FLON: How long has Ratskin Records been around, and what was the impetus for starting a label?
MD: Ratskin has been around on and off since the beginning of 2005. The first three to four years were pretty sporadic in terms of releases, but has gradually escalated in terms of frequency of releases. It was started by the band Sabreteeth, with Andre Stafford, who is still considered part of the label, and Tyrone Davies. Like many labels, it was born with a false hope to “legitimize” (sounds laughable now) our own projects, and of course release our own music in extremely small handmade editions. it’s still operates on essentially that same principal, however the focus has shifted more to releasing inspiring projects by friends, peers, and even a few longtime favorites. We approach releasing music as fans who are indebted to the works we release first and foremost.
FLON: How would you describe the kinds of music on your label, and how do you find artists to work with.
MD: Styles range from Harsh Noise, Industrial, Synth music. Ambient/Drone, to extreme Hip hop, avant-garde soul and other heavier, more esoteric forms of electronic music. For us, the interest and excitement lies as much within the concept, philosophy and intention of the artist and their work, rather than trying to fit everything in the catalog into one stylistic “sub genre”, though most of what we tend to release does have an overall darker, heavier, more esoteric/ atonal sound. Conceptually it’s more about the approach of the artist embracing a radical and experimental spirit that aligns with our own, or at least operates in relation to that, which helps define who we release records by. Many of the artists we work with are members of our immediate communities, acts we play shows with on tour, trade music and art with, etc, though a few times we have released material from unsolicited inquiries, so it really does vary.
FLON: Ratskin does multi media releases frequently, right? Can you tell me about some of those, and if there are any on the horizon folks should be looking out for?
MD: Yes, several of our releases have taken a more multi media approach, format wise for one single release. Recently we released RAT070: ROGUE PULSE / GRAVITY COLLAPSE, a 10 CD box set which came with a self defense weapon (special edition) as well as a set of artist prints. Also the Styrofoam Sanchez “Empire Underwater” (later known as CORAL REMAINS) package contained an LP, DVD featuring a full length film as well as a 20 page full sized A4 comic book. In the future we have several multimedia projects including ROGUE PULSE / GRAVITY COLLAPSE Volume 2, as well as several book and artist edition projects which will contain significantly more elaborate packaging in smaller editions, including a thirty six hour album and durational performance from MALOCCULSION, as well as our normal schedule of LP’s, 7’’s, lathes, cassette tapes, and yes even some compact discs. All of our releases are available for free streaming on bandcamp as well.
FLON: MALOCCLUSION [sic] is your solo project, so let’s talk about that some. What has inspired you to make dark, noisey, experimental music?
MD: Yes, MALOCCULSION often confused with the medical condition malocclusion with slightly different spelling is a predominately solo project covering noisy, loud, dynamic abrasive industrial, and esoteric electronic music performance works. Malocculsion performances often feature video and various theatrics. Malocculsion has released EP’s on Tusco/Embassy and Ratskin as well as many compilation and collaborative projects and is currently recording a third EP for the VAUX FLORES imprint based out of upstate NY as well as a thirty six hour concept album for Ratskin. The inspiration was an extension of the sounds already being worked with in several collaborative projects as well as trying to create a high tension examination of the body/voice, nervous system, fear, systems of oppression, dark surrealism. Always creating the sound of things falling apart both physically, mentally, and philosophically.
FLON: Ha, obviously I also missed that distinction in spelling. So, do you plan on releasing all 36 hours in physical format, like several cassettes or discs, or will it be digital only? Also by concept album, do you mean there be some linear story arc? Will there be lyrics or a libretto of some sort?
MD: In terms of format and venue, still working out the details, however yes it will be held in a space which will have to accommodate the full thirty six hour straight performance, it will be performed straight through for thirty six hours with no breaks, audience members of course are invited to stay the full thirty six hours but I’m not expecting anyone to really remain the entire time, as that would be almost as ridiculous as the work in general. Although the likelihood of anyone experiencing the full work is next to impossible, it is still conceptually important that it is performed that way, the piece, and subsequent album is titled “Melting Back Alive : Electronic Compositions In Thirty Six Movements”
FLON: That is quite an undertaking. I hope I can get out to SF to catch it. Well, before we wrap up, I want to hear about Decaycast. What is your objective with that, and does it relate to your other endeavors?
MD: Decaycast is a zine based project (currently in digital only form) that I started with Jsun McCarty of Coral Remains who passed in the ghost ship fire, we initially started it as an internet radio show / audio collage project, but it was never fully materialized and then just sort of became a hub for us to post early audio collages, cut up pieces, radio pranks, improvisations, and what have you. We also began interviewing local artists and peers like Matmos, and Laetitia Sonami. It was kind of dormant for a while, especially after Jsun passed, though I have found some solace and even the occasional spark of inspiration in keeping it going. I think it’s important for there to be as many outlets for fringe artists to have their work shared. Many of the major indie music sites focus on negative reviews as a way to gain attention, which has its place if you’re not that creative to begin with I suppose. The world is fucked up enough, and music and art are one of our few saviors, so when I read about them, I want to be excited and eager to experience them, or what’s the point? I can drag art I hate all day, and often will, but in general, I think it’s a good exercise to find positive in any piece of music or art, if that is indeed what it is being offered.
FLON: Yeah, I never understood the point of telling people what not to listen to as opposed to presenting them with something they might like, or at least be interested in knowing about. Man, it’s been great talking to you. Let’s keep in touch, and maybe we can talk again about some new releases or projects.
MD: Yes thank you so much for the interview.
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