Interview with rhythmic noise/dark ambient artist Worms of the Earth.
more info: http://wormsoftheearth.blogspot.com
Firstly, can you give us a brief history of your project?
Technically Worms started in 04 – that’s when I began writing under the moniker, though the first demos weren’t shaped until 06. I’ve been dabbling in music since 2000 or so, but it wasn’t until late 06, early 07 that I had the epiphany “hey, I really like doing this – maybe I should get more serious”. So, after the first demo I put up online, I started spending all my money on gear and most of my time reading on how to become a better producer. In the beginning, I really had no idea what I was doing and the style was unfocused and kind of all over the place. Another guy and I worked together for a little bit in 07, and I wrote some really shitty “terror ebm” / industrial, but once he left and I learned more about producing, I was finally able to realize a suitable shell to house Worms in, mainly focusing on dark ambient influenced rhythmic noise. Since then I’ve released a full length & an EP on the Bugs Crawling Out Of People label (in 08 and 10 respectively), done some remixes, and appeared on some comps.
What inspires you to write music? What draws you to the medium of idm/ambient music?
For me, it is the need for creative expression - whether it be music, art, photography, writing, whatever. The longer I live, the more I realize that this is the only thing that has purpose; that has a reason for doing. Creative expression, to me, can be the true, unobscured output of the self. It is my raison d’etre.
I am inspired by lots of things, namely the ancient world(s), technology, ‘occult’ ideas, literature, and nature. The best way I can describe the way I write tracks is like this: There is a place - a dimension, collective unconscious, whatever - that I can’t describe or name. Through creative expression, in this case music, I am able to open a portal to, and ‘tap into’ that place. When I’m creating sounds, sequencing, etc., it is as if I am reaching through and pulling things from the void and giving them form in this world. As I learn more about production and my gear, I am able to more fully interface with the other place, and manifest these designs in proper form. Once enough ideas come through, the album or ep or whatever will ‘feel’ finished, and at that time I will assess it as a whole; realizing the concepts and pathways that run through the work(s), finding the names that best suit the pieces, and arranging them as necessary. I’m sure that sounds ridiculously pretentious, but I’m not just saying this for dramatic effect; it is a mystic process for me, and almost nothing is done haphazardly or arbitrarily; there is quite a bit of thought put into even what may be seen as trivial things, such as track title, placement etc.
I am drawn to IDM and Industrial for kind of the same reasons. The main thing is that both are about circumventing the mainstream and doing things in a DIY, inventive and genuine fashion. It is about experimenting and truly finding the soul of your gear (and yourself) and bringing it out. I like Industrial specifically because it’s about darkness and grit: I love cyberpunk and, in my opinion, Industrial music embodies all the things I love about it – urban decay, high technology, the juxtaposition of ruin and opulence through technological advancement, robots /cyborgs / perfection of the self through robotic means, all that shit. IDM, to me, is sort of a different aspect of that same culture. IDM is more about the inner worlds of said technology and computer systems. I’ve always kind of thought of IDM as music that is either made by machines, and/or that plays in a machine’s dreams. I like the cold, calculated perfection of it. I know it’s very highly debated as to what IDM is or isn’t – but speaking from my own perspective as to what it is, I love the fact that there is a genre that requires complexity as a basic criteria, and I love the IDM that combines the deliberate complexity that can only be produced by machine with beautiful and emotional elements. For example, if rock music can conjure the imagery of a beach, IDM can conjure the imagery of a perfect, synthetic beach where all the flaws have been erased and everything is pure and functions efficiently. I guess IDM connects with my idealistic side.
I like ambient music because it captures and displays beauty. It may be minimal, or boring, or whatever, but I find that it is the best music to truly capture the essence of certain things and places. Atmosphere is the most important part of music in my opinion, and ambient music is pure atmosphere. I have little interest in listening to things with no ambience.
Your track for the compilation is “Mul Aš-iku”. Can you give us a bit on insight on what inspired this track, how you composed it, etc.?
Well firstly, I wanted to try something new with the track. My releases are mainly Rhythmic Noise, but I’ve been experimenting with IDM-ish stuff. I wanted to try working on something more minimal; something that has lots of space in it while still being complex and dynamic. The first thing I came up with is the pad that opens the track. From there it took on life and it became an exercise in trying to create the atmosphere of an abandoned space station. There is one passage in a William Gibson book (Count 0, if I remember correctly) where one of the characters finds themselves in such an environment, specifically in a large, forgotten room with hundreds of robot hands whirring around above them, forever toiling, abandoned and left without purpose. That image has stuck with me ever since I read that book, and kind of summarizes the focus of the track. I used the Virus TI Snow for the pads and the Elektron MachineDrum for most of the source drum material. Some of the drums and glitching noises came from a technique most idm producers will recognize that entails opening up a non-audio file in audio software, resulting in a slew of noise and corrupted sounds. I chopped these up, effected and resampled them for much of the sfx. For the melody I tried FM8, which I have really never used before, in hopes of creating something dynamic, evolving, and otherworldly. I was quite pleased with the capabilities of this synth. I layered the result with some melodic lines run through a variety of granulators to get the twisted, broken machinery sound. Though I do use plugins like Scrubby, BufferOverdrive, etc, I do a lot of glitching manually by drilling down to 1/64 notes, slicing, effecting tiny portions of each sound differently, and moving stuff around in the sequencer. I also used Absynth for some of the dark droning stuff, and a few field recordings for some of the machine-like sounds.
