Meet Collapsing Scenery, the LA Duo Taking Basel by Storm
As you probably know by now, we’re headed to Art Basel with a ton of cool shows, parties, and happenings on our list…not to mention the music and art surrounding it all. Among the crazy is the occasional dose of chill, in this case served up by LA-based duo Collapsing Scenery, comprised of artist Don Devore and singer Reggie Debris—a perfect storm of creative forces combining dope sounds with just the right amount of weirdness.
We sat down with Reggie to talk life, political messages, and upcoming major tour dates at this year’s ABMB. Read on to get inside his head (and configure your calendar accordingly).
How did you guys get together? What are your musical backgrounds?
We’ve known each other for years. This project started simply as a long-discussed plan to make something sonically electronic and lyrically political.
A lot of your stuff is reminiscent of early 90s hip hop and funk, with a little electronic punk in there too. What would you say are your main inspirations?
As far as influence, we really are open to anything regardless of genre or category. For this project, I’d venture the main strains are industrial, noise, hip-hop, techno, 80s/90s English indie, no wave, dub, etc… but there are also gentle moments that don’t fit under any of those headers. The goal is always to acknowledge our forebears in spirit then make something that doesn’t sound anything like them.
Tell us about your new single, “The Cat Looks At The King.” What does your creative process typically look like?
This tune is a fairly singular one, in the catalogue, in that it’s positive in spirit. Lyrically (in my verses, anyway) it’s a celebration of those rare moments in history when people stand up to power and prevail, or at least make an impact that kicks off a chain reaction. If there’s any theme to the record, lyrically, it’s the investigation of power. As far as Buddy and Good Joon’s verses, that shit’s just pure party music. Those dudes killed it. The creative process really varies from song to song but usually looks something like this: we’ll improvise hours of music, I’ll identify chunks that feel like verses or choruses, find a melody, and then after a long, painstaking editing and overdubbing period we’ll make a song. Certain songs felt like they called for features; in this tune, the bounce of it was screaming out for an MC, and we lucked out with two of ‘em.
What was it like collaborating with Good Joon and Buddy?
Joon and Buddy were both a fucking delight. I’m fans of both for a long time. They really gave this song a new life.
And your September EP, God’s Least Favorite—give us the rundown. How did you go about making this one?
God’s Least Favorite was made largely along the lines I describe above, over the course of a couple years, starting from before we really had any idea what kind of shape this band was going to take, who was going to sing, etc. The songs are, in fact, the first we ever wrote and among the first that took shape in the studio. I love these songs.
Let’s talk Art Basel. Is it your first time, any of you guys? What are you most excited about with the performances you have lined up?
Our first ever run of shows was last year in Miami during art week. This time around we’re sharing the stage with some really remarkable artists, most notably Psychic TV. Genesis P-Orridge is a massive hero/ine for us, not merely as a musician but as a model for living in this world.
What’s the best song you guys have made to date, and why?
I’m proud of all these songs, otherwise they’d die on the vine. But I’ll take a minute to mention Metaphysical Cops. That entire production more or less set the template for how we would write and record. It came together in a very fluid, natural way, which is not to say that it didn’t take major work. We recorded the jam that turned into that song deep in rural Texas, in a pitch dark studio, wearing military grade night vision goggles. Lyrically I’m attempting to identify and call out the American roots of the Ugandan State’s oppression of its LGBTQ community, and, more broadly, how repressive speech can transmute into physical violence.
How would you describe your sound? What makes it unique?
The way we’ve gone about writing and recording is highly eccentric and unusual, although it feels natural to us by now. I think the process itself made for a unique product.
What’s the goal when you produce a new song or record—creative expression? Specific statements? A combination of both or neither?
The goal is always and only to make something that moves us and that describes some aspect of the world that I feel strongly needs describing.
That’s a wrap—catch the boys in MIA this week on 12/1 at Sand Bar, 12/2 at Look Alive Fest at Churchills, 12/3 at Satellite, and 12/5 at Project Space and check out their new single, premiering exclusively on Milk.
Featured image by Monibelle Hayworth.
Stay tuned to Milk for more on emerging artistry of all mediums.