doghouse basement and pagan diy, or 9:45 on new year's eve

2 January 2023

I heard ray, the building manager of my old apartment on 13th street, squeaking out the speakers. new years eve, i’d been tasked with opening the show and decided to do something more ambient than my usual performance. my patience for soft sound disappeared as I found opportunity in absence. pivoting, I began adding compression and distortion to the dreamy synth loops, layering 808s under skittering insects, and pulling stray field recordings from my computer.

suddenly, I was hearing ray, again selling my old apartment to prospective renters, spinning the structural insecurities as features for the would-be bohemian. the connection across time to a space where I’d performed cramped sets in the living room, wrapped in precarious cables in the sleeping hole, stomped up and down the stairs. all in service of this idiosyncratic form of noise I devote myself to. my home becoming the perfect stage.

in a new year, away from home, with a different home to return to in three weeks, the wayward weight and fleeting freedom of being on the road. i’m trying to triangulate the spaces I’ve already performed in. the night before new year’s eve, scanning a row of houses to find the one most befitting of the title dog house. arriving to discover the inhabitants did have two dogs (dogs and noise shows, as balto and I have discussed, never the best combination). I recorded the dogs barking and built an improvisation out of it to open my set, much to the delighted confusion of the house owners. the crowd was receptive to my wretching. i thrashed into the crowd to open the pit; I jumped with the abandon of someone who didn’t exactly know the basement’s ceiling height; I stared into the confused but engaged eyes of my audience.

Basements have always been welcoming spaces for me. Maybe the audience feels transported by the descent down the stairs, open to hearing something slightly unhinged. Maybe the muted lighting, the shadowed crevices, and secretive refuse offer people a space beyond themselves, a dwelling shielded from the gaze of others. Maybe people just like getting fucked up in basements and don’t really care what the music sounds like.

I’ve always been interested in the relationship between space and performance. How can we as artists and organizers shape the environment to create new experiences? From the basement to the warehouse, the noise show to the rave, the street corner to the gallery—space and sound intermingle within experience. The world a frame in which we inhabit ourselves, given by the frame but negotiated at the enclosed boundary.

on the stage on new year’s eve, I looked out at the frame. Scavenged branches woven together around load-bearing pillars; the red glow from the alter nestled in the stage left seating area; leaves, petals, and sticks hugging the back wall, blooming into the hardwood logs forming the bar and the glowing cocoon behind it.

Or did I look in at the frame?

every show is an exercise in constructing the frame. moving between expectation and surprise, fun is a careful navigation of similarity and difference.

at the outskirts of difference, noise haunts fun. it troubles the hedonistic release of dance music; it denies the straightforward intensity of punk; it removes the heady introspection of other forms of experimental music. each show begins with exercises in eliminating noise: determining where the hum is coming from, rearranging the microphones to eliminate feedback, grounding the wires, replacing the batteries in the smoke detector, removing the dogs from the basement.