This month, we interviewed Alpha Pup / Dome of Doom artist Huxley Anne to learn more about her influences, pre-show rituals, and her original score of Radka Salcmannova’s LAFW show this Fall. Read the full conversation below.
What inspired you to start writing/producing your own music?
I played in bands throughout my teens, just fucking around, never really recording music I felt was truly authentic. I remember distinctly the first time I opened up a DAW. I was on LSD in the desert, 19 years old, and I had been messing around with my iPad in the sand. I opened up GarageBand and in a less than an hour I had an arrangement -- vocal line, bass, drum pattern. That was the first time I felt I’d recorded an honest idea, like I’d found my instrument. Using computers to write and produce music allowed me to express the sounds I hear in my head, to shape and sculpt all the weird tones I’d struggled to make playing in a traditional band. Naturally, I grew out of GarageBand pretty quickly, and by the time I created Huxley Anne a few years later, I’d switched over to Ableton entirely.
You recently attended a Max/MSP programming workshop at Stanford this summer. What was your experience like there, and what was your biggest takeaway from the program?
Oh, man, that workshop was wild. It was so inspiring to see how through Max/MSP -- a node-based programming language -- you can basically connect anything. The limits of that program are really the limits of your mind, conceptually, it can do whatever you can envision...that was probably the most awe-inspiring thing for me. I loved attending the program, I spent all day and most nights in the amazing studios they have there. What was really awesome was to see how varied the attendees were -- from 60 year old Silicon Valley programmers, to high school students, to mothers, to professors, to artists -- the students in the program represented so many different walks of life. It was incredible to watch each person shape their understanding of the program in a way that suited their unique vision.
How does your visual work influence your sound (or vise versa)?
It all comes from the same place, creatively. My visual work and my sound both draw heavily on behind-the-scenes concepts and narratives. I often tease that I’m a writer posing as a musician, because I put so much thought into developing stories behind my work. I’ve found that my best work happens when I’m conveying a narrative, and the medium I express that through emerges organically through my process of digital storytelling.
Do you have a pre-show ritual?
Yes, but it’s a secret involving a silver dagger, dragon’s blood, and transmutation.
If you could collaborate with any living artist, who would it be?
James Turrell. His work redefined my notions of space. There is something so intoxicatingly pure about working with light as a medium -- I would love to mess around with his pieces conceptually using 3D sound.
What are some of your favorite hangout spots in LA?
The Pig for secret conversations, The Raymond 1886 for the best drinks in town, La Tropicana for daily sandwiches, 1642 for bebop jazz on Wednesday nights, and the Blue Whale because I wish LA had more venues like it.
If you were a style of eggs, what would you be and why?
I’d be a poached egg. Simple enough to make, but requiring practice to perfect. A poached egg philosophy seems fitting for me.
What have you been listening to recently?
Nai Palm’s new solo record, Sélébéyone by Steve Lehman, The Caretaker, Donovan, Chuck Berry, IGLOOGHOST, and Shabazz Palaces’ recent albums. Spans decades, but it’s all gold.
You also make music with Tsuruda under the name PAINT. How did this creative partnership form, and what are some of your biggest challenges or advantages when collaborating with another artist?
PAINT grew out of a vision we shared to incorporate more art forms into our musical work. We’d been making music together as Tsuruda and Huxley Anne for years, but the PAINT project is more of an artistic space where music, art, and technology can intersect freely. We just did our first full AV show in a movie theater this fall, and that was huge for us. Now I’m currently revising our performance Max patch after that test run, and we’re steadily working on a touring production for next year. With regards to PAINT, collaboration definitely becomes an advantage. We can utilize our individual strengths & interests, and they compliment each other perfectly. Such unique ideas are born from combining our powers, and that’s what I love about it.
As a woman living in the United States, how do you cope with and/or address a lot of the issues our country is facing today?
You know, I’ve been thinking about this obsessively lately. Why on earth do we, as women, continually expect men to build the world we want, rather than create it ourselves? I traded faith in society, religion, and even some of my faith in relationships for a fevered belief in the power of art long ago. Through creation, I fight my own battles and I work to create my own world where we treat all humans as equal individuals. I think reclaiming your voice as a woman, whether that be through art, or work, or sharing your story online, we can begin to redefine power structures. However--this philosophy relies heavily on the doctrine of individualism. Often times in America, I see collectivist philosophies or social banners enabling more pain & evil than actual good -- even when it comes to positive systems of thought, like feminism. Declaring oneself a feminist adopts an established doctrine, and a social perspective, that takes some of the weight off your individual shoulders. Yet it also allows others to call you a “man-hater,” “militant,” or “radical.” I think it is possible to grow and learn positively within these collectivist structures, but I personally believe what we need more than anything is true individual responsibility for our own individual actions -- as men and women. In a country with corrupt law, explosive social media, and a fractured populace, staying true to my individual identity is the only thing that keeps me sane, while still allowing me to give back to the world through my work.
Do you have any upcoming shows, releases, or recent projects you can tell us about?
I recently scored the LAFW runway show for Radka Salcmannova’s designer collection. That was such a new, fun experience for me -- writing fifteen minutes of music with the idea of her dripping gold designs gave me such life and inspiration. My next release will be coming out sometime next spring, I’m deep in the lab working on that currently. It’s taking an exciting new turn from some of my previous work, and I can’t wait to share the finished music. As far as tour dates go, I’m definitely in studio mode, but you can still catch me across the states a few times in the next couple of months! Denver, El Paso, Portland, Chicago, Los Angeles and Orlando are all lined up. See you there alien babes ! xx