Locals Only: : split/single

The many lives and love of DJ Empirical

Sep 15, 2004 at 2:06 pm
DJ Empirical

The Quahogs Entertainment Group, of which DJ Empirical (aka Stephen Boyd) is a part, has a pretty diverse roster of acts. There's Montana Wildhack, the jack-of-all-trades of QEG and the drummer/keyboardist/occasional guitarist for ex-Fudgie and FuFu conspirator David Enright's group, The Haywards.

Montana was also part of a short-lived project called Montana and McDeviltoast (along with Aaron Willis, also late of Fudgie and FuFu) in which he played guitar. Then, there's sch#228del, aka Donald Spivak, the in-house producer for QEG as well as the "noisemaker" for The Black Fives. Sch#228del also worked with Fudgie and FuFu on some remixes of songs from their last CD. Also, there's QEG artist Tyrone Shoelaces, who is mainly an '80s DJ, but he lent a hand to a Fudgie and FuFu remix, too.

Founder Quahog (who takes his name from the Rhode Island term for a species of hard-shelled clam) coordinates all QEG's activities and artists and is also a DJ himself, working mainly with sample loops on a computer.

Finally, there's the aforementioned DJ Empirical, an audio scientist/DJ specializing in "mash ups" of vinyl records. A mash up is when you play two (or more) different songs from two different artists from two different albums to achieve a cohesive (or rhythmically jarring) new whole. A mash up that you might have heard is Dangermouse's The Grey Album, in which the vocals from Jay-Z's The Black Album are mixed with tracks from The Beatles' "White Album" to a very interesting effect and a lot of legal woes.

The unique twist to the story is that DJ Empirical happens to be all of the artists in the Quahogs Entertainment Group. Even his alias sch#228del has an alias.

The use of multiple names, DJ E says, "came from a lot of people that I really enjoy listening to. Like say, Aphex Twin is Richard James. But Richard James is also AFX; he's also in Mike and Rich; he's also Polygon Window — there's like a million names (he uses). A lot of the people that I really like do that — they kind of separate genres of their work. I like the idea of having things easily identifiable as a group in my stuff. I'm not overly prolific in any one genre, but what (the separation) helps me do is make a fake little 'collective' out of all my pseudonyms."

He's also quick to note the debt he owes to djdq of Animal Crackers for basically giving him his start. "As far as being a DJ, (dq) set me, or rather Tyrone Shoelaces, up with a DJ gig at In The Wood, which is really what made me have to get up and do things every week in front of people."

"Quahogs mostly (does) audio collage," Empirical explains. He counts among his biggest influences The Evolution Control Committee out of Columbus, which was formed in the '80s and typically uses uncleared and illegal samples from various sources as a form of protest against copyright law; Negitivland, best known for the copyright suit brought against them by U2; and John Oswald, known for his "plunderphonics" — audio/video collages made from existing works.

What's most interesting about the very logical split of the musical aspects of DJ E's personality is that he likes chaotic experimental noise music.

"I'm obsessive-compulsive, like everybody is nowadays," he says. "Maybe it's all the sugar. I like things to be in an order. At work, my desk is bare. (But) I'm fascinated with process. A lot of times how music arrives at being is as interesting, or more interesting, than the end result. For example, at a good noise show, over the course of the set, the music might not change drastically at any point, but it will definitely evolve."

That viewpoint definitely helps explain his mash up work as DJ Empirical. He finds great joy and intellectual interest in putting one element together with another element and then watching what happens.

DJ Empirical has chaos down to a science. And you can dance to it.

DJ EMPIRICAL (www.quahogs-ent.com) hosts "DJ Empirical's Birthday Blowout 2004" at Top Cat's on Friday,