Minóy Interview (by Das of Big City Orchestra), Jan 23, 1986 (at KZSC FM, Santa Cruz)
Das- I've got a special guest up here tonight, it's Minóy.
Das- Is that nice in the background there?
Minóy- It's very nice.
Das- It's still somewhat ambient, I guess.
Minóy- Oh, I love ambient music.
Das- Now that's ...(inaudible)
Minóy- Are you a critic?
Das- Mmm hmm
Minóy- You label things.
Das- Anyway, you're up here from L.A. on your way to...
Minóy- Shhh, you weren't supposed to say that.
Das- Well, actually you don't. You live in L.A. but you don't.
Minóy- I live in Torrance.
Das- You live in Torrance.
Minóy- But I have to travel through L.A. for some things, like, to get here.
Das- That's true. Actually we can give your address out if people want to send things.
Minóy- Certainly. Absolutely. They can write for my catalogue.
Das- That’s true. Go ahead and give your address out.
Minóy- Okay, 923 W. 232 St, Torrance California 90502.
Das- And people that have been listening to this show have heard Minóy over I guess, what...? About three years now?
Minóy- Yeah, about.
Das- And you're recording a live mic of this and a line mic of it.
Minóy- Yes, I hope to do something with everything.
Das- Have you been recording Santa Cruz when you're up here?
Minóy- I have. In fact one of the tapes for the performance tonight was recorded in the motel last night on an FM station.
Das- Oh good, what station? Let's give it out.
Minóy- There was no call letters, it was just the same thing repeating over and over and over, I thought it was the most interesting station in town.
Das- Going over and over again?
Minóy- Yeah, over and over and over!
Das- You have a cassette all cued up. This is something new, this is ‘86? Or?
Minóy- Late '85. It hasn't been released yet though, this is like a premiere.
Das- Good, I’ve got like four new Minóy tapes to unleash up here. We're gonna go right into that...
Minóy- The first piece is in my new style by the way.
Das- Ok, how does that change from your old style?
Minóy- A lot, it's very rhythmic, it's not ambient. But I still like ambient music.
Das- Same instrumentation you were using before?
Minóy- No, completely different. It's maybe even high tech.
Das- you want to say what you're gonna be using in here tonight? Or? Well, why don't you say what's on the tape and then we'll go into what you're gonna play tonight a little later when it's relevant.
Minóy- ‘Initiation’ uses a very expensive Yamaha keyboard and a tape loop.
Das- Sounds like what we need to hear.
(music plays, conversation goes off air now recorded on live mic)
Unknown Voice- Are you expecting a couple people?
Das- No, are there a couple here?
Unknown Voice- Yeah.
Minóy- They're probably my fans.
Das- How long is this (track)?
Minóy- About 10 minutes.
Das- Oh good...
Minóy- Why is ambient not valid?
Minóy- Why is ambient music not valid?
Das- To who?
Das- Well, I think it is.
Minóy- No, but I mean they changed the show to the morning?
Das- Oh no, it's just the person doing the show left.
Das- Y'know, not him, it was somebody else who actually had the show and they left and this guy is new and doesn't have the seniority to take over a slot like that. That's basically what it came down to. Y'know, generally, we don't keep a show, it's a person.
Minóy- I see. Industrial what?
Das- Anesthesia technique for total abdominal hysterectomy...
Minóy- (giggles) why don't you play that during my performance?
Das- (opening tape packaging) Thanks, guy, it's like sealed. It won't come out without destroying the packaging. I HATE DESTROYING THE PACKAGING! I love these bands, there's like a couple, like Crawling With Tarts, that do some of the best packaging but you destroy it. It's like you just really want to have two copies of it so you can just open one. Have you ever seen any of their stuff? Yeah, they're from up here.
Minóy- They're good.
Das- Yeah, yeah, I like their stuff a lot. Actually we're going to be working with them next weekend doing some studio stuff... (still opening the tape packaging) This is the weirdest tape too, not like regular, like really thick tape.
Minóy- I think all these people read Option and instantly decide we can do that too! And they all do!
Das- Uhh huh. And some of it's real good! So it's okay.
