Interview: PAINT reveals the story behind Exodus

Two artistic human beings, PAINT ( Huxley Anne & Tsuruda ), have come together as one as they reveal change through music under their latest release, Exodus, available on Ivy Lab’s 20/20 LDN. They stand for the notion in placing motion in human equality as they aim to break gender structures  through innovative free form sound design that reveals intentional truth. Fusing mind melting experimental soundscapes, shattering bass, deep ambience conjoined in stunning tonal synthesis, prepare to blast off and be amplified. Having inspirational roots in varied styles of music such as hip-hop, jazz, classical and electronica atmospheres, this duo further extends focus into the meeting of art and technology as they create a full AV (audio-visual) experience reflective to their electronica presentation.

Evolving around concepts, storytelling and love of albums, their expressive nature surrounds purposeful messages dipped in thematic technological and imaginative environments. As they continue to grow through colourful experiences, collective efforts and simply letting their ideas splash into flow, a portal of flourishing possibilities will only expand for these two prodigies and trigger movement.  During creation mode, PAINT displays fluid progress through each others strengths and weaknesses and therefore create intricate technical processes as they deconstruct the norm and construct realistic visions.  

Exodus reveals empowerment, equality and structural breakdown as they step back in order to progress by reshaping our community through necessary action by coming together as humans reflecting expressive nature, collaboration and stylistic action which meets full realization.  Music is a catalyst for change and has potential to serve as a social purpose and PAINT will continue to strengthen.  Captured by their sound and live performance hosted by Multi Faceted Movement in Denver, CO this past September, I reached out to further pick at their brains to discover more. Don’t sleep on these aliens.

PAINT further reveals their story through an intriguing chat

Can you tell us a little bit about what triggered the formation of PAINT and the inspiration behind this innovative collaboration?

We’d been writing tunes together as Tsuruda & Huxley Anne for over a year before we had the idea to form a project together. The conceptual idea was actually triggered by Teebs’ performance at Low End Theory Festival in 2016. He was performing with a visual synth artist, so the whole performance was gloriously soaked in color. We sort of looked at each other and realized we wanted to channel that type of vibe, create a future “band” of sorts, where music, art, and technology all had space to intersect. PAINT grew out of that experience.

When collaborating and running ideas, do you two individually work on portions then share afterwards, sit down and produce together, or a combination of both?  What is the creative process like?

Often songs will start by one of us bringing a project to the table, like “Yooo I think this could be a PAINT song, what do you think?” If we both vibe with it, we’ll pass the project back and forth a few times until we’ve got a finished track. Sometimes we do just get in the studio & write together, or think of a concept together and then individually tackle different sections. For larger projects, we incorporate a certain imagery, tone, and overall aesthetic that unite the individual tracks to a greater theme.

What tools are you currently focusing on for your production, live DJ sessions, and visual projections?

Huxley Anne: I’m getting deep into Max/MSP, been really into this idea of having a live camera input on stage that I can expressively play with during PAINT sets. Max allows me to run a camera input through visual oscillators & various fx that creates a unique visual output. On the music side, in Ableton, I’ve been loving working with the FabFilter plug-ins to get even more expressive when it comes to EQ’ing & compression. They work wonders.

Tsuruda: Over the past few months I’ve been delving more and more into the world of modular synthesis and analogue drum machines. One of my roommates has an incredible eurorack setup and he’s been kind enough to let me use his rig and teach me the fundamentals of analogue synthesis. I also have been spending more and more hours curating original and unique instruments/samples while writing. Everyone and their uncle has a sample pack online these days  (which is rad) but when you’re trying to sound as unique as possible you might as well design all the sounds from scratch.

“It represents us philosophically stepping away from America’s broken standard of social ideals, and working towards more universal conceptions of truth, justice, expressivity and equality.” – PAINT

Exodus is a masterpiece, congratulations on signing it to Ivy Lab’s label, 20/20 LDN. What message(s) are you conveying with this release?

