First off, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about yourself to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, what instruments you can play, and where you live would be pretty standard?
My name is Thom Campbell (vocals, programming, percussion, samples and synths). I use a couple hardware sequencers and a synth to make music. I’m 31 and live in Guelph, Ontario.
Would you say that your choice to pursue music has changed your life since you started? Would you say that creativity has evolved you spiritually, emotionally, or logically?
Making music is very cathartic. It has also put me into contact with a lot of really awesome people with similar interests and passion for music.
What would you say would be your short term and long term goals for your musical career?
Goals for the project are fairly simple: continue writing, producing and performing music. My only intention when I started the project last summer was to make heavy Industrial music that I dig. It’s really inspiring that other people dig it as well. The plan is to keep making music, keep trying to improve my skills and see what happens.
What would you say are your favorite themes and topics to write about? What draws you to those themes?
Mangled Meat lurks in the seedy underside of the human condition and the characteristics of our species that we prefer to disavow. Most tracks are about the destructive effects of human activity on other species, nature and other human beings. As the name suggests, the body as meat and cadaverized flesh is a main theme. Other themes and topics include: torture, terrorism, the projection of distinctively human characteristics onto other species, blind faith in technology and the cadaverizing effect of language on the body. Historical evidence of the destructive and deluded self-image of our species along with the current state of discontent in the world drags me into this filthy abyss. That and perhaps my mind is already a filthy abyss.
You have a new release entitled "Taste Test Vol. 2" that you released at the beginning of this month. You have obviously worked hard and long to compile this EP. Is there anything in particular that you would like to mention about this new masterpiece?
Thank you; I’m humbled by your kind words. Working with two sequencers on this EP (the first Taste Test EP was composed on one) opened up a lot more possibilities. There are definitely more synth parts on this EP. It’s still very rhythmically driven, but synths take more of a central role. There is more of a late 80s/early 90s Electro-Industrial vibe to Taste Test II than my previous work as a result.
One of the tracks on your album specifically focuses on the genocide committed by the Canadian government against the Native Americans. What inspired you to address this subject, and is it a personal one for you?
The acts of the RCMP and Canadian government against the Indigenous people of Canada (especially removing kidnapping children from their homes and putting them in Residential Schools where many died and many more were abused, experimented on, etc.) continues to shape the culture here today. It is a brutal fact that Canadians must take a stance on in some way, even if it is to turn our backs and ignore it. Unfortunately this often seems to be the response. It’s not a personal subject as much as it is a political and ethical one that demands attention, serious thought and action.
History and philosophy, the intellectual pursuits, have been something important to you. You are currently studying for your Ph.D. in Philosophy at the moment. Do you find it difficult at times to balance you creative efforts and studies?
The project actually started as a way to focus creative energy on something other than my studies, since it is such an all-encompassing pursuit. It is quite difficult to balance academic work and music at times because both require a lot of time and care.
Do you think that the very things you study, and the way in which you expand your mind during said studies, plays an impact into your composition musically and thematically?
Absolutely, music is a way of enacting the philosophical concepts I work on in another form, though I try not to use them too directly in the music. Ideas from my academic work on thinkers like Hegel and Freud are definitely there though.
What would you say is your favorite era of history to study? Also what are some of your favorite philosophers and what ideas or concepts do they present do you find yourself primarily resonating with?
Most of my time is spent studying 18th-19th Century German Philosophy, especially Hegel. I am interested in subjectivity and accounts of the self in Modern European philosophy, but also draw a lot on contemporary European philosophy and psychoanalysis. Kristeva’s understanding of melancholia is really inspiring. Hegel’s notion of the self as relational and ecstatic―a self that is not self-identical, but always outside itself wrapped up with the Other―is both really exciting and correct.
Do you spend a lot of time crafting your own sounds? Or do you value song crafting and effects tweaking more? Or do you find it's a balance between the two?
It’s somewhat of a balance between the two. Using only hardware makes things interesting due to the inherent limits of the machines. These very limitations make programming fun and creative because it forces you to war against the machine to get the desired result. A lot of what I do is sample based. The metallic percussion sounds driving the music are samples that I’ve recorded of smashing metal pipes, steel doors, etc. The electronic percussion (kicks, snares, etc.) are usually samples of drum machines that are messed with as I sample/re-sample them. Effects are often added on top of this. Many of the synth lines are also metallic samples or synth sounds that are sampled/re-sampled. This is the approach at the root of many classic Wax Trax! releases. Composition is always at the front of my mind though, even when I’m crafting sounds. On the other hand, sounds are often fleshed out further as I compose.
What’s your relationship with presets?
Try to use them as little as possible, but I don’t have an unlimited amount of time to design my own sounds. Some synth sounds are more or less tweaked presets, but I end up fucking with them a lot when I do use them. My main concern is not whether the sound is a preset, but whether or not it sounds generic and hollow.
When it comes to influence and inspiration, and creativity, there is often a fine line. It's been said that all the sounds have been created, and all the notes played. Do you find it important and/or difficult to come up with "original" sounds? Or do you focus more on what sounds good over trying to find a so-called "original" sound?
Haven’t really spent much time thinking about it, I just try to make music that is exciting. Mangled Meat is more concerned with engaging the tradition of industrial music than it is with trying to be original. It is my hope that the project has something original to offer the genre in the way that it reflects on and interprets its foundations.
Other than what you currently produce, what other sorts of genres, instruments, and sounds would you like to use in the future?
Working more with FM synthesis is in the cards for sure, but it seems unlikely that I will be buying another synth anytime soon. DX7 samples will continue to do until I can.
Are there any people you would like to collaborate with in the future artistically, musically, or socially?
It was great working with Alia Synesthesia of SLUTMOTHER on the track “Antigone Dismembered”. Her voice is phenomenal and I’d like to work with her again. The time I spend working on music is limited which makes collaboration difficult because I generally need to use any time I do have to work on new material for MM. I’m interested in collaborating more in the future, opportunity and time permitting, though I don’t have anyone specific in mind right now.
Have you had any particular moment(s) that you would like to share, that you would consider to be a crowning achievement in your musical career so far, or moments that you would say truly continue to inspire you to pursue your artistic path?
Playing a showcase at Batty von Bats’ Canadian Music Week mini-fest at Nocturne was really awesome. It’s also been great to hear from people who dig the music, DJs who have spun it and other musicians trudging similar territory. The most inspiring thing for me is hearing feedback and receiving encouraging words from people who love the genre.
When it comes to non-musical media, what do you find yourself most inspired by and what about it draws you to it as a source of inspiration?
Horror and noir are definitely huge inspirations. Besides using samples from horror and noir films I try to draw on the aesthetics of the genres. The relation between life and death in horror―especially the notion of the undead, something that is neither living nor dead― is a huge inspiration and source of thought. The notion of the human body as meat/carcass is especially inspired by Francis Bacon’s art.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
Thanks to the Infidel team for the interview. Thank you to everyone who has checked out my music and/or supported MM. If you haven’t listened to what I do, have a taste.
Download Mangled Meat's latest releases on his official Bandcamp:
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