As Venetian Snares, the reclusive Canadian has wooed and reviled people in the breakcore community and beyond with his brand of roughneck junglism, which is usually peppered with enough sardonic humour to take the otherwise razor-sharp edge off. Indeed, there's an element of fun embedded in even the most blistering Venetian Snares tracks. But it's not all about sex sounds and odes to cats—there's more sincerity here than the track titles and even Funk himself would be willing to admit to. But beneath the attitude and infamy, you'll find a very serious and passionate musician—albeit a bit of a weird one. Ahead of the release of his next Planet Mu offering, My Love Is A Bulldozer, I attempted to peel back some of the layers to find out what was going on in Winnipeg.
What inspired you to make My Love Is A Bulldozer?
Wow, that's a pretty broad question. My life inspired me to make that record, I suppose.
When did you start writing it, or what prompted it?
Well it's weird—some of it I wrote in 2010, some of it I wrote last year. So I guess it is sort of like a journal of my life. It's kind of a story, but I don't really want to say what the story is because it makes it not as exciting to listen to if I just reveal the subtext right now.
Which tracks did you write most recently?
Pretty much all of it I wrote last year except for the first one, which is quite old. You see, I started making this record in 2010, and then some kind of weird black hole opened up in my studio and sucked everything into it. So I just put that on as the first tune because it was quite meaningful to me. I did that tune and then everything got sucked into the weird void, which left me a little insane for a while.
Can you elaborate on what this "weird void" was?
OK, my listening spot where I was sitting for the previous eight years, it was as if there was this sine wave running through it where half the frequencies were gone. I had some different theories—maybe it was some kind of time split, or there's some parallel universe that got slightly out of synch with this one, and maybe I'm in the other one hearing the other half of the frequencies. I don't know. I tried all sorts of shit. There is still no scientific explanation for it. I basically had to move my whole studio and set it up again.
Yeah, for real. In that place there is just a void. It's bizarre. And it's right where I was. I don't know what I did to do that, but that happened.
So you're saying "10th Circle Of Winnipeg" was written from this void?
I wrote that first track. Then that happened. So I don't know if it's something to do with that track. I don't know what I did. That was pretty perplexing. I thought, "Maybe all my shit is busted," so I replaced a bunch of stuff. And then I finally did measurements with test mics and white noise at every single frequency, and it literally looks like a sine wave when you put the mics right there. There's no explanation for it. A room can't suddenly just "go bad."
How did you move on from that?
Once I figured that out, I moved all my shit and things got better.
What did you write next?
Well, I was going through some changes and I wrote that "Deleted Poems" tune and—that's a whole other thing I'd rather not talk about—then I fell in love with someone. That was really nice, and is still really nice.
How much of your music is inspired by your personal life?
I'm the kind of person that always writes from a contextual point of view. It has to be something that is relevant to me. I'm not the kind of person that can just sit there and throw a bunch of sounds at things with no purpose behind it, or no correlation with where I'm at or what I'm feeling. So generally that's all my music.
Are silly track titles a way of masking the sensitive context of your music, then?
All my track titles are applicable to what the track is about. But I pay little attention to how something's going to be presented or received while I'm making it. I generally wait a while before I release music. I don't like to think about what somebody fucking thinks about what I'm making while I'm making it. It kind of makes it less mine.
I read that you like to wait until your music "feels like history" before you release it. What do you mean by this?
Generally, if I am releasing something I like to release it after I feel less close to it. Unfortunately with this album I feel pretty close to it—maybe I shouldn't have done that, but I did do that, so here we are.
Are you happy with it?
Yeah, it's something I am very proud of.
Apart from releasing it more quickly than you normally would, have you approached this album any differently to your others?
It feels like a true representation of myself. I'm even singing on loads of songs and I'm just saying what I have to say. I'm just putting it out there.
Can you tell us about the lyrics in "1000 Years"? "Little fingers dipped in magic"—what's this all about?
OK, I had a dream. I had this dream where I was in some mediaeval world. But I was wearing this Styrofoam armour that was painted green, and I had to battle through all this shit. And towards the end of the dream I got to this weird papier-mâché castle that looked like a miniature that someone had built, but it was a huge castle, and I went inside and I started singing that PJ Harvey song "To Bring You My Love" but with a gigantic voice. I just had this gigantic voice, and it was kind of like a weird epiphany—to get through all this shit and you've arrived at the papier-mâché castle, singing to someone. That was really inspiring and quite the turning point for me, this dream.
