PYGMY CHILDREN INTERVIEW

By Virtual Night Angel - Friday, January 12, 1996


Thanks Pete and Brian for responding to my mail and making this interview happen! I'm very greatful to have had the opportunity to get to know the Ropers, who are the admirable musicians of
Pygmy Children and brothers from Baltimore, Maryland!

Since the interview I have seen the "Recoil" video which must get on a cool compilation for everyone to see. I recieved some great pictures from Pygmy Children's recent photo shoot and got some pictures of their visit to Chicago Trax! Also, thanks to Pygmy Children and Thomas Thorn I spoke to Keith "Fluffy" Auerbach, who's produced and engineered with Pygmy Children and so many of our favorites!


VIRTUAL

Tonight, is one of America's favorite T.V. programs (and mine), The X Files. I thought it would be interesting to find out if you guys like the show and if you, Brian has an opinion on the existance of Aliens?

BRIAN

The times I've watched the show yeah, it was pretty cool. I can't say I set Friday nights aside for X Files-it's pretty cool, one of the better shows on T.V. Yeah, I would definately say I'd have to believe in aliens because all the people, I mean there's so many people that I see here they have to be from another planet or something.

VIRTUAL

Pete, what's your view on Aliens and life on other planets?

PETE

Yeah, well pretty much, if you get in that contemplative mood where you just sit on the ground and stare up at the stars and look around. There's gotta be something else, there just can't be us.

VIRTUAL

Pete, my aka (Mayor with a mohawk) what are your political views on mind-altering drugs used for recreational use?


PETE

My political views, well I heaven't ventured into mind altering drugs. If that's what floats your boat, then that's the sea you can sail on. I have no objections to it, so I have nothing against it politically and my whole philosophy is do whatever the hell you want, but at the same time take responsibility for your actions.

VIRTUAL

I like that answer, you have my vote for mayor!
Do either of you believe in GOD?

PETE

I would have to say yes, in some sense. I mean, it kinda goes back to the alien question, there's gotta be something, a higher power. I'm not really religious or anything anymore, that's what happens when your raised Catholic. Yeah, I'd have to say I believe in god.

VIRTUAL

Brian, do you feel pretty much the same way?

BRIAN

Yeah, pretty much the same thing. I don't really get into big organized religions, I don't know. It's almost they have become almost their own sort of government in their own political selves, it's just a big bureaucracy, but hopefully there's something bigger than us. A reason for being alive, so that when we die, we're not just going to be in the ground and having worms crawling into our bodies.

VIRTUAL

What does Pygmy Children mean? Was it like, yeah we're both really short, or is it meant to mean something special, like some sort of tribe?

PETE

It wasn't because we're short, we're both over 6 ft. tall so that's kinda hard. We just liked the name, the way it sounded, it didn't have some big significance, we could look into it and add significance to it, but that's all after the fact. The whole reason why we chose the name is because we liked the way it sounded.

VIRTUAL

Yeah, I definatly think the name, "Pygmy Children" sounds cool, I was thinking maybe it was a cult influenced name.

PETE

It has a tribalistic sound to it.

VIRTUAL

You have three Cd's out now, "Malignant", "Facedown", and "Deconstruct."
Have you considered being on any movie soundtracks?


BRIAN

Actually that's funny because when we were recording the first two CD's, the studio that we recorded at is called, "Hit & Run".
Steve Carr, the engineer, he's like, "Your music would be really good in movies."

VIRTUAL

Brian, What kind of movies do you like?

BRIAN

Kind of bizarre ones, I like a lot of David Lynch stuff, we're listening to the Blue Velvet soundtrack right now. Eraserhead is pretty freaky, any early John Water's movies with Divine in it, is pretty good in a tasteless sort of way.

VIRTUAL

Have you ever saw a movie and had to re-write it's soundtrack? Did you ever then go and create a piece or scene from that movie?

PETE

No, we pretty much just watch movies recreational, like take a break, watch a movie.

BRIAN

It's funny because Maz at one of the shows, came up to us and said he was listening to our music, he asked, "I was just curious if you guys had anything to do with the movie, Hardware?"
We were like no, it's a cool movie, but no.

VIRTUAL

Would you, Pete, like to share any New Year's Reslutions concerning your music, or anything?

PETE

I rarely make New Year's resolutions.

VIRTUAL

There's always personal goals.

