Can you tell us a little bit about the beginning of your music career in Los Angeles and how the experimental nature of the venue ‘The Smell’ helped shape some of the storytelling in your early music?
I first went to ‘The Smell’ in ‘98 when it was in its North Hollywood location. The second time I went was in ‘99 and it was at its current downtown location. I was fundamentally birthed from the egalitarian creative presentation of music at The Smell. People played on the floor to people that wanted to be there. It cost five bucks and the artists made all the decisions on how, when, where and why they played. I volunteered my time stamping hands and learning to do live sound there. Downtown LA in these days was scary and exciting. The music was personal and the space was dirty. I loved every minute of it. I thought that was how music should be presented everywhere. Once we started touring, I quickly realized how lucky we were to have a place like ‘The Smell’.
Since the first No Age show at ‘The Smell’ back in 2006 how would you describe the changes you’ve seen in Los Angeles’s cultural and built environment and what kind of impact has it had on your music and art?
LA has changed so much since 2006. Specifically, Downtown LA has become a center for arts, fashion and cultural performances. This was not always the case. Most people viewed Downtown as a dangerous place and they were not wrong. I think there was a “wild, no man’s land” kind of vibe that was very attractive to a certain like-minded group of creative individuals that eventually led to an awareness of the place that would change the perception of what went on down there.
Can you describe the inspiration behind your new experimental soundscape project ‘Sound Field Volume One’ and what role Los Angeles and the Southern California landscape played in the making of the LP?
I was inspired to document the many varying landscapes of Southern California because in my travels around the world with No Age I would constantly be asked, “What is LA like?” And my answer was always, “There is no One LA”. There are 400 different small communities of wildly different ethnic backgrounds, socio-economic status, and cultural variety. One way of showing that was taking a singular element, the 10 freeway, and following it on its journey from Palm Springs at sunrise, though the eastern suburbs, into Downtown at 12 noon and ending at the Santa Monica Pier at sunset. There is a daydream like meditation on moving through these kaleidoscopic landscapes seen from the window of your car.
‘Place’, urban or rural, seems to be very important to you when creating these soundscapes. Rumors has it that there may be a ‘Sound Field Volume Two’ coming in the near future which will focus on the pulse of another City. What cities are you considering?
I love the idea of examining what it feels like to move around a city and reflecting the emotional abstraction of what resonates with the location. I would love to look at the bike paths, canals, and small streets of Amsterdam. Or the subways, bridges, tunnels, sidewalks, stairwells of Manhattan. I think the most important thing is to be able to identify a singularity of movement through to space that allows the views to observe the changes in setting, feeling and tone within the city environment.
Randomly, but also related: I remember the first time I drove through Nebraska on tour and was able to see 360 degrees of nothing but the flat fields, it felt like floating in the middle of the ocean. There is a feeling of being dwarfed by the scale and expanse that knocked me out. That would be a challenge to tackle a space of that scale.
If you could you take us to any place in Los Angeles County that inspires you most as an artist, where would you take us and why?
Oooo… that is tough to just pick one. I would have to say driving through the Angeles National Forest along the 2 is still one of the most inspiring journeys that resets my clock and allows me the space to see the city and environment anew. Finding a peaceful vista point to view the city below day or night is a pallet cleanser that can let new ideas flow and creativity to bloom fresh.