Talk Show Host: 001: Cyanotic

Fresh off a North American tour supporting 16Volt and Bella Morte, having just seen the latest Cyanotic-driven compilation [Gears Gone Wild] just released, and with a new Cyanotic album [The Medication Generation] due early next year, Sean Payne is a busy man. managed to interrupt his busy life for a short while to catch up on developments and find out a little bit more about Cyanotic – past, present and future… So Sean, how was the tour?
sean: Oh man, this was by far one of the best times I’ve ever had on the road. The bond we had with the 16Volt guys was incredible – I hadn’t felt that with anybody else but the Acumen Nation/DJ? Acucrack crew and Jared [Louche] on the Chemlab tour. So getting to befriend these three bands through out this past year that were so influential to me in starting to make music was a huge personal accomplishment. What was the response from the audiences like for Cyanotic? As I can only presume that many 16v fans are likely to be at least aware of you?
sean: I was so happy that we were met with such a warm response. We had everybody watching us who was there for 16Volt and made a lot of new fans in the process. I was so very happy that just because we were the opener, it didn’t mean that everybody made the choice to avoid us, because thats usually how it goes, but 16Volt, Acumen Nation, Chemlab, we are all kindred. So its made it much more of a family-style experience, and the people in the crowd feel that too, sharing the unity and support for both bands onstage and offstage, partying with us ’til dawn and the like. You’re making it sound like the “scene” over there is perhaps a little more welcoming than some others. Would you say that this is the case, or is this only a small, er, corner of it?
sean: I can’t really say because I’ve only been fortunate to do tours with bands we already have a connection with. The scene isn’t really unified here at all, it hasn’t been since the segregation began in the late 90s, when everybody had to start classifying just what kind of industrial music was their preference, y’know? Me, I like it all: electro, power noise, coldwave, whatever name you want to slap on music with heavy electronics. I think people are starting to come around again though, this scene was at its best when there weren’t those sub-genres to break up everybody – when ohGr could tour with Ministry and Godflesh could open for [Skinny] Puppy. That’s the kind of scene unity I want to strive for again. Interesting – similar things have been happening here. Is this the kind of thing you are aiming for by the compilations you have been involved in? As certainly it could be said that all of them have a wide variety of styles/genres/whatever you want to call them…
sean: That’s 100% why I release the compilations – to show the diversity of the artists that we are unified with, [and] to give people access to new music that may be out of reach because certain people aren’t akin to certain sub-genres. Taking the latest one (Gears Gone Wild, of course), as an example, how do you put together the tracklist – are you approaching artists for material or is it the other way ’round?
sean: It’s a bit of both, artists always approach me about appearing on the compilations and I always have a definitive list of artists I want to feature on each compilation, but this compilation was mainly me getting in direct contact with each artist and asking for really specific contributions. Like the Acumen Nation/DJ? Acucrack crew, I asked for remixes of those two specific songs, my favorites from the last two albums, and I got ’em! >So now Gears… is out of the way, how’s work on the new album going?
sean: The Medication Generation is about 12 tracks through right now. I am figuring out the tracklisting as I go, writing as I go, been steadily working on some of these tracks since before “Transhuman 2.0” even became a possibility, collecting, reshaping, restructuring… I had a lull in recording and writing over the winter, couldn’t even go outside without wanting to not be alive, that mid-west US cold weather can just sully my mental state, and that it did. But once the spring came around, I was wrapping up Gears Gone Wild, getting ready for this tour with 16Volt and back in the studio with Jason Prost [from mindFluxFuneral] working on all the MedGen tracks. Obviously MedGen is coming out on Bit Riot, what’s it been like as one of their first signings – it appears from the outside that they are a pretty supportive label?
sean: I have been good buddies with the Bit Riot Records crew since we were all teenagers. The label head is Eric Dusik, former main man for PTI, which those guys were just starting up around the time I was starting up Cyanotic, in the late 90s. Coincidentally, we all became friends via the 16Volt message boards. Ha. How’s that for full circle?

Bit Riot Records has been incredibly supportive. Cyanotic and mindFluxFuneral were the only two signings on Bit Riot that first year the label was in operation, but now Bit Riot is growing, expanding its roster and really moving forward. Its a really exciting time for everybody involved. Time to go back, then. How did Cyanotic come about – or more to the point, why form an industrial band?
sean: well, this music has always been my main love in life, even when I didn’t know what this music was. I remember being 8 years old, my mom driving to the supermarket, I would blare the Terminator 2 score (on tape), just totally in love with these dark mechanical sounds. My mom threw away the tape, said it was too depressing, that it was like “robot funeral music”. Lo and behold, a couple years later I am scanning through the radio stations and I come upon this awesome show in Chicago, Zoltar’s Industrial Zone [on Q101], just like a four hour block. I would make tapes upon tapes, listen to ’em till the tapes were worn out, thats where I heard every band that made me want to start making this music.

After my father passed away, I saw music as my outlet, so a couple buddies with gear let me borrow some equipment to learn how to sequence and progam…and thats when I made the decision to form Cyanotic. Which bands would you say were the biggest influences on you from when you first started into this kind of music?
sean: Definitely 16Volt, Acumen Nation, Chemlab, the big machine rock guys of the 90s from labels like Re-Constriction and Fifth Column. Front Line Assembly, Skinny Puppy, KMFDM, Nine Inch Nails, Godflesh, Rape and Honey-Ministry, Revolting Cocks, Leæther Strip/Klute, Meat Beat Manifesto, Converter, etc what about now? Is there much new music (industrial or otherwise?) that influences or excites as much as these?
sean: Lately it’s been a lot of the old school. I mean, all this music that was really influential to me is still constantly on rotation, since I never get sick of those bands, but new music I’m hearing thats giving me inspiration is usually a lot of the dark drum’n’bass like Evol Intent, Counterstrike, DJ Hidden and the like; Metal like old Sepultura, Soulfly, Nailbomb (basically anything with Max Cavalera), Meshuggah, Chimaira, Dillinger Escape Plan, Bury Your Dead; a lot of chill IDM like Aphex Twin and TRS-80; space rock like Failure, On and Autolux; even a bit of the super girlie indie projects like Imogen Heap and Frou Frou.

