J.S.H. interview from Shrouded Recordings Zine #6

What has been your favorite release so far? Was it the audio, the art work, the label or its distribution? Or was it something that brought you to a different part in your journey making your music that was a pinnacle or a transition piece for you?

Tough question, especially since I really have different views on my projects, and they mediate/symbolize/reflect different aspects of me as an artist and a person.

But if I’d have to name one, I’d say that Rien – The Russian VHS (Reason Art Records) is one of my all time favorites.

It’s an 90 minutes piece in which I really managed to make an extremely weird and abstract texture that is constantly moving and changing. The packaging, the artwork, and everything regarding that release turned out absolutely amazing and even though it didn’t sell all that well (probably because of the format), and is still available despite the very limited edition, it is a favorite.

But there are many transitionary pieces, that have marked the moment where I started doing things differently. It could be a new set-up, a new technique, or a search for a different sound. And this search for a new sound/way of creating never ends, because there’s always a different approach to what you do, a new way of doinig it.

What other projects are you involved in if any?

I run Ominous Recordings, a tape label, that I started when I was 19 and has been active for over 14 years now.

I wasn’t that active making noise myself until 2012, before that I was mainly in technical hardcore/noise rock bands, but I started playing around with noise when I was 17 and I have some recordings from the period between 2003 and 2012 that aren’t all that impressive.

Now, I have JSH (Harsh Noise), J.S.H. (HNW), Gamiani (HNW), Rien (HNW) and I play guitar and sing in Catholic (noise rock/noise punk).

What keeps you wanting to still have your music on tapes? Is there anything inherently different for you about them compared to other mediums for sound?

I prefer analog over digital. I’m not making anything that’s seriously produced. I think the CD is quite sterile, both in sound and aesthetic. Tapes works better for harsh noise. Then there’s the nerdy aspect of it. There’s a sense of pleasure when you hear the humming of the magnetic strip, before the music starts, it’s active listening in a way, because you need to turn the tape over, you have to listen to the whole tape because you can’t skip ahead.

What music was your ‘gateway drug’ per se into making your music? What came beforehand?

I was involved in Black Metal between 15 and 18, my first real band that actually recorded something was a black metal band, and it was through a black metal online-acquaintant I was exposed to Merzbow, Whitehouse, MZ.412, Folkstorm and Masonna when I was 16.

That changed everything for me. Noise and PE was a completely different outlet, even more aggressive, even more primal, even more extreme.

What do you feel when you see someone wearing a shirt/sweatshirt/patch or a sticker of yours on someone or something else?

I feel so incredibly honored. I’m lucky that I have people who support my label, appreciate my projects and want the little merch I’ve produced so far.

And amongst my supporters, there are quite a few artist I myself am an avid fan of, and to see them wear one of my shirts when they perform somewhere, that’s honoring as hell.

Do you plan on touring this band at all? If you could tour anywhere, where would that be? Would you prefer to go to another continent?

Last year was actually a pretty good year. I got to perform in Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen and London. Two shows as JSH and two shows as Rien.I even got to open for Black Leather Jesus and Vomir in Paris, and that was insane.

I’ve been speaking with Richard Ramirez, and there are plans of me joining BLJ for a Northeastern US tour next year. Im crossing all fingers and toes thatit will happen.

A US tour would be amazing to do, but mainly because of all the people I hope to meet. Ever since I started focusing on HNW I’ve become connected with so many amazing people and artists, so I hope to meet as many of them as possible if I make it over there.

But I’ve been told Japan is a crazy place to tour in, so that would of course be cool. But I could settle for the US, haha.

How much of the music are art/ topic matters reflect who you are?

Do you have other interests on the same topics but explore them in other forms?

Most of it. Actually. JSH has always been quite personal in a way, its existential/philosophical themes, emotions. I used to do vocals before when the project was more PE/Industrial, but now has (d)evolved into being just harsh noise. J.S.H., the HNW project also centers around similar themes. Gamiani is centered around erotic literature from 1800-1900 and that is a passion of mine. I love those novels, they are completely different from all the later erotic stuff that’s been written, because they were still well written, poetic, dealt with moral, lust, obsession and passion on philosophical levels as well as being quite provocative and pornographic seeing when they were written.

Rien is my artistic, experimental project, where I’m deconstructing the harsh noise wall, focusing on particular textures in different frequencies. I’m just trying to make something that’s interesting and captivating, and just totally focused on texture, no themes.

So, my projects do reflect the person I am, because they all touch on different topics that interest me, or I’m passionate about. And I manage to have the raw fury of harsh noise as a way of venting frustration, as well as an experimental minimalistic project for my more pretentious side.

