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Artist of the day: Insect Joy



Insect Joy tampa

Insect Joy is Brian Repetto and James Bess of Dumbwaiters, and K. Paul Boyev from Otolathe, who have called their experimental/electronic/noise act "unholy clatter and bloated warblings via nowhere." It's a pastiche of instrumental and ambient collages with hints of avant jazz.

Check out an mp3 of their track Numberteeth here, and then see them live with Child Abuse and Flexxehawk Sunday night at Kelly's Pub in downtown Tampa. And keep reading after the jump to learn all about the dead clown in Insect Joy's rehearsal space ...

Arthropods in action: Insect Joy are Brian Repetto and James Bess, also of Dumbwaiters, plus K. Paul Boyev, known for his work with Otalathe and Crash Mitchell Five. Boyev mostly plays bass, but they switch off using various gadgets and instruments. Bess plays a MIDI sax, which creates pretty, spectral overtones.

In your ear: Instrumental and ambient collages with hints of avant jazz. Boyev’s bass lines form a backbone and hypnotic thrum while keyboards and modulated sounds fill in the spaces. All three Insects create hums, bleeps, howls and other sounds, reacting off the audience, or in a recording situation, each other. They seize on some of the output; rinse, repeat and form a motif.

Vocals? Occasional, used more for instrumental than verbal purposes — for now. Vocals, they say, are still evolving.

Stuff they use to make sound: Moogerfooger synthesizer, Metasonix vacuum tube effects, samplers, ambient noise and one faulty electrical outlet. “In our practice space there’s one electrical outlet that’s badly wired,” Boyev says. “It puts out a lot of radio frequency static, so that if you line the pickups of the bass guitar by rotating your body a certain way, you can run it through effects.”

Repetto: “That and a dead clown.”

Bess: “The dead clown is a little too quiet.”

Repetto: “Sometimes we take a cattle prod to it.”

Larva to pupa: Bess and Repetto formed Insect Joy late spring of 2007; Boyev joined in September 2008. They decided to join forces after co-headlining at the Skatepark of Tampa’s Noise Fest, a three-day festival of experimental music. “Every time I saw them they played something radically different than they played before,” says Boyev. “They have a little longer format than what I was doing. I was blown away — I loved them. When they asked if I could sit in, I wondered, 'What’s the available bandwidth, what’s not being exploited?’ In some ways, it was a lot of the lower frequencies, so naturally that led into bringing the bass out.”

Repetto: “It’s obviously not dance music, but I like those rhythmic elements. The thing I like about rhythmic music is that it puts you in a trance. At least from my perspective, that’s what I try to accomplish, putting things in a trance-like state. I’m definitely influenced by African rhythms … and comedy.”

Bess: “Shamanistic with rubber chickens.”

The perks of experimental music: “It’s completely the opposite of so-called indie rock, alternative rock, whatever you want to call it, which is so much masturbatory glad-handing," Repetto says.

Bess: "Oh, no."

Repetto: "It is."

Bess: "I don’t disagree, but …"

Repetto: “What we’re doing now is liberating because there’s people doing real things, more genuine creativity involved, not just trying to package yourself. Not to say there isn’t any of that in the other stuff, but basically to me it’s a completely different thing.”

Keeping a healthy balance: “With experimental music, there’s a lot of people who are very academic about it, who take themselves very seriously,” Repetto says. “Nothing wrong with that, per se, but it’s stuffy, I think. Then you got your kids who do experimental music who just f***ing make noise. I think they take very seriously not taking it seriously. It’s a weird kind of dichotomy, and we’re somewhere in the middle.”

Boyev: “It’s not cerebral wankery, but we’re not going to write a thesis.”

Repetto: “We’re participating in something that’s not academic but thought-out. There’s definitely a thought process. … It organically creates itself. We just kind of ride it.”

Fear of alienation? “We’re not worried about it, really,” Bess says. “My own theory is that if you focus on making the making the connection between yourself and the music, all you can really do is invite others to share in it.”

Repetto: (in demon voice) “He got that off a cereal box!”

Boyev: “If you calculate how your music is going to connect with others, it just comes across as calculated.”

Repetto: (again in demon voice) “Like a calculator!”

Boyev: “Every show we put together is 30-40 percent open-ended. That means if the audience is there, there’s a two-way interaction.”

Hear them: with Child Abuse and Flexxehawk on Sunday at 9 p.m. at Kelly’s Pub, 206 N Morgan St., Tampa. $5. They also play New World Brewery in Ybor City on Tuesday at 9 p.m.

[Last modified: Friday, April 10, 2009 7:00am]


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