Jacob Stanczak, better known as Kill The Noise, has already arrived. The man has played just about every venue, festival, and club possible (including an upcoming gig at the Palladium with Mat Zo) while developing one of the most distinct sounds in the EDM universe. His music often blends the best of both electronic worlds, dance and imagination, while creating some stunning audio landscapes that hinge on the psychotic without ever becoming unlistenable. Luckily, the mind within the man is as strong and vibrant as his output, creating one of the most outspoken and critical musicians on the market. He spoke with me about his life, giving an honest take on the trials and tribulations of attempting to be a balanced person in his work environment.
In thinking about this interview, I didn't want to do the origin stuff: what’s your name, what are your influences, if people want to know that stuff, it’s out there and they can go get it.
Thank you, man! (laughs)
First off, I love your twitter feed. It is highly entertaining. What do you get out of being on Twitter, personally?
Well, that’s actually an interesting question for sure, because I think about that a lot, actually. I don't really know. It’s kind of like this weird place where most of my peers, it seems, use twitter as a kind of marketing tool or whatever. Just kind of a way for them to talk about the stuff that they are working on, maybe pushing whatever their brand is and whatever that is. To a certain degree, just by being present on whatever the social media is, whether it's Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, just being on there and having a business there, you're actively pushing your brand whether you like it or not.
So, to a certain degree, yea, I’m on there trying to promote some of the stuff I’m working on, but I think more than that, it’s just kind of a way for me to...I almost kind of treat it like a little journal in a way. Where I’m kind of thinking about something and there isn't really, almost to a fault, a kind of filter. You look at some guy’s feeds and you can tell that they are trying to sift through ideas and stuff that they are going to talk about or things they are trying to say or things they are trying to push. But for me, I think it’s kind of more of creating some kind of relationship with people that are interested in the things that I’m doing. I've always been the kind of artist that gets really interested in the people that I admire that are doing whatever. All of the kinds of people I follow, from Neil Degrasse Tyson to Skrillex to, even like, even people that I find interesting that don't necessarily even have a big idea that they are pushing. They just have an interesting perspective. I think that people maybe sign up to follow you on Twitter to find a little bit more about who you are. That’s the reason why I use Twitter, you know. I try and be a little more open than maybe some of my other peers are, as there’s a little bit more of a one-way street of information.
But yea, I’m still trying to figure it out, to be honest, what I’m doing on there. (laughs) I'm just being honest, if anything, just trying to talk about things that are important or little ideas that I have, whether they are funny or totally ridiculous. Sometimes people really aren't too thrilled about some of the stuff I say on there, as well.
Going off of that: You, Glitch Mob, Bassnectar, and to a certain extent, Deadmau5, have all created a sort of musical council of cranky guys. You put out these messages that sometimes, not quite loses friends, but do you get weird vibes from other musicians? I mean, you play huge festivals with hundreds of other musicians who sometimes, indirectly, you may have knocked their genre or brand of music. Do you get weird glances or has it bitten you before?
Not really. I think every once in a while...here’s the thing, that’s the funny thing about social media. I was going to write something about it, actually, but the funny thing about social media is that it’s only really acceptable to create content or talk about things or whatever...those kind of things trend if people agree with them, you know? It’s created this whole system where only things that are popular, only things that most people approve of or most people think are important are the things that people are really going to stand behind or push forward. Plain and simple, there is no dislike button for Facebook. There is no unlike. The best you can do is block somebody or unfollow them, but there isn't an opportunity for there to be a difference of opinion. It’s funny, if a difference of opinion that, if it becomes popular, than it no longer becomes the difference of opinion.
In general, it bleeds over to the way people kind of act in real life. I think that people that don’t agree with me on things don’t really have a helluva lot to say to me in person about it because that creates conflict, you know? People are afraid of conflict in general. All of the guys you just mentioned are people that I really admire because they stand behind their opinions, more or less, even though people aren't behind them in some instances. I think that’s important, I mean, you know as a person that works in journalism and the news, it’s like, I think that there is a trend going on where people are only reporting about or talking about things that they know will generate traffic or kinda create some kind of a controversy or whatever it is.
Yea, it’s either writing the popular opinion or it’s creating an opposing opinion just to get people talking about whatever you're talking about.
I don’t really think about a lot of that too much, but in terms of how people respond to it in real life, more than anything else, the main thing I hear is people saying “Dude, I love what you write!” And that may not be the truth, but we live in a society where people don’t tell you the truth because it isn't rewarded. If there is anything that I try to push across in my social media and even in my music and even me as a human being, I kind of just say what I feel. At the same time,. I’m not closing myself off. That’s the problem with some of the other guys, not necessarily the people you mentioned, but it seems like the cranky guys you’re talking about, that kind of persona, rather, they are usually closed off to the other side of the story, you know? But, thats not the case for me. I’m fully presenting a lot of these ideas like “Hey, this is my perspective, let’s have a discussion about it. Tell me what you think.” I’m not closed off to that.
