For the last five years, Milwaukeean Paul Fuhr has been known as The Demix, "Milwaukee's dark knight of electronic experimentalism."
As a musician, his craft might be best described as a series of sonic seizures spilling unpredictable intensity across a sea of samples. As a character in his own beautiful nightmare, he's the kind of villain you root for as he works pieces former Halloween costumes into creepy soundscapes.
Basically, when he's performing, you're listening.
"Vendetta Kind of Mood" was released on 06-06-06 and you can expect his latest -- "The Demix Lives" to surface, appropriately, on All Hallow's Eve.
He's pinned down the pre- and post-show DJ slots for Aesop Rock at the Pabst Theater on Sept. 15 (as well as for Of Montreal and Grand Buffet on Oct. 4). In the meantime, catch him at Redroom's Rocksteady -- a night of dub, indie, hip hop and soul -- on Friday, Sept. 7.
Curious about this multi-faceted uncategorizable mixmaster? We thought so; that's why we let him do the talking:
OMC: What are some of the most interesting items you've used to make music?
TD: My usual set up is a laptop, turntables, CD players, a sampler or two and effects all run through a DJ mixer. I have this thing I call Speakerbox -- it's this system made with old junky speakers, amps and a sampler. Basically you run it through itself to create never-ending feedback, which can be manipulated in different ways. It's pretty random but patterns will generate themselves and you figure out how to work within them. I have a mini gong, I sampled my cat, just got a little circuit bent Cascio that has been fun, I use a microphone from a cheap Halloween costume and some pretty bizarre records.
OMC: What catches your attention, as in, what qualifies something as a perfect Demix sample?
TD: It's open season. I like when I hear something I've never heard before. I'll take things I don't like and try to flip them into something I do like. Sometimes the perfect sample is pure accident. I like sounds that are dense and moody and get some sort of reaction out of me or scare me.
I watch a lot of movies. I sample from DVDs a lot, because I like how movie scores set the mood and are made to enhance a visual experience. For example, one of my tracks "Electrodes and Blackbelts" (which is on my Myspace right now) was made with many, many samples from the cartoon "Samurai Jack." There's music but also flying arrow sounds and running and robots blowing up playing on and off each other.
OMC: Do you know Aesop Rock at all? Will he be present during your DJ sets at his Pabst show?
TD: I don't know him personally, but I do know his music and Aesop Rock is the greatest rapper alive. And I know while I play in the bar my music can also be played in the lobby, in the theater and backstage -- so for me DJ sets and live sets are two different things. This is an opportunity to play a bit outside my Demix box and play stuff I wouldn't normally play for a lot of people and, potentially, for artists I really dig and, with any luck, add to everyone's experience.
OMC: Do you ever collaborate with anyone locally?
TD: Yes. I've done a lot of shows and played a lot of music with producer/engineer/musician Paul Kneevers. We connect on a pretty noisy level. In a way we make very similar music but with different instruments. We have hours and hours of music we've recorded together to sift through and do something with someday.
OMC: Tell me about your vision for "The Demix Lives"
TD: "The Demix Lives "is going to be a project that lives in the online world. It's, in a way, where The Demix actually lives. I'll still play live and do DJ sets, but I've always seen The Demix as a character. There will be new music, old music, live sets and in the end having everything I've ever done available for download. In a minimal comic book sort of way each track or grouping of tracks will have their own page on the site with unique artwork or maybe a little flash video that will help tell the stories in the music.
I don't have a record deal or distribution. I'll send out demos if I need to, but online is the best way to reach people and I want it to be interesting. The new site will be up soon and around Halloween as well as a new collection of tracks and then we'll see what happens.
In my head all of my tracks or CDs tell a story and I don't know if people really get it or not because it's not all done with words or samples of dialogue; this is another way to communicate what's in the music.
OMC: I read your Death of the CD blog. That said, are you still going to release actual CDs this Halloween, or will it all be via the Internet?
If someone wants to help put my CD out, I am all about it. But right now, my plan is to be all online. I'll give you a business card with my Web address where you can get everything you possibly need, or I'll burn you a CD that you will probably just drop in your iPod or loose in your car. Things have been moving in the digital direction for some time now and you just got to roll with it.
I would love to release vinyl. In my perfect world I would release music on vinyl and when you buy a record you would get a code to download the mp3s and more art online for free. For now I say, take my music please and drop bombs with it all over the Internet!
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”