Out of the NYC underground, the collective known as &c. , or Et Cetera, specializes in complex Electronic grooves that, in their own words, “provide a soundscape for both your daydreams and your nightmares.”  They have just released a new album,  The Progression of Digression, and we are extremely happy to have it on Earbits Radio.

We got a chance to chat with Anthony of &c., and asked him about their innovative style. Read an in-depth interview, and learn a little more about what makes &c. tick – on the Earbits blog!

Listen to “Faster” by &c. on Earbits Radio

An Interview with Electronic Artist, &c.

How often do you use live instrumentation? What about synthesized instruments?

On our records the only live instruments used are a guitar and my voice.  However, on ‘Entropy’, the 12-minute plus closer on The Progression of Digression, there are over forty different live sounds going on within that particular song.

How do you recreate the complexity of your recordings during live performances?

Our performances, just like our recordings, are going to be a mixture of live instrumentation and loops, who plays what depends entirely on the song.  For some songs I’ll be live looping vocal bits, or playing guitar, or playing a midi keyboard.  For other songs Gabe will take the reigns of guitar, it basically comes down to who played what on the record.  One thing that is certain is that what you will be hearing live is a complete different experience then what is on the record.

Listen to “Midnight” by &c. on Earbits Radio

Describe your recording process.  Do you write your songs with certain effects, like the tremolo’d vocals on “Faux Pas,” in mind beforehand?  Or do those come after the initial music has been recorded?

On Etc there was no clear-cut path as to how to begin a song, in my mind.  Not only were those the first songs I’ve ever written, it was also the first time I’ve ever used Logic or any recording program, so basically it came down to what could I get sounding good the fastest.  I was really just testing the waters, somewhere between trying to emulate my favorite bands and trying to find my own sound and what you now hear as a complete record was a regurgitation of hours upon hours of feeling my way through a dark room.  On TPOD, things have changed.  I was looking to focus on different rhythms and get more of a groove so I would start each track with a drum pattern.  Then Rob and Gabe would come along separately and add their touches and then I would get a basic arrangement.  The vocal effects on “Faux Pas” came later, but sometimes the effects come before.  Usually after I arrange the songs I’ll put them on my iPod, walk around the neighborhood and smoke some pot to come up with ideas musically and lyrically and that’s when the album begins to take shape.

How many tracks do you use in a typical recording project?

Usually less than 10, but two or three tracks have over 20 and as previously mentioned Entropy has over 40.  But we never put a limit to how many tracks or how little tracks a song should have.  It’s pretty much all up to our ears, the two classical pieces on both albums written by Rob have only three tracks each.

Do you record your own songs?  If yes, how much time do you spend editing your recordings or adding layers?

All of our songs are recorded in my basement and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I love being able to be hit with an idea and working on it right then and there.  I couldn’t really put a number to how long I work on these songs, editing, adding layer, etc. because I work on them sporadically.  My work ethic is very simple: work on something until it starts to annoy you, as soon as I begin to get annoyed with what I’m hearing I’ll just take a step back and approach it again in a couple days and then start something new, or work on another song that is in the works.

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There are elements of electronic and ambient music, as well as more guitar-based rock/post-rock in your songs.  Which genres or musicians are the most influential to your work?

The three musicians who have impacted me the greatest as a listener and as a songwriter are Thom Yorke, Trent Reznor, & Marilyn Manson.

What other elements, aside from music and dramatic storytelling, influence your work?

A major one would certainly be film.  I watch films for ideas all the time, some of the movies that have greatly influenced me when writing these two albums are THX 1138, Eyes Wide Shut, Videodrome, Blade Runner, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation, Being John Malkovich, & Rosemary’s Baby.  Also being an avid reader there are some lines I borrow from novels I’m reading.  In Sleep, I chant, “conquering the violence of his feelings”, which is a rewording of a line from Frankenstein.  I’ve also recently read Animal Farm, Invitation to a Beheading, American Psycho, and Invisible Monsters.  All of these works directly influence me.

Is there an explanation behind your band name?

I’ve been writing since I was a little boy and the written word has always found its way deep into my heart. Et cetera has its root in my teenage years and still till this day. I have ‘et cetera’ tattooed on my wrist and I basically got that because I was caught in a cycle of making the same bad decisions repeatedly and I wanted that everyday reminder to break free from that Sisyphean-like complex, a reminder to open my eyes and as I started writing songs the songs began to be about that particular transformation.  That is why the band is called &c. and I also believe our sound is unable to be categorized so when someone asks someone else about our band and where to find us it is all in the name.

Is there an explanation behind The Progression of Digression, the title of your forthcoming album?

When I was 17 I wrote a screenplay titled that and I always loved that title, it literally means a series of temporary departures from the main subject, which directly relates to the nature of the songs on the record.  Each song on The Progression of Digression represents a moment in time on the timeline that is life, starting from birth (Input) and ending with rebirth (Entropy).   They’re fragments of your memory, some fragments being more complete and clearer than others, and some are just momentary impulses straight from the subconscious such as Ego.

Describe your musical evolution.  How, exactly, will The Progression of Digression differ from previous works?

Instead of being dramatic in a sense of delivery, lyrically, and just how everything was arranged and styled, it approached story purely in a musical sense.  It’s music for both your head and your feet.

You’ve mentioned that your self-titled debut LP “follows the map laid out by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle in his work, The Poetics, arranging a narrative that sits within the framework of the dramatic tragedy… This is the score to a play never written.”  That album includes classic drama terms such as “Dénouement,” “In Medias Res,” “Et Cetera,” etc.  Some of those songs have no lyrics.  Is there any way to concretely describe the relationship between your music and the classics, or is this a more abstract idea?

The record is three acts, the first act opens ‘in the midst of things’ and the story continues from there.  The second act starts at Falling and the third act starts at Deconstruct.  Each song is a new scene propelling the story further.  I could explain exactly what the story means to me, but that might ruin what it means to other listeners.  The titles and lyrics aren’t the only devices used to tell the story, it is also the music itself that sets the landscape for what is happening within each song and the over arching narrative, which is why each act begins with an instrumental to evoke a certain mood.

Also, did you have a particular dramatic story in your mind while recording the self-titled debut?

Paradise Lost, the artwork also pays homage to the famous Gustave Dore paintings, and Oedipus Rex.

Your work is unique compared to the modern crop of electronic musicians.  Are there any other artists (locally in New York City or elsewhere) that you’re involved with, or that are making music of a similar quality?

Unfortunately, I really know of no one that is making music quite like we are in my area.  Although, there is this one artist Rheyne who has a really incredible set up and live loops everything.  His videos on youtube are absolutely incredible.  I stumbled on this artist from Berlin, Tjaere+Fjer, who I also thought was great and seems to have the same ideas as us, same thing with Grigori, a London musician, who is also virtually unknown.

How often do Robert Bonavoglia, Gabriel Ruiz and/or other musicians contribute to your recordings or live performances?

Rob and Gabe contribute to every song.  Rob adds the beauty to the songs, the pianos, and the strings.  He’s very much a logical musician and does what he knows, not ever straying too far from that.  On each album Rob has written a beautiful classical piece with so much emotion to it that the album would not feel complete without them.  Gabe is more experimental, not afraid to assault you with sounds that aren’t so beautiful right on the first listen and tries his best to stray away from the typical strong structure.  Gabe is also an amazing guitar player, a testament to that being the solo on Output.

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