This Sunday at Le Bain, Nouveau York goes psychedelic with the Brooklyn duo CCC, Free Magic from Discovery and a live show by Night Plane, the new artist to watch from Wolf+Lamb. What is psychedelic? How do we experience it while sober? We met William and Harry of CCC for a hypnotizing Standard Q&A.
The Standard: As CCC, your musical influences go from Armando to Sonic Youth with DJ Harvey in between, with one genre to describe it: Psychedelic. What is CCC’s own definition of psychedelic?
William: It’s a feeling, and it can come from any stimuli. I don’t know if there’s psychedelic smells or not. Speaking of sound, anything from field recordings to classical music to the blues to rock n’ roll to house can be psychedelic. Something that both surprises and hypnotizes you, changes your perception of the world, communicates that other worlds are possible. Whenever I tag our music in iTunes or Soundcloud I always put ‘psychedelic’ as the genre no matter what the track sounds like.
It seems you have been exploring the whole spectrum of the American Psychedelic culture - and not only the musical side, but also the history of the drug itself in your book, On Acid. How did you start focusing on such a subject?
William: John, our third CCC member, and myself started a blog called Acid Age to show artworks that had been made under the influence, starting with our own, and then expanded the blog to be about art and drugs in general. Then we put the On Acid print edition together and went more into the historical side of things. Somehow the subject of psychedelic drugs lies at the intersection of everything: poetry, chemistry, psychology, politics, religion. And I have always been interested in rituals of mind alteration, which I think you can find in club music as well.
On Acid, a book published by CCC.
CCC is now based in Brooklyn, but the project was born in Texas. Could you let us know the greatest or weirdest psychedelic experience you associate with Texas?
William: I used to take acid in the suburbs and wander around outside, listening to The Diamond Sea by Sonic Youth and exploring abandoned buildings.
William: Maybe I’m biased but I feel like Screw only really makes sense if you can experience it driving around Texas in the middle of the night – something about the Southern heat and the syrupy, monstrous voices and thudding beats, and the basslines are pitched so far down that the car vibrates. It sounds menacing and stupid at the same time, and I’ve always been a fan of brilliantly stupid music.
Psychedelic has definitely been a huge influence on what is the dance music scene today. Does it still describe well what a CCC’s DJ set is about?
Yes. We like to build a psychedelic set through the combination of sounds, unpredictable track selection, and mixing style. Harry likes sometimes to layer tracks together as long as possible, three minutes or longer, delaying the moment for as long as possible.
Let’s talk about your solo project Night Plane. Your first album will be released soon on Wolf+Lamb, probably one of the most exciting US label. How did you connect with them?
William: I interviewed Zev and Gadi for Resident Advisor and was taken in by their inventiveness, sense of style and quality control. They are both extremely clever and the way they’ve grown their sound and label has been inspiring. I started going to the Marcy and I felt like I was always taking notes, trying to absorb things, then going back to my studio and recording at 6 or 7 in the morning. The Marcy has been an important frame of reference for me, like I mix tracks thinking about how they would work in that sexy, intimate sound-world. That period was about learning the words to a new language so that I could express myself and communicate with others in a new way.
Warpaint Undertow (Night Plane remix)
Do you feel being part of that ‘slow mo’ scene with producers as Slow Hands, No Regular Play, Soho808 etc.?
William: I’d be honored to be counted among guys like that! Slowness and space are certainly important to me. Slowness can add drama, as well as erotic tension and suspense. Most of the tracks I’m producing now are around 114 BPM, I’d say, which also allows me more room to be melodic and textural. Overall my live set ranges anywhere from 100 to 120.
Listening to your delicate remix of Warpaint Undertow or your own track Parallel Lines, it seems ‘Dream House’ is a better word to describe your music. Do you agree?
William: Absolutely! Labeling your own music is always a tricky affair but let’s say I have a strong affinity for that phrase. ‘Dream’ also connotes something like the more friendly aspects of psychedelia, let’s say – the blissed-out, ethereal, spiritual and meditative aspects. Actually one of my Night Plane mixes is titled “Live at the Dream House,” which is also an homage to La Monte Young and to Siouxsie Sioux…
Speaking about dreams, do you sometimes dream about music? If so how does it sound?
William: I never dream about music, which is disappointing. I remember that when I was a kid I read that Aphex Twin composed music during lucid dreaming, which left a lasting impression on me, and only added to the mystique of his two-disc Selected Ambient Works Vol II, which I listened to obsessively. No one in suburban Texas had any idea what ambient music was, which made it all the more sort of an occult object.
Harry: Last week I had a dream about running on the Brooklyn Bridge following a cute girl. I woke up and immediately began work on a track titled Ponytail.
William: Now Harry points out ponytails whenever he sees them, as if they are uncanny traces of his dream vision.
What do you think is the best way to experiment psychedelic without using any drugs?
William: I’ll allow Harry to answer this since he just received his six-month sober chip at NA.
Harry: Exercise. Meditation. Fasting. Sleep deprivation. Hiking is a great example because not only do you exert your body, but you go on a trip, you leave your familiar city world behind and enter the wild.
Night Plane Parallel Line (No19)
If you had the power to live in someone else’s body for one day in the past or present, who would you pick and on what special day?
Harry: The past, present and future exist simultaneously.
William: I’d like to be Vladimir Putin for a day. At least for breakfast. What do you think he eats? Like fresh bear meat off a hooker’s chest? Either that or Keith Richards from spring to winter of 1971, when the Stones were recording Exile on Main Street at his French villa.
What is your favorite psychedelic movie?
William: The Lickerish Quartet, directed by Radley Metzger.
Harry: The Last Movie, directed by and starring Dennis Hopper.
What is your motto in the studio?
Do as thou wilt is the whole of the law.
And in life?
Each star must go in its own orbit.