23 Questions for Matthew Schultz
I’ve known Matthew Schultz for many years, having spent some of our formative years in the same college town, running in similar unconventional circles in that milieu - We’ve since gone on to do many other things, but I thought it would be interesting to interview Mr. Schultz in that
the entire time I’ve known him, he has constantly been vigorously pursuing the more challenging strains of art - Here’s the 23 Questions for Matthew Schultz.
I think you are probably most widely known for your work in Lab Report / Pigface. Anything you’d like to say about that ?
Those were two very different projects, albeit aligned in the same appendage of alternative music. At the time, I had created my version of this instrument called the Anti Tank Guitar or ATG. It was a large lap steel behemoth that could generate incredibly low frequencies and percussive blasts. I used it in both bands and the music was predominantly dark ambient.
It was very much a form of shadow practice for me personally. Admittedly, I could not see it as clearly as I do now, but I used to say in interviews that I was "Expressing the collective unconscious of American culture." In other words, I was purging demons, mine, and the public. And in general, creating an aural darkness so black that people would want to turn from it. Unfortunately, they did not. They embraced it. So, I decided to call it quits and dissolve the project.
What is your current environment like?
Considering that the first question took us back almost 30 years, and it feels that my week is everyone else's year, where I am at now is in great contrast to the Pigface Lab Report days. I have lived 10 lifetimes. Personally, I believe in evolution and progression. If I were to be doing the same thing that I was back then, I would most certainly and immediately discontinue this incarnation. I feel that I need to keep building on my past, and my learned experiences and grow and evolve.
With that said, I am now a college professor and I teach art and design. I live in a small quaint dwelling in a rural area of Illinois with very few possessions. Mostly, I have altars around my home in which I work on my Matgick, indigenous and shamanic practices. I run sweat lodges based on Lakota and Mesoamerican Mayan traditions and create art and what could be considered new age music. I run sweat lodges.
You can visit that site here.
You practice creative projects across a wide spectrum - Performance / Music / Visual Art / Etc.. What medium do you find the most consistency interesting to you ?
They all do. Honestly, I am interested in everything and I need to be involved in many different mediums. When I created The Division, I was working on music, sculpture, ceramics, bookbinding, and performance all in the same day. It was fantastic. I loved it. The Division is an entire hermetic order that I created, replete with a museum exhibition.
You can visit that website here.
Admittedly, although I am not a musician, it seems that I have done a lot of music and that was my main interest for quite some time. I think I have been on some 35 albums now with 8 solo productions. Here is the link.
I know you’ve worked with some pretty notable individuals - Are there any artists out there that you would really like to collaborate with?
Genesis P-Orridge and Lydia Lunch were on my 2nd CD. Gen, in particular, was truly one of the most interesting individuals for me to collaborate with because I was such a huge TG fan growing up. I really feel that Throbbing Gristle was one of the most influential sound projects to me. I also love your work, Neal!! I love collaborating with you!
If I could collaborate now? It's hard to pick because I have so many different avenues of production. Is this an "If you could hang out with anyone? Who would it be.... type questions?" I would like to work with Alejandro Jodorowsky on an esoteric film about the tarot. Oh, wait...!! Here is an image of a card from the tarot deck I am currently designing.
What can you say about your film experiments?
I was a cinema student a long time ago and I my main interest was experimental shorts. More recently, I edited a feature on the Karmapa entitled "Never Give Up. ~ Karmapa 17." This was a straight forward documentary. I have to say that I do prefer the experimental. There is a poetry that film can create in which most film ignores, en lieu of straightforward narratives, and apparently now with superheroes. The ability to run overlays and multiple layers can so simultaneously express concepts that no other art can achieve. When Lab Report played, in its prime, I had over 13 movie projectors running super 8 and 16mm films in slow motion at the same time. There was a blending of 1970s stag porn and family home movies...everything was
crossing each other and accompanied by the most horrific nightmare music. It was a textural field and fans after expressed that they wouldn’t have sex for months after a show. Mission accomplished, I thought.
As cinema grew quicker, more staccato and progressive, and because I became interested and am still interested in slowing time down, both literally and figuratively, and because I already explored the multi-textural overlays, I started to create single shot experimental shorts. I completely understand that this has been done with Warhol’s 'Empire' but I wanted to explore the lack of manipulation and force the viewer to meditate on one simple idea. I feel that there was a meditative aspect to the film then. That and there is "a truth" in not editing.
You can view some of those videos here.
What keeps you busy these days?
Nowadays, I run sweat lodges and practice learning traditional indigenous songs, mostly Lakota. I also build ceramic instruments like ocarinas and drums. In 2007 I had started working with a Lakota medicine man. I was a fire tender and worked with him for years. At the same time, I started studying with Mayan elders and for two years frequented Guatemala and Mexico working with them and I was initiated in 2010. I did my vision quests and received my peace pipe in 2011.
I know you are involved in a lot of critical thinking about art in general - What do you think the state of the Art world, or Art itself is art the current moment?
