Spencer Clark was one half of the Skaters, together with James Ferraro. He was also in Way Of The Cross with, among others, Jan Anderzén, Mik Quantius and Dave Nuss.
Solo, he made records as Monopoly Child Searchers, Vodka Soap, Typhonian Highlife, and many other monikers. Elementals’ Orrery is his new band, a duo with Nicholas Carcavilla (Emperor Dulgoon). They made their own words, ‘sand space cyber desert court music’ and released their first tape.
“I want to be air and let everything blow with me everywhere”
I’m just back from a week in the UK. When I travel on my own, I go for these music-related tourist traps. In London, I did the “Magical Mystery Tour’, which is an actual bus tour you can take which takes you to different places which marked the music and the lives of The Beatles. I’m not a big Beatles fan, maybe just George Harrison, but I took the bus ride anyway. Then I was in Birmingham, where I took the “Way Of The Cross” tour. This is a tour which takes you to the places related to Black Sabbath. You were in a band called ‘Way Of The Cross’, now that I think about it. I saw a concert at Scheldapen in Antwerp. Anyway, to get to my question: you moved a lot. If I would take a ‘Spencer Clark Magical Mystery Tour’, to which places would you take me, and why? Where did you grow up? What are your childhood memories from there?
Spencer Clark: I grew up from 0 to 18 in San Diego, California. I grew up near this giant park and zoo, everyday while I was taking my baby naps my parents would take me on walks through the giant San Diego Zoo. Outside of the Zoo there is this giant organ pavilion, and throughout my travels through this world I have had these recurring dreams where I go behind this organ theater and follow this path to where there are all these rooms that have within them like objects that I desire. At some point, recently, these dreams evolved into me going to this organ theater and meeting other people that dream in their own respective dream theaters. It seems other people could see their own dream theaters how they looked, but for me I saw them in the organ theater in balboa. I have been making this new record ‘4th World Magazine 3: Neoplatonic Aquatic Symposiums’, a record that deals with neoplatonic dream cults using underground stargate waterpool chambers to receive and send out messages (dreams) and experiences, and how that colors the theory of a holographic universe. For some time I have been travelling all over the place, and I think this activity keeps these types of conversations fluid and manifesting more often, in part because I fall into less cultural trapping from staying in one place too long. My record of my experiences and physically where I might go are different to me. The records of my experiences, the music output like for me is my clothes at the club, like how I represent the reality I see, and like where I actually went, is like not entirely the vibe. The learning experiences from moving between the USA and Europe are vast and very helpful, but I don’t really need to represent that in my expression on records, it seems like that is platform one, and I want to express stuff from platform 2 and 3, like the results of brain tests.
Ok. A music question: I think the first time I saw you live was early/mid 2000. It was (if I remember well) at De Bunker in Brussels. That’s almost 20 years ago. When Picasso talked about the phases in his work, he talked about colors: his red years, his blue years, and so on. If you would have to put your music into phases, what would those be? How did your music and your idea about (making) music change or develop over the years? Do you see an evolution? Should there be an evolution? Or is it as Neil Young said: it’s all one song.
It’s like looking back at these phases is really cool, but while I am inventing new phases the act of too much reflection hinders the feeling of the wind taking me to new realities. But for certain the time James and I spent inventing the Skaters opened up this really huge entire universe that has its own lineage that is being created now. When it started I was so young I would never be able to be cognizant of that, and I think that very fact, of not being entirely aware of what you’re about to create, is the fire of the future, and that wide eyes from then, should be wide eyes from now. The spontaneity is the action that leads to new thoughts and new places in the brain. When three years ago I went to Greece, and woke up after the first night, something in me reacted so quickly, and I went to a bookstore, bought Plato’s Timeaus, then took it to a copy place, laminated two pages, and then took them to an island where I read them underwater. Even the pages I decided to laminate, I vigorously chose them, but then when seeing what they were actually talking about, while being underwater, it was all very clear. By moving so much you create this very honed and reactive intuition that allows you to at first quickly vibe. From this experience of reading Plato underwater it led me much further, like into this world of trying to further understand neoplatonic philosophy, using the holographic universe to enlighten some pretty ancient cryptic thoughts about how the universe grows. That’s all reported in 4th world magazine 3, which comes out in the fall of 2022 on Poole Records. This is the tour I want to have experienced by people I don’t know, the results of being in transit and vibing with earth… It’s a record of a human.
