The summary for Jesse Osborne-Lanthier’s Where To Now? cassette, From A Flawed Apex Which Led To The Head discusses taxation systems, before going on to explain the finer points of Lanthier’s production process, ending by stating how it was written “on exorbitant amounts of marijuana.” It is this dichotomy which perhaps best sums up my conception of Lanthier’s work.
On the one hand he seems to put a large amount of research into his releases. With CSLM for example, a collaborative LP with Grischa Lichentenberger, the duo put together a considered homage to fading antiquities of domestic entertainment, using cathode ray television sets and VHS units to compose the entirety of the album’s material. On the other hand, quotations like the one above suggest he smokes a fair bit, and other releases seem largely based around Lanthier taking the piss and enjoying himself; something I rate very highly in a climate where much electronic music seems rather humourless. Most recently he contributed to Raster-Noton’s ‘Unun’ series with ‘Unalloyed, Unlicensed, All-Night!’ a frenetic bastardisation of “EDM, big-room house, trance, and online production tutorials”.
On May 31 Lanthier will have a piece he composed with Haunter Records founder Daniele Guerrini aka Heith played at St. Elisabeth Church, Berlin ahead of an appearance from Merzbow, Keiji Haino an Balazs Pandi. With the show just around the corner, we decided to catch up with Lanthier to talk about the show, Berlin culture and breaking the American Apparel story live on ‘Chaudtime’.
A piece you wrote with Heith is being played on May 31, as an opening for Merzbow, Keiji Haino an Balazs Pandi. You’re still gonna be in Canada though right? Tell us a bit about the project.
That’s the gist. Basically, I wasn’t sure when I was going to able to come to the EU, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to present a piece alongside Merzbow, so I agreed to do it satellite-style. What will most likely happen is that I’ll pre-record some ‘live movement’ in the final stages of putting the piece together with Dan [Heith]. I’m trying to exaggerate this process somehow, like amplify the fact that I’m not there.
Did the two of you work on the piece specifically for this show, and if so, did the billing influence what you’ve written? How did you and Daniele first meet too?
Yes, specifically for the gig. I mean, for me the there’s not direct ‘influencing’ . There might be some subconscious thing going on, but I’m trying to stay pretty true to the path I’ve been taking lately. I met Daniele through Haunter. Francesco and him wrote to me in 2016 and booked me to play Milan’s Macao. I ended up really hitting off with the two of them and we’ve been in contact since. I’ve been recording stuff for an EP for Haunter, but have been quite busy working on different projects, so this sporadic Merzbow thing was the perfect venture to initiate the first steps of working with them I thought.
Also, although I’ve often hinted and talked about ping-ponging stuff with collaborators online, I’ve never actually managed to do it (laughs). It seemed like if I had a deadline it would be an opportunity to try my hand at this type of non-IRL way of working with someone.
What other ideas have you had for trying to replicate the ‘liveness’ of the show? Did you consider livestreaming from Canada or anything?
I’m not so much banking on that, but rather amplifying the fact that I’m not there. Like, adding interruptions to the audio, using sounds recorded from my home, working from bed and bath, introducing myself within the piece (laughs)… I’ve been actually been answering Dan’s emails from the bath. The process is part of it… It’s something I try to do with everything. Like, how do I make it fun for me? How do I make it personal? How do I make it mine? It also adds some kind of critical comedic aspect to it.
Has that always been the approach with your collaborations? What was it like working with Grischa [Lichtenberger]?
The approach is of course different with everyone. There’s the more serious stuff and then there’s this Homo Ludens thing, or just making something for the sake of pleasure, as often times it is very much with Femminielli Noir for instance.
With Grischa, this took on a different shape. Still ‘for myself’, I find that quality in working alongside him like ‘I need to do it for me as well as for ‘us’ so to speak, but working with someone like him is not as straight-forward so to speak. The process is far less immediate. Much more meditative and demanding, but also the project had a tinge of depth that some other collaborations don’t share necessarily.
I get the sense Grischa likes to work with some kind of overarching concept…
Oh definitely. Like as much as I want to to be ‘for myself’, Grischa is like ‘this is what I’m doing’ (laughs).
Was that how Raster-Noton ended up doing the EP with you? Or was that planned before your collaboration?
No, it was out of the blue. Weird actually, since I’d already been doing stuff with Grischa and Robert Lippok. They apparently heard a track of mine in a CTM-related mix. It was something I’d never released and they contacted me through Grischa. As soon as they asked me I knew the EP that track was from, but it was far off from anything that ended up on the Raster-Noton record. It was way more Where To Now? vibes actually. Its a track that I pulled from the Where To Now? release at the last minute.
Did they give you a lot of free reign with ‘Unlicensed, Unalloyed, All Night!’?
Basically I just came up with the concept, and sat with Olaf [Bender] over a few months to refine it. I was working on the mixes with Grischa a tad, then in the EMS studio in Stockholm I met Kyoka, and she heard some of the stuff as well. She gave me some input on the tracks while I was there. Later on Olaf kind of fixed up the order of the tracks. I ended up canning one tune and replacing another, and that was it!
