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Microwaved - interview (2006)
2006-02-13 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz and Brian Backlash | e-mail interview
Brian: Microwaved is based in the small town of Cedar Falls, Iowa. How did you come to work on music in such an isolated community? Do you find Iowa to be a receptive place for your music?

Gabriel Wilkinson: Growing up where I did I didn't fit in with the "normal" routines. I tried sports and it just didn't work for me. I was always attracted to film, music and theatre so I think the way I came to music was through discovery. I know the first thing that inspired me to think out side of the box was Revolution 9 off of the Beatles White Album. I didn't understand it at the time, but I knew it was different and it grasped my attention. The isolation of the community I live in also lends itself well to writing with machines. Not fitting in I became a bit of an outsider so it was hard to learn to work with other people. I grew to depend on myself. I feel alone a lot of the time, so that translated into my music. No, I don't find Iowa a receptive place for my music. I've been working in the genre for so many years. In the 90's I thought what I was doing was finally going to catch on. I think a lot of artists and labels thought that, but alas really only Nine Inch Nails and Stabbing Westward reaped any kind of commercial success from what we all were doing. I've always felt that I was ahead of the curve in Iowa, people are starting to catch on now a bit, but not so much that I could sustain myself on my music alone.

Brian: After touring in groups like Smakdab, you've taken on Microwaved as a solo project. What are some of the benefits of playing shows and writing music on your own?

Honestly, you don't have to listen to anyone else and there is no drama about when you play, what songs you want to play and how you want to present yourself to the
public. When your writing you only have to please yourself. There are no egos to stroke and nobody is telling you "that's not cool" you decide for yourself what is "cool" or not "cool". It is also all a part of the way you are feeling inside. When I write a song, there is an inspiration, whether it be musical, visual or emotional that I write from. If I am playing with a band I need to somehow communicate that with someone else to try to get them on the same page as I am when writing, but when I do it all myself, I only have to draw from the feeling or memory from within myself. It's very liberating in my opinion. It can also limit you sometimes. I'm not the best technical musician especially on guitar and some times my ideas are more technical than I can play which can be frustrating. But I find the experience to be rewarding and a lot less problematic.

Brian: The song 'I Ran Through a Flock of Seagulls' is a very beautiful electronic instrumental piece, and is particularly somber. When you play that song live, or listen to it, what does it bring to mind for you?

I haven't played this one live yet. It is still actually a work in progress. I'm hoping to work with a female vocalist on this song to give it the feeling that I really want. When I wrote this song I was inspired by the piano part in Nine Inch Nails quot;Closer". I know that record is pretty old, but I had recently gotten an iPod and was listening to older music. The way that piano part feels in that song inspired me. I had also wanted to play guitar that wasn't "metal" something a bit different and that is how I came up with the guitar line. When I listened to the song later, I thought that it felt like it could have been something Robert Smith from the Cure could have written, and that is when I was inspired to call it what I did. I felt it had a definite 80's New Wave feel to it. Thank you for the kind words on that song, it is still relatively new, and I'm still searching for a female vocalist to make it final. I'm not sure what I visualize when I hear this song. This may sound funny but since I feel that it is so inspired by a time period that I conjure images of A Flock of Seagulls and Tones on Tail.

Brian: As you have a general distaste for touring and the like, you seem content keeping Microwaved a low key project. In what fashion are you promoting yourself in the scene?

