Last week, in prep for this Wednesday's profile in WW, I had a pretty extensive e-chat with Cassidy DeMarco, the rather furry dude behind the stuttering, synth swirl of hip-hop, IDM and plain ole' techno that is Gouseion. As often happens, it bore more fruit than I could possibly jam into 350 words, so I leave it for you here. Read on for a conversation (so far as email can be called a "conversation") that went from semiotics to Tokyo to
with nary a blink...
How did you get into music?
Well, my mom was a music major in college and used to play the guitar and flute and stuff when I was a kid so I think that had a lot to do with it. As far as making music, my dad was getting a degree in computer science as i was growing up, so we always had a computer around. I used to play games and shit on it, but I also messed around with this program called "mac-music" or something, really rudimentary, that was basically blank sheet music and you drag notes onto the sheet. I would sit there and mess with it for hours. I also played a little piano and stuff as a kid, but I always felt more connected to making music on a computer. It looked, sounded, felt more like a video game.
I started making music again when I was around 18 and in college. From there to here has basically just been a slow gradual build. As far as "entry" into being a musician outside of my bedroom, that basically happened when a DJ friend got me hooked on top 40 hip-hop back in like 2001, prior to that i had only been making IDM and indie-rock shit. After saturating in it for a while I went into Ozone and was talking with Jason [Beuhler, of Nice Nice] about wanting to make hip-hop, he recommended I talk to Chip (Colin Jones), who was also working there. Me and Chip started collaborating on shit right away. My first show was the first Brokaw show. Making hip-hop and playing shows as Brokaw really pushed me to start playing out and promoting my own shit.
How do you think the Portland electronic music scene, specifically, has influenced your music?
Well, it's funny because I don't really feel like a part of the Portland electronic music scene. Most people I know are part of the hip-hop scene and I only have peripheral contact with other electronic musicians from Portland. I did the laptop lounge thing for a little while as Monodec, but even that was intermittent. As for the Portland electronic scene influencing my music, I don't know that it has all that much. I've always felt like the overall Portland electronic scene and me were about fundamentally different things, but I've never been all that comfortable in groups. Still, there are people who have influenced me on an individual level, Audiocrip constantly blows me away, Tan't of course, Jung Bo Seul...
Best Portland show moment?
I don't really like playing shows to tell the truth. I guess the best would be when i was playing a show as Monodec, a girl came up to me and gave me this picture her friend had drawn. It was this weird scene of a castle with an ice cream cone and an armadillo. I have that picture hanging above my kitchen sink.
Any of the shows when my laptop was overheated. I wouldn't have minded if the thing had burst into flames instead of just shutting down. If it had that probably would have been my best show.
Can you describe making music in Tokyo? Maybe a bit about the difference between making music in the largest city in the world vs. "the littlest big city," or whatever we're supposed to be...
Well, the coolest thing about being over there was the fact that I was totally isolated. I mean it's a city of 12 million people so I was constantly around people, but I hardly spoke the language and didn't really know anyone so i basically wandered around most days without talking to anyone. When I'm in Portland I know where everything is, I constantly see people I know, most of the time is taken up either with social interaction or recovering from social interaction. In Tokyo I could go out and do shit without having to be social, see shit that was new to me...and I think the music I made over there has all that built into it, along with a nostalgia for home and my friends. I hope to put it out at some point. It's another one of those albums where it's all done, album art and everything, but I've never released it.
It's weird: my really unofficial tally has most of the lit folks picking up guitars and microphones, and the science and computer folks making music on, well, computers... You're the other way around. Thoughts?
Heh, well I was always way more into criticism than i was literature. I liked the idea of reducing words to math like Oulipo
, 'cause that's basically all writing and music are anyway, and I was into semiotics, deconstruction, etc, but after a while everything textual seemed to come off contrived to me, and I think that's around when I started making music again, in some attempt to get away from words. I still have a low tolerance for lyricists who have too much to say, I basically like my lyrics to be as two-dimensional and vapid as possible, like a song about getting your heart broken or selling crack.
What does Gouseion mean?
Heh, I get that a lot, but I'm a fan of names that aren't instantly recognizable, this is getting back to the lit shit again. it's funny: creating pseudonyms and naming songs and albums is the one realm where I still have to deal [with] words, and honestly I think it's cool that people don't know how to pronounce Gouseion and don't know what it means, in that respect it could potentially mean anything, but for those of you who want to know: Gouseion (pronounced GO-SAY-OWN) is the Romanization of a Japanese word, and it's also kind of a pun. The main definition, the kanji that i have on t-shirts and shit, means, technically, synthetic sound or combinatory sound and is used mainly, to refer to ringtones on cellphones, but the "gousei" section of the word, the "on" part means noise, sound, etc, can also mean hard, stiff or luxurious,
expensive, so the name, in my mind, also implies everything that goes along with that too...but, pronounce it however you want.
A recent Gouseion Cut of the Day
Photo: Cassidy DeMarco. (Kinda scary when it suddenly opens on your desktop in its original, fucking huge size, taking up the entire screen. Sheesh.)