(image provided by The Alternative Review)
William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes and Daveed Diggs make up 3 piece Noise/Rap band, clipping. They’ve been recognized for their harsh, industrial approach to rap and hip hop music thus gaining a following of listeners both very intrigued and curious. They have two albums out, their second “CLPPNG” released earlier this year. Both available for purchase and streaming on Spotify. I was able to get an email interview with the striking band to get some insight on what the genre of Noise music is all about and more on the cultivation of their individual sounds coming together to create, clipping! Read below!
I DON’T KNOW MUCH ABOUT NOISE MUSIC CULTURE. WHO ARE THE PIONEERS? ANYONE YOU WERE INITIALLY INSPIRED BY? SNIPES/HUDSON, HOW LONG HAVE YOU ALL BEEN PRODUCING MUSIC?
WH: I’ve been making noise music for maybe fifteen years. My first tapes came out in, I think, 2004 or 2005. My introduction to noise was pretty similar to that of a lot of people my age — through the Japanese scene in the 1990s. Merzbow, Incapacitants, Aube, MSBR, Pain Jerk, K.K. Null, Cracksteel, Facialmess, etc. Later I learned about the American scene by tracking down compilations and split releases with those Japanese artists — people like Crawl Unit, Speculum Fight, Macronympha, Chop Shop, Skin Crime, Sickness. When I started making music I was trying to ape the style of the so-called ‘onkyô’ artists: Sachiko M, Toshimaru Nakamura, Ami Yoshida and the like. I was playing at an experimental music series called Line Space Line. After that ended, Il Coral opened up. That was the venue that housed, and really energized the noise scene in LA for a couple of years. It was there that I met Jon Borges of Pedestrian Deposit (who’s pretty much the best, most consistently inspiring noise artist alive) and the Men Who Can’t Love crew.
JS: I had somewhat the opposite introduction. I found noise through Americans, mostly on mp3.com – just browsing the “noise” genre pages in the late 90s. This is how I became aware of Cock ESP, Prurient, Jon Borges, etc. I think my first tape release was in 2000 or 2001, on a compilation with all those artists I just listed.
WHAT DO YOU THINK DRAWS PEOPLE TO GENUINELY LOVE NOISE MUSIC?
WH: One of the most incredible things about noise is that people come to it from a whole bunch of different trajectories. It’s the extreme end-point of every genre. There are fans and artists who discover it from coming from jazz (Borbetomagus, for example) rock (Airway) classical (Zeitkratzer) metal (Japanese Comedy Torture Hour) punk (Bastard Noise) folk (Amps For Christ) blues (Keiji Haino) visual art (The Rita) performance art (Schimpfluch-Gruppe) techno (Pita) industrial (Brighter Death Now) ethnomusicology (Z’EV)… I could go on. Basically, if you’re into almost any kind of music, and have an insatiable curiosity to reach for the weirdest, most obscure, most out-there expressions of that genre, it approaches noise.
WHAT IS THE CREATIVE PROCESS FOR A TRACK? DO YOU RECORD ORGANIC SOUNDS OUTSIDE OF THE STUDIO ON RECORDERS? IS ANYTHING EVER “RANDOM”?
WH: Each track is different, actually. If it begins with Jonathan, it’s usually a musical, or technical idea — like some interesting way to patch the modular synth, or a way to make an unusual time signature still feel like hip-hop. If I start it, it’s usually a specific reference — like what would be the Clipping take on a laid-back summery G-Funk track, or a strip club anthem, or a screwed-down beat? We’ve also done tracks where Daveed writes his rap to a click and we build the beat around that acapella. Things are almost never ‘random.’ We don’t jam, or improvise at all. Everything is carefully considered, and agonized over.
HOW DOES LA PLAY A PART IN YOUR MUSIC CAREERS?
JS: My “day job” (if you can call it that, because I love doing it) is writing music for and sound designing film, tv, and theater. It’s a good city to pursue that in, and I can’t really see myself working in film from anywhere else. I also love how spread out and formless LA is. It doesn’t breed the same sort of self-identification that cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, or Portland do. Nobody is proud to be from Los Angeles. We’re all somewhat ashamed of it. Because of that, it really feels like you’re working somewhat in a vacuum. You’re not making art as a part of your environment or contributing to it, you’re making art *against* your city, and in spite of it. I can’t imagine living in a place where I felt like I truly belonged.
IS THERE A REBELLIOUS NATURE BEHIND YOUR SOUND OR IS IT ALL PURELY FOR CREATIVE EXPRESSION AND PREFERRED TASTE? ARE THERE ANY UNDERLYING MESSAGES THAT YOU WANT YOUR LISTENERS TO GET FROM YOUR MUSIC? (NOT TALKING ABOUT SUBLIMINAL SHIT LOL)
WH: We’re a bit past our respective rebellious stages. Clipping is definitely driven more by concept than by ‘expression.’ Which is not to say that we’re clinical, or exclusively intellectual about our music, either. The message is in the execution, not the literal content of the lyrics. Does that make sense? Our politics are in the methods we use — we don’t explicitly state those politics in the lyrics, like, say, a straight edge punk band would.
