steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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x died enroute y founder steev thompson
X Died Enroute Y is one of today's most increasingly prolific noise/experimental/lo-fi labels.  Each release they put out is wonderfully packaged, dirt cheap, and - most importantly - filled with unconventional and often brilliant music.  I conducted this interview over email with Steev Thompson, the main man behind the label and a frequent musical contributor (under various names) to the XDEY discography.  For the sake of posterity, I've left the replies more or less unchanged as far as formatting and capitalization goes.  Dig it.


X Died Enroute Y started in 2003 with Disfigured House Wife's "The Boy With Nails in His Eyes" EP. What was the goal of the label at this point? What did you envisage it becoming? Who is Disfigured House Wife?

when i first started xdey, it was mainly a place for my friends and i to release some of our own things and make it seem half ass legit, since none of us could really find anyone else to release our stuff for us, hehe. it originally involved my friends chris and rob. chris also happens to be disfigured house wife and he was also in athenian mercury with me. dhw has since changed to "eat your makeup" and athenian mercury is kind of on hiatus, i guess. the label eventually became just me, because i was doing most the workload and the other dudes didn't seem as interested as i did. they all kinda went and did their own thing. living in different states didn't help any.

as for what i envisioned it becoming... i really didn't see it going beyond just a hobby with some friends, but it eventually started to pick up and become more serious, i suppose.

What other labels on the scene do you consider yourself most aligned with in terms of musical beliefs? Who do you idolize? Where do you feel XDEY fits in?

right now, i'm really into audiobot. carlo could easily do release after release of bigger name guys, but lately he's been doing sooo much stuff by lesser known dudes and making the releases look just as great as he would a bigger name guy. i really admire labels willing to take chances on the more unknown and younger artists. it shows that they're truly into it for the music and not the cash.

some other labels i enjoy quite a lot are, in no particular order:

russolo's brain: adam doesn't have a lot of time to throw down, but he somehow manages to make everything look beautiful and every release he's done has been quality. he does everything he can for the artist including express mailing shit to guys on tour and not a lot of labels will do that.

chondritic sound: most everything greh releases is quality. a lot is put into each release and they look beautiful.

there are so many others too. basically any label putting time into each release and willing to help out the little guy.

XDEY's first compilation came out relatively early on in the label's lifespan. What is the process for putting together a comp? How do you go about getting contributions?

the first comp we did was kind of an online promotional thing...we pretty much badgered countless bands to see who would be interested. once we got everything put together, i uploaded it and each song had a txt file zipped with it with info on each band. it was totally free and thought to help expose some bands. us being not too well known at the time, it didn't work out as well as hoped, hehe.

the second comp was a digigrind 7" that was brainstormed by my friend rob. i thought it was a rad idea, so we both split the money to get it done. he pretty much put the whole thing together as far as contacting bands goes. i did all the art and packaged the records, then we split em. i think that one went over pretty well.

third comp was the double disc cd-r that was released a few months ago. my friend adam and i put that one together. the idea with that was to get some more well known acts together on a comp with some not so well known acts to possibly get some smaller guys heard by more people. that comp seemed to take forever to put together, but it was worth it. i think it turned out really great.

What is the vinyl experience like? Do you prefer vinyl or CDR - what aspects are most important? 

the vinyl experience can be a big hassle sometimes, but there is no better feeling than listening to the test pressings when they arrive!

i mainly do cd-rs because they're cheap and quick to do, but if i had the money, i would try and do a lot more vinyl or pro done discs.

Are there any cassette releases?

i've done a couple tapes before and the only downside is dubbing the tapes when you don't have a duper. other than that, tapes are really easy to have a lot of fun with the packaging.

About the pro done discs, what is the appeal of them? I've spoken to a few CDR labels who think CDRs are better, since they're cheaper and not really any better-functioning.

i think pro cds are a lot more durable. i've had many cd-rs become non functioning when they get the same treatment as my normal cds, which still play fine. i guess it also shows that someone must have a lot of faith in a certain band or artist's work when they do a pressed cd, because of the money it takes to put it out, so more people may be willing to take a blind leap of faith and buy it without hearing it, where anything and everything can get tossed onto a cd-r.

