Interview: Beau Wanzer

Beau Wanzer is someone who belonged to music way earlier than he actually was noticed or recognised. A molecular biologist by day, an inventive producer by night – Beau is guy who emerged the precision and correctness of science and spontaneity of music inside him. During his teenage years, he was always kind of an oddball by being a fan of bands such as Absolute Body Control, Skinny Puppy, Bauhaus, Dead Can Dance, Chris & Cosey, SPK and other post-punk, industrial, EBM bands, that later on to some extent had an influence on his own work. His music found its place on labels such as Traxx’s Nation, L.I.E.S., Russian Torrent Version, Rong Music and his own BW. With Beau is simple : he records the music that he likes to make on his extensive collection of synths and drum machines, and when he likes what he made, he keeps that with hope that it will reach to someone. This Friday, Belgrade crowd will have an opportunity to listen to this gear wizard at club Drugstore. We chatted a little bit with Beau about his music, affections and how he sees himself and his work in general.


At the beginning Beau can you shortly describe yourself to our readers? 

I grew up in small towns in the south (Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, etc) and moved to Chicago about 16 years ago. I collect spores, mold, and fungus in my free time with the occasional breaks to record music. I also eat a lot of Brussels sprouts.


What does music mean to you and what’s your vision of music in general? 

Without music I would not be the semi-functional person I am today. Music can be anything you want it to be. There are no barriers and there never should be. Any sound can be music.


What was the breaking point when you decided that you want to release music that you do now?

There wasn’t a ‘breaking point’ really. I have been recording music for a very long time, but more as a hobby and for fun. It wasn’t until people like Traxx, Ron Morelli, and Veronica Vasicka asked to hear it that any of it saw the light of day. I would have never released anything if it wasn’t for the push of those people. I never thought anyone would be interested in what I’m doing, but I’m very grateful to be given the opportunity to get my music heard by others.


Before you started making electronic music you played in a couple of punk bands, right? Did that experience affected your approach to the stuff that you make?

Yes. I played in punk bands with more ‘no wave’ leanings when I was a teenager. Not much has changed. Instead of abusing guitars,  now I abuse synths/drum machines. I don’t know how to play an instrument. I don’t know notes. I just mash buttons with my hands until something sounds good to me.


Most people find your music dark, obscure, sometimes weird, but what’s your personal opinion about it? 

I don’t really think about it. It’s just an exercise for me. I come home from a long day in the laboratory, cook dinner, turn on my machines and just zone out. It’s more of a relaxation technique. I don’t find my music dark….maybe a bit bleak…but with a sense of humor.


Do your tracks have some secret-not so secret messages that you maybe incorporated in?

Some do. But if I tell you than they won’t be secret anymore. Haha.


Are there some creative challenges that you have to deal with?

I think most people who are creative whether it’s in art, music, film, etc all have the internal struggle of whether what they do has real meaning. I second guess myself and what I do every time I hear something I’ve recorded. I think that’s why it took so long for me to come out of the woodwork and physically release music. I don’t think what I do is special…it’s just me having fun and not taking it too serious.


Can you tell us what you wanted to depic in Groove’s No Zone? What’s the story of it?

No story really. I think it should be interpreted by the listener.  Some of the vocal parts are field recordings of people arguing on the subway in Chicago. There are also recordings of the train’s automated voice telling people to „please be aware of suspicious packages and people.“


At one interview before you said that it would be amazing if you could make a living out of music, has something changed in the meantime? 

Unfortunately, no.  It’s very difficult to make a living off of underground music in the United States. This is do to the lack of interest and money to support the artists. Geographically, it’s also very costly to travel and most promoters don’t have the funds to cover the flights and provide a living wage…even with multiple events. I make my living from my research and I enjoy leading a double life. Keeping my work and music life as separate as possible.


It is well known that you own a lot of synths, in your opinion which one is the best or easiest to work on it? Could you name some of synths that you love to jam on?

Each one has its quirks both positive and negative…but the negative can also be useful. I use different synths for different things. I think two of my favorites are the Yamaha CS15 and the Univox Minikorg 700s. Both are very diverse in what sounds they can produce…ranging from very melodic to extremely harsh tones. Another favorite is the Pearl Syncussion. It’s a small 70’s drum synth that sounds like nothing else. I love it so much I bought two and use it on almost every recording.


You said that you like to make music with friends, to collaborate with them and that that kind of creative process inspires you. Is there someone that you would like to collaborate with but you didn’t have chance yet?

There are so many people I respect musically that it’s hard to choose. To name a few dream collaborations: Felix Kubin, Adam Lee Miller, Die Todliche Doris, Asmus Tietchens, Beate Bartel, Nigel Ayers, and Bruce Gilbert.


Trough your musical style you have positioned yourself within underground club scene both in USA and Europe. What are the perks and flaws of life as a musician? 

Perks: Traveling, meeting/playing music for people. Flaws: Lack of sleep.


How do you prepare yourself mentally for the gigs? Do you have some special preparation period before you step onto stage?

I’m never fully mentally prepared for any gig I play. There is always a sense of urgency. Half of my brain is relaxed, while the other is bleeding. I prefer to have a moment to myself both before and after I play….to have a cigarette and a sip of whiskey.


You are going to play in Belgrade’s club Drugstore soon so what are you preparing for us? Do you have some expectations and a message for our readers?

I sometimes find if difficult to write a set that is cohesive in terms of style. Much like my productions, there will be a bit of everything. A mixed bag of random vocal spurts, out of tune synths, clunky noodling and some awkward pauses while I fumble around making sense of what I’m doing. I try not to have any preconceived expectations when traveling to a new country. I hope people dig it. Actually, a majority of my co-workers in Chicago are from Belgrade so I’ve already become quite familiar with your food and drink!