Interview with DJ Dog Dick

Max Eisenberg  (DJ Dog Dick/Dog Leather) is a noise artist and illustrator currently residing in beautiful Bushwick, Brooklyn. Fusing untraditional crooning “rap”-esque vocals with rhythmic noise, DJ Dog Dick creates energetic tracks flavored with grease, stink and slime. You could call DJ Dog Dick a little bit ‘fun’ but that does not mean that Eisenberg does not take his project seriously. Eisenberg invited me back to his studio-where he also lives and works as a superintendent- to talk about “idiot savant-garde”, moving to New York City and what it takes to push one’s work to the next level.

Jane: What were you like when you were a puppy? When did you begin to make music and illustrations?

Max: When I became a teenager I was just smoking weed… And crack… and shit. No, not for real. But for real, I did do a lot of drugs in high school and didn’t give a fuck.

I was a graffiti artist, but I was not very good at it. I didn’t know I had much artistic talent until I drew a portrait of the RZA for an art class. We had an assignment to draw a picture of someone that we admired, and I drew the RZA from Wu-Tang Clan in blue-purple oil pastel. Life Size. It was damn good and immediately I became the art star of the school. From that point on I would skip many of my other classes and just sit in the art room and draw. Mostly portraiture. I knew then that I wanted to be an artist.

Shortly after I graduated high school (class of 2000) I discovered the American noise scene and there I matured into a full-grown dog. Eventually.

Portraiture displayed in Eisenberg’s dog house

Jane: What was it like to move to Baltimore from St. Louis? What did it feel like to leave everything that you knew to collaborate with Nautical Almanac and tour with Costes?

Max:  I got to play all these huge shows opening for one of the most mind blowing performances I’ve ever seen (Costes’ Holy Virgin Cult http://www.costes.org/usindex.html) and I had never played solo before that tour! I REALLY had to get ALL my shit together for that one. It was a crazy ‘throw myself into the fire’ deal and there I first realized the rewards for taking a big risk with life. You buck up and face the unknown, you just do it. The rewards for that are so vast.
After moving to the East Coast I had it made. I joined Nautical Almanac, we toured Europe, we recorded Cover The Earth, we toured the US. That was my alternative to going to art school. Those were my formative years as a young adult. Learning the craft of music, performance and art under the guidance of older artists I respected. Honing the rawness into what became DJ Dog Dick.

Envelope filled with money from 18 Java street eviction show. DJ Dog Dick played along side Mykki Blanco and Pictureplane and others. It was the hottest, sweatiest, loudest show I have been to in recent memory.

Jane: You have collaborated with many other artists… Dog Leather (w/ Griffin Pyn of Sewn Leather), Rubbed Raw (w/ Robert Francisco of Angeldust and M ax Noi Mach)… How have these collaborations affected DJ Dog Dick?

Max: They have been vital to Dj Dog Dick. I learn so much from my peers. In collaboration both artists always walk away having learned something- even if the collaboration doesn’t manifest into what you had hoped. It works to strengthen your personal vision and [create a] collective vision.
Working with Griffin… He has influenced me greatly, taught me things and I know that I have informed and influenced him. You know there is this other cool person out there and you’re both flying a flag of allegiance. But you retain your individuality. I like to work with people.
It’s hard though, in the noise world and the art world… Or whatever this world is… Everyone is SO individualistic. Like Griffin, and I, for instance. Griffin is fucking Griffin. And me too… We both have diva meltdowns… In a way we are the most imperfect pair to work together. It’s amazing that we get shit done. But we’ve gotten amazing stuff done. Through the toil. Sticking to it. Compromising. Sometimes it’s a fight. You spar until you create something and I think that is beautiful. I will always be excited to work with people who inspire me. Anytime that I get the opportunity to do that, I jump on it.

Jane: How did the collaborative track with Antwon [“tramp on a jumpoleen”] come about?

Max: Antwon and Dog Leather have been communicating for a while. We like each others shit and it was like, oh, duh. Rap on a track. We actually have a few things with him on it that will eventually be out in the world.

Jane: So when are we going to get the DJ Dog Dick LP!?

Max: SEPTEMBER. On Hoss records.

Dog Dick days of summer in New York City.

Jane: dYsgeniX coined the genre of “resmarted” and/or “Idiot Savant-Garde” music. Do you think that DJ Dog Dick could be classified as such? Does DJ Dog Dick fall under this umbrella?