Do you prefer putting out comps or solo releases?

i'd say solo releases for sure. comps are fun to do now and again, but solo releases are generally a lot easier to get done and get out there. you're only working with one artist or band rather than several.

How does the solo release system work? Are you working on a non-profit plane, or do you give money to the artists as you sell copies? How many copies do you send off to the band itself? As a label, you're mostly involved in packaging, production, and distribution - do you sell sell at shows or just online?

for artists/bands, the general rule of thumb for me is 20% of the records i make for them to sell or do whatever with. the normal sales are online, but i do get some records in stores/distros and i also sell them at shows i play. basically wherever i can get the record to, i try.

Am I correct in assuming, with comps, each artist gets a free copy?

oh yea, all artists get atleast a copy of it, depending on how many artists are on a comp.

What are your shows like? How do people respond? What type of people turn out? Any interesting/notable/scary live experiences?

the show thing is hard to say. depends on what i play and who i play it for. i've had shows where people will dance around like crazy and other shows with the same style, people will stand there and just watch with their arms crossed.

some notable experiences..

my main one would be playing the basement of a crackhouse in detroit one night. it was a last second thing my friend mike set up. my friend will and i did a collab set and there were some crackhead dudes all dancing and shaking around and then coming up to us afterwards thinking we were famous, haha. totally different vibe playing a show where the dude upstairs is baking cocaine in his oven and his customers are down stairs watching the bands. that house has since been abandoned after a few knife and gun point robberies and a shooting or two, haha.

How much do you get involved with distros? Do you ever carry other labels' music?

i've sold quite a few things to various distros. anyone willing to carry something and not dick around with consignment. i've been fucked too many times with that.

i usually don't carry other items, but i may sometime soon. i might be carrying the new goslings disc that they self releases real soon. the goslings are fucking great and i think everyone needs to check em out.

Yes, i've reviewed one Goslings disc and have Spaceheater coming. What do you think of the poppier end of the DIY scene? I've heard some of the more traditional material on XDEY (Veer Right Young Pastor, Zyzzybalubah) and found it really impressive. What do you think of labels like Asaurus and We're Twins?

spaceheater is a great album. i think you'll dig it a lot.

i love the bizzare sounding poppy stuff. some of my favorite music. there are some dudes i really love right now doing that sorta thing. horse head has gotten pretty poppy sounding and i'm doing a collab with a dude that goes by pictureplan. wierded out fuzzy electro rockish stuff.

Speaking of splits, how do those happen? Does one of the contributors just suggest it, then once it's done is it submitted to labels? Or is it usually a label-suggested thing? Any interesting experiences in that vein?

usually a band approaches another about a split. sometimes a label will suggest it, but most everytime it's two bands interested in working together. usually shopped around to labels afterwards.

hmm, interesting experiences.. yes.. sort of.. i sent material to a dude i was doing a split with back in march and haven't heard from him and have no idea what's going on with it. not sure what the deal is, but i'm getting a bit impatient. so sometimes splits can go bad..

How much of your own music do you contribute to other labels? How is that experience, as an artist?

shit... way too much haha. i'm so backed up on recording stuff for other labels right now.

the experience can be great and it can suck. the great thing is having someone else do all the work and get copies out there. the part that can suck is when a label puts it off forever and you really have no control of it.

Very true... which labels do you have a special bond to? Which were the first ones to take note of your music and release it?

apop records is the first label that took a chance on me, so i love them a lot. dustin and tiffany are great people and i'm doing another record for them soon. i think a pressed 3"... so they'll also be the first people to do a "pro" release by me too. great folks.

Looking over some of your compilations' track listings, there seem to be a lot of obscure, one-off acts contributing tracks. Are these just silly side projects of other contributors? For example, who are Abdominable Twitch, !jjuthnib!, and Promyvion Aquadox? Do you think the obscurity of these names adds to the appeal?

haha, actually all those are real bands. there were a few side projects on the last comp, but for the most part, it was all different people doing their own thing.

abominable twitch was a semi known underground breakcore electronic guy. i thought his stuff was great. haven't heard anything about him in a while, but hopefully he's still kicking it.

