Get ready to take a ride in the “Green Hay” today with one-man-band Angusraze and the latest single off the forthcoming new album, Foxmask, due out May 8th via Painted Halo Records. The song is the recording’s second and follows the lead single, “Unlawful.” This isn’t just a new album, though, it’s better referred to as a complete multimedia project with a new, still-untitled film to follow. “Green Hay” is actually the first song that Angusraze completed for Foxmask, a leftover from an earlier version of the record, and is directly targeted at both war and tragedy, and how frequently people who get stuck in the middle of these conflicts end up only being remembered as a small part of a larger statistic.
Angusraze is an interesting character, to say the least, with music so original you won’t be able to liken it to anything or anybody else. As an artist, he distills art, information and his own personal experiences into ominous landscapes that contains both large and aggressive textures that can be likened to Xiu Xiu and Death Grips. He transposes these musical elements onto the stage with his often confrontational live shows that don’t beat around the bush. There are no subtleties when you’re talking about Angusraze, only enthusiasm as he invites the audience to take a look into his world of trauma. To help tell the story, the artist has concocted a character he refers to as Soozie who is an inter-dimensional heroine whose journey you follow throughout the entirety of Foxmask.
To take you further into the world of Angusraze, we caught up with the artist to discuss the new song “Green Hay,” as well as a preview of what’s to come on Foxmask.
Your new song “Green Hay” is quite an unconventional audio experience full of twists and turns. I won’t use the term written since it’s more than just that so how was this song created?
Angusraze: “It was created mainly the same way as most of my songs are created, I usually get strokes of inspirations involving some sort of melody or textual reference in terms of sound and build it from scratch. I have a bank of go-to edited samples I use that I know have a particular texture or harmonic resonance that I can morph into beats or melodies or atmospheric noises. I usually divide these samples into particular folders so that my albums sound consistent in their sound. Most of my songs start as very fractured, almost collage-like, and then there is a process of me grappling with them into something digestible.”
I imagine this is a song where you could easily get carried away and, before you know it, it’s seven or eight minutes long. Is this final version representative of the demo you came up with or was there a lot of editing you had to do?
“I normally spend a few months on songs collectively, I usually have to pull myself from the songs or else I would never finish them, I never really make demos, nor can I really pinpoint where something transitions from demo to finished piece. It’s a constant thing that builds up over time, the songs make themselves and it’s more fun to try and grapple with them, see where a song pushes me and where I can push it instead of trying to build segments of the production of my art. So the editing is a constant process from the start.”
Did you have an original vision for “Green Hay?” Or did you just in a sense improvise your way through the creation process?
“With my albums, I usually like to regulate one or two songs to be more musically or vocally accessible. For my last album ROZEY CHEEKX, the single ‘Interface Overload’ represented that, something that is catchy and people can dance to, like a moment of cathartic semi-joy in an album full of chaos. So I knew I wanted a catchy melody or hook and for it to be melodically repeatable. In terms of the songwriting though, I did have a particular angle I wanted to express, and a narrative theme.
Normally with lyrics I sort of just write in a stream-of-consciousness way and patch stuff together, but with this one and a few others on the album I sat down and traced out the lyrics specifically. It was originally about war, specifically the dehumanization of victims of war and the people fighting in them, especially in a post-modern context where casualties are often turned into statistics, and it’s often difficult to evaluate the true cost of catastrophe. Hearing that 100 people have been shot or 400 people are sick is easy to read but incredibly hard to visually imagine. When I re-evaluated the album as a fantasy-based piece, I thought it connected well to the consistent emotions of grief and self-imposed anxiety that are explored in relation to the character of Foxmask Soozie. It’s a central exploration of her character.”
From what I’m gathering, “Green Hay” has a lot of samples that you’ve skillfully put together and made to sound coherent and catchy. Where did you find some of the samples used in this track?
“I usually find samples from a number of areas. I grew up with the internet and formed my identity through websites like Tumblr which are often quite visually patched together from different images. The internet is a massive digital landfill, it’s just full of shit, good shit mainly. I take stuff from lots of things, TV adverts, video games, movies, songs, etc. I never really go sample-hunting, I just hear something I think has an interesting harmonic potential and have it. I don’t really have a concern for what I sample or its sacred nature to other people, I operate as an artist who feels it’s a personal responsibility to reflect the current zeitgeist, because it’s the most truthful thing to do. As someone who was born in the internet era, sampling-cutting-pasting is an essential part of internet culture with memes, YouTube videos all following this.”
“Green Hay” comes from your upcoming sophomore album Foxmask. As a preview, what can listeners expect to hear on what’s to come from the new record?
“Chaos and beauty, this contradiction is present through the whole album. There’s a lot of elements of optimism too as well as self-doubt, and the album is a tribute to the music that inspires and challenges me, there’s elements of Brazilian baile funk music and pop structures, as well as destructive, almost anti-songs. I think to say, expect the unexpected is very cliché but very true with this album. Expect something with a beginning, middle and end, and a present emotional arc exploring the visual character of Soozie who appears in all my album and EP artwork in different forms, it is a tribute to her.”