Oh, and Beck. I have always been a huge Beck fan.

But yeah, I try to make my musical palette broad, taking in new influences and keeping the old influences in consistent rotation. Talking of influences, actually, how’s it been working with one of your influences in Prude? (and of course working with Matt from Caustic too)
sean: Prude has been a lot of fun so far. It’s a really interesting dynamic we are all creating with each other. Due to all this touring business and finishing up MedGen and the new compilation, I haven’t had as much time as I would like to devote to the Prude sounds, but with most of the big work behind me for everything else, I’m going to be ramping up work on Prude with Jared [Chemlab], Matt [Caustic], Marc [Plastic Heroes] and Phil [Infocollapse] in the very near future. The [Prude] track on Gears [Darkroom v1.0] certainly surprised me a little in how it sounds – is this an indicator as to how the band will sound in a very broad sense?
sean: The songs that are coming out of this project are really out there in some ways, totally different than anything I would be doing in Cyanotic, totally different from any of the other bands who are contributing too. It’s a very unique sound, when you mesh all these different people’s ideas into a cohesive audio stew, there will definitely be a couple tracks that will make fans scratch their heads in disbelief, but thats what this is about – pushing ourselves outside our usual boundaries.

The song from Gears… was originally put together by myself and Phil from Infocollapse, who has also done work with me in Cyanotic, as well as going on tour with us as a main keyborg handler for the Acumen Nation/DJ? Acucrack tour. We are both huge fans of Jared, so when the chance came for me to work on this project, I felt the need to include Phil. We wrote the basis of that song in a couple hours, then sent it to the guys in the UK, Jared adding vocals and melody and Marc adding extra guitars and fuzz Jared is based in the UK now? There’s something I didn’t know…
sean: yeah. Jared has been over there for a couple years last I knew. Maybe since the early 2000s.

[aside: that helps explain the UK-based store on his site!] So, talking of the UK – what did happen with plans to play over here?
sean: Well, it’s been in discussion for about two years and twice now, we have been that much closer to solidifying it. But its just a matter of promoters and venues and getting in touch with the right people. The last people we had involvement with didn’t have the proper mindset to make a UK venture successful. Ah, I see. Hopefully there will be some UK dates at some point (there is a growing number of fans over here, it appears)
sean: I would say the UK is responsible for 1/3 of our sales and its been that way since the original Transhuman. We get at least 20 messages weekly from random UK fans asking us to come over, so just know, we are trying! 😀 On T2.0 [which came bundled with a remaster of T1.0], it notes at the bottom of the credits that T1.0 is “licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Licence” – suggesting perhaps that you are now happy for people to share that album. Is this the case, and if so, what is your view on the whole downloading/music on the internet issue?
sean: I’m fine with people sharing the music. I’d be a hypocrite if I couldn’t say I’m fine with sharing music, one of the biggest reasons for our popularity has been file-sharing programs and word of mouth. I just hope enough people understand the indie artists rely on sales to keep going. Share it, spread it, but if you’re really into it and you’ve had it on your hard drive for six months and listened to it a lot, do us and yourself a favor and go buy a copy! Also with T1.0, there was a fair amount of political (Insurgence) and social (Deface, Beta Blocker) comment – how important is it for you to raise issues you care about in your music?
sean: Its very important to vocalize issues in our music, whther its internal [like all the songs about panic attacks] or external [social climates, club scene mentality, blah blah]. There wouldn’t be a reason for me to have vocals in this music if I didn’t have something to say with those vocals. Thats the reasoning behind the new MedGen album, even more so than Transhuman, where I was still doing my tongue in cheek homage to the dystopic sci-fi styles. Not to say I’m planning to eschew the homage stuff, but this new album’s very much about things that affect me in the world, namely uh…pills and the media. So, I guess, to start wrapping this up – what does the future hold for the band? World domination, or stopping a little short of that?
sean: There is a lot on the plate right now. Finishing up “The Medication Generation”, going out on more tours, working on this new 0ndr01d project, working on this new Prude project, trying to keep a hold on reality all the while. It’s an interesting excercise in overkill, but I feel ready for pouring my dedication into this for at least a couple more years. It’s brought us all so much happiness that it would be futile to try and stop before we reach our plateau. 0ndr01d?
sean: Yeah, thats the new project I am working on with the newest addition to Cyanotic, Ondrea, who is playing samples and keys. It’s going to put those other female-fronted electro acts to shame, or at least thats the intention. It’s going to be a really danceable and heavy mix of electro and power noise. Sounds cool. And while on the subject of new music, and as a closer, what up-and-coming stuff from the mid-west should we be looking out for now (say a couple of bands I’m unlikely to have come across yet)?
sean: hmm… I don’t really have a pulse on all things awesome, but everything Bit Riot is ramping up is uber-quality, Breath and Decay, mindFluxFuneral, LeftSpineDown, Torrent Vaccine…then there’s artists in Canada like our guys in Ad·ver·sary and Memmaker

Gears Gone Wild is out now.

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