Sound Colour Vibration interviews David Wexler (Strangeloop)
The man behind the visuals of many Brainfeeder events has been making a mark for himself capturing audiences from Singapore to Portland. His psychedelic vision has garnered much praise from many, from his visual performances to his two EP’s and DVD that he’s released over the past two years — he’s been putting in a lot work for many years with groundbreaking, innovative and influential material. His style is very eclectic — combining the IDM aesthetic of a creative rhythmic process enhanced by a psychedelic experience through vision and sound collages.
His first release came in ’09 with Are We Lost Mammals Of An Approaching Transcendental Epoch? which is a 17 minute track that leads you in an adventure through sound touching almost every style that influences him from Breakbreat, Drum and Bass, IDM, Experimental, Hip Hop and Ambient the record starts really sporadic and ends with 5 minutes of pure beatless ambience. His DVD Release ’2010 or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Technological Singularity’ is approached as an A/V experience that takes the audience into many realms of image and sound. His idea of alternative healing must be a strong influence in his work past, present, and future as you notice by his visual works.
His latest EP which is a continuation of Are We Lost Mammals of an Approaching Transcendental Epoch? takes the listener into another stretched out track that is divided by movements called, Breaking Open the Head / Third Industrial Revolutions / Dreams of a Psychonautical Society / The Future Inside / Los Angeles Underwater / Nth-d Mermaids. It takes you through that sample based hip hop that Brainfeeder is well known for — utilizing everything from Congo drums and shakers to melodic vocals that he later cuts up into the rhythm.. He definitely brings the adventure to all of his releases that’s usually what I expect from David Wexler so when I started getting news feeds of the new project ‘Fields’ he was working on my curiosity grew more and lead me to interview him about his works and influences. – Gerardo Salazar
So how did the name Dr. Strangeloop come about?
Dr. Strangeloop, which I now often abbreviate to Strangeloop, is a play on multiple ideas. Dr. Strangelove is one of my favorite movies, and it has a character in the movie of the same name, an ex-nazi scientist foolishly convinced of humanity’s ability to survive comfortably after the eruption of a global thermo-nuclear war. In ways, the choice of that name was related to the three-generational obsession in my family with Nuclear War and the apocalypse. My grandfather made, I believe, a total of five documentaries on Nuclear War, my Dad was always equally fascinated and disturbed, and I had always been instinctual drawn to this strange and horrific turn in human innovation.
To me, the atom bomb was always the symbol, the symbol of the end of history as we know it, the Mushroom blooming again at the end of history (as Terence McKenna so eloquently put it). As I thought more about the name, I realized I had chosen something, almost as an alter-ego to Dr. Strangelove, the eu-catastrophic antidote to apocalyptic germ. A ‘strange loop’ is a technical term for a tangled hierarchy, an infinite series, like a wall of mirrors or a Shepherds tone (endless ascending or descending tone, returning to itself in a loop). Strange loops are key elements to fractals and all natural systems.
If E=MC^2 released for humanity the awe-inspiring and catastrophic force of atomic energy, then one could also say that Z=Z^2+C ( the most famous of the fractal equations, the Mandelbrot Set) has unleashed another beautiful and catastrophic force, and will be equally recognized as such in the years to come, the force of hyper-real simulation. Fractals, strange loops, feedback, all these things are keys to making virtual systems rival in complexity and design those of natural systems. These are the hidden tools of Hollywood, the advancements that allow us to make photo-real humans in Avatar, the mathematical tools of engineers trying to create Artificial Intelligence, or build more sophisticated Drone Plane killing machines. These ideas allow us to bring the virtual into this world, and in case one hasn’t noticed, on one level, the virtual is colonizing this world. Everywhere I look, I see images of giant robots and aliens destroying buildings, giant billboards posted up on the very same buildings they’re destroying.
Transformers, Aliens & Cowboys, Skyline, Battle LA, whatever the fuck … Its all the same idea. Buildings collapsing, robots breaking shit. This is like a joke, because it relates to what is happening to our psyches. Of course, this can all sound hopeless, but it really isn’t. Fractals have unlocked possibilities of vast magnitude, and they are just ideas, bridges to new worlds, tools to unlock our potential. For the individual, and for communities, its about how we use these things.
