I interviewed Container [AKA Ren Schofield ] so long ago that before rereading it I only remembered three things:
1.) 285 Kent, where the show was originally supposed to take place had been temporarily shut down at the time, and the show was moved to a deli in Bushwick. I interviewed Schofield outside of said deli.
2.) Before Container played, the show was exceedingly awkward. There was a whole youth group dance vibe to the show that I could not shake and the deli remained in operation. Bolder attendees could enjoy cold cuts and a show. I overheard a very young, excited patron exclaim that she was going to “throw a ham in the mosh pit”. Very rare.
3.) Somehow, Schofield persevered the strange setting and delivered such a pummeling performance that the whole place erupted into a frenzy and everyone seemed to transcend above it all. Lights and fog danced through the chip bags along with us. I almost forgot I had been really uncomfortable, but then while I was interviewing Schofield outside people literally groveled at his feet and a limo blasting porn pulled up. These events may have been distracting, but at least they were entertaining and played into the theme of the night (which I would argue what simply ‘what the fuck?’). Then I remembered I should listen to Frak.
[Note: Lupus the Dog, his old tour mascot. Likely around 2011]
That being said, this interview was originally supposed to be my first piece for Impose magazine, but it never ran. The reasons may bring up something that is of interest to some of you, so I will share. I started this blog to share the photos, most of which I took at shows. I longed to share what I had been doing for myself for years. I had to swallow an ingrained inferiority complex because I was not trained and could not afford a nice camera and choose to stick with film when everyone had long since converted to slick digital photography.
After “managing” my blog for a little while I decided that I wanted to start doing interviews. I did my first interview with Pharmakon, who happens to be my sister. [You can read that here] I have always been an avid writer, reader and appreciator and sometimes facilitator of music. I wanted to start interviewing bands, but working with Margaret really shaped how I choose to go about doing it. Margaret insisted that she could approve of my final edit before I posted anything representing her project. At first I was a little annoyed, because I thought the interview was wonderful as it was. I had to remember that she had granted me access to her pathos and blessed me with her first interview, ever. I thought long and hard about how I wanted to conduct interviews in the future and decided that I would always ask bands/artists if they wanted me to send them a final draft of my edited transcript before posting it anywhere and if they did, that I would not publish something until I had approval.
I don’t write about bands or artists to try and hop on the next big thing or anything like that. I take photos and write about things that I love because I love to do so. I interview bands I love because I want to know more about them and try to get them to reveal something about themselves that allows other fans to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for what they are doing. Because of that, I have always continued to pass along my edited interviews to artists so that they can review them, approve them and revise them. I never want to run something that makes an artist feel misrepresented or upset or embarassed.
Sorry if this seems like a tangent, but sometimes I get worried that I will get carried away with wanting to be published and betray the promise I made to myself and anyone who is kind enough to work with me. Well, I guess this lost Container interview is a testament that I won’t. I won’t bore you with any more of the details. Let’s just say that I interviewed Schofield right before a European tour and the final editing fell by the wayside a couple times. But it’s okay for me to run this now, because I am told I have his blessing. And now, without further ado: I present the long lost Container interview. I am not even going to give you any background information besides: the dude who used to perform as God Willing now performs as Container and it’s really fucking good.
Jane Pain: When did you initially become interested in techno and EDM? Was your attraction to the genre develop partially out of experimenting with electronic gear that you had already acquired through playing noise?
Ren: When I first became interesting in starting a project that was more techno based after I heard a song called “losing control” by Daniel Bell. It is a classic minimal techno track. It is a weird track.
I had this groove box thing that I bought when I was sixteen, and just had it around and would play with it occasionally. I got it in my head to do something like that [track] just to see how it would turn out. I had the elements of that song in mind. Really minimal, one beat. Vocals going. I knew I had this gear that could pull that off. And that is how I got into techno.
JP: Do you feel in any way that Container was the next step for you musically?
Ren: At first it was… not a joke, but not something that I was taking seriously. I became more interested in techno after I had been playing it for a while. There was about two years between when I started playing techno and it becoming my main focus.
JP: So there was a crossover between God Willing and Container?
Ren: Yeah. And I feel like they intersected at some point too. Towards the end of God Willing I was incorporating more beats and tape loops, I was getting more interested in rhythm. Eventually, it bled into one thing.
JP: Do you have any thoughts on why so many people who play and have played noise become attracted to playing techno and dance music?
Ren: Well, not really. It is hard to deny that there are a lot of people who were playing noise… Or were just not into techno… And now they are playing techno. I don’t really know why that is. I can sort of see from a lot of people that I knew who were more involved with the noise scene… Before the techno thing got big… Were playing synths.