Touring is a necessary evil I'm afraid and I do have a serious distaste for it, but if I were to be signed by the right label, I would tour. As of right now though Microwaved is low key in that respect. Microwaved is my passion musically and I'm always trying to promote it and keep it in peoples minds. I have been in the music business long enough that I have a very good understanding of marketing, booking, and promotion so I know how to keep myself out there. I would like to be even further out there though and that is where people like you come in to help me promote what I'm doing and keep people interested. I am always looking for collaborations and remixes as well. Last year I did a remix for Circus of Dead Squirrels that was on their CD "Outdoor Recess". I'm currently working on a remix for Out Out, I've been working on that for awhile, but there is no solid release date for that yet. I'm also going to be starting a remix for Project .44 in the very near future for a release on Invisible records this summer. Other artists that will be on that release will be Hate Dept., Razed in Black, and Bile. I'm also working on a Hip Hop track with an old friend of mine who goes by the name of Chuck T. I'm doing a full song and he will be adding the vocals when he gets out to California. On top of that I'm also working on a Hip Hop remix of for a friend of mine with A + 9 records in California. I'm also playing around on a remix for the band Psyche. I think doing remix for other artists and collaborating is an amazing way to keep your name out there and turn other people on to your work. While I look busy on paper I'm always looking for other people to remix and work with so anyone should feel free to drop me an email and we can discuss collaboration and remixes.

Brian: You've been a part of the industrial music scene for over ten years, playing shows with the likes of Sister Machine Gun and System of a Down. I imagine in that time you might have accumulated a good deal of gear and equipment. What gear are you using in your studio now? Are you remaining with tried and true or are you playing around with new sonic devices?

I like the studio. I like gear. It's all very expensive so I don't have a great deal of stuff, but here is what my studio consists of. Roland XP-50 Music Workstation - This is the brains of the entire operation. I program everything on this machine. It's old, it uses 3.5 floppies but I love this machine and I love the sounds it plays. I also don't use a computer live so that is why I use this for everything. It can all be done live with out computers. Akai S-20 Digital Sampler - This is an older discontinued sampler but I started using it during the Smakdab days and fell in love with it. The new samplers aren't as user friendly as this old guy is here. I love this sampler. Cool Edit Pro 2.0 - Recording software on my computer. Dell Computer - my computer. Gibson Special II Guitar - Cheap guitar but it does what I want it to. Zoom 505 Guitar Effects Processor - Self explanatory I believe. Ibanez Power Lead Guitar Distortion Pedal - Again, self explanatory. Ibanez Bass - I just picked this up from a friend the other day. Tape Deck - The original sampler just ask Peter Christopherson Reason 2.5 - I have played around with it a bit. A friend of my Aaron Zilch (ex-American Head Charge - Grade 8) turned me onto this, but I just don't like the soft synths as much as my XP-50. Fruity Loops - A couple of songs I had up I did with this soft synth. People picked out the sounds right away so I'm not using this that much any more. The Internet - I use the internet to find noise samples and Bush sound bites. How anyone man can be so sample-able is beyond me. MG10/2 Stereo Mixer - I mix everything through this live and in the studio.

Brian: There seems to be a bit of a theatrical tone to your work, like it could fit right in with a modern classic horror film. Is your music influenced by film, or do you find inspiration elsewhere?

First off I am a theatre graduate. I spent all of my college years studying theater. I love theater, but theatre isn't dangerous enough for me. Horror films are a direct influence on me. I love horror films. I love everything about them. I love the music, I love the gore. I love horror films. I hope to one day actually score a horror film myself. My wife always tells me my music sounds like a horror film, so your observation is dead on. I think that may answer your question!

Brian: You're working on Microwaved's first full length record at present, and you you're looking to score some remix work from Haujobb and Charles Levi. You also have a music video in the works. Have you decided on a name for this upcoming record, and when might we expect to see it released?

I've talked to Daniel from Haujobb and he is going to be doing a remix for me. I just have a few details to work out on it yet. Charles Levi has also agreed to do a remix for me as well but I'm still working out the details. And Chris Harris from Project .44 is also going to do a remix for me, but like everything else I'm still working on the details. There are a lot of details in the remix game that have to be worked out.
I'm still working on the music video. I had a casting call this fall but didn't find the right people so I'm on hold until winter is over before I try and cast it again. I'm still working on the name for the record. I have been tentatively calling it Freshly Prepared, but lately I think that is a pretty stupid name. So I'm working on coming up with something new. I have a lot of guest artists on the record so it might be quite some time before it's completed. Musically I think it's done except for the recording part, but I've got guest vocals coming from Mark Alan Miller of Out Out, Tyler Crew of Graven Image, and Aaron Edwards of Wish and a couple of other surprises, but I will be keeping those secret for awhile. I am going to be releasing an EP entitled "3 Songs About Love and Hate" this spring. The title of the EP is kind of a nod to the band Godflesh, in fact the name Microwaved is a tip of the hat to Pitchshifter. On point, the EP is going to be release this spring, I'm working on the artwork now and I will be giving it away for free so if anyone is interested they should email my Management company at skinnykittyprod0@lycos.com to get a copy.

