died and it has this record on repeat. I definitely hear that, and I visualize that when I’m composing. But my compositional methods are so technical that that becomes the focus… It becomes a spiritual process for me, a very meditative process. I get lost in my songs when I’m making them. Everything on the record is improvised. Some of those tracks I recorded one-off, like the single, “Death After Life,” I did that and I never did it again. It was just one night, I got really engrossed in my world of electronics, and that’s the result of it. It’s a very personal, intentional, spiritual journey when I’m making these songs. So when it comes to Buddy and I collaborating, we really just connect. We’re great friends, so we always have these crazy conversations about, “Yeah this would be cool..”

With that “Netrun” video, there was very little collaboration. He would show me stuff and I was like, “Yeah this is perfect, this looks great.” But with this last video, I had a good concept, and we talked about the concept and what it meant to us, and then it deviated so far into how Buddy does things and Buddy’s identity with art… He told me after the fact that it was his honest attempt at recreating what it’s like in my brain. So that is the landscape of my brain and the motivation of my brain, and the little dude at the end is my spiritual self, and my driving force, and that was the motivation behind it.

One thing I really liked about his video and all of Buddy’s work is that a lot of people think of cybernetics and the technology era that we live in as being a very claustrophobic and closed system, but he sort of opens it up into these wide vistas. I think your music moves fluidly through those environments.

I think it’s awareness of space, and how to make space and physical landscapes be interesting on their own. With the record, or with that song, it’s a very minimal composition, but it’s the relationship between the things going on that makes it significant, and his visuals are like that; it’s not this or that, it’s the vibe that he has created that makes it engaging.

When you were done with that first track, did you know right away that it was called “Death After Life”?

I knew before I even made the record or even started the record that that’s… I knew I wanted the record to be about that.

Let’s talk about what the concept of what “Death After Life” means, because it’s obviously a play on the age-old colloquialism, “life after death,” but I was thinking about it in relation to this idea of futurism. What’s your take on it?

“Death After Life” for me relates to being aware of now, and being very present and how hard that is. It relates to futurism and our culture now, where you’re never fully present, or it’s very hard to be in this moment, and that’s the driving force behind the concept. All the songs were created with this awareness of being tied to what I’m doing in that moment. It’s also about cycles. It’s about death being just a way of living. It’s a guiding force of all living things, and I feel like it’s a guiding force for the record — things birth and they grow and they have identities, but they all end with the same silence that goes into another cycle. I’m not embracing death fully, but not fully being afraid of it and knowing that that’s the thing that you and I have in common, and that we all have in common in this room. You know, we’re all going to die.

It’s a really human concept, although I think that a lot of people relate your music — and any electronic music — to robotics.

Well, what I’m fighting for is to break that relationship. The aesthetic is totally there, but I want to make electronic music that isn’t considered static. I want to add a bit of soul to it. It alludes to a soul, you know, “Death After Life.” It’s like, “Well… that sucks,” so you want to search for something more.

Tell me about your experience with Software.

It came at a weird time because I had finished this record (or a portion of it), put out this tape (didn’t really put it out, I put out a few copies for a show that I had), and I was feeling ambivalent about the whole process of making music in public full-time. I was kind of disconnected. I think that isolation had really gotten to me, so I made this conscious decision to quit making music in the way that I had always been making music. I receded to this… “I’ll make music on the weekends for fun…”

Was that a process thing, or did you get new instruments?

No, it was more of an emotional thing for me, because I felt like after 10 years (or something) I just wasn’t really getting what I wanted out of it. But I didn’t really know what I wanted from it; I just knew that I wasn’t getting that experience. It became more arduous for me and less fun. But I was making music in my apartment and writing to blogs and friends, being like, “Hey I made this, maybe you’d be into it, maybe not.” And then getting some good [feedback] — 20 Jazz Funk Greats wrote amazing pieces about my work, and you, actually — I love those connections. But I don’t like what it takes to be a musician in this day and age.

So I receded into this, “OK, I’m just going to make music and have it be more of this spiritual thing that I do.” And then literally that week Dan [Lopatin] wrote me an e-mail and was like, “Hey, I’m Dan Lopatin, I’m with Software, I perform as Oneohtrix Point Never, and Software would love to collaborate with you.” So it was a surreal experience for me.

It’s like that myth about single guys desperate for a girlfriend — and the second he stops looking…

It really was that! It’s so bizarre to me, because it was this weird other force that brought us together. And I don’t know how he got turned onto the music, I think that Software had been scanning it for a while and had been into it, and this guy Matt Werth, who runs RVNG International, got super into it, and… yeah, he just hit me up. The e-mail was funny because he’s so formal about how he introduces himself, and pretty much anyone working within this experimental context knows who he is, so part of me was like, “Woah this is crazy.” I didn’t really accept it as reality for awhile. But Software is amazing, man. I’ve been a fan of a lot of their work. The stuff they did with Pete Swanson, all the old Oneohtrix records… they’re so committed to their artists and so committed to the direction, which I feel like a lot of people don’t do… This record was birthed out of a series of conversations [with] them saying, “What do you want, what are you hoping to get from this, and how can we can make that happen?”

