Interview

Wise Blood

You’re manipulating samples from mammoths such as The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, aiming for world domination, and in ‘Penthouse Suites’ you sing: ‘I’m shooting for the moon, landing with the stars.’ What’s up with the megalomania?
Haha, um, I think it’s just sort of me trying to keep myself motivated, but my goals have changed. It’s weird, I think I’m supposed to be doing this, I feel like I can contribute something great, but the path there has been changing in my mind… and the ultimate payoff is looking different to me now.

It’s never what you expect it to be, I guess, but perhaps you were born this way, like in a Lady Gaga way?
Yeah, that’s the idea! I feel that very strongly.

You refused a scholarship from The Juilliard School, a Mickey Mouse Club kind of training camp. Amy Winehouse got kicked out of one. Britney, Justin and Christina didn’t and they are still alive. Not a wise choice, maybe?
Yes, maybe not a wise choice. Everything is looking a lot different to me these days, but I still believe everything happens for a reason.

Does that stem from your Catholic upbringing? That everything happens for a reason and you got to roll with it? Or is it a Zen Buddhist thing?
Well, I think it’s just about perspective. I believe that I’m here for a reason, so basically I am. Everything that happens to me is contributing to my purpose.

You came out of nowhere as Wise Blood, having worked as a cemetery undertaker before. Not exactly a ‘regular’ job. Would you say being Wise Blood is an even odder occupation?
I think this occupation is weirder. I appreciated life more after working at a cemetery. That’s for sure.

I hope you are now confronted with the bright side of life. Any tragicomic Six Feet Under stories to share about your cemetery days, or have you closed that chapter?
Nothing much… sort of boring, to be honest.

There’s probably very little humour in death, huh?
I can’t really recall any.

Any irony in your music?
There is usually more sincerity in it, but there’s nothing wrong with irony though.

Your live performances are pretty sincere, very energetic, angry maybe… reminiscent of Eminem in his trailerpark days, if you don’t mind me saying. It’s certainly not what you expect from a laptop artist. For one thing, I’d expect to see someone behind a laptop that is placed on a bar stool. Do you deliberately try and feel that for live shows you need to bring something else to the table?
Yeah, actually I do, but it was completely organic, I don’t know, that’s just how I felt like the songs should be performed, I would have a hard time just standing around.

Is this hard for you by the way? To talk about what you do?
Um, no, not really. I like it!

Good. What is pop music to you in these postmodern days of ours? And do you see a difference between borrowing and stealing?
Oh, that’s a hard one. I don’t even know, I really don’t… it’s been fucking with me lately. Sorry.

Well, that’s okay. I won’t ask about your opinion on Auto-Tune.
Okay, thanks. 🙂

Some more about taking over the world. What does the grand (or maybe not-sogrand anymore) masterplan entail?
I’m just trying to re-evaluate everything. I also always have to look at things in a larger context, so a masterplan is something I’m always tweaking. I’m a tweaker.

Right, the perspective thing. You have to see where it takes you.
That’s the main thing.

And the use of samples is just what felt good at the time? It sometimes is very difficult to hear what’s you and what’s found footage. Would be funny (or not so funny really) if you got sued by Paul McCartney or Jimmy Page. That would definitely put you on the map.
That would definitely be interesting… and yeah, it’s just what feels right at the time when I’m coming up with a song.

Is it possible that in the near future you will leave the sample path? Or will it develop into a real shtick? I can imagine it’s a very meticulous and perhaps frustrating job sometimes.
The album is actually almost done, and I’m using samples differently. It’s interesting. The whole album is instrumental and it’s based on public executions in the Middle East.

Wow, that’s downright different than for example ‘Solo 4 Claire’! Could you elaborate on this choice?
I just got really into these videos of public executions, like they really fucked with me. It was so strange watching these people preparing to die, with a crowd there watching as well. So, I sort of came up with a concept album about this process. The record is also kind of similar to David Bowie’s Low.

That’s pretty fierce.
It sounds really good to me. I guess the album essentially is a statement, but it’s more about the feelings you get watching something like that, and the grotesque interest in it.
And no lyrics? Since you have quite a way with words.
That’s just how I’m feeling. And when I have a feeling…

‘Facebook’s the same/ Twitter’s always the same/ You either update tour schedules or you play up insane.’ (@fuckwiseblood) That’s pretty funny, modern and honest.
I liked that a lot when I came up with it.

You have a strong opinion about social media. Have you tried Google+ yet?
I haven’t. I actually don’t use social media very much. I have to make a concentrated effort to sit down and post something.

I suppose if something’s good, it’ll find its way into people’s heads and hearts. Although with ‘Solo 4 Claire’ you must have lost a great chunk of your female fanbase. That truly is a rapegaze song!
That’s funny. I hope I did not lose too many female listeners. Sorry for the misogynist lyrics.

About the name Wise Blood. You’ve taken up the Hazel Motes persona from Flannery O’Connor’s debut novel. I’ve read you can relate to him. Does your car also break down all the time?
Actually yes, it has been, funny enough… but my granddad named me Wise Blood when I was young. It sort of stuck with me. When I read the book, it floored me. I think he was a cool guy.

And tragic in a way. He tried to escape what was laid out for him. You’re trying to embrace it a little more, I hope?
I don’t know, I think. I’m trying. I don’t know how I’ll end up.

That’s wise. There’s probably no definite answer. Guess I was trying to squeeze something out of you… What are you going to do tomorrow, Chris?
Hmm, same as I do most of the time.

Try and take over the world?
Just gonna work, I guess.

A last request. Will you bring your infamous moccasins and those sweaters with the sad smiley face you have as merchandise?
For sure! I’ll have all that stuff and can’t wait for the show!

Wise Blood plays on 13 November in DOK in Ghent. The show is free for Subbacultcha! members.