PETE

Personal goals, just try to keep making music and expanding what we're doing, never get content. We're working on the new album, we resolved not to use any sounds that we programmed before that were used on "Malignant", "Facedown" or "Deconstruct". We don't want to use the same sounds for our new stuff. We want to push ourselves further and rebuild the sound constantly.

BRIAN

It's just way to easy to go back to using sounds that we have all ready been using. We want to create new sounds, challenge ourselves, create sounds that haven't existed before.

PETE

A lot of the stuff we are doing, we are getting away from any sort of pre-programmed sounds, like in a drum machine. On "Deconstruct", we use very little, some of the Yamaha drum machine, the kicks are nice and the high hats, but everything else we program our own sounds. The other sounds are samples we made with a drum kit, various things-whatever we had around and processing it, making it sound cool.

BRIAN

Actually we did do some funky stuff with running some sounds from the RM50, which is the Yamaha, we ran it into the moog we have and put it through the filters and you can totally distort it.

VIRTUAL

Brian, what is the greatest piece of technology that you came in contact with in 1995?

BRIAN

Big Question. The biggest piece of technology is what's in my hand, the cordless phone. (mass laughter)

VIRTUAL

What criteria does a song need to be a complete Pygmy Children release?

PETE

The song starts, it picks you up it carries you where it's going. When we're working with this sort of equiptment, like a sequencer and stuff, a lot of things happen at random, something happens and an idea will spark. Then you just get so excited and keep moving and then create the basis of the song. How do you know when the song is done? Well, you just do, you know, there is no formula. Some songs need to be sparcer. Maybe something more needs to go on. It depends on the tone of the song.

BRIAN

For us as Pygmy Children it has alot to do with the way we work. Sometimes, one person will come up with the basis, then he'd say, let me do some stuff and it will sound so much better and he'll give it back to me and we'll go back and forth, eventually getting to a point that adding anything else would be superfluous.

PETE

Like Brian will create an intro and I'll totally change it, then he'll change it again and it goes through all these different metamorphosis, to the point where the first idea is no longer there but the idea and it's presence are. It's like two parents giving birth, it has characteristics of the creaters but the end results are a different thing.

VIRTUAL

Are you two actively on the internet surfing the world wide web?

PETE

I've checked out some stuff, and met some people in the Cyberden chatroom. Not actively on a daily basis, but it's something I'd like to get more into-but it takes time and all.

VIRTUAL

Is there a location of a site where we can dowload sound files of your music?

PETE

Maz has the download on his page. http://apollo.gmu.edu/~maz/noisenet

BRIAN

I know Peter Stone from Cyberden had a sound byte available of "Shock". Cleopatra, should have some, too.

VIRTUAL

Do either of you have home computers?

BRIAN

We have two Macintosh computers.

VIRTUAL

Is computers a big part in making your music?

BRIAN

Yes, definatly. One computer is basically set up with a fax modem, for online services. The other computer is used for sequencing, sound editing and graphics.

PETE

Brian did the art for Under The Noise's new album which will be out any day now-by the way, it's really very fucking cool.

VIRTUAL

Brian, what are some of your favorite programs, or something you can recommend for inspiring musicians?


BRIAN

For Sound Editing we're using Macromedia's Sound Edit Pro and Passport's Alchemy which is pretty killer. For sequencing, we're using Master Tracks Pro 6. We were thinking about moving into the hard disc recording digital realm with Digital Performer, but that hasn't happened yet, probably wait until I get another computer.

PETE

The cool thing about Master Trax Pro, the software sequencer is very straight, easy, down to earth, you can do all your recording, lots of cool fades, we like it the best, we're so use to it. We rarely use the manual, we just figure out how to do it by doing it.

VIRTUAL

I had thought that Brian did all the music and Pete was responsible for vocals, but I've found out through the Terra Industria interview, that Pete also plays drums and piano.

PETE

We both pretty much do everything, the way we work is just passing the ideas back and forth. If I just did it myself it wouldn't be the same. The same is true if Brian did all the music. Different stuff goes on because we're totally different people.

VIRTUAL

What key equiptment do the two of you utilize?

BRIAN

We use both of our samplers pretty much to their extreme potential and the microwave synthesizer a lot just because it's an analogue/digital hybrid, really fat sounds that we can't get out of any other machine we've come across, been able to find, or afford to buy yet.

PETE

It's a really nice machine, unfortunatly it's no longer available in this country, you have to order them directly from Germany. Unlike a lot of other synthesizers it's fairly simple to program.
Now we use Unisyn to generate patches.

BRIAN

Which is a sound editor and librarian.

