MDC Interview#50 " 7U?(FUNKO, DJ Rainbow Ejaculation, Rank Sinatra) "
7U? has released on a number of labels including…. System Corrupt, GPFS, Gastric Acid, Cock Rock Disco, Hirntrust, Dual Plover, V/VM Test, Suck Puck, BRK and Grindcore Karaoke.
Q. Please tell us about the environment in which you grew up. How did you become interested in music? What was the state of music in Australia when you were a teenager? Where did you spend most of your time?
My family are poor, from western Sydney, but I left home at a young age and moved around a lot. I grew up listening to punk/hardcore music, but really appreciated a unique approach, bands like the Butthole Surfers and No Means No, this was pre internet, sharing tapes and discovering stuff gradually. I was able to go to a lot of local punk and metal gigs from a young age.
I was introduced to electronic music in the mid 90’s through happy hardcore and big commercial raves in Sydney/Canberra, records by acts like Ilsa Gold and Euromasters really stood out to me and I loved the energy of these parties, it was like nothing I had experienced before. This also led to the local Sydney/Newcastle hardcore scene, Bloody Fist and Geoff Da Chef’s Distortion parties.
I also started going to a lot of early doofs (an Australian term for free techno parties, often in the bush) and sound system based political protests in Sydney in the mid 90’s. I really liked the ideas underpinning that movement, temporary autonomous zones, activism, reclaiming public space. The crowd was friendly, punk and brightly adorned; it was a really great sense of community.
I was into some of the music; I guess the harder end of techno, crews like Jungle Punks (DJ Manson/Null Object), Squatters Do It Best (Dj Zeitgeist) and free form punk electronics like Non Bosse Posse.
Around the same time I was also going to loads of noise music events in Sydney like What Is Music and anything put on by Dual Plover, who were an amazing and hugely eclectic label run by (what about) Swerve and Lucas Abela.
I was just a punter at a lot of this stuff while I was studying, but it was formative for me in terms of the music I ended up making.
Q. You make Breakcore/Hardcore music as 7U?, FUKNO and DJ Rainbow Ejaculation. When did you first discover these types of music? Why did you get interested in this music?
I see myself as a cut n paste collage artist, using audio/visual material, usually appropriated, to create stuff that gives people a bit of a laugh and sense of WTF.
I have made a bunch of ridiculous noise under a variety of pseudonyms over the last 25 years, some of those acts have gained a following and have been explored further, others have fallen by the wayside (remember Count Zoloft, BA Lert, DJ YSL?…exactly) none of it is supposed to be taken too seriously. I have always enjoyed more extreme music/sounds/noise and was eventually going to emulate this in my own naive way. A lot of what I do is interpreted as a parody, but I have a genuine love of the music I take the piss out of, but admittedly it’s executed terribly. Each act is supposed to stand alone and this is the first time I have really discussed them as a body of work.
Q. When did you first start making music? What did you use to make music in the beginning? Do you remember the first time you played in public?
I was experimenting with various machines, dictaphone/tape machines, cheap microphones, circuit bending and Casio keyboards and making noise in the late 90’s as well as early experiments making beats using Octamed on an Amiga 500, as was the fashion of the time, it was all pretty bad.
I was also making a lot of cut n paste collage at this time as 7U?, screen printed patches (a la Pete Strong), zines (like NO FRILLS) and paste up street art. I loved going to parties/doofs and handing out my zines and flyers, often competing with people promoting commercial trance events (which seemed to herald the death of the techno /free party scene in Sydney).
One of those venues was an illegal club at 61 Regent Street, where I first did visuals/zines for shows like the Acid Bath and the Com-Baton parties, smashing video from two VCR machines with tapes of things like gay/BDSM porn, dental work, riot footage, line dancing, the Wiggles and other atrocities using a simple switch that created glitches as I was smashing it back and forth along with the beat.
I really started to focus more on DJing and then making electronic music with my involvement in System Corrupt.