Are dreams often a source of inspiration for you?
Yeah. I had so many fucking weird dreams last night. You don't even know. Just completely scrambled. Do you know modular synthesisers? In my dream I was patching bits of every day things in different ways. I don't know. And I kept waking up from that and thinking, 'Why am I doing this?' Maybe that was some weird version of a lucid dream or something. It made no sense. But it's probably because I kept waking up and then playing with a modular synth and then going back to sleep.
Tell me about your relationship with Planet Mu and Mike Paradinas.
Let me try and remember. I guess in the late '90s I released a record on this Minneapolis label called History Of The Future, this record called Greg Hates Car Culture. I guess Mike was on tour in the US and he listened to it in a store in Minneapolis, bought it and then tracked me down and just asked me if I wanted to release some music on his label. He sent me some other records he put out. I guess it was pretty much the beginning of that label, too.
Man, I thought he was weird at first. He'd phone me up and be like, "I'm listening to your music in the bath." I'd be like, "What? You listen to that in the bathtub? What are you talking about?" We became pretty good friends over the years. He's a nice dude.
Is it true you might not have released anything if it weren't for him?
Most of my music I don't release because I don't really give a fuck. But sometimes there'll be something he has for years and will just be bugging me to release. And then eventually, if I'm in an agreeable mood one day [laughs], I guess I do.
Is there anything you've made that you've really had the urge to release?
I never have that thought. I'm never like, "Oh my God, people need to hear this." I fucking hate releasing music.
I don't know. It's mine. It's mine. And it's less mine when it's out there, you know. And then I have to start thinking about things like how is it going to be received. I don't know, it taints my feelings towards it I guess. But whatever, I should shut the fuck up because it could be worse [laughs]. Who am I to be complaining?
Do you resent your old material—the music that has been out there longer?
I think what bothers me the most is that when you do release music, people's reaction to it is that your intention was to make a product for them. Which is not my intention whatsoever, with anything. I think just dealing with that is what bothers me. People's ideas of "Oh, I want this to be this for me," instead of "Maybe I'm going to listen to this and see how this makes me feel, or how this presents a new idea to me."
Is there a record, released or unreleased, that is particularly special or important to you?
This new record is pretty special to me, I have to say.
Because it is relevant to my life at the moment. It is still resonating.
Back to the origins of the album—was 2010 a significant year for you?
2010 was a great year for me, right up until the end when that happened. Then I felt pretty lost for a couple of years. It felt like without music, everything in my life was just falling apart. I realised music is a huge part of me; I need that to get by. That's how I express myself. I don't really express myself so well speaking to another human being, let's say [laughs], as you may have noticed. But really that is my major mode of expression, just constantly creating music. Without that, man, life sucked.
Is this maybe the most personal record you've written?
Likely, yes. It's likely one of the most personal records I have ever written.
Does that then make you even more sensitive to how it's going to be received?
Yes, unfortunately it does.
Do you have a lot riding on this record?
No, I'm not going to pay attention to what anybody fucking thinks about it.
How does this compare with your last record, Poemss? Can you tell us about the project and working with Joanne Pollock.
It's really great making music with Joanne because it seems like our minds are just really different when it comes to approaching music, so we're constantly surprising each other and just playing off of that. It's nice to let go of your music ego, or your sense of wanting to control the direction of music, and just flowing back and forth with another person. We made a bunch more music too, since releasing that record.
Was this a whole different process, making the record with Joanne, compared to your other collaborations?
Yeah it was. With Speed Dealer Moms we play completely live. With Joanne, we actually use the same software, this program called Renoise. So we both know that super well, so it's super easy to go back and forth with each other.
What does Poemss mean to you?
That's generally where I am at right now. That's some of the most fun I've had making music.
Is it fair to say that your music has matured?
Maybe. I am sure I am constantly maturing, musically. I don't know if I am that mature of a person [laughs].
What have you learnt the most in your 20-something years of making music?
I don't know how to answer that, oh my God. That's giving me weird anxiety. I don't want to answer that question. That's like a huge question. How could you even choose what you've learnt the most from a span of 20 years?
It's a big one.
Hopefully I've learnt to produce music better.
Oh come on, you can do better than that.
I've learnt that I need music. I need it or I will whither away and turn into a cackling maniac, living between the carpet and the floor.
Do you have any regrets?
No regrets. Fuck regrets. That's like camping out in the past. Who wants to do that?