Million Brazilians interview
Mysterious Maine-based group is celebrating over a decade of sonic fermentations, ritual rubs and mysterious perfumes. Today they are starting a U.S. West Coast Tour.
You are leaving for U.S. west coast tour. Are you excited to play?
Grant Corum: Totally! It’s been eight years since Million Brazilians have toured the west coast. Jones AKA Bill Doob, our original rhythm man is joining us. It’s great to cruise down the coast where it all started together.
What kind of material will you be presenting?
We’re presenting selections off the Urban Fossickated Octave album that just came out on Feeding Tube Records along with some new compositions. It’s heavy on wind, brass, organ and electronic elements that form a fully free-flowing and expansive immersion which is the emphasis. The composition is an ode to the late visionary painter Paul Laffoley and his work by the same name. The album could be interpreted as a lament, but the music is not downer and intended to be a search through an imaginative exploration of new possibilities. Laffoley explains that ‘fossick’ means to search for a gem in abandoned zones that have been typically picked over, and goes on to say that “every culture, philosophy or religion is based on the thought that we, have the human race, have been forsaken, yet still have the possibility of finding a path back home, if we look again for clues in places that others have ignored or that are not so brightly lit. An urban octave is the harmonious secret group of a limited number that conducts the actual search. The image of the flying saucer is that of the alien that comes to help us out of our natural alien hood.”
You released quite a lot of material since we last spoke in 2013. Volcanic Gremlin Magnet, Poderoso Monicato, Slip Enchantments, Red Rose and Obsidian, Geodelphic Jazz Nocturnes, Strange Oasis and probably much more has been released. Would you like to discuss the mentioned releases?
Sure. Let’s see… Volcanic Gremlin Magnet is collaboration between nomadic pianist Thollem McDonas playing the volcanic gremlin style within the Million Brazilians Wet Dry Jungala terrain. The result was truly explosive! To quote Thollem on this one, “for freaks only!”
Poderoso Monicato and Slip Enchantments are both from same sessions and are intended to be listened to as an entire album .. these are movements about disintegration and reshaping, and meditations on masterful spirits….. These albums were produced right before our uprooting to Maine from the Pacific Northwest, where we were stationed for eight years, and I think that shifting into a drastically new location is felt throughout the recordings all as well.
Psychic Sounds Ensemble was recorded at the Smegma house in Portland, Oregon and features Ju Suk Reet Meate and Obliva from Smegma, Birch Cooper and Brenna Murphy from MSHR, David Morgan Suzanne Stone and myself creating some wild sonic concoctions.
Strange Oasis is the first remote recording we made when we arrived in Maine. Shaver visited Stone and I, and we headed out to a waterfall tucked away in a nearby forest. We felt out the land and vibe of the landscape, the way one does when they go to perform live in any space. Throughout the album you can sometimes hear the audience of white noise by the waterfall, rocks plopping into the water, and wind calling. The name and writing is from Rosaleen Norton’s necronomicon.
Geodelphic Jazz Nocturnes… the name really describes it best… and is a live series we hosted during the Spring as a collaboration with the nomadic jazzman Toussaint St. Negritude.
Red Rose & Obsidian was the first studio album we cut after landing in Maine. The cover art by Muti Klarwein really describes the musical style well… Leyline Rock. The fantastic Lullabies for Insomniacs label curated by Izabel Caligiore, approached us about releasing this one.
Are any of you involved in any other bands or do you have any active side-projects going on at this point?
