Kraven Brainz (New York/Leitrim)
Sonic Surrealism from Kraven Brainz
Species 2015 was afraid, tormented, and monster-ated as Kraven Brainz performed some live insanity soundz full of dark, intrieging, and tormental noise… Journeying into a sonic surrealism landscape of horrific and comical noise…
An Interview with Kraven Brainz
- Tell us a little about yourself as a Musician:
First of all I think music is the language I communicate thru most fluently. I think words can be used to to tell a story with both truth and lies, but music transcends these choices and cuts straight thru into one’s inner self and understanding of the world around them and their place in it. I, as I think most people do, want to express my unique understanding of the universe and portray my understanding of it as best i can in an attempt to inspire and educate myself and other people about ourselves thru my experiences as well as entertain…
- You conceptualized Species with your wife, Artist MyfanwyNia, Tell us a little about how the Species project came into existence…
It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years! I grew up in New York in the 1980’s and was into the Goth scene since then. For the last 23 years I have lived in Ireland (the last 15 in my currant location) and have lost touch with the scene due to my migrations. I Knew there was a scattered ‘murder’ of Goths in Ireland but i didn’t find much in the way of Gothic gatherings because of my solitude lifestyle. I wanted to get myself more involved in the scene and add my own creative outlook on how events could be run, so I set out with the hope of creating an event encompassing the Gothic scene in Ireland with a highly collaborative element and a focus on the Gothic arts. I envisioned an event where Irish and international talent could meet and showcase their craft collaboratively with the hopes that it could unite and elevate the scene to the benefit of all involved, and with the ongoing project of my homestead being developed as an art and music center for creative events, this gave me the opportunity to initiate my idea. I decided it was time for my ‘Species’!
- Is there a story behind the name ‘Kraven Brainz’?
I am a big zombie, intelligence and having fun fan, and my music tries to portray that. I think a band name should be a quick look into what you will find in listening to it, so the name should do that. Kraven Brainz has multiple mental images for me. One, Kraven Brainz could be taken as craving brains as zombies do. Two, it can be taken as “craving brains” as in a desire for intelligent thinkers. Three, the word Kraven is akin to the Gothic horror writer Wes Craven who thru the use of the same word can conjure the feelings of his writings. And four I misspelled both words in an attempt to have fun with it and be somewhat original. Oh, and also the word Craven is a type of insanity witch i think could describe my music!
- How long have you been making music and what drives you to do it?
I’ve been making music since my heart began beating (as I consider the heart beat to be the first music). But really, I grew up in a house that had a piano in it and although i never took lessons I played around with it often and developed my own style gradually. As I grew my mother noticed my tapping on anything around me and decided to get me a drum kit for my 10th birthday. I took lessons on that for about 2 years then continued playing drums on my own and with other musicians and continued developing those skills to this day. I think the drums where of infinite assistance to my development of musical expression as timing and rhythm is the foundation for all music. I found myself migrating toward musical people as I grew up and played on a number of instruments such as Bass, Flute , guitar, Tin Whistle , keyboards, well pretty much any instrument i could get my hands on because as I said earlier , I think music is the most accurate form of communication and so much fun to do!
- As an electronic musician, do you find the equipment you use liberating or does it create limitations to your expression?
Well both really! There is no way I could include the number of sounds I do if I only played on real instruments, but I feel my grasp of the equipment I use could be immensely greater thus giving me a more natural live presence! Also because at the moment I am a solo musician I use a loop station to create the sound of many sounds at once, allowing me to add noises to enrich the sound. However this tool makes it difficult to let the tune change and progress during a performance as the music would do if each layer was being performed by a live musician. I will however endeavor to add equipment and my ability to use it to my repertoire thus combining my vision and ability to enhance my craft.
- If you could bring other elements to your music through collaboration, what would these be?
Well obviously more musicians and instruments. I have allot of fun performing music as my vision alone, being able to go at it completely whenever I have time, avoiding any clashes of ingredients, direction, and the inherent problems involved with trying to organize rehearsals, but I do feel the end product could be greatly enhanced if I played with other ‘like minded’ musicians because, although I do enjoy my own sound, I think more diversity, if conducted with the love of the end sound, can create a richer, more organic feel, and gives more freedom to evolve a tune in a live situation, also I would very much like to add more “real” equipment such as metal tanks to hit and various things to make more interesting sounds that are being played ‘real time’.
- Which artists have been influential to the development of your sound and what aspects of these inspire you most?
Lots really…Skinny Puppy for their percussive, dark, and creative approach to electronic music. Negativland for their whimsical, thought provoking use of samples, beats ,and noises. The Butthole Surfers for their sheer insanity and grungy grind with an obvious lot of fun being had. Foetus for his full finished sound as a ‘one man band’ . Einstrzende Neubauten again noisy and percussive but with a wide range of ‘real’ instruments, Sonic youth for their haunting melty sound with the freedom to not try and be ‘clean’ sounding and polished , Depeche Mode for their use of synthesizers, arrangements and atmosphere , the cure for their beauty and romanticism, Marylyn Manson for his raunchyism, and Gwar for their stage presence … Also film makers such as Clive Barker , George Romero , Roger Corman , Ralf Bakshi, …Really the list could go on and on…
- We witnessed the experimental and playful use of electronic sound equipment; tell us a little about the equipment you like to use and how you use it?
