Genessier's two masterminds make music with a dark menace, as if every day were Halloween
Genessier will be providing at least some of the inspiration for the music provided at HorrorHouse Fest 2013 (this Saturday, November 16, at 3 Kings Tavern). Genessier is the latest project from Ryan Policky and Eddie Breidenbach, a duo who previously performed together in ambient/soundtrack project Parallel Light. In contrast, the music of Genessier reflects the dark menace of late-'80s industrial music, tempered with experimental synths and ambient music, creating an overtly immersive environment with layers of flowing atmosphere. Genessier's recently released Graces the Bone recalls early Skinny Puppy, with the textured atmospheric sensibilities of Tim Hecker.
HorrorHouse Fest 2013 will be an interactive event that includes appropriately dark music provided by Breidenbach and horrific art of various kinds, including comic-book horror. The night will culminate in a screening of ThanksKilling 3.
We recently spoke with the Policky and Breidenbach -- the two knew each other for a long time before they played music together, both as co-workers and from traveling in similar musical circles around town -- about Policky's roots in the Denver goth scene, their mutual love of synthesizers, and why the name of the project seemed eerily fitting.
Westword: You started this project in 2012?
Ryan Policky: Yes, we started this project in October or November last year because we wanted to try something completely different. Eddie and I worked together a long time ago at an ad agency in town. We started hanging out and playing video games.
Eddie Breidenbach: Ryan has every game that ever comes out, so we'd just go over there. If I didn't drive, Ryan would pick me up, and we would buy whatever game just came out.
RP: He invited me to DJ with him at Sputnik, and I would bring in shoegaze stuff and whatnot.
EB: You'd always be so afraid no one would be into it, or it would freak people out, but everybody always loved it.
RP: That was our first foray into doing music of some sort together. Then Eddie started getting into the performance side of the Omens.
Was it a keyboard or some kind of synth?
It was a '60s combo organ, a Yamaha YC-5 or YC-10.
RP: When he ended his time with the Omens, he started really getting into keyboards and more into synthesizers, modular synths. We started geeking out together about what effects were cool with one synth and what to do with another. He started building a whole collection of these things.
EB: I started collecting them, and it became the opposite of me going to Ryan's place, and I'd say, "I just got this new synth. Come pick me up at work, and we'll go back to my place and check it out. The first synth I got was a Roland Gaia, and we saw the potential in that. It was brand new plastic thing. That was my stepping stone to buying older synthesizers and having more of an appreciation for that.
What's the oldest thing you have? If you tell me a Buchla, I will have my mind blown..
EB: No, not a Buchla. A Kawai SX from the '80s. Nothing too dusty.
RP: That's when we started doing Parallel Light because we were experimenting with tones rather than progressions and melodies and whatnot. We thought it was awesome for dreamy, sleepy music.
EB: We would be at Ryan's place and put on a movie and hit record and play our own stuff over it. It turned out to be more moody, soundtrack pieces.
RP: Sleep soundtrack. So a lot of people were praising us on helping them fall asleep at night, which is what we were trying to do. Basically, we said let's take the total opposite side. I had done an industrial song a long time ago with Pure Drama, and I loved it. But we never did it again. We did one song that was like that.
I had always been into the goth scene and the industrial scene and the Denver Dark Arts Festival and all that stuff. I just wanted to go back and do that stuff again. We started going to the Goth night again. We were going to Milk Bar, but we were also going to the Church. I used to be a booker at the Church for goth night. I used to book goth and industrial bands.
Scary Valentine was a band back then. My band, Pure Drama, would play there, and Faces Under the Mirror. I love that scene, and one of my goals was always to get songs playing at Goth night. So we went down to goth night to see what people are really into right now. We loved the sound of the old Skinny Puppy days. So we wanted to take that, and bring in some new school production techniques, and give it something that can really stand on its own like its own entity.
It kind of evolved on its own. We would sit down in my dark attic room and create this weird sounds. He would bring over a synth or two, and we would figure out what kinds of sounds we had that we could add to each piece that we were working on. It turned into that album. At first, we wanted it to be nightmarish, but as it progressed, it became dance-y. We found that people that weren't normally into industrial were into what we were doing.
EB: Overall, there's the concept of spaces and different environments. Let's make this particular piece sound like it's coming from a scary attic and this other song sounds like it's coming from a weird industrial plant. Like bigger spaces and smaller spaces.
RP: We have the first track where it sounds like you're coming out of an industrial night and the whole place blew up. At first, it was sort of tongue in cheek in style.
EB: We were listening to a lot of Type O Negative, as well. I absolutely loved them, but they didn't take themselves that seriously, so I felt alright about wacky that was. If I my friends didn't get it, whatever. I didn't care.
Listening to this album, it's interesting how much old industrial and goth is leaking into some of the more sonically adventurous new artists, and you've leapt ahead of that curve a little because it was already a part of your life, and you didn't just begin discovering it.
RP: Yeah, it's not part of their everyday life. I grew up with that. So we just wanted to create that kind of vibe. I think we hit it a lot of the time, but sometimes we just came up with something we didn't even think it would be, but it still fit the mold of what we were trying to do. Which was making it dark and sounding like it's in the basement of some crazy ass place that's epically gigantic with somebody getting tortured in the corner.
Oh yeah, of course. Hopefully no one takes that comment too literally. Anyway, this is just you two with synths? Did you use drum machines?
EB: It's all programming. Some of it's from synth programming the drums then tweaked and re-manipulated back into the computer.
RP: Everything was experimental and its own entity, as we were building it. Sometimes we went out to an industrial plant and recorded sounds out there at that weird concrete plant off of 93.
EB: Or just recording sounds of your cat meowing and pitch shifting it down on my synthesizer and making it sound like some death metal growl. So there wasn't one production technique. Overall mixing made it make sense as a whole.
RP: As Eddie said we weren't trying to take ourselves too seriously. We were just trying to make it sound like it was serious but you see that element of that as hilarious.