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The Story of #WEATNU

“It takes years for an idea to culminate and become something more than mindless thinking. Every diamond is created due to a great amount of pressure. I’m a musician, I write Electronic / Avant-garde, Left-field music. It is certainly in its own category.”

Coming from the roots of Industrial / Experimental and EBM, Ambient, Dub, and eventually those roots became an urge to write my own music, and I didn’t know what I was doing or how to go about doing it electronically.

I had been writing guitar music prior to that from 1992–1998, then getting into writing Electronic music that summer. Music has been with me since 1983, when my Mother first put on, Wham or Hall & Oats, H2O record, or when I heard the album, The Ghostbusters on tape, and being captivated by The Thompson Twins — In the Name of Love. When the Internet had its start in 1997 for me, I found myself seeking out music that moved me differently than terrestrial radio, as during this time, radio was dying out and becoming something of a mainstream money maker. MTV was still going strong in its post-grunge era.

One night, I started looking on Yahoo for internet radio stations, Realplayer had its share of the obscure, even at its low bitrate quality, but I didn’t care, the music is what moved me. It wasn’t long until I found a website called Radio Free Underground, they shut down in 2000, sadly. They played many genres I’d not heard, other than the experimental stuff I discovered through MTV’s The AMP. Goth being one of them, including PsyTrance, Techno, Electro, Electronica, Industrial, Darkwave, and more. The days when true discovery felt like you found something, and it was yours, it felt personal.

I remember first hearing Industrial from a NIN tape a friend gave me during school in 1992, then he gave me a recording of Ministry’s Psalm 69. By the time 1997 rolled around, I was hooked on darker underground music. After being subjected to the more obscure underground, including the MOD scene of 1995, given to me through floppy discs from friends, AMIGA-like computer music, Trackers, Fasttracker, iPlay, S3M, FT2 and so forth.

From the collection of all this, I started developing a great love for “The Underground”, and noticed from my experimenting with Electronic music, deeply in 2000 that Electronic wasn’t that huge yet, though, radio and modern music was still very pop-driven, and rock based. It wasn’t until 2003 and 2005 where I started really hearing the Electronic influence in artists, such as Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Underworld, The Orb and Orbital.

The Severed Heads years…

I was actually heavily influenced from my early days of electronic music writing from Severed Heads, an Aussie artist, named Tom Ellard. For years after 1998 I didn’t have the Internet, I had to go to local university computer labs to use the Internet, usually every night for months on end. During the time of my depth into making electronic in 2000 through tracker software, Fasttracker II, I found myself looking up Severed Heads, who I was introduced to from a boss at my job Eureka Pizza in Springdale, AR.

I no longer felt like mainstream music was important as it once was, I had a drive to do different things. In that computer lab, I came across a website called groovetech.com, and this was my introduction into DnB, Dub, Experimental, Techno, Sampling, from some of the greatest DJs to ever be broadcast through camera, across the world.

Each night I was engrossed in watching these DJs spin for hours. The music was catchy, bouncy and addictive. Even to this day if you look up those podcasts on YouTube, you hear something special just starting to happen. The beginning of what electronic music was, and why it’s so important today.

Years pass…

My love of electronic music continued, in writing it alone, allowing only my family and at the time, during my marriage, my wife and her friends. Also in 2001 I didn’t have the Internet, but I still continued when I could, go to the local library to use it. By the time I got the Internet again, it was around 2010, and I began to think, “what if I upload this music I’ve been doing all these years, and let others listen?” It was through Soundcloud then Bandcamp, and YouTube, I started doing this. Friends on Facebook would tell me I should let others listen, I was reluctant of course, because it was so personal to me.

From venturing forth into various groups online, uploading music and speaking and promoting on twitter, I came to realize that unknown artists were being ignored, or even unheard. That it took a great deal of effort to even get people to listen. Of course during the early days of SoundCloud, people would listen to you more, due to the lack of algorithms.

The power of Social Media.

From the urge to get my own music heard and having a hard time doing it, it started building up in me by 2012–2013 that something needed to be done, something big, a huge idea, and since social media was just getting popular, I thought, “Why not, I want to make waves and create a storm even if I fail doing so. People on social media are making things happen, so why can’t I?” I thought.

During those days, it was hard to find any kind of help to get your music heard. Net-labels were elite and only allowed a certain type of music in, EDM was so big that people were making 200 grand per night when they played; completely ignoring The Underground scene. I wondered, why The Underground and experimental music was no longer around? What happened to it, was it hidden, did it die out? No… From meeting people on Twitter and other places, SoundCloud, YouTube and forums I found it was very much alive.

Great music is hidden.