Das- No it's really nice. Like, over the last three or four years we've changed from still getting, y'know, demo tape things to getting real people that are just doing music and tape is the medium that's most applicable. So, how'd you get the rhythm? Is that off the Yamaha?
Minóy- Mmm hmm...
Das- And you looped that? Or?
Minóy- No, that's the memory. I played the memory over and over and over, then I played on top of it and I had another tape going.
(music continues, no conversation for a minute or more)
Das- Oh boy, Sound Choice.
Minóy- 'Mail artist performer', you never used to hear that. Mail art, y’know, you didn't do that.
Das- Yeah, it was like since he did that...
Minóy- You were politically incorrect.
Das- Yeah, p.c. yea, that's one thing Santa Cruz is, more than anything else, we're politically correct. So much fun putting that down. No, this station, is like incredibly (inaudible)... I mean, it's such a collective that nothing gets done, you know, it's that kind of thing. You just have to go ahead and do stuff and people get angry for a week but then go well, oh well, actually, that's worked out pretty nice! Y'know but if you brought it up at a meeting it's like y'know you might as well not even have thought of it.
Minóy- I saw this thing where you didn't have cheerleaders for the longest time and now all of a sudden you have cheerleaders for your football team, and they were saying it was sexist. And they interviewed one of the cheerleaders on the television and she said 'but we like to do it, we're not forced to do this, it's not sexist!' But someone was worried, someone had made a complaint that it was sexist.
Das- Well, that's like they aren't having the Miss America pageant here any more, they've had too many incidents of women dressing in meat walking around the place!
Minóy- Dressing in meat, that's a good title.
Das- Oh yeah, we've got like Nikki Craft up here, is like this pretty severe wanker, political wanker, that umm, goes around (inaudible) Playboys and Penthouses in liquor stores and getting arrested for it and getting all sorts of publicity for it.
Minóy- Why doesn't she call herself a performance artist?
Das- But you know what I mean? It's sort of like don't buy it if you don't want it. You're as bad as the moral majority when you keep on doing that!
Minóy- Exactly. You don't have to buy it, no one's forcing you to look at it or buy it. Yeah, if you don't like this, what's playing on the radio, switch the station!
Das- (Laughing) Yeah we get that a lot! Like, what are you playing!? It's like you have found the wrong station! What station are you listening to? No, this isn’t KUSP, we're right to the left. But then again sometimes we play games with that (inaudible)... We've got like about a thousand more watts than they have so we have just like done that for short periods of time and stuff.
Das- And I’m also hopefully going to be able to sub for this guy, who’s not going to do his show because he wants to watch the Super Bowl. So I’m going to do his show during the Super Bowl and I’m going to like peg that thing so it takes over the whole frequency! Like we'll have the game here and if anything really important comes up just be able to wipe it out!
Minóy- (laughing) That's great! I hate Football.
Das- So is this your Yamaha you're using on this? Cool.
Minóy- And umm, tapes and radio...
Das- I love like mixing high tech and low tech together.
Minóy- Kim is sort of down on high tech, but I mean...
Das- Well, that's the thing with the show stuff, it's like we open the first one with like super high tech, and they want to keep doing stages down till the last one is just some guy laying on the floor screaming for 20 minutes.
Minóy- Yeah, I may do that.
Das- We like to have these real weird boundaries, we'll have like, we've got two Emulators, but my favorite instrument is my metal detector. Y'know I’ve got this metal detector that we plug into an amp and it's just like WHEEEEE! Basically it just has this one volume, you can change the frequency, and it feeds back really easy.
Minóy- I've been playing the guitar with cassette packet boxes and it's really like a weird slide guitar, but it's so plastic sounding...
Das- Is that a guitar, or was that a mandolin? I didn't even really look at it.
Minóy- It's a missing-one-string guitar, I play so intensely that I popped a string.
Das- Riffing out.
Minóy- And I haven't replaced it cause I didn't know why it was there. We're getting near the end of this (track).
Das- Okay, you want to go into the next piece or? Come back?
Minóy- Yeah, let's go to the next one cause it's so ambient. (laughs)
Das- Fine, I mean however long you want to let it play...
Minóy- It's very different, it's very...
Das- Is this a radio person in here? (on the track)
Das- Kind of like a little radio coming in.
Minóy- Oh yeah, there's radio, yeah. At least it's not Reagan.