A lot of this stuff I'm doing, it’s with a smile on my face. Even the most direct negative stuff I’m talking about, hopefully people catch that drift that I’m not a really dark, angry dude. All of the guys I’ve always admired have always been really kinda vocal, everyone from Thom Yorke to Trent Reznor. They've always expressed their opinions about things and sometimes people agree and sometimes they don't. Sometimes it really messes up the relationships with their record labels or people they work with or whatever.
That’s what I think about with my Twitter following. It’s like, I'm really narrowing it down to people that really give a s*** about what I’m talking about and ultimately my music. And the people that don't want to listen to me rant can always just follow me on Soundcloud or something. That’s the long answer, but, yea. (laughs)
I think you're right, and if you look at guys like Aphex Twin, who is on the extreme side of this, he’s like the grand hermit that has disconnected from the world. You can go find out his opinions if you want to, but he’s never going to do another interview again because he doesn't have to. Do you think a guy like that could even exist now?
That’s an interesting question, that’s something I talk about with buddies all the time. There are friends of mine that see this little game that is going on right now with social media and there are plenty of artists that don't play the game of trying to stay relevant by being the center of what everybody's talking about or interacting with all of their other peers or have a big online presence and everybody knows what they look like, all that kinda stuff. There are a lot of artists in electronic music that don't like playing that game. Maybe because they aren't good at it, maybe because they just don't agree with it. I think it’s possible, but it really feels challenging though. From everything I can tell, the audience is more or less younger kids. It feels like they're getting younger, but maybe I'm just getting older, I don't know (laughs).
Matthew McConaughey syndrome?
Yeah (laughs). I think it’s a little bit of both, to be honest. I never remember there being 15-year old kids in the crowd up until maybe three or four years ago and it feels like that trend is increasing, like, with the popularity of electronic music. The bottom line is that these kids are kids, and they don’t know any other way of getting ahold of the music other than from the places they hang out, which are Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and it’s like, if you don't have a presence on those networks, then you're just relying on the fact that those kids will float it around to your fanbase and kinda permeating into larger audience of people that have general interest and maybe might have a friend interested in electronic music or whatever.
I started doing this s*** as just a regular DJ, just Djing it, playing music, going to parties, and I've always been out on the street talking to people and I enjoy it. I enjoy interfacing with my audience and knowing who they are and having some kind of relationship with them and it becomes really, I think, lonely in a sense and maybe even you kind of lose touch with the vibe of what’s going on. Some people need that kind of isolation, but I thrive on that, personally. I dont know if it's possible. Like you said, there are guys like Aphex Twin...Aphex Twin is a legend. He’s kind of been grandfathered into electronic music. Everyone, in some way, pays homage to guys like Aphex Twin, because even if they don't who they are, that’s like their favorite producer’s favorite producer.
There are guys like Justice, for example, who are a huge inspiration to me, and they've never really had an online persona. In a way, their appeal was the fact that they were these cool French guys, who anytime you ever saw them they were smoking cigarettes and speaking French and they never really had a whole helluva lot to say about EDM or music or anything. They were really kinda just untouchable in a sense, not a lot of people knew a lot about them. Thats what kinda made them really cool,, you know?
It’d be interesting to see how guys like that would fair in this environment. I think at the end of the day, if you have a really f***ing amazing record, it doesn't matter if you live in a shed in the middle of the woods somewhere: people are going to talk about you. But you may only have a moment, you know? It’s about keeping the ball rolling and being able to continue having a longstanding career, which has everything to do with having a relationship with your audience.
How do you find time to disconnect from technology and the ratrace in order to find inner peace?
At the moment, there really isn't much (laughs).
I try and find time. Every Monday morning I go on a hike with one of my friends. Thats nice and it’s a pretty heavy hike, so you can't really talk too much or be on your phone. Being outside, breathing fresh air, I mean, thats really my little moment in the week where it has nothing to do with technology, social media, computers, or music. It’s just being a monkey for a moment, being an animal, just existing, you know? (laughs)
Man, that record (Metropolis Pt 2) was probably my favorite record. That one and probably Ellie Goulding’s album were probably my favorite records. I asked them to remix that track. I turn down remixes regularly, just because I’m always working on my own s***, you know? They hit me up and were like “Hey man, just want to put it out there. We'd love for you to remix something. We know you're busy or whatever, but if you ever want to, that would be so awesome.” I was like “F***, it’s funny you'd ask that because I f***ing love your guys’ record and I’d love to remix something on there!”
