Hello Semantix and welcome to Brutal Resonance! We're starting this interview off with one of my favorite questions: What are three of your favorite albums of all time and why?
Semantix: Right off the top of my head I’m probably gonna go with Numan’s Pleasure Principle, Sepultura’s Arise, and Future’s DS2. Maybe Pleasure Principle is more of a nostalgia thing for me, but numan along with some of the other new-wave from the late 70's - early 80's was one of the first genres of music my dad really got into when he first came to the states, so by the time I came about and was kid, he constantly had Pleasure Principle in rotation. It's really not even that much of a danceable record, it's just so undeniably catchy from the vocals to the guitar/bass work. It also just does a lot of that cool flangey stuff on whatever moog it was at the time throughout the record. Sepultura's Arise is just the perfect metal record. I think that's when they really dialed in on those heavy "groove" parts. It just pulls from metal, hardcore and punk in all the right places. Just a perfect record that can make anyone involuntarily head bang lol. As for Future's DS2, it's just a solid rap/hip hop record from start to finish. Future's also just a very honest rapper about his mental health (in an actual give a fuck way) and his lyrics can be super dark in a genuine, non-gimmicky way, because it's not really all blatantly in your face, which is seen a lot today (honestly across all genres lol). And with that being said, I think he just really brought it home with DS2, I'm always stoked to randomly hear a track from it.
EBM / industrial is a very niche genre, so it's always interesting to hear how someone came across the genre in the first place. What was your first encounter with the genre and why do you love it so much?
Semantix: For industrial/EBM music I think it’s safe to say it was Pretty Hate Machine I came across at some point in high school given how relatively mainstream and accessible it is, which then eventually served as a precursor into eventually finding Ministry’s Twitch. I liked it because it was obviously heavy, but my brain couldn’t categorize it as metal or hardcore, it felt aggressive but made you wanna groove a certain type of way too. And from there that’s eventually when I tapped into the Wax Trax! Records pipeline. I think what gravitated me to it was just the fact it seemed to have this primal way of just making literally anyone involuntarily move in some way or capacity.
And when did you begin creating EBM music on your own? What was your setup like versus what it's like now? What kind of gear do you use?
Semantix: It wasn’t until after years of messing around being in bands I eventually decided I’d give a stab at making electronic music. My younger brother had always produced electronic music, so I think seeing him be able to make music in his bedroom made the idea sound a little more tangible to me. So, I had just saved up some money at the time and bought a MacBook for school, and just started dickin’ around on Ableton and it was all downhill from there lol. It still wouldn’t have been like another 4-5 years later of learning, trial and error, having a folder gigabytes full of bullshit and 4 bar loops that I had finally decided to actually dial it all in and focus on a defined project. I eventually got into hardware synths/drum machines and modular, which at the end of the day isn’t necessary but if you’re like me and you mesh well with more tangible things, the process alone of just twisting knobs and patching cables helps with creativity. I like to switch it up, sometimes go fully out of the box and mess around with the modular, sometimes spend a little more time in the box. That seems to have worked best for me.
The name of your project is a slight play on "semantics", which is defined as the meaning of a word, phrase, statement, etc. Why did you choose this name and what does it mean to you?
Semantix: So, I got my undergrad in mathematics/computer science, and it wasn’t until probably like my junior/senior year that I started learning all of the overlap between mathematics and linguistics. And then a friend of mine recommended Ludwig Wittgenstein and that’s when I really just went down the rabbit hole with linguistics and semantics and how we communicate meaning. So basically, it’s just a really crazy branch of science that interested me over the years and the name looked cool.
You've two other projects that I assume you are involved in, those being Razorbumps and Narrow Head. What made you want to branch out and create this third project?
Semantix: I’ve always been a drummer in bands, so ultimately that generally makes you dependent on the rest of the band when you wanna make music. There eventually came a point when I was in school where nearly all my time was committed to school, but I wanted to make music in the very limited amount of free time I had. So doing a solo project was not only new/different for me but felt like it just made sense.
You've a self-released EP from 2022 called "Mania in the Psychosphere" and a new album out via DKA Records titled "Violent Protocol". Both of these are instrumental records. Do you have any plans to incorporate vocals into your project at any point? If not, why?
Semantix: I’ve thought about it! Maybe eventually, but it’d be in a very, very subtle and limited way. Feel like when it happens it’ll be in a way where I just hear it in my head when I’m working on a track.
What is the overall theme of "Violent Protocol"? Is it just meant to get the dancefloor filled, or did you want to back the old school EBM beats with a message for your fans?
Semantix: The world feels like a pretty violent place. Historically speaking, it definitely always has been but as technology has advanced, information is able to travel instantly to anywhere, so we see or at least hear about all the violence we’re surrounded by constantly thanks to these cool little handheld computers in our pockets. So yeah, the world is pretty shit and it’s very easy to figure that out if you have access to a smart phone. The last couple years have felt like that even more so. So basically, Violent Protocol is just the combination of violence and protocol (as it's used in the field of information/communication theory). But also, yes danceability is usually a key component for most tracks I make, haha.
You've three additional remixes on "Violent Protocol" from Autumns, Balvanera, and Mother Juno. What did these remixers accomplish? How did they change your songs?
Semantix: I love remixes. I love seeing someone else’s “take” or “rendition” of something I’ve created, and how they would see/hear it via their sonic lens. I think each remix accomplished a sick rendition of each respective track that’s unique in their own way.
And what else do you have planned for 2023? Any gigs, other releases, so on and so forth.
Semantix: I plan on doing another release this year or at least a single or two, and maybe even a split, or contribute to at least one compilation. Outside that I plan on doing some gigs here around Texas, LA, and NYC. A bonus would be to make my way to Europe for some gigs!
Lastly, I'd like to wish you the best of luck. I leave the space below for you to mention anything I may have missed.
Semantix: Thank you!
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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