Das- Yeah, I've got to make up some copies of the things we're doing. We're releasing this one pretty soon. Basically it's a compilation of the weird sounds that have happened up here over the last three years and it's all distilled down to 90 minutes. It was pretty difficult to...
Minóy- Ubu Ibi?
Das- Yeah. For want of a better word, that (inaudible) is a trademark. I pay my seven dollars a year for it.
Minóy- You actually trademarked it?
Das- At seven dollars a year.
Minóy- I've been putting copyright on everything and I don't do it, y'know... Not that it matters yet.
Das- Oh it does (inaudible)... Also, we can listen to like KPFA or any other radio station here.
Minóy- No, really, if you want, when I'm in there, flip on some radio stations, just little mini-seconds of it, cause that's what I’m going to be doing with the tape recorder, and just, y'know, just whenever it feels right.
Das- Yea, this is so funny, when we had this one going over both of the (inaudible) and coming back around...
Minóy- What was playing?
Das- Well, basically, we take little chunks of everything playing and we have the two Ataris going in there and then like little things, like these loops I do here, and like taking 45's with the big spindle hole and putting them off center, y'know, there's all kinds of different things.
Minóy- this is great.
Das- Umm, yea, it's just really nice to have all this equipment to, like, cheese out with.
Minóy- Do you ever get any really serious callers? I mean asking about the philosophy, y'know, what is the philosophy of what you are doing? Are you a maximalist?
Das- Oh yea, oh yea.
Minóy- They get really serious.
Das- You get them on the radio all the time.
Minóy- This one's ending. Yeah, just go into (next track) 'Ito'.
Das- Yeah, I’ll send you down some of my stuff.
Minóy- I'd love to hear it.
Das- What I’m trying to do this year is we're gonna try and release about six cassettes, all through different distributors, and basically give them exclusive cause I’m really burned. Like after doing 700 Beatle Hells last year, and then all these other ones and making 20, 30, 50 a hundred of different ones, I’m just burned out.
Minóy- I know... Mmm. I'm still doing it all myself and I’m getting...
Das- yea, so we've got enough distributors and that sort of thing, that we can, y'know, RRRecords here take this one, Sound Of Pig we want them to do one, everything is all finished for them.
Minóy- Al (Margolis) does good stuff.
Das- Yeah, I like his stuff. Overall his label is really good. There's just a couple of things, however, like, well, I don't care too much for- Sombrero Galaxy. A little too (inaudible) ... And then all the compilations he's gotta be the most, umm, pumping out the most compilations in this country.
Minóy- Ken Clinger was doing a lot of that, then he moved to Pittsburgh and I haven't heard from him. I need to send him a new tape.
Das- I love this, cause I’ve been hearing your stuff for quite a while, and y'know, Al, we're talking about all these guys, y'know, it's like this great networking thing...
Minóy- It is. Al was worried about me because I hadn't written him in a couple of months. I just hadn't had any time. So, I just sent him two new cassettes. And Zan Hoffman and I have been doing...
Das- Zan Hoffman?
Minóy- He's down in Des Moines. Mister Zan? Ever heard of him? He does extraordinary numbers of things and we've been doing collaborations through the mail, he's calling them dubs and they have like names that look like Welsh names that go on for 50 letters. And I have no idea what he's about but, anyway, he seems to like what I do. So, what we do we just take, I'll send him something and he'll just push it as far as he can push it and he'll send it back to me and then I'll push as far as I can push it and add some more stuff. And then it keeps going back and they're all one of a kind, and so nobody knows which number it is, and he has a very unusual classifying system which I don't understand at all. And I have my own classification system, so I have copies of some but, not all. So, God knows what people get when they order his tapes!
Das- Uhh huh, Hoffman really rings a bell.
Minóy- He does a lot of mail art. That's how met, through mail art. He collects...
Das- I sort of got burned on the mail art thing, cause there's like so many people who take it-
Minóy- They don't give it.
Das- Yeah, they don't give it, or they give away the garbage.
Minóy- Yeah, there's a lot of junk in it.
Das- it's like, spend some time. Y'know don't just ... I'm really tired of collages too, political collages, lightly political collages, are just so tedious.