Max: Most definitely. I’ve never been afraid to play the part of the fool. Why would the best art just be a flattering reflection of the artist? I don’t buy into that. It’s not raw enough for me. You need to show the awkward stupid parts of existence as much as you need to show the brilliant, austere parts. Otherwise, I literally do not give a shit about it. There is not a person I know that is absolutely all one way or another. There is not a person I know well that is not a complete fucking contrary freak formation. Especially this generation.  In Western culture we have so much crammed down our throats that it is impossible to not be influenced by the whole host of American pop culture.
Also, so I’ve heard, “Idiot Savant Garde” was actually coined on the first Wolf Eyes Tour in Europe. They kept seeing posters for their shows that said “Idiot savant garde” and Dilloway was pissed about it.

Jane: I DID NOT know that.

Max: He wasn’t into it. Not at all.Hahaha. Dilloway rules.

Eisenberg and his new skyline.

Jane: So, New York City is certainly a very different artistic climate from Baltimore. As someone who has been labeled as a “lifestyle artist”, how has your move affected your creative process and art?

Max: I was in a hypnotic trance in Baltimore.  I believed I had to maintain this low sort of living where everything’s super cheap and there’s a “supportive community” around.  I was too comfortable. The idea of moving to New York City seemed impossible. How could I move to a place, pay crazy amounts of rent and still be creative? But once I made the move, which happened almost accidentally, the whole hustle here supercharged my capabilities as a human artist. Right away got me taking things a lot more seriously.
If you do not work hard here you are going to fail. So the vibe in the city is total hustle and people do well here. Even every little shitty bodega is doing good. Artists who want to play any show at any level can find any show at any level to play. There are so many galleries to do whatever, Everywhere you go, you meet insane people doing their fucking thing and it is so inspiring.
It freaks me out to imagine… Almost a year after I have moved here… How I would be if I did not move to New York. I think I would be very, very depressed. I’ve one hundred percent learned the life lesson that it takes risk to get big pay offs. To succeed, you need to take risks. It is not going to feel like success unless you do. You need to walk into that void. You’ve gotta intuitively step into it, with a leap of faith. It’s great being here. I feel like my capabilities are completely expanded. I feel like I see the bigger picture and I see that it is a lot more malleable to my fucking control.

Superintendent Dog Dick.

Jane: Hey what is your technical job description here? Is it keeper or janitor or?

Max:  I am the superintendent. A janitor, rent collector, emergency tender to…

Jane: But this place is your studio, your home and your employment. And this is your last month here. What is your plan after this?

Max: Well, I am going to do something I have been needing to do for a while and that is to step into the unknown again. I am going to be staying a lot in Far Rockaway Beach… With the homies… Working on a live show… I also have a residency in a studio this August. I only have a few possessions here. So I will have what I take on tour, and it will be awesome and hopefully people won’t be sick of me hanging out at their place.

Somebodies gotta do it.

Jane: What is the next big move? Where do you see yourself in a year?

Max: Honestly, I want to be playing Saturday Night Live. In a year I want what I am doing and what my friends are doing to be on another level. We are doing our shit, we are taking it as seriously as we can and we have the support to bring it to the next level.
Fame is tantalizing, but as an artist you really just want to be able to make your work as realized as possible. There’s no ceiling to our imaginations. If traditional success is achieved you can do bigger shows with backup singers and wasted Muppets on stage snorting zombie dust. I’m fine doing the shows where I am doing the thing I have been doing for a decade… Just me on stage… But I am more excited to up the production on it, a lot of talented people working together on one thing. Epic. I want to succeed and I want to see all my friends succeed. I am committed to that.

Jane: Who are some of the artists that you are rooting hardest for right now?

Max: The whole Far Rockaway gang… Yellow Tears, Pharmakon, John Mannion, dYsgeniX, constantly getting my mind blown by that scene. My brothers Sewn Leather & Narwhalz(of sound). ANGELS IN AMERICA!!!!! SHAMS. Lil Ugly Mane. ANTWON. PICTUREPLANE. MYKKI BLANCO. Fucking GATEKEEPER is SOOOO sick and I’m super bummed their album release show is the same as night 1 of the Burning Fleshtival. Autre Ne Veu is tite as hell. TOTAL FREEDOM is the best DJ I’ve ever seen & he’s playing the next Gh3ttoGothic party… BATMAN DARK KNIGHT RISES will be seen by me at least 3 times in the theater. I’m sure I’m forgetting some shit. JANE PAIN.

Keep an eye out for a new Dog Leather music video featuring Travis Egedy from Pictureplane.

Interview with Vår

Vår: “[is]about the relationship that me and Loke have.” – Elias
Vår are a Danish band featuring members of Ice Age and Sexdrome. Elias (Ice Age) and Loke (Sexdrome/Damien Dubrovnik) began Vår recording songs during breaks at school. On Wednesday, June 13, Vår made a “secret” live US debut as a [newly] full band. The boys flew in from Copenhagen just a few days before their show and locked themselves in the recording studio at Heaven Street Records to write and prepare for their live shows (as the full band had only played together a few times). Next week, they will begin to record their full-length LP, which will be released on Sacred Bones Records sometime later this year.

