Where are you based?Los Angeles, California.
Is this your hometown?No I grew up three hours north of here in a little beach community called Avila Beach. It’s right by Diablo Canyon one of two nuclear power plants in California and was a docking facility for oil ships. In 1995 the whole town was burned because the soil was so polluted so when you ask if I have a hometown, my answer is “It`s gone”.
Was that petro-chemical or radio-chemical pollution?Although there is the nuclear plant there, and I’m sure that has a fair amount of pollution it shares with the local populace, the pollution that caused them to burn the town was from petrol.
Were the town`s people compensated and relocated?No, the oil companies just bought everyone out at undervalued land prices because it was polluted, then cleaned the mess up which they had to do anyways and sold off the land for a shit load of money to developers. It is an beautiful area just south of Big Sur.
What effect did this have on the community? There isn’t the same community there. Most people sold off their property. My mom`s boss when she was a waitress and his wife who was my high school principal stayed. A few of those folks are left but most have gone on to less polluted pastures.
Any health risk worries?A lot of kids I grew up with got sick. Cancer really early and other stuff like that… I’ve been lucky, but I guess you just never know.
Oh yeah, there’s an old `70s b movie called “California Dreaming”. It was filmed in Avila where I grew up.
What is your first musical memory?Sitting with a Fischer Price turntable playing records and eating popcorn.
What was the first record you bought?My mom was a waitress for the first 20 years of my life. When I was a kid she saved all her coins in a big 5 gallon water container. It was an endless supply of cassette tape money, nickel and dime bag money and gas money, always kind of maintaining the same level. I think the first “records” I bought were on tape; NWA, Too $hort, Guns n Roses, Iron Maiden, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh… My mom bought me the first Wham! record when that came out though, and she was always getting herself records. She was jammin` Boogie and Disco stuff, funky Jazz, New Wave. I had all that growing up.
What was the last record you bought?La Gatta Cenerentola, Leda, S.L.I.M. and a few others….
My dear friend Leo Mas sent me a copy of “La Gatta Cenerentola” recently. I was completely unaware of the secret it holds. What is it you like about these records?Just that, the secret aspect of it. That track particular is an awesome heavy rhythm that goes great with a lot of different tunes. That Leda record I had been looking for for a bit. On the inside of its insane cover I dig the warped Synth Pop. That S.L.I.M. Record is an awesome find, Baltimore Electro Funk private press, really killer zone! For me it’s not just about one type of music. I feel affected by many genres. Sometimes I’ll grab a record for one little part, like a four second guitar line that I’ll hopefully use for an edit or something… I can’t really explain it`s just stuff that inspires me and gets me stoked.
What inspired you to start DJing / making music?They go hand in hand. I can`t think of a time when I wasn’t digging for records and playing music. I got real serious about it though in high school…. and then when Peaking Lights were given more opportunity’s it’s been nonstop focus. I don’t even party anymore, studio only zone… I lived in the Bay Area for 12 years both San Francisco and Oakland from the mid nineties to the early 2k’s and I played in a bunch of bands worked with some record dealers, played records out at bars… Not sure, it just kind of happened… I started collecting from my early teens, I bounced between L.A. and San Francisco for Punk shows growing up… In 2003 I sold that collection for + 20,000 $ and travelled for 2 years and focused a lot on just writing music and jamming while I travelled, I didn’t start buying records again en masse till Indra and I moved to Wisconsin, then I went apeshit. At one point we had somewhere around 20k records … I`ve whittled those down to about 6,000 now but still I`m digging whenever I get the chance.
Your musical tastes seem to be completely across the board, what are you looking out for when you go digging? Producers? Weird covers?A little bit of everything, even down to the stock of a record sleeve or center label paper type, year, matrix writing… If I’m going for it I’ll bring a record player and sit for hours… If I don’t know it I needle drop through it … If I don’t have the record player I’ll read through liner notes, Thank You’s paper stock, matrix writing, players song length. Like if there’s a bunch of 2 minute songs then a 7 minute song, how folks in the band look, weird covers, pressing faults … I’m sure there are a few more bits and bobs.