Yeah, for sure! … Suzanne performs solo as White Gourd, which is a long running multi-dimensional ritual tarot presentation often infused with a variety of sounds from swords, sax, piano, gong… kinda like Hildegard von Bigden making dank pagan music for this age. She’s working towards performing all the major arcana cards. Bill Doob has been playing the Inspired School of Astral Music for a while which is more like ambient explorations… almost like… in the vein of J.D. Emmanuel guided trance techniques, but with a crypto-paranoiac tinge on some albums. Shaver keeps really active in a bunch of Portland, Oregon based bands … one track I recently heard has a pretty tuff stuff African Head Charge vibe.. they’re called Galaxy Research… I’m going catch them live later this week with Idaho Joe Windslow … speaking of, Joe has always been our ghost member … and is always great when he appears in all his incarnations… lately he has an abalone headdress and has a super fresh water funk album called Sirening Tidepools he’s premiering at the Hollywood Theater for Psychic Sounds 10 year anniversary show hosted by Mississippi Records and Church of Film. And Bob New, our local rhythm man in Maine, is currently working on stripping 50 pianos down to the inner metal structures & strings to spread about in circle on his land for the wind to blow through, and people to play on. He also has amassed a large collection of neanderthal stone tools and a wall of exotic poisonous snake pelts within the last couple years.
I’ve performed with Spencer Clark as Typhonian Highlife and working for the last 5-6 six years on producing the original recordings, currently called Typhonian Entertainment Logos, that led up to the World of Shells album.
Universe B is the new solo expressions in works for the last 3 years … I played a few Universe B tracks live for Spencer’s ‘Avatar Blue’ expo with Lieven Martens Moana, Francesco Cavaliere and James Ferraro last year in Antwerp, and have released several tracks before that as The Orchardist on Nonlocal Research. It’s star knowledge green house in the works…
More recently though, that I’m also super stoked on and revving up for … is Timelash, a duet with Nicolas Carcavilla aka Ambassador Dulgoon out of Chile. We are releasing the debut self-titled album on Hare Akdod and the epic Morphology of Wonders on Aguirre Records, both out of Belgium. This is supreme sci-fi toon-cumbia hi-fi sfx in motion! We’re touring with Star Searchers across Europe from late April to early June and it’s going to be INSANE! Last I heard, we’re performing at planetarium in Portugal which is a dream come true.
Can you share some further details how your latest two albums Strange Oasis and Urban Fossickated Octave were recorded?
Strange Oasis was recorded live above a waterfall in Maine. We brought those recordings back to the Ro-He-Ge show space for further treatments and had a second live response session to the remote recordings. The result kind of fused the natural surroundings with the energies of the land we were newly adapting to.
Million Brazilians performed at Space in Portland, Maine in 2016 I think… and right after the performance, Caleb Mulkerin leaped on stage and introduced himself. We were already deliberating how to engineer and record all the new material. We received a record in the mail from Big Blood a couple weeks later and after listening were like, “This is our man!” … He was stoked, even though we didn’t even really know each other, and hadn’t ever worked together previously, we just went from there… We recorded right off the Belfast Bay within the Ro-He-Ge house. Caleb drove up from Portland, Maine with a full studio rig in the back of his ride and a coffee percolator set up, and went all night producing a couple sessions. We cut two recordings that became Red Rose & Obsidian and Urban Fossicakted Octave. It was total magic… he’s a fantastic engineer and producer and human and it just clicked… an amazing experience had all round that has since made a permanent gelling of the minds and friendship.
Do you often play live? Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you’ve had a chance to play with over the past few years?
Million Brazilians plays rarely these days since the core members are all spread out. Two of the members live in the Pacific Northwest, one in the Bay Area, and two in far Atlantic Northeast. Usually we hit the road after a new album releases. So once every 1-2 years I guess. We’re open to play shows whenever though if we can make it happen!
For personal favorites… I’m sure we’d all have different excited choices for favorite live band experiences within the last few years that we’ve played alongside of … I would say, for Suzanne, the Sun Ra Arkestra, and me … J Ashley Miller gigs like Metatone with Calvin Arsenia in Kansas City was tight, Pedestrian Deposit at Soma Daze festival in Maine flexed hard, MSHR always great, Carlos Gonzales performances, movies & comics … he’s Russian Tsarlag, Embassador Dulgoon, Anoushe’ Shojae-Chaghorvand, Spencer Clark is great … all fantastic… I’m sure there’s many more I’m forgetting at the moment.