JS: I would say that the lyrics are as much timbral choices as the sounds in the beats. The subject of a song and the words used are as much a musical and orchestrational decisions as how we’re EQing the snare sound or which distortion we’re running a field recording through or something. All those choices are referential and specific, but (to me, at least) in a very aesthetic musical way more than specifically political.
DAVEED DIGGS, ANY RAPPERS YOU LOOK UP TO? ANYONE THAT INSPIRED YOU INITIALLY TO START RAPPING WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER? HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN RAPPING?
DD: I’ve been rapping for at least 16 years I guess. E-40 and Aesop Rock are the 2 rappers I probably studied most when I was starting out. Float and Charlie Hustle were two extremely important albums to me and I probably still know every word of both of those. I probably really decided I wanted to start rapping after listening to Freestyle Fellowship a bunch. Inner City Griots kind of changed my life in that I think it was the first time I really understood how far you could push the genre. And all the old Project Blowed comps (which is one of the reasons it was such an honor to tour with Busdriver earlier this year). Pharoahe Monch was also a big early influence. But after that I just started consuming everything I could get my hands on. Lil Wayne was a big influence on me (and we’re about the same age so it seemed important to learn from somebody who was on top of their game while I was still trying to figure it out). And I’m really a product of the Hyphy movement in The Bay. So Keak da Sneak, Mac Dre, Guce (not really Hyphy but really important to SF’s Gangster Rap scene), Turf Talk (maybe the most underappreciated rapper in the game). Then there was my community of rappers that I was working with and around. Rafael Casal (one of my best friends on the planet and one of the best rappers around), Chinaka Hodge (another friend and one of my heroes artistically).
I KNOW THERE ARE A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT DON’T “GET IT”. DOES THAT ENCOURAGE OR DISCOURAGE YOUR WORK?
WH: I don’t think it has any effect at all on the music. We’re just happy that so many people do seem to get it, and we never expected that.
JS: Since even we often have different opinions about what a particular piece is doing, or what the goal is, I’m not sure there is any right way to “get” or “not get” our music. There are plenty of people who really like what we’re doing for what we think are the “wrong” reasons, but that’s fine. And, yeah – we’re still pretty shocked that anybody likes it at all.
A LOT OF PEOPLE SPOTLIGHT THE SONG “GET UP” BECAUSE IT’S LITERALLY AN ALARM CLOCK GOING OFF FOR THE ENTIRE SONG UNDER DIGGS’ SWIFT RAPPING. WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA TO TAKE WHAT MOST PEOPLE WOULD DEEM THE MOST ANNOYING NOISE OF ALL TIME AND MAKE IT INTO SOMETHING ARTISTIC?
WH: Jonathan had been pitching that idea for a long time — since before Daveed even joined Clipping. I had been nervous that it would come off as a joke, I think, but Daveed’s lyrics took the project seriously enough that it ended up working out. The idea came up because we were trying to think of sounds that are ‘harsh’ by virtue of their context, not because they’re inherently noisy. Alarm clocks aren’t distorted, don’t feedback, but everybody hates the sound of them because of what they mean.
JS: Originally the idea was much dumber. Each hook was going to end with the sound of a snooze button being hit, and the verses were going to gradually introduce the sounds of dogs barking, leaves blowing, construction, school buses, etc – all the morning sounds that you don’t want to hear while you’re trying to sleep. I’m really glad I got talked out of that, it’s much better as is.
WHO IS AN ARTIST YOU WOULD LOVE TO COLLABORATE WITH?
WH: Diamanda Galas.
DD: George Clinton
JS: Alarm Will Sound
I READ THAT FOR YOUR SECOND PROJECT ‘CLPPNG’, MORE THOUGHT WENT INTO MAKING IT A COHESIVE ALBUM WITH INTENTIONAL SONG PLACEMENT AND CHOICES IN PRODUCTION. I REALLY APPRECIATE ARTISTS WHO KEEP THAT IDEA AT THE FOREFRONT WHEN MAKING AN ALBUM. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE ALBUMS THAT YOU CAN LISTEN TO ALL THE WAY THROUGH?
WH: It’s particularly difficult to think of rap albums that don’t have any bad songs on them. Even most of my all time favorites have skippable tracks. Here are some albums that qualify, either because they feel like complete, coherent statements, or because every song is separately great, and they seem to fit together well: Dirty Mind, ATLiens, I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, Close To A World Below, Internal Empire, Personal Best, And Their Refinement Of The Decline, AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted, Knife Play.
JS: Mannie Fresh – The Mind of Mannie Fresh, Aphex Twin – I Care Because You Do, µ-ziq – Royal Astronomy, Toby Driver – In the L..L..Library Loft, The Disk Orchestra – [k], Iron Maiden – Powerslave, Plastikman – Musik, Pedestrian Deposit – Fatale, Laibach – Volk.
WHAT ARE YOU PLANS FOR THE FUTURE? DO YOU PLAN ON TRYING OTHER TYPES OF MUSIC OR STICKING TO THE PATH YOU’VE CREATED FOR YOURSELVES?
JS: We all already make other kinds of music and have other projects and that’s certainly not going to change. We’re working on expanding the clipping. palette a little more, and focusing more on longer format projects; playing more with structure.