Simply put, fine art is dead. Almost all the true talent left and went into design, film, comics, animation, music, and motion graphics. Most of what I see nowadays in fine art, albeit may be good or moderately interesting, is really just rehashing old hack. Seriously, I feel the field is barren and void of any worth. 2 Dimensionally I find the visionary digital artists and painters are the last bastion of heartfelt work.
What is a perfect day for you?
A perfect day for me is getting up without an alarm. This is very important. I have created a life where I don't use an alarm. Naturally, I wake up with the sun so it is seasonal. I'll spend considerable time in the in-between state of sleep and awake. If it's really good, I will control the dream I just woke up from. While in this state, I will roll out of bed and move to an altar and begin to meditate. I do this for as long as necessary. I will then do yoga using a computer app that allows me to design my own routines. I will burn sage and copal. Then, I like to read my political articles while drinking coffee from my French Press. I usually post profanity and outrage on Facebook regarding these articles. Then I will move to my other FB account and read about spirituality and indigenous practices. I will then post a positive platitude. After that, I will assemble all my gear for my sweat lodge and proceed off the equestrian center where it is located. I can spend time with the horses and proceed to set up the lodge, build the fire and get ready for the ceremony.
What kind of things do you find have changed in the time we were in school together?
We were in school together back in the late 1980s. SO it has been quite some time. I think the world is completely backward now and we are witnessing mass madness and hysteria. Much of this has to do with living in a microwave of cellular tower frequencies and late stage capitalism.
Is Guava a Doughnut?
Is Dover a seaport?
We live in scary times. What do you find most disturbing about the current situation?
This is really unprecedented! If one were to remove themselves from the situation and just drop in and review the data, it would appear that the world and humanity are on verge of collapse and an eventual dystopian nightmare. The United States has literally gone completely mad. It is run by a TV show celebrity who is a narcissist cocaine and woman abuser and a Russian agent. Right-wing, Neo-Nazi groups are taking over the world with Bolsonaro, Trump,
and Duterte. Elon Musk wants to surround the planet in an unprecedented G5 poison. It is so insane, you can't even get upset anymore. I go to protests, create podcasts and try to spread the word but it's too far gone. Now, I spend my days resigning off that I will die miserably, but it was fun to see it all collapse.
I am being harsh and hyperbolic. I am actually very hopeful. We have people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! What has happened is that all Americans are now seeing their shadow. It's no longer just me seeing it. Everyone is acting out. Unfortunately, most can't see it clearly and even less know how to deal with it. It has been, and always will be, my job to help people with their shadow. I just went from one approach 30 years ago to a new approach now with my
sweat lodges and other healing modalities. My job has been and will always be a cultural destroyer. That is what the Mayans exposed to me. I am from the Blue Light Family. We are here to tear your system apart.
What do you do to restore your hope / faith in humanity?
What was your childhood like?
I am writing a book at the moment. It covers many stories from my past including being molested as a child, becoming a drug addict, recovery, and finally how I got to where I am now. In general, my childhood was totally fucked up. I wish we had shaman when we were growing up.
I really enjoy, for lack of a better way of putting it, some of your “ Art Pranks “ - Would you care to illustrate or elaborate on some of your projects that might fit this
Thanks! I love them and find that is where my art is being directed nowadays. I am very interested in social networking, the internet of things, crowd-sourced fundraising etc. So I put together campaigns. One was called "Get a Liberal Out of America" I made a commercial so that I could promote the project. Basically, it said that I was a liberal and that I know I am hated by the right-wing, so I asked them to pay for me to leave the country. I even built a series of bumper stickers as rewards for leaving. These were horrible anti-liberal stickers and if they gave enough I would actually give them an armband with a swastika on it. Albeit, it was the symbol of the Buhdda's heart and not the Nazi one. What was amazing about this project was that I had an intern at the time working on it with me. Collectively, we had spent over a month researching every possible website and Facebook group from both the left and the right in order to promote the project. My intern, who is not a paranoid conspiracy theorist finally said to me, "I cannot believe that there is not some type of gate from this IP address which will not allow this information to get to the public." I honestly think he was right. The only person who
picked it up was Joe Rogan.
The project can be found here.
I’m interested in how the main thrust of creativity is like a living thing, ebbing from things as they move along & relocating into emergent genres - Where do you think the
main thrust or dynamism of creative grist is found these days?
I think there are several avenues here. One is the magic that is Hollywood. I don't mean that in a cute adoring way. I mean that in the kind of Rosemary's Baby or The Wizard of Oz kind of way. The idea that there truly is a greater secretive cabal performing a twisted fucked up magic on the public via movies, TV and now Facebook and social media. I mean Grant Morrison admits it and does it in a cool way. A quick and recent example is that Thanos in 'Avengers:
Infinity War' quite easily expresses a logical argument for genocide in order to protect the universe from overpopulation. He is kind of right, and that he won in the end and no viewer really cared. I mean if you bring this up people are flabbergasted and don't know what you are talking about.
