“I wasn’t just somebody trying to make dance beats and noise…something with no reference, something with no soul.”
Between the release of the new The Hour Before EP and a well-received show at Kinetik, the profile of New Jersey’s Cenotype has been on the rise as of late. Our new contributor Kathleen Chausse spoke to mainmain Lenny Bogatch and collaborator Brian Boyle about the project’s roots in classic power noise, the importance of packaging, and developing as a live project.
ID:UD: Having started out as a DJ, what have been the major differences for you between that and being a musician?
Lenny Bogatch: Well, they kind of went hand in hand for me when I started DJing. I got a complete feel and love for the style, the different sub-genres of EBM, electro, new beat, industrial, power noise…the whole thing. Basically it was born out of DJing and seeing all of these amazing live acts, booking shows as a promoter, and just feeling that I had all these ideas in my head, which would become Cenotype. Just coming from friends of mine that would come and see me DJ, trying to figure out where I wanted to it to go, how the music would be accessible somewhat for the club crowd, yet influenced by ambient, power electronics, and more traditional industrial and mesh those.
I hoped people would like that we were on both sides of the spectrum, so DJing really helped me get an idea for beats and timing. I mean, you know, I don’t want to say a formula, but there are certain things that work for people to move them on the dance floor that I think as a DJ you pick up subconsciously. Like, you can definitely see when you’re playing a great set and things are flowing, the beats are there and the people are dancing, you develop a sense for that. It helped me start Cenotype, the dance side at least.
ID:UD: Since you mentioned being influenced by the first and second wave of power noise, what was it about that time period that was most influential for you, and how does it differ from what’s coming out of the power noise sound right now?
LB: Well, I think the first wave and second wave I saw as a fan of the music first. Back in New York in the late 90’s, the club scene was very focused on old school third wave industrial and dark electro, which I really love. Then, there was this current coming from Germany, and promoters that I had the pleasure of knowing started booking bands like Synapscape, P.A.L., Noisex, Converter, etc., and just seeing those guys play, I really dove in head first to learn as much as I could. I really fell in love with it. Out of everything I did with DJing and playing live keys for Life Cried, which is more like harsh EBM, I was also learning to write music.
When I went out on my own for my solo project, I didn’t want to do the same thing. I was very heavily influenced by different genres like techno rhythms and harsh noise. It all meshed really well and that’s where I started to see myself going with the music that I wanted to write. I try to pay slight homage to the bands that really got me into that style of music. There’s a little here and there between the artwork and the different styles, everything down to noise sounds, drum sounds, things like that, especially for the first album. I consciously injected those influences without trying to copy them, but I just really absolutely fell in love with them, I wanted to be part of that, after the whole thing. I wanted to show people that would be getting into my music what influenced me and hopefully mesh a little bit of the old and show them where it came from too, so that was my whole goal.
IDUD: The imagery I’ve noticed in your album art and live performances is haunting, eerie and include feelings of abandonment. Why have you chosen this sort of imagery?
LB: Honestly, at the time in my life where there was some stress that was going on like relationships, any outside influence that was stressing me, that’s what influenced me. I started having these reoccurring dreams, nightmares some times. They became a constant thing and I started writing them down, whenever I could remember the images, they just stayed burned into my head. A lot of the imagery, especially from the first album, came directly from it. The feelings of abandonment, the slight possibility of insanity, people can relate to it. Personally, I didn’t want to just come at this project from an impersonal standpoint because this music can be very cold and impersonal. I wanted to make sure there was something within myself that made it authentic and real. I wasn’t just somebody trying to make dance beats and noise…something with no reference, something with no soul. I wanted to make sure it had my personality, and my struggle at the time.
“We really wanted something that people that enjoy my music could hold on to, collect and hopefully connect with.”
ID:UD: After the unfortunate closing of Hive Records, how is the change from being an artist on a label to being an artist with a label?
LB: Well, I don’t say I actually have a label. I had an album of remixes and collaborations I wanted to put out. Hive Records treated me very well, I was extremely happy to be on that label roster because I respected all of the artists. I was a fan of the label, I got signed and thought it was amazing that Davyd saw whatever he saw in me, enough to release Origins. When he closed down the label, I was extremely disappointed, but I understood. I was impatient and I wanted to get out the second release. I wanted to have control over the packaging and presentation of what would become Origins Unfold, so I went ahead and decided to do it myself.
I wouldn’t call Origins Productions an actual label because I don’t know where it stands or what its place is, to be honest. I don’t know if I’ll have another release with it. I keep it very open ended. For the new release I’m just coming out with, thankfully Joe Scott from Philadelphia, who I knew from managing IsoTank and running an amazing label/distro, Systemic Audio and the 215 Noise shows, picked up the release. He’s very dedicated to noise and experimental music and and when he approached me about releasing this new mini album, I was extremely happy. His vision is completely in line with my own. We love the same music and he loves the idea of packaging and prevention…something that people want to hold and look at. We really wanted something that people that enjoy my music could hold on to, collect and hopefully connect with. I also hope that maybe it will attract people who haven’t heard of us before, just looking at the packaging. I hope in the future we can continue working together!
ID:UD: Also, how many hot glue gun burns happened, or creative swear words did you come up with while making this special handmade edition?
LB: As far as the swear words, there were a lot. As for the hot glue burns, all the stamping and the actual packaging, my amazing wife did all of that. She really helped me develop what the packaging should look like and put it all together. If it wasn’t for her, it probably wouldn’t have happened.
