An Interview with Angel Marcloid

A guide to Angel Marcloid's back catalogue - The Wire

Forward by Joe O’Brien

When my friend Andrew started this interview series, he would often converse with me about who he should reach out to for interview. One of the first that came to mind was Angel Marcloid. I first discovered Angel through the project MindSpring Memories. At the time, I was in the midst of a huge Vaporwave obsession and spent tons of time finding new artist to sink my teeth into. I discovered that Angel was behind MindSpring Memories and that it was one of many projects Angel had going on. I knew at that point I had to discover the other projects, and at the same time find out if any were available on vinyl. I blind ordered Skin X-1 and patiently waited for it to arrive. I am not going to lie, when I first put it on the turntable, I was slightly confused. It challenged my preconceived notions about what music could be. As the album continued to play, I loved it more and more. I had tried to put my finger on why I loved it so much. Was it that it was music that refused to be reduced to a genre? Was it that it seamlessly mixed analog and digital sound in a new, exciting way I had never experienced? Was it that it featured sounds from categories that I had just recently started to delve deep into (Vaporwave, Jazz, Metal)? The answer was all of these and more. Fire-Toolz has only continued to get better with every album. Every album has sent me even deeper into a universe of dynamic, changing, and blended sounds. Every album has invoked a guttural emotional response that few musical artists have made me experience. Angel has become somewhat of a musical hero to me as a result. So, when Andrew asked me to write the introduction to Angel’s interview of course I jumped at that chance. Enjoy the interview, and check out fire-toolz and Angel’s other projects here and here.

Andrew:
Angel, thank you for taking the time to talk with us here. It’s been a weird year. What have you been doing to pass the time?

Angel:
I’ve never been one to pass the time for the purpose of passing the time. I’m addicted to being creative, and thankfully that addiction passes the time on its own. Though I hate to word it as an addiction. It’s more like a flow that is unrelenting, and I’m always caught it in. It’s a joy, though. A spiritual practice, a therapy, and occasionally a distraction.

Andrew:
How did you get into music? What was your musical gateway so to speak?

Angel:
Existence. My parents weren’t musicians but they loved music, so I was raised around it. I have very early memories of being very emotionally moved by music. The heavy parts of 2112 by Rush would make me feel energized and aggressive. The ballads of Bon Jovi would make me weep. The harmonizing guitar leads of Boston would make me feel…loved by my parents? I don’t know how that makes sense but when I hear a Boston guitar solo I think of my Dad smiling, or taking me on a trip, or something.

Andrew:
Growing up, who were some of your favorite artists?

Angel:
Rush has always been my number one. There are some albums I don’t really even listen to, but they are the most special. Thinking about my late single digits and early double digits, I got pretty obsessed with Dream Theater and Red Hot Chili Peppers. When I was 10, I discovered this post-hippie alt-rock band called Seed when their album Ling first debuted. I also was super into this trio (ex-White Trash) called Hash. Of course my parents had to make sure the drug references were cryptic enough before buying the CD, but when I heard their song ‘Twilight Ball’ on the radio, my brain freaked the fuck out. I got into Death Metal at an alarmingly early age as well, and was super obsessed with Deicide and Morbid Angel. I got into Trance and Techno when I was real young as well, and listened to a lot of Orbital and The Orb and Autechre. Oh and Queensrÿche. They were very popular in my household when I was very young. And Firehouse! Probably my favorite post-glam hair Rock band that ever existed. I discovered them when I was 6. My dad bought the family the CD after hearing one of their songs on the radio. It definitely changed my life. I got to see them with Tesla when I was 7. Never got into Poison or early Warrant but Firehouse were a great bunch of dudes. In fact their song ‘Lover’s Lane’ was my first exposure to double-kick. When I first heard it I was really confused, and ran to my dad, and asked him how that was possible. He told me people sometimes use two kick drums. My mind was utterly blown. Not long after that, I wound up with a double kick pedal and the rest was history.

