steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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It was in late January 2004 when I interviewed Larvae mastermind Matt Jeanes.  Fresh off the release of his debut album under the Larvae moniker, Fashion Victim, I caught up with Jeanes to discuss such worldly matters as noise music, recording equipment, and good ol' Green Lantern.

You can also read our recent review of Fashion Victim, as well as the Best of 2003 list that it made.  But now, on to the interview...

Indieville: I found Fashion Victim to be considerably less aggressive than I expected. Though it wasn't really a chill-out record, it managed to combine electronica and noise without resorting to "power noise" or super-hardcore tactics. What exactly was your intention in creating Fashion Victim? Did you have any end goal, and how did you envisage people listening to it?

Larvae: "Power Noise" and hardcore tactics have never really been part of the plan for Larvae. Our music is certainly heavier and maybe a bit darker than your average downtempo or drum n bass style record, but it's never been a goal to create harsh, noisy music for its own sake. The themes present in Fashion Victim lend themselves to a serious, sometimes nearly violent approach but it's never about wanton destruction and senseless 'darkness.' I would hope people would listen to the record in any number of ways, but I do have a hard time thinking of it as 'chill-out' music. There are enough jarring elements and sounds that I think it should be hard to put the record on and let it fade into the background.

I: What was the process involved in creating Fashion Victim? How was it recorded? What types of equipment did you use?

L: The recording process was quite convoluted. I've always thought that most electronic music that is home-recorded usually lacks one thing or other, and I much prefer to be mixing in a studio so I tried to mix most of these songs in a traditional studio. The first half of the recording sessions took place at a really hardcore analog studio; a place that had only added a computer recently and where the engineers were really much more comfortable with analog gear than digital. I thought this would be a great place to record and I was indeed quite pleased with the results of the digitally composed music mixed through an old Neve console with all its quirks, but technical difficulties resulted in the rest of the album being finished at the home-studio of my friend Omar Torres. He has the most decked out home-studio I've ever seen with every piece of software, hardware, and plugin imaginable so we mixed five songs there and those came out equally well. It was interesting to approach the album from two completely different avenues, and I was quite nervous how it would all come together in the end, but it seems to have been glued together nicely thanks to the mastering that James Salter did. The record was written using an old, old version of cakewalk, NI's Kontakt, and a Novation A-Station and that's it. Chris did some additional work in Reaktor, but that's all.

I: To go back a bit, how did the idea for Larvae come about? When and how did you begin making music? Why "Larvae"?

L: I started making music in 1990 with Omar and some other friends. Larvae was born in 1997 as a way for me to explore my own take on drum n bass. Over time, the idea of what Larvae is and what kind of music we would produce has been pretty malleable, so there's little in common between the very early stuff and Fashion Victim, save for a general tone and maybe some common themes. Larvae was chosen as a name because I wanted something that would be an homage to the giant monsters of the Godzilla films, and also because a favorite band of mine, (Godflesh) had a song called "Mothra" and I felt like what I was doing was going to be taking some of the energy and inspiration from that and making something new.

I: Your recordings, like most I suppose, are (or seem to be) influenced by a number of different genres and sounds. What do you listen to on your own, and where do you think your music gets its basis from?

L: Growing up, I listened to a lot of heavy electronic music. My tastes have certainly mellowed over time and I don't find the stuff that's overtly just angry as satisfying anymore. A lot of heavy music tends to be one-dimensional-- it's a blast of anger and maybe that's just youth lacking a maturity to express something more complex. I know I went through that where the only records that appealed to me were cold, isolationist, and nihilistic and it leaves you very empty after a while. There's more to life than that, so I search for lots of different things now. Abstract hip-hop like the Mush label, droney-folk like Jessica Bailiff and Low, some intricate electronic stuff like Autechre and Meat Beat Manifesto--all of that has it's place for me. Its all pretty melancholy stuff I suppose, but it's not all screaming and beating you over the head.

I: What is it like touring? How do people react to your music, and who tends to get out to shows? Do you attract a lot of noiseheads, or more of a hardcore techno crowd?

L: Larvae hasn't done much touring in the past, mostly as support for other bands or added on to strange line-ups here and there. I don't know that we've really found our audience yet live. We've played in art galleries and rock clubs and coffee shops and it's always been interesting to see what part of the music makes sense in each venue. If we ever attract and appeal to just one kind of person who's easily identifiable, I think we'll be doing something wrong. I'd like the music to be about universal things, and as such, I'm hopeful it will reach at least a few different kinds of people in different ways.

I: How did you get in contact with Ad Noiseam? Did they get in touch with you, or did you initiate it?

L: I sent them a demo and Nicolas (who runs the label) wrote me back. I had had my eye on Ad Noiseam for a while as a label I'd like to send a demo to, but I was just not comfortable with the material we had recorded for a long time; it didn't seem to gel to me. Finally we had about three songs that I felt represented what we wanted to do, so the demo was made and the rest is history.

I: A large reaction to Fashion Victim was that it sounded much different from other Ad Noiseam releases; I thought it added depth to the label's scope. How do you feel on the AN roster?

L: It's strange because I do sometimes feel like Larvae is a bit of a fish out of water. When I listen to something like Tarmvred or Crno Klank or Somatic Responses, I think "wow, we have very little in common," but I think that's quite healthy. A label that puts out 20 releases that all sound as if they could have come from the same two or three heads isn't really adding much. Nicolas has an incredible range of interests it seems to me, and if you listen to Wilt, Mago, and Larvae back to back, it might not sound like one 'style' but there's a kind of approach and tone that I think the acts mainly share. Ad Noiseam is probably a much more diverse label than it is known to be. The best example of the ultimate label for me is early 4AD. What do Bauhaus, The Pixies, and Lush have in common?-- but it's all great and even though they sound nothing alike, somehow, people who like one often find something about the others that reaches them as well.

I: What is your favourite colour?

L: Green. Green Lantern was always my favorite.

I: I haven't had the chance to hear any of your earlier recordings; do you think there's a difference between your recent material and older stuff like the Near Miss seven-inch and your early compilation appearances?

L: Well, there is certainly a difference in the maturity of the compositions. With tracks like Near Miss, that was mostly me working alone. On Monster Music the songs were written by myself and Bryan Meng, and there's a noticeable difference to me. With Fashion Victim, Chris Burnett came aboard and helped to create sounds, design beats, and so on and his influence is obvious on almost all the tracks, so just in terms of the personnel changes, the records sound a bit different. Also, I wouldn't have been able to write a song like "Philistine" in 1998 and call it Larvae. If I had written something like that back then, it would have sounded 'too soft' to me and it would have been relegated to be a side-project or for some other band, but now I feel more confident in the range of what Larvae can be, so there's a lot more variety. There are no longer any rules about minimum tempos and use of distortion and so on.

I: I know you're touring in April, but what else is in the future for Larvae? Do you have any plans for future releases? Any exciting publicity stunts on the horizon? How about an obscure side-project or a
wacky concept album?

L: Oddly, we have just about everything you mentioned lined up! I am working on three tracks now for a Greek label called Creative Space that should come out in the spring, and I've been collaborating with long time friends Miles Tilmann and Horchata by trading sounds back and forth for two separate projects. We're going to try and work on an art installation at some point this year to get back to really strong conceptual work, and I do indeed have an idea for a wacky concept album that has already been started, but it's far too early to tell anyone about the details yet.

Larvae's website is  Ad Noiseam's website is

all content copyright 2004