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An Interview With Joshua Marquez

A new upcoming release from Joshua Marquez brings together a series of textures and soundscapes that are built into cinematic and almost orchestrated pieces that have a continuous flow and display a range of unique approaches to utilizing a span of instrumentation to build an atmosphere in itself.

The Recycled Soundscapes LP consists of two steady tracks each ranging past 15 minutes, and each performed using an almost obscure set of ways to create sound and mend them together.

This release is somewhat wondrous, and some may even view it as bordering on this avant-garde and sort of genius approach to creating music with fewer boundaries and this, in my opinion, is absolutely freeing which you can actually hear in the recordings themselves.

The tracks are vast and have a sort of slow burn to them but also have the ability to engulf you and let you get washed away with everything that's happening.

These feel like theatrical or cinematic pieces written for film because they have such a unique energy and style to them but in reality, they were written by Joshua during a residency at a place called Recycled Artist in Residency.

This allowed the artist to utilize all these different forms of sound creation and even let him get his hands on vintage synthesizers and keyboards during the process.

There's such a free flow to these songs that a musician would just get jealous of them because I think that listening to these songs as well as creating them, are a form of escapism in a way and it's very rare to hear that in music these days.

This is part of the beauty of what he has created with these pieces.

In a way they are sort of freeform and improvised which a lot of times makes for some very unique and incredible pieces of art no matter what form of art that may be.

The character, chapters, and energy that you hear throughout the music lets you follow the changes and feel what you want to as you listen, which I believe is part of the purpose of music like this.

This is definitely best soaked in with headphones and with a little under 40 minutes to spare.

Fans of well-composed pieces of music will definitely love this because although it is freeform, it does have a composition to it that feels almost like an arrangement in itself, and you can follow that through and let it tell you whatever story you want it to.

Believe me, thoughts will pop up into your head, you'll create visuals of your own, and it all happens because of the way the music is written and performed.

This is all quite beautiful for me, and I think that fans of music that is either cinematic, or simply just not cookie cutter, will fall in love with this.

With the release of such a uniquely woven LP, we wanted to have a sit down with Joshua Marquez to find out where this all actually came from and what might be coming up next for the artist.

Here's what happened.

BUZZ SLAYERS: Okay, let's start with the Recycled Soundscapes LP! This record felt cinematic and had such a unique set of textures and sounds to it! How did this release come about? Recycled Soundscapes is the result of my year-long artist residency at the Recycled Artist In Residency (RAIR) program in Philadelphia, PA at the recycling site of Revolution Recovery. While making music at RAIR, my goal was to explore a few themes: our relationship to the waste stream, our relationship to noise, the concept of recycling intangible materials, and the process of discovering sound in unconventional ways. During that residency, I spent time exploring the sounds of the site and collecting materials that were discarded into the waste stream. From fully-functional instruments to unique objects, I recorded the sounds they made and used them in my compositions. I also recorded the sounds of Revolution Recovery's daily operation. Those field recordings ranged from workers sorting materials to industrial sounds of machines and vehicles. To further the concept of our relationship to waste, the microphones and recording devices (primarily 1/4" and 1/8" tapes) used in the recording process were also salvaged from the waste stream. In the final step of this "recycled recording" process, I utilized objects such as discarded drums, metal sheets, and even a 40-yard dumpster as speakers. I was able to transform these objects into speakers by attaching small electronic devices to them, which converted the music I made into vibrations. In large, reverberating spaces like a dumpster, those vibrations become amplified and are very audible. This resulted in a "dumpster performance" at RAIR last year. Much of Recycled Soundscapes actually comes from that performance which utilized the 40-yard dumpster as the primary "speaker". BUZZ SLAYERS: How did this all start for you as an artist?

I've always been fascinated by sound, even as a kid. When I was young, I would take tape recorders and record things, layering sounds on top of one another. I would record one layer on a dictaphone or tape recorder then play it back while simultaneously recording another layer on a separate tape recorder to create some harmonies and melodies. Even then, I was pretty experimental with sounds, though. I remember making a lot of sound collages with everyday sounds or beats with whatever objects were around me. My family had an antique business, so I had a lot of access to vintage stuff when I was a kid. At the time, that equipment was pretty cheap because it was recently deemed as obsolete. The recent increase in price of tape decks has spiked due to an increase in popularity. But, as a kid I was able to get my hands on a lot of analog gear at a very cheap price. From there, I took music making in a more conventional way, going through conservatory training and learning more "conventional" music. I went on to study composition, earning a PhD in music composition in my 20's, but always had an urge to return to my initial inspiration for music making. So, in the last decade or so, I've been slowly getting (back) into tape loops, layering, sound collage, and things that piqued my interest in my time before any formal musical education. BUZZ SLAYERS: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?

