I think 2019 was the first year I didn’t feel like a fraud. I didn’t discover underground music at a young age. Whenever I hear people say they heard Whitehouse or Bikini Kill at eleven or twelve, I’m shocked. I was jamming Nickelback and entries from the Now That’s What I Call Music series at that age. Perhaps the entirety of my life has been a reaction to being raised in a sheltered environment, and then trying to make up for my lack of knowledge and experience – taking in as much culture as I can in the hopes I never hear someone say “How do you not know about this?” Imposter syndrome. And at twenty-nine years old, wrapping up 2019, I think I’m done with it.
I’m at a point where I’m not making art or curating it to gain credibility – I’m doing it because I have to, and because I think it makes the world a less shitty place to be. I have nothing to prove, but I have a lot of art that I need to make, and people for whose output I need to advocate.
I’ve also become enamored with the grind. The daily, unsexy chores are sacred – mail order, accounting, loading your car with three hundred pounds of records, driving to the next town with your suitcase seatbelted in the passenger seat. This is where the magic happens. You line up enough grinding, then look back over the year, and get to see how much has transpired.
In 2019, I released my first album Close, comprised of music I made on my synthesizer. I remember when I recorded it back in October and November of 2018, I couldn’t believe that those sounds were coming from something I facilitated. It didn’t feel like something like that could have come from me – like I wasn’t deserving of those sounds. I couldn’t have made them. But I did make them, and that’s when the thought came to me – “I’m a musician. I’m an artist.”
It seems weird to have that idea enter my consciousness, and even weirder to write that out, but I think that’s when my imposter syndrome fell away.
In February 2020, Ryan Hall of Whited Sepulchre is releasing my next album Fairchild Soundtrack + Border Land, which is the first time someone who is not me has put out something of mine on vinyl. It’s a huge blessing, and I’m beyond grateful that anyone would want to put that kind of time and money into something I’ve created. The responsibility goes both ways – just as I trust Ryan with those recordings, Ryan trusts me to put in the legwork. Like the grind, that bond is sacred.
Which leads me to my next point – I’m going to be releasing a lot of music from other artists on my label American Dreams Records. This November I had the opportunity to put out Forest Management’s After Dark. Composer John Daniel has become a dear friend of mine, and I think we did a great job tag-teaming the work on this one. It’s set up the next round of releases for the label, too, and given me more confidence that I can do a good job for the artists who trust me with their work. This March I will release Lapse In Passage by Chicago’s Mute Duo, who pair pedal steel guitar with drums and percussion; in May, Red Summer by long-running gospel industrial band ONO; later in the year, records from Chicago industrial project Civic Center, a record from pinball enthusiast and noise artist Evicshen, Chicago electroacoustic artist Itsi, French-via-Iran electroacoustic duo 9T Antiope, and a few more. I hope you come along for the ride.
Anyway, the mix I made is a lot of music I loved in 2019 – much is blended together, and I included some field recordings and some synthesizer tunes of mine. There’s so much good art out there, it’s hard to breathe. When I think about that, it makes me happy to be living right now. I think things have always been pretty barbaric for people, and probably will continue to be so, but at least now we have penicillin and easy access to a lot of creation.
Nivhek – Walking In A Spiral Towards The House (Side C)
Field Recording Of Petrol Darling 7″ Assembly
Jordan Reyes – Guileless
Billy Woods / Kenny Segal – Checkpoints
Rafael Anton Irisarri – Decay Waves
Shasta Cults – Looks Frozen
Mach-Hommy ft. Tha God Fahim – Mozambique Drill
Rudolf Eb.er – Mein Leib (My Cadaver)
Caterina Barbieri – Fantas
Lt. Colonel Cooter – Experiments In Water-Based Interrogation Techniques
ONO – Live 8.20.19 (Unreleased)
Military Position – Excerpt From Side B of A Woman’s Work Is Never Done
9T Antiope – An End On Itself
Hiro Kone – iahklu
Seki Takashi – I Don’t Have An Umbrella
Bodyverse – Pink Sunsets Were Very Calm
Ka Baird – Pulse
Field Recording of Plane Boarding
Field Recording of Snoring
Field Recording of glitching DVD, slowing down video
Field Recording of a pizza restaurant in Easton, PA
Field Recording of getting keys duplicated at Devon Hardware
Jordan Reyes – Killing A Monster (Unreleased)
Bands of Hassle Fest 7 – includes ONO
The Leaf Library Italo Calvino Disco Mix – includes a track by Hiro Kone
A Conversation with Jordan Reyes of American Damage (via The Deli Chicago)
9+1 Q&A with Jordan Reyes (via Last Day Deaf)
Jordan Reyes Walks a Haunting “Crooked Road” (premiere) (via PopMatters)
Introducing American Damage (via Tabs Out)
Premiere: Petrol Darling – “Ô Reine” (via Post-Trash)
Catching Up #5 (via Industrydump)