Minóy- I hate these... y'know I’ll send an original drawing, not xerox, that I’ve taken some time to do, and I'll get a commercial post card someone has cut the head out and put something on it. Y'know, I get really pissed about that... My activities have gone much more toward the cassette network than the mail art network.
Das- Well, it sort of (inaudible) ... You can do your own artwork on the cassette if you want to.
Minóy- Yeah, it seems more of an even exchange.
Das- I mean, like Crawling With Tarts, did you get the one wrapped in rice paper and everything? Oh, man, that one looks incredible. Had like four layers of rice paper tied each one with this kind of weird string that was hand-made, woven, and then the whole thing also had these little bamboo, all of these tiny little rods of bamboo that were glued one at a time over the top layer. Easily took them two hours to do. And it was just like I"M SUPPOSED TO TAKE THIS APART?! I want to play the music, and there was no way, they made sure that it had to be destroyed.
Minóy- Yeah, Zan does that. He has a very elaborate packaging, and you end up tearing so much of it just to get to the tape.
Das- we did a magazine like that once. It was like you couldn't understand the magazine before you destroyed it so you could never turn it over to a friend. You had to say to a friend you've got to go get that magazine, it was a freebie we did a couple of times.
Minóy- It’s an interesting idea. I have a friend in uhhh... Philadelphia, John Hudak, who is in mail art and cassettes but he only sends out, like even to Option to review, one-of-a-kind tapes. Which really freaks people out because they want to find out how they can order it and they can't.
Das- They can get something else.
Minóy- Right, they get something else. I think that's a really unusual approach, I haven't heard much of that going out. He sends me tapes, weird tapes of him... He thinks art is bullshit, and he thinks he's performing his life, so his idea of a tape to me is he takes a shower and sends it to me. And another time he did a drawing on tape for me, I mean the sound of pen on paper drawing, and that was his tape. And one time he was talking to his wife about going to a drugstore to get a pregnancy test and that was a tape he sent out for review. Really kind of radical things! He's into very existential things, y'know what he's doing at that moment is the most important thing.
Das- That's good, that's good.
Minóy- Why don't we cut after that and talk (on air)? This is getting ready to go off.
Das- (on-air) Yea we were just talking about how much fun it is to network, and we were just discussing people on a first name basis that we've never met. But, we know and like Al, yeah right, Al! We played Sound Of Pig all last week here. And uh, Minóy here knows Al and a lot of the other people we've been listening to here and exchanging tapes with.
Minóy- Yeah, but we've never actually met in person, in the flesh, it's all through the mail. I find it astounding that this much communication can be done through the mails. Going from mail art to cassette networking or sound art.
Das- It keeps shifting, yeah. Well, before mail art- god, I don't know where it all began, but about 7/8 years ago it was a big thing of concert taping and trading and that sort of went into mail art and then that's gone into people making their own cassettes and sending them around.
Minóy- Yeah. There's more coverage too of people doing things like that.
Das- Oh yeah, we've got Option, and Sound Choice and umm...
Das- Another Room Magazine, and, god, dozens of others in every town...
Minóy- And all kinds of contact lists and ummm... networking news... Robin James is doing a whole book on cassettes.
Das- Yeah, actually he came down, I met him. He came down to do an interview of me and that will be in his box set. I just got a flyer from him yesterday and it said, y'know, it's got his chapter headings and there's, yeah, said he was gonna have an interview with me.
Minóy- Yeah, me too.
(introduction and live performance of Minóy's piece, 'Expansions')
(on-air interview proceeds after Minoy's live performance)
Minóy- I believe in, I thrive on contradiction.
Das- Talk some more about your mail art.
Minóy- I've been doing mail art since 1980, all over the world. I've met some very extraordinary people and I've met some really slimy people too. No one ever says that about mail art, but there are very slimy people that exist-
Das- Anybody who calls it mail art when they send it to you is technically, politically incorrect.
Minóy- I know but we try not to judge. Mail art and money don't mix. Mail art is non-judgmental.
Das- Well, there is BAD mail art though.
Minóy- That's right and there's good mail art and there's indifferent mail art and there's junk mail art and it's ALL mail art and you have the option of keeping it, or throwing it away. What I usually do if I get a piece I don't like, I never throw it away, I recycle it onto my friends...
