We had the Dustin Fever in our bedroom!
I LOVE LANGUAGE, IT REALLY DOES FASCINATE ME, BUT WITH MY MUSIC, AT THIS POINT, I WANT THE LISTENER TO BECOME THE MUSIC. – DUSTIN WONG
Ah Dustin Wong. You want to be his buddy, his long-distance pen pal, and his partner-in-crime and sidekick. Why? DW or the dazzling bright spark who dug up Ponytail and made waves across the States has taken a detour to release his own brand of rainbow candied music. It’s a double-album treat, with a DVD to boot, that visually paves the shifts in each album after twenty minutes in (note, it all happens once Dustin’s stuffed himself silly with cupcakes). The flop-haired prodigy has even gone further to promote his debut Infinite Love, offering a Skype Session, gold ticket style to a selected few who buy his record. But enough about his “I’m so awesome” résumé - we decided to rig the competition and bag ourselves a Skype Session with the main man. A tad telltale in the nervous start, Dustin’s confessed anxiety soon fades, as the following sequences blew us away, to the point we stole an interview too (duh, SUPERSWEET’s a greedy bunch). Oh, we also have no shame; gladly raise your eyebrow to our Dustin Wong scrawl featured in the video…
SS: First up, this is your debut album and in a short space of time you’ve delivered two albums and a mighty DVD – what keeps your creative process so buzzing?
Dustin Wong: I really like writing music; it’s one of my favorite things to do. I'm almost done writing my next grouping; though I have a feeling it might be a little long. It’s just been coming very naturally these days and my memory has been having problems keeping up with it. I have to make sure I record everything, when I'm practicing and writing.
SS: Do you have any trivia in what inspired you to have the tracks nameless?
Dustin: The track names are hidden actually, they're not on the packaging or inside the jacket, but if you put the CD into your computer, the track names appear. For example on the ‘Brother’ version it'll be listed as.
Our Souls | By Love | Together Knit | Cemented | Mixed In One | One Hope | One Heart | One Mind | It Is Heaven On Earth Again | The Feeling Heart | The Melting Eye | Infinitely Converging | Sweetest Pleasures While We Live | Solid Comfort When We Die | Beyond The Bounds Of Time And Space, Look Forward To That Heavenly Place
These words were taken from a revival hymnal book that I bought from an antique fair in northern Ohio. I took different phrases from different hymns that struck me and reconstructed them as a poem or a prayer. I like the fact that it only shows up when you put in the computer. There is something interesting and curious about inserting a prayer into something so technological.
SS: You’ve referred to your double album as twins, ‘Brother’ & ‘Sister’, is this a clever way of disguising the extra material you just didn’t want to throw away?
Dustin: I believe that intention and the byproduct of intention, the unintended materials are as important; they are the pleasant surprises or the thing to reckon with. So yeah, at first it was “Oh no, all this music can't fit into one disc” but then I started thinking about [Carl] Jung's anima and animus, androgyny and the yin and yang. So I went with that idea, of having these two components come together.
SS: You’re delivering a hell of a deal to the fans that buy the record. But are there any memorable albums you’ve bought for the frills (artwork, DVDs, bonus tracks) that you still own?
Dustin: I feel really dorky because, the two records that I'm going to mention are from Thrill Jockey, which I'm on and incredibly happy about. One is Tortoise's Standards, that album came with a music video and some live footage and Nobukazu Takemura's 10th, which came with a music video as well. Gotta remember that Youtube wasn't around so videos were really rare!
SS: You’ve remained simply instrumental, without vocals on these albums, was this to remain accessible to all cultures and without a language barrier?
Dustin: I love language, it really does fascinate me, but with my music, at this point, I want the listener to become the music. Words are used to be told or said. So it is a one way projection. When we have no words, the listener can own what they're listening to.
SS: Can you give us a summary of the concept of the DVD? Does this mean you will be avoiding music videos for the album tracks?
Dustin: I would be totally open for people to make music videos for the album! I would love to see different interpretations of the music. The video is somewhat of a personal search for me. Making it, watching it, it revealed things about myself that were new to me. It’s also a way for viewers to go along the trip with me.
SS: The sequences are pretty intricate on record, were there any processes that you couldn’t actually create into the live element of the show?
Dustin: Everything on the album is very true to the live performance. I did record and mix everything on my own and to get a higher quality of sound I had to record every element separately. I also didn't use any looping for the recordings, there weren't any cut and paste works, I wanted that human element/flaw to show through subtly.
SS: You will be performing to every lucky fan in a Skype to Skype interview. If you could do this with someone you are a fan of, who would it be?
Dustin: Oh man, you know I would love to have Brian Wilson or Joe Meek, and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop people! Outside music I would love to talk to Thich Nhat Hanh too.
SS: You were co-founder of Ponytail, but it’s all pretty much gone on the hiatus, do you think there will plans in the future to get back together?
Dustin: We are releasing another record soon actually, we recorded a few months ago and we're working on the artwork now. I think if everything feels good, we would get back together, but not right now.
SS: The half-way point the DVD (for both albums) gets you involved, presenting the tale of a cooking pot smoker, engorging yourself on cakes. So why did you want to get yourself portrayed in this way?
Dustin: The engorging cake eater was actually intriguing to me later, before I shot that sequence I was picturing somebody getting enlightened by consuming every religion, symbolically. Then when I was editing the footage this idea of over consumption and spiritual elitism came. I found that an interesting idea for me. The narrative aspect is definitely an argument projected at itself and a search.
SS: You move towards the natural imagery in your DVD, even in the visualizations in the second part of the second album...is this from a particular memory?
Dustin: It’s hard to say what memory influenced the video, but I can recall feelings like closing my eyes and feeling a comfortable breeze. I love an open sky, light reflecting on water; it just makes me feel at peace.
Words: Gemma Dempster