Ever since I can remember, I have been fascinated by people who do it their own way. In Denmark theres a sort of pop music called Dansktop, which got really bad in the 80’s. In the 60’s and 70’s Dansktop consisted mostly of translated pop, jazz and country songs from overseas.
Teddy Edelmann’s translation of Ricky Nelsons “Garden Party”
Four Jacks’ translated version of the Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up Little Susie”
But in the 80’s most of the artists began writing their own songs, with extremely cheesy lyrics, similar to the German Schlager music. And with extremely ugly keyboard sounds and simple drums, Dansktop became disgusting to members of the music elite. That’s the Dansktop I got to know first. Kitschy people like Richard Ragnvald, Jodle Birge and Bjørn & Okay.
Bjørn & Okay
That, of all things was what got me interested in stuff, which was heard less than most other music. Later I discovered the true outsiders like Little Fyodor, Jad Fair, Wild Man Fischer and Daniel Johnston, but what makes Jodle Birge just as special to me, is that he does it in spite of criticism. Basically I discovered that, no matter how poppy the music is, it is always in spite of someone. Someone told all of us “You can’t do that”. Which is the most inspiring feeling I think. The feeling of “I’ll show them”. I think experimental artists share this with more people than we will ever know! Even in the so-called mainstream!
I’ll leave you with this translated version of “Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys”, by the truck driver turned singer, Mr. President, because being a Danish cowboy, he had plenty of criticism, but kept on keeping on!
On four handpicked examples of my homemade experimental movies:
I never had a budget to do these short videos, and if I did I most likely spent it on making music. Or food. Or beer. But I put a lot of effort into them, even if it was most definitely in vain. I did most of the acting, in some cases every role. I spoke Danish in these, because it was more natural to me, but subtitled it for “the Danishly handicapped”. Whatever that means. I remember showing these to a few friends, but they all rolled their eyes. So of course, I want to share them with my fellow EC weirdos. You might roll your eyes at a slower pace!
In this one I dragged a bicycle into my parents’ bathroom, along with a flamingo head with make-up, a bowl of cookies and a Danish flag. Then I made a movie based on those props. The score is all done in MIDI on my 200? iMac. A bit of ridiculous fun that was interpreted in many ways by people. It was even labeled art by some people.
Morten Severin på skideren (Morten Severin in Deep Shit)
Based on a story I wrote in elementary school, this one includes aliens, vampires, detectives, comedy and mystery. It’s bad. But it was the most fun I had making this kind of movie! I wrote the script for it first, which might make it the most professional of my stupid home movies.
Døds-missen (The Death Pussy)
This one has a story but was mostly improvised. Filmed in my parents’ yard and featuring their cat in a main role. It’s about a Danish expedition to the faraway country of Denmark in search of the dangerous Death Pussy!
Til Helvede (To Hell)
This one is the most experimental of the four movies I chose to share on EC. It is basically all free-formed around the idea of a guy who has three distinct personalities. I play all three and my niece Ronja who was about 5 years old at the time, plays a medusa. I think.
Hope you enjoy my stupid homemade theatre!
But I can hope all I want!
As long as you got some kind of entertainment out of it
it is more than I ever aimed for with these!
I wanted to kill time, and I did.
Arvo Zylo is an experimental/noise artist out of Chicago, IL, USA
He’s been at it for many years and changed over the years without changing his basic form.
Not unlike a chameleon changing color...
but while a chameleon tries to fit in with his surroundings
Arvo doesn't seem to want to fit in anywhere in the least
This page has been updated with sound samples from the Assembly LP by Blood Rhythms.
Look for them below, between the pics of my personal copy of the record.
Also, two photos of Arvo, at the bottom of the page!
For the longest time I thought all his work was in that vein, but that was very wrong of me. And I learned not to jump to conclusions, without hearing a larger body of work from any artist. I think Arvo was among the people who taught me that you can do pretty much any genre/subgenre of music, and have it be recognizable as yours, as long as you have a style that is your own. Arvo’s sounds are always covered in a porridge of his own design. And that is very admirable, within noise and anti-music, where a lot of artists sound the same.
Ditlev: You have used quite a few names for your projects over the years. What are some of the Google-able names, that EC readers can find you under online?
Arvo: I basically go under my name, Arvo Zylo, for solo work. Blood Rhythms is considered a collective, but I will also use that moniker to present the material as something that I need to have a more direct tone, separating my name from it and focusing more on an abstract concept.
