October 1998
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Interview: Antediluvian Rocking Horse

by Todd McCafferty

A horse is of course a horse of course, unless that horse is an Antediluvian Rocking one. I was lucky enough to conduct an email interview with Susan and Greg from Antediluvian Rocking Horse after their return from a 3-week set of Japanese tour dates. We learned a little about the past, a little about the future, and a little about copyright. Enjoy!

The Shrubbery: For our readers who aren't familiar with ARH, could you briefly explain the history and formation of the group and maybe a little bit about the sound?

Antediluvian Rocking Horse: ARH have been dj-ing/performing together for over four years, the culmination of us both having odd and eclectic record collections,and a similar desire to create interesting situations in sound to diverse audiences. Our ‘concept’ originally was geared towards doing ‘chillout’ rooms at techno parties/raves , twisted/chaotic psychedelia as opposed to ambience. Although in our experience, so-called chillout rooms at dance parties are generally ‘dance floor B’, where wannabe mainfloor dj’s flex their vinyl. Few party promoters put much thought into the ‘chillout’ system, where ‘bleed’ from the mainfloor precludes one from being at all subtle or ambient. So we set out early on to redefine ‘chillout’ in a warpy-psychey-fun way. We don’t use headphones and try and have at least four sources up in the mix ... we do anything from one-hour crunchy sets to ten hour slippery sets. Our studio approach/concept is governed by one rule ... to create new tracks from 100% samples.

TS: What i am really interested in is your use of recycled sounds, reappropriating culture and making it your own unique product. What are your views on copyright and intellectual property right? I am not familiar with the regulations in Australia...Does your use of samples have the same blurry legality that American groups like Negativland and Canadian composers like John Oswold (Plunderphoncs) face?

Susan: There are more or less international guidelines stipulated by the berne Convention, so we basically are under the same thumb as Negativland and John Oswald, though we are fairly oblivious to its existence. That is to say, it doesn’t factor at all in our creative process ... the thought would never cross my mind that I can’t sample something. I don’t actually see the legalities as being particularly blurred anymore. I think ‘fair use’ is an infinitely defensible stance.

Paul: We don’t approve of piracy or straight bootlegging. But if you had to stop and ask for everything you want to use, you’d never get anything done. Susan: I’d even go as far as to say that evolution, artistic and otherwise, demands rejection of the concept of intellectual property.

TS: One aspect of your music that sets you apart from many other groups that use recycled sound is that your music is not political, or parody, or overt commentation, like the previously mentioned Negativland, whose Seeland label you are on. Do you make this distinction between your music and Negativland's? Is your music more concerned with the musicality of the work and less concerned with what it has to say?

Paul: We are more concerned with the musicality, especially in the studio and working with a programmer as open to experimentation as Ollie Olsen. Our crieteria is definitely aesthetic as opposed to political.

Susan: I think its a true observation and a fair distinction. There’s more difference really, than similarities between what Antediluvian Rocking Horse does/is about and what Negativland does/is about. Our aesthetic is far more dada-esque and random, Negativland have precise agendas with their projects, and are exacting with the process. We aren’t so much commenting on other humans’ output, as participating/engaging in a timeless artistic process of cut n’ paste, sculpture, collage, et al. If it sounds good and feels right, we’re into it.

TS: Why Antediluvian Rocking Horse? Where did you come up with this moniker?

Susan and Paul: Well, we wanted to be Antediluvian Buffaloes, but the name was already taken. But really, the Rocking Horse is a dada reference, and an antediluvian rocking horse is a creature of myth because antediluvian means ‘before the flood’ (of Noah). Antediluvian also means ‘utterly out of date’ in a colloquial sense, which is pretty apt considering what we use for source material and dj-fodder.

TS: On the inside cover of your LP, Music for the Odd Occasion, you have a lengthy quote that relates a supposed anecdote told by Carl Sandburg. (Reprinted at bottom of page) What does this mean in relation to your work?

Paul: if you’re coming from a techno/dance perspective then that’s what you might hear; likewise, if you’re coming from a collage/cut-up experimental world, then that’s the sort of album you’ll discover.

Susan: Its fairly open, and relates to all endeavours, I don’t so much see it relating to, or being a comment on our work as just being something that will serve one well to remember.

TS: What is coming up on the horizon? What should people look out for?

Paul: The Southern hemisphere and trucks.

Susan: Yes, and Unidentified Non-flying Objects. We’re working on a few different ‘studio’ albums, there’s three coming up. The next album from ARH will out early in ‘99. Its titled ‘Forward Into The Furniture’. Aside from that, and next out is a DJ-mix CD which is a Japan only release for a label there called Big Energy Attack on Musicmine...that one’s called Music for Transportation. We’re looking at coming to the States to do some gigs after we release 'Forward Into The Furniture' and definitely go back to Japan to do more stuff there. Then its back into the studio to work on the next project, again Japan based...which is already too much information for now...so I’ll leave it there...

"... Poet Carl Sandburg told a yarn about a farmer sitting
on a fence when a stranger passes on the road and asked
him how the folks were up in the town ahead. 'How were the
folks where you come from?' asked the farmer. 'They were 
a pretty mean, selfish, and unfriendly lot,' the stranger said
bitterly, 'and that's why I left.' The farmer shook his head
sadly. 'I'm afraid you're in for a disappointment. Folks in
the next town are just the same.'
A while later,a  second stranger came along the road and 
asked the same question 'How were the folks where you
came from?' the farmer asked again. 'They were great,'
this fellow replied. 'A kinder, more helpful people I
never saw. I really hated to leave.' 'Well,' said the farmer,
'don't be sad. You'll find the same kind of folks up ahead.'"

Robert Anton Wilson
'Sex and Drugs, A Journey beyond Limits'

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