ID:UD: The Origins Unfold album was an album of remixes done by a bunch of respected artists. How was working with these artists and how were they chosen?
LB: They were honestly chosen because I’m a fan of every one of their projects. I didn’t know who would say yes and who would say no, but I had a very clear and definite roster of people I thought of. I respected their music and I was pretty sure that they were into Cenotype and where I was going with it. I didn’t want it to be as much a remix album, but more of a remaining of what these amazing people would do with the source material so, I hate to call it a remix album, but more of them collaborating with me…just really late.
ID:UD: How has the addition of Clive and Brian helped Cenotype as a project?
LB: That is the best question ever. Writing the first album by myself was definitely necessary, because I was teaching myself how to write music. The addition of both Clive and Brian has been really important for me. Writing the first album and the first couple of years of live shows was me really getting my footing and feeling my way around how the project was going to be performed, and getting all the glitches worked out. From the technical end, it looks really easy for anyone to come up on stage with a laptop and some MIDI controllers, but the reality of putting it together live is far more annoying and complex than anyone can hope to imagine. Once I got to a comfortable level of where I wanted the project to go both in the studio and live, I realized that I couldn’t flesh out what I wanted to do in the studio and live without help.
Brian has been my friend for fifteen years and loves the music. Clive is a well-versed musician with different ideas. We have different musical backgrounds. It was important for me, especially for the upcoming second full-length album that I have some outside perspective. Even though this is a personal project for me, I need other people, not so much to censor me, but to keep me on a certain track. I can go off on these long tangents that most people wouldn’t probably enjoy very much, and they reel me back in. Mostly, the thing for me is to not only to faithfully reproduce the music live, but to create more of a show and have more improvisation, fills and things like that…things that I cannot do by myself, so they are extremely important in the next phrase of what this project is going to be.
“Seeing one guy standing behind a laptop, twiddling knobs for an hour can get a little repetitive.”
ID:UD: You’re in different music projects like Life Cried and so are your other members: Brian Boyle with DCV, etc. How does working in these different project help you evolve & improve as musicians?
LB: Well, that’s definitely a good question. My experience with the different projects started with playing live keyboards for Life Cried back in 2000 and it was instrumental in me learning studio techniques, as well as live techniques. As for how to create my music from the ground up, the lead singer, Chris, who writes all of Life Cried, is really the person who sat there and taught me how to use my gear, and basically to achieve what I needed to do with this project. So it was instrumental to me, in every way. Chances are, without it, I wouldn’t be writing this project.
As for Brian, we both have very similar backgrounds of punk rock and hardcore. He is what this project needed. Basically, seeing one guy standing behind a laptop, twiddling knobs for an hour can get a little repetitive. He brings an energy to this project that’s very much needed in the live area. Clive brings musicianship. He’s an amazing piano player, he’s a amazing drummer. He’s still teaching me to this day and helping this project to evolve.
Brian Boyle: After being in one of the most notorious hardcore bands with Len, to get the opportunity to play electronic music that I love and that he’s responsible for getting me into, I submerged myself into it. I just have such a love for it. It comes out of the punk thing. These things need to be heard and I want to be able to help him do things he couldn’t do before. Just bringing different elements, controlling and adding random sounds that he couldn’t do by himself. Just making it much more atmospheric, to the point where you can’t deny the live band. There’s a lot of great live bands, but there could always be more. I think with this we just add a new dynamic and it’s just awesome to play music with your best friend.
ID:UD: Also, having played some of the scene’s major festivals like C.O.M.A & Kinetik, among others, how have you improved your stage presence?
LB: To be quite honest, when I first started this project, I was extremely timid and I wasn’t sure how people were going to receive the music. The important thing for me was recreating everything faithfully. I was so focused on the technical aspects of the show, I kept almost forgetting there was people in the crowd that paid money to see me. I evolved. I watched other bands and other people perform live and the same thing happened in certain instances. I felt bad as a person in the crowd watching these bands totally not paying attention to their crowd. I was doing the same thing, so it became very conscious in my mind that, while I need to faithfully reproduce the music and need to make sure the technical aspects are in order, I need to show the crowd that I appreciate them. I’m with them. I’m not the guy on stage. I’m next to them enjoying the music. I just happen to be lucky enough to be playing for them that night.
ID:UD: Can you tell us about the new CD [The Hour Before, ed.] and the special box set?
LB: Absolutely. One of the major cornerstones of this release was that I wanted to get new material out and I wanted people to hear it. There’s three tracks on this album I had written with a friend of mine, who has since passed away. I had the honor of playing these tracks live, both by myself and with him on a few occasions. When he passed away, I really sat down and tried to figure out how these tracks would fit in with my other material. I reworked some things and I made it work as a complete release. It’s a mini album, but the tracks really do flow into each other. The idea is completely the same. It is cohesive and I think it’s an honor that a friend of mine who, while with us, was an amazing musician, that I get to showcase the music we worked on together. After he’s gone, it means a lot to me. It’s extremely important to me that people can hear some of the last things that he put out and some of the last things that he wrote before he passed away. That, to me, means the world and I hope that people can see that his influence on this project has changed the face of what Cenotype is. It’s become a lot more improvisational, a little less rigid. It has become more human and I think that was an important evolution for the project to take.
Cenotype’s new record The Hour Before is available now.
Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Kathleen Chausse has written for Connexion Bizarre and Graceless, helped run the Goth/Industrial club Burning Mondays, and has been spotted around music festivals with a Cthulhu backpack. She translates the lyrics of songs into French for her own amusement.