March 9th, 2010 | Interviews

ward robinson

Download: Infinite Body “Dive”


(from Carve Out The Face Of My God out now on PPM)

Artist and musician Kyle Parker used to make harsh noise with Gator Surprise but Infinite Body is an exploration of the ecstatic—tone and distortion that bubble and spark like the surface of a star. His album Carve Out the Face of My God is out now on PPM and he warns listeners not to fall into a tropical volcano. This interview by Chris Ziegler.

If your brain took physical form and became your roommate, what do you think it would look like? And what would be its most endearing and most annoying habits?
Kyle Parker: Oh no. I’m not sure if it would have a penis or a vagina so I’m just gonna call it ‘It.’ I imagine it would be like some big blow-up doll or crystal man walking around all floppy like those car dealership things waving their arms around, but a brain on top of that. When it talks, the brain would glow like a cheap sci-fi movie. It would have a really short attention span—it would come up with a lot of really good ideas but it would talk so much and so fast because that’s how fast it thinks. I would be saying, ‘Hey man, that’s great—but we can just pick ONE of those things and we could do that—these are all good ideas but we should just write one down and we’ll do it. Otherwise we’ll just keep—’ I don’t know, I can’t even check the internet anymore because the house I live at doesn’t have the internet, so I don’t know what I do to kill time. Then all of a sudden I have to go to work and I’m like, ‘Good thing I have to go to work cuz I don’t know what I’m doing.’
You should take voice notes.
Kyle Parker: I’m trying to use Google calendar now but I don’t have the internet and I don’t have an iPhone or nothing. I have the phone that if you’re on AT&T it costs a penny. And it probably costs less to make it—they’re still making like 300 percent profit off my one penny.
Did you pay cash for it?
Kyle Parker: I didn’t even get to pay a penny because my last phone broke but I wasn’t allowed to buy a new one until April or something so I had to pay $40 for it. So I don’t know if I paid a billion jillion times whatever it costs to make. So the best quality for my brain would be—it would have a lot of great ideas in terms of fun stuff to do and productive stuff to do but it wouldn’t do any of them. It would take like three months to do four of them with a lot of eating in between.
What century or decade and social position would most perfectly fit your talents and shortcomings?
Kyle Parker: I would either just cheat and go as far into the future as the time machine dial would let me go, and I would assume that I would just end up in the void or something and that’s always an easy way out—and it’s not like it wasn’t going to happen anyway so it’s not really cheating. But other than that, I think maybe I would go to any time before TV. I would go back and I would love to be an apprentice for anything. Any time before TV most places in the world looked substantially more beautiful than they do now, or so I imagine. And anything I could get where somebody could make me their apprentice. I like working with my hands—I have really big hands and I like doing stuff with them.
Maybe you should be the guy who makes wagon wheels.
Kyle Parker: I’m not good with straight lines or symmetry. I’m good with like manual labor or something really abstract—well, I could probably learn how to paint or play an actual instrument too, if somebody just told me do it when I was a kid and just made me and I was like, ‘Cool! This is fun because there aren’t all these amazing flashing strobes of color from the time I’m born!’ I’m pretty sure I’d be able to focus as long as somebody made me do it. I would love to work outside—a lumberjack or a landscape artist or like a guy who cleans the fountains at the crazy palaces or some shit.
Like Versailles?
Kyle Parker: I really like fountains. Like PCC—they have a great fountain in the front and it’s like knee-deep. There’s a guy who works there who cleans it and I want his job and I don’t know how to get it.
Maybe he needs an apprentice.
Kyle Parker: And there’s another place in Pasadena called the Church of God World Headquarters.
That’s a great name—every word in that is important.
Kyle Parker: It’s a really weird place and they let you just walk around. It used to be a bunch of rich people in the ’60s who all lived on this giant property and made it the headquarters of their weird rich people church. But they have this crazy Blade Runner fountain with platforms that go over the water and this twisted metallic structure that shoots water twenty feet into the air. I went there one day—it was actually on my birthday—and there was just one guy in this amazing gigantic fountain who was waist-deep in the water. He had like a pool skimmer and was just cleaning the fountain. And I wanted to do that.
That’s probably a relaxing job.
Kyle Parker: Especially if you weren’t cleaning chlorine out of it and you were just cleaning beautiful Victorian men and ladies out of it. I mean—I saw that movie Atonement and that had a cool fountain in it. But that was after TV. I would go to wherever they filmed that and clean that fountain.
Will fountains be the last vestige of natural beauty in a totally urbanized world?
Kyle Parker: I think the only thing natural about a fountain is the water, so if it’s that bad where fountains are the last place that you can see water … then I don’t know, man.
Someone said Gator Surprise was like ‘an introvert’s attempt to exorcise their shame.’ What do you think of that and what do you think that makes Infinite Body?
Kyle Parker: Infinite Body was—well, I just stopped feeling bad. That was it. I had a good spring and summer and it was in 2007 and I did a tour with Gator Surprise, which was the most I ever did with that project—once in every city. It drained the life out of me. In 2007 I played like four times or something and by the last one I was like, ‘OK—well, I gotta practice feeling bad, I guess.’
Did you try to artificially trigger that mind state?
Kyle Parker: I knew I couldn’t do it at the shows for sure. I had tried on that tour—not from a point of trying to put one over on people, but trying to force an important mind state. To make a moment really intense when it’s not—that’s the fucked up thing. On that tour especially, most of the times I was most ready to play, I was in a mind-set where something snapped and I was really scared or everything was really clear or I was upset in some sort of way. I used to be just upset with death and dying and I thought death was really important and I still think it is, but it used to really bum me out and it doesn’t so much anymore.