So how did this whole idea of an Audio Visual platform come into play in your life? What came first the Image or the Sound?
Image and sound have always been woven together for me, it may be the case that I have some mild form of synesthesia, because I can very easily and ultra-vividly see forms unfold in my mind while I listen to music, and vice-versa. Sometimes it is almost hallucinatory, even though no drugs may be involved. I have a cinematic background, and cinema is where both these things play with sometimes equal importance. I’ve always liked what you can do with editing, with the image, in relation to sound, and how both images and sounds, utilizing the art of juxtaposition, can create unique associations in viewers / listeners.
Synesthesia is the future; in the future we will all have at very least a learned synesthesia, and will think about sound, image, and all media as patterns of information that can be transposed with equal impact to any sense medium. Already this is a notion explored by artists like Aphex Twin, who’ve been able to encode visual data in the spectrograms of their songs, or musicians that use data-bending (the transposition of raw data into music) to create unique glitchy elements in their tracks… There is a million and one examples of this movement, and it is a very exciting time to be re-wiring ourselves to perceive in these novel ways.
I see in your Portfolio that you won 4th Place in a International Young Eco-Inventors Competition in ’92. What was that about?
Haha, you are the first interviewer to ask me about that. I was thinking about what I should put on my resume awhile back and remembered that Competition. It was almost a joke to put it on there, but perhaps gives into my history. In 2nd grade, I guess it was, our teacher entered the class into this International competition, we all had to design a concept for some sort of invention we thought could help the environment, and make life easier for people on the Earth. I had already been drawing strange robots and intricate imaginary machines in class and decided that I would design a Seed-Machine. The Seed-Machine was like an all-purpose AI gardener that would plant seeds, water them, test the nutrient-levels of soil, and take care of the Earth, even if humans were to go extinct entirely.
Bizarrely, I later found a Douglass Trumbull film called Silent Running, which includes robots that perform these exact same functions. I think perhaps even more than the concept, which seems almost rudimentary at this point, the judges may have been impressed by the level of detail and technical intricacy included in my drawing. So, I won 4th place in the competition, and my Dad and I got to go to a huge conference and view all these diagrams, and concept sketches from around the world, it was very fun, especially as a young kid.
I remember reading somewhere that you and Steven Ellison (Flying Lotus) went to School together? What year was that? Did that have something to do with your initial involvement with the Brainfeeder crew?
Steve and I used to watch avant-garde movies and connected over strange forms of music and what-not. When we both left, sort of disillusioned with film school, he started doing more music stuff and I started doing more cinema stuff, eventually we reconnected, and he asked me if I’d like to be on Brainfeeder. Steve is an incredibly talented person and it was really a no-brainer … no pun intended … that would be the worst pun ever. haha
I remember the first time I saw one of your performances it was at some Industrial Warehouse in Downtown LA. I think this was in 09 with Pure Filth. How did your residency with Pure Filth and Bassface come to be?
Steve actually connected me with Sam XL who throws all those parties, and he really helped get me my start with visuals. At the time, visuals in LA were not really a big thing, visuals in general. Dubstep was just poppin off, and I was thinking to myself, “damnnnn this stuff sounds like alien machines.” There was some sort of visual territory there that was really exciting. Sam is a great dude, and I think he believed in what I was doing, and really let me do whatever I wanted. Purefilth in that era became a place for me to experiment and discover my style, figure out what I was trying to do and just start doing it. I have mad respect for the whole PureFilth crew and I can’t wait till they start up some new BassFace parties or something of the like.
So these last two Eps have both carried the title Are We Lost Mammals of an Approaching Transcendental Epoch? Is there a concept behind this and are you planning on keeping this series going with more EPs?
