steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

20 questions
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with gastric female reflex's andrew zukerman

Andrew Zukerman is one half each of Gastric Female Reflex and Beniffer Editions. The former is an unpredictable and absurdist experimental act that defies the simplicity of a label like "noise." If you like your sound culled from all sources imaginable and then siphoned through abused reel-to-reel decks and makeshift circuit boards, GFR won't disappoint. Sonic detritus, for lack of a less pretentious term.

Meanwhile, Beniffer Editions is the label behind the band, famed for its extensive discography of bizarrely titled releases. In addition to GFR swag, there are tapes, CDRs, and records by the likes of Brian Ruryk, Massaccesi, Ignatz, and Edith Bunker's Demonized Vomit Insurance. To name a scant few.

To be honest, I was a bit intimidated at the prospect of asking 20 Questions to (one half of the) brains behind a band whose records have names like "Page Out Of Scatophilic Locker Room Drama: 'I Consider Myself Rather Likeable...'" I wasn't sure whether to expect serious answers or a barrage of ostensible non-sequiturs designed to highlight the na´vetÚ of my questions. Curiously, the results were somewhere halfway between the two poles. Perhaps that's just where they should be... 

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1. What attracts you to noise?

Hardly anything. The term "noise" has been perverted and rendered threadbare by too many talentless, thoughtless acts that embrace abstractions because they otherwise do not have the talent or the scrutiny to make something with intention and originality. To call something "noise" for me is a like barefaced spank across the milky-white buttflaps of experimental music and I would never use the term loosely while describing any of the artists on Beniffer. But, looking past the technicality, the evocativeness of two or more sounds together, creating tension, sonorousness, chafing anxiety, vivid indifference, waves of nausea, extrasensory calamity, flashbacks, head-pounding elation, or whatnot can be just as, if not more enticing than anything popular song (or "noise") could accomplish.

2. What do you listen to most? Do you listen to a lot of noise and experimental music, or do you branch out into other genres?

Right now Billy-Goat Polka is receiving heavy rotation. Or anything ESL with "ping pong percussion". I would scratch my chin to the bone if I was spinning French sound poetry ALL THE TIME.

3. What inspired the names Beniffer Editions and Gastric Female Reflex. Was it irony and an eye for the macabre?

Gastric Female Reflex was an unfortunate name we became stuck with around the time of our first gig in I think 2005. There was three of us at the time, we each autonomously picked a word from the English language and voila... I think Jacob picked Gastric, although he refuses that he would ever have picked such a despicably anatomical word for the name of our singing group. We can agree that the third member Taylor Flook chose female because she was in fact a female and just as surprised about it as we were.

Beniffer Editions was another last minute and burdensome decision on the part of me and Jacob. We came to the name at the height of the BenJen media miscarriage outside a Swiss Chalet in Mississauga. There is seriously no amusing story to relate here. We really wish that we came up with the name Simply Tapes back then: simple and elegant.

4. What is your record collection like?

I know that Jacob would jump at the opportunity to tell you about his sprawling crates of 19th century elevator soca, but I'm doing the interview here... If I was to compare my record collection to something it would have to be a Sunday afternoon in my loved one's arms; quaint and quietly lush - a real inspiration.

5. Is there a Beniffer release that is particularly special to you?

We love all of our children.

6. It turns out we both live in Canada. How do you feel about Stephen Harper?

The kid who ran away from home and fell out of the tree, right?

7. Got any strange stories?

Yeah, but the producers of I Know What You Did Last Summer stole it.

8. CDR vs. tape vs. vinyl. Which is better and who would win in a fight?

I think it's safe to say that we will not be doing any more CDRs anytime soon... I cannot purport to be an analog purist, I just kinda like the way tapes and vinyl make me feel, you know?

9. Beniffer has a pretty low compilation to full release ratio. What do you think about compilations? Is it fun putting them together, and are the results as satisfying as a normal release?

I wish that we could do more compilations, but the reality is that it is such a monumental organizational feat - I don't think either of us has the time, patience or cerebral aptitude to follow through with another one.

10. Tell us about the Beniffer zine.

I guess it is one of the only Beniffer releases without music. So many of the musicians/combos we like to release are amazing artists as well, but because their art usually only serves the music (album covers/packaging) I thought it would be a nice idea to just curate their visual art for once.

11. Top five cheeses. Go.

phillips

allan

robertson

slothead

wilson

12. What labels do you particularly admire, and why?

Dutch Beer (or whatever label Lieven Martens is doing now), Tochnit-Aleph, 777 was 666, Stomach Ache, lsd otb, Pickwick, Maang, Vanguard, Not Not Fun, columbia, wintage, child of microtones, pan, revenent, in yr disc, scumbag, chocolate monk, big ups editions, simply tapes, heresee, hanson, american tapes, etc etc etc etc.

13. What has the response been to your label and music on a local level?

echoechoechoechoecho

14. "Accounts for Head Gardening Tape," "Lovers in the Midst of Eating Fries," "Plays the Joplin Scarecrow"... What inspires these incredibly awesome names?

Probably my propensity for homosexual poets.

But "lovers in the midst of eating fries" is a true story that took place at the victory cafe.


Lovers in the Midst of Eating Fries

15. Brian Random's Answering Machine Cassette Favorites sounds amazing. Could you give us a brief rundown of what it is and how it came together, as well, perhaps, as a summary of some of the more notable messages?

Our friend Brian spent 10+ years compiling the tape from various Value Villages, Goodwills and Salvation Armys - "purchasing" answering machines for their cassettes. It represents what we think is the most in-depth portrayal of Southern Ontario weirdness to date. To outline the notable messages would be exhaustive and not worth it since you should own it, K?

16. What makes a noise release good?

Talent and a certain level of self-regulation.

17. What is your favourite colour? Justify your selection.

Green-gold, the color of my festering foreskin!

18. What's on the horizon for Beniffer Editions and Gastric Female Reflex?

Matching tattoos - they'll say "keep on fuking" but really spelled like that.

19. What is your day job? Name one interesting thing about it.

I work in a record/book store, it interests me because I can afford dispersing caviar encrusted moose meat to the homeless population of toronto.

20. Which is the best contraceptive method?

Abstinence!


Memories

interview conducted by Michael Tau
June 2009
published July 2009
photo credit: screen captures from videos by ayal senior

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