Venetian Snares is the new broken flavour of the month, and rightly so. He's music is new, original and, more importantly, brilliant... which is a rarity these days. Interview by stevvi
Q: Who are you?
A: I am Aaron Funk.
Q: Is Funk your real name? It seems too good to be true.
A: Yes that's my real name, my family shortened it from Funkadelic when they immigrated from Saturn.
Q: Aaaah... that makes sense. So how did the name "Venetian Snares" come about?
A: It started as more of a description of the style of music I write than a name. One fine spring day years ago, I was writing a track with really fast snare rolls that sounded like scraping a stick across a grate or running a pencil down venetian blinds in a distracted classroom. The snares were Venetian snares and I liked the absurd notion that they might be special snares from Venice.
I always pay very special attention to the detail of my snares, and you could say that the snare is the lead instrument in most of my tracks, where maybe a vocalist would tell the story. Since the name came about, I've been told of a television news piece entitled Venetian snares. Apparently children were accidentally hanging themselves in Venetian blinds and dropping like flies.
I enjoy the word snare in the context of a trap or a lure.
Somebody else mentioned to me, they came across Venetian snares in some medieval text.
Q: Hmm... How old are you?
A: I am 25.
Q: Where do you live?
A: I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Q: So what goes on there? Everyone says Canada is so boring?
A: Not a lot goes on here, and what does is fairly typical. I believe the world to be a muffin pan, and there certainly are a lot of muffins here.
I've never found myself bored here. I don't think I could ever be bored no matter where I was.
Q: This is probably an obvious question with an obvious answer but what do you do to keep yourself interested?
A: Interested? I don't do anything at all to keep myself interested, I'm interested in too much to have the time to be uninterested.
Q: That's boring ;) So what are you interested in?
A: Sound, structure, shape, chaos. sound representations of skewed moods and even inanimate objects fascinate me.
Q: OK, let's get typical and hear about your musical background... your first memories of music and your youthful influences.
A: My grandmother's piano. I remember plunking on it and making sound effects with my voice. I took piano lessons for a few years, but I thought they were shit.
I also remember playing my favorite TV theme songs over and over in my head and doing some obsessive counting thing on my fingers. I also remember not telling anyone about it, because it really caused me to question my sanity.
I remember listening to Gordon Lightfoot and picturing this big fat Italian guy singing, when in fact Gordon Lightfoot is a scrawny Canadian alcoholic.
I had some weird music to listen to when I was a little kid, stuff like Suicide and Joy Division, lots of punk rock. My mom was punk! I also had normal kid stuff, I remember really enjoying a Pinocchio storybook record.
Q: And what about the music that influences you now, the music that you listen to now... if they're the same thing?
A: Well I think there's far more than just music that influences me these days. As far as what I listen to, that'd be a huge list. I mostly listen to whatever I get in the mailbox that day!
I'd say music that influences me would be producers like Abelcain and Doormouse for their catchy progressions and change-ups. Bombardier for his distorted clarity. Somatic Responses for their alien alternative to regular sounds.
Q: Apart from the piano lessons, when did you first start making music?
A: About 8 years ago is when I really started to seriously experiment with composition.
Q: What was that music like?
A: I'd use a bunch of ghetto blasters playing all at once to play different sounds I'd recorded with some shitty ghetto blaster. Most of my sources I'd get riding around on my bicycle and just listening for interesting sounds. I'd use garbage bins and streetlights and anything else I could find that was hollow or metallic to bang out rhythms on. Then I'd set up all the ghettos and record them all playing into that same ghetto blaster. Then I'd play a bunch of those tapes all at the same time and record that and so on. Then I would do cut-ups or pause-ups of those tapes to create a more startling rhythmic effect. A strange ritual in retrospect.
I somehow came across this looping delay pedal that would hold a 2 second sample. This pedal coupled with the ghetto blaster experiments really changed my life.
Then I got an Amiga 500 and that really changed my approach and allowed a lot more freedom and accuracy to what I was trying to convey. What I'm doing now is a direct descendant of those Amiga days.
Q: Heh, I guess it must be good to have a delay pedal as major influence in your life. Ermm... anyway, what equipment do you use now?
A: It was good! I don't have it anymore unfortunately, but my friend Greg has one, he gets amazing sounds playing trumpet and clarinet through it!
Q: Greg of "Car Culture" fame? That makes sense.
A: Now, I'm mainly using a PC and various software. The main piece of software I use is OctaMED, same program I used on the Amiga. I also use whatever synths I can get my hands on.
Q: A lot of producers seem to be software junkies. Do you have the same addiction?
A: I wouldn't call myself a software junky. However, I am always interested in trying new software if I think it might be useful because I do rely heavily on software to get most of the sounds I want. Soft Synths are very useful.
Q: How's your sex life?
A: My sex life is fantastic! I'm mostly into normal boy/girl fucking. I'm not into getting tied up or shit on. Better not incriminate anyone here!!!
