Experimental Voice Box Programmer
or "How I came to be a jaded rocker"
Since it's inception back in 2003, Experimental Voice Box Programmer has been bending rules about what music can and should be. The average EVBP album experience ranges in musical styles from punk to trip hop, nerd rock to industrial, rap to children's music and just about everything in between. In addition to various styles, EVBP uses unorthodox methods of promotion, performance, and presentation. Lo-Fi Mouth the group's debut was recorded entirely on a Tascam Porta 02 4-track cassette recorder with a minimum of overdubs, mixing, and editing. This minimalist approach to production would normally be a death sentence for any group hoping to be taken seriously in a world saturated with glossy, overnight pop sensations.
"I'm not particularly concerned with getting my songs on the radio or being taken seriously," states the man behind EVBP. "I've been a fan of music long enough to know that even if you get a song on the radio or you get a rave review in a rag like Rolling Stone, its only a matter of time before somebody out there decides you have lost your edge. Next thing you know your next album gets 2 out of 5 stars and nobody other than hardcore fans really cares about you anymore."
Behind this mentality, is a new movement in artistry that he has dubbed jaded rock.
"It's really just a catch phrase. Jaded rock is not necessarily rock music. I just use the term to describe any artist or group who has a healthy level of cynicism about the whole millions-of-adoring-fans-multiplatinum-rich-and-famous attitude that seems to be almost synonymous with making music. I mean, why bother to put all that blood, sweat, and tears into writing songs and releasing an album if people are just going to download it off the internet for free anyway? There is only one good reason to do it at that point, and it sure as hell isn't money and fame!"
So jaded rock is not half-assed for the sake of being done half-assed. The low budget, minimal effort approach could be seen as being for the sake of self preservation?
"Not really. Try to imagine it like a bunch of friends getting together on a Friday night and just goofing off. Someone whips out a camera and starts taking pictures of the mayhem. From an artist's standpoint it makes much more sense to catch everyone in there element just being themselves instead of making sure everyone looks perfectly airbrushed and well dressed. It's much more sincere. That sincerity is lost with a lot of music being produced in the new millennium."
Staying true to that asthetic, EVBP released Throw Down Syndrome in 2005. Inspired by the music of 8-BitPeoples the EP includes two tracks created using Nintendo's Mario Paint music sequencer. 'Baldwin's Bald Spot' is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on commonly misinterpreted song lyrics. The trilogy of tracks dubbed 'morse code' are a combination of live ('the creation') and programmed drum sequences ('the transmission' and '()') that when closely analyzed reveals a message in morse code.
"Lo-Fi Mouth took me roughly 75 days to write, record, mix, and duplicate. Somehow, I managed to beat that record with Throw Down Syndrome. The whole thing was completed from start to finish in about two weeks."
Arriving in late 2010, The X of Art EP is a change of pace. In place of the porta02 is a digital audio workstation; in place of sonic experiments are carefully crafted songs; and in place of a two-week round trip, this record has been in the making for the better part of three years.
"It took so long because in between the porta02 and the laptop recording setup, I tried to record with a mixing board and an ADAT. But it was used equipment and it had seen its share of use!" He exclaims. "Channels on the board would stop working, the ADAT heads were worn down so there were all kinds of signal problems. Not only that but when you have these grand ideas for a song and you're limited to between six and eight tracks to express it... it's just really uninspiring."
While it sounds like a contradiction to what jaded rock is, he assures that it is not. "I didn't write or record these songs with the intention of getting on the radio, making loads of money or becoming famous. The songs I wrote were inspired by things I like, not things with massive commercial appeal. And yeah I'm charging money for this one, but asking $2.00 for five songs when iTunes asks the same thing for two songs that don't even come with artwork, or a physical CD... I don't know how much more jaded rock I can possibly be!
So, is jaded rock poised to be the next great underground movement to catch mainstream attention?
"I seriously doubt it. Being the one who coined the phrase, I can honestly say I don't know of any other artists who identify themselves as such. And what I think of as jaded rock may be entirely different in style and approach from what someone else out there might consider it to be. Besides, as with all great musical 'movements' the instant it gets any kind of media attention it almost always becomes homogenized simultaneously. And then what do you have? Every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there wielding a song who feels just the slightest bit of cynicism about their craft aligning themselves with jaded rock. And then what defines it? The Toms, Dicks, and Harrys. There are enough Dicks in the industry, without creating a subgenre to house even more of them."
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