“Million Brazilians has always been a shared common vision for each era and album”
How about your label? Psychic Sounds released quite a lot of material. Sonic Fermentations (Psychic Sounds Ensemble), Perfect Prey (Mummy Dust Trippers), Hydrorion Remnants (Embassador Dulgoon) and much more including your solo project Corum.
We’re taking a break this year from production to focus on a new radio show called ‘Lost Discoveries’ broadcasting out of Belfast, Maine featuring many guest djs, musicians, writers, and artists from all over the world. We have some great interviews coming up with Aaron Dilloway, Trulee Grace Hall, Nonlocal Society and Christopher Forgues. We’re still going to keep pressing wax, but taking a much needed break, after 24 straight releases, to try some new ideas and start preparing for the next big round of the library later down the line.
How do you decide what stays on your label and what you want to release on other labels?
We’re always looking for new forms in sound and ways to play with that. It’s gotta be unexplored territory. For the contemporary releases, it has has a lot to do with having a shared experience together. For the reissues, it’s always been when someone from Psychic Sounds that finds a obscure recording that we all get excited and into… once we’re all behind it… we then decide if it’s worth the work and expenses to put into vinyl production. If someone is willing put their sound out to us, understands the labels aesthetic arc, and proposes an idea we can all work on in person, then it’s more likely we’ll make it happen.
For other labels… whatever makes sense for label’s vibe and curation. In the same way mentioned… We ultimately just want a home that makes sense for our sound and seek an outlet that truly believes and understands the vision we’re currently aimed at and work hard to promote it alongside us.
It’s almost impossible to go through your whole discography. Such a variety of releases. How are you able to work on so many different projects?
At this time of our life… we’ve been fortunate enough to carve out a place that allows for us stay in pretty constant motion of creation. It’s a lot of work, but it’s what we want to be doing and have been working hard to get to this point our whole life. It’s definitely a labor of love. We really feel inspired by people who’ve taken risks, sacrificed along the way, supported other like-minded endeavors when it counts and put everything they have into their vision to make truly amazing art. Sometimes we have to remind ourselves to keep that perspective and know there are others also keeping the currents alive. Never stop sculpting your own statue no matter how crude or small.
What’s the main difference between Million Brazilians and other projects you’re involved with?
Million Brazilians is the band, and the other projects are often solo works or collaborations in simplest sense. Aesthetically and the way the music or sounds are approached, Million Brazilians has always been a shared common vision for each era and album. With solo works or collaborations its usually been more private experiences that are translated into works of sound.
– Klemen Breznikar
U.S. WEST COAST – FOSSICKER TOUR
February 27 – Portland, OR @ Hollywood Theater
Mississippi Records & Church of Film present
‘Psychic Sounds 10 Year Anniversary concert’ featuring slideshow retrospective story by Eric Isaacson full curated video collage by COF / light totems by James Devereux Tait with live score by White Gourd / Inspired School of Astral Music / Idaho Joe Windslow / The Tenses Trio / Lavender Flu Million Brazilians (Original line up of Stone / Jones / Shaver / Corum) | Tickets for sale here | Event page here
March 4 – Arcata @ Miniplex w/ Black Plate
March 6 – L.A. @ Dublab for a Psychic Sounds special!
March 7 – L.A. @ Non Plus Ultra w/ Sun Araw, Florina, DJ ARB
March 11 – Santa Cruz @ Sub Rosa w/ Village of Spaces
March 12 – Los Altos @ KFJC 89.7 (live video & music broadcast / streaming)
March 13 – Oakland @ Liberty Hall, O.W.H. Studios (1485 8th St.) for Bug TV live public filming
March 14 – San Francisco @ ATA for Other Cinema
Psychic Sounds Official Website