A Sharp Brain
Name: Josh Eustis
Occupation: Musician / Producer
Bands & Projects: Telefon Tel Aviv / Sons of Magdalene
Labels: Hefty! / BPitch Control / Audraglint
Musical recommendations: Sigha / Lawrence English
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I suppose when I actually started WRITING was about '93; I worked all summer, saved up, and bought a Korg M1. I would make little beats on it, program insipid little sequences. I thought I was going to be able to replicate Skinny Puppy and Godflesh and shit like that. NOT QUITE. I was also really into Vangelis and would try to recreate the Blade Runner soundtrack… which also largely ended in disaster and self-loathing.
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic work and/or career?
Getting a Juno-106 from a friend who didn't care for it, sometime in '94. This guy I knew from the neighborhood named Butler had one. I was homies with his little brother Clay, and when I'd be over there at his house as a boy, Clay and I would totally sneak into Butler's room and dick around with that thing. Obviously we had no IDEA what we were doing. This would have been, I dunno, '86, '87? That very keyboard later wound up in the hands of a dude named Mike "Dump Truck" Carriere who hated it and left it at my place. I went nuts for the fucking thing, man, it was cosmic that The But's Juno wound up in my hands. That was the first big one for me.
Another one was in early '99 Charlie and I were talking about working on music together and we came to the conclusion that there were certain things lacking in electronic music, although we loved it, and we wanted to try these things and bring that to it: hyper-romantic melodicism, rhythms based in R&B and rap, and sound design that rarely, if ever, repeated.
The fifth and final iteration of "Your Mouth" off of Immolate Yourself I was particularly relieved by, because I had iterated it so many times and Charlie kept going "nope, man, that's not it. Check out my version of M, see? Take it here - you're bouncing it too much. Slow that bitch down, put some black lipstick on it, and then I'm gonna thrash your vocal takes." When I finally brought what would be my final iteration of it to him, he was said "fuuuuuuuck yeah man AIGHT I got this shit, I know just what to do. Holler in two days." I felt like I'd aced my finals.
The last truly incisive moment was when I got the phone call from his sister saying he had died.
What are currently your main compositional- and production-challenges?
The main compositional challenge is not sucking shit all the time. I generally hate (and am disappointed by) most if not all of what I write. I don't have production challenges. I try to teach myself something new every day, to keep my brain sharp, even if I don't accomplish anything musically.
What do you usually start with when working on a new piece?
That changes from time to time. Sometimes it's a lyric, or a rhythm, a melody, a specific sound, chords… there really isn't a "usually" for starting something…