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Diatribe (Marc Jameson) - interview (2007)
2007-08-01 | Katarzyna NINa Górnisiewicz and dugoutTX | e-mail interview
NINa: The Industrial Rock scene knows you best from your time with Diatribe so please don't get mad if most of the questions will concern that project in our interview :) First of all, are there any unreleased songs by Diatribe?

Marc Jameson: There are lots of unreleased songs by me, in the same vein as diatribe. But as a full band, there were only a couple of tracks we never got around to recording or releasing.

dugoutTX: There was next to no mention of a Live show by Diatribe. Was it a mainly studio project? or did it ever make it out in front of an audience?

Oh yea, we played plenty of shows. We opened for KMFDM, Thrill Kill Kult, etc. We toured up and down the east and west coast. Never go to Chicago in winter. Bad idea. One of my original motivations for starting the band was watching one too many depressed looking, flannel shirt wearing, grungy 90's rock bands, that just stood around and looked bored. I thought, damn I could do better than that. There's so much you can do on stage, and a show should be exciting, a spectacle, full of energy and creativity. So we would try to do something different at every show. My friend Jere would create stuff for us, like walls of latex skin, with people sticking their faces through from behind. Also plenty of video and abstract visuals. My personal favorite part of each show was creating a new intro and drum performance. I'd work with 2-3 drummers, and work out a drum corps kind of routine, anything from breakbeats to military style percussion, which then launched into a song.

NINa: Were there any videos by Diatribe?

No. Only the videos our bass player Kevin edited together for playing at shows. And there's a bunch of live footage out there, not sure who has it anymore.

dugoutTX: Was Diatribe's cover of the Sugarcubes - Cold Sweat (from Shut Up Kitty Compilation) some of the first work released to the public or are there other tracks out there that aren't on any of your own releases?

It wasn't the first. We appeared on several compilations before that I believe. I don't recall the labels. Cop records I think, and Cleopatra, and Reconstriction.

NINa: What led you to quit Diatribe? Lack of ideas for the music or something else?

Never a lack of ideas. I was just moving in different directions. I started getting heavily into drum&bass, breakbeat, late 90's triphop and downtempo sounds. I tried to incorporate those influences into Diatribe for a while, but it became more and more apparent I was forcing something that wasn't natural, and perhaps it was time to start something new.

dugoutTX: Can we hold out hope of a possible rebirth of Diatribe? or is that an impossible dream?

It's not impossible, but highly unlikely. It was a fairly dark time in my life. I was a misfit in my surroundings, hanging out mostly with suburban skate punks, who spent most their time drinking and saying F this and F that. It wasn't the most creative or productive environment. We had some great times of course, but we also got on each other's nerves, and each band member seemed to be on a totally different track. Towards the end, we were barely talking. And that hasn't changed. So I would have to say it's highly unlikely!

NINa: Have you been in any bands other than Diatribe?

Yes. I started out in punk bands. The Unaware, Mistaken Identity - San Jose skate punk bands. Moved on to Odd Man Out, which was a reformed version of the Faction. We were attempting to do something different, get away from punk, introduce keyboards, etc. I think it had potential, but was a little too pop for my taste. However in that band I started to learn how to program keyboards and drums and get into the production side of things. Soon after Diatribe, I formed a triphop project called Kikiwest. We were influenced by Portishead, Morcheeba, etc. I got to incorporate a lot of the sounds I was getting into, chopping up breakbeats, dirty downtempo, etc. We literally sent out cassette tapes to like 4 labels, and got offers from every single one. It was the right timing for that sound. Unfortunately we signed with London/FFRR, which completely fell apart before we ever released our first record!! Since then, I've just been producing. Although I did a very SHORT tour with Linda Perry / 4 non blondes playing keyboards! That was my introduction to LA.

dugoutTX: About your origins... what were your original influences and what made you dive into the craft of building songs? Any particular bands or albums that set you off?

I was heavily into the Network Records sound... especially Skinny Puppy and spinoff projects. I was blown away by the depth and chaos of their ideas and production. Amazing. Then when Ministry turned hard and the Wax Trax! sound started to take over, I suppose that showed me the power of simplify things a little, bringing in a heavier element, more repetition, less tweak-head craziness. I've always been into electronic music though, in all forms, from early Kraftwerk, to weird stuff like Test Dept, to Africa Bambaataa.

dugoutTX: Are there any specific moments in your diverse musical history thus far that are of special significance to you?

Playing shows to huge crowds and watching people really get into it, connecting with the crowd, those were some of the best moments of my life. I don't know why exactly, but I think that when you share your art with others and they give something back, you have a sense of purpose, it's like - OK, this was all worth it, this means something, I've created something larger than myself, and I'm grateful some people appreciate it. We met a girl once who had tattooed our bondage girl artwork on her entire back. It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen. I don't suppose she'll be wearing alot of bikini's anymore. Aside from Diatribe, other great moments are going out to a club and hearing your own remix getting played and seeing people dance to it. I did a remix for Madonna with Felix da Housecat, and it got played for a little while in the electro clubs.

NINa: As a producer and musician, are you more into cold mathematics approach to music making or more about muses and life inspirations?

I'm more into abstract ideas, letting accidents happen, subliminal psychic messages entering my brain right as I'm drifting off to sleep. These are where most songs start. When I got into drum&bass, I went a little crazy with the technical programming side of things, but to be honest, it's not really where my heads at. It's a lot of work, to create something that may or may not have a soul. In the early days, I would plan every single thing out, and always start with drum programming, and build layer upon layer. Later though, and to this day, I start with very simple elements and ideas, look for something new, something special, and try to bring that out.

dugoutTX: As a producer of such diverse talent, I find it amazing how you adapt to the sound of an artist rather than assreting a more static "signature sound" like some others. Is there a method to which you develop your remix projects? Or is each project unique unto itself?