Ditlev: When did you discover your love for the noisier side of things? And did you have local mentors ?
Arvo: I had some friends in 1999 who had some electronics. I was in a band with them, technically, but I had nowhere to practice. I had a drum kit but nowhere to learn drums. So they put some drum machines and sequencers in front of me, and I made noise with them thinking that it had never been done before. I enjoyed the chaos more than the music.
Ditlev: Tell me about your “NO PART OF IT” label. What releases are out by now? And where does the name come from?
Arvo: "NO PART OF IT" is just where I find myself personally. No niches, just personal interactions and various degrees of misunderstandings. I initially thought of it based on something from a book by Blixa Bargeld, stating that Einstürzende Neubauten was operating with the intention "to be no part of it". But also there is Jesus being "not of this world", and a quote from a Tom Robbins book that stuck with me "everything is part of it". Basically, in effect, I like to release things by people who I think are really not operating in the context of a "scene". Not necessarily "outsiders", but people who are doing their own thing and not trying to keep up with the Joneses, and also are good at it! Another thing is that I never really nag people. If I ask someone to do a release, I only ask once. There would be a lot more releases if this weren't the case!
The first release was Trunculence, a locked groove 7 inch compilation in 2008, featuring 55 artists, including Nurse with Wound, Crash Worship, Helios Creed, Black Leather Jesus, To Live and Shave In LA, Sudden Infant, Dave Phillips, and more.
There is also Assembly, a Blood Rhythms LP with hand made covers by myself and Ron Lessard, co-released with RRRECORDS.
There is a digipak CD compilation called "Delirious Music For Delirious People" featuring Pharmakon, Zola Jesus, Jarboe, Hans Grusel, Big City Orchestra, Gary Wilson, BeNe GeSSeRiT, Irene Moon, etc.
Other than that, there have been tapes and pro CDRs by Illusion of Safety (Illusion of Safety's final release before retiring that name), Architeuthis Dux, Ataraxic Ataxia, Machine Listener, Thirteen Hurts, WILT, and more. The pro CDRs are kept in print, and I have produced more than 700 copies of some of them.
I was honored to have 33 different people create from material on my "333" release, and it is a DVD called "333REDUX", including 5 videos and my first surround sound piece, with art done by Yasutoshi Yoshida (Government Alpha). It includes Bruce Lamont, Comfort Link, Verdant, Critter Piss, AODL, Vertonen, Protman, Bull of Heaven, jliat, etc. Very happy with it.
Recently I did a series of splits with myself, because I have a new appreciation for the split tape format, and I needed to get loose personally. Those are with PBK, Marlo Eggplant, Andrew Quitter, and BBJR.
Ditlev: Since I never saw you live, I was wondering how you actually make your noises. Are there any specific input devices or noise signals that you use a lot these days? And what would some of the ones be, that you rarely use anymore?
Arvo: The most consistent thing I do is use contact mic'ed objects/body parts and a sequencer. Occasionally I'll also use a Line 6 Delay pedal too. Basically, I use the sequencer to create rhythms that interfere with layers of loud feedback and screaming. Blood Rhythms live has been included many different people and ideas, but it started as a "brass ensemble" of as many people as possible blaring horns through effects (and hopefully not trying to make music, just drone). It has evolved a lot since then, and each idea is a case-by-case basis.
Ditlev: What would be some of your favorite live shows you did? Or moments from shows?
Arvo: The first live performance as Blood Rhythms was with the entire band ONO backing me. We were opening for Illusion of Safety. Lots of strange errors happened, and I took a piece of sheet metal against my head and put a belt sander to it. People thought I was setting something on fire, but there was no fire. My mixer just stopped having volume for no reason. The volume was up, the electricity was on, etc. So I was screaming and playing horns without amplification, and it worked for a more intense performance. We were to start by playing sheet metal, all of us, and as such, ONO started playing before I even did a sound check! So I jumped in and started rolling, and I thought everything was great, despite the setbacks.
There was also Blood Rhythms at Club Rectum, for our record release show. There were 5 drummers and 4 brass players, and a good amount of people there. There was actually a line of people waiting to buy the record and I was extremely humbled and honored by the whole thing.
