Future thoughts from the electronic shadows – A Petridisch / Fish Prints Interview

I’ve been looking at the Vaporwave scene for inspiration since I started MTHU and ultimately this magazine since 2018. As part of my 2022 resolution, I want to get out of my comfort zone and start listening to really progressive experimental sounds. Music, not typical of the nostalgia we’ve become so used to. So to better get my feet wet in the scene, I reached out to experimental label owner, Petridisch, to give us a low-down of how he vibes with that non-traditional sound. — KITE0080

From experimental to harsh noise to live performance synthing; I feel like you’re an advocate of “Just make music”, how does someone get comfortable with a non-traditional sound?

I would say that the easiest way to attune one’s ear to sounds that are non-traditional is to just listen. Listen closely. When things seem uncomfortable or tricky, find out what’s going on in that moment in the music, whatever that may mean for you – don’t get TOO analytical (hahah) but how do these moments make you feel and how do they move you? Keeping an open ear and realizing relationships between sounds, rhythms, production choices, what have you – by listening intently or even, on the other end, at an ambient level – just absorbing … that’s the way it ‘gets into the brain’ and system. Then things don’t seem as scary or weird when these non-traditional moments may hit your own music, or when hearing them in someone else’s. Try new things! Give your ears a little workout 🙂 It sounds horribly simple I know…

What makes you stick to the shadows of electronic music? Why haven’t you ventured out into say house or techno? If you have, i’d love to listen to it.

cross-section of Petridisch cassette releases 2016-present

The shadows are where the excitement is! (LOL) In all seriousness though, it’s mainly about the ideas that run around my brain. I generally don’t ‘hear’ pop songs or standard house/techno, although I HIGHLY respect anyone who is able to do this sort of thing, as both those things are my bread and butter. Mainly it’s vague melodies, chord progressions, and then arrangements/sounds come a bit later. Sometimes it’s the soundscape or rhythms first, and sometimes it never gets to chords or melody! Reverb is the biggest deal in what I do – I’m very inspired by bands like Windy & Carl and Bowery Electric and their use of space. I, though, have definitely tried though to do ‘The Regular’ (hahah)! The closest I ever got to ‘standard’ techno, technopop or house would be either the 2017 EP “A Fixed Point” or perhaps “Working for the Man”, the single I did with Leah Callahan that ended up on the FP comp tape, “There and Back Again Prints”.

(right) cross-section of Petridisch cassette releases 2016-present

Your label Fish Prints Inc introduces a lot of experimental sounds not found elsewhere in the scene. How do you distinguish between something truly experimental vs the elementary?

It’s all going to sound really ‘self-y’ (hahah) but it’s all really about whether when I hear something, do I think it should be out there in the world on a larger platform, and is what I’m doing appropriate for the music and ideas presented. Most importantly though is do I LOVE it, do I want to represent it. As far as gauging experimental-ness, I feel like you can tell when something is coming from a place of ‘let’s do this’ and when something is 100% calculated (though it is not always obvious). Elementary…hmm I don’t really think in those terms, except when describing something truly ‘made of few elements’ but I don’t see “elementary” sound as a negative at all. The ‘exemplary’ can be made with the elementary, for sure.

Your label is one of the few that releases experimental on cassette and MiniDisc with even some releases dating years back. Yet, you seem to never stop releasing. What’s the balance between money put in vs reward for this kind of thing? What would you say to label struggling with the same problems?

the entire catalog of Fish Prints physical release to date

(ha!) That is a thing isn’t it? I’m just hearing a lot of things these days that I hope I can help out! It’s always going to be a loss money-wise, unless you are constantly tapping into that ‘thing’ that makes a pressing sell out in 2 hours, and then you get the manufacturing and shipping etc. costs back immediately. To be about the tunes, the music, to represent things that mean something to oneself and/or the world, to make friendships and connections with truly astounding people and organizations, to help out music that you truly believe in. Those are all tremendously cool things. They can really keep you going. My advice for labels dealing with the same thing is to know your money situation (since these things will cost money), and know where a label fits in with that. Adjust things accordingly when needed. Slow down releases or take a break if it comes to that! Don’t go truly broke!

(left) the entire catalog of Fish Prints physical release to date

2022 is here… what sounds or thoughts in the experimental electronic world are you most interested in seeing evolve?

That’s an interesting question. Music is always evolving, or re-evolving in many cases, sort of cycling over and over. There really is just so much happening right now in experimental electronic, whether it’s truly digging ahead and pushing forward, or playing with familiarity, or somewhere in between the two. It’s hard to pick what I’d want to see evolve in the coming year – I’m really curious to see where it all goes! Though that said, I’d love to see the worlds of classical and pop music ‘get wild’ again (hahah)!

Looking back at 2021, what releases on your label or even your own projects are you most proud of, a top 5 if you could.

The last 5 releases on Fish Prints were:

Marine Layer "Bright Passage" - a real look into the world of a couple out of the Pacific Northwest, on the road, and on roads. Innovative and fun use of sampling.
Cryostasium "Amorph" - Cryostasium's been releasing with me since the beginning of the label's history, the latest shows a growing leaning on electronics and neo-classical instrumentation.
a wave, a mouth; "vigil" - actually a demo sent through Bandcamp! This one's a bit heavy yet welcoming, also recalling a sort of heyday of (ahem) 'electronica' while maintaining feet in today
albinotron "glitchwave vol. 1" - longtime friend releases long-planned masterwork on FP! The album name tells you stuff, and then some: Boards of Canada meeting Venetian Snares, so a bit classic-feeling as well.
Art Bears x Petridisch "Retold." - longtime in the works plunder/mashup of entire Art Bears catalog by myself, their original work from the years 1979-1981. Pretty wild.

If I had to pick a favorite release from 2021 on Fish Prints, it would be the compilation cassette “There and Back Again Prints”, which contains exclusive tracks from artists who have worked with the label in some capacity. It truly was a group effort, we all put in 100%, we all cared about what we were contributing to make it an incredibly special release. It also probably comes in the most de-luxe packaging FP has seen!

As far as a favorite of my own (Petridisch), there are two that truly stand out for me in general when thinking ‘what have I done out there’ — the album I did with local (to me) composer/songwriter mynameisblueskye “Amaranth Event” was something that came out of left field in my head. (Events are always weird like that) and the contributions of mynameisblueskye really helped to shape the album’s feel and narrative. I think it’s probably — and I’m reaching here! — the most “cohesive” listen of the albums? Could be wrong! The other that really stood out for me was the “Z O N E S” project on Infinite Sync. It was all brain-mood-driven drones, ‘headspace’ environments, my ‘self’ in music, truly. Scary to release, but I’m glad it’s out there. Also, It was the 2nd VHS release that I’ve ever done. The film was shot direct to VHS-C via camcorder, influenced subtly by the movie TETSUO: THE IRON MAN, which I’d only seen a few days before filming and so the images and style were flooding my head while I was shooting. Good times (hahah)!

Any last words?

I don’t know… “Put the booze in the base”? It’s about making ice cream with alcohol. Haven’t tried it yet. — Petridisch / Fish Prints

Check out more Petridisch / Fish Prints on Twitter or Bandcamp, and get yourself into some new experimental sounds.

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