CULL interview. july 2008.
[x] Please give a brief summary of Cull's history, origins, etc.
I got into the noise and industrial genres back in my teens. There seemed to be a kind of purity of expression in this “music” - not bound up in chord structures, and 4/4 rhythms, the noise/power electronics and industrial artists could move me as much as even the most powerful traditional music. Eventually, like a million DIY/punk kids across the globe, I finally decided that I could do that, too. So I started making noise about 5 years ago. For a brief time I was trying to pander to the whims of the power electronics scene, which has a lot of severely dodgy and even moronic elements, finding a way of introducing eco-ideas to that subculture. So Cull was originally couched into some bullshit concept of “Green Totalitarianism”. I quickly got tired of suppressing my real “political” position to pander to dickheads, so now Cull is a more honest expression of my own experience and desires.
While it’s been 5 years since Cull started I’m one hell of a procrastinator (emigrating to the other side of the world didn’t help). There’s been some .mp3’s produced, a track released on the R.I.N.O. compilation on Roil Noise records (http://www.roilnoise.com), and some collaboration work. I’ve finally got my shit together and actually know where I’m going with Cull and will hopefully have the first album,“Scream,” out by the end of the year if I can find someone suitable to release it.
[x] What are your thoughts on the relationship between the totality of domestication in your daily life to Cull?
Cull is very much a reflection of my experience. It’s an expression of both my feelings of loss and of rage. Like you, and all of us trapped within civilization, I’ve had to watch loved ones being destroyed in various ways by the violence of this system. I’ve had to deal with my own acts of abuse, upon myself and others, passing the violence further down the hierarchy, and the guilt that that brings. Cull reflects all this and more.
An aspect in particular that I want to explore with Cull, and possibly in some writings, is a stage of my own attempts to “decolonize my own mind,” as Ward Churchill might call it. This isn’t my culture. Being a white European male, it’s often easy to fall into the trap of thinking that in some way I am the cause, or at least a contributor, to all this. For me it’s important to realize that civilization was imposed in Europe as it has been everywhere else. A particular inspiration for me in this regard is a monologue in Tacitus’ Agricola, which is attributed to a Pictish leader called Galcagus. Galcagus describes the invading forces of the Romans in a way that would be clearly recognizable to any occupied peoples around the globe. Coming across this text some years back really realigned my perception and in a way deepened my feelings of loss by having it in black & white that we too have had our wild culture stolen from us. No doubt along the way I’ll be throwing in themes related to Feral Edge. Not in the dogmatic "True Til Death" way of the traditional straight edge movement, but, having been an abuser of various substances in various times of my life, I think it’s an important element of my experience of civilisation and should be discussed in my art.
[x] Do you think that ambient/noise/soundscape/whatever you wish to call it music plays into a critique of civilization, technology, etc. knowingly or unknowingly?
This is an interesting question. In some ways I’d say absolutely it does, and even to some extent it has been a knowing critique at times. Back in the old days there were artists like Throbbing Gristle that were directly critiquing the structure of society. While it may not have been a critique of the totality there was certainly a critique, and a mirroring of, the mini-industrial collapse in the North of England in the 1970’s and early 80’s. There’s was influence from writers such as J.G. Ballard, and even the Situationists, in the depiction of the banality of modern and post-modern life. Even the exploration of serial killers, the Nazis, and other themes, that are so passé in the modern noise scene, are in some ways a critique of the totality.
Unfortunately, in these days, as with the punk scene, a lot of the critique is gone with just hollow shock tactics used by people fitting into the power electronics/harsh noise ghetto (something, as I mentioned in the first question, that I was guilty of myself in the early days of Cull). There are still artists that genuinely have some analysis, from The Grey Wolves with their “cultural terrorism”, to the rise of explicitly anarchist noise artists such as Militia and Black Bloc. Then, there's the fact that we’re taking various forms of technology and subverting them - taking a synth, for example, and creating an intentional sound that a more traditional musician would think makes it sound broken. In taking these instruments and sounds that are normally so mediated with melody and rhythm and unleashing them in different ways, we’re kinda inadvertently critiquing the notion of domestication itself.
[x] I know that i am very passionate about the Warbound project, along with other endeavors that are intimately tied to the existence of civilization (such as our means of communication right now). With that in mind, and with the almost certain reality of major collapse within our lifetimes, what are your feelings on what will inherently mean a loss of your ability to create in this format and others?
I actually think about this a lot. It comes up occasionally with people opposed to the anti-civ milieu (primarily other anarchists, sadly) calling me out for using technology, such as computers and synths, to create my art.
I tend to look at the issue in two ways... the first way I look at it is that all this shit - the internet, the CD’s, the DVD’s, my music project, all of it - is just a variety of anti-depressants. While I’m trapped within this system there are certain things that make life less unbearable. When the collapse reaches that tipping point (it being a process rather than an event) in which I can no longer use this stuff, I probably won’t need it anymore. Once I’m living in a less mediated state and can fully engage in daily life and the process of healing, I’ll be able to wean off these anti-depressants. Just as, even now, when I’m out in the woods or at the ocean, I feel no urge to stare at a screen or scream into a microphone. It’s only when locked in the city I need these things.
The second way I look at this question is that Cull isn’t just a noise project. Cull is an expression of my experiences. In a post-collapse world Cull will become part of the healing process. Cull will become stories around a fire. Cull will be the knowledge of where we’ve been so we know what not to do again.
However, there’s a part of me that worries that instead of channeling all this rage and loss into Cull I should be out there taking it down. It’s like that whole Derrick Jensen thing of writing or blowing up a damn. There’s a nagging voice inside that tells me I’m making the wrong choice. Perhaps one day it’ll get loud enough to have me change tactics, who knows? The other motivational doubt I have is about Cull as a propaganda tool. I know that music doesn’t really change shit, the popularity of Rage Against The Machine proves that one, but there’s a part of me that hopes that someone somewhere will stumble across my noise shit and be inspired or at least find something that shines some light on their own experience. I think rather than Cull as propaganda maybe I’m just reaching out, trying to “find the others.”