BRIAN

Back then, when we got started we were so naive. We first started sequencing with the onboard 16 track sequencer on the EPS sampler which was extremely limiting, although there's a lot of cool things you can do with it. Once we moved to sequencing on the computer, it was much more free.

VIRTUAL

Pete, I love listening to Pygmy Children, it's so intense musically with your great lyrics and awesome vocals!

PETE

We've always tried to make really intense powerful music without using the "g" word (guitars), I mean it seems to be the thing to do, throw in quitars to heavy up the mix. "Unilateral Dischord", is a song that uses a fuzzy crunchy kinda guitar sound that is just a sample from our moog that we ran through a bunch of filters and distortion pedals. We want it to be dramatic. It's good to have moodswings in the music.

VIRTUAL

Brian, how do you achieve the distortion in Pete's vocals? Especially on your "FACEDOWN" single, track 2, Facedown (bootstamp), i.e. rack mounted effects, petal effects, built in sampler, megaphone?

BRIAN

The distortion is done in a lot of different ways, most the times the vocals are recorded totally dry and we run it through, so many different things, for Facedown (Bootstamp) that was run through a combination of an A.R.T. effects box and also a guitar distortion pedal.

VIRTUAL

How many layers do you usually have in your songs?

BRIAN

Anywhere from 16 tracks, up to as many as 30 something.

PETE

No, no, on the version of "Core" (Resistance) on "Malignant" we use 53 tracks. It's broken up with all the different musical patterns.

BRIAN

That's kind of deceptive to say we use that many tracks there's not actually that many different things going on, it's just different layers of the same sounds just placed in different places. Just to kinda isolate them to give them different effects in different parts of the song.

VIRTUAL

"Malignant" was recorded by Steve Carr at the Hit & Run Studio in Maryland, what did he all do for you, i.e. did he mix it to the right levels, running the mix board, or did he just press the CD's for you?

PETE

He just kinda stood there, he just basically does pop music and he just set the levels to dat and when I was singing he hit record. He's not familiar with this type of music so he pretty much read a magazine, he's a nice guy though.

VIRTUAL

Then it says you recorded "Deconstruct" at the same studio?

BRIAN

That was a change of plans because we went to Chicago Trax to record with Fluffy and first we were having midi sync problems, we couldn't get our gear to sync up with the time code on the tape. Then we had a couple pieces of machinery just totally freak out on us. We lost every sound that we had programmed from recording on the microwave, then one drum machine crashed, every patch started to disappear so we had to come home and rebuild everything and at the point we had a really limited budget. We couldn't afford to go back to Chicago to do the recording, so we did the recording locally but went to Chicago to do the mixing.

VIRTUAL

Did Cleopatra get Fluffy to produce and mix "Deconstruct" with you?

PETE

Yeah, well what happened was like September of 94', Brian Perera from Cleopatra asked us about two people we could have worked with either Fluffy or Jürgen Engler of Die Krupps. I'm not super familiar with Die Krupps, but we said, Fluffy it's a go. It seemed obvious to us.


Pictured here, producer/engineer Keith "Fluffy" Auerbach.


BRIAN

And also we didn't want the tapes just going somewhere, without us being there, and having someone mix without any imput from us.

PETE

When we went to Chicago we all mixed it. It wasn't that just Fluffy did everything, we all worked together. Room A was incredible sounding. As opposed to costing $1,000 it all ended up costing $3,000 for the "Deconstruct CD".

VIRTUAL

How could someone like me get in touch w/ Fluffy?

PETE

Fluffy c/o Chicago Trax

VIRTUAL

See Brian after a tiring day, sleeping with Fluffy's dog Angus below.


VIRTUAL

What's this about Reid and the deal of the century?

PETE

Reid is the owner of Chicago Trax studios. When we first got to Chicago he kept on telling us, "You guys are getting the deal of the century!" So it's really just an inside joke.

VIRTUAL

Do you know how many CD's have sold accross seas?

PETE

No, we don't know yet. I hope it's doing well.

BRIAN

Compilations to find: "The Industrial Revolution Vol. III" on Cleopatra, there's gonna be a remix of "Intensify" that George Hagegeorge of UTN did that's really good. There's "Wired Injection" on Cleopatra that features "Recoil". "Digital Space Between Vol. II" has a version of the song, "R6".

VIRTUAL

What merchandise (T's, stickers, posters) are available and is Cleopatra helping you out with that?

BRIAN

We are now creating T-shirt designs which will be out soon.


PYGMY CHILDREN CONTINUED