That’s one of my big questions, as obtuse as it sounds. Are We Lost Mammals of an Approaching Transcendental Epoch? Its a question that leads me to nice places, so I follow it. The EPs are kind of my cluster-fuck EPs, they are genre-bending and emerge from late-night sessions where I’m not thinking about making beats for clubs, or anything like that, I’m just fucking around. Its my FUCK-AROUND series of EP’s, usually with some sort of epiphany drive behind all of it, very possibly I will produce a third to close out the EP trilogy, but am not gonna rush it.
So to your latest project, ‘Fields’. Tell us a little bit about your concept for this project?
FIELDS is an evolving audio-visual environment. Its a network that splays out in many media, visual, auditory, still, moving, interactive, etc. I would love to see people make their own soundtracks to the visuals, its a visual project as much as a musical project. Its collaborative, and I’ve worked with a lot of people to get various incarnations of it into the world. Gavin Gamboa and friends designed the Interactive Web Experience of FIELDS at http://fields-tv.com/, Ben Olsen helped me with photographic effects for the videos, Brandon Tay helped me with some After Effects works … the list goes on, it has been a really great project and it is great seeing it out in the world.
I did check out your new Interactive website over at http://www.fields-tv.com and it was totally what I needed at the moment. I’ve been really into new media artist like Ryoji Ikeda, Alva Noto, Kit Webster and one in particular Rafaël Rozendaal which is known specifically for creating many unique interactive websites. When you released Fields TV I was completely blown away and glad that you choose this medium to expose your new art piece. What influenced this website idea?
I wanted to use FIELDS, the album, as an excuse to do what I really want to do, which is create worlds. Gavin was very receptive to the idea of an interactive, psychedelic, space where users could endless wander through strange loops of music and video, and sort of find things along the way … educational stuff, remixes, whatevers. Like a big mind-maze. He immediately began working on it, and really went all out in trying to manifest the idea. FIELDS is like a giant art piece, it can’t be contained in one medium, its more an illustration of another dimension that I’ve experience first-hand in dreams and altered states. Hopefully, all these little pieces of media act like windows into that dimension, or maybe someday, doors.
What is your production process from composition to performance . What Software / Hardware are you using for both Image and Sound?
Image : real photography of natural phenomena, Maya, Modo, Motion, Cinema4d, After Effects, Final Cut Pro, Quadrium, Artmatic … Resolume for Live Visuals. Sound : Ableton Live, Logic …
Are you planning on performing this record live?
I have a few plans, but honestly, its much more fun to perform some of my other music live, FIELDS is very contemplative personal, subtle, subliminal, and needs the right settings for that. Its not a record for the clubs, its something you trip out to late night, its headphone music.
I remember reading about you playing in Singapore? How was that?
The SYNDICATE crew in Singapore are incredible people. It was such a privilege visiting them there and playing one of their nights. They are definite innovators, and I hope to work with them more in the near future. I’m kind of sharing one of their artists, Brandon Tay who will be on my newly forming label TeACHING MACHINE. He is one of my favorite visualists in the world and its an incredible honor that he wants to be on the roster.
Where are you interested in traveling too? Any future locations that you are excited about?
I’m going to Brazil with Flying Lotus and Thundercat soon, can’t wait! Would love to go back to Amsterdam, Copenhagen … Iceland would be phenomenal! I’ve never been. Also Alpha Centauri and the 9th Dimension.
Lastly, What are your goals short term and long term?
SHORT TERM :
LONG TERM :
Fields is available at : http://www.brainfeedersite.com/2011/07/27/strangeloop-fields/
1. Plants Inside
3. Becoming Fields
Also check out his official site for previous work and updates: http://strangelooptv.com/
And his Interactive Website http://fields-tv.com/
All photos courtesy of the personal FB page for David Wexler
From Marry Anne Hobbs TV:
2010: the exclusive visual edit made to accompany Dr Strangeloop’s mix for my BBC Radio1 show..
In his own words: “It’s about a dystopian alternate universe where an AI-Deity has become imprisoned within its own Ego. It discovers a transcendental media living within an archaic laptop, which upon viewing, facilitates its spiritual evolution.”