Das-That you don't like?
Minóy- No, friends that I like, friends that I don't like, I recycle into shows that have a special theme. I don't like shows with themes, because I don't like these themes, I can't think of these ideas, what can I do about a chair? Not to mention anyone in particular, but I just can't get into some themes. So, I would rather have it an open theme. Just like in my music, I'd rather have "open" music, no categories.
Das-Oh, you don't want to categorize? It's independent music, how about that?
Minóy- That's good. That's good. Some people have categorized my music, some people have said my music is new age. That was about a year ago.
Das-And uh some of the stuff we heard on the tape was of a quieter, more restful, almost tranquil mood.
Minóy- Yeah, I still do that sort of thing, in fact, this evening's broadcast will end with a kind of ambient, quiet, new age piece. Uh, I like all kinds of music but I don't like to be categorized. I leave that up to the people who listen to it, or the critics who might write about it. I've been called a "maximalist" lately.
Minóy- I think it's because I use a lot of dense texture, and a lot of people fear that my tapes are just gonna go off the deep end, but they're NOT, they're always very much in control.
Das- Ok, who is this guy that you keep talking about though that you keep sending the tapes back and forth with?
Minóy- Mr. Zan. Zan Hoffman in Des Moines, Iowa.
Das- Yeah, I'm sure we've been playing some of his stuff, I'm sure, that name just like rings a bell...
Minóy- He loves the idea of a very dense texture and pushing the sonic barrier as far as you can push it, and then sending me the result and asking me to push it further. And to add things, and I'll send him my result and he'll take it and add other things and push and push and push until you have... he calls them dubs. And we have Minóy/Zan dubs, and he has these very extravagant titles that look something like Welsh towns, or something, they go on for something like 29-30 letters...
Das- I would think that a lot of the music, or the craft, the audio stuff that's on the tape, disappears with each wash.
Minóy- Oh yes, that's part of the experience, you know, because you add another layer and it's like a De Kooning painting, if he decides to smear that particular color, that pattern's not going to be there any more.
Das- Or whitewash the whole thing...
Minóy- Yes! well, if you keep doing it I think probably you would end up with white noise. And what's beyond the white noise?
Das- Yeah but then you can take that and speed up the white noise and you've got... y'know...
Minóy- Yeah, you've got fast white noise. Then you can take that and play it backwards.
Das- Uh huh, or you can put pauses in it and make beats out of it and then loop it and then beats no longer make sense but they start making a rhythm of their own.
Minóy- Yes, I like the idea of speeding up a tape until it gets shorter and shorter, and speed up the copy, speed up the copy of the copy etc until a 30 minute piece is now 5 minutes long. and you have all this very dense music and sound and its like a black hole, an audio black hole, y'know you don't quite know what's going to happen if you push it a little bit further.
Das- I think you are a maximalist. Not at all times though... sometimes. And, uh, other networking people we were talking about Crawling With Tarts are supposed have a new cassette out, and hopefully they'll send it up here real soon and we'll demolish the wonderful packaging. Have you got some of their tapes?
Minóy-No, but I've seen some. And the idea of packaging which you have to destroy to get to the tape is an intriguing idea, it's almost like a one of a kind thing, you have to uh, in order to experience the art you have to destroy art, you have to involve yourself in it. That's the response. I always feel that my music is never complete unless someone hears it, someone touches it, someone feels it, hates it, loves it, anything but just sits back and goes 'oh interesting'. I hate that. I would much rather provoke a continuing stream of negative reviews than people to say oh that's so nice...
Das-That is one of the most decrepit words in our language.What is the history of mail art? Your history, were you doing that in Memphis?
Minóy-No, I didn't know about it in Memphis.
Das- But were you doing it anyway?
Minóy- I found out that I really was doing mail art all my life if I was writing, y'know, a cousin, or a friend, or something, I would always include a new poem I had written, or a new drawing, a new photograph, something like that, I didn't know people had a name for it, I didn't know it was so organized.
Das- Mmm hmm, well there's like even a mail art museum now in New York...
Das- Yeah I got a flyer from them and it looked pretty ridiculous.
Minóy- Well, Franklin Furnace, y'know, has a huge archive of mail art and also has varying reputations among the mail artists themselves because of the infamous Ronny Cohen affair.