What would you imagine or know that could happen that would make you stop this current project and walk away from what you have accomplished so far with this specific outlet for your music/art?

Nothing. I can’t stop. I would no longer be me if I stopped. This is who and what I am. Of course my music/”artistry” is just one part of me, but it’s a part that is needed for me to function in the other parts of my life.

How much of the process between the music, art, presentation format etc. do you control?

I control everything, I record my own stuff, I mix (meaning I some times use EQ on the track if I feel something got lost in it), I don’t know how to master, so I don’t. I make my own covers (most of the time), and I try and work with tape labels, because I prefer tapes.

When it comes to Ominous I dub all releases myself, in real time, one tape at a time. And since 2016 I’ve done about 80% of the covers for all releases.

How much do you let others participate on decisions regarding your music?

Not at all, if its my projects. People have pointers, opinions, hot tips, but why should I care? It’s my project/s. When I started Rien I called the first release Nihilisme I, and I was approached by someone who thought I should re-think what themes I was going for with my project, to not make it another project dealing with the classic HNW stuff of void worshipping nihilism, or just general bleakness. Like if I was going to start a new, different project, shouldnt I have a theme that mattered? I wanted no theme what so ever. So that’s what I went for. It took a couple of releases, to figure out how to name the releases, but I’ve titled them after color on tapes (Red, The Black Tape, The Grey Tape), where they were released (The Russian Tape, The Other Russian Tape), how the were recorded (II – since I just used two pedals), or where I was sending them (The American Tape – for the 2018 US HNW Tape Swap).

Do you still have ‘goals’ per se? Would you be willing to share anything about what you still hope to accomplish in either or the short term and/or long term of you music? Is there a planned ‘end game?’ Or are you just relaxed enough just to keep forging your path as long as you have the desire to produce artifacts?

I want to evolve in all aspects as an artist. That doesn’t mean my harsh noise project will transform into sound art, I don’t really see that happening, I’m still pissed off. I just want to get even better at making harsh fucking noise.

With my HNW projects I also want them to evolve. HNW is more than just music, its a study in texture and frequency, and I love to both do my best to make the texture as brutal and harsh as possible, as well as making it as minimal and sparse as possible to bring out the focused frequency I’m searching for. I love the idea of unchanging, non-dynamic, static walls of noise, I love listening to it as well, it’s just not really what I want to do with my own projects.

Do you find yourself still involved in trades with others? Do you like to get random things in the mail or try to keep that part of the fun of doing music going in your life?

Yes, very much so. I trade away my artist copies for other artists artist copies, or releases on peoples labels. Trades are a big part of my life and an excellent way to get my hands on stuff that I might miss out on, or can’t afford, haha.

Sometimes the label sell out quickly and I’m able to snag a copy from the artist. But I very rarely trade Ominous releases, and I always pass on trades if the person asking doesn’t have anything that is of interest to me.

It’s the same as with submissions.

I wouldn’t release something I didn’t like just because the artist has put out a tape with me on his/her label, or is a person im acquainted with. It doesn’t work that way. I’m not gonna release something as a favor.

Do you like to be contacted by reasonable people and interact with those who ‘get things’ from your music/art?

Abslutely! I love to hear that someone really enjoys what I do, and it’s honoring that my releases are chosen puchases amongst everything that’s being released all over the world. It’s weird, crazy and wonderful to have “fans” that buy what I release, and not only from my own label, but releases I do on other labels as well. I didn’t really see this coming, since Sweden in general and Stockholm in particular hasn’t given a shit about what I’ve been doing, and still doesn’t.

Do you enjoy ‘non-traditional’ tape cases? What is it about a non-standard cassette tape cases that would appeal to your aesthetic that you would still like to explore or have done already?

I love any idea that is good and have a thought behind it. If I had the time I would do a lot more unconventional packagings. I have done some, and they were appreciated, but then there’s the idea behind it, which you might not always have, and then there’s the time to make it.’

I have an idea that I will pursue sooner or later, as soon as I find the material for it. I won’t tell you, since I don’t want anyone else to steal my idea, but you will know when it’s time for it, haha.

Have any groups or artists sort of taken you under their wing to help you produce sounds?

Not in that way, but I’m constantly speaking with friends about how they produce their sounds.

Which is really amazing with this whole scene.

Everyone inspires everyone, everyone is searching for new methods, new sound sources, new ways of doing things. We talk about what we do, and maybe we try to copy someones set-up but the sound will come out different anyway because it has to do with more than just the pedals used.

J.S.H. interview from Shrouded Recordings Zine #6

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