Con Tex is Boston-based musician and a member of Whitehaus Family Record.
What’s in a name? Why Con-Tex?
Con Tex (spelled like that, with a space in the middle, though I’ve seen it spelled various other ways on show flyers and the like… “Con-Tex”, “Contex”, “Context”, etc.) is kind of a coming-together of several different thoughts I had regarding what I was trying to do with my music. In some ways it’s meant to show that everything I do is my attempt to show the context in which I see the world – my own subjective experience. I think it’s disingenuous to treat your own thoughts/opinions as some sort of objective fact when that can’t ever be the case, even when you might be right. Along with that, I just like how Con Tex seems to signify a lot of different things but in actuality that combination of words doesn’t really signify anything at all. It’s an abstract idea that appears to be a concrete thought.
Last time that I saw you at Cheap Seats you were playing what looked like a giant pipe. What was that? A self-made instrument?
The instrument I was playing at Cheap Seats was an old cardboard tube of some kind (I would guess for some sort of industrial use) with a contact mic attached to the end of it, run through a digital multi-effects pedal. I found the tube just lying around my room one day and thought “What if I put a contact mic on the end of it?”. The way I use it is largely influenced by my friend Raub Roy – an amazing sound artist from Oakland who performs under the name Horaflora. I toured with Raub for a couple weeks in early 2013 and was really inspired by the way he mixes natural and electronic sounds to create these amazing soundscapes by doing things like blowing up a balloon and attaching it to a metal object to capture the sound of the escaping air. Another part of his performance involves blowing into similarly long tubes to capture that sound, like a cross between a DIY didgeridoo and the sound you make as a little kid pretending a toilet paper roll is a horn or something. Anyway, to bring this whole thing full circle, I found out after I had started using that tube in my performances that it may actually be one of Raub’s tubes that he left in my friend’s car at the end of that tour.
Speaking of Cheap Seats / Whitehaus Family…could you talk a bit about each of those, what they are what they mean to you?
Cheap Seats is an awesome monthly performance series at the Cambridge YMCA organized by my housemate Erich Haygun. The way it’s formatted, with many different artists performing 5-10 minute sets back-to-back with no breaks over the course of 2+ hours, is a really interesting (and, in some ways, challenging) way to present a platform for a huge variety of acts from all over the performance spectrum. It can provide an audience for some acts who may otherwise struggle to find one, and it can provide a nice chill spot for all sorts of artists to try out new projects or new material for old projects or just to go to get new ideas. For someone like me who’s always interested in seeing new, weird, cool things (and who revels in the occasional dose of anarchy), it’s definitely something to check out. You can see someone sing a sweet piano ballad followed immediately by an improv noise set or a burlesque show. How could that not be interesting? And I don’t even know if I have words to describe The Whitehaus Family. I’ve been asked about it so many times and I still don’t have a worthwhile answer. I’m not even sure there is one. It’s many things to many people. It’s an intangible entity. It’s an idea more than it is something that can be defined by a group of people or a house. I think, to me, it stands for a community or a support system dedicated to the idea that whatever you want to create or whatever you want to say is worth putting out there. It’s worth doing and it’s worth saying. I wasn’t around the beginning or the formation of The Whitehaus Family Record so I can’t really fully attest to the ideals on which it was created, and in the grand scheme of things I’m still very much a newcomer to this community, despite having lived at the Whitehaus for more than 2 1/2 years now. It existed for several years before I became a part of it and it will continue for many more years after I leave it, if and when that happens. That’s the beauty of it. It’s just a thing that’s out there now to say “do your thing” and to inspire people to believe in what they’re doing. Whether or not someone is “part of” the Whitehaus Family, the idea is that they are kindred spirits in their quest to keep creating and stay dedicated to underground/DIY communities and ethics.