I feel like at this point my politics and my art and my identity have become a lot more subversive, which I feel is a little more impactful. It’s a little more malleable and I’m able to reach out to people beyond warehouse walls and really connect with people.

Sounds awesome.

It really is a dream for me, I couldn’t think of a better group of people to work with, and everyone down to the people who do social networking stuff — everyone is committed to their artists, which is unbelievable to me. I feel like labels now just don’t have that level of commitment. Or, they do, but they can’t see it through because of financial reasons or whatever.

Well, you’re a proprietor of a label…

I know how it is. The people associated with Laser Palace are, in my opinion, some of the most talented, amazing artists ever, and I’m just so taxed to do what I can to make their releases amazing and really facilitate a good experience, but…

I think all people that run little labels like that have this dream that they’re going to make those people larger than life.

Exactly. It comes from a good place, but then you really get beaten down by the reality of how music is digested now, it’s very different. It’s also hard when you’re not all touring all the time, you know.

Do I remember right that you have a background in cello?

Yeah, I grew up an orchestra kid. I used to play violin, cello, all through high school, middle school/whatever.

Did you study that stuff in college?

I never really went to college. But I actually went to go tryout for the college symphony or whatever, and… was so vibe’d out by it, and the musicianship involved. There was no communal aspect whatsoever. It’s very individualistic and cut-throat.

Did you like the music?

I loved it. I mean, I love classical music, I love classical composition, I love the tactile interface of performance. Yeah, I really, really loved it, but I just felt like it wasn’t right for me.

Has anything from those early formal training years carried through to you now musically?

I think it guides my intuition musically. I feel very comfortable behind music, I never question it, even in my worst times when I’m playing a show or something, my intentions are always there and I’m always aware of the interface or the vibe that I’m trying to create. I think a lot of that came from being formally trained in music and performing my whole life. That’s the only consistent thing in my life, is music. I don’t really harness a lot of the theory any more… mostly because I don’t want to.

Your music’s not exactly interesting because of its use of harmony, but what I do notice is that you’re very keen to dynamics and texture, and those are such huge elements of symphonic music. My biggest problem with most bands is that they have no idea how loud they’re playing, and I would think that dynamics would be especially difficult for an electronic musician who patches in a loop and just lets it go.

I think those two things are very related. I mean, that’s what makes the violin amazing, that dynamic control over pitch and timbre and texture. It’s the process that I use to make the music that I make, all hands-on and very tactile, so I have physical control over everything. Honestly I’ve never really used a computer to make music… It doesn’t resonate with me. Dynamics come from that physical interaction, that physical engagement with sound. A lot of it is tied to time and time signatures. I think that was the biggest thing I took from playing stringed instruments [is that] you’re so aware of time and your place in a song. I remember in high school, sitting… Rests. So many rests. And waiting for your part, you know, and you had to play it the right way. I love that awareness of space, and sound, and when you fit in. And that’s what I’m trying to create with all these different elements.

You know, I do wish I was more exposed to more contemporary composers at a young age.

What stuff were you really into?

Classically, it would be standard shit. I loved Vivaldi and Mozart growing up. But I really missed the Penderecki and all those crazy avant garde people that were taught in these schools, because I think it would engage young people a lot more.

Yeah, I didn’t learn about those guys until college.

I got into all of that from Throbbing Gristle. I mean they were so poignant for me because they were experimenting. They really turned me onto Cage and everyone. Stockhausen, all these really incredible people. But I wish it wasn’t so inaccessible, because I feel like that’s what’s keeping public music education down.

I think that the standardization of Western music in general has really imprisoned a lot of those people. They have to be analyzed through this strict language code that was invented just to get a handle on it. I guess I can understand the basic human need for it, but some of the magic might have been lost.

It speaks to us culturally because we’re so confined. We don’t get this sense of so many different things — time signatures, different instruments. I think that every kindergarten kid should listen to gamelan. Because that hits so hard with little kids, man, it’s just so percussive and loud and dynamic… In Chicago, I saw this gamelan — like a 15-piece ensemble — play with Dan Deacon at Grant Park. They would do all these free shows and a lot of families would come and hang out, which was cool because they could expose people to stuff they would never be exposed to. I remember being out in this park and watching these four-year-olds dance to gamelan and thinking, “This is so perfect — this is the perfect fusion of culture, and it’s all going through this child’s mind right now,” and their reaction to it is just very guttural or instinctual, they’re just wilin’ out and being a kid. But they’re listening to this really important music. It’s crazy. That place was really cool, because they would expose people to some weird stuff, like Stockhausen pieces. But families would just hang out there because it was a free event where you could go and have a beer and be out in the sun. And they were really dialed into the experimental musicians. I saw Clarke play. For free! In front of all these families [laughs] again. It’s such a cool way to experience music because all the genres and all the hang-ups are just completely floored, level; you’re just experiencing sound, which is so cool.

