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Interview with Mick Harris of Scorn - conducted by telephone - 11/12/97

Jester: I wanted to thank you for turning me onto Black Nation records the last time we spoke.

Mick: What number are you up to?

Jester: The last one I picked up when I was back in Kalamazoo was number 20.

Mick: They are up to number 29 now which is a Vice release. Jay Denham is still releasing some really good records through that label.

Jester: I heard that your wife is expecting a new child?

Mick: She isn't my wife, she is just my girlfriend. I am not insane. I am not signing any legally binding piece of paper. Every piece of paper that I've ever singed has gotten me into trouble, which is why I'll never sign one of those. However, we are having a daughter at the beginning of January so I am in the middle of wrapping up projects for this year in expectation.

The final project this year will be the second Overload Lady album with Eraldo Bernocchi. We are planning on starting that in about two weeks which gives me exactly two weeks to build a new studio. So it is going to be really tight the next few weeks but I think we will make it. All I have left to do is sign the documents, get the keys, and then my friend from PCM and I can put it all together.

Jester: What happened to the old studio?

Mick: I had to get out of it because it was getting too expensive. I had been trying to do the studio thing at home for the past eight weeks and it simply was not working so I needed a new location for a studio. Ultimately, the PCM guys found me a place in a business center building with a reduced rent. It is a much better place, even if it is farther away. I have to take two busses to get there rather than one, but for 24 hour access to the studio as well as 24 hour security I don't mind the extra travel time.

Jester: I heard a rumor that Scorn has ended, is that true?

Mick: Scorn has been finished since May of 1997. I actually made the decision to end it in March, but I had to finish a tour that I had promised in May. Basically, it all came down to KK records screwing me over so much that I decided to end the project rather than deal with them any longer. However, the name itself doesn't mean anything as it has just been put aside and I will still be making music. These days I don't really care to build up project names anymore, I just want to work on them and make music.

Unfortunately KK Records wasted my time, Bill Laswell's time and a Rapper that I was going to work with on a new Scorn EP. I ended up using the tracks that I had written as the last three 'Beat' tracks at the end of the "Whine" record since I was obligated to release it. Originally I had written two versions of each track, one as an instrumental, and one for Kalil to rap over. I sent the master tape to New York for Bill Laswell to mix down with the vocals and send it back to me. KK Records failed to come through with the funds and I decided to simply end Scorn as a result.

I ended up contacting Sub Rosa to release the second Overload Lady record after the KK records mishap. Right now I am scheduled to come to New York City in March to wrap up this huge licensing deal with Invisible Records. Hopefully, they will license the Overload Lady material so that Eraldo and I can tour with that project when we are over in America. If that doesn't happen, I'll do some solo stuff, as will Eraldo, and we'll just collaborate on-stage with the PCM DJ's. Personally, I'd rather just do that type of thing rather than tour with other bands because I'd enjoy it more. The other good news is that my label Possible Records is going to be released through Invisible starting in January. We'll see what happens but I am rather excited.

Jester: Will Invisible reissuing all of the 12"'s that you originally pressed?

Mick: Actually they are all going to be combined into a double CD and released as a launch for Possible Records. The Sim record will also be released and we'll just take it from there. Hopefully there will be a PCM record as well as my own material getting releases as well, but I'll be looking for some more artists other than myself to release.

Jester: It sounds like the Invisible Records deal is working out rather well after all of these previous label mishaps?

Mick: Yes. The people at Invisible are very together, organized, and importantly, they pick up the phone. I trust Martin because I see him more than just a business man. Martin knows that I don't like a lot of the stuff on his label and he doesn't have a problem with it. He is into what I do and so I trust him, which is what counts.

Actually, I've never had as much press as I do now, since I released "Evansecence". For that record Nick and I did fifteen interviews, and Invisible has me doing thirty interviews over a four day time period with more next week. So I am really happy that they are doing work for me. It allows me to spend time talking to people like you which I am happy to give.

Jester: What does a Mick Harris live show look like now that Eraldo is helping out?

Mick: Eraldo just helped out for that particular tour. I had done some gigs in Italy and Switzerland before doing the rest of Europe and I hadn't planned on releasing a live record. However, I just decided to record that evening and ended up rather enjoying that particular performance. "Whine" is really a very different Scorn record because it wasn't done in the studio.

However it still doesn't give you the full experience of a Scorn show. To have that happen you actually have to attend a Scorn performance. Scorn live has always been about the images and visuals. The room was always pitch black so it was like going to the cinema but with really heavy, hypnotic beat music. The music was always very minimal and linear so that the atmosphere ultimately made for the complete performance.

Jester: How did you first meet Eraldo?

