Interview: Audio Collagist Co La on Past, Process, Ponytail (R.I.P.) and Plunderphonics

Many a freelance music journalist takes on copywriting for artists, labels and PR firms to round out what’s typically a rather spare and piecemeal income. I’m no exception. We don’t talk about it much because it seems like, and can be, a compromise of integrity. We make rules for ourselves to keep our motives pure or, at least, bifurcated, but we typically don’t give away our employers. I’m making an exception for Baltimore’s Co La, recently featured on Pitchfork behind his just released Daydream Repeater LP (NNA Tapes), because our fact-finding interview was so fascinating that I’d be remiss as a journalist (so much for bifurcation) not to share it. It’s been itching at me for three months.

Co La, a.k.a. Matthew Papich, is a collage artist at the surface. He samples, he interpolates, he rips off, he recreates. He borrows from sun-dappled reggae and dust-caked soul. He takes bricks from Spector’s Wall of Sound and builds strange huts from them. What traditional beat-makers call loops, he calls “loopholes,” not because they represent his circumnavigation of copyright law, but because they act, for him, as portals into “magic grooves that can just roll forever.” The best part of a song for Co La is like that bizarre kismet tube that leads Donnie Darko from one surreal scene to the next on the way to the end of the world. I’m for music that compels without added exposition, but reading Co La’s thoughts on process provides the listener a loophole into his strange songs.

So hit the jump below to check out a tune, then to dig into the conversation. The questions are incredibly banal since my job was simply to gagther cold fact for a press release (which I’ll include at the end), and the exchange was by email, but, the answers more than make up for it. Let’s start at the beginning…

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Anticon + Dublab = fresh L.A. vinyl

My favorite record label, Anticon, and L.A.’s greatest event-promoting radio collective, Dublab, have teamed up to co-author a series of 12-inch vinyl releases called In The Loop. Dublab curates, while Anticon (taking over from Plug Research) handles the physical release. Read about the two entities’ upcoming collaborative debut, and download an MP3 off of it, here.

INCHES001: Local revolutions w/ Mika Miko, Xasthur, Rx Bandits, Castledoor, Shafiq Husayn

I’m exceedingly proud to announce the debut of my new weekly vinyl column, “INCHES” on the LA Weekly music blog, West Coast Sound. The full title of the inaugural installment is “INCHES001: Local revolutions, pt.1 — five L.A. vinyl exclusives revealed and reviewed.”

This edition features five releases by L.A.-area artists on L.A.-area labels — Mika Miko (PPM), Xasthur (Hydra Head), RxBandits (Sargent House), Castledoor (Seven Inch Project), and Shafiq (Poo-Bah) — that either are not available on CD, or sport a drool-worthy design. A free MP3 accompanies each writeup, along with a photo of the package shot, for better or for worse, by yours truly.

Mika Mikos We Be Xuxa (PPM)

Mika Miko's We Be Xuxa (PPM)

Future installments will include up-to-date reviews of wax by L.A. artists and/or L.A. imprints, profiles on local vinyl shops and labels, cratedigger-curated selections, swap meet outings, and whatever else seems like a good idea at the time. If you haven’t clicked over there already, please do so here.

Feature: For Beauty And Terror

Andrew Broder, best known for his work with the criminally slept-on Minneapolis outfit Fog, has churned out no fewer than ten the new albums this year. But they’re not what you’d expect. These digital, label-less releases are improvised and edited instrumentals for guitar, turntables and various noisemakers. Moreover,  they’re inspired by drone music and doom metal. Click over to Decider Twin Cities to read my interview with Broder, and check out the other half of the piece here, with streaming audio and reviews of each record.

Further listening: In the Lala player, you’ll find my very favorite Fog song, “Us Beneath” from 2006’s Loss Leader EP (Lex Records). The lyrics hit home:

The other night, a firefight / Bursts of sewing machine gun fire
From your position / Barricaded behind the piano.
I return with small arms / Stuttered shots from typewriter keys.

And yet in the silence / Between the volley
The hearts of weary camps / Sing to each other

However faintly / As we each seek to claim / Disputed territory
he us beneath the other / Which is rich / In natural resources.