First of, just want to thank you for participating in this edition of Infidel Interviews. Could you start off by giving a little information about both of you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, what instruments you can play, and where you live would be pretty standard?
I go by Raef. That is my usual music name. I have gone by others, but Raef is Nightmare Noise Machine. I started off playing drums back in the day. Just got on them and knew how to play. I get really bored doing the same thing over and over so wound up playing with electronics and guitars as well. Just did it because I wanted too.
How do you enjoy where you live? Is their a vibrant music community for you to indulge? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
I actually live in a pretty boring part of So Cal. To find anything interesting, you have to drive to LA or San Diego. I have been here for almost eight years. Was a bit of a shock that coming here from Denver. There were more things happening in Denver. You can find things here in California but it will cost a lot of money to get to it.
When you first started making music, was there a particular sound or artistic/musical influence that you would say was your biggest inspiration to start pursuing the creative path yourself? What led you to electronic music, particularly the heavier kinds of it? Is electronic music where you started making music? Or did you have previous musical background or experience before hand?
Most of everything I have been into is mostly underground. Growing up into punk and metal, I was really into the counter-culture part of it all. I was getting tired of music in a lot of ways till the “Industrial Revolution”. All the Chicago Waxtrax stuff was kicking off and more stuff from Europe was getting easier to get your hands on. That really kicked off my obsession with electronics. Then I was living in Germany and England, and it has been in the blood ever since. I really miss Germany!
What would you say are your favorite themes and topics to write about? What draws you to those themes?
I tend to be driven by anger and frustration. The music allows me to vent and get out crap that drives me nuts. Or to tell a story about issues I don’t have but know others have dealt with. Like suicide or really horrendous relationships. I am actually pretty calm and non-confrontational. That has surprised fans in the past! Most people assume I am crazy in real life. Not so much. There are some stories floating around about me but that was when I was pushed beyond my limits. Everyone has their limits.
When you write your music, do you have any particular processes or routines that help you start or flesh out tracks? Do you have a formula(s) that you follow, or do you feel it out as you go along? Or is it more of a mixture of the two?
I usually do things in phases. I will work like mad for a few weeks, then do nothing for a few. I tend to structure things oddly as well. I put things together more like a metal song than an electronic song. I don’t do the usual build-up, then drop, slow down, and start over…… More of a straight ahead punk vibe, with a break here and there, and on to the next one. Nothing too fancy. My formula is simplicity! I don’t classify myself as an artist. Just a regular guy that happens to like making peculiar noises.
Are there any particular instruments, programs, or effects that you would say are vital to you making music?
Reaper and a lot of free VST’s. Reaper is great for creativity. Real simple to start with but more complex features are there if needed. Just add a track and start working. No routing needed to get things started. I have all the latest Sonar stuff but there is just too much in the way when you just want to start tracking. Great for production, but not so much for writing.
I have been able to buy all the great stuff from Native Instruments, Arturia, Ik Multimedia, and so on, but I still use my cheaper and free stuff more. It’s just what I am used to but I put the expensive stuff in there as well!
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? What's your relationships with presets? 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?
It’s like the argument guitarists have about tone. Each one claims they have the best one, but to must people it is still just a guitar. If they can tell it is still a guitar, they don’t care about scooped mids or whatever. Same with digital versus analog. In a good mix, an average listener will not be able to tell or care. I will just use any sound that I think fits. As well as try not to over-use a certain sound, though, that doesn’t always happen! Certain sounds become standard for a reason—they sound good. I like tweaking knobs but I also like chopping up audio. Take a one second cat fart. Stretch it to a minute and a half. Reverse it and add distortion. Now that is a recipe for audio bliss.
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? What does your band name mean or where did it come from?
Music has always driven me. Now that I have been doing it myself, it calms me. I think I have room for more evolution, but I am kind of a caveman. I write more by instinct than talent! Ha!
My early stuff was more about being spooky and dark. More about horror and insanity. I also didn’t want to be over-produced. So the Nightmare because of the scariness, the Noise because of the actual harsh noise, and Machine because of the electronics and computers. The last few albums were a bit political in nature and geared more towards being able to be done live. I think I may send the next album back to the crazy house.
What would you say would be you short term, and long term, goals for your band? What do you see in the future for your creative output?
I guess it would be nice to have more people into Nightmare Noise Machine. It is my little sick, demented baby. I would like to see more unity in music as well. I have tried to promote other bands. I used to walk around a bit just to put up flyers or make free compilation cd’s to hand out. Or when doing shows, show up early to catch the opening bands. I think a lot of bands forget to be fans, too. I am just going to keep working and supporting as long as humanly possible.
Other than what you currently produce, what other sorts of genres, instruments, and sounds would you like to use in the future? Are there any people you would like to collaborate with in the future artistically, musically, or socially?
I am part of the band Slop with my buddy Jon. I did the drums and mixing on the last two albums. I will probably be doing the mixing on the next one. More on the grindcore side of things with that one. And kind of goofy, too. Jon and I have been friends for too many years to count so we will probably be doing things for a long time still. It is hard to find the right people to work with or I would have done a lot more collaborations already besides just remixes.
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? What are some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in your musical career?
Well, things would probably be different if I had to make a living doing music. I have always said, if I did this for the money, I would have quit a long time ago! I just like doing it and I like when I meet people that enjoy what I do. I appreciate the fact that DSBP Records like programmed To Destroy enough to add it to their catalog.
The biggest challenge has really been that my sound is a bit too in-between. Not hard enough for the metal crowd, but too hard for the usual electronic crowd. I kind of incorporate all the different things I’m into so my sound can be confusing to some. Still, it is on purpose.
What are your thoughts on genres in general? Do you find them creatively helpful as a template to work with? Or do you find them restricting? Or possibly somewhere in between? Now that the internet has caused so much crossover in music, would you even say genre labels are relevant any more?
That was my main attraction to the electronic scene, the experimentation. Before the dance stuff completely took over. Genres are helpful in finding a category, but, change it up! Even the production of a genre is set now. Things have to have a specific sound to be considered “done correctly”. Mix how you want. Not what you are expected to do. I like mixing genres.
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?
I like learning. I like to watch what is going on around me. The sheer crazy that is going on in the world at the moment is loads of inspiration! I write my music about the horrible things going on. In my daily life, I try to avoid letting the things get to me. Just try to be as good a person as I can and try not to contribute to our stupid human nature.
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
Much obliged! I appreciate what you are doing. And to everyone else--Help each other out and support one another! Follow Nightmare Noise Machine on their official Facebook for their latest information:
Or check out their homepage to get a lowdown on the project: