Maybe you’ve heard the name Pictureplane bandied about in Santa Fe in recent years as one of the more exciting and innovative purveyors of electronic music. Well, there’s a good reason for that—by infusing a punk rock mentality into a technically more house or techno style, Pictureplane (aka Travis Egedy, a former Santa Fean) elevates the world of electronic music above tired club bangers or mindless repetition. Yes, the sound is familiar, but a lot more is going on under the hood. Thus, it’s kind of a big deal. Pictureplane appears at Meow Wolf this week alongside Los Angeles noise act Health and, as such, some Qs and As went down all hard.
SFR: Electronic music is so varied and, other than metal, it seems to contain more weird little sub-genres than almost anything else. How would you describe your music?
Pictureplane: That is very true. The thing with electronic music is that it also morphs and changes as the technology used to make it changes. That is a main reason why it keeps splintering and fractaling off into more and more micro-genres. When someone asks me how to describe my music, I never know what to say, so I could say "dark rave-punk" or just "electronic music" to someone if I can tell they would have no idea what I was talking about.
Can you give us an example of how your own production differs from a vast majority of other electronic producers out there today?
My influences are a bit different than a lot of other electronic producers. I'm really influenced by obscure noise music and industrial, punk and metal and hip-hop. I come at it from more of an underground DIY mentality. I make everything by myself in my bedroom studio, so it is a lot more lo-fi and dirty than a lot of what people are used to hearing at a big festival or on the radio or something like that.
You've toured with Los Angeles noise-rock act Health kind of a lot. Is there a reason behind that? Do you think it's important for bands or acts with different kinds of sounds to be hitting the road together?
For as much as our sounds are different, there are a lot of similarities. We come from the same community of artists and weirdos. Throughout the past 10 years in the underground, genres don't matter that much. There is a lot of overlapping of sounds and styles. All of the lines are blurred now and there are no strict genre walls. People who still say "I only listen to real 'hip-hop' or real 'punk'" are really stuck in the past. So yes, I think it's really important for artists with different styles and sounds to be playing shows together. Everything is so post-modern now anyway, and a good show will reflect that.
Outside of music, you create visual art, clothing as well as a Magic: The Gathering-esque card game called Street Magic. It almost seems like you just can't turn it off.
It's true that I can't turn off my creativity, but I also force myself to stay busy. I have to hustle and grind; I have no other option. I live in New York City and art is my job! I studied painting in art school, and my art education was really helpful with what I do as a musician. I think that getting to travel the world as a musician, and my years of playing shows, meeting other bands and artists and just my love of music and subculture really inspires a lot of what I do with my visual art and clothing. That is what my Magic deck was about—bringing the universe I operate in of underground venues and musicians into a realm of fantasy.
You've been pretty vocal about being a product of the internet and constant social media connectivity, as well as a proponent of a sort of punk rock/DIY ethos. Do you think there is a way to reconcile the idea of punk/DIY in a more commercially-viable art form, and is social media the next step in the evolution of DIY?
Good punk and DIY culture will always be reactionary to what is going on in the commercial realms. It is a resistance and a way for people to explore ideas that aren't commercially viable. It has become a big problem with the internet now [with] the mainstream mining for ideas in the underground and then presenting them as their own with no context. With the internet, you put something out there and everyone can see it. So ideas go from the bottom to the top a lot quicker now, whereas historically in pop culture it might have taken 10 years for an underground idea to become mainstream. Now it can take a few weeks! Social media changed everything. However, I wouldn't be doing this interview right now or have a career, I don't think, if it weren't for social media. It really brought a lot of people together and allowed for new art forms to be exposed to the world.
To expand, in other interviews there seems to be an emphasis on how you have a kind of underlying punk-rock vibe. Can electronic music carry an effective "punk" or political message and, if so, are there any challenges in getting that across in a style of music that doesn't always seem to be ultra-political? For example, your 2014 Alien Body mixtape was created with artists you yourself described as "political" and was more hip-hop, which is more known for its political sub-genres. Can you bring that ethos into the world of Pictureplane?
Of course electronic music can carry a message! I think people get confused by what electronic music is, or [think] that it is somehow a new thing. Early electronic and industrial music was extremely punk and political. Or you look at a band like Suicide, who were making extremely confrontational electronic music in the mid 1970s before "punk" even existed. Or even entire the beginning of genres like house and techno … They are extremely "punk" because they were created by poor and marginalized people using throwaway technology. Creating art out of nothing is a political act [and] people have used machines and synths to express their voices and frustrations rather than guitars for a long time now.
In a March 2015 interview with website technomancer.com, you briefly discussed how your music can wind up sounding like pop even when you try to avoid it. "Pop" is kind of a nebulous term, and in the interview you note that you like your music to be accessible. Can you give us an idea of what the term "pop" means to you in terms of your process and eventual product?
Well, I am interested in hooks. I like to have repeated choruses in my music, and I do want it to be catchy. "Pop" means popular, of course, and I do want people to like and enjoy my music. I am not trying to alienate people with it—it is for everyone.
You're from Santa Fe, but you've also lived in Denver and NYC and toured extensively. Do you think Santa Fe has the capacity to become more of a cultural hub than it is currently; do you think there is a real chance the town will evolve? Like, actually evolve?
What I have noticed is that every city is changing now. Every single one. There is somewhat of an urban revolution going on; some of it is really bad—like reckless gentrification—and some of it is good, like how there are way more small businesses and people are eating better in cities. Santa Fe is unique because I do feel that the average-aged person there is a lot older, which is fine, but for Santa Fe to really evolve it needs to embrace and support its youth and young people trying to make things happen there.
Is there anything on the horizon for Pictureplane that you think we should really know about?
I'm working on a new EP right now and a new fall line for my clothing brand, ALIEN BODY, which can be found at alienbody.net. Thank you! I love Santa Fe always.
Pictureplane with Health
8 pm Saturday Aug. 27. $20-$25.
1352 Rufina Circle,