A lot of the synth stuff got tighter. Used arpeggiated sounds… From there they start thinking about beats and… [Trails off because a girl grovels at his feet, bowing, and declares that he is “the best”]
Well obviously it is a trend right now. I feel like some people are into it because it is a trend but a lot of people just got into it naturally. Noise to synth to techno. I don’t think that is bad at all. Some of it is going to be good; some of it is going to be bad. But if people are genuine about it, it will yield some quality music that may not have existed otherwise.
JP: I feel like that may be why I like container and other techno projects from former noise artists, like profligate… Friends that used to play noise. I feel like there is more awareness of sound and experimentation with the power of sound.
How is living in Providence right now? What is the scene like? Do you align yourself socially with the techno scene?
Ren: Providence is really sick, especially compared to Nashville [where he lived for a few years with his girlfriend, Valerie Martino AKA Unicorn Hardon] where everything is very depressing.
JP: I can’t imagine.
Ren: I don’t have a problem with depression but I feel like living there was really dark. Some people may think it would be cool to live in a place that is totally isolated so you can work on stuff all the time and not have any distractions but in my life, but it is not like that. As soon as you are in a place where no one else is interested in the same thing as you…
JP: One needs inspiration, that can’t come from a vacuum!
Ren: Totally. Living in providence is awesome because there are ton of people involved around, tons of shows happening. It is super fun all of the time.
Well, in terms of being a part of the techno scene, I have been asked to play more techno shows recently so I am falling in line with it. Some of it is cool; some of it is totally shitty. I will listen to some techno groups online and it sounds really good and I am into it and then I will see them play and it is not powerful at all. That bums me out. Techno seems like it can be sort of weak in that way, a lot of people just don’t deliver live.
Live music for the techno scene seems like an after thought in a weird way. People just want to bring a party vibe. It isn’t even about playing a show; it is more about getting a party going, which I am not interested in at all. That is where the line is drawn in my mind. I want to play a killer live set.
JP: That is really interesting because I would have assumed that techno artists and party scenes are really based in live performance and sound and the ability for a good sound system to literally make you feel something and react to it. It seems like a missed opportunity that a lot of techno artists are not preoccupied with that at all. That Is sort of what has attracted me to techno even in the small capacity that I am attracted to it.
Ren: I don’t know if they are not concerned with it, but in my opinion they are just not pulling it off. Maybe they think they are. I have seen a lot of people play who I liked on record, and live, there is not so much going on. It is more of a DJ mentality. Playing tracks just to make people dance instead of performing.
JP: Part of my difficultly getting into techno is that is usually doesn’t strike me as an emotional genre. In the very least it doesn’t often move me or touch me in that way. Is techno an emotional genre to you? Is your connection to techno different than with other genres of music?
Ren: I guess that one track I was talking about earlier… I got into it kind of because it seemed alien. It wasn’t human in a way. I was kind of surprised when I learned that the guy who wrote it just went by his own name, Daniel Bell. I think it is weird than any person who plays any sort of machine driven techno music would go by their own name. Human names playing machine music is kind of funny to me.
JP: Do you have an emotional connection to the music when you are playing?
Ren: For sure. Again, with any song that I write, I don’t really care about recording it. For me it is more about killing it live.
[It should be noted at this moment, a limo blasting pornographic sex noises instead of music pulls up outside of the show, and a gaggle of drunken fans pile out, quite proud of themselves]
Ren: I don’t know if I would say it is emotional… But I get a strong feeling from playing music.
JP: Do you have any “gateway” artists that you would recommend to me?
Ren: Not necessarily the guys’ whole output, but that one track losing control by Daniel Bell… I think it is really killer. It totally inspired me to do what I am doing. In terms of when I am hanging out at home and I wanna listen to techno, my favorite thing is this band Frak. I am a huge Frak fan. That is my favorite band, basically. They are a Swedish band that has been together for twenty-five years but they are super underground. They have never played in the US. They are sick. They are techno outsiders, in a way. They have are kind of goofy sounding. It’s not dark, or straightforward techno. It is kind of funny, weird techno. It is really good.
The guy runs a label called Borft records, and all the stuff that he puts out it top notch, bizarre beat oriented electronic music. That is where is starts and ends with me: Frak. And I don’t think I sound anything like Frak but they are a huge inspiration to me. There is a lot of techno out there but the only stuff that I really, really like is Frak.
JP: Are there any other particular tracks that you would recommend to someone who dive into the genre?
JP: Current labels to look into?
JP: Just Frak?
Ren: Yup. Keep with Frak and you are good.
JP: My last question was going to be what you are listening to most right now; can I guess that it is Frak?
New Track! Out on Liberation Technologies this month.
New Four Tet remix!