There were others doing this, there were people like myself with the drive to be heard. Help groups, and Internet radio started popping up, like Bluetown Electronica on Facebook, Revival Synth, one guy who has been running his group well before #WEATNU started. Tracy Perry (Expansion of Presence) who has helped many indie artists for years and years, and continues to do so. Dr. Bones, an avid lover of The Underground scene from Canada, and so and so on. This was during 2013–2014.

I started thinking, “why is it so hard just to belong to a simple label, one without the rules many other mainstream ones cause to you endure? One that we all needed.” I said in my heart, “I will create an organization that will allow others to go up the ladder with me for free, and all of us will be helped.” I wanted to hold everyone on my shoulders; ALL of the indie scene on my back. I must have been crazy for thinking it. Something was burning deep inside of my soul, something I couldn’t stand any longer. I thought, “what if I create a SoundCloud group like others were doing?”, so one day out of the blue I made one called “We are the New Underground“, after having an in-depth conversation with a friend of mine through Facebook, namely, Nessi Holt who writes for a blog called Carpe Carmina. I remember telling her, “you know what! We are the New Underground“, and she said, “Yes!! We are.” Nessi Holt, did an extensive interview with me in 2015 on #WEATNU, she’s helped countless indie artists for many years, including working with RKC Radio.

The start of a new era…

After making the group, 100s poured in, during the first two weeks, it was so hard to help them all that I had to get others to help filter artists into the group. It was a phenomenon, I was hooked from the rush of helping these artists be heard. Starting to post each one who got in, onto Twitter, with their twitter @names attached so others could find that artist, making sure the legwork had been done. The platform and machine of #WEATNU had begun.

It came to me that we needed more than just a group on SoundCloud and during this time, summer of 2014, We are the New Underground was just a name. Before long, the acronym #WEATNU was born. I noticed that a lot of hash tags brought attention to a brand or groups. December of that year, WEATNU Records was born, where the artists who found us were offered a means to be part of a label, where their music mattered, and where people would appreciate them with good results.

People felt the need to be heard.

Most of all, they would at least be heard. Sometime around Summer of 2014 WEATNU [OUR] Online Underground Radio was born, and a machine was created to help the underground. People started contacting me, wanting to make a difference. Soon DJCJ of RadioCoolio, an Internet radio personality in Canada, who also helps indie artists be heard, contacted my E-mail and Facebook, and wanted to promo and spread the word.

Roofy, another artist, who spent an entire year spreading the word about #WEATNU caused others to find us as well. Including Ivan of AMNIOTIC — By 2015, in the same year, Brian Diamond who at the time was just starting Shadows & Mirrors, and is now a label owner of Electric Dream Records, also came our way to help spread the word, as he and AMNIOTIC both wanted to help the community find our artists. During this era, UK artist Craig Manga, of Manga Bros, who later went on to form (Black Box Recordings) befriended our movement and spoke highly to many of those whom he followed, which helped further our cause. His friend, Mark Forster, was a force unmatched, as he loved the underground and its artists and #WEATNU, by helping them on ArtistSignal, he will be greatly missed as he passed away some years ago.

A publication was created.

Our magazine was helping artists be heard, shows on Mixcloud were uploaded from interviews I conducted with new artists weekly, live radio with artists and new songs, showcasing them weekly as well. Special shows on our Internet radio and many other things would happen to become what #WEATNU was developing into. A driving force, a movement that was needed, that wouldn’t stop. By 2016, over 400 artists from all over the world had graced their presence with us.

A new chapter begins

The rush was intense, and it was exhausting. It was time to stop working so hard, but I still had the drive. Our magazine went away that year, radio shut down in the Summer, but the label continued pumping out new music, but slowly. It wasn’t until 2018 where I had a conversation with a new friend, who joined us that year, and she told me “you get what you put in.” So taking that advice, I ran with it, pushing hard once again but, using what I learned before and pushed the label to become what I had envisioned years ago.

2018 – 2019

Our label started releasing finally to streaming platforms, including our already releasing music through Bandcamp since 2014. WEANTU Records was being noticed, once again, restored and still a great passion of mine, even after all these challenges. The radio also returned in November of 2018. Streaming of course helped greatly, but newer artists by 2018 started finding us, and The Underground was still being served. With a dream, a vision and a little fire, anything can be accomplished. Artists who have been helped and brought to the light from this effort , are as follows, and these are just a handful – AMNIOTIC, Bleepeater, Whettman Chelmets, Adryelle, Lie Craze, Dead Scrimshaw, Amattik, AR89, Belial Pelegrim, Bufinjer, Jazzykat, DigitalSlumberParty, Jessica Grant, Fluffytails, B. Hasemeyer, Bedtime for Robots, Lemonade Kid, Meter Bridge, Nurse Predator, The Aircrash Bureau!, Sound Engraver.

