I took some time off and went on a venture through binary and source-code. Just kidding, I delved into cyberspace and found more information about Total Accomplishment. Since Seacrypt recommended this fellow and his band, I complied by looking into the matter. Everything went good, and Total Accomplishment is a pretty dodgy form of electronica, namely in the genre New Beat. So I had some precious time on my hand and decided to conduct an interview with Mat Dryhurst from this project, to tell me more about it, about, the music industry and much more. Hope you’ll enjoy this one too.
Could you tell me more about yourself? How did Total Accomplishment begin? Have you been in any other group or band prior to this project?
– Hey, so my name is Mat Dryhurst, and I’m one third of Total Accomplishment with Holly Herndon and Scott Arford. The project came together after a conversation in a bar in San Francisco with Scott about how bored of music we were, and he explained how he had been getting really into Belgian New Beat, which was new to me. He sent me some videos of great Belgian tracks by Tragic Error and 101 and we made plans to try and recreate some of the bounce, heaviness and absurdity of those original tracks. Within a month we were offered a show through our friends at Katabatik at this incredible space called The Compound (RIP) with 16 channel surround sound (8 subs), so we had to get good fast.
– We’ve all been in projects for a long time. I used to play a lot of extreme metal before I found techno, Scott is an incredibly decorated sound, video and noise artist (www.7hz.org) and Holly (www.hollyherndon.com) has her own incredible solo work and a past in both club music and academic music.
What would you consider to be your main influence when creating music? Is it affected by any older band or have you been paving your way through without that particular influence? Or is your music influenced by something else?
– I think each of us draw different influences. Belgian New Beat/Hard Beat was the motivator for a while, but in fairness I think our music has drifted into its own territory from that. Scott and I talk about this a lot, where in a way we both suffer from being really bad at copying things. I can try and cynically copy a track note for note, instrument for instrument, and it will always sound a bit weird, so after a while it has become about writing lines and creating atmospheres that pull from a databank of New Beat, Hard Acid, EBM, Electro, HI-NRG, Hardstyle tracks we are constantly feeding ourselves and never quite getting it right. Scott has the most amazing music collection, from weird Latin American and Belorussian blogs, of weird hard techno, drill and bass, hardstyle – and we often listen to that stuff and classics from Bunker Records in Den Haag to get warmed up. I often feel like every 303 line I write is in some way indebted to Bam Bam, Mika Vainio and Meshuggah. Holly is a Stockhausen nerd.
You call the genre you play for New Body. Is this something new and original? Where does it originate from?
– New Body is a term I spliced together with Elon from White Car when we were thinking about descriptors for a fresh kind of body music being produced in the US. We were just trying to look for some terminology to cover it, and New Body sounded good. I think the ‘body’ aspect also in some way alludes to music that is being performed IRL, as most of the projects we were interested in at the time had some live manifestation and visceral presence as opposed to just releasing blog mixes or whatever. It’s a personal and broad term (I’m not going to arbitrarily try and launch a genre like the Seapunk experiment) but I think that projects like White Car, Streetwalker, //Tense//, Bodytronix, Gatekeeper, Black Jeans etc all share a kinship in an joint appreciation for early EBM fidelity and rhythm and much newer sounds and technologies.
What would be the main difference between <body> and Total Accomplishment? Exactly what differentiates both of them and what make them alike?
– <body> is an homage to dot com era club sounds, married to a dedication to dot com era visions. We want to be using the most contemporary technology possible to create our music and live environments, and have also been listening to a lot of great techno and trancendental club music from the nineties for inspiration. There was a peculiar nexus in the early nineties of visionary dot com geniuses and assholes and insane hacker artists and producers that defined San Francisco and the Bay Area as one of the most important cultural hubs in contemporary history. I’m inspired to try and revive that a bit. <body> is a club/ a/v media project where we stream live content from and to the internet to incorporate into our work, and we are also working on an API for anyone to be able to manipulate our work while we play live. <body> is about envisioning the future of live performance for us right now. Total Accomplishment plays more ‘songs’, whereas <body> is a continuous club feed.
Sometimes I ask for opinions on the music industry. What do you think of it and how have it affected you?
– I used to work in the music industry. I’m pretty vicious about it. I don’t fetishize vinyl, don’t care what 16 year olds are listening to (for the most part) and don’t depend on music for my living anymore, so I find the industry a little dull. There was a weird blip in history when limited access to recorded media allowed some musicians to make a lot of money from signing with companies that controlled distribution channels and seduced the public into making you both wealthy. I don’t mourn that. I have a bunch of respect for indie labels, however feel that the future music industry could get more interesting in terms of redefining the value proposition between artist and public. We now know there are a million talented people out there. Is it really good enough to just release a song? A shitty song? The value of that has dipped dramatically. So then it’s about speed. The kids in the hippest cities are the fastest to release the shitty song, with the buzz word, or meme associated with it. They get bigger bookings for two months, then they are broke again. It’s unsustainable. The most feted indie labels are run by the independently wealthy. I go to shows to see work by artists hyped as ‘the future of music’ and there are four bored people there looking at their phones, and a dude with a sampler and loop pedal. Fuck the music industry. I honestly don’t care if Total Accomplishment ever releases a record. I would rather charge people to teach them how to use a drum machine. Peer to peer education is way more interesting, for example, than another shitty record.
