Hello Vexillary and welcome to the site! Let’s start off with an opening question I’m rather fond of. What are three of your favorite albums of all time and why?
Vexillary: Perfect Icebreaker, though one that's always in flux for me. The one answer that always comes to me first is Coil's Love's Secret Domain. I could go for any of their other records but that one is my favorite with its dance music experiments and the sheer variety of songs. From the house inspired 'Snow' to the proto dubstep of 'Further Back and faster' to the best closing track ever, it's an album that always keeps you guessing and even scratching your head at times. It's surreal, it's mad, and it reveals more with every listen.
Speaking to only 2 more is tough, but I've also spent a lot of time with Nine Inch Nails's The Fragile over the years. It's one that I didn't get at first and took a while to grow on me especially after the immediacy of The Downward Spiral. But the attention to detail on this one, the arrangements and the instrumentation is hard to beat in the greater alt rock world. Their live is always on point and when I do see them it's the songs from The Fragile that I'm excited to hear the most. Definitely my favorite double album so deserves a spot here for sure.
Just realizing that this is a 90s inspired list so let's round it off with Aphex Twin's I care Because You Do. One of my biggest influences for getting into electronic music in general, Richard D. James is the guy that legitimized the whole thing for me and my generation. Love how his stuff is always seriously great yet retains a sense of humor and a wink. That album for me is one that I used to listen to almost meditatively during walks out in nature. Melodic, rhythmic, dark, and pretty—just about all that I can aspire to when making a record. A true classic.
Photo by Nick Starichenko
Talk to me about the start of your music journey. When did you start producing and when did Vexillary get its roots?
Vexillary: I didn't have much of a musical upbringing to be honest. I didn't play any instruments until I got into college and was passionate about music as much as everyone else but not necessarily more. I just steadily grew obsessed with electronic music out of my interest in technology and futurism.
Warp Records stuff around late 90’s (Aphex Twin, Autechere, Squarepusher, etc) was blowing my mind. I found myself constantly wondering how the hell was this stuff made and still am. That sparked my interest to learn about electronic music production as a first step.
Luckily, there was an electronic music program at my college where I took some recording classes. It didn’t take much more than a few hours of experimenting with synths and sequencers to realize I had a true passion for it. I caught the bug pretty much at the first push of the record button, it changed my relationship with time and hooked me right away.
Took me a while to find the right gear and set up that worked for me but since May of 2007, I've been at it as my main means of expression. The early years were an excellent time for experimenting, always trying something new with no larger goal other than finishing new music. The stuff I was making by 2010/11 was definitely getting release worthy and I felt like by then I'd begun to find my footing.
A chance encounter with Blaq Records set me on the path to my first EP release in January of 2013 and the project started gaining momentum after.
Where does the name Vexillary stem from and what does it mean to you?
Vexillary: Right before my first EP was to be released, I finally gave the name a real thought as I wasn't too pleased with my then moniker. So, I reached for the dictionary as a last resort and read pretty much every word in there in search of something that resonated with me. There were some interesting choices but much to my surprise almost everything worth entertaining was already taken one way or another.
Then I stumbled on Vexillary, (bearer of the flag or vexillum in Latin). It spoke to me not for the meaning, I just loved the look of the word. It just sounded and looked really witchy and felt unique. There’s also a mathematical meaning and application of the word too which intrigued me cause I was into a bunch of IDM stuff at the time.
But the most interesting thing about it was that it was pretty much meaningless—a blank canvas of sorts that the listener could project any meaning onto that they wished. And over the years it's been exactly that. I think at this point it's more of a nickname for me and my music avatar than a band/artist name.
I'm much more into it looking at it that way nowadays.
It seems as if Vexillary had a random drop rate of music. For example, you had an EP in 2013, then one in 2016, then 2017, and 2018, and 2020, etc. However, since 2021 there has been a steady stream of music. What changed? What inspired you?
Vexillary: The steady rate of release in recent years is due to a newfound focus on the project and realization that nothing excites me more than finishing new music. The lockdown years were the ultimate catalyst for me to come to that realization. I've also been lucky enough to stay inspired after writing so much music in the past 2 years and definitely finding a groove with this steadier stream of releases.
I have to also credit setting up con:trace (my own record label) as another contributing factor. The freedom that comes with knowing that I could release anything and anytime has increased my output exponentially. I worked with the same label on the first 6 EPs and sometimes release dates were at the mercy of what else was in the pipeline. There was also a lost album somewhere after the first EP that was reduced to what became the second EP.
Ultimately over the years I've also learned to be more efficient in the studio. In the past I'd overwrite, and each song that got finished would have many unreleased minutes of variations left on the cutting room floor. Better decision making in the studio and improved skills are helping me be more productive it seems.
After only a few months since “Full Frontal Lunacy”, you’re back with your sophomore effort “Crash and Yearn”. What did you learn from “Full Frontal Lunacy” that you’ve applied to your new album?
Vexillary: There's definitely an art to making LPs. One that I learned the hard way after a failed attempt at making a full length many years ago. I had this grand concept that served as the connecting tissue for each track but musically it wasn't gelling, and the tracks didn't work together as a whole.