Another avenue is the creativity behind the American, Christian, fascism which is now fully out of the closet. I mean there are just hordes of people redirecting their creative energy into making photoshopped anti-Hillary memes and driving to local towns to stand in front of
abortion centers and yell at people in the name of Jesus. They have these horribly designed placards but they have been designed by someone somewhere and printed and shipped. It's insanity, pure and total insanity. I did a podcast called the Max Podcast with my alter ego, Max Hertz.
I have an episode where I interviewed a woman, a conservative woman, who wrote on her Facebook wall that she did not really support the troops. It was very Bill Hicks and I and about 3 other people understood that. Hicks, the comedian, said that he may support a single troop if he met them and found out about them personally. He was stressing that he did not support the troops, en mass, because that would be falling victim to propaganda. Moreover, he was
expressing that the troops volunteer and he had a hard time supporting someone who volunteered to murder people. Anywho, the Facebook group 'Dysfunctional Veterans' outright attacked her with the vigor they put into their campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was unbelievable. I was shocked and in awe. In a couple short days, there was over a 1000 comments and memes on her post. They were calling her a 'Cunt' and actually took pictures off her FB page and photoshopped a vagina into her mouth. I shit you not. It was horrific.
A link to the podcast can be found here.
They researched her and her family and sent threats and destroyed her husband's business. Imagine that level of creativity redirected towards solving global warming or augmenting capitalism or space travel. We'd be living in a utopian socialist jungle with regular trips to Mars paid for by corporations and solar power.
What are you currently reading??
• 'Animated Earth: A Story of Peruvian Whistles and Transformation' by Daniel Statnekov
• 'The Biology of Belief' by Bruce Lipton
• 'Invisibles' by Grant Morrison ( I KNOW! I am late)
• 'Clay: A Studio Handbook' by Vince Pitelka
What draws you into mandalas?
I had spent years studying with Mayan eldersa and in the end, I was initiated. This involved smoking Bufo 5-MeO-DMT, and Datura, and many, many other rituals. This experience put me on the other side of reality for over a week. This is one of the main things I am writing about in my book now. With this experience, and being on the other side for so long, I wanted to express it and the best way seemed the Jungian practice of creating mandalas. For the next year, I created several every weekend and came up with over 250. I whittled those back to the best 50 for my book entitled 'Mandalas.' I then scored an album called 'Mandalas' and utilized the binaural beats systems. I created the patterns for Alpha, Beta, and Theta waves meditation practices. Then I masked that under new age music that I wrote. The viewer was meant to look at the mandala and listen to the music and meditate.
More recently I created a new series that are the chakras. I utilized cymatics to create the shape from the note that is the chakra. Again, the idea is that you are actually looking at the visual frequency of the chakra.
A free copy of the Mandalas book and CD can be found here.
Do you consider yourself to be a spiritual person?
Absolutely! Life is no fun without magical thinking. I tried science for a long time. That cult was way too dogmatic.
What is your preferred modus operandi?
I am a reactionary. Most of what I do is a reaction to my environment. I know that seems contradictory to what I've said previously. For instance, I was working on a particular body of work about serial killers in the early 2000s when 911 happened. I did not particularly want to create art about politics but I had to switch. I did all these stamp art projects.
It ended up where I was invited by the University of Illinois political science department to lecture on the rise of fascism in America and how my art was expressing that. I did the lecture and the video on Google Videos, some 15 years ago, had over 100K views. Someone had to point of the rise of Fascism in America. It was so obvious.
The Division was still a reaction to that but also my reaction to studying the esoteric, alchemy, and mystic orders, etc. The mandala event is a reaction to my Mayan initiation.
What project of effort of yours do you wish people were more aware of?
All of them.
What are you currently working on?
I am building shamanic camps for kids where they build musical instruments and masks and dance around large fires!! I run my sweat lodges over the summer. I also do holotropic breath workshops.
Heard any good jokes lately?
I am not certain anymore that you should. In the kind of Tao of it... all things just are. They are as they should be. If you wish to resist and it effects you and you suffer from anxiety and hate your life; then what good is it? If you wish to change the world and like the fight; then let's go!
Awesome article-interview, Neal! Thanks for all the interesting information.
Thank you for your interest & support ~!
My pleasure. I loved it!
It took me a little while to get around to this, partly because I found the photo strangely intimidating. This is not a criticism but rather a confession. I finally took the plunge and I can now see why I was trepidatious. It is not every day that one can handle this kind of mind-blowing and revelatory interview. I am astounded by Schultz’s unflagging dedication to art and spirituality, which are really, as he shows, one and the same thing for him. I wish him the best on his amazing, cosmic journey!
Firstly, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I appreciate that the photo does convey a sense of the essence of both the artist & person of Mssr. Schultz - It had been quite a journey knowing him & his art for as long as I have - When he was younger, as did we all, he was even crazier - Which adds another level of intensity to the whole body of work - Honestly, it would merit an article in & of itself - But that's for another time. I hope you get a chance to check out his work as well, and thanks again for your comment
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Neal D. Retke