As Stalker, Chicago-based musician Brendan Telzrow makes a terrifying mix of molasses-thick drone and chopped 'n' screwed hip-hop so heavy it's like having a squadron of tanks ride a slow procession over your chest. Currently releasing music via witch house affiliates Tri Angle, he also has the noble distinction of being the only artist we know of that can boast remixes of both These New Puritans and Lindsay Lohan on his CV. We checked under the bed and got a quick word in with the shadowy cove, who is currently recording his debut EP for the label.
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So are you from Chicago originally? Or are you just living there?
I have lived in Chicago for seven years but I'm not from here originally. But I don't have much of an opinion on the place because I spend a lot of time inside. I enjoy it.
What were the immediate influences on your deciding to make music? When did you start out?
It varies, but they're commonly related to those studying the effects and implementation of frequencies that you hear in music and daily incidental exposure. Also, the art of pop music as a consumer based product. (Sigmund Freud's nephew and public relations pioneer) Edward Bernays' Propaganda could be a framework for my interests.
I started playing several instruments when I was younger. In high school there was a recording class, with computers being somewhat exotic then there was less supervision over the rest of the equipment. If you weren't a very serious student, you would take a drum machine and go abuse the reel-to-reel machines with about five people in a small padded closet.
What's the significance of the 'III' legend which is emblazoned on your website?
For a while I was treating a lot of appropriated tracks with a general pattern. The 'III' just refers to a certain group of them, but I think I exhausted everything I can do there.
At the risk of sounding cynical, is witch house not just black metal for seen-it-all hipster kids? Is it a label you're happy to ally yourself with? How about horrorcore? Illbient?
I don't know, the genres name you. I feel a lot better not thinking about that aspect. I enjoy listening to some things slowed down, but it's not the goal for me. I'm inspired by anyone using the tools they have to manipulate sound and media to impart or evoke a thought.
On your remix of 'White Chords' you make the line "I've got white chords running through my body" seem an expression of body horror straight out of a Cronenberg movie, is that something you can sympathise with?
Maybe it could have been in SHIVERS. I think there can be parallels there, sure. I feel a restraint listening to the original 'White Chords' but there is some angst there. Likewise Cronenberg shows us similar internal battles.
What do you find scary?
I also think These New Puritans and the acts commonly associated with witch house share a certain fascination with secret histories, would you agree? What's the significance of that?
I don't think the fascination is limited to one genre or medium even. It's inherent to keep secrets, from ourselves and others. To protect something. Knowing there are limitations, we know we're also protected from something foreign inside us.
What's your favourite horror soundtrack of all time?
Which hip-hop MCs would you like to work with and why?
I'd rather work with a new and unproven MC, as long as the chemistry is there, and I could have more of a developing role in defining their sound. Aside from that, if I had the chance to work with any vocalist right now I would like Ke$ha, which is maybe not a popular viewpoint, but I've come to love her voice recently.
You contributed to a Lindsey Lohan drag remix series quite recently (for Tri Angle Presents: Let Me Shine For You, downloadable here), is there anything about LiLo in particular that you think is crying out for a chopped and screwed makeover?
It was a good template to extract different feelings from her music and find some other themes. I didn't notice this until recently, but there are actually seven songwriters credited for that track ('Disconnected'). In retrospect the completely vague but calculated lyrics make perfect sense, reinforcing the underlying themes of multiple personality in her career and a lot of popular culture. As much as I think about this stuff, most of the time I'm trying to not think about anything when I make music.
Is your name derived at all from the Andrei Tarkovsky film of the same name? If so, what qualities does the film possess that you hope to bring to your music?
I did watch the film sometime before using that name, so yes. It's not fresh in my mind so I'll have to address that some other time.
What've you got going on in 2011?
I'm recording my EP now for Tri Angle, and mixing some tracks for How To Dress Well. I hope to continue making music as much as I can.