!jjuthnib! was a local guy i knows noise project. he was mainly a grindcore guy and i don't know if he does this project anymore. think he mainly sticks to his other bands, letters in binary, and quebec. people should check those bands out. pretty ace if you're into that kinda thing, especially quebec.

promyvion aquadox is this dude i met on a message board's band. i thought they sounded pretty good and had a lot of potential, so i put em on it. kind of an isis type with a lot more ambience going on. think they're still plugging away working on new stuff, but i haven't heard anything in a while.

As an aside, what do you think is the funniest/weirdest/most interesting band/artist name you've come across in your travels? There are some good ones on the XDEY site...

hmmm, that's a tough one dude. what one's on the site are amusing to you??

Oh man, there are too many... Veer Right Young Pastor, DJ Rotting Corpse, It's OK, We're Chainsaws... tons and tons,  I'd just love to go through and find out the stories (or lack thereof) behind each one. Sometimes with noise and grind acts, it seems like people are just trying to be dark and depressing for show, though... I don't see that as much with XDEY.

yea, the faux depressed stuff is so boring. fuck it and have fun.

Random question - who or what is Dracula Does Calculus? It's on the track listing to the 'just because your music wears thin doesn't mean you're in good shape' comp...

dracula does calculus is awesome! it's a side band with adam cooley (scissor shock/ruinhorse) and brandon seeley (ruinhorse). kinda sounds like ruinhorse, but a bit noisier... and i guess slightly poppier? if that makes sense..

As is often the case with noise and experimental labels, there seems to be a large anti-aesthetic going on with XDEY. Who handles the packaging end of things? Where do your ideas come from? What is your favourite release, packaging-wise?

i usually handle all packaging and 90% of art on the label, but occasionally dudes will want to do all that on their own, which is cool with me. taliban did their own packaging for it and just had me do the discs and distribute it basically. doing a release by a guy that goes by "am" and he wants to do his own packaging as well. that's what's great about the "diy" whatever scene. most bands handle every disc/record/tape with complete loving care and trying to make the packaging on each this complete art object. eventually though as runs get bigger on things, it's hard to keep doing that.

as for my ideas, i usually sit and listen to the record and see what the music makes me think of regarding art and packaging.

favorite packaging would probably be the athenian mercury full length record. hand painted sheet metal with bubble wrap, painted discs, handmade booklets, wrapped in fabric, and tied up with cassette tape. that shit took forever haha.

Wow, that's dedication. What especially fantastic packaging have you seen on non-XDEY releases? American Tapes have a history for particularly extravagant pcakaging; are there any labels (or bands/artists) you admire for the artistic angle of their work?

yea, american tapes used to have crazy packaging back when they did extremely small runs. stuff became more standard looking as things start getting bigger run numbers, which is understandable.

the band taliban always does pretty wierd shit. one release was packaged in broken tape decks. that was only limited to 4 or 5 though, haha... so yea, back to the wierdo packaging and small release numbers.

not a whole lot comes to mind right now. my friend mike's label, pedophobic, usually does wierd stuff. carpet, ripped and glued construction paper, etc.

It's interesting how there's a sort of trend of destruction in these releases. Either things are made to look as mechanical or machine-made as possible (some MSBR and Xome stuff comes to mind) or as smashed, warped, bent, and twisted as possible. Is this a representation of the music itself or has it become a way of cornering the genre into self-imposed obscurity?

i think some guys do it to fit the music and i think a lot of other people do it to look obscure and different. i don't really care for anyone's reasoning behind it, as long as the package looks nice. i guess it is kind of a diy novelty though, not that it's bad in the least.

Have you ever considered doing a bigger run of something?

yea, definitely. money is always an issue though, unfortunately. moving and the college thing is killing me right now.

Are you just entering college? At what point in your life did you start XDEY? High school?

i'm 21 now... kinda dicked around with community college for a couple years... stopped for a year, now i'm picking up and going to columbia in chicago, which is some arty school.. going to be totally wierd. my friend and i are probably going to have too much fun at other people's expense and get arrested. i'm best isolated away from people.

xdey.. i think i started it a bit after i graduated high school.. like 6 months or something.

