VICE Premiere: Prism House's "Need You (Part I)"
Prism House is a Brooklyn-based electronic duo consisting of Brian Wenner (music/live electronics) and Matt O'Hare (live visuals). They formed in 2011 by O’Hare and Pia Blumenthal, while the two were studying music at NYU. Pia left the group shortly thereafter leaving an opening for fellow student Wenner to fill. I spoke with Brian to discuss the duo’s debut EP Reflections and the single “Need You (Part 1)" that will be released by the Brooklyn label Ceremony Recordings on March 5, as well his musical background and why he thinks a lot of electronic producers these days are “assholes.”
VICE: How did you get interested in making weird electronic music as opposed to playing guitars in bands?
Brian Wenner: I’ve always been interested in electronic music. I played video games all the time as a kid and had the 8-bit sound embedded into my brain. When I heard Kid A it clicked. Eventually I discovered Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Boards of Canada.
Prism House's sound is experimental but not completely avant-garde and has beats but isn't dance music. Are you guys trying to be dance music or experimental music or something in-between?
Matt and I don’t ever ask each other, “Should this be weirder? Or should this be a little more accessible?” But I do love dance music and I look to incorporate some dance elements into what we do but still retain our experimental aspects.
The band’s sound is heady. Do you guys think your shows are best experienced under the influence?
I think so. The visuals definitely work best when someone is on psychedelics. I don’t think you have to be high to enjoy our shows, but it would definitely be a cool experience.
Are drugs involved in your recording process?
Not really. I drink a lot and smoke weed occasionally. I can’t write music well when I’m high. I’ll record something that I think is great then wake up and realize that it’s just shit.
That’s disappointing. What other stuff influences you?
Photography. I use a field recorder to record sounds hoping it tells a story of what I was doing and why I was there. I want my music to have a photographic quality to it. I want to listen to it 10 years now from now and be able to remember certain moments in my life.
How’d you get hooked up with Ceremony Recordings?
Twitter. I tweeted at the Ceremony account, “Hey I think you guys are really cool. I really dig the artists you’re putting out.” Then I met the label’s manager Matthew Gawrych and I just got really good vibes from him. So when I got our first single done I sent it to him not even expecting to get signed. But apparently he really liked it.
Wow it must be 2013; Twitter got you a record deal?
It’s crazy, but yeah.
How’d the new EP come into fruition?
It was supposed to be for this film that would show me recording in the studio. I had no intention of making a full album. But the more I worked on it, the more I started digging the music and it eventually became an EP. I found the lead vocals from the song “The Tracks of my Tears” by Smokey Robinson. Some sounds come from field recordings. I’m also going to let you in on a secret. I go on Vimeo a lot and audio hijack interviews. That’s how I got the voices you hear on the track.
Is that legal?
I think so. The internet is easier to find sounds than going to a record shop and digging through crates. The internet is a limitless crate. I also release a lot of the samples that I use online.
So you are saying, “Here are sounds that I use to make music, you can use them too”?
I dig that.
A lot of producers are too secretive with their music. There are so many assholes that won’t share their musical processes. I’ve read so many bad interviews with electronic producers because they won’t just fucking say if they are using a preset from Logic or whatever.
Are you going to name names right now?
[Laughs] No one off the top of my head. I just like showing people my process because I think people want to know how the sounds were used from my end and that they can go use the sounds however they want.
Brian, thanks a lot for speaking with me.
You bet. Have a good one.
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