The magazine returns

One night, as I was going through old site snapshots on waybackmachine, I looked up our old magazine, which use to be at weatnu-magazine.com and a flood of nostalgia filled me. Reading the articles, reviews, and interviews that many people had written, including myself, I thought it was time to bring the magazine back. I started working on a new magazine website, the one you are reading now. The artist needed a voice, not just their music to be heard, but why they do what they do. Publications are important to fans as well as artists. I was pleased to have this final part of the #WEATNU machine return, and this time, it would remain, just like its radio. With all parts together once more, Radio, label and magazine, things felt complete and it is my hope they all further the cause of the Independent artist.

The label itself has signed over 100 artists since 2014, many of which are still with us. With the radio returning, WEATNU [OUR] continues to help artists outside the label as well, be heard. With its 24/7 streaming radio, 365 days a year, and free to join. Showcasing many of these types of genres, while encompassing the electronic array.

The dream continues

WEATNU Records has taken in numerous genres and sub-genres over the years, such as Electronic, Electronica, Experimental, Industrial, Indiepop, Indie rock, Electro-pop, Synth-pop, Vaporwave, Trip-hop, Lo-fi, Instrumental Hip-hop, Synthwave, Darkwave, Ambient, Dark Ambient, Alt-rock, post-rock and so on, and we continue to allow The Underground artist to join. With the driving force of the unknown artist, we still have many people who support us behind the scenes. Many of whom are unnamed, but are greatly appreciated for letting others know what we do.

#WEATNU continues to help artists yearly, and that passion never dies. From 2014 and beyond, We are the New Underground is the heart of The Digital Underground, a beacon of hope for the artist who just wants to be noticed, without needing to sacrifice their hopes and dreams. We continue to help them. I hope this story of how we started influences you, and gives you hope that if you dream it, it will happen. We are the New Underground 10.10.2019 (originally published through Medium.com)

Almark – #WEATNU Digital Magazine – November 2019

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Almark: A Conversation on the Creative Process

Interviewed by Belial Pelegrim

Follow Almark on Twitter

Date on Oct 8 2015

BP: So I really enjoyed your work on the last Abstract Alpha show.

Almark: Thank you. Did you know “Return to Planet Zamede” was written 2013 or was it 2012.
It’s a rare track that no one ever listens to.

BP: No, I wasn’t sure how old it was, but it certainly fits the format to a tee!

Almark: I’m about to release my first single in a long time. A new single to “The Scheme of Things.” I’m excited about the production of it all. It just feels right, the timing to release.

BP: When are you planning to release the album?

Almark: Probably April. Like I did with -ATD- in 2014. It’s hard to say…I need to get in gear. When I set a deadline, I push myself hard to make it. Last time I pushed too hard

BP: That can happen. Do you have everything written song-wise and you’re just mixing and mastering now?

Almark: Most thoughts and ideas are in pieces…that’s how it is when I write an album. There is no % to tell you.
A-Test, U-235 and Oracle are all going to be on the album, so I had a head start earlier this year. Once again I want to write a full album…12 songs, prob 14 including special versions like I did with -ATD-. I’ve been meaning to release A-Test video for months. Now I have a reason to complete it.

BP: Very cool, man. I look forward to it. It’s interesting to hear how other musicians work…everybody has their own individualized process.

Almark: Glad to hear that. With me I have to create something, then jump to another to get it all done because I get new ideas and instead of stopping, I save the song, go to the next project and begin using what I was just messing with. Helps me to always flow forward. Reminds me of how torrents download…you know the bits of files. That’s how it is. It’s a weird process but when you have another idea you must get it out, you must tape it or it’s too late, thankfully Ableton allows me to do this. Then I might say, well 3 hours of this thing isn’t working, get a new idea and move forward. Coming back to the last song idea later and seeing if I can add more to it.

BP: I often work like that as well, at least to a certain extent. I rarely sit down and work on one project from beginning to end. I like to have several ideas going at once.

Almark: Exactly. I remember one song on -ATD- took forever to write in that process. Forever, because I couldn’t figure out what to do at the middle, how can I end this, that kind of thing.

BP: There are times I work on something for a while, then realize it’s never going to work, and trash the whole thing.

Almark: Personally it would be hard for me to trash anything I work on, I’m a digital pack-rat you know. It’s hard to work on just one project when the demand to do more than one song must be met. When I’m on a deadline, I just keep pushing, trying to outwit myself. I have songs that are not complete from 2014 for this new album. So I can work on them as well. It’s all like torrents, in pieces but each are projects to be loaded and worked on. Though I have so many musicians I hear daily, their music doesn’t upset the flow of with my thinking. I have the natural ability to block out everything when I’m writing music.