Were there any like-minded music people in high school when you were just getting into the scene? How did/do your friends respond to your music?

seemed like most kids i knew in high school were metal kids or indie rock nerds. think most my friends back then that got into it, caught it from me.

most my friends right now seem into what i'm doing or at least supportive, which is all i really ask. don't care if they like it much, but it makes me happy when they do. :)

As times goes on, XDEY's discography just seems to get longer and longer. How long do you see it getting? Do you have piles of releases sitting in a room somewhere, or are they made on request?

i see the discog growing and growing until i get bored with it or don't have time anymore. i don't see that happening anytime soon though. the label and my music is basically all i do anymore and i enjoy every second of it.

a lot of releases are smaller limited runs, but some i keep in print until i feel the record has had a good run. some some will sell out and i'll be done with it and others i'll make to order if i run out. it's hard to keep everything in print when your catalogue keeps growing, so some stuff has to have a smaller lifespan. it's easier to do really detailed packaging when something has a number to it as well.

Do you have an archive with at least one physical copy of each release? How many copies of releases do you have hanging around the XDEY "stockroom" at any one point in time?

oh yea, i always have to keep the first copy made, hehe. that's like an unspoken rule of running a label.

as for how much stuff i have hanging around... not a lot right now. ran out of a lot of stuff on tour, haven't release too much in the past month, but gearing up for more in the next couple weeks. if there's too much laying around, it means i'm not whoring it enough.

So are the next few weeks going to be an intense releasing period for the label? What do we have to look forward to?

yea, next few weeks should be pretty nuts, because i want a lot done before the move. we have...

our brother the native cd-r
sick llama 3" cd-r
am 3" cd-r
wapstan cd-r

and probably some other stuff that slips my mind at the moment.

Can you tell me anything tantalizing about any of these releases? What to expect? How you know the people behind them?


our brother the native: kind of noisey folk with some poppier moments and some tracks made entirely of field recordings. some young kids that live my town that got ahold of me a while ago. didn't know of them before that, but was totally impressed with what they were doing, so i had to release something by em.

sick llama: found out about heath when i saw death comm back in decemember. eventually learned the dude did a label called fag tapes and was releasing a lot of cool shit from michigan dudes, so i ordered some stuff from him. he sent me one of his tapes as well and i was really into it, so i asked him if he was interested in doing a release and he was into it. i'd tell you about it, but i've yet to hear the master, so i'm not sure the direction it's going. i know he does a lot of harsher and creepier stuff with tapes as a main sound source.

am: really creepy yet really pretty drone/ambient stuff. just found out about him a month or two ago. he sent me a couple cds to trade and i really really liked it. had the opportunity to play with him on a show a couple weeks ago in ann arbor and he's just as great live as on cd. dude is going to go places for sure.

wapstan: mr. sasseville from montreal. dark ambient stuff with some lighter moments. excellent stuff to lay back and wig out to. doing a split with him later on down the line that i'm excited about.

How much of an investment (timewise and moneywise) is each release?

moneywise.. if i kept track i would probably be depressed haha. all i know is i have gas and cigarette money for a few more days, then i'm fucked. so buy some records! haha.

timewise, i usually treat it like a full time job, whether it's recording, packaging, website work, etc. some weeks are slower though. occasionally the mood comes along where you don't feel like doing shit. :)

Of course. But label operations basically take up all of your time? Where does the funding come from?

the funding used to come from working, but i've been jobless for a bit now, so it's coming from the label or selling shit on ebay haha. lack of money makes things more interesting. you really have to scrap around with what you have and be creative packaging wise.

That's true. Fortunately CDRs are really cheap nowadays. I imagine shipping has to be the biggest drain on the wallet now for you? Getting artists' copies out to them and such...

haha yea... i have 6 packages to mail tomorrow.. 3 being out of the country and i have very little money. should be awesome!

Egads. How much of the price of each release goes to postage? How many packages do you send out a week? The postal service must be making bags of money off of you.

umm.. i'd say between paypal fees and postage, probably a buck, maybe more from each release shipped in the u.s... overseas considerably more. canada's not bad when you lie on customs forms, hehe.

What has been the most successful release on XDEY yet?

it's hard to say. salewise, probably the digigrind comp. other releases get downloaded a lot and people will rave about them and i'll hardly sell anything, but such is the way of the internet. i'm a pirate too.