The name, Mul Aš-iku, comes from Babylonian star lore. The name itself basically means “the field constellation” (i.e. an irrigated field), however the field symbol was also supposed to be a depiction of the abyss (Abzu) which Babylonians described as a watery realm that was both populated by the Seven Sages who brought the knowledge of art to mankind, as well as being the throne/domain of Enki. At this point I should clarify a bit; there is a bit of mythos surrounding the Worms of the Earth project which has yet to be fully explained or realized. “The Lesser Ophidian Gate” very covertly delved into it and it will be explained more in depth across future releases. Anyhow, this mythos, in brief, involves Hollow Earth and an ancient race that came to earth eons ago and created human kind. Enki was the “god” (or rather, ‘scientist’) who was responsible for “creating” the humans – he did so by building their DNA, possibly from hybridizing his (‘alien’) race’s dna with primitive humans. There is much more to be said, but I am only going into this briefly to explain why the title was chosen – this intersection of the cosmos, mysticism, technology and nature. There are two paths that Worms of the Earth travels, and this mythos will be illuminated more with future releases.
Tell us a bit about your studio. What gear are you using, what is your favorite gear, etc.?
I’ve gone through quite a bit of gear over the last few years while trying to figure out what has the sounds that I’m looking for and that I can best ‘interface with’, and I’ve finally gotten to a point where I have all the tools I need and am not looking for much more. Currently I am using a PC running Cubase 5 with a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 for interface and ADAM A7s for monitoring. Most of my sounds come from hardware: Virus TI Snow, Prophet 08, Korg Trinity TR, Kurzweil PC2r, Elektron MachineDrum, Alesis SR16, Roland SP606, and a Zoom H4n portable recorder. The only softsynths I use with any regularity are Reaktor and Absynth. Reaktor is fucking limitless; if you could only get one piece of gear I would recommend this to be it. And it goes without saying that Absynth is a godsend for ambient textures, drones and pads. Recently I’ve been working more on developing atmosphere and ambiance within tracks, and so I’ve been interested in using more traditional/organic sound making devices, such as singing bowls, chimes and bells. Beyond that I’ve got a few pieces of outboard gear like the Lexicon MPX1, SPL Charisma 2, Boss SE70 and a couple others. At this point I can pretty much make everything I need with what I have, though I wouldn’t be totally against getting a Moog Slim Phatty at some point (I’m hugely interested in the alternate tuning feature they just added).
This might be a bit odd, but the Korg Trinity TR is actually the piece of gear I use most. I think it was probably made for hip hop in the 90s, but I have found a use for it in 99% of the songs I’ve written since I bought it. It has this awesome old, dark sound to it; it’s great for gritty organic sounds and I’ve been able to coerce it into making fantastic, evolving droning textures in combi mode. The drum kits it has are mediocre, but they generate some exquisitely crunchy noise when run through an analog distortion pedal and/or bitcrusher. I’ve actually gotten a lot of use out of the Kurzweil pc2r’s drum kits as well; they are great for old school industrial type beats. Most of my noisey percussion comes from the Alesis SR16 or the trinity, run through the WMD Geiger Counter and/or SE70’s analog distortion. I used Izotope Trash on the EP, but nothing beats true analog distortion, which will be used from here on out! Obviously rhythmic noise doesn’t utilize a whole hell of a lot on the synth front, but when I write tracks like Ajna or Mul Aš-iku I rely heavily on the Virus for pads and melodies.
What can we expect in the future from Worms of the Earth?
Hopefully a new album or two in the somewhat near future. As I mentioned above, there are two paths that I hope to explore with Worms: one is based in Judeo-Christian mythology (Angels of Prostitution was the beginning of this) and I plan to explore this more in depth on a coming full length. The other path deals more with general occult topics and philosophy, including the above-mentioned Sumarian/Babylonian/Annunakai/Serpent Race mythology (this began with The Lesser Ophidian Gate). I don’t want to give away too many details yet, but every aspect of my current music will be amplified on these releases. They will be darker, heavier, noisier, more atmospheric, more tribal, more detailed, more progressive, better produced, etc.
For 2011: I recently had a remix featured on the new release from The Carapace (side project of Scrap.edx, released on Force of Nature), a forthcoming compilation appearance on the bright new label Signifer, a collaboration with It-Clings, and a few more things in the works which will hopefully solidify sometime this year.
Hope you enjoyed reading this novel.