Another time travis from ONO joined a Blood Rhythms brass line up alone with Mike Weis of Zelienople on percussion. The rule was to have everyone stop when they are done, and let me be the last man standing, because I was tied to my mixer, my throat was taped up with a contact mic. So instead of that happening, people sat down for a bit when they were tired, and got back up on stage when they felt like it. We went for 75 minutes, until the venue started turning the lights on and off, and all the while, travis was doing stream of consciousness vocals. It was incredible, it had these nice ebbs and flows that were totally intuitive in nature, but still hardly musical at all.
I do have to mention playing LEMP in 2010 for St. Louis Noise Fest. The crowd was unforgettable in that one. Also playing in Atlanta Georgia on a Sunday night to a small amount of people, a show that Robby Kee set up. Everyone was extremely friendly and supportive.
And I must mention Denver Noise Fest 2011. Todd Novasak collected bottles for months for me. I put the bottles into boxes and taped them up with duct tape. The line up was G.X. Jupitter-Larsen, Clayton Counts, Chris Turner, Elizabeth Floersch, and more. I had a bunch of white Christmas lights, some lamps, and some mirrors set up. Some of us threw around boxes of glass and others played sheet metal with belt sanders. By the end of the set, all of this stuff was smashed. That is what you hear on the Little Fyodor tribute CD, we did a version of "Won't Somebody Fill The Void" then.
Too many good experiences to cover here!
Ditlev: And lastly, you have done quite a bit of radio shows/podcasts. I think I saw on Facebook, that you donated a large collection of music to a radio station too, right? What motivated you for such a generous act? Also is there some online archive links you’d like to share with the readers?
Arvo: I moved from Chicago to the Pacific Northwest, and I just needed to trim down. I didn't want to try to sell these releases, so I donated to WZRD. I was first inspired to do radio when I went to WZRD in 2005, so it was natural. I have been to WZRD hundreds of times, but I had a radio show that was syndicated in Croatia at WLUW for 7 years, called "The Delirious Insomniac Freeform Radio Show". http://posterityplaylists.blogspot.com/
And if you want to explore Arvo’s universe further, have a look at his Bandcamp page
And there is archives of the WZRD show here
Arvo at the 2013 Saint Petersburg Noise Festival two still shots from William Davenport's film The People's Music
I want to introduce the readers of Electronic Cottage to David “Rock” Nelson. Or if you already know about this extremely enthusiastic, hyperactive filmmaker, I want to remind you of him. Often referred to as “The Ed Wood of the 21st century”, he is a former US Marine, was an extra in the 1993 Hollywood movie “Groundhog Day”, as well as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman and a boxer. But his true passion is no-budget homemade monster movies, with amazing and somewhat crazy titles like Frankenstein vs Sodom Insane, Conrad Brooks vs The Werewolf, The Giant Horny Toad Monster, The Devil Ant, and Nosferatu Bites
Shot on regular video8 tapes, with a camera he inherited from his late brother, using cheap-looking almost Halloween-like costumes, and titled with a VHS titling and editing machine for home videos, they have a very unique look to them. These movies are mostly one man efforts, but besides having himself in many of the roles, it also has the acting talent (or lack of it, if you want to be technical) of his family and friends. David’s films don’t conform to continuity or even to having an actual script. He puts on a Halloween mask and goes to a cemetery in his local area of Illinois, or just out in his own yard, and sees where the mood takes him. Lets the movie make itself. Then he dubs VHS copies of it to sell and send to his fans in the mail. These are very valuable movies. Not because they will ever make billions, or because of the quality, or indeed the quantity of them. (There are MANY gems in the David Rock Nelson Vault). But because of the passion he puts into it. My impression is he doesn't choose to make movies. He has to. Unfortunately I am in PAL territory over here in Denmark, so actually getting to see more than short clips of these American NTSC movies is a challenge. What I have had the chance to see have been hilarious and stupid and somewhat brilliant. Rock said it himself: “People say my movies are stupid. Of course they are, the movies I like are all stupid”.
Have a look at The Rock’s Java-fueled YouTube videos on his channel
Mostly the movies are not available on YouTube, but there are some other interesting things, from his “Basement of Bloody Horror”.
For example there is this video, in which he shows us some of his VHS tape collection, and some xeroxed flyers for his movies, as well as telling us about when he met Conrad Brooks (RIP)
Also this is a great short documentary on him made by VICE.
Editor's note: while it's true that Nelson's movies mostly aren't on YouTube, he does have hundreds of videos!