Mick: He actually got in contact with me. I never actually get in touch with any of the people I work with myself. He got ahold of me two years ago after getting back from New York where he had been working with Bill Laswell. We just happened to hit it off rather well and he understands where I am coming from all of the time. We work so well together that there are never any disagreements so the working relationship is going to last for a very long time.

Jester: How did mixes on the Transmisia "Frigid Prose" album occur?

Mick: Eraldo has already done five mixes for the release on his own along with the two mixes the band had done themselves. I actually only participated on two other remixes. I am a bit annoyed that KK Records advertised the record as being totally produced by me. Eraldo actually produced the album. I was only asked at the last moment if I wanted to help out on the mixing. Originally I wasn't even interested in it because I didn't think that there was anything in the music I could work with, but Eraldo asked me to help out on two mixes, so I did it as a favor to him.

Jester: Can you go into a little detail about your collaboration with Martyn Bates on the Murder Ballads project?

Mick: We are just finishing up a third release for MMM records. Martyn is just putting the final touches on the vocals right now. We are both really happy with this release although I haven't heard his vocals yet. Martyn said that he would be finished at the end of the week so I should have the master ADAT in my hands shortly.

The Lull project is also proceeding forward. Right now I am in the middle of working on a number of small pieces that will be merged into a long single track. It's taking a bit longer this time around because instead of just working on a single piece from the beginning, I am working on smaller pieces and will merge them at the end.

I am also working on a new Mick Harris project called Weakener which will be release through Word Sound in New York. It will be a non breakbeat project that will still remain very heavy, dense and slow. It will definitely be very different than Scorn while still remaining within the Word Sound style of music.

Hopefully I can work with Jim O'Rourke and put out something through my label, Possible. I just need to get in touch with him before I start working on the project. In fact I have these guitar parts he sent me over two years ago that were originally mean to be used for Scorn. I just recently reviewed the tape and got really eager to write music for it.

Jester: When you approach a collaboration musically, how is it different with each person you work with?

Mick: With the exception of Martyn Bates, we are always together in the studio together. Generally speaking I dislike trading tapes for collaborations because I feel that artists really need to be together for the final mix down of a record. They both need to know that it feels right for both of them. In the case of Martyn, it is a bit different because all he is adding is vocals, but I still like to work together in studio. I'll admit that I am also a bit fond of working with my own personal equipment which includes effects, outboard gear, samplers, synths and my mixing board. The mixing board is just too big to cart around so I'd rather just do all the work in my studio.

Jester: Musically you have a very different sound depending on who you are collaborating with, how do you decide what style of music to write depending on the person you are working with?

Mick: The reason why I am working with anyone to begin with is because we both know what each of us are capable of and what we would want a project that is written together to sound like. It just naturally happens.

Jester: How long ago was the Lull, "Way Through Staring" LP released?

Mick: Last month. Vince from Manifold Records asked me to do a second track back in June as a sort of follow-up for the piece that appeared on the Endless compilation. I was really psyched to work on a Lull vinyl release so I agreed to it.

Jester: Can we expect any new Matera material from M. Teho Teardo with you doing the production?

Mick: I'd like to do something else with him again but I don't want to have my name associated with the project this time around. Matera is really his project and all I really do is mix and produce the music. Right now he is looking for a new label. As soon as that happens I think we will be working together again. I really enjoyed two of the slower tracks on the first record and I think he will end up writing more material like that for the new release.

Jester: How did the Pigface track that you appeared on happen?

Mick: The material I was credited for was actually from tapes that I sent Martin over two years ago when he first contacted me. Originally he had wanted to collaborate with me and wanted some low end material. So I wrote these twelve basslines, looped them and sent them to him.

Recently he sent me the Pigface double CD and asked me what I thought of the disc. At the time I received it I really didn't pay much attention to it until he called. I told him that I didn't really like the first disc but I really enjoyed his drumming and the production was quite good. Then he asked if I heard the second disc and I hadn't.

So I took a listen to it and inquired to Martin if someone was playing a live bass on two of the tracks. At that point he told me that those were my basslines and I couldn't believe it. That's the whole reason he had sent me the disc in the first place to let me know that he had finally used those bass loops I had sent him.

The tracks actually turned out rather like what I would wanted to have done with him anyways. I'd still like to collaborate with him in a similar vein of music with me donating the beats, Marc Spybey on electronics and having Martin sort of paste it all together.

Jester: Besides the projects you mentioned earlier, is there anything else on the horizon?

Mick: Other than Surgeon and I doing something for Treasure Records in 1998 that's about it. There will be a lot of material coming out early next year but a lot of it is already in a stage of completion.

Jester: You seem to be extraordinarily busy with your music. What do you do when you are not writing music?

Mick: Nothing. I do go fishing every once in a while as well as spend time with my son, but generally all I do is music. I don't really do much and as such, people like James Plotkin consider me a very boring person. Personally I just have too much music pouring out of me to just sit around and waste time.

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