Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Mark Soden JR is a musician & noise performer currently in CA. Mark is involved in many music festivals in front of and behind the scenes. Mark was kind enough to answer a few questions for me as he gets ready for the 2021 edition of the Santa Ana Noise fest.

What drew you to creating music and sounds?

I was raised in a house where tone deafness was respected and celebrated. "Sing along with Mitch" by Mitch Miller was treated like high art.

In high school I participated in marching band. Some would consider that only slightly different than a noise concert.

At San Francisco State I was in the electronic music lab, exploring the potential of the Buchla modular synth.

I had a job as a sound man at the "Cuckoo's Nest" in Costa Mesa, California. I got to watch the development of "Slam Dancing" first hand.

I spent a good amount of time in bands, some made money. Most didn't.

Upon retirement, I returned to Orange Coast College and took music classes. I play in various ensembles there.

Do you consider yourself a musician or noise artist or both? What do you feel the difference is, if there even is one?

I do both noise and music. I think they inform each other. Lately I have been doing music for a science fiction podcast "Simultaneous Times." It is a place where I can use both noise and music skills. I think there are lots of opportunities for musician and noise performers in the world of creating audio tracks to support video.

Phog Masheen is a very interesting musical project that you're involved with. What do you want people to know about Phog Masheen? What are some of the most exciting aspects of Phog Masheen for you?

Phog masheeen has been some interesting places, we played for four years at the Orange County Fair.

The first gig for phog masheeen was the Electro Music Festival in 2007. That was in philly. Our gear got tossed by the TSA and I saw my opened rack sliding down the conveyor belt at the airport. With all manner of wires spilling out. It was at the beginnings of air travel as we know it now.

We have been incorporating "narritives" into our presentations. Our recurring theme is America's obsession with "stuff." We started by doing a piece on storage units and now we are considering the "romance language of boxes and machines" the barcode. It is the way that we live that provides inspiration for the "narritives."

We also collaborate with other artists for "theme" oriented events. Such as "Dark Waters" our recent video with Wiki-Gong and Skunk Puppet. The theme there was nautical superstitions.

We also promote other shows, such as Wonder Valley Experimental which is in its 14th year. This year we are returning to "meatspace" April 2, 2022 at the Palms Restaurant in 29 Palms.

On a side note, if we ever colonize Mars, if there is a bar there, it will look like the Palms.

How did you get involved in the Santa Ana Noise Fest? 

When I went to the second Santa Ana Noise Fest Stephen Anderson was on a ladder aiming lights. He was the only person there working on the production. Every one else was a performer. I asked him if he needed some help. He said yes. It has been a wild ride since then.

What are some of your favorite memories of the Santa Ana Noise Fest?

The evolution of the SANF has been interesting. The first year, everyone that wanted to perform set up at the same time and played their ass off till they could play no more. It was a room full of people with all manner of gear playing at the same time. One year we had a "jam" at the end of the event. That boiled down to myself, Stephen Anderson and the members of Brutal Poodle. And THEN... there was the performance by Endometrium Cuntplow which was recorded in which he got naked and consumed his own urine.

How do you go about choosing who can be in the fest?

It has been mentioned to me that SANF only exists on Facebook. Yes we do have a page there and we do put out a call for performers there. We also use Twitter. We put out a call for performers on out facebook page and when we get enough of what we are looking for we close the call. In the virtual world, we can accept all forms of performance. In "meatspace" we have a different reality. If you have a 10 piece band they will not fit into an 8'x10' space on the stage. We look for things that sound noisy and will not take an hour to set up and have a fighting chance of being successful. I have no problem with a performer working out their anger management issues on stage. I do have a problem with a drummer that needs his kit fully mic'ed. The physical world is kind of restrictive. The virtual world is whatever will fit on a screen.

Any thoughts you want to share about the Santa Ana Noise Fest?

The true hero of this story is Stephen Anderson. He had the vision to start Santa Ana Noise Fest and has stayed with it. I am a happy "Johnny come lately" that happened onto a good thing.