This article is part of The Avant-Guardian no. 8 supplement on the “Traitor, you left Fluxus”-event.
Blood Stereo is the couple of Dylan Nyoukis and Karen Constance. Sometimes their daughter Elkka too. That’s a bit of a strange line-up for a band. But than again: Blood Stereo is a bit of a strange kind of music too. The play…yeah, what do they play? I guess they just play. Like in: having fun. And taking that serious.
JB Blood Stereo is not only a duo but also a couple. Does this make a diffrence, you think?
dylan nyoukis: I think there is something to be said for the whole dynamic of a duo set up, regardless if they are holding hands or not. It gives you the chance to do the brain pan tangle.
karen constance: The unwashed would call it “mind-reach”.
DN That has a certain patchouli stink to it. Lets just say that with us at least you get the sweet & the sour.
JB When you play live, you always take your daughter Elkka with you. Does this mean you see making music and your daily family life as one thing, as something you don’t want to divide?
KC For sure, there’s no separate thinking about it. The art, the music, the cooking, the cleaning, the child. Not in that order.
DN It’s all just one big dollop of living. Scraping by on peddling our wares, welfare etc means we can live how we love it, baby. We don’t come home and put on our slippers and turn on the Soap Operas that’s for sure. We are blessed with a grand circle of like minded pals which means all aspects of our life are pretty much entwined.
KC Apart from the dreaded walk to School with the child.
DN Yummy Mummy Heaven or Hell, depending on where you are sitting.
JB You do Blood Stereo for about 12 years now. When Picasso talked about the different creative phases he went through, he used colours (his blue years, his red years,…). Which phases did Blood Stereo went through over the years? Or is more like what Neil Young says: it’s all one song?
KC There has been definite phases. The messy and the focused, before Elkka and after Elkka. Before being the more booze fuelled messy shows, the after being the still booze fuelled more thought out shows.
DN Yeah there was definitely a time when the live sound would have a more crude, in the red throb to it. Street level catharsis. That was probably short lived, a year or two, then the shows and recordings slowly start to get a bit more in focus. More space starts creeping in, sounds become a bit more interesting. To my ears at least.
JB Of course I haven’t heard evey Blood Stereo album, but my favourite is ‘Your Snakelike King’. Which is yours, and why?
DN Aw man, that probably changes quite a fair bit. I dig ‘The Larval Tuning Fork (& Other Visions)’ LP that came out on Twisted Knister. As for non vinyl the recent limited Cdr we did called ‘The Lure Of Gurp’ is a current favourite. Anything that gets Idwal Fisher’s juices flowing is OK with me.
KC I really like the new split LP with Hair & Treasure, it sounds and looks great, if I do say so myself. And you can spend days figuring out which of the two bands has the shittiest name. The collaboration LP with Ludo Mich ‘From Tapes & Throats’ will always have a special place in my cold heart.
DN Oh yeah, the Ludo LP is braw. Getting to collaborate with the wild man with a cosmic mind, first live then on vinyl, was a real pleasure. The collaboration LP ‘Guff Vout Mulch’ with Smegma also tickles my nipples.
KC Oh! And the collab with Bren’t Lewiis ‘Pentecostal Gymnast Trapped in Lime Jello’.
DN Lets end this back slapping session. Next!
JB What I like about about Blood Stereo is the rawness of the basic material, but than the delicate way how it’s edited. Stanley Kubrick said you don’t make a movie with a camera, but in the editing room. Could I say the same thing about Blood Stereo’s music; that the recordings are the starting point, but that the real tention created in Blood Stereo’s music comes from the way it’s edited?
DN Aye, I concur 100%. That Kubrick quote nails it for me. The editing is where I am more at ease. Working on something at your own pace until you are satisfied. No need for nods, concious or otherwise to rock dynamics, or improv expectations. Just pure creation, in your hands.
KC Much like working in the visual arts. No one looking over your shoulder, whooping at a brush stroke, or getting dissapointed in a glue down. You present it when you are ready for the world to see it, hear it.
DN suck it!
JB Do you feel like the ‘real Blood Stereo’ is a recording thing, and not really a life thing? Or are recording and playing life two different things anyway?
KC For me they are two different things, playing live you are never sure of how its going to be, what the reaction is… how we will play together… what the room will sound like etc… recording is better in that you don’t have those things to think about and you can do it on your own.
DN There is a clear line between recording and live. Recording is the real deal, while playing live is most times 100% improvised, no heads, full of all the fun and frustrations that can bring. Occasionally the sets might be partially scored, like the one we did recently at cafe Oto in London with Elkka and Yoni Silver, but it is still open to chaos. But who is to say what is the “real” Blood Stereo? They are two separate, equally valid things.
JB In a way, by now, what Blood Stereo does sounds recognisable. But how would you discribe what Blood Stereo does?
DN Live I would say we are a improvised duo working with tapes, pre-recorded sounds, occasional objects and voice, prone to zone outs. On the recordings we are purveyors of abstract sound wonk, made with love for earholes.
JB In a way, what Blood Stereo does is stupid, retarded, and I mean this as a compliment. Is this something that you want to take care of, that your music doesn’t become smart or clever?
KC We wouldn’t take it any other way, though I think of it as smart and clever too.
DN I try to find raw grace in garbage.
JB On your discogs profile is mentioned: originally from Scotland, now resident in England. Is that how it feels for you; we live in England, but we,re not English, we,re Scottish?
KC Very much Scottish, we live in Brighton, it is in it’s own little bubble compared to most other places in the England.
DN A little bubble of hipsters, liberals, carft ale, artisan coffee & pop-up shops, which can be terrible, but then you see it is surrounded by a sea of little Englanders. Right wing press reading, spoon fed Brexit baw bags (that’s testicles to you), and you think, well it could be worse. I am far from a flag waving Scottish nationalists, flags are for wiping your arse on, but I can say that having lived here for almost 20 years I still feel I am living abroad. I miss Scotland a lot, the crappy weather, the patter of the people.
KC The tattie scones.
JB And one last question, maybe a stupid one: is, for you, Blood Stereo linked to metal? If not in music, than maybe in attitude?
— Joeri Bruyninckx