N O   P A R T   O F   I T
Far more important than baking bread is the urge to take dough -beating to the extreme - Otto Muehl

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Interview Series #29: Edgar Amaya

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.   

 Scheduled March 2019

 Edgar is a very good friend of mine.  I originally met him when he was a member of a fledgling group called The Electric Set, which was formed by a semi active/former member/Texas transplant to Chicago in the band Indian Jewelry.  He then formed a duo called EaViL, with his then partner N. Vilches.  These projects were a very noisey, messy, and freeform approach to pop music in a myriad of ways, but also sometimes they were just pure noise with a certain flair for poetry in the place where power electronics may have come in.  Amaya also co-wrote a book with harp player Stella Castellucci, based on his ongoing obsession with a rare Peggy Lee album.  Somewhere in there, he moved to Spain and got married; became the catsitter and personal archivist of Lydia Lunch, of whom he is a long-standing fan.   For a time, my radio show, The Delirious Insomniac Freeform Radio Show (2007-2014) ran something after hours called "Delirious Sunrise" wherein Edgar was a regular host, and his taste, while not exactly in the "deliberately obscure" vein that many freeform DJs would be, still reflected a peculiar and focused taste for intensity.  Edgar is a rather private person, but he has traveled a lot of the world now and lived one of the more full lives I've known of an ostensibly shy person, including seeing Prince regularly at private shows in his Paisley Park home studio, and embracing Judaism enough to visit Israel.  If there really is some mythical place in Japan where reclusive types can find some success as creatives without being overtly self-promotional, he and I should surely go there! 

1. What types of things have you been getting into lately?
I’ve been caught up in Unsolved Mysteries (The Robert Stack episodes). The theme song unsettled me as a child when it first aired, but I still chose to watch it. Back then I didn’t understand what I was watching. Terror Vision has released a vinyl using many of the themes Gary Malkin composed for the segments. I had no idea until I saw it on display at a record fair. Seeing and hearing it all these years later makes it seem like a new series.

Birds fascinate me completely. I’ve been into bird watching. I admire their intelligence, instincts, beauty, and serenity. I’m dreaming and scheming of ways to spend time with penguins. My husband and I went to the penguin “experience” offered by the Shedd Aquarium. It was supposed to offer a chance to hang out with one. Her name was Charlotte (we added the last name Sometimes). She is a beautiful African penguin with lots of personality. We barely had the chance to touch or be closer to this fascinating creature. We did get to pose for a picture with her, although not expecting that her handler would be in it as well.

Genealogy – I love that there is technology to explain what we are made of. Origins can be undisputed and suspicions can be confirmed. Within one body can lie nations that warred with and conquered each other. Many of the places that made me changed borders and names several times over. Finding the village where it all began on a map is a revelation. It’s also made a great purpose for some future travels and exploration.

2. What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby?
It is done the only way that I know how. I was condemned to write when my father named me. Hearing the music he played or made growing up was a strong influence. I didn’t realize there was a choice in creating things. It’s an obsession that drives other obsessions.

3. How would you describe what you do?
Everything centers on trying to figure something out. That is usually why I find it deeply personal. I usually have to be obsessed with an idea or concept that I can’t shake. That’s when I know it’s time to dive in and make something. A continental drift occurs mentally where I end up on one side or the other.

4. How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?
For a long time I was so driven by my own conflicts and disturbances. Now there’s a purification process into doing something. It does help to have a large body of water near. Now there is space to do it mentally and physically without clutter. All the things that are not washed away are the ones that will matter.

5. How would you describe your philosophy?
There’s a lot of revision, renewal, and reinvention. If there isn’t a “re” area in my brain somewhere, I’m bound to stagnate and lose meaning. My grandma often said, “Shit or get off the pot.” I learned to follow words with actions and not waste time from her. I learned about strength and determination from my mom. I think we can be a mixed media masterpiece, using the best influence of the people we know and love best.

6. Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods? If no, then maybe you'll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not).
I believe in all those things. I think our minds are too underdeveloped. I’ve always wanted to see a ghost, but haven’t had the chance. I’ll continue haunting places they are known to be.

7. What would you say was your most definitive experience?
Moving to Barcelona. I was fully charged, in love, and dreaming. Even my crashes and confusion didn’t have the same impact or hurt they have had elsewhere. It was when I finally started saying yes to myself and became less afraid. I really appreciate the two-way culture shock of going there and coming back. It’s really broken through so many things that were in the way.

8. Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?
I’ve worked on some new concepts and ideas for music, but it doesn’t have a name yet. It’s got a lot of blank spaces. I’m still figuring it out. I think it’s going to start to see the light of day after relocating.

9. Would you care to name any theoretical “Desert Island” records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"?

  1. Lovesexy perfectly captures everything that Prince was and stood for. It will always be my favorite album of all time. It’s so dense, funky, confusing and positively beautiful. I can’t help but feel great each time I hear it.
  2. In Limbo was Lydia Lunch’s attempt to make the slowest album she could. It was a godsend when I was pinned to the floor staring at nothing in my youth.
  3. Cuatricromía by Fangoria sent me on an upward spiral of happiness. I played it while Turkey Crossing into Barcelona. Seeing “Cuatro Colores” live literally moved me to tears. They became my Spanish teachers and I had the chance to thank them for that.
  4. Peggy Lee’s vocals are flawless on Black Coffee. Her amazing group accompanies her on one of the highlights of all her recordings. She was newly divorced and delivered these sultry selections on the throes and throws of love. The album was further improved by the addition of Stella Castellucci’s harp on the added songs.
  5. The Creatures’ Eraser Cut is a four-song feast that is so varied and brilliant. Siouxsie’s vocals and Budgie’s drums always move me. This sent me over the edge in appreciating their work as Creatures and Banshees. The Creatures have the edge for me because of their sensuality and experimentation. I was too young to enter the first time I saw The Creatures at The Metro, so my dad accompanied me. I had met them at their signing in Tower Records earlier that day. I professed my love for the song “Pinned Down.” During the concert, Siouxsie approached me from the stage. She sang that song just inches from my face.

10. What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?
I left Mexico for the final time when I was two years old. For some reason all of the memories are very blue-hued. It was like it was always dusk or the blue hour. I must have been nocturnal. I’m sitting on the floor in a huge room and plants surround me. I hadn’t been back for a visit until 2015. I now know it was the porch where my abuela keeps her plants. It’s so much smaller to me now.

11. Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws? To what extent?
Yes, definitely. Prince is a great example. I know he was complicated and hard to get close to. He really created important work for me as someone who always felt “different.” Alfred Hitchcock had some issues that informed his art. He funneled his fears and anxieties into his work. It’s a kind of alchemy. I used to be an avid fan of memoirs and classic Hollywood biographies. I think the more I learned about some people, the more difficult it got to like or admire them. I know there are troublesome men for different reasons. Directors like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski. I do appreciate some of their work and view it outside of its creator.

12. Do you have any heroes or heroines? Who are they? Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out.
I am a Lydia Lunch lover for life. I feel so fortunate that I’ve had the chance to evolve from fan to friend. The times we were working through her archives provided many perfect moments. It’s incredible any one being can do what she does and maintain their sanity. She carves out a big space for pleasure and happiness. She is 100% DIY and loving it, a globe trekking seduction.’

My grandma Eleanor gave me lots of love when there wasn’t enough to go around. She made things happen in difficult situations. It’s a miracle that she wasn’t a bitter or sad person considering all that she went through. She lived life with gutsy gusto and was a lot of fun.

13. What would you like to have on your epitaph? Or what is your favorite quote?
I would like it to say: Married 11/15/14. I feel like I’ve been born and died so many times. I had never been witness to a healthy marriage or relationship. I was really scared to make such an important decision. It ended up being one of the best things. It provided another necessary restart that would move my life forward. I spend days and nights with my favorite person in the world.