BP: I think because it’s electronic music, you’re able to work in this manner.

Almark: It’s your own world you, do you see? I know for certain that one of these ideas is about to become a full single. It’s because of ‘Live’ which imo is best DAW ever created for my own needs, that is. Keep your racks loaded from the last idea and move forward, brilliant stuff..

BP: I agree….Live is such an amazing tool. I love it

Almark: It might be I’m writing one melody and say ‘whoa, I like that but it doesn’t fit with this song’ so I save and move forward and write more to that melody, then another song is born. Then I have to cultivate it for a while and make it final. -ATD- is a very precise album. Took 9 months to develop fully, but I had to stop for 3 months because my old computer fried back in 2013, so the release date was changed to April 2014. WEATNU has kept me super busy this last year but that’s ok, its all coming to the end, an end meaning automated not so manual now. More time to work on music again. WEATNU is at a level where it takes care of itself. All I have to do is oil the machine, so to speak.

BP: That’s a good thing, because making new music is important for the soul, man.

Almark: Music is important.

BP: How do you develop your ideas for sound design? Do you work on sounds before or during the writing process?

Almark: Usually the music is created first, melodies, beats. Later I might transition into using special techniques and effects. Sometimes I might include creating strange EQ nuances. I did that on ‘High Bias’, this weird squeaking sound when the hi-hat would trigger. And coming up with a strange effect is always interesting, because you never know how it’s going to come about, usually by accident. I might start off with a drum beat created using MIDI controller, thumb and fingers, then work on that. Or a bass line synced to it to give it an edge. It’s always different. Or mysteriously I fall asleep from working for hours on a song and wake up with a weird melody, perhaps that’s called ‘Sleep writing’.

BP: [laughs]…yes even the sub-conscious comes into play.

Almark: The strangest of songs have been created from Sleep Writing’…it’s like zoning out, half awake and doodling at the keys until you get something interesting. I use to do that with guitar writing as well [laughs]

BP: And as far as automating effects and modulating over time…how much of that comes into play when you’re developing a piece?

Almark: I’m big on automation, as it’s the key to an interesting song. It comes into play after the structure is done. Most of the time I write a song with MIDI controller, get the idea done and work on it without the keyboard. Setting up automation on faders, adding stuff to return tracks do the mixing as I go. It’s kind of a process that has worked for me for 16 years, coming 2016. (Live) just makes it more unique, it lets me create little timing modules. One song might have different starts and stops for it’s reverb. Tape Head was like that. If you look at the automation happening on the front of the mixer, it’s very robotic, return volumes turning up and down in sync to the music [thought about a video to it one day] Tape Head needs a video, but I’m selective about what footage I use, still searching.

BP: It’s quite interesting to me how these techniques really enhance and creation of electronic music.

Almark: Building blocks of sound. When it comes to melodies ‘which are important to my process’ they are like swells of sound, when you add them together in melody forms (one on top of the other), it creates chords much like orchestrations. This is probably why I call my music abstract, as there is no form or genre to it. it’s just music that fills you with many emotions. Blown Glass is a good example of this process. The three note du du du continues many times but sounds different every time. When you add many complicated and long measures of melodies and combine them, something mysterious happens. That’s how Wow-and-Flutter was born. it’s 2 songs in one. Here you have this classic thing happening in the background, which is panned for different parts one one Left channel and the other on the right. Bass clef stuff on the left, higher parts on the right. Indecently I am not an expert at reading music, I only feel when I write it. Completely by ear.

BP: The fact that the technology allows for this kind of experimentation, wild things can happen.

Almark: It’s like having endless tape, where you can mangle and mess with the sound any way you like…Ableton is brilliant software.
BP: What about utilizing samples of organic instruments vs. synthetic sounds in the scheme of things?

Almark: When it comes to sampling, I will find sounds from anything I can, any movie, anything that suits what I’m looking for and change it where you can’t tell what it is. Being abstract allows for these kind of ideas. Good example to this is my album The Nineteen Eighty Four show, using only the sounds and music parts from the film. Then I add these swells of melodies, usually 3 seconds long to play all over the keyboard like instruments. Also synthesizers are all created from VST, like on -ATD-. I use to use more analog keyboards, but the transition to digital happened with me in 2009. I don’t use real instruments in my process, but it’s always been considered.. Perhaps in time. In fact I’ve been craving a new method, to form the sounds I’m after with a high quality condenser mic. Sampling is what makes music interesting, doing it right and making things your own. I don’t always sample, it’s just part of my unique process to the music. Sampling is otherworldly, if done right, organically. Thought Patterns in ‘Documentary’ Form is a good example of that idea, plenty of sampling happening on that album.

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