Fire-Toolz is making face-melting noise on the Chicago experimental scene -  Chicago Tribune

Andrew:
Before you moved into the more experimental and electronic side of things, my understanding is you were a member of many Emo, Post-Rock and Punk oriented bands. Can you tell us more about that? How did those experiences inform your work today?

Angel:
I discovered Emo when I was 12. My friend bought an album from Tower Records by No Knife because he thought the cover was cool. He really liked it, but I had the Mortal Kombat soundtrack and he wanted that, so we traded. I had already worn it out though. It’s how I discovered Type O Negative, so that soundtrack was a big deal. But anyway, I had access to the internet early on, so in looking up No Knife I found a website called Tickle Me Emo. It was a database of Emo bands across the world. So I would just click on different listings all day every day, and would ask to use my grandmother’s credit card so I could call up these labels and mail-order CDs. It was the dissonant chords that really got me. And hearing them combined with such emotional vocals is what won me over. In the late 90s I formed my first band along those lines, called A Perfect Kiss. We were around on and off until I think 2007 or something. We made a few albums. We got more into Minus The Bear/newer Appleseed Cast territory near the end, even though we started out sounding more like Mineral and Penfold. Though Fire-Toolz rarely has that classic Emo sound, those experiences and that style of music absolutely penetrates everything I do. I might be focusing more on Jazz progressions these days, but the chordal content is very influenced by Emo bands. In fact that is what drew me to Smooth Jazz Fusion so deeply…that dissonance.

Andrew:
For several years, you ran the experimental labels, Swamp Circle and Rainbow Bridge. How did those get started?

Angel:
Rainbow Bridge started because I just wanted a central location and publishing name to release all my self-releases under. Then it turned into wanting to release things for other people. As I got more and more into Noise and Experimental Music, the more common and enticing the idea of running a cassette label was. So, I sought out artists I loved, and did small runs of CDs and tapes. Swamp Circle arose because I wanted to be able to release more than I was, without having to spend too much money and time up front. It was more of a collective and an art project than it was a label, really. Now, I’ve zero drive to keep up with a label. I’ve largely stripped down my activities. I don’t have time to do everything I want to do, so I have to be picky. My full time business and musical projects are far more than enough for me.

Andrew:
Very recently, your focus has been on your solo project Fire-Toolz. I am a huge fan! What has the inspiration behind Fire-Toolz been?

Angel:
Everything and anything that impacts me. Content is typically esoteric, spiritual, emotional, occasionally absurd or humorous, but mostly overly serious. Concepts tend to form themselves as I work. It’s just a flow that materializes into an album and then starts over again. Maybe eventually the well will run dry, but I’m 6 albums in now and not planning to stop any time soon.

Fire-Toolz's brave and beautiful overstimulation — Tone Madison

Andrew:
To me, a big part of Fire-Toolz, and what you do in general is the visual aspect. You’re an active graphic artist as well, right? How important is that element to you in your music?

Angel:
I wouldn’t say active only because right now I am less active with visual art than I ever have been. I’m more about hiring artists than I am making art these days. I do produce most of my music videos, but I am trying to work with other artists as much as I can. I would make more visual art had I the free time, but for some reason when you get older, time just disappears out of thin air, whereas when you’re younger you feel like you’ll always have plenty of time. The visual element however is extremely important. The music has to have a decent visual accompaniment. It has to relate in some kind of metaphoric, symbolic, analogous, or direct way. I am very visual in my own attire, my home, my vehicle, etc. All through my childhood my parents would get pissed at me for putting stickers on everything. I can hear it in my head now…“Now don’t go putting stickers all over this thing. Take care of it.”

Andrew:
Your music feels as if it has a very personal, ethereal quality about it. It speaks to me. I am sure many of your fans have had the same experience. I know that often times songwriters and artists will write songs, and have no personal connection with them at all, and other times, the music is deeply connected to the artist. Which is it for you?

