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Mike Textbeak: Waving the Gucci Goth Flag High

A Parallel Planets piece by Tomi Uysingco

Parallel Planets presents Mike Textbeak
in Waving the Gucci Goth Flag High
Story and Interview by Tomi Uysingco

Mentioned: darkness, Rozz Williams, and the nature of influence & culture

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"Many people have seem to have forgotten that a DJ is only as good as the records that he plays. Mike Textbeak has not forgotten, and because of this, he stands as the most important DJ in the modern underground movement." — Nattymari (Mishka Bloglin, May 2011)

And then, no truer words were ever spoken.

Since that time, there has been an incessant boom of “dark” sounding music. So much so that even the mainstream has been mining through this phenomena – we've already gone past the use of unicodes and occult imagery in band names and profiles, now its much of a cliché. But to some, like Mike Textbeak, there is nothing to do but soldier on and keep making music that embraces the darkness whole heartedly, with zero tolerance to irony.

I first heard of Textbeak when I started making music under the monicker KLMBRNG, three years ago. Back then, like everyone else making music in those – real – dark times, the name of my project was still heavy on the use of triangles and crosses. We were part of this online community that's making forward thinking, electronic dance music for the graveyard, and Textbeak's internet radio program TXTBK's CHVяCH XV BяXK3N 7ANGvAG3 was the go to place to hear it. Some people call it witch house, some drag, others gravewave – whatever it has mutated to now, our boy Mike still has his finger on its pulse. Finding himself (along with his band Bath) alongside veterans of the industrial scene Coil, SLEEPCHAMBER, Attrition, and a whole host of others in Bleak's Why Be Blake When You Can Be Bleak? compilation, you know he knows what the hell he's doing.

And it shows.

In Textbeak's program and in his mixes, the old school regulars of dark dance and industrial music intermingle with the newer sounds of the future witches, and much like what Nattymari said in his Bloglin post two years ago, this has done wonders for the credibility of a movement with a name that most people dismiss as a joke instead of a legitimate genre of music. But then again, a long time has already passed since then, (especially in internet years) and netizens have grown more accepting ever since the barrage of microgenres of the last two years – and in the middle of it all is Mike Textbeak, still waving his gucci goth flag high.

Beyond the wealth of contribution Mike Textbeak has made in music and pushing forward the darkness that now has gone stale with lame imitators, the man just doesn't stop there. Like a true renaissance man, Mike has hands on everything. His visual artwork has been part of Necessary Discomforts, a tribute to the late-great Rozz Williams of Christian Death, Shadow Project and Premature Ejaculation fame (have you heard of them kids? GOOGLE IT), he also used to write for Mishka's blog, a clothing brand and hypeblog that in turn supports the music Textbeak and his dark underlings are making.

His new EP would also be #56 of Everything is Chemical Virtual's 7" Series, to be release on November 24th. Mike graced me with an advance copy, and I was listening to the whole thing all day today - lemme tell you, its something everyone should hear. EVERYONE. It also includes remixes by ѦPѺLLYѺN'S ▼ISѦGE, H3X3N and WMX of Bestial Mouths - straight killer reimagining of Textbeak's tunes. Best mark your calendars for its release.

With all that said, read on and hear it from the man himself. Mike Textbeak answers a bunch of my questions, while I try really hard, to no avail, not to sound like some over zealous fanboy.

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Parallel Planets: Tell us and our readers something about how your ties with dark electronic music came about and before you became part of the scene. Give us your short history, in your own words.

Mike Textbeak: "In high school, I was into skateboarding and going to shows. I listened to college radio all the time and also my friends had great taste in music and we all would make music (noise) together on whatever we could find to make racket on. I was just drawn to dark strange alien sounds.

In the time period, the whole dark alternative scene was very magnetic and I just got sucked right up into it. Waxtrax! was huge and industrial/EBM in general was just amazing at that time. That's probably why I always have a soft spot for that sound. Coil really got me and I became obsessed with adulterating sound. I bought a Roland W-30 and started sampling."

Parallel Planets: Who/What influenced you?

Mike Textbeak: "Other than Coil, I was heavily influenced by The Legendary Pink Dots, Skinny Puppy and related side-projects, Cabaret Voltaire, Meat Beat Manifesto, Click Click, Clock DVA, 4AD, post-punk, Warp Records, etc."

Parallel Planets: You've worked with tons of labels and artists, could you pick a favorite project out of all of 'em?

Mike Textbeak: "That's a really tough call because everything I do or work with has it's own character and becomes very independently personal to me."

Parallel Planets: What do you think of the scene now? Has the mainstream completely co-opted the "dark sound?" Or is there just more exposure and aboveground success of the likes of the people in Tri Angle, Tundra Dubs, Aural Sects, et al.?

Mike Textbeak: "It's actually a bit of both, but summarizing in just a sentence or two ignores the nuances of the current situation. The mainstream is just trying to bite superficial elements of the underground, but can't really grasp what is going on. It's hard enough for people within the underground to keep track of what is going on. There is a ton of co-opting back and forth and that is the nature of influence and culture. I really like how chaotic and lawless the art is all becoming. It's kinda like we've all gotten through all the initial shock and uncomfortable introductions, now we can get down to business."

Parallel Planets: What are your thoughts on bandcamp, soundcloud, and all the countless other sites that hosts independent/underground music? Is it serving its purpose or is it detrimental?

Mike Textbeak: "I think Bandcamp is wonderful. Soundcloud is generally very awesome in that it creates a great music community. I don't like certain things about it including how it makes your profile automatically follow some shitty mainstream acts when you make a new profile and that it is really testy about copyrighted material in DJ mixes, etc."

Parallel Planets: Do you have any rituals, virgin sacrifice or whatever, before making music?

Mike Textbeak: "Yes. I have series of charts that I use to start off in weird random ways. Sometimes I roll dice or use cut-up techniques to get my chaotic juices flowing."

Parallel Planets: What other project(s) are you currently working on?

Mike Textbeak: "Bath and Zoa Zoa (with Paul from Zex Model). Just finished a remix for Bestial Mouths and have just been approached by Daniel Myer of Haujobb for a remix of his Architect project."

Parallel Planets: In this planet that we're thriving in—

Who is your alternate ego? "Squilla The Devourer."

Parallel Planets: In an alternate universe where music does not exist—

What will your name be? "Sarcinus."

What do you think you would be doing instead? "Swallowing souls."

More from Mike Textbeak


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