Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Bradley The Buyer

"If Andy Warhol is a genius, then what am I? A speck of lint on the penis of an alien...buried in gelatin."
--Robert Fripp.

Bradley The Buyer giving the
"Secret Sign only known by Initiates."
I managed to track Bradley The Buyer down in his "home studio," which is frankly little more than a dingy basement full of pro audio gear that I can only imagine he foisted from the back of a truck somewhere. I've worked with him on past projects before - or at least, I had vague memories of doing so - but he looked different somehow. Unhinged. Then I heard what he'd been working on. He was onto something. Or we had all become tragically, unimaginably decoupled from the consumer nightmare that has overtaken all other acceptable myths and meta-narratives of reality. We are some of the few remaining who lurk on the periphery, not a part of this strange cult of flashing signs, but aware of it, and driven by a deep desire to use its black magic to assist us in the procurement of those base needs which all creatures must satisfy, unless if they want to take to wearing strange hats, getting fellated by young boys. Nobody wants that. Certainly not me. 

Who am I talking about? Bradley The Buyer, of course. Here is a bit of our discussion. 

James Curcio: Alright. Where did this tragic mess all begin?

Bradley The Buyer: Imagine you are in late middle school or early high school and Nine Inch Nails' "The Downward Spiral" drops. This is your gateway into what is, at the time, being referred to generically as Industrial music. I will go on record by saying that two of the records that influenced me the most at the time that were said by many to be "Industrial" were "The Downward Spiral" and "Antichrist Superstar".

J.C. Fuck. Me too. I know all of my credibility in terms of past and present project (like HoodooEngine) just fell through the floor. Hey, everyone has to start somewhere. Also I like that it seems both of our first albums ("EgoWhore," for us), are at once homages to some past  influences but also throwing middle fingers both to those forms of music and many of the people who listen to it. That's going to really ensure a huge market share for us.

BTB: Yeah. This is going to make me very unpopular, in that I have referred to either of those works as being industrial... Because you know, purists abound.

J.C. We've already alienated about 90% of the usual fanbase for this kind of music. Don't worry. It's too late for both of us. By the way, are you going to take that last pill or can I?

"Think For Yourself. Question Authority."
BTB: Go ahead. What I am saying is that to an immature, selfish and emotionally unstable teenage-type, songs about fucking and hurting yourself to take revenge on other humans seemed pretty chique. And that is definitely not what I am listening to now, but it set the stage for what I had to say later, which I think in a sense is pretty reactive towards that type of thinking. The type of thought that got me interested in content like that when I was younger. Thinking that pain is, by definition, artistic endeavor... It is not... I would much rather feel pleasure than pain anymore.

J.C. No, it is not. But it’s a myth that helps keep us “in our place.” And it also keeps us at the grindstone when there are no fiscal results of our efforts. When you say what you're doing is reactive, what do you mean? Most people would have a negative response to that word.

BTB: Yeah, and they'd be doing that reactively. Well, this is not for them then. We call it "satire". It’s a new concept to some people.

J.C. I guess they missed Jonathan Swift in High School.

BTB: They can continue to wear black eyeliner and take themselves "sthuper cereal.” There is no such thing as shock anymore. I believe someone before me said that...? When I was about 12 or 13 I ran into a record called "We're Only In It For The Money" by Frank Zappa and the Mothers that changed my life. The story goes that Zappa's first record, "Freak Out" was what influenced the Beatles to make "Sgt. Peppers' Lonely Heart's Club Band". So to repay that homage, Zappa and the boys wrote "We're Only In It For the Money" which at the time Rolling stone called "perhaps the most mercilessly derisive raspberry ever flung at the rock scene by an actual participant therein." So as far as the writing content for this record goes? Don't think about traditional subjects explored in goth or industrial subculture music, think of it being more like my interpretation of Zappa's attitude towards rock and roll in general.

J.C. Yeah. Since we’re talking about early influences, Mike Patton was one for me and I understand for you as well, and I feel a bit like there is something Zappa-esque about his attitude too, even more than the music itself. Though I’ve seen tracks like Bungle’s Goodbye Sober Day get mistaken for Zappa by people who don’t really know his music that well. Anyway, go on...

BTB: Incidentally, I remembered listening to that record more than a few time on massive amounts of entheogens and it really did change my life. It taught me the most important lesson of all: Human beings, if they are truly human and not robots, should be capable of being able to laugh at themselves.

J.C. On some of your liner notes you've mentioned publicly so far, you've dedicate your work on the record to "Agent 156" for handing out razor blades at goth and industrial night clubs, and telling the recipients "You know what to do with it." I’ll ask if you think that’s a bit extreme - but I did know Agent 156 back in the day - before he disappeared - so I can’t say I’m exactly surprised.

