Friday, October 24, 2008

Band of the Week

Nick Butcher

There is an element of discovery in music. Musicians combine sounds that they have found and invented, and the ultimate product is always a new discovery. In many cases the product (the song or album) is an enjoyable romp to be played loud or a gentle sound to fill the background. However, the complex textures that Chicago's Nick Butcher has created demand a little more, but deliver a world of discovery to the attentive listener. On his second album Bee Removal, Nick weaves sounds together, be it found or made, to create melodic noises that stretch and wind through your headphones.

Probably more well know for his artwork, Nick is one half the creative collective known as Sonnenzimmer. Together with Nadine Nakanishi, Sonnenzimmer has created fascinating concert poster, prints, and more. Their designs, much like Nick's music, utilize layers and lines the make you want to look harder and longer. In whatever he does there is texture and life, adventure and discovery.

Recently, Nick was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.

Orange Alert (OA): Your new album, Bee Removal, is a beautiful exploration in sound. What can you tell us about the album?
Nick Butcher (NB): Bee removal was a natural culmination of my previous audio and visual work.I became increasingly interested in simplifying things...widdleing them down to their "purest" components. While there is a great deal of layering of sound sources involved I tried to keep things more minimal and more raw...focusing on repetition and texture as the driving force. Hopefully coercing the listener to sit inside the sounds. Then using slight changes in melody or texture to move the songs forward. I love melody. So its always there in some form. But, yeah. this record requires patience. These are not the kind of melodies that are gonna beat you over the head. It can work as background music, sure.....but if you really listen, I think it offers more of a narrative and depth. As much so as traditional pop song... just parred down. I find this middle ground facinating. How far can you push the format until it falls apart?

OA: How was the decision made to only release it on vinyl (icy white vinyl!)?
NB: I was looking at my music collection, which is mostly cds and I thought to myself...will I have these in 5 years? 10 years? Its funny how that pieces of plastic went from being cutting edge technology and actually feeling like that to pure throwaway junk. pile them up with old cell phones and toner cartridges... I wanted to make something people would feel guilty about throwing away! Staying power I guess....I chose white because it suited the artwork. It also just looks sonice...fortuantely/unfortunately, white vinyl has the most surface noise of any of the colored Its adds a new texture to the music...which I think is kind of neat.

OA: Just like your first album, Bee Removal is being released through Hometapes. What has your experience been like with them?
NB: Hometapes have been good to me. Even though their focus has shifted more towards real deal bands they've managed to save a place for me at the table.

OA: You are probably more well know for your involvement with Sonnenzimmer, and Nadine Nakanishi and the quality posters and prints the two of you create. Do you feel there is a certain look to a Sonnerzimmer poster?
NB: I think there is definitely a look to our work. Its been really fun working together...Because Nadine and I have similar tastes but different styles. Since starting Sonnenzimmer, we've begun to collaborate a lot more on projects and I'm really proud of the work we've done. The fusion of our two styles has become a style of its own.....very much akin to what we did individually, yet stronger. We lean towards minimal, painterly design with an emphasis on strong typography.

OA: I read that you haven't had a lot of time to work on your personal paintings, but I really enjoy the work on your site. Do you see yourself continuing to build your personal profile? How is the approach different to a personal piece as opposed to your professional work with Sonnerzimmer?
NB: Thanks a lot! For the past two years Nadine and I have been pushing really hard to get Sonnenzimmer off the ground. Putting together a print shop and getting a business off the ground is a ton of work and its taken both of our full attention. There are always sacrifices involved in devoting yourself to something...So yeah, I haven't made many paintings or much music over these couple of years. That said, we're both starting to carve out time for art now and it feels great! There isn't a fine line between my personal work and the work I do with Sonnenzimmer. They both spill into each other and are influenced by each other...The only real difference is that Sonnenzimmer stuff usually has a band name on it.

OA: What is next for Nick Butcher?
NB: Who knows. I've started a handful of new paintings for a show that Nadine and I are doing at Lula here in Chicago. That opens in February. I'm in the beginning stages of making some new music. I've reconfiguring my recording setup... I want to get some nicer mics and stuff. I also hope to collaborate more with other musicians here in the city and abroad. I want to approach my next recordings differently... maybe in the role of an"arranger"... utilizing the talents of friends (real musicians) to make something different than what I can do on my own. Who knows, it might still sound like a broken tape deck...but it will be a different broken tape deck.

Bonus Questions:
OA: There are a lot of "found sounds" on Bee Removal. In opinion, what would be the most surprising sound or unique on the album?
NB: The "drums" on the title track "Bee Removal" were built out of a recording of a spinning quarter.

OA: What was the last great book you read?
NB: "Off the Wall: Robert Rauschenberg and the Artworld of Our Time" by Calvin Tomkins
It's a really great account of not only Rauschenberg but the folks who were around him at the time.... John Cage, Jackson Pollack, De Kooning, etc....

Bee Removal (Hometapes, Sept. 2008)

Tearing Paper/Ryman/Interior, Then A Window/Geist/Coat/Bee Removal/Glass Paragraph/Shape Note Singing

For more information on Nick Butcher please visit his website.


Anonymous said...

Nick is brilliant -- buy his records.

ALL Florida Bee Removal said...

gosh, i like nick and bee removal .. gotta check out this album.