What changed you?
Kyle Parker: It wasn’t one thing. In terms of the project it was very immediate. I couldn’t always reproduce it on the tour and when it came to the summer I was like, ‘OK, I gotta think about death again.’ I was just starting to feel better about things that summer. I did one show and it was alright—I was happy about it—but I had to do another show that same weekend. I was like, ‘I can’t do that again. I just did that two days ago and I don’t really feel bad anyway so I don’t have anything to shout about.’ So I just played like a really pretty and loud set but it wasn’t like a keyboard or anything—just some loops and stuff. I played really loud and it felt really good and I didn’t know that music could make me feel good. It switched like that. It’s not like that stuff doesn’t still scare me because it does—if I think about it at the right time, yeah, it scares the shit out of me. But the difference is it doesn’t bum me out anymore. Before it scared me and it bummed me out and I felt alone—like I was the smallest thing in the universe. The problem I was having with the harsh noise thing—and a lot of my friends had this problem, too, which is why a lot of them stopped making the music also—is that it’s kind of a really self-absorbed monologue but it doesn’t have anything to do with the audience for the most part. In theory, anyway, you’re not playing it to please the audience. So it’s like a monologue but it’s still kind of co-dependent because if the audience wasn’t there, you probably wouldn’t feel better after you played.
It wouldn’t be cathartic?
Kyle Parker: Yeah, and I guess it’s important to have it in front of a large amount of people even though you just don’t care what they think. It’s really confusing—it’s like the Bible or something or the SATs. So I was like, ‘Here’s all the things I was doing that didn’t make sense and now I’m going to try to do them the opposite way.’ Then everything I was going to do was for the listener and not for me. And then that sucked because you need a balance, obviously—just like anything. Now I’m trying to figure out how much I can focus on me and them at the same time.
You once said your drawings are similar to your songs because the only way they concretely communicate to the audience is through the title. What are you trying to communicate concretely and what are you trying to communicate ambiguously?
Kyle Parker: I think I started trying to give up having concrete intentions. I think that was the problem I was having the second year with it. It still really confuses me as to why people go to shows at all. Before I started playing music I never went to shows, so I’ve never been to a show when—
When you weren’t on duty?
Kyle Parker: No, not when I was on duty. It changes the mentality. I had the same problem with the drawing. I think the clearest way it comes through is that it’s hard to enjoy other people’s stuff when you love it so much because instead of just going, ‘Man, this makes me feel amazing’—when you create stuff in the same medium, or when I do anyways, what it makes me feel is like, ‘They’re already filling the hole that I’m trying to fill with what I do,’ so it makes me want to make it stop.
That’s a brutal way to put it.
Kyle Parker: I’m not thinking about this heavy shit all the time, but the general feeling. It’s a thing that hopefully can turn off someday if I just pay attention or something but it’s always been there. I’ve been better about it this year because I’m taking things less seriously in a sense—I’m trying to add more fun.
What do you do if you need to have emergency fun?
Kyle Parker: Right now I’m calling my friend. He is like positive—proactive—he could do a seminar if he wants to. He’s got this sharp mind like a walking Wikipedia, and I say Wikipedia instead of encyclopedia because there’s some things he says that are like, ‘Man, I don’t even know if that’s true,’ but if it’s on Wikipedia you believe it and you don’t double-check it and that’s the way it is with him. I pick my face sometimes because I still get pimples sometimes and sometimes I’ll be tipsy and I end up with this stupid scar on my face, and he was over the other day and I was like too embarrassed to talk about it. All of a sudden I leave the room and I’m gone for like ten minutes and he comes in and says, ‘Where did you go?’ and I said, ‘Oh, I’m picking my face.’ He’s like, ‘Stop doing that!’ and he got the dead skin off and he put honey on it and he said honey is an anti-inflammatory which will take care of the redness and I was like, ‘Oh, now everything is better.’ But right now he is my emergency fun. And the other one, my brain lumps them together, is my friend who works at the same place I do and she’s kind of a female version of him—I mean, they’re different but she’s very positive, too.
They sound like good problem solvers.
Kyle Parker: I tell them, you should just team up and go on Craigslist like, ‘Pay us like $20 to $100 and we’ll just do whatever you want.’ And they would probably be able to do it because most people on Craigslist just want things to happen easily. ‘What do you need to happen in your life today?’ It could be a package at your house and taking it to the post office down the street that you’re too lazy to walk to—an example from my own daily life! Or do you need to buy something? Like the best place to buy something for the cheapest and the highest quality and they know that somehow. They’re amazing.
I know you’re part of the Songs for the Arctic Ocean album that’s available for download only from a server in Iceland—what’s the equivalent for Infinite Body? The physical location that matches the music that you made on this record?
Kyle Parker: A lot of people think about winter but I don’t tend to. I don’t want to make music that sounds like winter to me because the winter feeling of music makes me feel cold and alone.
What about the rim of a tropical volcano?
Kyle Parker: I don’t know—you might fall in. That’s just careless. Though I imagine it’s a great rush. This feels like cheating a little but one of those planes that they take you up in where—it’s a plane, it’s not a rocket, but—
The zero-G plane that astronauts train in? The vomit comet?
Kyle Parker: Yeah. Like after you puke or maybe while you’re puking, start listening to it while you’re on the ground and then all the way through puking and ecstasy and whatever else happens. It’s kind of an equalizer—the puking thing. I didn’t pick it because of the puking but I’m glad you brought it up.