For many of Miami's cultural establishments, engaging the event-going public is never an easy task. But the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), located in the newly remodeled Design District, is seeking to attract attendees with an immersive new program beyond standard museum fare. Dubbed ICA Residents, the new program focuses on strengthening ties between the museum and the local arts scene.
ICA's first partners for the program will be the Miami Music Club
, a nomadic space for hosting music, sound, and performance art around Miami. The MMC will curate three events for the ICA, each show
highlighting experimental musicians working outside of Miami, paired with Miami performers who share a kinship with the chosen acts.
For the first event, the out-of-towner MMC has selected is the Philadelphia-based Noah Anthony, who has been subverting the status quo of techno via his experimental output, Profligate, for years. He'll be joined by locals Sharlyn Evertsz and Dim Past. In advance of Anthony's upcoming performance, we chatted with the oft-elusive artist for some probing discussion about genre, found sound, and writing pop songs in the avant-garde sphere.
Miami New Times: “Profligate" as a noun is defined as "a licentious, dissolute person." The music certainly has the abrasion of industrial textures, but sometimes there are very familiar-sounding songs with sweet melodies buried inside. How do you reconcile this outer shell of lo-fi or aggressive noise with the plainclothes songs distributed therein?
: I think it's a combination of two things. It's an attempt to express the sound I'm usually hearing in my head, and it's the way I process my sound. I'm usually always just trying to write a good pop song
to be honest. I really admire high production values and I'm constantly trying to improve the overall sound on each release, but ultimately it will probably still retain an ugly sound because I’m always recording with tapes or broken gear. On the new album
there's a song called “Jet Black” that has a rhythm track from a cassette tape I found rummaging around in the basement. Maybe it's something old of mine or maybe it's just some noise tape, I honestly don't know, but it sounds mysterious and fucked up. Hopefully
that dynamic will always be in my music. It keeps it really interesting to me.
The first track on Abbreviated Regime has a guitar line. What got you interested in using a decidedly analog instrument in the midst of all these broken, electronic loops? At times you seem to be employing genre conventions to revolt against them from within. Is this how you approach the question of genre?
I guess it's just not something I really consider. I'm just trying to write a good song regardless of what the genre is. I definitely like to incorporate different influences into one track and just experiment with different styles and see what works and what doesn't. I usually just go with my gut instincts and I do enjoy that internal debate of,
Is it noise? Is it music? Can I dance to it? It's something that just comes about naturally. It's all bass guitar on the new one. I wanted to go back to something that's more direct, especially in the live sense, where I can just play an instrument. I'm not really big on synths or gear in general so it just kind of made sense to pick up the bass for these songs instead of standing behind a table and turning some knobs.
Traveling backwards through your discography, the prominence of dance-inflected beats becomes more pronounced, moving from Abbreviated Regime to We're All Waiting. Did you have a more dance-focused aesthetic in mind when starting Profligate?
Well, Profligate came out of my first solo project called Night Burger which was pretty minimal and overall nasty sounding. I just wanted to get away from vocals and structure since I had only been in bands up to that point. After a couple years, things started to change and I was adding vocals and kind of writing straightforward songs. That's around
the time when I felt the name should change. So from around 2012 things got a bit more dancier
and had a more pop-oriented feel. Fast forward to around late 2014 and throughout 2015 — when the material from We're All Waiting
, as well as the Extremities
12" on Unknown Precept was recorded — that was sort of my year to take a break from writing songs and just experiment with instrumental, rhythmic jams. I toured a lot over that year and it helped me realize that I needed to basically hit the reset button, toss out my drum machine for the most part, and just play some music in a more direct way. There are so many talented people out there playing good dance music that I feel I don't really have a voice in that crowd. But again, this is part of what I love about making music: experimentation.
Profligate with Sharlyn Evertsz & Dim Past. 8 p.m. Saturday, June 11, at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 4040 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-901-5272; icamiami.org/miamimusicclub.com. Tickets cost $10 via eventbrite.com.