Angel:
It is not possible for me to make anything that is not connected to me. I don’t even know what that is like and I wouldn’t want to try. I see nothing wrong with this idea, it’s just totally incompatible with my nature. I remember when I first heard that Moneen’s The Red Tree was a bunch of fictional stories, I felt some kind of let down, because that album is so damn emotional. It reminded me of when I found out that Robert Smith was happily married. I started to feel shorted. But now I realize this is just how some other artists can and like to work, and I respect that. I just don’t have the ability or interest to tell a fictional story, even if its purpose is to drive home a point that is personal to me.

Andrew:
Another amazing project of yours is MindSpring Memories, which is easily one of the best examples of Vaporwave out there today. How did that project get started? What was the inspiration?

Angel:
It is inspired by the endless well of nostalgia in me for escaping back into my cozy childhood where the world felt safe. The first time I heard t e l e p a t h テレパシー能⼒者 my heart was blown wide open. When I heard how he was able to take these samples, many of which I was familiar with and remember from my childhood, I realized I had found a new way to express certain parts of me. Rather than create music that revitalizes sensory memories of the past, I would sample it, and drain everything from it that I could. Taking some old Kenny G song and processing it the way I do, or the way t e l e p a t h テレパシー能⼒者 did, is like coping with something. It’s an act of just dealing with the feelings and memories and thoughts that arise which remind me of simpler and somehow more abstract or surreal times. You know how on the Rugrats cartoon, the camera angle from the babies’ point of view is super wide, and gives this sense that the world is gigantic and full of wonder, even more so than it is? And you know how they would just sort of hallucinate things sometimes, and allow their imaginations to get entangled with their physical reality? That is what my preferred style of Ambient, lush Vaporwave is like for me.

Musician Angel Marcloid on harnessing the resources within – The Creative  Independent

Andrew:
Your music firmly straddles the line between so many genres. It refuses to be defined, which is what makes it unique, and incredible. Still, people like to put artists in boxes. What is your opinion on that, and the idea of genres in general?

Angel:
I love playing with genre names, and having fun trying to classify unique bands. I like to hear the little bits of this genre and that genre that sneak into different songs and albums by different artists. I also think genre names are useful for categorizing, organizing, and even advertising. But there is a point at which it gets excessive and ridiculous, and it can cause a lot of divide. What kind of annoys me these days is that people don’t know what to think about certain kinds of music. They don’t know how to feel. Until they can categorize it. So many comments I’ve seen in the past on my Twitter or YouTube that say things like “Vaporscream?!” and “Metalwave” and stuff. That just makes me cringe. Just…listen to the music you like, and don’t worry about it. I don’t really like Fire-Toolz being called some kind of sub-genre of Vaporwave because that is so limiting to me. FT is a conglomeration of many different things, including Vaporwave. But Vaporwave is not its umbrella. To call it Vaporwave is to set it apart from Industrial, Metal, Noise, New age, Jazz Fusion, IDM, Trance, Grindcore, and whatever else. Yet almost every single review FT receives calls it Vaporwave in some fashion. It’s just something I’ve had to accept. MindSpring Memories on the other hand is so obviously Vaporwave that catches me off guard when people define it as “Ambient” or “New Age” solely. That’s when I start to feel nervous, and I tell people “It’s all made from samples! Don’t give me all the credit!”

Andrew:
What are some things within the music industry that you would like to see change for the better?

Angel:
Gatekeeping. Trashing entire genres and trying to invalidate them simply because the methods used to create the music are perceived as too simple or easy. I’d also like to see way more unlikely genre combos that haven’t really been done. Industrial Ska, Adult Contemporary IDM, Progressive Jazz Fusion Noisecore, etc. It sounds comedic at first thought but it’s only because it’s not being done in any serious way. How sick would it be to hear something like Celine Dion’s 90s ballads with tons of smooth sax, but crazy ass glitched out drums and bass lines underneath it? It could be done if someone tried hard enough. Many will call it “thrown together” or “random” but that’s just because they’re so taken aback by it and need time to wrap their head around it’s authenticity and value.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music?

