Interview with Marlon Zoleta
Marlon Zoleta is a gear builder originally from Caloocan City, but now residing in Meycauayan Bulacan, Philippines. I have been following him over the past year on various social media outlets, fascinated by his various builds. Whether you play harsh noise or more tripped out experimental sounds, Marlon has something (or can make something) to compliment your rig.
In addition to his builds, Marlon always makes his own sounds under the moniker Gen Thalz. His own work blurs the lines between experimental noise and techno music. As someone who is ethnically filipino myself I’ve always been curious to find out about the experimental music scene in my mother’s homeland. Thanks to Marlon for this brief interview to enlighten me on his projects and some info on the filipino scene.
How did you get into gear building? A lot of the people I know in the noise scene first started out circuit-bending toys and cheap keyboards. Was also true for you?
For me it’s the other way around. I first built an Atari Punk Console with Baby 10 Step Sequencer on a breadboard then afterwards I learned how to circuit-bend with toys. I got into gear building because modular synths are so expensive. That’s why I pushed myself to learn some basic electronics to build something like that per se.
How do you decide what you want to build next?
Basically on what I really need and haven’t built yet.
Do you take requests for custom builds?
Yes! Actually most of the gear that I sell is a request from a friend/colleague first. They ask me if I can build something like this or that. Then if I think I can, I will add my own flavor, approach and style.
What builds do you currently have available and what does each one do?
HNW Machine - A noise box that is dedicated for hardcore harsh noise and wall. It can generate a thick, dirty texture for your gritty sound pleasure. It is very intuitive with its oscillators and noise generator section modulating each other in a feedback loop, yet sometimes untamable and unpredictable.
Tantrum - HNW Machine's little brother. Small, compact, and easy to control with its 7 gates of frustration switches and a big knob of toleration. No one can go wrong with its chaotic, glitchy, crackling noisy sound.
The Iterator - A simple effects pedal that iterates, repeats and crushes the incoming signal and breaks it with its stutter. It can also give you a wall of feedback, echo and reverberation.
Spring Noise Apparatus - It is an electroacoustic noise instrument that you can plug into any effects (best with The Iterator though) and shake the hell of destruction out of it.
Is there still a lot of experimentation to achieve certain sounds for a build or are you at a point where you know circuitry so well that it's only a matter of getting the right parts?
Part of me might say that I’m at a point that I know circuitry so well, for example, that if I want the oscillator to be low or high I already know what to use. However, most of the time, I’m still in experimentation because it can lead into something new or something I’ve never been done before.
Tell me about your own entryway into experimental and noise music?
It’s when I discovered Music Concrete and Radiophonic. I tried to imitate their method to develop new sound, but didn’t have proper equipment so I applied it using DAW. And my first experiment is the sound of my own piss in the morning, literally.
I realize that the Philippines is a big country and you only represent a very small corner of it, but what is the experimental/noise scene like in there? Are there many opportunities for live performances or at least a community of individuals who are into it? Are your customers primarily from outside of the Philippines or domestic?
It is growing and looks promising, so many potential sound/noise artists. I don’t know exactly the scene in other cities or provinces here, but here in Manila the Expert Trip Mental Music is a monthly event that gives live performance opportunities for all the sound/noise artists here. There is also the Noisebath PH, Pixel Collective, Green Papaya Art Project, HEResy (a collective of experimental women), and WSK Festival (yearly event for noise, sound art and experimental music) to name a few.
Marlon’s Gen Thalz project can be found here: on Bandcamp
For demos of his builds: YouTube
For ordering and inquiries: Facebook
Hal Harmon is a sloth-like creature who lives a sloth-like existence.