I mailed you because you sent me an email about an album you made with Nicolas Carcavilla. How did you and Nicolas get to know each other? What do the both of you have in common, you think? Nicolas lives in Chile, so how did you make this record? Over the internet, exchanging sound files? Or did you actually meet and sit down to make this record?
Sick Nick, aka Embassador Dulgoon and I met in Belgium I guess, like he is big friends with the other Chilean Tomas, from Nonlocal Research. And when Nick was a young blood, he visited Antwerp when Tomas and Siet were at ECHNUM, and put on shows. We met then. But he is for sure, like Tomas and Siet and many others like a part of the network. And we vibrated eventually overtime, once I heard some music of his that I thought was pretty dank. We somehow decided to collaborate. He sent me the meat, and then I shredded over them in between like Avatar Blue and Fourth World Magazine. Collaborations are so cool, cuz they give you a second life, outside of your intense music life. Like focusing so hard on making things come about can be so confining, and then you get an opportunity to be someone else, it feels really fresh. That’s how ‘Egyptian Sports Network’, ‘Tarzana’, and ‘Etrusca 3D’ were and are as well. Francesco and I have a ‘3rd Etrusca’ we are making where we are both just departing from our stories and making pop music with him singing in Italian. It sounds so mystical, and without just relaxing and letting new realities emerge in a band setting, away from intense solo worlds, you can make new things so fast. It’s really exhilarating. ‘Elementals Orrery’ is super fresh for me, it’s like METALLIC SAND STORM FUSION. I think you can hear in Nicolas’ music the desire for him to be in new levels of reality, and it comes through, and so we can meet there.
While preparing for this interview, I read an interview with you in Gonzo. In this interview, there’s a lot of name dropping, references to library music, Russian sci-fi, and so on. On the other hand, one of the things I always enjoyed about your work were the references to mainstream pop culture: VHS video (Pinhead), FM radio, 80s pop music and MTV. How and why do you want to combine those two words in your work, “high culture” and “low culture”? Or is that a difference you don’t want to make, the difference between “high culture” and “low culture”? Do you just absorb everything and ventilate into your own work? Where does your interest in pop culture come from, you think?
I think in that interview I actually mentioned my feelings about high and low, or what other people term the human output. I just simply don’t like making distinctions between various things that humans do. In the 2000s I didn’t think it’s necessary for me personally to be high, browsing some shit and seeing one aspect of reality as higher than another. They all have gateways. Now that being said, it doesn’t mean I think Neoplatonic Theurgy of Lamblichus is equally deep to Beavis and Butthead, and what is important is that neither aspect is to be a FASCINATION or an addiction. When someone says I am obsessed with so and so, it makes me think that with obsession one can elevate whatever they are into this realm of it being anointed higher than other aspects. And while that is just human behavior, that act of realizing that cultural aspects that you might think are of a lower reality, can also be initiated unawares, and be just as true human experiences, is really important. I learned this primarily from Kenneth Grant’s books, and certainly from spending time with James. The nature of humans as connected to a deeper past, is the awe that we have for all things, not just the stuff that is deemed culturally relevant for the exact moment we are in.
Sami from Fonal made this “A day in the life” series about (mainly) musicians from Finland. If he would make “a day in the life” episode of you, what would that look like? How does a normal day look like for you? Do you have a daily routine?