I owe the discovery of a great Garland Jefferies dub to you. What made you pull that out of the racks? Can you remember?Yeah, I saw that Dennis Bovell had produced it, but pretty random otherwise. One of those-I don’t know this moments (smiles).
How long have you been DJing / making music?20 years.
How would you describe your sound?No Borders, no Rules.
Which production / release / remix are you most proud of?The newest unreleased Peaking Lights record is the heaviest production I`ve ever done … it’s insanely focused…
The last Peaking Lights LP came out in original and “Version” form and I believe you are doing the same with Tom Noble`s House Of Spirits project. Like Burning Spear`s “Marcus Garvey “ and “Garvey`s Ghost”. Do you plan to do the same with the new Peaking Lights record?We’re talking about maybe something like that but have someone else do it. This is the heaviest produced record we’ve done, a lot of fun but also a lot of work getting to the point where it’s time to let it go… With “Lucifer” we wrote and recorded it in 3 weeks and with the new one its been 3 months full on studio time and a year in building sounds and rhythms for it.
Tom compared you to Lee Perry. How do you feel about that comparison? Peaking Lights do sound like The Shangri-Las lost in the Black Ark.Ha! Thanks Tom! I think Tom tripped out when he came up to our studio! It’s behind our house filled with weird homemade gear, got desert dust on, and shit a lot of patch bays to wire everything… We`re definitely inspired by Lee Perry. I dig the Shangri-Las in the Black Ark zone!
Will the new record be with Weird World? How does the relationship between Weird World and Domino work?The next record is with Weird World, which is an imprint of Domino. So we have all the Domino resources at hand. They’re a great label, everyone’s really solid there. Indra and I feel very lucky to be working with them.
Which production / release / remix would you most like to have done?I don`t know if it`s that as much as wishing I had been able to witness some early sparks in music, the very begging of things, phase 1 thought patterns. The beginnings of Reggae rhythm or Afrobeat or House, Disco, Boogie, Hip-Hop… I think when things have their initial creative inspiration is when they’re the most interesting. Accidents happen a lot, but they usually get fixed or apologized for, it`s the ones that don`t get fixed or apologized for but developed, I wish I could live in that.
What are your favourite places to play / hang out in?I love the vibe in Europe, I like beaches and tropical climates, places where I can’t speak or understand the language… creative spaces the studio , museums and art galleries.
What is your favourite place outside of a bar / club / record shop?Hangin with my kids, the studio, the beach.
Do you see yourself as part of any scene?No.
Who does the label`s artwork?We do most of it at the conception level, and some of the full covers, but often try and work with other artists whereby we take the roll of creative directors.
Who is your favourite visual artist?I don`t have a favourite.
Who are you currently working with?Peaking Lights new LP, Sonic Boom collaboration LP, a track for the William Onyeabor Luaka Bop project, a Dub for Beats in Space`s Tom Noble Production, Ether for Emotional Response, a Bookfa track for Duppy Gun, a Shit Robot remix, more Leisure Connection E.P.s, some more A.P.C. Edits…I`ll probably have some more stuff come up in the new year as well…
Pete Kember (Sonic Boom) mastered the last Leisure Connection 12. How did that come about? What is it like working with him? Is he living in L.A. now?Shawn Reed of Night People Records linked us up initially and Pete came to a show we played outside of Nottingham. A few months later we met up in L.A. and jammed. It was super fun so we decided to continue the project . The first record he mastered for us was the “Lucifer” Dub and we’ve been working with him on stuff ever since here and there.
Pete is a real genius! He’s got an awesome ear and is like a insane book of knowledge. I mean the dude can replicate a synth sound by ear … It’s been great working with him on so many levels and as a friend he’s a super solid dude, we’re stoked to have him in the fam!
He’s still in Rugby but I’m sure would like to live in L.A.!
Leisure Connection is you and Nate Archer. You made music together previously as Rahdunes, how does Leisure Connection differ from Rahdunes?It’s a bit more focused, but in a way still pretty similar. We used to crash raves with our noise stuff. Set up our stacks of gear next to the massive soundsystem and jam to the DJ`s beats… It was super fun! We would also play these insanely long sets, like 8 hours with all this home made gear. We called it “The Death Pulse”! In the later days of Rahdunes we had gone fully electronic while on this insane 3 month straight tour of the US. That was insane!