But when I began making Full Frontal Lunacy a few years later, I came prepared. I started making tracks in reaction to one another. Creating threads beyond just the concept through continuity in sound design, tempos, and vibes. Ultimately, despite some stylistic variations between the songs on that album, the record as a whole had its own character.
Going into Crash and Yearn, I had a clearer understanding of what lied ahead, but I wanted to try something different. The challenge of making albums in close proximity is that you run the risk of making the same thing over again. I knew this from the start and wanted to avoid that. And naturally I was writing more rhythmic patterns and working in faster tempos. The EBM vibes were switched up for techier sounds and once I started collaborating with the guest vocalist Baylee there was an opportunity to do more song driven stuff.
That's how I ended up with this technoid, darkwave opera that feels like an evolution from Full Frontal Lunacy with its own unique style and character.
I read that the album is loosely based on the Fall of Icarus. For those that don’t know, what is that story? And how did you translate it into music?
Vexillary: I'm only familiar with the story from the paintings based on it and the surface level folklore. The tale of the guy that few too high and burnt his wings in pursuit of his own personal obsession. The record touches on this lyrically but not in much more detail.
There wasn't this grand decision to make it a concept record and it isn't one but looking back at the lyrics of the title track and the album closer 'The Fall' and a few other instances there is a tie to the story. Lyrics like "Your burnt wings, tell a story, of odd fascinations one should never speak of" from the title track does align the record with that story but for me it's coming from a more personal space.
I myself have landed on my arse making wrong turns in my lifetime and pursuing goals that were way out of my reach just to crash and yearn for another go. I think the story is a humanistic one, and everyone can relate to it. it just happened to mirror a lot of what was going on in my life during the making of the album, so it was an obvious place to draw from lyrically.
On “Crash and Yearn” you’ve doubled down on lyrical content in comparison to your debut. What made you want to get more vocals on the album? Who does the vocals?
Vexillary: I'm glad you've picked up on this, as it's the main difference between the 2 albums. Strangely I started the album by first making the instrumentals, Skull Trot and Hot Seat, then I did the only track that I sing on here, Haute cadaver. Think at that point the idea was to have a female vocalist do a track or two like on the first album as some of the stuff was better suited for female vox and POV.
I met Baylee online, and thought she had an amazing voice. She sounded more trained in the pop/clean vocals universe so wasn't sure exactly how it was gonna fit the darker vibes of the songs I had in mind. At that point 'Come as Your Madness' was all mixed and ready for vocals so thought why not have her give it a try as an experiment. I'm beyond glad that I did as the results were absolutely super. She has the ability to sing more gently when she needs to and can just belt it like the best of them effortlessly.
I was so pleased with the results that I ended up writing more parts with her voice in mind. She ended up singing lead vocals on 6 of the songs on the album and has given this record a differentiating vibe as a result. Conceptually it worked out as well since on the last album I wrote from my own POV a lot but here it sounds like it's a viewer's take on me and how they see me/the main character—the flip side of the coin so to speak.
Vexillary is under an in-house record label called Con:trace. What other plans do you have under this label? Will you be working with other artists, or do you plan on keeping it for yourself?
Vexillary: I first set up con:trace out of my obsession for the last LP, Full Frontal Lunacy. I wanted to see through the entire process of releasing a record and the label gave me that opportunity. I started the label after releasing 6 EPs with Blaq Records so I had a lot to learn, but the whole thing was massively liberating.
The goal at the time was and still is to expand to include other artists but at the moment I'm too focused on Vexillary so it might take a while before that happens, but it'll get there. I think there's an executive producer side to me that is itching to curate the best collection of records, but we'll just have to wait for a bit. At the end of the day, I'm glad that the foundation is set up and it's a matter of time before we get into the next phase of the label.
I'm also still open to working with other labels with a special split EP in the works which would be my first outside of con:trace for a little while.
And what else do you have planned in the future? Any shows, EPs, remixes, albums, singles, etc. in the works that you can talk about?
Vexillary: The immediate next steps are the videos in the works for Crash and Yearn. As your audience may know I take the video side pretty seriously and this time is no different. The video for 'Come as your Madness' and the visualizer for the title track are ready for release and might be out by the time this interview is released. Just planning the next few at the moment.
And as I touched on the split EP in the works, that should be an exciting release from a label out of Spain who are planning a vinyl run of it as well. Not much more I can say about that at this point but definitely be on the lookout for more news on that.
I'm also happy to announce that I'm halfway through making the 3rd Vexillary album with a few songs already finished and more finalizing in the coming months. If all goes according to plan, you'll be able to hear that one not too long after the release of Crash and Yearn.
Lastly, I’d like to thank you for your time. I wish you the best of luck and leave the space below for you to mention anything I may have failed to cover.
Vexillary: Thank you for chatting with me, been a pleasure to speak to the new album as I'm incredibly excited for people to hear it. The record drops on 09.02.22 and should be the perfect soundtrack to end the summer on and start getting into spookier fall vibes.
I'm thankful for you and your audience's continuous support in my crazy little journey. Can't way to chat more things in the future.
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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