Q: Oh yes... before I forget. What punk groups was/is your mother into?
A: HAHAHAHAHA!!!! She's down with all the old school punk and a lot of the stuff on the weirder side of things. lots of the Canadian bands, D.O.A., Personality Crisis, Stretch Marks, Nostrils, Subhumans (of the Vancouver variety), and American stuff such as the Ramones, Talking Heads, Dead Kennedys. Now she mostly listens to hip hop and reggae.
I like a lot of old punk rock too, the Damned, Slaughter and the Dogs, Eater, X-Ray Spex, the Stranglers, Dead Boys, Siouxsie and the Banshees, DK...the list goes on and on.
I played guitar in some crummy punk bands as a teen.
Q: You've heard of the Dead Boys? I have their "Young,Loud and Snotty" album... and Slaughter and the Dogs we always cool. I have a fair few of their releases. Eater's "Thinking of the USA" was a classic, especially the B side.. ermm... sorry... back to the present.
You've had recent releases out on Isolate Records and HotF and you've made the next Zhark release. How did you hook up with these people?
A: they were all familiar with my work well before I spoke to any of them. Guess I started communicating with them all via email... these are all good folks I feel comfortable doing releases for, in other words I know they won't sell me down the river or sell themselves out. They do it for the love of music.
Q: Did they hear your work via the net or on demo tapes/CDr's?
A: Yes, tapes and CDRs, mostly passed along by friends. I've only ever sent out demos twice. Once to Kultbox and once to Vinyl Communications. Neither of them ever got back to me. Guess they thought the music was too weird or something ;)
I mostly just send my shit to producers I like and people I enjoy.
Q: So how important is the Net to you?
A: Very important. not so much as a promotional tool, cuz I could care less really, but as yet another creative medium and as a means to communicate and share ideas with others.
Q: Has the Net led to any collaborations in "sound, structure, shape, chaos" apart from the releasing of your tracks? Anything planned?
A: Well, there was the diversity project. I've yet to really collaborate with anyone via the net. I've been talking over the net about collaborations with different folks, but so far it is still just talk. I will in fact be collaborating with Abelcain on "EYES"
Q: Now that's something I want to hear! How would you describe the music that you make... apart from "Venetian Snares"?
A: Fucked up. I'd rather not pigeon-hole it into something I can define. Music that is fucked up ;)
Q: A man after my own heart... are you into movies or stuff like that?
A: Of course I enjoy movies! As far as stuff like movies goes, I'd say I enjoy imaginary movies and theatre. I really enjoy overlapping film projections at parties, it always seems to fit the music just right.
Q: What is the party situation like in Winnipeg... like where do you go out?
A: It usually bites, unless Fishead is playing. Doormouse is playing here next month, so I'm excited about that! There's some cool live PAs here, Fanny, Not 1/2 but for the most part they don't get booked. Mostly, folks here are into more mainstream styles of music and the party scene reflects that. Whenever anyone tries to put on something unusual, they lose their shirt, so I think a lot are afraid to try. Next week Sass and Simon Underground are playing here.
I don't really gel with the party scene here and I don't really care either.
As far as where I go, I usually like to hang out at a local drum n bass night. That's about it. I like to go to Fanny and Al's place.
Q: Do you play live?
A: Yes I do.
A: Locally, mainly at clubs, sometimes at parties. I'm playing a few different places in the US in May.
Q: Do you have a job?
A: I have a few jobs, nothing conventional though.
< a week goes by>
Q: What inanimate objects have taken your fancy recently?
A: Doll Space Pygmalion, green agate and clumping cat litter.
Q: That makes sense. How was the party with Sass & Simon Underground? Ermmm... who is Sass?
A: It was alright, something different from trance and house for a change. Still fairly safe though, except Fishead, who was slippery when wet as always! Simon Underground did a lot of wicked scratching and cutting shit.
Sass is the illegitimate spawn of Stompin' Tom Conners!
Q: Who's Stompin' Tom Conners? And while I'm at it who are Fanny & Al?
A: Stompin Tom Conners = Margo's got the cargo and Reggie's got the rig, Bud the Spud, the good old hockey game. Fanny and Al AKA Not 1/2 are a couple of local producers that make some very strange music. I love them!
Q: Aaaah, everything becomes clear.
<a month goes by!>
Q: How was WTW4?
A: Spectacular! Good mix of disturbed music and disturbed people. Franjo played some amazing noise on 3 decks, I found the best spot for sound to stand during it, and let my head go. Abelcain played a great set that included 2 Vsnares remixes and 2 Skinny Puppy remixes along with some other new tracks. I had a great time playing a long set, beat juggling between 2 fully functioning computers this time! Anonymous and Doormouse did the tightest of DJ sets. Stunt Rock played some insane new tracks. Most of what happened after that is not so clear. All kinds of destructive behavior took place throughout, but I was too busy enjoying the music to pay much attention.
And I think that kinda sums up Venetian Snares.