Infidel Interview #133: UCNX
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 you to the audience? Whatever you feel comfortable with, but name, age, and where you live would be pretty standard?
Douglas: Our pleasure. I'm Douglas Sudia, otherwise known as dOGulas, founding member along with John, and I do lead vocals/lyrics, composition, programming, and loop surgery. I live in Philadelphia, which stands as the "Surgical Studios" sector of our music compound.
John: Hi Matt. I'm John Monette, and I do composition, programming, noise, and sometimes background vocals/screams.
How do you enjoy where you live? Is there a vibrant music community where you are? Would you say you find that your local scene influences your attitude and/or creativity?
Douglas: We've always split our time going back and forth from Jersey to Philly, and all around the Tri-State Area. There's definitely more of a goth/industrial scene in Philly than NJ, always has been, but lately areas like Bar XIII of Delaware close by have sprung up, so really Philly is like the fulcrum point of the music community all around it. For me, living in an urban area will always help inspire that mechanical, somewhat anti-social feel of hard electronic and industrial music, though the scene here is very tight-knit. Everybody knows everybody else (to a degree...I'm at home making the music people get down to more than I am getting down myself. Somebody has to!) so to a degree it feels like family, like you're part of something, which is always heartening.
John: True, there's more of an industrial/goth scene in Philly than NJ. NJ has QXT's in Newark which is a nice venue and supports a lot of industrial and gothic events/acts. Also close by to them is all the NYC venues and events like DEFCON and Stimulate
What does UCNX mean to you in 2018? And how does that compare to what the project meant to you guys when it was formed?
Doug: UCNX remains the primary outlet of our collaboration. It means everything it did when we first started -- we knew we worked well together, and this would be our main outlet. Because of that, we're not afraid of our output getting more diverse, and continuing to do so. We don't mind being labeled an industrial band. We're proud to be, but we have always had a deep appreciation for lots of different music (John especially) and a desire to explore all kinds of different avenues of electronic music in general.
John: We started doing collaboration work under a few different names in the beginning ( You can find a few online if you did some searching and they are really old - haha). But, UCNX is always evolving and mixing elements of different music or ideas we have going at the time. The next album might be industrial Luther Vandross. lol
The interview continues after this video and all further streaming and picture content...
You guys have mentioned you have something new in the works. What's the progress on your next release, and how do you feel this next release is going to evolve the sound of the band? What do you see in the near, and far, future for your creative output?
Doug: Well we put out a new LP, 'Rebellion Ruin Redemption' late last year, but that was just part of a whole wealth of material we have been working on and recording over the past 3 years or so. So since the iron is still hot, we are going to keep striking. We have a 6 song tribute EP of WaxTrax-era Ministry & friends covers called 'CoverTrax' coming out digitally in the next couple of weeks, part of our Replicator series of cover song releases. We try to make releases like these unique in some way so they stand out more on their own, so while this one focuses on a band and era that everyone knows and loves, the tracklisting should surprise you. We did a couple tracks that Ministry only every played live in '86, as the 'Twitch' sound was evolving into the American EBM style of 'Land of Rape and Honey, and we worked with our lovely friend Mark Alan Miller of Out Out on a cover of "All Day", a song we all had a particular affinity for. After that, a balls out side-project called Conspiracy Thief that Greg our studio hand & I put together that's a fun booze-soaked electro punch to the face, and I know John has stuff cookin' up on his own too...
John: We have a couple ideas for other UCNX material later in the year. Maybe, another CoverTrax or a mini ep. Also, I have a few tracks laid out for a solo project with a working album title of " A Demon Over Both Shoulders" but not sure when I'm going to release it.
What do you feel separates your music from the rest of the music in the Industrial music scene?
Doug: Probably our diversity, and our emphasis on songwriting. We don't just slap a bunch of loops or riffs together and shout the same tired sex & death lyrics in the same tired angry robot or bargain basement Andrew Eldritch voice over it. We believe in strong choruses, memorable structures, combining John's intricate almost IDM noizebeat loops with my strong rock style vox. Industrial music doesn't just have to be something you stop around the club to, and as soon as we start to be pigeonholed into a particular style, we want to veer away from that so as to not get stuck. That's why RRR, our last release, was deliberately more electronic than our last LP. We were starting to be called an industrial rock, coldwave band, which we certainly have elements of, but that's only one style we like to incorporate. So RRR has some pure EBM, techno, and even a synthpop-ish type track. And when bands that we ourselves listen to, even ones we grew up with, say that we remind THEM of why they got into this music into the first place, we know we're doing something right.
John: We have a no presets rule! haha
Since you are involved a musical collective, I wanna ask, how do you all manage to get together musically, and then continue to stay together on the same page? Has it been a journey of compromise or do you find that you work together fluidly? Would you say there has been any major obstacles working together?
Doug: We collaborate on all levels, whether in jam sessions all in one location, or swapping pieces back and forth. Inevitably, at some point in the process John & I will isolate and work on portions of each track alone. Like AIM before it, Dropbox and email are basically unofficial members of the band. We have such respect for each other's ideas, it's become part of the process.
Are you musically self taught? Or have you had mentors along the way to help you develop?
Doug: Primarily self-taught. The moment came for me as a teen, not long after I had fully immersed myself in industrial & electronic music. I knew inside that I would be able to make music like that, ideas started sprouting up as I started ingesting more and more music. Once you know you have a voice like that that wants to be heard, it has to be let out, all there is to it.
