Deru & EFFIXX talk “1979”



On Saturday, July 25th, A/V mavericks, Deru & EFFIXX, will take the LPR stage to present “1979”. Within “1979” lies countless layers which beg for further exploration, so we had a nice chit-chat with Benjamin Wynn (aka Deru) and Anthony Ciannamea (aka EFFIXX) to learn more, see below:

MBD: Deru, I’ve read some of the history of how “1979” came to be, can you explain the process of how it all came together for our readers? You mention you came upon Jackson’s Obverse Box at a flea market you frequent, is this something you do often for inspiration?
Deru: The project started out as a album of music. The songs that I was writing were simple, meditative pieces – stripped down and bare. They were recorded directly to cassette tape so they were hissy and nostalgic sounding. Once I had a number of these I started sharing them with Anthony and we instantly began thinking about making an object that would allow a person to experience them in a new way.
At the same time I remembered a box of letters and photos that I’d found at a flea market. Through reading them you could sort of piece together a bit of a man’s life and ideas. Once I remembered this box I realized that we could relate these with our own ideas for the record.


MBD: EFFIXX, What was your process when approaching the visual elements of “1979”? How do you approach creating your imagery? Do you draft your concepts by hand or do you utilize programs like Cinema 4D or the like? Or maybe a combo of both?
EFFIXX: After working on projects over the years with Ryan Sievert and seeing the way he incorporated real textures and incidental hand-drawn shapes into his work, I started keeping a crappy old scanner by my side at all times.  It became my primary source for building the arti direction for the project, even before the incorporation of found photos.  The very first elements were created by hand using ink and paint and the “thumbprint” on the cover and the nine tones stripes came first.  We knew from the beginning that the elements “containing” the album should feel like a modern-day time capsule with terrestrial textures and imperfect signs of wear/age – so everything from the vinyl sleeve, to the box set contents, and the web narrative reflect a collection of memories that could have been buried from a distant past.
The most important thing to us was to translate not only the emotional element of nostalgia in the art but also the sonic properties – grain, hiss, noise, filth, dirt, and other artifacts that manifest in any given storage media’s age.  So we incorporated the visual analog of those phenomena in the textures present in the videos as well, in the form of 8mm film grain, video synth textures, literal dirt, paint, etc.  It was all really just put together the old fashioned way, fairly straightforward editing.


MBD: Deru, what drew you into the world of sound design? Did your passion lie in music or visual first? (Or both!)
DERU: Photography was the first art that I was in to. I had an amazing teacher in high-school and that was the first time that I envisioned myself doing art as a career for the rest of my life. I got into music a few years after that, and while I’d played piano and trumpet growing up it wasn’t until I got my first piece of technology (an MPC sampler) that I really began to freak out about the possibilities of music. It was the idea of transforming sound into something else, it was the intersection of sound and music that really got me excited.
MBD: Deru, Can you describe the process you went through to design & create your version of the Obverse Box? Do you utilize this in your live show or other methods of projection?
DERU: First came the idea, “what if we could hold an object in our hands that beamed the album to our walls”? Then came the challenge of making it, which played out over many months with in-numerous challenges, but over the course of about a year they all got ironed out. While collaborating with our friend and case designer Mark Wisniowski, we decided on using walnut for the case because we wanted it to feel organic, to change over time, much like the way memories morph over the years.
One of our favorite things to do with the projector is to play and experiment with it. To point it at walls, ceilings, ice-cubs, curtains, water, etc. So when it came time to design our live show we wanted to play with light with the same spirit. So we designed the show to have multiple projectors, and surfaces, with Anthony literally playing with the light at times throughout the show.

MBD: Deru/EFFIXX, on the 1979 site, people can submit photos/memories, how has it been seeing these submissions pour in from all over? Do you consider this aspect of the project to be an ever-evolving one, or is there a foreseeable end to taking said submissions?

Deru: It’s been amazing to witness how much people are willing to share from their lives. People have shared really intimate, touching moments with us, and we’re really grateful. It’s been a beautiful thing to be a part of really, and it continues to expand.  

EFFIXX: Some of the memories that have been submitted have actually been incorporated into the show, with the author’s permission, so we have this really interesting feedback loop of interaction with the audience.  Their participation inspired so much of the direction we’ve gone in as the project evolves.  The 1979 iOS app, which we’re currently developing, even allows users to upload directly from their phones.  So we expect submissions to continue growing – a memory repository.

MBD: Deru, what are your 3 favorite film scores of all time & why?
DERU: Off the top of my head I’d say:
“Solaris” by Cliff Martinez
It’s a rare and amazing thing when a score transcends the film it was attached to and simply becomes beautiful music. This is one of those scores for me. I’d listen to this even the film never existed.
“The Assassination Of Jesse James” by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
This score is so simple and beautiful, so emotive. And it fit the time-frame and mood of the picture perfectly.
“Beyond the Black Rainbow” by Sinoia Caves
Sinoia Caves f-in nailed the 70’s era synth score. Seriously. He nailed it. It sounds amazing and it made the film so much more engaging and tense. Everything about this film is so singular in its vision, and the music is no different.

MBD: EFFIXX, who are your favorite visual artists out today & why?
EFFIXX: There’s an abundance of visual inspiration in my daily periphery but just off the top of my head:  David Terranova is doing absolutely stunning work and for some reason I see some kinship in his approach to building up layers in his motion/video work. Bill Connors because he’s a hometown buddy and I’ve seen him hone that style for like a decade it feels like. Just supernaturally gifted…Ben Saginaw is another brother doing illustration/painting/design/everything and his work is vitriolic in all the best ways. Finally, a Derrick Cruz is a huge role model in terms of what he started with and we’ve been meaning to collaborate for a while now.  He’s a brilliant artist, curator, and inspiration as a creative director whose grassroots brand made a big impact on me.
Also, all the amazing artists I’m surrounded by in the bay area are a huge inspiration

MBD: Deru/EFFIXX, what is the importance of sound + visual being combined in a live setting, and where do you see it heading in a few years? Are there any new tools of the trade/or live set-ups that have really blown you away lately?
DERU: I feel that nowadays, adding a visual or theatrical component to a show only widens your possible audience.  I think it’s perfectly acceptable for some musicians to prefer performing pure sound, in the same way some prefer books to films, but introducing something spatial to the environment only deepens people’s emotional connection to the music. Of course, if it’s executed poorly it can be a distraction. So that’s the challenge.
We both appreciate live a/v shows that introduce intimacy in a “music venue”. Unconventional light sources or lighting techniques, projections triggered by the music…


MBD: Finally, why would you urge your listeners to experience “1979” live, do you have any special tricks up your sleeve for your upcoming show here?
Deru: We’re going to try to give people an experience.
EFFIXX: The show has a theatrical feel so I think it’s perfect for Le Poisson Rouge.  It will feel like a live, 3-dimensional movie. LPR has such an interesting layout that I feel like the layers of visuals will translate well to the intimate setting.

(all photos courtesy of the artist)
Deru feat. EFFIXX will treat us to a unique multi-sensory experience next Saturday, featuring an opening set by Braille. (details & tickets here)
posted by M.B.D.