I managed to visit EMS on my way back from Norbergfestival last year, which you’re playing in July right? It’s an amazing setting. I wanted to ask about some of the more interesting venues your played at over the years…
Yes! Apparently its awesome. As far as venues there’s a couple that have stood out but remembering the names is tricky… There was this one underground gay club we played as Femminielli Noir that was insane. It was in Lyon, France. A beautiful place with just like jaw-dropping decor. I like dingy clubs with good soundsystems. There was this venue we used to host FTK parties in two years back in Berlin. That was super nice.
Speaking of Berlin, it was interesting to read your thoughts on the city from an interview in 2015. I was wondering whether your attitudes have changed to at all from when you first moved… You were talking about the pace of the city being slow enough that you could work in isolation, but its also possible to go and immerse yourself in the culture.
I still feel it has this slow thing for me, Berlin is tough for a lot of people ‘cause I guess you can just fall into a party wormhole… Luckily I’ve never been into partying for more than one night so I’ve never really attached to that side of it.
Tell me about your party wormholes…
Hmm, I guess I could tell you about Bethlehem XXX… We had this spot in Montreal where we were basically free to do what we wanted. Our friend Brett owned it (and still does but is currently revamping into something else (Femme Fontaine)). This spot was like a weird ass restaurant plastered with paraphernalia everywhere. A restaurant mutated into an after-hours underground club. We threw a lot of crazy parties there… We’d do a TV show with interviews with local and international figures and artists, and would take mushrooms and get super fucked up. We interviewed Jon Rafman for instance (laughs). Bernardino [Femminielli] was the host, and Thea Govorchin is one of the actors involved.
It was whack but super awesome. We even broke the story of when American Apparel went bankrupt, like live (laughs). We were interviewing Dov Charney and he told us live on our YouTube stream that the company was going bankrupt. This was two or three days before he went public about it.
Chaudtime XXX was our show. ‘Chaud’ means ‘hot’ in french but is pronounced like ‘show’. This is a Christmas episode, the interview was with a local butcher…
I did all the sound conception and live FX and stuff… It was very nonsensical/hyper-conscious/PC and not PC/freaky and like at the same time very ‘documentary’.
Its quite Adult Swim in a way… Do you miss this kind of stuff in Canada?
(Laughs) Yeah, I think Vice were interested in it for a while.
Do you think there’s as much ‘fun’ to be had in Berlin in that kinda sense?
Hmm well with friends, yes, but it’s a tad pretentious. I’ve felt like a lot of people i wanted to interact there were standoffish with me like they were way more Berlin than I was, kind of thing (laughs). It can be very linear in its freakishness.
I mean it can be the same everywhere though. That’s like chilling with musicians in general a lot of ‘em, they only talk about gig shit. I don’t consider myself one. I like talking about industry stuff a bit, but mostly just saying how whack it is and that’s usually where it ends for me. I’d rather talk about real shit. Or if I’m going to talk about music I’d rather it be about the process than the semantics of the industry and the people that operate in it (laughs).
I was sad to miss your ‘909 Problems But The Pitch Ain’t One’ dubplate by the way. I was wondering what your thoughts are on Record Store Day more generally…
Put pressure on Matt and James [Where To Now?] and they will press it to vinyl (laughs). I actually think RSD is a sham. Throw shade at that shit. I mean actually I almost just don’t care because I’m far from it in general. Like I don’t go to record stores really, and I don’t collect records because I’m too broke all the time, so it’s kind of distant. How about you?
I have a complicated relationship with records. I feel most people like the ‘store’ experience and the social aspect but I actually fucking hate it. Most store staff in London look down their nose at you, so when people bang on about ‘supporting record stores’ I kinda think nah. I worked in bookshops for years, and if you treated people that way when they were buying books you’d get fired real quick.
I can relate. I like the objects in a sense, but the industry surrounding it and that store vibe is like nah thanks. I worked in a synth store for years. There were a few people whose stuff I used to really enjoy, and when I met them they would just treat me like I wasn’t intelligent enough, or had nothing to offer them. I ended up kind of hating what they do and represent. I think that’s one sad truth about this entire music and art world.
For sure. With the store thing, I feel like these people are constantly upset about how more people aren’t buying tunes, but then you treat people like shit, so why should they? People get into this stuff when they feel welcomed and accepted.
Right. That’s what I realised about the ‘fan aspect’ too. When you’re not ‘popular’ or making a career out of music you often think about people who release the records you like as people to look up to. Then a little later on you gain traction. You are part of that scene now, you are ‘cool’ too, and then you meet these people you looked up to; their message, their talent, their brand… You talk to them and they are fucking shite. Then you realise it’s like high-school all over again or something like that.
Find more details on the Lanthier’s Merzbow support show, here.