I enjoy listening to and making music that has a world where I can get lost. Deep listening and observing the sounds that surround us. I find comfort in almost any sound, so I enjoy making work that utilizes complex sounds. Often, we limit our listening palette to "what sounds good" without exploring new sounds. When we give ourselves over to any sonic experience, it opens doors for us, as listeners. BUZZ SLAYERS: This *LP* has some interesting approaches to it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically? I always go back to sounds that consume me. I really like experiencing extremes in music - I like when sounds swallow me whole - I like when I have to lean into something so delicate that the sound almost feels as though it's going to break. When I say "extreme", that doesn't mean that it is totally avant-garde or "out there". Although that is the majority of my musical output (experimental, avant-garde music), I enjoy anything listening to and making work that uses "conventional" approaches to music. I only deviate from convention, or break it, when absolutely necessary. BUZZ SLAYERS: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?

When I'm not working on music, I enjoy spending time with my partner and daughter. I definitely prioritize quality time with them over anything else. But, I also enjoy running, obsessing over Philly sports, and playing darts (and watching professional darts). Of course, I like a lot of music-related activities like scouring record stores for new music and browsing antique stores for unique finds (including vintage audio equipment and musical instruments). I grew up in the antique business, so I'm always finding myself going into stores just to take in the sights, sounds, and smells of those locations. BUZZ SLAYERS: Who's in your headphones right now?

I go through periods of listening to a lot of music and listening to no music at all. I'm in the middle of several projects right now, so I'm taking a bit of a break listening to other work. But, some folks I always return to are Claire Rousay, Kaija Saariaho, Kara-Lis Coverdale, Ken Ueno, Tim Hecker, Björk, Gerard Grisey, Georg Fredrich Haas, Daughters, Health, City of Caterpillar, William Basinski, and way too many others to name.

BUZZ SLAYERS: Are you doing any live performances right now?

I'm performing all the time. I took a little time off late last year and earlier this year, with the birth of my daughter, but now I'm getting back into performing quite frequently. I have some sound art installations and performances at the Practice Gallery in Philadelphia coming up this fall in addition to the performance of a large-scale work at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival in September. I also have a number of free improvisation performances that I'm doing throughout the year and I am looking to book myself for the next calendar year, throughout the Northeast and Midwest United States.

BUZZ SLAYERS: What do you use to record this material?

I used a lot of experimental recording techniques to capture the sounds on Recycled Soundscapes. In particular, I recorded the majority of this material using discarded (and in some cases, broken) microphones directly to 1/4" and 1/8" tape. Further, I filtered a lot of the recordings through objects (like the 40-yard dumpster mentioned earlier). I was really dedicated to the concept and process for this album.

BUZZ SLAYERS: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?

I have a lot of music ready to be released. I'm just waiting for the right time and opportunity to do so. The composition that is premiering at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival this September will be released as a full-length album, in the near future. Additionally, I have some more experimental work dealing with feedback loops and other strange filtration concepts - it sounds terrible, but trust me when I say that feedback can be beautiful! I also have a lot of prepared guitar pieces that will be released in 2024. Those works involve altering the physical guitar with different tunings and manipulations to it. I "prepare" the guitar with clips, springs, sticks, paintbrushes, wires, and other objects to produce different sounds. It forces me to perform differently and gets me "out of the box". Some of those recordings are acoustic, some are electric guitar (amplified), and some are electric guitar pieces that utilize different objects as amplifiers. I have a series of pieces that use a large gong as an amplifier (by connecting sound exciters to the gong, itself).

BUZZ SLAYERS: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?

Thank you! If you've taken the time to listen to this album or any of my work, it means the absolute world to me. It can be challenging to dive into the more experimental music out there, but it is always a rewarding experience if you give yourself over to it. Any and all support means so much to me as a working artist.

Recycled Soundscapes is available for pre-order right now and will be releasing on September 1st! There is a limited edition (of 100) of the eco-mix vinyl that is going fast.

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