Q. How did you come across System Corrupt?
The first time I heard about System Corrupt was when a fellow collage enthusiast John Jacobs (Non Bossy Posse) told me to hang around till the end of a party at 61 Regent Street to see the last act playing as System Corrupt (DJ Manson and some guy named Dave) he thought it would be right up my alley. I ended up going home, but the next day loads of my doof friends described it as the most terrible thing, crazy stupid fast gabba beats and breaks with people screaming political shit over the top. I kicked myself I had missed it, sounded like what I was looking for locally.
I had met DJ Manson/Al Corrupt a couple of times from the techno/doof scene and was a big fan of his DJ sets. He asked me if I wanted to join a crew he and Kizza (DJ Zeitgeist) were putting together to put on free party events of more extreme electronic music in interesting, often illegal locations as System Corrupt.
So I was involved with System Corrupt from the start, making zines and visuals to project, this led to DJing and then making my own “music” (I use that term pretty loosely). It was a small core group to begin with, doing everything, set up/pack down, playing and promoting.
Initially we did not own a sound system, but a guy named Mason was sympathetic to our cause and let us use his, he was amazingly supportive, those first parties would not have happened without him. Eventually we picked up bits and pieces of our own gear, but doing free parties there was very little money apart from donations and our system was a cobbled together affair.
The parties we put in were all in abandoned buildings and spaces, mostly illegal and we were able to pull this off on a regular basis, with very few of our events getting closed down. Later on in Sydney this became harder to do due to police involvement.
System Corrupt provided a space for all of these people making their own unique take on hard electronic/breakcore/noise. Such a huge number of people making music in the early 2000’s in the Sydney area, the Epping crew (Maladroit, 556a, Pilfernators), Passenger of Shit and the Blue Mountains crew, Mute Freak, Null Object, Al Corrupt, Anti Kati and Toecutter, just to name a few. But it grew into an amazing collective of like minded beings like Mindy Le Brock, Hamy, Emily Hoof, Letitia, Ben Michel, Leigh Russell, Aaron Evil, Fraughman , Xian and Misanthrope. (sorry if I have forgot people, it was so long ago!) I think it’s important to acknowledge that while some of these people did not make Breakcore as such, they were hugely important to our crew.
Some people who talk about this history, particularly online, often were not part of it. This is what I remember, my experience; others who were there would have a different version of events, these are the bits that stood out to me, or that I remember!
The original website is still online in an edited form, but it is owned by someone overseas who was not part of our crew. He refuses to let us edit or update it, despite it containing a lot of my creative output over about a 5 year period. Most of the links posted here go back to my own personal website. http://www.667u.com
Q. I think System Corrupt is better known as the Breakcore label. And I have a feeling that your early work is as well. Were you and the people at System Corrupt actually aware of Breakcore?
While I really enjoyed the Breakcore sound I never really identified my own output as Breakcore and identified more with harsh noise, cut n paste collage, plunderphonics and mash up sounds.
Meeting Dave (Toecutter), really pushed me forward musically, we had similar tastes in sound and art and were constantly bouncing ideas back and forth. I remember when we first met bonding over the cut n paste films of Craig Baldwin. He was certainly my muse during those SY:CO years.
Collectively (as System Corrupt) we were looking for a harder sound than the acid techno/free party scene in Sydney at the time. We were hearing a lot of material coming out of Europe like DHR (Patric Catani, Bomb20, Shizuo), Irritant and Praxis records as well as Bloody Fist both distributing and releasing this type of heavy breakbeat hardcore.
Q. Do you know the situation of Breakcore in Australia before you guys? What is the most important thing in Australian Breakcore scene?
I was a huge fan of Bloody Fist and bought records off Mark N for years, I was really into the noisier/weird end of music he distributed (he once sold me the V/VM Aural Offal Waffle release, which blew my mind). He was certainly responsible for making this music accessible to us, and was instrumental in importing and distributing all sorts of extreme electronic music. The Breakcore stuff was a natural progression going hand in hand with the acts he was releasing like Fraughman, Memetic, Hedonist, Syndicate, Xylocaine and his own Nasenbluten stuff.
