Jacob Ciocci and David Wightman, who have performed together as Extreme Animals for the last eight years, are coming to town to “explore the world of tween culture” through a “mash-up of live music, video, staged theatrics, and global meltdowns” at Cinefamily this Sunday.
SEANCARNAGE.COM is proud to be a sponsor of the event, which promises to be not only danceable and “Hi-NRG” but also provocative and high-concept.
Read an exclusive interview with Extreme Animals & get all the event details after the jump.
While the duo’s music and videos are often hilarious, Extreme Animals is hardly a joke band. Jacob Ciocci (a member of arts collective Paper Rad and a teacher at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh) and David Wightman (a PhD candidate in composition at UCSD with an exciting slate of upcoming performances of his “contemporary classical” works) are astute observers of pop culture and technology who produce pandemonium with a purpose.
What do you do live that makes an Extreme Animals show more exciting than sitting at home and watching the videos on YouTube?
Jacob: When Extreme Animals have played live in the past we have tried to make the experience immediate and somewhat spontaneous. We try and not script certain things to force ourselves to think on our feet. We get in the audience and communicate with them face to face, mano y mano, “mashing trolls.”
This time around we are trying something new: we are finally playing with our videos behind us.
This tour is called “Extreme Animals sits down” because we are not standing up, jumping up and down interacting with the audience, but will be sitting down and letting the videos “stream live,” while we jam in our chairs from the pit. For some of the shows we may even use bar stools, unplugged-style. In “performance with video mode” (like this summer) we do a lot of talking and lectures with Power Point. Sometimes we like to explain ideas or tell stories, a performance style that La Jolla critics are now calling “live blogging.” On this tour Jacob will talk about some of the main issues in this day and age, “the new intensity” as they call it in the Seattle and Pittsburgh new media theory communities. Live music, real life vibes, real music with live video. total rage, audience participation/perspiration. Dr. Phil AND Dr. Oz.
What about ‘tween culture inspires you?
Jacob: Having power but not knowing how to use it. Vocal production. They reinvented music where Boulez failed. Total freedom (because you are still a kid you get to spazz) juxtaposed with early stages of totalitarian mind-control (parents, math, jeans, fake tattoos). Also, watch this. And this. And then this.
Your Myspace jams sound kind of like “mash-ups” made in one of those factories that crushes cars. But while the beats are brutal and abrasive, they all develop out of catchy grooves that are just as relentless as the overlaid sounds are merciless. How do you strike a balance between these two elements?
Jacob: We do sample music, but I think the difference between our music and some of these other mash potatoes is that our music is not only about specific referentiality but also about the over-all sound of the music, in the same way Charles Ives’ work is a kind of counter point between colliding musics, something greater than the sum of its parts. Also: if you hear a melody enough times on the radio it stops being a melody and starts being noise. If you listen to a jackhammer enough it stops being a noise and starts being a song. Pop producers are really good at shaping harsh, abstract sound (software synths) into digestible consumer meals—I’m trying to think of a better example, but for starters how about Ke$ha or “Party in the USA?” Underground music realized this bit about 5-10 years ago (again—it goes in cycles) maybe because of the advent of mp3s and laptops.
You two have been playing as Extreme Animals for a long time now, and both of you are extraordinarily active with other creative projects. How does Extreme Animals influence those projects, and how have they impacted Extreme Animals over the years?
David: There is no doubt some separation between Extreme Animals and the other “concert” music I write. Both come from worlds that have specific histories, rules and formalities that must be addressed and acknowledged. However I think there are a lot of similarities between two types of musics/ways of working: awkwardness/humor within music gestures/textures, quoting/borrowing other music, referencing culture/musics within music, combining disparate materials, etc.
