I sat down with Chris in person last week and then he sent me some additional info on certain questions. So a summary of our face-to-face first, email answers second, and then a list of upcoming shows and releases and some links to check out.
As you can imagine, it’s not easy to classify “experimental,” but I liked Chris’ description that it’s a “painting that you listen to.” He says he went to his first experimental show about seven or eight years ago and hated it, but it still caught his attention and it opened his mind.
Chris says he’s always been attracted to “aggressive music” and he enjoys expanding outside himself and “exploring more and more and more.” As an example, he seeks out common household items to create new sounds and he enjoys finding regular guitar chords that seem (in theory) discordant with each other.
I know virtually nothing about experimental music, so I am very excited about catching the Strasburg show, where Chris will be using his projector for the first time to provide visuals.
Next month will be my first trip to an experimental show, but not the first time I’ve seen Chris perform. Several years ago, he made the rounds with his spoken word pieces that provided commentary on events in his everyday life and on events going on in the world. He says he began to really evaluate the world around him after studying speech communication at JMU. For three years he had a “license to study human communication and interaction.”
Chris got involved with music because it just allowed him to go off. He also expresses himself through various martial arts, which is “expressive in the most primal, natural way.”
In addition to his music and fighting, Chris is currently working on a novel with a protagonist that is purposely written as a scumbag, the type of character you want to hate. But after a series of unexpected events, the reader is left to question whether they feel differently about the character by the end of the book.
Tell me about Seven1878.
SEVEN1878 was, originally, meant to be a little label to put out stuff by my band and friend’s bands from around the area. Due to people flaking out on me, that never happened. Then, a while later, I revamped it to be a spot where people could come check out unique art (visually and audibly). When I started doing KoS, I realized that I wanted to release my own stuff, for the most part. So, SEVEN1878 became a small label again. Now, I’m gradually releasing more stuff. But, my focus now is unusual and unique music/art. Last year, I did four releases. This year will be three or four, also.
What draws you toward experimental as opposed to something more classifiable?
Freedom to do whatever I want without worrying about classification or if it’s “catchy” enough or if it’s going to sell. No one doing this type of stuff is rich, period. When you remove any possibility of financial success and hype, then it really liberates.
You’ve worked solo, collaborated with partners, and played with bands – what kind of knowledge did you gain from each (for example, did you gain a better understanding of who you were as an artist?)?
I always gain new ideas and approaches from playing with others, and also, watching others do what they do. Playing with different people and in different styles of music has taught me a lot about what kind of person I am. And, definitely, what I like and don’t like; including what type of people I gel with and not, creatively.
Any type of music/sound that you haven’t tried yet that you’d be interested in tackling next?
With every release, I take a different approach to both style and methods of producing the pieces. My new album, “Return To Sender,” is 99% guitar-based. The upcoming split with Orgasm Denial will be a single full-blown, thick, intense 14+ min. track that sounds like every building in the world collapsing at once. That’s what I envisioned when I was recording it, and then, listening back to it.
I pretty much have every recording planned out through 2012. I don’t really have a set “style” yet that I do because I purposefully set out to challenge myself with different facets of experimental music with each release. Next year, 2011, I’ll be doing an album that is all voice generated called, “A History of Mental Illness.” I’ve been planning that one since I first started Kingdom of Sharks. At the end of 2012, I’ll look back at what I’ve done, so far, and analyze my strengths and weaknesses, and then, maybe, settle into a style based on what I find.
KINGDOM OF SHARK DATES:
3/27/10 @ The Darjeeling Cafe in Staunton, VA with Blue Sausage Infant and Big Drum In The Sky Religion
4/24/10 @ Cristina’s Cafe in Strasburg, VA with Soft Pieces, Insect Factory, and Big Drum In The Sky Religion
5/27/10 @ The Glasslands in Brooklyn, NY with Noveller, unFact, and Black Acid
6/26/10 @ The Hexagon Space in Baltimore, MD (Baltimore Electronic Music Fest 2010)
8/7/10 @ The Hexagon Space in Baltimore, MD (Rainbow Bridge Fest)
Whitfield-Feltner Duo I:::released in April:::limited to 20 copies
This is the first release stemming from a recording session at the start of the year. Phil Whitfield (ex-THEY drummer) and Christopher Feltner (THEY, Kingdom of Sharks et al) came together for an eight hour improv session with drums, guitar, and electronics. The resulting music/sounds were edited down to four individual tracks. Each track ebbs and flows in intensity and depth between guitar put through a gauntlet of pedals and solid drumming with some additional freaked out synth action thrown in.
Kingdom of Sharks “Return To Sender”:::released in April:::limited to 50 copies
With each release, Kingdom of Sharks has explored new sonic territory and methods of expression. On this release KoS explores the wide scope of possibilities using, almost exclusively, the guitar as the weapon of choice. Some of these pieces present themselves as quiet subtle with others pushing the envelope on guitar sonics and torture.
Kingdom of Sharks/Orgasm Denial split:::released in May (tentative):::limited to 40 copies