It was a challenge, obviously, as it’s a great tune and trying to translate what they are doing... At some point in my career, I’d love to start a project where I’m making music that is kind of more, with, like, a singer, maybe even me, I don't know, but something that’s like a bit more organic that does have some electronic influence in it. That’s kind of a project with a couple of guys and, you know, with some live instruments and some singing in it. So, what they are doing is kind of somewhere in the neighborhood of what I’d love to do one day so, in that case, I kind of translated that idea into something that would work in my world a little bit more. In the end, I still think that the original is amazing and the whole album is amazing. When I take on remix stuff like that, either I want to try and challenge myself with taking something from one world and bringing it into my own but sometimes I just love a song so much that I just want to take it apart so I can understand how it works.
The “Kill The Machine” tour sounds perfect.
Haha, hell yea. I picked a groovy name, man. As the years have unfolded, it’s worked with so much different stuff. I did a track with Dillon Francis called “Dill The Noise” and now I’m on the “Kill The Zo” tour with Mat Zo.
I know that you are a big Trent Reznor fan, as am I. If you had the chance to talk with Trent Reznor, what would you ask him?
I've read so many interviews with the guy, since I was a kid, so I feel like I know quite a bit about the dude already. If anything, at this point in my career, I’d just like to talk to him about the process more than anything else. Creating ideas and literally the technical side of things, but also kind of more the creative process from a more personal perspective. Just having the really basic conversation that I have with my friends, just being able to pick his brain. Just be like “Hey man, do you mess around with this s***? You ever try to do this?” Just breaking the ice that way and understanding what his process is like. I’m sure that there has got to be some kind of similarities there somewhere. I've met so many different kinds of people that it feels like sitting in a studio and starting with something mundane leads to talking about life, you know what I mean. I don’t even know man, I don’t know of any specific questions I’d ask I’d just like to hang with him and soak up some inspiration.
So I'll finish with this: you go on a hike every week, you’d like to one day sing in your band, and Trent Reznor is probably the most yoked-out dude these days. Is there a time you ever see yourself quitting smoking cigarettes?
Oh yea! Man, I've always said that, even on my Twitter, I don’t regret anything in my life...all the s***ty things I've done that were f***ing stupid...I've learned so much from all that. I think the only thing I regret is starting smoking cigarettes. It’s just a stupid idea that I got nothing out of. Maybe I did learn something, just that you can’t f*** around with drugs, man. And cigarettes are drugs. People don't think of it as a drug, you know, and thats part of the reason why I’ve never...I’ve been to plenty of after parties where people started breaking out cocaine and I've never done coke in my life. In retrospect, I think it’s because I smoke cigarettes and I've been trying to quit smoking since I was in my 20’s. Really, right after I got out of high school i thought “Why the f*** am I smoking cigarettes?” It’s so stupid. I just know that drugs are f***ed man. I've seen friends of mine, that I grew up with, just go the wrong way with all of that s***, you know?
Cigarettes, in particular, you can't just smoke them for fun. There are plenty of kids that I see, friends of mine, that are in their 20’s that are smoking cigarettes. I'm like “Dude, you don’t f***ing smoke, man.” and they're like “Oh yea, I smoke one every once in a while” and I tell them “Dude, that’s not cigarettes work, bro.” Like, you don’t smoke theme every once in awhile: either you try it once and you don’t do it or you f***ing smoke cigarettes. And that’s the f***ing bottom line. And it might not be this month or next month, but by the end of the year, you're going to be a f***ing smoker.
So, anyway, I'm not trying to start a campaign (laughs). But yea, that’s one of my biggest goals and it's funny too because the thing about not smoking cigarettes is that I can attribute my weakness, for most intents and purposes...my drive is diehard. It doesn't matter in the studio, I'm not going to stop working on something until I figure it out. But in the rest of my life, I make a lot of excuses for things and I attribute it back to smoking cigarettes. I make excuses all the time why it's okay for me to have a cigarette and I look at how that translates into other parts of my life, like getting into shape, and making time for my wife, and like, life s***. Like, the really important stuff in my life.
The human stuff.
Yea, the human s***. For some reason, there’s this flaw that makes it okay for me to do these kind of damaging things to my life. And I look at cigarettes at the top of that pyramid. If I could stop doing that, all the rest of that s*** is f***ing easy compared to that s***. Maybe in a kind of a way, not to go too deep in the Sigmund Freud world, but maybe the reason I haven't quit smoking is because I’m afraid to make all of these other changes in my life. Or I’m not ready to do it, or I don't know what it is. I just think that, yea, something cigarettes is f***ing horrible and if you look at people that smoke...Look, everybody makes excuses, but smokers are the biggest ones that make a f***ing ton of excuses about s***. But anyway, thats a whole nother f***ing interview right there (laughs).
Tickets for the "Kill The Zo" tour with Kill The Noise and Mat Zo are still available for the Hollywood Palladium show. BUY HERE