Drowning the Virgin Silence Wonders, "Why Do People Still Buy Led Zeppelin Records?"

For every Iggy Pop -- shirtless, strutting, bleeding, and smearing peanut butter all over the wiggling perspiration-soaked flesh-bag of amphetamines that is (technically) his body -- there's a quiet, cool, composed, contemplative beard-stroking Brian Eno. 

Adrift the dark-and-murky spectrum between classical composer and rock 'n' roll's avant-garde, these soundsmiths typically defy the convention of the academy and the dive bar alike. 

As Drowning the Virgin Silence, multimedia artist Richard Vergez takes on that tradition with a 2013 sensibility that negotiates a peace treaty between noise and music, collapses the boundaries between records and art objects, and, every so often, bums the audience out on purpose.

And in the lead up to International Noise Conference 2013 -- the festival's 10th anniversary -- those happen to be subjects County Grind is especially interested in. 

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New Times: Let's start with the name of your project. Why is the virgin silence being drowned, and who threw it off the causeway tied to a cinderblock?

Richard VergezThe name comes from a poem by Federico García Lorca. The original phrase is actually in Spanish. I chose it because of the surrealist influence. I wanted to make surreal music.

Is there a dividing line between sound art and noise? Is there one between noise and rock 'n' roll?

The dividing line depends on the artist's intention. We can call anything art, but people always have a very tough time calling something music. Abstract art exists comfortably in a gallery but abstract music offends people. I'm sick of rock n' roll. Why do people still buy Led Zeppelin records? Can't they just turn on the radio?

Is there a dividing line between an art object and a record label release? Some of your releases might straddle that line.

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I prefer to create something that sets a mood and welcomes repeated listens. I'm not out to confront anybody, and I understand that different people have different aural palettes. Sometimes sound art can be conceptually strong, but lack an enjoyable listening experience, but maybe that's the point. I like a little bit of both.

Tell us a little bit about DTVS's relationship to outmoded technology and old-fashioned gear.

The base for the project is tape. I started making loops out of splicing cassettes. Making loops with reel-to-reels is more interactive, the sound is more physical. I like the way analog equipment can be temperamental and unpredictable. It leaves more room for improvisation and happy accidents. I'm interested in a purely electronic but organic sound, and I'm very much influenced by early electronic composers like Stockhausen and Daphne Oram.

What is your ideal performance situation?

Having everything properly connected and sound-checked and just going at it. Darkness and good lighting help since my sound is very concerned with atmospherics. The best performance I've experienced was working with my collaborator Ana Mendez on her dance piece based on the life of Joe Meek. We had two full days to do a proper soundcheck. It was a combination of a pre-recorded score and live improvisation on radio and tape loops.

Tell us about a time you sonically bummed people out on purpose.

It was an art event put on by the Southernmost Situations collective at the Corner bar. Myself along with my cohorts from Möthersky staged a sound check which never resulted in a performance. It was just us fumbling through wires and checking mics and guitars. It sounded horrible and worst of all the audience never got to see a "performance." Total bummer.

International Noise Conference 2013. Presented by Rat Bastard. Wednesday, February 6, through Saturday, February 9. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. Visit squelchers.com.

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