When it comes to fan and critic feedback, how much do you take it to heart, and how much do you feel it evolves, pushes, or holds your sound in place? Do you feel that the personal response and interaction in the live environment, and the subsequent positive press you've regarding both your live and recorded music has consciously encouraged you to do things a certain way?
Doug: Favorable critical reception is always nice, and sometimes beneficial to have, but we don't live or die by it. Honestly nowadays, it feels like so much emphasis is still on the past and following the acts of the 80's & 90's that new stuff isn't reviewed hardly as much, if at all, and part of that is due to how music is consumed now. So what we pay the most attention to is fan reaction, which includes critics but doesn't exclude general listeners. If people who listen to us have something to say about out product, we take it very seriously, as the best artists of our generation seemed to listen to their fanbase. Not cater to it, not pander...if we ourselves don't like something we're working on, you'll never hear it. But as former art students ourselves, we give respect back when we get it, and constructive criticism and well thought out arguments are just that.
Industrial and Attitude seem to go hand in hand. With global war, civil unrest, injustice, and political revolution being primary musical themes that dominate your music, how do you feel nowadays about the current state of world affairs?
Doug: I, personally, have become really invested in the suppression and dethroning of the human ego. The rise of the internet and social media in the 21st century has shown us all just how ugly we really are, and how much filtering things through our own egocentric points of view twists things and cripples us from really coming together as a society. Especially in America, where everything has become a "team sport". Everyone just goes online and gets off about how much their team is winning...two-party politics, what you eat, what movies & TV shows you like and just how WRONG everyone who doesn't agree with your opinion is...an endless source of angry lyrical inspiration. "Sleep When You're Dead" & "Relentless" from the new album embody that. Otherwise, it's accessing personal feelings and experiences. "I Don't Want to Know", the almost synth-pop last song, is about one of those feelings everyone has had at least once...where something is going on, and you know you are destined to find out, and realize that when that day comes you'll wish you hadn't.
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 you make music are you primarily a hardware or software oriented musician? Or do you do a fusion of both?
Doug: We are a mix of hardware and software. We love sound creation but find we work best when certain limits are put in place, that inspires creativity more effectively...we can stand there and turn knobs and tweak for hours on end to no avail, just enjoying the sonic manipulation, but at some point you need to settle on a particular sound palate. So having some limits in place can be even more fun as you try to figure out how you can build the track from there.
So much has been said, and it sometimes feel that every word combination has every been taken. As a lyricist myself I know the pain of how hard it can be to articulate something in a way that is both engaging to the audience and uniquely artist. How do you find inspiration for your lyrical poetry?
Doug: Sometimes I just start with a stream of consciousness type approach. Word play, Exquisite Corpse or Word Virus style, building a sort of lyrical landscape that eventually a message or an image starts to form from. Other times, the message is already there and it's just a matter of crafting the words to fit in with the music. No real set method, I just appreciate the beauty of language....even when screaming my throat out raw with it haha.
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?
Doug: It's always wonderful when we get to work with our heroes, doing remixes for artists like Leather Strip or FLA, or collaborating with David Collings of Numb/The Fourth Man, or Out Out, artists that we listened to in our youth and still to this day. And when the same legends tell you "you guys remind me why I fell in love with this music in the first place", there is nothing greater than that. That alone keeps our artistic drive going...not money. If you're in this scene for money, you're in the WRONG scene pal lol. As cold and hard and menacing as industrial music can be, it's all above love...that's why we do it.
John: Any time a fan tells us they are diggin' our releases or even a track, that's a fine enough achievement for us.
Outside of Industrial music what other genres could you see yourself composing music in? Or should I say, do you see yourself inspired by?
Doug: Electronic music in general, from techno to ambient to soundtrack work, we like to dabble in it all because we listen to it all. Some of our favorite artists are well outside of the industrial genre...we are diehard Underworld fans, for instance. I grew up with an appreciation for all kinds of rock artists, from contemporary (I'm the biggest rivethead Billy Joel fan in the world, fight me) to more relateable acts like Alice in Chains, and an increasing affinity for all kinds of metal....Meshuggah, Soilwork, Gojira, and of course the classics like Slayer, Megadeth, etc.
Outside of music, what are some of your favorite past times and emotional engagements?
Doug: Craft beer, whisky (scotch in particular), maduro cigars, video games, books (fiction and non-fiction, depending on mood), poker, trying new restaurants, new shows/movies, MMA cage fighting, the goofy fun of pro wrestling...all have their place in the creative process.
John: Outside of industrial music, I have a solo project called nVIR which is more IDM, ambient, and experimental with hints of industrial mixed in sometimes. As for other genres, I would love to do more soundtrack composing for games or movies. When not working on music, I'm usually working on graphic design projects or artwork. But, Fortnite has been taking up a lot of the free time lately. haha
Thank you so much for participating in this episode of Infidel Interview. Any parting words for your fans, or my audience?
UCNX: Thank you very much for asking us to participate, we really appreciate all people like you do for the scene and for the art we all selflessly churn out...it ain't easy, we know! For our fans, new & old, just keep on listening...support your favorites, and keep an eye out because we always have stuff in the hopper waiting to come out at a moments notice. Life got in the way for a little while, but we are more focused than ever now, surrounded by a collective of friends & participants that keep the studio active all the time now, so trust us...we're only getting started.
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