Ah, yes. I've perused your databases of music at - that's a nice service for fans of the label. When did you put that together, and what has the response been like?

man, that thing hasn't been updated in forever. everytime i try to upload a new album, i get a database error, so that's basically dead right now. used to have everything shared on slsk, but that's also not working too well for me at the moment. the response on slsk was always good, the didn't go very far... probably because people aren't too interested in the old shit?

Weird. I think looking at old material is essential to see where a label or band is coming from... Perhaps it's more of a reviewer's thing though.

possibly. i think most people just want the new stuff now that people know who xdey is, so they think those releases will be better and don't have much interest in the obscure past.. that's one theory.

Which XDEY acts are you a part of?

roxanne jean polise is my main solo thing. i'm also in athenian mercury, my game of loving, and a number of collabs under my real name (steev thompson).

When did you start getting into this music at first? How did you develop your style - what were you influenced by?

i first got a guitar when i was around 12 and was never too interested in playing songs. i always had more fun making the guitar make sounds that it probably shouldn't.. i guess that's when it started.

i first discovered noise 4 years ago when my friend sent me a masonna album online.. thought it was really interesting and started to explore more stuff like that. used to go to ann arbor all the time and look through the stuff at encore records, because they had a nice selection of local and non local wierdo music. first checked out some wolf eyes records and some other local acts and got an idea of what was going on in michigan as far as that style goes.

year or so later i started recording some stuff and my friend chris and i ended up doing the athenian mercury thing by sending eachother recorded pieces back and forth online and mixing them. he lived in NH so it was kind of hopeless to get together and play foreal, but i ended up going up there and we got to play a show and record in person. that all ended up on the recycled tape on rrr. probably some of my favorite stuff i've done.

as for the solo stuff... it's hard to say really what i'm influenced by. no particular artist really.. a thought or an idea.. an image or event in my head that i'd like to score music for. that type of stuff. the style and sound naturally progresses as i get more familiar with whatever equipment i'm playing with at the time.

Interesting... so safe to say, tracking down all your music would take weeks of effort and yards of shelf space. What do you think is your strongest material (other than the recycled tape) - what do you like in your music? What do you think are the strongest elements?

yea, there's a lot out there. i don't even have a copy of everything right now.. working on it though.

umm, i can't really say. if i didn't love something i probably wouldn't release it. i try and make everything different from release to release, so it's hard to pick a strong point. i'd say right now the "leave your wet brain in the hot sun" album on audiobot is the wierdest and more flowing album i've done. a lot of styles mixed in.

Where do the names Roxanne Jean Polise, Athenian Mercury, and My Game of Loving come from?

athenian mercury was the name of an old old news paper back in the witch trial days in salem. thought the name fit the idea of the music we were going for.

my game of friend dan and i couldn't think of a name for our collab project, so we just used the name of a white noise song we really liked. doesn't really have any particular meaning.

roxanne jean polise..hah, it's really stupid and kind of cheesy, so i'm not going to get into it. only a few select people know. sorry guy.

What part of the music you release appeals to you the most?

originality. people doing something totally different. there are a lot of "experimental" artists jacking others dude's styles and not really doing anything fresh, so i try and stick with people that have their own thing going and don't really care if it's widely appealing.

That makes sense. Would you agree that lots of the noise scene consists of variations upon a theme? I think a lot of it has become novelty more than anything else...

i definitely agree with the novelty comment. there are a lot of guys out there that do have a vision and passion for what they're doing, but i also think there are some people getting into it, because it's the "hip" underground thing right now. basically just like any trend, once it passes, we'll see who was into it for the music and who was into it to be fashionable or whatever.

Do you ever think noise music could be the next big thing? I think that would be hilarious.

i think it could definitely be what grindcore and screamo and all that jazz was 4-5 years ago. it could probably hit that peak, but i don't see it being big big. you never know though! wolf eyes on subpop.. that issue's been harped on too much already, so i won't say anymore and leave it at that.

What is your favourite colour?

shit dude...simple questions are always the toughest ones. i'll pass.. i really have no clue, hehe.

Aw, really? But you can't go wrong with yellow, can you?

on cars, yes. i'm wearing a yellow shirt right now, so hey, yellow is ace.


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