I feel [that isolation] here as well, mostly because a lot of my old community left around the same time I left. Things have changed so rapidly here, and I think when you’ve had an experience and then you come back to a place with that experience, it’s very hard to translate.

How long has it been since you’ve picked up a cello?

I composed some music for a theater group out here about three years ago — The Lida Project. They had this woman Julie Rada make this play called HOT+WAX, it was a meld of politics and video game culture. She asked me to compose a piece so I did some modular stuff, some cello stuff with it. An actress actually played cello, so I had to compose for cello and then teach her how to play the notes that I was playing. Prior to that I don’t think I’d touched a cello for seven years now. I miss it.

I imagine you’re pretty busy with Thug Entrancer, so is Hideous Men getting shelved a little bit? How does Kristi feel about everything?

She’s incredible through this whole experience because she’s so much a part of it. It really is us going through this other chapter of our lives.

Is she your musical editor? Do you send her stuff?

She’s totally my word editor. I’m horrible with writing. I work in sound and I have a hard time formulating sentences or using the appropriate word at the appropriate time, so whenever I do interviews or anything I’ll usually be like, “Does this make any sense?” and then Kristi will go through and be like, “What do you mean by this?” I think that’s typical relationship stuff, too. But Hideous Men… we’ve been working on a record for a while, and the way that I view this experience with Thug Entrancer right now is that it is very akin to her grad school experience, where we moved out there, and it was really just about her digging into her love and her life, and getting into grad school and being completely enveloped by it. Coming back here now, it’s like I’m getting on this different tier of musicianship, like a different chapter in my creative life, so we kind of view it as that: “What can I do to help you facilitate this more?” We’re part of it together, but also pushing ourselves to get further into what we love. Hideous Men is always gonna happen in some form. We always make music together. She’s too busy, that’s the problem. She’s always working. She’s career-oriented. She loves it, her work is amazing, so I feel like that is always going to take priority, which is good. I think deep down inside she wishes she could be here saying this stuff, for sure… but I think at the end of the day it’s kind of exhausting.

You found a channel to reach the right people, which is so difficult to do.

… I don’t know why that is or what that is. I think people are ready to have a little bit of a different experience. And maybe I’ve just been fortunate to play shows with people who want that, but so far I’ve not had a single show where people are just like… “Fuck this dude.” People are really responsive to it.

What is your home set up like for listening to music? How do you prefer to wind down on your own with it?

I prefer not to listen to music in headphones. I like sound when it embodies a space, because I feel more connected to it. I have a record player, it’s a Numark DJ turntable, a Kyocera receiver that’s pretty shitty, these speakers… and I just put on a record and zone out. Most people watch [TV] shows or something, but almost every night I come home and put on a record and listen to it. I got a bunch of Basic Channel records, I don’t know if you’re familiar…


Really, really good German techno. Rhythm and Sound, have you heard them?

I’ve heard of that.

I listen to a lot of rap, man. I’m on datpiff all the time. There’s this blog called Fake Shore Drive that’s Chicago rap. When I was in Chicago I got so inundated with rap because it’s a very real thing up there. It was happening in our neighborhood.

It’s on the radio all the time, huh.

Yeah, the radio out there is amazing. It’s very good.

We have nothing like that here.

Nothing! Kristi and I just had this conversation.

I didn’t even realize good radio existed.

88.5, “Pride of the South Side.” We lived on the South side of Chicago which in and of itself is something, because a lot of people don’t go to the South side (there’s two cities, essentially). But 88.5, which is broadcasted out of the University of Chicago [is the] best radio station I’ve ever heard. One night I would turn it on and it’d be AACM, Anthony Braxton — just deep, deep Anthony Braxton cuts, super weird free-jazz. And then the other night I turned it on and it’s some Chicago rapper who’s taken over the studio with all his friends and they’re just freestyling over UGK beats. So inspirational. The blues — never got into blues music until I was out there and went to some legit South side blues bars. Damn, these are some of the hardest working musicians on the face of the Earth.

I remember being down in New Orleans a while ago, and the system they have for live music there is like beyond anything I’ve ever comprehended. Nobody makes anything from the door, they just make tips. And they all get together in different configurations every night and play in a different place, and just do it every single night. It’s serious dedication.

Those places are places where you could be a musician. It’s on a totally different scale, it’s peripheral of blogs or internet or anything, but it’s being a musician in your hometown.

It makes me happy that music still functions beyond all of that. And here we are interviewing and I’m going to be putting this on a blog.

[laughs] Yeah.

But I’m happy that there’s both I guess.

Absolutely. That was the biggest thing I’d taken from Chicago, going to jazz bars. Really I didn’t experience a lot of crazy electronic shows. On the south side there’s all these old-school House dudes doing really rad parties, but you know, my focus was the free-jazz stuff, and I saw some of the best shows down there that I’ve ever seen in my life, where it was me and Kristi and the people playing the show were the only people there. But phenomenal free-jazz. It’s just so good. This sort of live music, this sort of vibe, like New Orleans you were talking about — I think it’s going to happen in Denver soon.

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