Thank you! It was an honor to work with the Ivy Lab guys on this, they’ve really become some of our best friends & role models in the music industry. Exodus was jokingly titled “American Exodus,” in the studio. We were feeling the political pressure after Trump’s rise to power, and we wanted to write a heavy, dark record. At certain points in the EP, if you listen carefully, you can pick out recordings from police brutality videos. It represents us philosophically stepping away from America’s broken standard of social ideals, and working towards more universal conceptions of truth, justice, expressivity and equality.  

Who’s the photographer/artist behind the art cover?

Lloyd Galbraith is the visionary behind the cover art. Huxley & Lloyd have been making crazy art for years now, from their witchcraft cult rituals back in school to a recent collaboration on an LAFW runway show, their work together has always been pushing the boundaries of what’s accepted. Venia Collection outfitted us for the shoot, and Lloyd added the final fabric that disguised both our faces. It’s been really tight to develop such a creative relationship over such a long time span, we are very attuned to what each other’s stylistic strengths are, so collaboration is a very organic process.

As artists, in what ways do you see the music industry as a whole shifting?  What would you like to see more/less of?

As the industry shifts away from albums, as a musical form, we both feel heartbreak. Last year was the first year people listened to more “playlists” than albums, on Spotify. For us, that’s just horrid news. The album as a form is something we have both always been really inspired by, that chance to tell a story, follow a narrative line, or create a whole world for listeners to fall into. We’d love to see more people get back into album listening.

What are some of your goals you’re wanting to achieve, structures you’re aiming to break, and overall possibilities you’re wanting to see flourish with your music and visions as human beings?

We gettin’ deep now, huh? Our goals are fairly personal, so we’ll share those at another time. Structures we are aiming to break definitely include the gender constructs in the music industry. Part of the purpose behind PAINT is to present a project where man and woman are standing on equal footing, with equal purpose. It’s more important than ever, in today’s world, to keep insisting on the deeper need for equality for all human beings. Otherwise the robots are going to beat us all. Overall, we see PAINT arcing into more spatial, art-driven, technology-infused environments. Both of us have a strong interest in the fusion of music, art, and technology, so to take the project even further down that path sparks a mirage of possibilities.

You’re currently on Primary Tour with X&G.  Tell us about the experience so far and any inspiring moments you want to share.

It’s been great touring with X&G. Huxley and Gaszia (the G of X&G’s project) actually played their first show together years ago. We’re all old friends who made a blood pact to tour together one day, so that day has finally arrived. One of the highlights was the show in Colfax, CA. We got to debut the live PAINT AV set on a movie theater screen, and that was definitely a magical experience. The old theater is also used as a butoh performance space, so the magic of the costumes backstage added a magical flair to the whole night.

PAINT live is truly an impressive experience and refreshing release. Big ups on your Denver show last night hosted by Multi Faceted Movement, the energy was next level. What’s it like up there on stage?

It’s fucking great, man. We’ve been playing together for so many years now, we can really take risks, improvise freely when we’re feeling the vibe. We got our start DJ’ing at a little Hollywood underground called Dirty Laundry, and ever since those days where we’d play for hours on Friday nights, we’ve really settled into a dynamic groove.

Can you elaborate on your live setup?

No.

You’re able to fuse your production techniques in a way that accomplishes groundbreaking taste.  In what ways would you say variation in individual production styles allows the finished product to balance out the whole?

Our individual styles have definitely shaped our taste in production. Tsuruda comes from a classical background, he was trained from a very young age as a singer. Additionally, his love of hip-hop and extensive knowledge of the genre’s roots gives his music it’s lofi, heady feel. Huxley comes from a background of electronica and jazz, she grew up listening to Autechre and Miles Davis on repeat. To be able to fuse our love of all four flavors together, classical music, hip-hop, electronica, and jazz, gives us an extensive world to create within. It’s always fun to hear what new ideas come out of that ephemeral plate.