Synthesizers! Sample triggers, drum machines, microphones with vocal modulators, Guitars, Loop stations, digital delay pedals, and whatever else I can get me hands on for live performances! I set up my abundant use of movie and cartoon samples and synth sounds in a chronological order so I can access them in order as my tune progresses! rite now I am a solo musician so I use a loop station to build up my tunes! I practice building up a specific loop over and over so I can do it live with chosen sounds and samples for each tune and add live elements as the loop holds the backbone… improvising where I can.
- Was there a particular thematic part of Gothic & Industrial culture that captured your imagination for the music we heard from you at Species?
As I said earlier I am a big horror movie fan and I see Goths as an array of beautiful and dark Halloween characters! The use of makeup and clothing is very in alignment with the ‘spooky’ side of our nature. This inspires me to ‘go there’ with my choices of sounds such as screams, melancholy symphonies, heavy low vibrating basses, and smashing and creaking sounds that I think are appreciated by our participants. Also the industrial Genre is very percussive in nature using pipes and chains etc. to make the sounds that let me express this feeling I try to embody.
- What preparations did you do for your performance on the run up to species?
Fwew, What preparations didn’t I make might be a shorter list…. For this event I was organizing EVERYTHING with my wife Harriet! We researched and contacted musicians, performance arts, painters, sculptors, traders, photographers, Bloggers, film makers, stage hands, etc. . I was also in charge of preparing the site with lighting, fences, toilets, a fire circle and wood, decor both around the site and within the performance spaces, accommodation, caterers, transportation, parking, security, and volunteers etc. . I made the set lists and communicated with artists, arranged the sound systems, and set the timetable etc… and thru all this was trying to find time to rehearse my live musical performance as well! My performance as Kraven Brainz was meant to have allot more theatrics involved that I just didn’t have time to refine and allot more art installations around the site that I also didn’t have the time to finalize! It was a very trying and rewarding experience tho! I performed music I had been working on for a while as well as composing new music for my performance inspired by this event and rehearsed it as much as I could, but, because of my love of music and my ability to improvise I wasn’t stressed and am very happy with how my set went down… but next year I will be recruiting allot more of the artists who came to this years Species to help out by delegating some of the responsibilities to those who want to get more actively involved and I am confident that next years Species will be even better and I will have more time to make my performance as Kraven Brainz a bombardment of bizarre and beautiful terror for the senses!
- What part of Gothic culture intrigues you most?
Honestly? The sex appeal of the people. I love the fashion and style of the Goths. That being said I do also have a great love of the music too! I love the dark sinister sounds and dynamic bass lines combined with erotic emotion and creative uses of singing and synthesizers. The look of the people and the music we create and listen to is so in sync . Even as a child I have always loved it thinking that ‘the bad guys’ in cartoons and movies always had the coolest look and lairs! So when I got older I naturally was drawn to the Gothic culture…
- What is your views Gothic and Industrial culture in Ireland today?
It seems to have evolved in that metal and techno have found a melding form in some of it, but I personally am still drawn to the ‘old school’ styles of Goth music although I do like allot of the new stuff. The fashion stills seems relatively consistent and I am happy about that. The people I met at Species (both performers and guests) where very friendly, open minded and also (for the most part) willing to ‘roughing it’ at our mountain side location. This i found refreshing and attribute that to the Irish cultural influence. At Species I found very little egocentric attitudes common in the Goth scene… everyone seemed happy and willing to give each other respect for what they brought here! This I found amazing! As I said earlier I was into the Goth scene since the mid 1980’s in New York and feel I was involved during the ‘birth’ of the scene. In school I was amongst the’ Freaks’ as we where called and experimented with my own individuality by drawing on various styles that inspired me. I found some Goths had the ‘I’m more Goth than you’ attitude, but this made me laugh more than angry, as I feel that to be Goth or alternative means to express your individuality in any way you feel… perhaps there is a specific ‘code’ or ‘style’ one needs to adhere to to be Goth, but I still feel that individuality means you can transcend this and align yourself with any genre you want to express yourself as. Today, both in ireland and america, the ego’s are still there but in Ireland I see more acceptance for each other and a comfort with each person’s individual style… I like that, but either way it still does not influence me in my personal creative expression…
- What parts of Species did you enjoy most?
There are a few elements of ‘Species’ that excite me… one, the fact that I could invite the Goths to my home to perform and interact in what I consider a very beautiful location. two, I really enjoyed seeing and hearing the Goth scene in it’s currant form with the musicians and Dj’s performing their unique talents in a collaborative forum. I particularly enjoyed hearing and seeing the live musicians and performances as I am a live musician myself. And three, I really enjoyed the immense response and excitement I received at the existence of a Gothic and industrial festival in Ireland! There seems to be a demand for such an event and I am really looking forward to seeing Species develop into a bigger, more theatrical, and widespread event with the help of everyone as excited as I am about a Gothic festival in Ireland!!! I would love and welcome any ideas on how to achieve this and encourage anyone with ideas or comments to contact me at any time… This is happening, so lets band together and make it as awesome as we can!!!!