Aural Reports

Chuck Daar, wearing one of his many musical hats.
Charles Guss

Chuck Daar is Ben Sinister, Auslander, L Tortuga and Hexagram-but he swears he's not schizophrenic.

Can you describe your various musical projects?

Auslander-there are 18 Auslander releases. It's German for "outsider." It's more string-oriented and horn-oriented, more classical-influenced. Ben Sinister is the main name I go under. There are 47 releases. It's more breakbeat, techno--though I hate that term. "Electronica" is even worse. And I do stuff under my own name. That's more score music and acoustic rock music, or what doesn't fit with the other ones. This month, there will be two coming out. One is percussion music, the other is a score for a short film I made. Hexagram has 19 releases--it's mainly ambient music, swirly, Tangerine Dream- or Brian Eno-type stuff. L Tortuga is when I put the wacky hat on and see what I come up with, no barriers or worrying about making pleasing, soothing music. Then there's x=18, which is kind of ambient guitar noise, no barriers whatsoever, experimenting with sound.

Why so many different projects with different names?

It developed out of necessity. How many people want to go through 90 CDs of Chuck Daar? Each one kind of has its own thing going on. My friends give me crap, like, "Dude, you're bipolar."

How do you decide which project a song goes with?

Sometimes I'll know, "Oh, this is a Ben Sinister song." There are times when I'll start out doing a Hexagram CD. I'll put that Hexagram head on. It's hard to explain. I just know when I'm working on something what I'm going to put it under. Music is weird, it has a mind of its own.

What's 5th World Media?

Everything I do kind of falls under 5th World Media. There's 5th World Music, which is the music. 5th World Word-this coming year I plan to get a couple short-story collections out, stuff I used to write many moons ago for small-press horror and science-fiction magazines, poetry. 5th World Films is my film projects, short films, music videos to promote my music-this coming year I'm doing two short films. And I have a feature film I'm putting together with a writer. One is called Java, my love letter to coffee. I have a problem with drinking too much coffee. That's why I do so much. I need to go into rehab. Maybe then I'll be famous.

Are the film scores you do for the films you make?

Yeah. It's something I'd love to do more of. It's like film school, you learn by doing it. Music videos, you cut to the music. But films dictate what you do musically. Music is a huge part of the visual experience. For a character-driven film, it's completely different--more acoustic, jangly music. Then there's the complete reverse for an animated and live-action thing I'm working on that's supposed to make people uncomfortable.

How is Orange County as a base for all of your projects?

I absolutely love Orange County. I would have a hard time moving from here. Any place you live has parts you'll like or not, it's give and take. Music-wise, for what I do, I don't think it really matters. Especially now with digital releases--iTunes is in 25 different countries. The kind of music I do is not really even a United States kind of music, but it's huge in Europe. I hate to sound like that, "Oh, we're huge in Belgium." The thing I don't like about electronic music is the doon-doon-doon, over and over. There's nothing new. I come out of playing guitar, so I want to make a hybrid with electronic music. I don't think it really matters where you're at anymore. You can be in the middle of Alaska and selling music all over the world now. It's a total cliché, the new rock & roll cliché that the Internet has totally changed the way people listen to music, but it totally has. Between MySpace and iTunes . . . I would never have that kind of access to people who are into this kind of music. But I love OC. Go Ducks!

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