NINa: You started working with Mark A. Miller from Out Out. How the working process is going on?

So far we haven't actually gotten to the nitty gritty. I am doing a remix for Mark, and he has agreed to do vocals for me on one of my songs. I'm in the process of picking which song and recording it right now. February was our target date to get working on the song, but I think it will actually be next month before we really get going on it. Mark is an amazing artist who has been an influence on me for a long time. When I was in college I wrote for a magazine and Mark was one of the people I interviewed way back then. I gave him a copy of the original version of Left Hand Shake by Skinny Puppy and then we lost contact until last year when our paths crossed again. Mark gave me a lot of great advice some years ago and it lives with me to this day. Everyone should buy his new record.

NINa: Should music be labelled?

Tough question. I think we as the human animal must label things to put it into categories to keep it straight in our heads. I like labels for music most of the time. I just wish it wasn't so specific. I also wish we still had labels like Wax Trax, Fifth Column, and Re-Constriction. When you saw an artist on that label you knew what you were getting. Any more it's not like that. You really have to be educated so you get the right thing. I also don't know why so many "industrial" bands shy away from the banner. Al Jourgensen is famous for this. I remember a quote from Al in the early 90's in Alternative Press magazine where he said something like "Einsturzende Neubauten is Industrial not Ministry. If using a sequencer makes you industrial then ZZ Top is industrial too". I never understood why he didn't want to be called industrial. It lets people know what you might sound like without having to give it a listen first. I bought a lot of great records based on labels. But I guess it can limit you as well. Very tough question.

NINa: We can read in your biography that you have worked with lots of musicians. How are they off duty? Can you recall any situation bound with such collaborations what stucked in your memory?

Everybody I have met or worked with have always been cool. I played with some really great bands and met a lot of great musicians and everybody has been cool to be around and learn from. At the level that I am at, off duty and on duty are pretty much the same. The guys and gals working the club circuit and in the studio are the same people. One of my most memorable experiences was meeting Chris Connelly. Chris is a huge influence on me and when I got to spend a day on his tour bus with him it was a life changing moment. He was humble, accessible and downright honest. Chris is probably one of the greatest artist I have ever met. Martin Atkins and I once had our necks saved by Charles Levi and Jared of Chemlab outside a club in Minneapolis, but that is a story for another day. Everybody I have ever met or worked with have been great. There really isn't any juicy stories other than that.

NINa: Did there come the times when those who were against using computers in making music need to agree that it dominated the music market?

I think computers have become an important part of the musical landscape. I think with out computers today we would be lost. I have recorded on old analogue systems and I have recorded digitally, but both have their pros and cons. For many years people talked about the warmth of analogue but with a computer you can get the same kind of modeling. I think people should really do what they like best. Who am I to argue with Steve Albini? Digital is just the easiest and most cost effective way for me to get my music to peoples ears.

NINa: Can you predict any incoming trends in rock music?

Trends, that's tough. Right now in where I'm at American Heavy Metal is the new big thing. Bands like Lamb of God, Killswitch Engage, God Forbid and such are pretty big. Bands that are influenced by European metal are pretty big too, but I don't ever see that stuff as making it big. A lot of bands are using keyboard players and samplers again and I can hear it in a lot of the popular rock music on American radio stations. I think the 80's new wave trend is probably over, but a new industrial
trend may be coming back around. We will see, and maybe this time my ticket will get punched and I can jump on that train and make a living doing what I love to do and maybe even get an offer to score a horror film. Other than that my personal musical taste doesn't really follow any trends, I just love music that moves something in me.

Skinny Kitty Productions | Microwaved at Myspace

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