Mark Spybey is one of those underground legends that will go down in the musical history books as progressing ambient and noise to a new level of accepted “house” music. The list of bands and musicians he has worked with could easily fill an entire page. I unfortunately missed the zoviet : france years, and was first exposed to dead Voices On Air with the Hypnotic Records release of new words machine. I was hooked immediately, and over the years I have felt like a father would watching his offspring grow and change into an adult. I remember relaxing over a long weekend in Chicago during Invisible’s Route 666 tour, and finding that my host Dave had a post card from Spybey on his fridge. Dave assured me Mark was a very open and communicative person, and that I should drop him some e-mail. He understated Spybey’s very open nature. The last time I saw Mark was in Chicago almost two years ago. Then I was blessed with piss frond a couple of months ago. The world must know this album exists! Mark finally blends all the various sounds he has worked with, from his own ambient noise to the rhythm-driven Download. On these two CDs we are graced with everything I ever thought possible for the direction of dVOA. So I decided to kick off another year of my life (it was my birthday) by conversing with an old friend about such a phenomenal and ground-breaking album.
So Mark, last time we met was in Chicago two years ago. Those two shows forever changed my opinions of dVOA. I wonder which was your favorite?
I don’t know. I’ve moved on so much. They both sound extremely primitive to me now. The recent shows on the Lowest of the Low were much better. I’m not playing without a full band now.
Wow! That’s quite a change. I always viewed dVOA as a very lo-fi ambient thing where a band wasn’t really necessary. I can see the need now with the sound on piss frond. Why such a change?
I never wanted to stay in the same direction. Though looking back, it’s not near as of a big leap as I wanted.
Well I noticed that there is a lot of collaborating on this album. When did you decided to begin collaborating so extensively with other musicians under the name dVOA?
I’ve always collaborated. It started with two others as a band. Being an improviser, when friends come by, we may end up jamming. When I like what I’m hearing, which usually happens, it will probably end up in some form on an album.
The new album sounds like it was a multi-track recording instead of the usual four track method of the earlier releases. What’s your favorite way to record these days?
I don’t really enjoy straight improv anymore. The first take is usually the best, but I am finding that after mixed once or twice, there is still more that can be done to get it to perfection. I can record much as I want at home, but I like taking what I’ve done here and radically changing it.
How much input do you draw from the world around you for the music of dVOA? I know a lot of musicians prefer to isolate themselves from the world in order to record.
I would have to say that whatever is going on around me is highly influential: the events, the people and how I am physically.
Now most people don’t realize it, but your “day job” is as a therapist isn’t it?
I can’t imagine it. What got you involved with that?
I was interested in the arts and saw it as a way to merge the two. It’s the same as being a road sweeper. I like helping people be more independent.
Does work influence your music and vice versa?
Not at all. My job doesn’t come home. They don’t interact. They don’t need to know what I do outside my job, just like I don’t need to know what they do.
Considering your day job, I hate to ask, but do you have any tour plans?
I’m not interested in the “tour-album-tour-album” approach. I am, however, preparing to support the Damo Suzuki Network with James Plotkin. We’re playing from September 25th to October 4th in selected cities around the US.
Wow! Sounds like a huge undertaking. What cities are you playing?
We’re doing two shows in New York City, then to Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle. There might be a show here in Vancouver, but it’s not confirmed yet.
Well I hope nothing gets stolen this time around. You never got Godzilla back, or a replacement, after he was stolen in Atlanta on the Download tour did you?
No, but there have been several sightings. A guy popped on IRC one night saying he had Godzilla and was ready to give him back. It’s really very rude. It’s like stealing a guitar.
I would have to agree. I’ll be back in Atlanta soon, so I’ll start up the search again.
For those of you who enjoy the various endeavors of Spybey and can connect to an Effnet IRC server, Mark pops on several nights a week just to hang out in the channel #dvoa. Why did Mark start doing these little sessions? “A couple of people set up chat rooms over the years. I’ve always wanted to spoil the myth of the musicians not wanting to interact with fans. It’s a group of people I like, so we just hang out and chat.” It’s one of many ways I’ve stayed in touch with Mark over the years, so I invite everyone that is interested in “hanging out” to drop by every once in awhile. You never know who might drop in for a few.