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aVigillant Carpark EP



Posted: Sunday, November 23, 2008
By: Ilker Yücel
Review by: Ilker Yücel
Sasha Grey has already made quite an impression in the world of adult entertainment for being an exceptionally vigorous and adventurous performer. While the idea of a porn star making a career in music is not entirely unheard of, in the world of underground industrial music, it is far less common. Not only that, but with her band ATelecine, she goes even further down a path less traveled. Where most industrial music these days seems to consist of hard yet danceable beats and tight programming, be it coldwave, power noise, or EBM, it's all based on rhythm, whereas ATelecine prefer to explore the more unconventional and abstract forms that defined the industrial genre in the first place. Owing more to the early works of Throbbing Gristle, Boyd Rice, and Coil, Grey and her musical partner Pablo St. Francis present the world with their own twisted brand of industrial music, wrought with samples mangled beyond recognition and experimental audio that will put many back in the mind of the mid to late '70s when the floodgates of that world were opened. Grey and St. Francis now let us in on their approach to distorting people's perceptions of music with ATelecine, from the development of their debut EP aVigillant Carpark to their signing with Pendu Sound to Grey's association with Smashing Pumpkins' Billy Corgan, as well as just how difficult it is to balance time between hardcore and hard industrial.
The current lineup for ATelecine is Sasha Grey and Pablo St. Francis. How did the two of you meet and come to form ATelecine?

St. Francis: Well, legend has it that we meet at a Duran Duran look-alike party in Kreuzberg, but she came dressed as Merzbow instead and I wasn't dressed as anybody. It should be noted I was wearing tight gym shorts and a Brian Eno T-shirt. I came up to her and gave her a maple donut I had saved in a paper bag since Miami International. I was like, 'Hey, you're Sasha Grey, the sex goddess. Do you want this donut?' She said no thank you and walked away. Three months later back in Los Angeles, I was at a really shitty strip club and there in the back of the place was Sasha Grey sporting a Sisters of Mercy T-shirt and dark sunglasses. Incidentally, this is still an activity we both enjoy: looking at cracked out strippers. She came up to me and told me she remembered me from Berlin and would I be interested in making some music. I was like, 'Hell yeah!' and dusted off my TR-606. True story.

What is the working dynamic like between you two? What is each person's function in the group?

Grey: I write most of the poetry, invent some of the texture and discord. I'm getting into rhythm. As to each person's function, it's impossible to navigate; form follows function.

St. Francis: I really try to invoke what she's writing about and, you know, just separate time and space sonically.

Being an unconventional and abstract form of music as ATelecine is, what would you say are the primary themes that you explore and are trying to convey to your audience?

Grey: Transference.

St. Francis: We like to explore stuff.

Much of ATelecine's sound owes to the older forms of industrial and unconventional electronic music, akin to Throbbing Gristle, Coil, and SPK. Coming from a younger generation as you do, tell us about your introduction to industrial music and how it influenced you to create the music you make now.

St. Francis: It's always been hanging around, like my first sexual experience with a vacuum cleaner at age eight. By the by, I like the new Dyson models very much. I like Eno. And I'm just throwing this out into space, out into the ether, you know: I'd have sex with Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson if he wanted to, man on man. Is that rude?

Grey: I just kind of fell into it through like-minded art and ideas. Cosey is an amazing artist and one of my heroes, and actually I hope to one day collaborate with her in any fashion. Skinny Puppy is also pretty dope. cEvin Key would be great to fuck around with. But I'd also love to collaborate with TV on the Radio; that harmony is brilliant. And Saul Williams, too. We both love Lustmord.

ATelecine is currently completing work on the limited edition EP, aVigillant Carpark, to be released on Pendu Sound. How do you feel the music on the EP is representative of ATelecine's sound?

Grey: It's very atmospheric and slightly low tech, and I think that goes hand in hand with the sound that we present at this exact moment. Basically it feels like a bunch of interludes with the main tracks missing, and we like that sense of misdirection.

Do you plan to continue down the musical path forged on the EP?

St. Francis: Well, not exactly. We of course want to mature and evolve. That is the nature of experimentation, that and the excuse to wear white coats. In fact, we are currently working on a set of songs that sound more like songs, but without abandoning the signature low ambience that people have come to enjoy from us. We are in discussions with a pretty well known ambient musician to produce this as yet untitled full-length project. So, be afraid. I know I am.

You're also planning a cassette-only split release from Pendu Sound. How did you come to associate with this label, and how do you find your working relationship with them will benefit ATelecine?

St. Francis: Well, we got about 15 different labels interested in putting our stuff out, and it really came down to a same sense of ideology. We liked what Pendu Sound presented and felt it would be right for a small limited vinyl and cassette-only release. Now, saying all that, we do intend on releasing stuff on a few other labels that also put out stuff from our heroes like Carter Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge, respectively. But I've said too much and now I have to kill you, or me.

Prior to aVigillant Carpark, you were working on the Loves to Drink, Loves to Fuck EP, which has now been postponed. What else can you tell us about the EP? Was this the final title for the release, and if so, how does it pertain to the band or the music presented? Why has the EP been put to rest for now?

Grey: It's tongue in cheek. Obviously, I love to fuck – who doesn't, besides eunuchs? – and I love a good highball glass of aged single-malt. But it was intended to be a gag on how lame people can be 'too drunk to fuck.' It will come at some point; we want aVigillant Carpark to be first, though. It will have a few new surprises, too.

As the band is comprised of two members, are there any plans to perform ATelecine's music in a live environment? If so, what would a live show entail? If not, is it safe to say that ATelecine would remain a studio-based project?

Grey: Live act, you can fucking bet on that shit, hoss. Entail? Don't be daft. It would entail a good time for all. We will have some live surprises sooner than you think.

You also recently appeared with Smashing Pumpkins, first in the artwork to their Zeitgeist album, and then as a dancer in the video for 'Superchrist.' How did you come to be associated with Billy Corgan and the Pumpkins? What sort of influence has Corgan had on you, and will we see any sort of musical collaboration between the two of you?

Grey: Billy is a friend and an amazing human being. He is an incredibly hard worker. Honestly, I'm motivated just standing next to the guy. As far as musical collaboration goes, I'd be privileged to do that. However, I think we are on different waves, but you never know. He seems to be always oscillating, so if it presented itself, I'd dig in for sure.

Sasha Grey is also a well known adult film star, and while it's not unusual to see a connection between alternative music and adult entertainment – case in point, Matt Zane and Society 1 – it is usually within the hard rock and heavy metal communities, as opposed to industrial. What are your thoughts on this connection and how it pertains to you and your music?

Grey: That's funny that you mention Matt Zane. I recently went to a screening of George Romero's latest zombie film with Matt and Wayne Static. Nice guys. Well, to quote Cosey, 'My art is my life and my life is my art.' So it's only natural. I'm an artist no matter what medium I choose to express myself.

Being an adult film star, you must have a rather rigorous schedule. How do you find the time to work on ATelecine?

Grey: Yes, it's very difficult to schedule time to work on other projects, but it's what I do. I feel I need to express myself, so whether it's a film project, music, photography, I'm not going to confine my art to just commerce-related things. I mean, there's always some balance, but really, it has to come out of me, and so it does.

Having received a fair amount of attention from the mainstream media due to your young age and line of work, how has this attention benefited you as a performer, both in the adult industry and in your music? In other words, do you feel it could bring more exposure to your work as a musician?

Grey: What do you think?


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