Das- I don't know about that.
Minóy- Well, it ended up that she was accused of jurying the show, y'know, and mail art is not supposed to have a jury, all things are supposed to be shown and she didn't show everything according to some people. She said her idea was to revolve the show and not put it all up at once , but that's still very much talked about in the mail art community...
Das- Where was that?
Minóy- This was in New York City and this was in 1984.
Minóy- Franklin Furnace, very infamous in the annals of mail art history.
Das- Now is that a place, the Furnace?
Minóy- Yeah, it's an archival place for artists books, mail art and there's a lot of performance that's done there...
Das- Mmm, I'll have to get their address cause I'll be going to New York in March.
Minóy- Oh, well you've got to visit Franklin Furnace and Printed Matter and all those places.
Das- Yeah, they've had a couple of non-juried mail art shows up at the Martin Weber gallery where you'll be...
Das- I don't know, I guess you didn't have anything... The one guy's name was Yoshuki Osumi or something like that... his last name was O-S-
U-M-I or something like that.
Minóy- I could've been in there. I've done so many I can't remember.
Das- He came over from Japan with his huge collection, and y'know basically covered the walls. It was thousands of pieces.
Minóy- Yeah, I know lots of mail artists whose archives would fill rooms and rooms.
Das- Mmm hmm, is that what they usually do? Or uh...?
Minóy- Well, I think most people keep it and archive it. Some people get very fed up with it and decide to burn the whole thing...
Das- uh huh, what? Filing cabinets...
Minóy- Yeah, filing cabinets, cardboard boxes, any kind of-
Das- It's almost like it has to go up or it's being wasted in a way.
Minóy- Yeah, well... I don't think it has to go up, I just think it has to be opened.
Das- Mmm hmm, one-shot deal...
Minóy- Yeah, as long as you LOOK at it, y'know, and ideally you should respond in like manner, or MORE than like manner. The problem comes when someone responds in LESS manner, and...
Das- No, it's (?) when you keep building off each other... Like, Oh this person, he's willing to do this much, well great, here... You know...
Minóy- Yeah, I know a guy in Washington D.C., Michael VooDoo, who is uh.. The hot number on the mail art circuit and he sent out something like five or six thousand Xerox last year. And he would send twenty to my one, I can't keep up with him.
Das- They're all different?
Minóy- Yes, they're all different.
Das- Hmm, what kind of stuff is it?
Minóy- Some of it's pornographic, some of it is very political, some of it's very ordinary postage stamps, a lot of mail artists do stamps of themselves.
Das- Yeah, stamping...
Minóy- Yeah, rubber stamps. Umm, he tends towards a more political slant, or sexual slant.
Das- Yeah, a lot of mail artists though are getting into the cassette thing cause like you were saying earlier is cassette culture is so cheap, or at least so accessible, that everybody can have a deck and thereupon they become a musician of their own type, or an artist, I want to say that more than a musician, cause musician has it's own connotation.
Minóy- Yeah, I like 'artist', 'sound artist', or something like that. Or not even sound, I mean a lot of people just recite their poetry on tapes and send it out or something. I have a lot of friends I correspond with on tape instead of writing letters, it's much quicker just to correspond on tape. I've been doing that for 10 or 12 years.
Das- Yeah, I think that's how I probably started out. Sending, uh, I used to live in another country, and would send tapes to friends, y'know...
Minóy- Yeah, yeah... That evolved into 'contacts', oh well I know so-and-so that you sent to and why don't you send a tape to him?
Das- Well, yeah, we've been doing that when the tapes have been running here, it's like going oh right, yeah of course we know... You know... It's getting bigger though, it's getting bigger and bigger all the time.
Minóy- It is, yes that's true, and if all these people met in one place it would be astounding. I don't know, up in San Francisco there are a whole bunch of people I hope to meet.
Das- San Francisco is really big! Umm, bigger than L.A. I would have to say as far as like this kind of, I don't want to say subversive, or underground, but it's kind of an alternative culture and it's much bigger and it seems to be bigger than New York too. I mean, New York is like, people are doing things of the same sort but they're actually making money at it so it's not the same really...
Minóy- No it's not the same.