BTB: Let me answer that question with another question. Do you think many of those kids would've actually had the balls to do anything with the razors? I know the type of person who often talks of killing themselves, and they are typically not the ones who will actually do it, particularly if some random stranger is trying to provoke them into doing it. It's a bit of reverse psychology, don't you think? "Hey, this asshole is trying to get me to kill myself! I'll show him!"

J.C. It could be seen as a way of saying “go ahead and pull the trigger or sit down already.”

BTB: I doubt that very many of them were going to use them in any capacity, other than perhaps to chop up their shitty drugs before they insufflated them. I think another point you can draw from a stunt like that, for me at least, is to shake people up and startle them into the realization of how little freedom we possess on a daily basis and how much dull tyranny we presently endure. "Your TV tells you what you ought to be" ad infinitum. Yeah, read the lyrics. I'm definitely not advocating death, it'll happen soon enough anyway. I just would like for people to start waking up and quit behaving like robots at times.

J.C. As far as industrial music, which you yourself have categorized your work as, what all do you find yourself listening to?

BTB: Industrial music is a fraction of what I listen to. I listen to a lot of jazz, a lot of progressive rock, a lot of trip hop and trance, glitch hop and IDM and DNB. Dubstep is fascinating to me as well. David Bowie is still my altime favorite artist. He was light-years ahead of his time in predicting the schizophrenic tendencies of life in the Western world. But I love Aphex Twin, Square Pusher, Venetian Snares, DJ Shadow, Coil, Meat Beat Manifesto, and as far as industrial, Skinny Puppy, Ministry, Einstuerzende Neuabuaten, some Psychic TV. And really in terms of learning production through listening to music, being a big fan of Nine Inch Nails as a young teenager definitely had an influence on how I approach making different sounds. I don't always appreciate Trent's lyrical content, but that's neither here nor there. Love him or hate him he's made a measurable mark on the industry and did some really innovative things in terms of developing studio tricks that have inspired me since I was about 13. I do have to confess that I have been listening to the film score for "The Social Network" quite a bit lately for inspiration. His instrumental stuff, the minimalist and yet layered approach has always impressed me. My music though... It's definitely not straightforward industrial, and I hope the fact that I've labeled it as such offends at least a few people who take their scene way too fucking seriously. There is typically more musicality, organic instruments, elements of pop, jazz, IDM, DNM, and Breakcore in what I do. It's just a mix. I try to place a pretty heavy emphasis on melody and harmonic progression, maybe that is just me being brainwashed after years of university level music theory.

J.C. For those unfamiliar with Burroughs, why is the project called Bradley the Buyer?

BTB: Well, as I recall there was a segment from Naked Lunch which I read when I was a young teenager and first beginning to experiment with drugs. The concept was about a narcotics agent called Bradley the Buyer who soon discovered that he became addicted to being in close proximity with junkies. His work begins to suffer, and he eventually has to resort to bribing turnkeys to let him into holding cells with young junkies to rub up against them. He grows more and more dependent upon the contact high of seeing other people in misery. His teeth falls out. He begins sucking on Baby Ruth candy bars constantly. After he is fired, he crawls back to the DA telling him he will do ANYTHING to get back on the beat. He grovels at the DA's feet. After this doesn't work, Bradley transforms himself into a gigantic black centipede and he has to be exterminated by men with flame throwers. How that relates to the overall concept of my record to be, "Figurative and Literal Opiates," I don't want to entirely spell out.

J.C. Yeah, there are rabbit-holes throughout any project, I think. And people will dive in or they won't. Plus myths spring out of anything. I mean, I don’t know if that’s what Clark was referring to when he yelled “I’m representing centipides, bitch!” but now I’m going to run with that myth. So thanks for the tidbit. And people can attribute meaning to anything. What does this project “mean”?

BTB: Let's just say, as the description at the bandcamp page now says: "'Figurative and Literal Opiates'" is a record about the ways in which we deceive ourselves and others. It is a record about the ways in which we allow our identities to be generated by others, hero worship, and consumer culture. You will probably never hear it." In addition to this, I can say the album relates to concepts such as compulsion, addiction, objectification of human beings and what I perceive to be generally unhealthy patterns in the majority of humanity.

J.C. And this is a project still in progress, right?

BTB: Yes. Didn’t you read the notes I sent you?

J.C. I have people that read things for me these days, Bradley. I am a busy man. I’ve got better things to do. Speaking of, it’s time for my 7am blowjob.

Bradley the Buyer is currently unemployed, malnourished and addicted to benzodiazepines. He spends long hours obsessively staring into computer screens. He is expecting the release of his first full length LP, "Figurative and Literal Opiates" to be released within the coming year. For now, you can keep up to speed with his mixing process by demoing the tracks at Or check out the finished Bradley albums on Mythos Media.

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