The scene here was very small, everyone knew and supported each other. There were few clubs or legal venues to play in Sydney, so we made our own events as free parties in obscure locations, it gave us a freedom to play whatever we wanted. It was fun and we were really not taking ourselves too seriously. It was an exciting time of experimentation. Breakcore was really undefined and allowed room to experiment and play with these new ideas and tools, like PC computers, sharing music and communication with overseas musicians via the internet. Coming from the activist free party scene our politics was also a hugely important part of what we were trying to convey and this resonated with the early European Breakcore scene.
The scene here today, to me is still vibrant, with acts like Gelido, DF0:BAD, Melt Unit, Null Hypothesis, Sanfi, Bachus Harsh and the elusive DJ Ruined My Wedding Day. The Shitwank crew in the Blue Mountains is still making amazing music and putting on crazy free parties, POS is a powerhouse of creativity. Also the Speedcomp events online every few months with artists providing sample packs and different people remixing the samples in 30 minutes, so much fun.
Q. Was the Goulburn Poultry Fanciers Society run by you? How did the label get started? What is your favorite catalog from the Goulburn Poultry Fanciers Society?
GPFS started as we were sampling and mashing up a lot of pop music, influenced by V/VM and plunderphonics, but we headed in a more Breakcore, beat driven direction and it ended up as an offshoot of System Corrupt.
I put all of the releases together as 7U?, often the compilations were compiled with Toecutter and occasionally other artists like Maus (Idiot Lust), Maladroit, BINT and Shitmat. A 74 minute rework of We Are The World was to be the final release, but it will probably never be finished. Dual plover gave me the opportunity to press CDs very cheaply, those guys were hugely supportive of our endeavors.
I see these releases as a moment in time. I don’t feel the need to release them in a digital format, they are readily available on places like Soulseek and Discogs. With all of the labels I have run over the years I thought it was important that the artists retain full ownership over the music they contributed and it would be disrespectful to them to release stuff outside of what was originally intended.
Q. When was the first time you went to Europe? What was the most impressive thing about Europe at that time?
In 2004 and 2009 I came to Europe and was really surprised at how different and large the interest in noise/breakcore was, parties had a lot more people attending and travel to the next city took no time at all. In Australia the scene was very small, free party orientated, often we were just playing our new tunes to each other and to play in another city you had to travel hundreds of kilometers. It was great to travel to Europe and meet all these people making music I loved and had talked to online.
2005 and 2006 I came to Japan and played shows with Ovenaxx and Midi Sai crew and exhibited art at Disco Beans. These were both amazing trips for me, and felt a real connection with the Japanese crew. While it was very different culturally I felt a real connection with the crowd there, particularly in Osaka.
Before these tours I had never travelled outside of Australia and it was great way to travel, meeting amazing people in each city and hanging out, sleeping on couches and partying. While it was great I found the travel and back to back shows exhausting and very different to performing occasionally for friends in Australia. I have only recently paid off the credit card debt I accrued doing those tours, the cost of flights alone was ridiculous.
Q. "Chairman Of The Bored" is a masterpiece, in my opinion. Do you remember the reaction to this album? What genres did you get support from? What are some of your most memorable live performances as Rank Sinatra?
This was just an act I made up for our small shows in Sydney, karaoke is always so much fun. I was surprised by the attention it received, and that people wanted to release it! I’m not sure how well that particular act translated to European Breakcore shows, unlike the Japanese who certainly got it. The first live Rank show I think was supporting V/vm on tour here, playing the show at Lanfrachies Memorial Discoteq, with the GPFS crew, that was an amazing night, one of my favorite shows of all time. James Kirby is one amazing cat.
Q. What is the concept behind DJ Rainbow Ejaculation? How did you write the songs? What did you do at the gig?
Homoeroticism and hardcore, I believe, go hand in hand, all those shaved headed, sweaty men with shirts off ,throbbing in close proximity, it had an amazing sexual energy to it. All of those tracks were just cut n paste bars of happy hardcore, noise and a tape called Rough Trade, later released in its entirety by Dual Plover. I had a lot of time to sit in front of a computer and edit these mash ups together in my own naive way using Soundforge and Acid software.