Again, like I don’t think it’s necessary for someone to see a day in my life, like that’s phase one, we are trying to go phase four for people here, if they want to see an insight into my life, which is already amazing, then go to the recs, that’s phase 4. Everyday life is private for me, but it does happen that like overtime people who heard your music or met you at a show, well, you’re both piqued by each other’s vibe and then you do end up spending like real life moments with one another, I super love that. To have the music end up connecting you to people that you can understand each other’s spontaneity together. That’s like the twin springs of evolution. And as far as wondering whether I am dedicated enough to my actions in making records, the proof is in the pudding. That’s up for people who are interested to determine.
David Keenan said: if an artist is not compulsive, I’m not interested. If you don’t feel like you have to do it, you better don’t do it. Is it like that for you?
Where DK is coming from is always phase 4, always top worlds, and I get what he is saying obviously, he doesn’t want any hobbyist in his life for that. He doesn’t want half timers to be taking up his time. What is it like for me? I am a gemini. I can dip in and out of different ways of being quickly, and become different people, as long as all those people talk to each other enough, I will be fine. But I have no definitive way I want to be, I want to be AIR, and let everything blow with me everywhere.
You said that you prefer to work fast. I have that impression too, when I listen to your music: that it’s very impulsive. That either you do it fast, or you don’t do it. That when you start thinking or analysing, it’s gone. It’s all very intuitive. Think before you act? No, act before you think. Do you see things that way?
Yeah for real, as I have been saying, for my shit to be natural and like nature, I don’t always want it to be too poured over. Not overly edited or whatever. When I first started recording solo, like Monopoly Child and Black Joker, I did it on a hand held cassette. So there was no overdubbing, it had to be all captured live. So, this ended up putting me in a place where I would be trying new tracks really quickly, like in the beginning of each vision, I would just keep laying down basic tracks real fast, and the positive effect of that was that I went far with an idea really quickly. So this was impulsive, but it was also transitory. Like I moved far and fast to places I want to go. But as far as my recording process, whether it was then or now, I can tell you that just leaving your impulses as documents is not enough for me. I think the impulses need to be then given further life, by hearing them for what they are beautifully and painting further into them. Like deifying the abstraction, that must go down. It can’t be either one way or another, it’s always to make phase 4. Since HR Giger’s studio I have done most of my recording in three visits. The first is a long and endless process of inventing new tracks, the beginning visions. By the time that’s done for a specific album, it’s been 6 months probably, of recording a lot. Like 100 songs. The importance of what I learned with the handheld cassette, to go far. Then I go for the second pass, and this one is adding into the impulses and the visions, creating animated life in its origins, then the third pass is master realm, going back over all 100 songs(for example) again and then adding in the golden touches. I guess now there is a fourth realm in the post production making sure I didn’t invent flubber and all its sequels and layer them on top of another into a tough to listen to flubber movie mashup.
I ask you to do interviews via e-mail because I enjoy reading your writing. That’s also why I buy your records on vinyl: because they often have very good and long liner notes. They are a strange mix of “out there” and personal. They are sci-fi short stories. So I was wondering: did you ever write sci-fi? Have you ever written short stories?
I mean 4th world magazine 1, 2 and 3 are all short stories, and the writing is quite short, but with the music and the visuals it’s one longer story, which is still meant to instigate a way of entering into different worlds of juxtaposition. So that while you are reading into some new aspect of humanity you can possibly regard other aspects at the same time, no matter what their worth. It’s honoring your cerebral cortex making connections, and not being afraid of what those connections might make. It’s the lightning of fantasy, which in it’s ernest form is for me a high level of reality, phase 4, like Goethe’s ESF, EXACT SENSORIAL FANTASY, he studied nature and realized that what god gave humans that seemed to be other than animals, was our ability to take information or visuals into our minds and than allow them to grow, inwardly, without making matter. That’s the brain, that’s our phase 4. It’s a gift from god.
Spencer Clark Facebook /Bandcamp