Over the last 13 years Christopher White has flourished on the outside of Atlanta's various musical scenes, churning out gorgeous and sometimes noisy concoctions of drone, rhythm and atmospheric sound under the name Magicicada. You could call it industrial music — industrial in the truest, old school sense of the term — but there's also a strong earthy and ethereal strain running through each of his recordings as well. If names like Zoviet France, Rapoon, Edward Ka-Spel and Coil mean anything to you than Magicicada is right up your alley, and each of his releases come in a strange, generally homemade, and often times personalized package.
With his latest release, titled Other, comes in a box coated in Georgia clay and stuffed with bits of debris that he's picked up around the city. It's not something that you can buy in most record stores, but if you're willing to go for a walk, you just might find one hidden somewhere amid the cityscape.
Magicicada plays Eyedrum's Earball tonight (Sat., Nov. 13) at 11:30 p.m.
Chad Radford: The most common thing that people have said to me when they saw me carrying around my copy of ‘Other is that it looks like a giant brownie.
Christopher White: Yeah, I’ve heard that, too. I’ve also heard that it looks like a flesh brownie, and someone even told me that they wanted to lick it, which is hilarious. I know what I used to make it, and I certainly wouldn’t want to lick it, but it does seem to have a wet quality to it that makes people want to eat it, and I can appreciate that.
Tell me about the packaging and what went into it.
I was living in a dilapidated 150 year-old school house out between LaGrange and Newnan in a tiny town called Grantville. One day I was cleaning out the dirt floor basement which was just packed to the ceiling with random items. When I got to the bottom of the pile I found an ancient and beautifully illustrated zoology book that was thickly caked in mud. I picked it up and sat it outside to dry in the sun, when I went back to check on it later I saw how the mud had dried so nicely that I decided not to remove it from the book and instead began to shellac the mud, so it would not fall off. This is the same general way in which I approach making the boxes today. The mud part is the first process. It is followed up by layers and layers of paint and other items until I get it looking how it needs to. It is a long process, but the end result is worth it.
You mentioned to me that you recently moved back to the city and that you think of this as your way of reacquainting yourself with Atlanta…
There is so much to this town that we just don't pay attention to as we are all so isolated from the environment and each other as we drive around in our automobiles. I wanted to get back out and explore the city again, like I did when I first moved here 13years ago. So, I got back out and began to look at the tiny little visual and sound treasures that are all around us. All the photos are from around the ATL/Decatur area and about 60% of the sounds on the new album are from these little foot journeys around downtown Atlanta, Decatur, Moreland (42) near the massive trash piles they cover with dirt, the train yards, Marietta street over near Howell Mill, etc.
There’s just so much: random bits of metal, debris and trash of all sorts that for some reason I find to be interesting, so in addition to photographing I began to collect some
of the more interesting items I came across and decided to include them in the Other box as well. Tiny little totems. The music that comes with each box may vary a bit as I am doing custom mixes for everyone that goes into hiding around the city.
Are you still working with the label, Public Guilt?
Public Guilt is going to put out 15 boxes for me on their site. I am giving 5 - 7 boxes away via yesthisisyours.com where I hide them around Atlanta and offer video-based clues on my site to give people a clue on where it is hidden. I have already hidden one and it was found the next day by a nice young man named Andreas Bieri who was very into it. yesthisisyours.com features my boxes at the moment, but I would like to continue doing this for other releases and expand it to include other artists.
I am preparing a usb thumb drive version of the box which will be much smaller and it will also be available on the Thrill Jockey operated digital downloads store called Fina and of course will be spread about all the torrent sites for people who engage in such activities. My ultimate dream would be to do a version of this box on LP with massive color photos.
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