The Four Chambers films are visually and conceptually stunning, which they describe as "magical porn realism." They eliminate the line between art and explicit displays of sexuality. They are works of art, where in his catalog is the video clip "Taste Of Metal", by Boy Harsher. From here, a connection was born between Vex Ashley of Four Chambers and Gus Muller, of Boy Harsher, who has given a job as splendid as the partituas of Machine Learning Experiments. Available in record stores on may 22nd. We had a chance to interview both Vex and Gus to talk about this collaboration deviously combining sex, cinema and sound.
Part I: Augustus Muller.
Hi Augustus - Where can we find you right now? How did you start off your day?
I’m in Holyoke, Ma. I took my dog for a walk then hit the studio. Some good things can come from early morning sweatpant jam.
When did you first get into music?
I started taking it pretty seriously in middle school. Itunes had just come out, and a friend and I would rip any cd we could get our hands on. That’s how I heard The Clash and Joy Division for the first time. I also ended up with like 10 Counting Crows albums...
How did you form the Boy Harsher band?
Jae and I had an improvisational electronic project called Teen Dreamz. The switch to Boy Harsher marks this moment when we started recording and taking the band more seriously.
What have you learned from Jae?
Jae is one of the strongest and fearless people I know. She strives in chaotic overwhelming situations. That’s a constant inspiration to me. Jae also helped me realize my love for dogs. She’s also way smarter than me. So, a lot of things.
Is there anything that you want to say about what you think makes your and Jae ongoing collaboration so special?
We’re both really headstrong. When we’re working on a song and we don’t agree on something neither of us will compromise. This can be really chaotic and emotional, but a lot of the time something good comes from it. We both need to be 100% committed to the music or we won’t release it.
What is your music criterion? How would you define your sound?
Nostalgic and dimly lit.
How did you start working on the soundtrack of Machine Learning Experiments?
Vex gave me a few references and some ideas, but it was basically pretty blind for me. I wanted to use different sounds than Boy Harsher. So I broke out some synths that weren’t heavily on the last record. I also sampled and processed a lot of location audio like breaths and moans.
What attracted you to this project?
I’ve been trying to get into composing for films for a while and I was a fan of four chambers. It seemed like the perfect project. Patrick Cowley and Klaus Schulze are both big inspirations too.
How do you start the process of finding that musical entryway into the psychological and emotional realm of the project?
Vex is the filmmaker. I’m just onboard to help realize her vision. She referenced Claire Denis ‘High Life’ as an inspiration. I’m a big fan of the film so it was a great starting point. Also, the Four Chambers films have so much mood and style, I could work off of it easily.
And are there particular elements that you look for in the projects you work on?
Not really. I’m new to the composing world and I’m open to anything. I think the big thing I’m keeping in mind is my limitations. I’m not going to record some epic orchestrated soundtrack. My style is much smaller and minimal which definitely has its place, but not the right choice for everything.
What’s something that you’ve heard, seen, or read lately that’s inspired you? What scores have influenced you along the way?
I’ve been watching a lot of movies. It’s been good. Fat Girl, Paris, Tx, In Cold Blood, In the Mood for Love, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters have been some recent ones that stood out.
The first score that really affected me was They Live by John Carpenter. I saw it in highschool and thought it was the coolest thing. It’s what got me into messing with synths.
What would your dream artistic collaboration be?
If they remake The Stand and I composed the score.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Part II: Vex Ashley
Hi Vex, when did your collaboration start?
I was lucky enough to get to license a Boy Harsher track for a different Four Chambers film and the day it was released I saw they were playing a show in a city close to me so they invited me to come down, we bonded in green room about wanting to make a Possession porn parody and so when I shot Hydra I knew Gus would be perfect person to score it.
What have you learned from each other?
I usually tend to work with tracks that already exist because I like to really have control over every part of the process as much as possible but getting to work with Gus really taught me that getting
to see the project with someone and through someone else's eyes and adds new and unexpected ideas and layers that would be impossible on my own.
How does each approach their work at Four Chambered?
Vex, what are you trying to transmit?
With making films with sex I think something the intensity is lost in the graphic explicitness, I want to make films that capture what it feels like to fuck not just what it looks like.
How is your creation process?
At the moment, non existant. It feels like all my creative energy has distilled into anger and frustration and making anything at the moment feels futile but I know how much other people’s work, art, music, porn whatever has helped me through this so I hope that what I can do could do that for others.
Do you think that after the Covid-19 event, the music industry will change?
I hope every industry will change. I truly hope this is the end of capitalism, but who knows. I think it’s fertile ground for new ideas.
What lesson should we learn from this paralysis?
Dare to dream of a life outside of work.
What tracks would you recommend us to liven up the confinement?
I’ve been exclusively listening to Phillip Glass on piano and the new Fiona Apple album, not exactly lively I’m afraid. I’m going for more, melancholy relaxation.
What are your future plans?
I’m trying not to make plans right now, I think we have to wait and see what the future ends up being.
All I’m holding out hope for is to get to dance in a sweaty club, high and surrounded by other people’s bodies again sometime and to kiss someone that’s not my cat.