Angel:
I don’t collect any physical media anymore. I spent the last 5 years selling every CD, tape, and record I could find in my house. I’m a digital music person. I know that many artists would rather I experience the physical product in order to get the full picture, but the last thing I want to do is bring more *stuff* into my life. I like music, and I don’t need to own scraps of plastic and vinyl that I store on shelves in order to enjoy it. Thank God for the Internet.

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most to you and why?

Angel:
I’d say Rush’s Hold Your Fire is one of the most important albums in the universe to me. Their whole 80s era, in fact. I also think Liminal by Exivious is genius, as well as Plini’s Handmade Cities. Orbital’s Brown Album, Norma Jean’s Bless The Martyr Kiss The Child, and everything Dan Siegel, Richard Souther, and Patrick O’ Hearn ever did in the 80s. Also, Eddie Jobson – Zinc, Suis La Lune – Heir EP, Loma Prieta – Last City, and I’m an unapologetic die hard fan harsh Noise/Feedback-era Prurient. Mineral – EndSerenading, Appleseed Cast – Mare Vitalis, Contortionist – Language, Dream Theater – Images & Words. I’ve just named albums across many genres, but they all blend together to me as being pure love and light. Maybe not their content necessarily, but how they resonate with me.

Electronic musician Angel Marcloid drops a new collage barrage as  Fire-Toolz | Gossip Wolf | Chicago Reader

Andrew:
It’s been a weird year, but we’ve still seen a lot of great music released in 2020. What are some of your “must haves” of the year?

Angel:
Kyle Jameson’s A View From Above rocks my world. I’m also loving Drop Shadow by Eyeliner. The new Euglossine, Blue Marble Agony, is also pretty incredible. To be honest I’m horrible at following new music. I’m mostly interested in the 80s right now…

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 calms down, what’s next for you as an artist?

Angel:
I’m doing plenty during the pandemic. When and if it lets up, maybe I will play a few shows, or tour again. But I’m in no rush to do that. I get far more enjoyment out of hanging out with my cats and making music at home than I go setting up my gear in a stinky bar every night for a month and performing well after my bed time.

Andrew:
You’ve had a great career thus far, with hopefully many more years to go! Looking back, what moments are you most proud of?

Angel:
I guess my albums themselves are what I’m most proud of. And any personal growth I’ve gone through. Being invited to play cool shows and having articles written about my work are very nice as well, but those things don’t really have any bearing on my music and creating it. I would be doing it regardless of those additional things.

Andrew:
Last question. The music business is tougher than ever, it seems. What advice would you have for any artists trying to get their start?

Angel:
I don’t know how good my advice would be. I’ve been selfish since the beginning, only making music I want to make. I’ve never listened to the audience, and it’s hurt my growth a bit. But I wouldn’t take it back. I just have to be this way. I’d probably tell people to make what they want to make, and not give a fraction of a shit whether someone else doesn’t like it. But I would also say to listen to other people’s opinions and criticisms. Be open to them. But throw them in the garbage if they don’t resonate with you. Don’t blindly follow anyone. Test everything they say against your own vibration. If there is no resonance, it is shit advice. Even if it will grow your career. Because what is most important is that you are truly happy. And I don’t think that is remotely selfish. If you are truly happy, others around you will be, and others will see that a happy person is making music that is personal to them, and they will value it.

Angel Marcloid | Mixing, Mastering, Music Production, A/V Services

Interested in sampling the music of Angel Marcloid? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interviews

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, Andrew has always loved writing and collecting physical music. Present-day, Andrew is proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict for fellow music addicts. Andrew lives on Long Island and works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer Music website by night.

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