I caught a voyeuristic thrill witnessing Vår live. The boys were utterly submerged in their music and each other, embracing each other tenderly or confronting the audience together. These four young men from copenhagen posses a captivating force that often lacks in typical “Lo-Fi” “minimal snyth” outfits. The set seamlessly vacillated from harsher noise landscapes to sweet, soft ballads to danceable songs with industrial nods. If you are in New York Sunday, June 17, I would urge you to catch them live at the Glasslands Gallery.

I had a chance to speak with the boys after their performance at Wierd night (a weekly party at Home Sweet Home).

JANE PAIN: Vår began recording songs during breaks at school.  Was this band only intended to be a recording project?

Loke: That’s it. We never had a rehearsal, even for the recordings, so it is very much a recording project.

JP: So was tonight your first live show?

L: No, we played two shows before, but it was years ago and it was quite different from this one.

JP: Does it feel weird to play in front of a live audience?

L: No.

Elias: It was as it was supposed to [be]. It’s all pretty intuitive.

Lukas: I think it felt pretty good.

JP: Is there a direct noise influence to the project?

L: I have had and still have quite a few noise projects. I do a solo project and I am part of a duo called Damien Dubrovnik.

JP: How do you feel that your other projects are similar or dissimilar to Vår?

L: I think there is a connection in the energy. It’s quite different, because I do not consider Vår to be a noise project at all. But in aesthetics and energy, I think it is very similar.

E: I don’t think it is that similar to any of the other projects that I have. I think it is more about the relationship that me and Loke have. An extension of that.

L: It’s more like the sound of hanging out.

JP: It comes across when you guys are playing.

Loke

Chris Hansell: Can you talk about Posh Isolation [Loke’s noise label] a bit?

L: It is about us. Thriving towards some moment that is yet to be seen. It is about energy. I don’t consider it a record label, really. It is what we do and it is towards… An aesthetical energy that seems fitting for living. It’s my life and blood.

JP: Do you think that your reception in the states is different from your reception in Denmark? With the seven inch being out on Sacred Bones?

Lukas: We haven’t seen much of America. This is my first time in America and mostly I have just seen the inside of a recording studio. So I don’t know. I have not signed any autographs yet.

CH: Can you talk about the video for “in my arms”? The stripper is your friend, right?

E: It is my childhood friend that taught me how to drink alcohol and smoke hash when I was a kid. We used to go to the CD store close to where we live. He was a few years older. Both of us would buy five CDs each and hand them off to each other after we had listened to them. That is how I became interested in music.

L: We met him a half a year ago and he lives in Peru now, as a male stripper. He seemed like the embodiment of the energy that we want to capture with Vår. It felt like an obvious thing to shoot some stuff with him and to use it in the video. The plan is there will be a lot more stuff with him in the future.

JP: What is this specific energy that you are going for?

E: what we found interesting with him is a combination of self-satisfaction and a being with a drawing aura.

L: To answer your question, HE is the energy that we are trying to capture.

CH: What New York bands and projects are you into?

E: I like a lot of new punk stuff like Nomad and Perdition and Crazy Spirit. It is nice to see something in New York that seems dangerous again.

CH: Have you heard the Hankwood and the Hammerheads LP yet?

E: Yes, that is another good one.

CH: How about New York noise?

E: I hear names around, Sean from Heaven Street. Cult of Youth. You can tell it is very heartfelt from his side, the way that he thinks is very impressive. Elias friends from Scandinavia tell us that the Redlight district is the whole thing.  That is something I am excited to see, even if there isn’t a show, I want to see the place and meet the people.

L: When people talk about it [Redlight] seems kind of similar to Copenhagen in a way. There is an actual scene, and people care to work together. It is difficult to talk about because I have never been there.

JP: A few people who work together. There are so many projects coming from just a few people.

L: In a sense, maybe there are twenty-five people in Copenhagen, but we are all in each other’s projects. All the noise projects and punk projects have studios in the same building.

E: It is very close knit.

CH: What are some Copenhagen bands that Americans should check out?

Lukas: Redflesh! That’s my band.

E: All of the bands.

Vår will be performing the Sacred Bones Showcase during Northside festival at Glasslands June 17 alongside Crystal Stilts, Amen Dunes, Warthog and more. Tickets are on sale now.

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Four ladies shotgunning beers in a parking lot. Savage Weekend 2012. North Carolina.
Dawn of Humans at 538 Johnson.NYC.

Marcel Du Swamp at the Nightlight. Savage Weekend 2012. North Carolina.
Isabel Gunn at the Nightlight. Savage Weekend 2012, North Carolina.
Motiv-A at the Nightlight. Savage Weekend 2012. North Carolina.