Jacob: My computer desktop is where I collect all the materials that end up in various outlets. Whenever a deadline is fast approaching I start grabbing the source material (YouTube clips, images, sound clips, whatever) and composing them into a format that makes sense for the context. So sometimes the same image is in a video and in a painting. The same sound is in a video and an Extreme Animals song. There are different outlets and contexts but one set of ideas that interest me. But I can’t explain this secret set of ideas because it is a mystery even to me—just beyond my grasp. If I understood it I wouldn’t want to do it. I just know when something catches my eye or ear and I have to download it or scribble it down somewhere so I don’t forget it. It’s so easy to capture things you experience these days (smart phones with cameras, broadcast a Tweet of an funny idea) and yet it’s just as hard as always.
In an interview I found online, Jacob mentioned that you guys knew each other in high school and that you wanted to start a band then. Extreme Animals, however, didn’t come until much later. How does this band compare to what you guys imagined for yourselves back then?
Jacob: I think it is pretty similar. In high school we played “instruments” and wrote “improvisations” and were inspired by other “artists.” So all that has changed, but everything else has stayed the same.
David, what was it like to have your “contemporary classical” piece, “Bless This Mess,” selected for the June in Buffalo festival?
David: It was great to be involved with June in Buffalo. The festival was started by Morton Feldman and others to be an American version of the Darmstadt New Music Courses. However the festival has developed its own unique identity over the past 25-35 years, largely due to the tireless devotion of artistic director David Felder. Ensemble Surplus did a fantastic job performing my piece.
Jacob, your “Just Another WordPress Site” project is hilarious. What is it about websites that has compelled you to chose them as a medium for your art?
Jacob: The look and feel of web sites started to become interesting to me when normal people started using them—mothers and kids and people who wanted to share tips on how to knit. Just before web 2.0 things hit a really cool critical mass in terms of people expressing themselves through this new technology—I’m talking about Geocities and AOL homepages and other such “free” website creation tools—sprawling diary pages and people’s poetry next to spinning gifs of globes, hearts, etc. that is old news now but I’m not sure I’ll ever get over how it felt to look at these web pages in the early days. I think M.I.A. just made a music video trying to use some of this aesthetic…
Now sites like YouTube try to have the same spirit but updated to work within big-business web 2.0 ideas—sometimes videos on YouTube can have this same excitement for me but not often. WordPress and the templates that people make for their blogs are a new kind of way for normal people (armatures?) to think about design, art, and web functionality, and it is free like those old sites used to be. You have to be sort of savvy but not that savvy to make one of these templates. I love that stuff. Normal people fucking shit up. For instance, check out this in your face design; this, to me, has the same boldness/love for the medium as one of the best early Geocities sites.
I recently signed up for Twitter and like it way more than Facebook as a medium for creating art/communicating ideas in an interesting creative way within a corporate web 2.0 context.
Don’t miss this special one-time event presented by Cinefamily & SEANCARNAGE.COM:
Co-presented by SEANCARNAGE.COM
**JUST ADDED: Pre- & post-show dance party with DJ Kyle Mabson. Free beer, too.
Description: 21st-century composers/mindwarpers Jacob Ciocci and David Wightman present a furious mash-up of live music, video, staged theatrics, and global meltdowns! Get ready for their disjunctive, startlingly entertaining array of live shredding, extreme feedback, YouTube bombardment, ecstatic dance moves, and Saturday morning cartoons, as the group’s newest performance delves into the world of tween culture and the current obsession with the infinite hall of mirrors known as “being forever young”. Our performers will sell their soul, Paganini-style, to become vampires cursed to bleed all over their instruments—for all time!!!! Jacob Ciocci is an artist most well-known as being one-third of the art collective Paper Rad (whose prolific flagellations of music, installations, websites, and animations continue to leave the masses gingerly agog), and David Wightman is currently a lecturer of Pop Music Studies at UCSD, as well as one of the main men behind sonic terrorist bands Fortress of Amplitude, Powdered Wigs, and Chariots of Fire. Together, Jacob and David form like Voltron in the high-NRG electronic music ensembe EXTREME ANIMALS!
Starts 8pm promptly / doors at 7pm