Can you tell me anything about the music you made before Peaking Lights? Bohemian Knights, and Eoh?There’s so much of it!!! What you just mentioned are all projects I had in Australia. There were a couple more too… A lot of it was real spaced out … Or psyche-y …. Older stuff like Unborn Unicorn is a bit more similar to early Peaking Lights recordings …. Umm, I was in a dubby Post-Punky gothy band called “Heart Of Snow” too pre-turn of the millennia … I was into playing with as many folks as possible, honing my improv skills. The last more normal band I was in was Heart Of Snow. By normal I mean drums, bass, guitar, and vocals … After that band I went full on into the zone.
How did you meet Indra?We had loosely known each other for a long time. When I got back from Australia in 2006 we got together as a couple, we really met and connected through her roommate.
Any more plans for Faceplant?Nothing really planned. Emotional Response is going to reissue the “Dickie Domecon” E.P. with some remixes , but I think I`m gonna change the name or work on some other stuff.
How often do Peaking Lights get to play live?Not too often. Our gear is falling apart. We’re in the process of an overhaul. The kids are super hard to breakaway from too. It`s just a lot of energy. Maybe when we wrap up this record we’ll start playing for a bit on the regular. In general I think we both prefer studio work… In an ideal world we would travel the studios of the world (smiles).
Do you play or plan to play live in any of your other incarnations / collaborations?Nate and I are working on doing the Leisure Connection stuff live, and we will probably do shows with Sonic Boom when we finish that project. I’ve done a bunch of Faceplant shows here and there over the years.
Who would you most like to work with?Anyone with insane knowledge, who I can learn from
Adrian Sherwood remixed one of your tracks a couple of years ago, any chance of a collaboration there?That would be awesome! I played a show with him last year and we got along great! I would absolutely love to link at some point.
Aaron, on the collaborations front, have you ever thought of doing something with Eddie Ruscha? Sonically you seem quite “aligned”. Do you know Eddie?Yeah man! I know Eddie we’ve loosely worked on some stuff but it`s been hard to get together. We`re talking about trying to do something in the future maybe but just depending if the stars align.
Does playing and making music pay the rent?Yes.
What sites, if any, do you regularly check on-line?Test Pressing, only Test Pressing (a wink and a smile). I also google weird strings of words and try and follow those to new ideas… also Gearsluts, and record price guides….
What was the last book you read?“My First Book About Dinosaurs”
Mine is always a toss up between “Green Eggs & Ham” and “The Smartest Giant In Town”.Ha ha. Dad Life.
What is your favourite book?Ask me today i’ll say “Papillion”, ask me tomorrow i’ll say “Ham On Rye”.
Are you a big Bukowski fan?Not a fanatic, but he definitely had a strong inspiring affect on me as a youth.
What was the last film you saw?Holy Motors
Was it bonkers?It’s a great film. Definitely pushing a 7 or 8 on the bonkers meter.
What is your favourite film?Weekend
Jean-Luc Goddard? What is it that you like about this film?Everybody’s working for the weekend (another wink and a smile)
What is your favourite piece of music? If that`s too difficult, what`s your current favourite piece of music?This white label funky Jazz record I found … not sure what it is? The centre label`s a little off and it`s kind of warped. It sounds so fucked and good!
Can you name 3 records for sunset / sunrise?
Rudi Khanhai / Cocktail Party
Steve Knight / Robber Man
Oral John / Mi No Wan No Bun
Alfredo Smith / Your Doctor
Yarborough & Peoples / Heartbeats (Long Version Instrumental)
Culture Beat / Cherry Lips
Soul Flow / The Child In Me
T.E.J. / Love To Love You
Can you name 3 records to start a party?
MDMC / How About It? The Italian version on Jumbo records is top!
Ernesto Guerrero / Soul Shoes
Tony Allen / Black Voices (remix)
Bobby Nunn / Sexy Sassy
Randy Weston / In Memory Of