Santa Ana Noise Fest is Set to Be 'Straight Sonic Mayhem'

Steven Antonio, founder of ambient  black metal record label Moribund Tree, is hosting a noise festival in downtown Santa Ana on Oct. 9, 3 p.m. at the Orange Couny Center for Contemporary Art. We picked his brains about the festival.

OC Weekly: Why did you decide to put up the fest?

Antonio: The first year we did the fest it was so that we could make the most extreme collaboration of noise by multiple artists all at once. We invited everyone we could think of that was doing noise at the time to come and perform and we just had everyone set up at once and it went on for about 40 minutes of straight sonic mayhem. 

The idea was the same as it is this year, which is basically to present the general public to the noise scene and since the event is always free its easy for people to just walk into the gallery and see what's going on. It was suggested by Stephen Anderson of the OCCCA that we should make it an annual thing.


What's the appeal of noise versus, say, music?

Noise is the anti-thesis of music and the prime example of raw dissonant power in sound! The appeal lies mostly in finding things you can't attribute to music a lot of the time such as extreme textures on all levels from low end to high pitched sounds.You're given a bigger canvas to work with and the only limitations you have are the ones you impose on yourself.

It is definitely a personal thing for a lot of people because it relies so heavily on the personal preference of the individual. Noise is also such a diverse genre; within it are even more fetish genres for people who choose to isolate a particular attribute of the noise they enjoy, such as power electronics that focuses on extreme subject matter and is more early industrial oriented, harsh noise walls that worships militant walls of static, cut up harsh noise that basically takes extreme sound and plays it back in a cut up fashion, and other non-extreme styles of minimal music like drone/ambient that have also become synonymous with noise just goes to show it's all a matter of preference.

Do you think there's a legitimate scene noise-wise in OC?

We definitely have a tight knit community, scene-wise…we are getting there. Right now Orange County harsh noise and experimental music is limited to a handful of bands. Off the top of my head we have XWXPXMX, Ellen Degenerate, Existencia, XSXCXEXBX, Abraxan, Reptilian Alien, Between Ravens and Crows, Cold Grey Eye, Fever Dreams, Yuko Imada, Six Mystic Points, Jesus Is Dead, The guys from Lavish Womb records and their individual projects, etc…

There's an abundance of record labels putting out tapes and CD-R releases constantly so a lot of noise is coming from Orange County. There was a record store for a few years that sold a lot of noise called Sound Trolley Records, also The Tone Butcher makes custom pedals and equipment for making noise. I think these small business contribute to the culture of the scene.

As far as regular gigs and performance space right now we are lucky enough to be setting up events with Stephen Anderson from the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art. Before that we were just setting up wherever we could.

How did you find all these bands?

These bands were participants in last year's Santa Ana Noise Festival, “Massive Noise,” which was a collaboration of about 14 noise artists playing all at once. Some of the bands are new to us like the guys coming from Los Angeles, but some have played at the Orange County Center of Contemporary Art before and were invited to play by us and the gallery.

Do you think there's an audience for it?

Of course! I've met a good amount of people that are into pure sound and extreme music throughout the years and regularly attend the events we organize. A lot of the time we meet some very interesting people or true outsiders who appreciate this style.

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