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'
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"
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
average downtempo or drum n bass style record, but it's never been a goal
create harsh, noisy music for its own sake. The themes present in Fashion
Victim lend themselves to a serious, sometimes nearly violent
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
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
electronic music that is home-recorded usually lacks one thing or other,
I much prefer to be mixing in a studio so I tried to mix most of these
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
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
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
did you begin making music? Why "Larvae"?
L: I started making music in 1990 with Omar and some other friends. Larvae
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
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
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
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
certainly mellowed over time and I don't find the stuff that's overtly
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I: How did you get in contact with Ad Noiseam? Did they get in touch
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
seem to gel to me. Finally we had about three songs that I felt
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
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
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
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
share. Ad Noiseam is probably a much more diverse label than it is known
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
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
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
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
the records sound a bit different. Also, I wouldn't have been able to
a song like "Philistine" in 1998 and call it Larvae. If I had
something like that back then, it would have sounded 'too soft' to me and
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
on three tracks now for a Greek label called Creative Space that should
out in the spring, and I've been collaborating with long time friends
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
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 www.zeroplate.com.
Ad Noiseam's website is www.adnoiseam.net.