The Odder and The Unnoticed
Teaspoon to the Ocean, Dreams & Transhumanism with Jib Kidder
I wanted to follow up with Sean Schuster-Craig aka Jib Kidder, about his newest release, Teaspoon to the Ocean, after his phenomenal tape, IV — which I still consider one of the best releases of 2013. Teaspoon to the Ocean is a dreamy affair with Sean’s polyrhythmic drums and baselines woven through, then passed through a raag blender. Much of the album sits comfortably as a space lounge rock great and it’s the much softer of the pop album duo Sean’s worked on…ideal for lucid dreams and other forays into consciousness. Animated in it’s entirety, the album is available on Youtube and vinyl on Weird World Records.
Teaspoon to the Ocean, is musically somewhere between Synthpop & Southeast Asia. What shapes this album?
No synths were used on this record! I do not own a synth. I do not borrow them from people. If you think you were hearing some, that’s either Ebowed guitar or loops of my voice. 4 years ago I quite deliberately set out to make a pop record. I didn’t know quite what that meant and I thought I had already been making pop records for years but somehow I knew I had not been. But either way I had to open up some new vulnerability or else risk making music that was a shell of what I had made previously.
Steal Guitars perfected the collage form I had been working on for years. I know it is perfect because no one listens to it all. No one has ever heard that record. Sometime deep in the future people will understand that record. So I set out to make a pop record and ended up with 2 instead. Economic forces split the work in two so now there is IV, the raw pop record, the punk pop record and Teaspoon the more labored-over, dreamy record. Seefeel and Cocteau Twins helped shape the latter. IV is the better record, so it will probably go more unnoticed.
My recent dreams are about metaphysical societies and utopian awakenings. What have you been dreaming about and what do you imagine they mean?
Having a child has buried my dream life. If I awake in the night it is to a crying child and I forget my dreams immediately. But I did recall this dream recently.
IRL my son eats these rocks that are all around the ground on the campus of this conservative, moneyed, science research institute in Manhattan where one day I awoke and found myself raising a family.
My dream is that my teeth are falling out, tons of teeth, but as I spit them out I realize that they are the rocks that Sylas eats, except two of the rocks actually are teeth. So I spend some time sorting out the teeth from the rocks and making plans to see a dentist to get the teeth glued back in.
I reject reductive interpretations of dreams just as I reject reductive interpretations of songs. I have learned that in both science and art, intuition is followed to uncover new truths by noticing the sensibleness within the insensible. Symbolism only has functionality due to the interconnectedness of everything.
Dream objects and the things they touch on are not equivalents. Dreams and songs are most sensible without being analyzed, but they are rich enough that you can have a lot of different kinds of thoughts about them. This fact tells us something important about our thinking, that we should be very skeptical of the things that occur to us, when they arrive to us in pieces.
A pile of wires and parts is not a radio until it is one. I found out recently that my sister and my father also lose their teeth in their dreams. Perhaps we inherit our dreams.
Dream excerpts from The Dog with the Cat in it.
Mostly they are these things: (1) I am unprepared. I need wires to play this show and there are no wires. I need boxes. No boxes. Looking for songs. Did I write songs? Looking for an unwritten song. I can shrink myself a little myself a little but I cannot shrink as fast as these songs. Sometimes, it’s that I cannot find the child, and even when I do find him, he is immediately lost once again, or is shrinking at a rate that is impossible to keep up with. (2) Decay is a domino chain. A tooth is loose and as I tend to it more teeth loosen. Blood and teeth in the bathroom sink. Bloody gums in the bathroom mirror. (3) I may take solace in having not killed someone (or in only almost killing someone (at which point I recall when and whom I (or we) did kill).
It seems these days that many of us hold steadfast to some ontological system. You live in NYC, how do you escape?
In NYC you escape into culture, you escape into people. But I don’t suppose that is really what I am doing. I would say much like every other self-actualizing Manhattanite, I escape into work. I am lucky, in that my work at this point is a kind of out-loud dreaming.
Your outputs are diverse, references to a varied artistic, intellectual & geographic past. What are your current obsessions?
Eric Weets, Painting No. 8: Conscious Times. Also, there is this book from 1937, Everything’s Pixelated, which is a sort of doodle dictionary of personality types. I’d like to get my hands on that.
In altered states, I turn chromesthesia. Thoughts on music, entheogen & senses?
Music is spiritual. Our religious institutions are corrupt, our economic system is corrupt. An embrace of the psychedelic substance as a healing tool for our world is our only hope. Music is a door there but if we enter as hedonists we’ll find an empty room.
Your artwork stretches from yarn to found things to doodles. How does your art relate to our current visual culture?
I make visual art to save me from happens between my music and the world. I don’t give a shit about our current visual culture. The internet looks horrible.
Anything you put on the internet looks horrible.
Google Glasses is a nice way to remove all beauty from the world. The people involved in making such a device desire such a world. We would do well to strip them of power.
Do you have any predictions or inklings for 2015?
I believe that things will get worse this year. That our world will make more headway to its death in this year than in many recent years combined. I believe people will become more isolated, more unhappy, that the rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer. Our government’s stalemate will slow to total gridlock, more children will kill more children, more cops will kill more unarmed blacks and the conversations we have about these things will become even less effectual, more insane.
I’m inclined to agree with 2015 but our species is extremely resilient and just as violent. Is there a future outcome that isn’t dystopian?
Pessimism and optimism seem to be dispositions. I can’t really escape mine as the former, while acknowledging that progress is dependent on the latter. Statistically we are less violent than we have ever been. But that does not correlate with finding more meaning in the world. I think these TED Talk Peter Thiel types would be satisfied to do away with death and upload minds into machines — problem solved.
Imagine the devaluing of music that happened with the advent of the mp3 and apply it to life. The end of death is the end of life but the end of separation is the beginning of utopia.
When Absurdist was being hatched during an ayahuasca retreat in Colombia, Sean seemed like an interesting fellow to talk to, not to mention the album shares it’s release date with my birthday.
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