Outside of sound design and AV creativity, what rituals/practices do you tap into on the regular which helps to further your balance and focus?

Tsuruda: I’m always trying to get active when i’m not making art. Rock climbing is my go to form of exercise. We have a really rad community of musicians who climb in the Los Angeles area and it’s been mad fun getting back into the sport. I also play kendama (if you don’t know what that is look that ish up) when i need a break from the studio. It never fails to clear my mind and give my eyes a rest from looking at my computer/cell phone all day.

Huxley Anne: A limitless love of film & a regular yoga practice. I’m a very narrative thinker, so watching film on almost a nightly basis inspires songs, various characters, and ideas for conceptual albums. That’s what I want my music to do, really, is tell stories. To keep actively engaged, I practice kundalini yoga regularly. The fast, repetitive chants, engaged movements, and consistent stretching that comes along with any yoga practice definitely relaxes my body after hours spent in the studio.

Who has been your #1 musical inspiration that continues to impress you on the regular? How so?

Huxley Anne: That changes every day. Today, it’s Chuck Berry. Yesterday, it was Ron Carter. Tomorrow, could be Elvis or Donovan or The Caretaker or Teebs or Amon Tobin. I’m continually impressed with music’s ability to permeate all facets of human emotion, and each artist’s attempt at expressing their own story can engage me differently based on how I’m feeling.

Tsuruda: Madlib.

Any book recommendations?

Tsuruda: Anything by Larry McMurtry.  

Huxley Anne: Oooooh I could give you a list of 1000! For young women seeking empowerment, I recommend The Diary of Anais Nin. For those who play an instrument, “In Search of Duende” by Federico Garcia Lorca. For sound geeks, Microsound by Curtis Roads. For fun, A Confederacy of Dunces.

Are you working on any new projects/ideas at the moment?

We are both writing new solo albums, and a new PAINT project is brewing. But we can’t tell you much more than that.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Huxley Anne“It seemed now to largely have been some form of play. And he vowed that in the future he would strive to keep that sense of play more in mind, for he’d grown convinced that play — more than piety, more than charity or vigilance — was what allowed human beings to transcend evil.”

Tsuruda: “Be all in or get all out!”

Anything else you would like to share with us?

Exodus Review

Beast Mode enters a smooth yet ever-changing flow of clarity through various elemental sounds, chanting bells and steady atmospheric synth-scapes making it possible to breathe.  A release, a mystery message waiting to unfold soon arrives through heavily steady pulsating drum beats and exhilarating bass.  Exposing an aftermath of painting frequencies, rhythms and crescendoing triggers, it offers complex layers of deep intricacy which gives rise to a mode of intentional necessity. Expression then circles and mellows.

Experimental Gaiden explores an indescribable feel, somewhere between dark and light, heavy yet ambient tones deliver a tasteful approach to innovative design.  Structural breaks through shattering sub bass fuels new found knowledge that reveals a moment of truth as you hear expressive hip hop vocals, “Tell me how you feel”.  Individual focus one must attain in order to expand the inside-out energetic experience for change are felt through diverse building risers. Shifting the frequencies, they create unpredictable amplified beats fused in twisted technical textures.

Exodus arrives expanding on the densely focused theme by these beatsmiths’ impactful pattern. Revealing a deep representation of a breakthrough,  growling bass leads ignite an aftermath of new existence. The blocks unblock through striking sounds as punchy beat pulsations twirl echoing reverbs as an alarming soundscape makes a bold departure.  Trickling steady soundscapes, wake up.

Jazzy and luminously smooth Reverie transcends the dark through introductory soothing white noise. A shimmery and luscious fluid design swerves into an infinite atmosphere of instrumental vibrations and melodic wonders of classical roots.  New found messages liven the mood and expands into new palates of soothing touches of ambience. A heavier dose approaches towards the final release, but it’s white noise again, we made it – the sirens howl possibility.

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