2012 Artist Survey: Chrome Canyon
Morgan Z Reflects on the Last Year
Jan 24, 2013
For Under the Radar's 10th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2012.
Pick up the print version of the Best of 2012 issue to read responses from the following artists: Alt-J, Fred Armisen, Bear in Heaven, Camera Obscura, Chad Valley, Charli XCX, Choir of Young Believers, Clinic, CSS, Dan Deacon, Desaparecidos, Django Django, Efterklang, Egyptian Hip Hop, El Perro Del Mar, Grimes, Halls, Richard Hawley, Hercules and Love Affair, Ladytron, Liars, Lord Huron, Lower Dens, Mount Eerie, My Morning Jacket, The Mynabirds, The New Pornographers, of Montreal, Peaking Lights, Porcelain Raft, Laetitia Sadier, Tame Impala, and Tegan and Sara.
Then download the digital version of the Best of 2012 issue to read all those surveys, as well as bonus responses from the following artists: !!!, Clare and the Reasons, Codeine, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Esben and the Witch, The Fresh & Onlys, Get People, Islands, Kwes, Lost in the Trees, NZCA/LINES, OFF!, Plants and Animals, Still Corners, Violens, Xiu Xiu, Young Dreams, and Zambri.
We are also posting additional web-exclusive artist survey interviews to the website. Here are responses from Morgan Z of Chrome Canyon.
What was the highlight of 2012 for either you personally or for the band?
Pretty hard to beat this: http://instagram.com/p/QZJW-MHcpg/ Opening my vinyl for the very first time with Peanut Butter Wolf.
What are your hopes and plans for 2013?
Got lots of plans—the live shows are a big element for me and I want to keep ramping them up. Right now we use a lighting rig that I custom designed, and while it's really great, I am working with some other people to bring some newer technologies and possibly even some interaction to the show. Also there are plenty of releases in the works—some amazing remixes from other artists including Mike Simonetti, Airbird, Gavin Russom, and a bunch of others; some edits I'm working on to spice up some of the tracks from the record; and some really cool videos in the works.
To what extent did the poor world economy affect your ability to make a reasonable living as an artist in 2012?
I think for artists, a poor economy means we continue on down this path we're on where any funding that comes into the hands of artists has to be from some sort of co-branded marketing endeavor. That's tough. I actually work in the ad world, and it's ridiculous the disparity between available funds for commercial/sponsored work, and funds available to artists who are merely trying to create meaningful pieces on their own. It's not just the economy, but the entire culture that we are creating right now that makes it increasingly acceptable for this to become the norm. But when people don't have as much money to spend, supporting a fledgling artist is all the more unlikely to happen. It's something I think a lot about, and I hope the conversation gets louder among artists and those who care about them.
What are your thoughts on the 2012 U.S. presidential election?
Thank fucking god. And Nate Silver RULES!
Steve Albini criticized Amanda Palmer for recruiting musicians to play in her backing band for free. Was he right to do this and was Palmer right to change her mind and pay her musicians?
I think if you make money off of other people's services, you should pay them... pretty simple. I don't really know the circumstances surrounding Amanda Palmer though, so I can't really criticize. There's a lot of people who get into this for the wrong reasons and just want to be famous, or close to famous people—for those people, sometimes attention is all the pay they need. I don't usually hang out with people like that though.
What pop culture phenomenon from 2012 would you most like to erase from your memory?
"Call Me Maybe." I don't get it.
Were you affected by Hurricane Sandy? Do you think that climate change was partly responsible for the hurricane?
My apartment and studio are half a block from the evacuation zone in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I was a bit worried because I have several skylights and am basically surrounded by windows, but everything was fine. We didn't even lose power or Internet. I did go out and help in the Rockaways after the storm, and I have to say I've never seen destruction like that. It was completely shocking. I heard a climate scientist use a good analogy: you can't pinpoint one of Mark McGwire's home runs and say, "That one is directly attributable to steroid use," but in general if he's hitting way more home runs, there's no denying the connection. It's the same with weather. This one storm isn't directly attributable to climate change, but the fact that a once-in-a-hundred-years storm has happened two years in a row now is something to really think about.
Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.
Signing my first LP and putting a big "#1" on it for this guy Frank at Mount Analog in L.A., who was the first person to ever buy my record. Then playing the next day for 10,000 people at the Eagle Rock Music Festival. That was awesome.
What were some of the rejected names for your band?
Chorme Crayon, The Cheesedicks, Blanco Negro, Mystical Sludge, Cherry Poppin' Granddads, Van Healin', and Silverchair. Those are all real, and I didn't make any of them up while sitting here just now.
Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? Explain.
Yes. I'm a blonde.
Do you have any other thoughts about the current state of the world or the state of the music industry?
Our paradigms are changing, our technologies are changing, our collective worldview is changing, and we are shaping our biological and evolutionary future radically and rapidly. We're living in such an amazing transitional period of history. I think it's possibly the most radical time in our evolution, and many of us don't really stop to even consider what's going on. I've been sort of pigeonholed as a "retro-futurist," someone who is obsessed with our past vision of the present. I don't really mind all that much because I think it's good to remember what you thought the future would look like, but that's not the whole story. I'm also just a "futurist," period. I think we should be looking at what our conceptions were, are, and will be, and how they align with what we are actually doing, building, systematizing, etc. in the realm of music and everything else that makes up our culture and society. Music is my way of exploring that. I wish I had the mind for math and physics (not just in an abstract sense), but with any luck maybe my music will inspire someone who does, and who will continue pushing us in a positive direction.