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I first met Blake McConnell about twenty years ago. We worked on many projects together- chiefly Godzilla Vs Lenin; Quaaludas Iscariot; and collaborations as dr. cockroach & the jellyfish hypnotist. We haven’t collaborated on any project or seen in each other much since parting ways around the time of the great Y2K disaster of 2002. Since then, he’s been busy, chasing something that bellows, something that twitches, some ambiance that perpetually deliver its own death. His quest has taken him many places. Most recently, he’s set himself up in Wayne Newton’s hometown of Phoenix, Arizona where he does this kind of stuff . I encourage you to check out his page and press play on all the videos at your pleasure for a Zaireeka effect. Blake always had a fondness for the atmospheric, hypnotic, and accidental. He’s more  Music For Airports than Here Comes The Warm Jets, but he’s also the sky and the act of flight itself.

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Here’s Wayne Xiaolong‘s exclusive interview with Blake McConnell:

WAYNE XIAOLONG: Are you now or have you ever been a musician? What are you?

BLAKE MCCONNELL: ok, self identification time.   let’s do get that out of the way.  with all due pretense, I will describe myself as an artist that uses sound as a medium.  that’s not the only medium I use, and I don’t only use it musically.  my alter ego Miss Pixel is much more musically inclined.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Besides me, which living artist most influences yr. work?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: hmm, that’s a tough one.  I will say Genesis P-Orridge because they have influenced me for the longest, and so much ground is covered in one career.  They are basically the heir of the Burroughs/Gysin mantle of queer mysticism, early transgressive performance artist, inventor of more musical subgenres than the internet, and generally an uber-freak.  I saw The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye recently.  It really cemented for me that the Genesis persona is not a performance, or maybe its a never-ending performance that I could watch forever without getting bored.  I so admire that level of commitment.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: What did you find in Mexico?
BLAKE MCCONNELL:Encontré muchas cosas magnificas en D.F.  Creo que la gente es mi favorita.   Los chilangos tiene una resistencia muy fuerte.  Hay tanto pobreza, sin embargo la gente parecen mas orgullosa que cualquiera.  Los chavos son muy politicos.  Fuimos a un demostración contra la empresa de televisión Televisa que fue dando mucho apoyar a Enrique Peña Nieto, ahora el presidente de Mexico.  ¡Fue bastante emocionante para ver tanto energia en la calle!
(I found many great things in D.F.  I believe that the people are my favorite.   The people of Mexico City have a really strong resilience.  There is so much poverty, yet the people appear prouder than any.  The kids are very political.  We went to a demonstration against the television company Televisa that was giving a lot of support to Enrique Peña Nieto, now the president of Mexico.  It was very exiting to see so much energy in the street!)
WAYNE XIAOLONG: What’s your favorite sound?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: Another tough one.  Right now I’m really into space, so less the sound itself but how it manifests.  I’ve been playing around with convolution reverb which can transform anything!  I mean, you take crinkling paper or something kind of mundane and you throw it into a cathedral or a canyon and it becomes, just, sublime.  You have to watch out, though, because the room you are listening to the sound in shapes the sound too.  Right now I’m getting ready to move out of my little adobe studio so every sharp noise sounds like glitch music–very wet, snappy reflections.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: What do you perceive to be our greatest threat and what have you been doing recently to thwart it?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: One could write a whole PhD dissertation parsing those words, “our greatest threat.”  Who is the “we” implied by “our?”  I think my reflexive response would be to say that shifting the discourse away from “perceiving threats” would itself eliminate threats?
WAYNE XIAOLONG: You have virtually no social media presence and yet your world is somewhat driven by communications technology. How do you reconcile this contradiction?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: I don’t.  There are a lot of contradictions at play in my life, in all our lives.  Without them, without tension, life would be incredibly boring.   I like to tell my students, when talking about work (I teach the “media arts”) that you don’t have to resolve the tension–or anything–in your work.  I find, especially at that level, they feel like there should be a “punchline” or something that makes the meaning of the work really obvious.   I don’t think that’s necessary, just as I don’t think it’s necessary to Facebook.  Again, I’ll defer to Miss Pixel for all things Twitter.
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Describe your ideal twelve person ensemble, instruments only not which beasts will play them.
BLAKE MCCONNELL: canyon, tornado, deluge, lazer, ice, lfo modulated vacuum, jumbo magnetic tape, reclaimed power line, grain silo, bones, amplified viral replication, dust
WAYNE XIAOLONG: Which contemporary pop figure makes you feel most uncomfortable?
BLAKE MCCONNELL: Tough questions!  Probably Farrah Abraham because she’s both internet hipster famous and tabloid famous in this authentically tragic way.  She’s either completely clueless or super calculated–another contradiction.
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