As a producer you do have to kind of honor the spirit of the artist you're working for, and really try to draw out the best elements you can find in them. But I still always try to 'leave my mark', or add something that is uniquely my own. Every remix project has been different. The latest stuff I've been doing is definitely more of a specific sound - distorted electro/disco, FM synths with grinding FM, 80's drum machines, etc.

NINa: There are names like Christina Aguilera and Madonna in your discography. Was the idea of getting involved in their music more about making money or a new passion for you? Be honest please ;)

Ha. These projects sort of came to me, through people I have worked with. I moved to LA to make a career as an independent producer. As such, you really can't limit the jobs you take to only the music you like. It would be a very short career. So to be honest, those projects were about the work and experience, and the challenge - seeing if I can apply my tastes and musical experience onto such a vastly different style of music. I also did a lot of R&B. I'm very proud of the work I did for Christina. In fact, a lot of it didn't make it on the record, cus it was too 'alternative'. I did some 60's soundtrack style productions for her, which is some of my greatest work, in my opinion. But having said all that, NO. Christina, Madonna, R&B, were never a goal for me, never a direction I aimed to go in. It's just the work that came my way. Had I known a different set of people, perhaps I'd have worked on Linkin Park instead.

NINa: Is there any order of tasks while working in the studio on an album production? What do you personally prefer to begin with always?

Being a former drummer, I usually start with beats in the studio. However, my song ideas usually begin with a melody or guitar line. I jot them down on note paper and try to make sense of them later.

dugoutTX: Since the music industry has seemingly splintered into all sorts of new territory (and who can keep track of them ALL??)... are there any music scenes - from a more global perspective - that you would like to expose us to?
The distortion disco, dirty electro, indie dance scene is blowing up in LA. There are a lot of good remixers and bands. What they've done is put the personality and melody back into electro. Techno and its 100 spinoffs got fucking booorrriing quick. This stuff combines the best of electronic with the attitude of old punk or the toungue in cheek party vibe of disco. Some of my recent favorites are Justice, MSTRKRFT, New Young Pony Club, The Knife, The Presets, CSS, Simian, Young Americans, Van She (best remixes ever), Toxic Avenger, etc. It makes me want to jump up and down. And I usually do.

NINa: Why in your opinion does the interest in industrial rock music vary so drastically over time in comparison to non stop popular gothic or electro styles of music?
I have no idea! hahah. Maybe it's because goth, for instance, is a more complete and clearly defined lifestyle, with a very specific philosophy, mythology, and culture behind it, whereas the industrial thing is a bit more vague and open to interpretation. But in my opinion, 'electro' and what that word means, has changed drastically over the years as well.

dugoutTX: Are there any other hobbies or interests that you excel at?
My ex-GF complained that I didn't have enough hobbies that included her. Ha. Perhaps she's right. I have a degree in software engineering, if that counts as a hobby. I learned a bit of flash and wrote a video game involving a Yeti in space. I love graphic design, but I can't claim to be great at it. I live near Griffith Park, a part of the hollywood hills that is considered one of the largest metropolitan parks in the US. They used to film Batman up there, in these man-made caves. I love to go running up there, and in other parts of the hollywood hills. If you go to Runyon Canyon, you end up seeing lots of wannabe (and some real) celebrities in juicy couture running their little toy dogs around. I'm into architecture, photography, physics, string theory. I go to galleries and all sorts of events here on the east side of hollywood and downtown, where the 'non-LA' people live.

If there are any fans in LA, write me!

dugoutTX: You have heard the amazing talent & power of a band from Texas called dugoutTX... how long before you do a remix for them (us) ;D ??? Seriously, how does a band go about getting in contact with you to work with them and how do you choose the projects you get involved in?
I'm holding off on remixes for the moment, in order to focus ..ing my own songs. I have about 7 that are unfinished. I'd like to focus more on writing and less on programming. However, I'm always open to remix possibilities in the future. People can contact me at lucasblue7@yahoo.com.

NINa: What do you think in general about the music of today, and especially the rock industry? Is there still a need for record labels as we know them?

I'm still trying to wrap my head around that one. For a new band getting exposure and playing out, there's really no need for labels at all. The labels are collapsing anyway. The money is running out. Everyone is afraid for the job. Nobody wants to take chances anymore. So as a band or producer, you almost have to have a complete package, finished recording, and ten thousand fans on myspace, before they'll even consider the risk. It hasn't helped my career as an independent producer, that's for sure. But I'm all for the democratization of music and distribution, putting the power into the hands of the musicians and fans. Most A&R people don't know anything. They just follow trends and maybe get lucky.

NINa: There are musicians who don't attach themselves to only one band but prefer to play with as many as they want to, mostly as studio or live guitar/bass players or drummers. Do you think that in f.e. 30 years, because of the increasing technology, people will refuse to support bands Live shows, preferring instead to listen to their music only on their mobile things (iPods, mp3 players, mobiles, PDAs and so on) so that no band line-ups will be necessary?

No, I don't think so. I don't think that personal listening, whatever the technology, can ever replace the power of live performance. However, what defines a 'live' performance is definitely open to interpretation these days. A guy standing on stage with a laptop, doing who knows what, is considered a live PA. He could be hitting the play button on iTunes for all we know. But from what I'm seeing, new kids are always pushing the envelope, trying new approaches, etc. So although the form and appearance of live performances may continue to change, I believe they will continue to exist.

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