What do you prefer to do when you’re not working with musical projects?
– I learn a lot of code, and work on social projects. For the last year or two I’ve been working on a technology platform to help people make their neighborhoods better, which has been great fun. I’ve been getting more into Human Computer Interaction design, and plan to make a step towards that, and maybe incorporate some of those teachings more into a solo project. Holly develops interactive exhibits for an awesome children’s museum in San Francisco, and is just about to start her Ph.D in Electronic Music at Stanford University. Scott is an architect, and just finished building the only skyscraper project in San Francisco in 2012. We all work really hard, and invariably spend a lot of time attending art events and underground dance parties in SF and Oakland to decompress.
Do you have any other musical projects going on besides those already mentioned?
– So I’m working on a solo project, perhaps called ‘GURU’, that is going to be pretty insane. Scott is in my favorite band, Infrasound, who only play live and quite literally shake the building until it feels like it is going to collapse, and yet it is quiet. Find money and plead with them to come to your town. Scott’s solo work is incredible, he has a piece playing in Recombinant Media Lab’s Cinechamber for Mutek festival in Montreal soon, and I think is almost ready to release a heavy funeral electronic doom record as ‘The Red Lodge’ soon. That material is so good. Holly has a solo record coming out, just as Holly Herndon, in fall 2012 that will hopefully be a big deal, and is also working on collaborations with a few people that will be exciting to check out. I’m always tweeting about one thing or another if you follow me @matdryhurst. Always new projects going on!
What would be your primary influence considering aesthetics? All I see is a lot of HTML-codes. Does that imply that the internet is one of the main influences for you in the aesthetic department? Or am I wrong?
– You are right. It’s all the internet for me. I mean, even if it’s appreciating some incredible early Moschino or Gaultier styles, or salivating over Walter Van Bierendonck’s goofy bearwear, it’s all structured content in the DOM. It’s gotten to that point when I see styles IRL at a bar, and even that is only contextualized through the internet. It is all consuming and things imho only start to get interesting once that is acknowledged and embraced.
What have been your favorite moment from playing live? What venues do you think are the best and have you ever had any bad experience up until now?
– We have had good and bad shows. The Compound, which I mentioned earlier, had the best sound system I have ever experienced and always brought an intense atmosphere. We loved playing Negative House with the Negative Youth kids in Mexico City, that was wild and unforgettable, we’ve had wonderful times at local parties Dark Room, Haceteria, High Fantasy and 120 Minutes and are grateful for all the local support and positive atmospheres.
Have you had any official album or EP-release yet or are you preparing for that? What will happen in the nearest future?
– We have been kindly offered to do releases by a few supportive labels. That might happen. As I said, I’m really ambivalent about it. We do need to record more and share that music, that is for sure! In the near future we are probably going to play some shows in Europe this summer, either with TA or <body>, so hit us up if you have any suggestions!
What would be the general theme of your songs? What kind of emotions are you trying to transmit to the receiver?
– I always say ‘take absurdity seriously’. I think that covers it.
Could you recommend any up-and-coming band in your area? What bands do you prefer that roam around in your city?
– Oh sure. There are so many in the Bay that get very little attention. Seriously, just block out one hour of your life and search all these names.
Infrasound (http://www.23five.org/archives/infrasound.html) – my favorite band, basically.
Sean Dimentia : insane dark acid electro project from the Katabatik clan(http://soundcloud.com/dimentia)
Water Borders : super deep and rhythmic project (http://soundcloud.com/water-borders)
Adeptus: this guy discards more hot tracks in a week than I produce in a year. (http://soundcloud.com/adeptus)
Identity Theft : the new record is incredible, another Katabatik hero (http://identitytheft.bandcamp.com/album/security-theater)
Group Rhoda: synthesizer mastery and gorgeous songs, two records expected this year (http://soundcloud.com/group_rhoda)
Black Jeans: his star is rising, super heavy dance music with tight rhythms and crazy analog gear (http://soundcloud.com/blackjeans-1)
Bruse: just started but are two of the most knowledgable people about dance music in the Bay and already sound awesome (http://soundcloud.com/bruse)
I’m missing so many people, but I could go on forever. If anyone is ever looking for more specific tips, just hit me up on twitter.
What band do you think I should interview next and what would you want me to ask them?
– I think you should hit up Beau Wanzer in Chicago (Streetwalker, Mutant Beat Dance) and ask him when he is moving to California. You should also ask him about electronic music, as he is kind of an encyclopedia. I would also recommend talking to Eric Archer from Bodytronix, as I am such a secret admirer but know NOTHING about the guy.
Here’s the song You’re Not Alone (Red Lodge Oakland Mix) by Total Accomplishment:
You can find them over here: