This ghostly techno might be insistent in momentum but that loud beating pulse could be coming from the adrenaline of fear or paranoia as much as a reliable indicator of health. Here, hearts don’t have to be healthy to be strong.
With samples reportedly summoned from the non-place that is the hospital, during a time of stark loss, Unfollow’s Zero Likes album on Kikimora Tapes adopts a strange, indefinable mood appropriate to those settings.
It is full of energy, but the energy is circular – almost obsessive. It could denote pacing or the frantic attempts to order a mind in disarray and overloaded with thoughts.
Somehow, the looping irons out the creases in these wrinkled mental states, makes them soothing. The infinite panacea of ordering and systematising.
Unfollow is one alias of the Toronto-based musician Tony Boggs. Tony thinks the below Third Eye Foundation song would “be totally fine as the last thing I would ever hear” and we grabbed a quick chat with him about his own music.
“I think my tendency for repetition comes back to my admiration for shoegaze or drum & bass, just taking a blissful moment and stretching it out as far you can. There is some sort of state of otherness you reach once a sound has been pounding into you for a while. It’s like a k-hole for the soul or something. It’s becomes a background for your imagination, it gives you time to dream and make it your own as you listen. Trance in the truest form. Wolfgang’s Voigt’s Gas project and Steve Reich were big influences to me; they definitely use repetition to their advantage.
“I think I find hope in repetition. People become more agreeable the more time you spend with them. A record you may find annoying could become your favourite after you’ve given it some time. When you download albums for free five months before they’re supposed to come out, it’s quite easy to scan through the tracks and pass judgment pretty quickly.
“I try to make things so they’re just slightly off, I embrace the glitch. Make it wrong. In the end, I kind of think of my music as sad techno. I’m really excited about dance music these days as there are a lot of amazing things happening. The nod towards industrial/noise is something I’m really, really into but nothing I’m really anxious to reference. Everyone has their own trajectory and I try to stay true to that. I was the goth kid in small town Kentucky in the 90’s with teased hair and all that… Skinny Puppy, X Marks The Pedwalk, Front 242, Chemlab, Invisible Records playing all the time. This is what I think of when I think of industrial and because of this I honestly don’t really see the reference most of the time, but I get it. I know that what is mostly being referenced is Clock DVA, TG, Neubauten.. the OG stuff.
“Once you’re able to give something a label it gets played out pretty quickly. IDM, witch house, vaporwave… There are amazing artists that get lumped into these categories and these things then expire pretty rapidly regardless of how groundbreaking it is and it all goes down with the ship and everyone is ready for the next reference.
“There are people who have been down since day one who are just now coming up. Like Beau Wanzer for instance. Beau has been Beau since I met him. When everyone was doing IDM, when IDM was not vogue and everyone started doing minimal techno.. Beau was still doing what he is doing now. Everyone was running Max/MSP and Beau would bring out his 909 and a wall of synths. It’s sort of like how they tell you if you get lost in the woods to just stay put and someone will find you. You just have to do what feels right and people will come around to it or they won’t.
“I certainly try to make dance music, but I feel I come up short. It always sort of circles back and ends up sounding like me, sort of like a curse. I’ve always been able to clear a dancefloor pretty quickly. I’m not sure that’s a skill though!
“I think about hard times when I listen to my own music, blissful yet painfully monumental times. Leaving a loved one in intensive care and driving away from the hospital with the music super loud and just pounding away on the steering wheel. When you need something that’s heavy but not ignorant of the emotions you may be feeling. I think my music is good for drinking alone or maybe at 3am on the dancefloor when everyone’s drugs have run out and all the poseurs have taken Uber rides home.
“There are so many tracks I’ve made that I think are just horrible. More often than not, it is one annoying sound that keeps coming through that just ruins it. A hi-hat that is completely too loud or maybe a really rad part that you cannot hear for shit. A melody that goes on too long… These things have fucked up many a track for me. I would rather leave things unsaid rather than shoving it down someone’s throat. I think this helps serve my minimal/repetitive tactic these days.
“What music made by other people do I really hate right now ? I hate to hate, cuz who the fuck am I? So, I would never single anyone out. EDM is a an obvious scapegoat as it seems so ignorant of the music and culture that made it possible in the first place. I’ve never been a fan of the wobbly dubstep bassline. I fucking hate “the drop.” I guess what I think of as “groovebox techno” is especially lame. With everyone turning towards outboard gear, the idea that if you have this certain piece of gear that you will be all set is an annoying notion. For myself, the move away from the computer as the main brain is pretty much a no brainer as I spend all day at work staring at a computer, so the last thing I want to do when I feel creative is fire up the laptop. That shit stays downstairs. I think that’s the same for a lot of people. But in the end, it certainly doesn’t matter what you use, it’s all relative.
“If I were asked to make an album using instruments or software that I’ve never used before, I’m sure It would still sound very much like me; again a very reliable curse. When Mitchell Akiyama and I were working on the second Desormais album he brought out his viola, which we certainly didn’t know how to play and it ended up being our sort of secret weapon. The dry track sounds something like a flock of eagles fucking, but once it goes through all the fx and gets smeared it becomes very personal and makes sense.”
Buy Zero Likes by Unfollow from Kikimora Tapes
Young Girl Eating a Bird – The Pleasure by René Magritte, 1927.
Le frisson des vampires by Jean Rollin, 1971.