The live shows were played mostly from a Sony W810 mobile phone with the cross fader of the mixer used to smash between L (distorted) and R (clean). Playing live this was a conscious decision and having a jab at the vinyl centric state of DJ culture at the time, particularly in Europe where people were horrified I played off a phone, hilarity often ensued. I was never much of a DJ, but with the tools available to us you didn’t need to be, I was certainly not up there hiding behind a laptop.
In a lot of my acts the performance elements were as important as the music and wearing a mask and costume helped with my self confidence, it was like I became someone else for an hour or however long I played for.
Image by John Harte
Q. Your music and artwork often use disturbing imagery. Why do you like those elements? Have you ever had any trouble with them?
Yes, I still have 100’s of copies of the DJ Rainbow Ejaculation CD with art by Sekatani I will never be rid of, but his art was so perfect for that release. The artwork on the Cock Rock Disco 12” was by Sish Tick and was less confronting, but also amazing. The pressing plant rejected my artwork for the split 12” with Passenger Of Shit (ironically his artwork was fine!) on System Corrupt.
In terms of my own artwork I used to think it was challenging and pushing people’s perceptions, but I have grown up somewhat. I recently read an article about Sydney rave culture, System Corrupt get vaguely mentioned in two sentences, one of which is about my offensive flyers, which was a shame and totally misses the point. The artwork was intended to alienate people, but usually in a humorous way. The music we were playing was often irritating and challenging and I wanted to make art that reflected this.
Q. You have recently released works on FUKNO/UNKO. These projects are mainly acid. What kind of equipment do you use?
I have been making the FUKNO/UNKO stuff for about 10 years now, I wanted to keep making electronic music/noise, but needed to change my approach as having kids meant I no longer had days to spend in front of a computer editing. Live machines and one off recordings achieved this and I am flashing back to my 90’s techno roots. As far hardware goes there are so many cheaply available plastic boxes that make sound now, samplers, drum machines and synths, it is certainly easier to make music with hardware than in the past. I also use a lot of circuit bent toys and the odd guitar pedal.
I have also been releasing a bunch of other people’s acid experiments on my Gastric Acid label. I was hearing so much of this great acid jam music online and missed doing artwork for releases, doing the Acid Dad release with Hedonist really inspired me to start the label.
Q. What has been the most shocking experience you have had in your musical career?
Being paid/not being paid for shows, particularly overseas is always a surprise. I think coming from a free party background gave me a freedom to play/do whatever I wanted and then performing overseas and being paid for shows creates a certain level of expectation.
I once lost my pants, passport and all my money at a show in Russia after stripping down for a Christina Aguilera cover, thankfully it was returned.
Recently I got to play a show in the Blue Mountains and dragged my 10 year old son along, I think it was probably more shocking for him than me, one of his observations was along the lines of ‘wow, when you played people got up and danced!’
Q. What are your future plans?
I am working on new material and a new act, a combination of live hardware but with a more structured approach to sampling and editing. Same level of stupidity, in fact I hope to ramp that up a notch, if that is possible.
I have also been playing weird electronic music and noise on my local community radio station.
I have kept making a lot of visual collage, assemblage, screen printing and new zines. This is where I believe I really shine as a visual artist, but people seem more interested in my sonic output!
Finally I would like to thank Julie who has been so supportive of my creative output over the years, without her honestly I would not be here.
<7U? Hits and Misses>
1- FUKNO-SHIT FUCK’N’PARTY
2- DJ Rainbow Ejaculation – Time To Call In The Carpet Cleaning Professionals
3- UNKO-Mandatory Gabba
4- Rank Sinatra with Toecutter and Spastic lt Howitzer – Kokomo
5- UNKO-Stop Your Warbling and Eat Your Dinner
6- FUKNO-Tell ‘em
7- rev777?-Right PUJ Obstructional Maneuvers in the Dark
9- 777?-Me and Ray Meagher Go Way Back
10- Rank Sinatra-Take On Me