Just back in November Isserley released her piece de resistance S A D P O S T I N G but this Australian producer is not the type that stops at any point. Just this past week Isserley released a brand new EP titled Misanthropy Exhibition containing four new tracks of harsh truths, dark humor, and experimental industrial bliss. As always there is a mish-mash of several genres within the EP but that is something that we have come to expect. We chatted with both Roxxi Wallace, the brain behind Isserley, and Ripley Sterling, a producer behind additional touches on the album, about the new EP.
Misanthropy Exhibition has been released shortly after your previous full length release SADPOSTING. Did you plan on having something ready so fast or do you just go with the flow of things?
Isserley: I guess it was pretty quick, but I move fast. I knew what I wanted to do and even though it kinda screws with the hype for Sadposting, I wasn’t gonna wait until the opportune time or whatever.
I noticed that with each of the Isserley releases you've worked with a different producer. Cell Zero worked on Messes, The Heaven with SADPOSTING, and now Ripley Sterling with Misanthropy Exhibition. Do you switch people attempting to find the perfect combination, or do you just enjoy the experimental nature of consistently working with someone new?
Isserley: Cell Zero and I worked on Messes when it was originally a 5 track EP, it just kinda grew and it never seemed to stop growing, which he wansn’t too happy about. Tha Heaven was my sound guy, I 100% produced Sadposting on my own, he handled the mixing and the mastering but the production was all me. You’ll probably see his name again the next time I self-produce something. I’ve never really played well with others, I’ve always done this stuff alone and been cool with it, but Cell Zero and Ripley were easy to work with, they seemed to just understand what I was trying to do instantly, and made it happen. I’m not sure I’d go looking for new producers to work with but I’d like to work with them both again at some point.
Speaking on Ripley, how did you two meet?
Ripley: I came across her music on a forum, and reached out to her. She expressed her interest in collaborating.
Ripley, you've your own project under your name. Electronic rock with harsh noise and the like. Was working with Isserley brand of experimental industrial a challenge, or did you find yourself at home while working on her stuff?
Ripley: It was totally natural. It’s a sound we both like listening to, and making, so it was an easy pairing. She knew the kind of music and sounds I was making, and encouraged me to incorporate as much of that as I wanted into the music. I think almost any of the sounds on this EP would be at home in my own music.
What type of equipment did you use to work on Isserley's EP? Did the sound of it drastically change when you got your hands on it, or did it all stay relatively the same?
Ripley: Lots of distortion. Modular synthesizer filters, guitar pedals. Metasonix features heavily on it. The core sound of the songs are very close to the demos I received. For the most part I would just tweak sounds, and push them in a direction I thought would sound good. In some cases I added additional instruments, some guitars, drum machines, or a synthesizer here or there, but no songs were completely reworked. She made it clear that she liked how much distortion and chaos I was adding, so I pushed it quite far.
Now back to you, Roxxi. As always with each of your releases, there's a plethora of genres at play. “Symmetrical” kicks off the album with an EBM rhythm more than anything. Nonetheless, it still has the morbid Isserley touch to it. Did you plan on the song being more rhythmic from the get go?
Isserley: Symmetrical was an attempt at something “dance-y”, but it wasn’t really working as I wanted it to. Ripley saved it though, he added some bass, a new drum beat, just a lot of depth to it that I wasn’t able to do on my own, and it made the song sound how it was in my head.
Your mix of biting cynicism, sarcasm, and sad girl aesthetic has led some to question what's supposed to be humorous and serious. The song on this EP that comes to mind is “I Hurt Myself For Attention”. To get it straight, do your lyrics reflect any dead serious matters, or is Isserley more focused on fun in a morbid manner?
Isserley: Ripley and I were just talking about this recently, that I tend to be a little too literal in my lyrics. A lot of the time I’m just honest, rather than creative. I Hurt Myself For Attention’s literal title was kind of a joke to me, like “haha look at me and how honest I am about being a self-destructive mess.” To explain the title though, it came from a question I asked myself a long time ago after I had self-harmed. I asked myself what my reasons were, why I did it, and I came to the conclusion that it was just for attention, that I wanted to be seen as someone who needed help because at the time I really did need care and nobody took me seriously enough to help me. It was an interesting thing to look back on so I wrote this song about that frenzied state a desperate person is in, where there’s so much anger and anxiety, a need to do something, no matter what it is.
'The Final Girl'. You're a fan of horror films and that's not a secret. Is this song named after either the 2015 film 'Final Girl' or the comedy slasher 'The Final Girls'?
Isserley: Some horror trivia for you: both of those movies are references to a slasher trope, the final girl. She’s usually this traumatised girl who’s left to fend for herself after the slasher has killed her friends, and finds the strength to do so mainly because there’s nobody left to save her, she has to find that strength within herself and cut someone’s head off or whatever. I wrote the final girl with that in mind, but it’s more an exploration of loneliness, kind of asking the question of what it’s like to be the final girl after the horror move is over and you have to return to your life.
'Cry About It' disturbs the most on the album especially towards the end as you repeat “Kill me” over and over and over again. When you write your material out do you intend to create disturbing sounds and imagery?
Isserley: I don’t think I intend to create anything disturbing but I can’t really hide from the fact that I’m a disturbed person making music. I think it’s safe to say that if I don’t have my life together by my next release, it’ll be more of the same.
I understand that you're now part of Tigersquawk Records founded by Brian Graupner of the Gothsicles. I know you've been independent for most of your career so far. What made you change your mind and get attached to a label?
Isserley: I love Brian and the Gothsicles, and it was such a no pressure offer that I didn’t have a single thing in my “cons” column. Tigersquawk has a bunch of great artists on board, like Syrinx and Sirenne (My fave), and I’m honored to be a part of that.
As always, I enjoy knowing what the artist thinks of their own release. In comparison to SADPOSTING and Messes, where does Misanthropy Exhibition stand? Do you enjoy these songs more than your previous releases? And which song on the EP is your favorite?
Isserley: In comparison to those albums? I guess Misanthropy is at #2, with Sadposting at #1 and Messes at #3. I was still finding my footing with Messes, sometimes I got it right, sometimes I didn’t. I’m still so proud of myself for making Sadposting, it has some of my all time fave songs that I’ve ever produced on there, but conceptually Misanthropy Exhibition is the tightest thing I’ve ever released. Maybe because it’s shorter it’s easier to feel that way, but it feels consistent and complete in every way. My fave track from Misanthropy Exhibition is either The Final Girl or Cry About It, I can’t decide..
I know you currently have a bunch of other stuff you're working on from film scores to video game soundtracks. Can you discuss any of that currently? If so, what's cooking in Isserely's kitchen?
Isserley: Oh yeah, I’m scoring a horror game called Ergastulum right now, it’s been so cool playing the betas and talking to the Dev, and crafting a score from everything I experience. It’s noisy and sometimes eerily calm, but the game is a lot of fun to play, I’m really excited to share that with everybody but the game is a little while off still. I have a new album full of demos ready to be finished off, but I’m not sure what to do with them just yet.. Outside of that I’m looking into smaller stuff, like getting my music in games and movies, and finally getting back into doing remixes for other artists.
Lastly I'd like to thank you for your time with Misanthropy Exhibition. I'll be listening to that a lot as I'm sure many others will be.
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I would say that the most important thing in life and probably our biggest freedom is for people to be themselves. And if a person has the opportunity to express themselves, they shall not hesitate to do that for one second. And it's not a question of doing that in a creative or artistic form of art. So I think that would be my last words. If you can express yourself, DO IT!
Front 242, Jan 01 2003
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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