Interview: Dustin Wong
Published on November 25th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
We found ourselves utterly overwhelmed by Dustin Wong’s recent Mediation of Ecstatic Energy album, awarding it four and a half quails and describing it in the following terms:
“It’s a blissful sensory overload from start to finish, a fantastical and relentless heavy rainfall of benevolent pink droplets interspersed with fuzzily melodic guitar and amiably swaggering beats, occasionally so laid-back as to be gloriously at odds with the deluge going on around it.”
Suffice it to say, we sought to find out more about it from the man himself…
Mediation of Ecstatic Energy is somehow intensely visual. What you describe yourself as being in any way synaesthetic?
I don’t normally see colors, or tastes. But I do see images in my mind, it is very visual in that sense. It’s not abstract, but actual objects or subjects, like a gear, machine or a narrative. I use those as a metaphor it then generates new ideas for upcoming songs I’m working on.
The album is characterised by a sort of deluge of plinky sounds. Is this the ecstatic energy?
I think it’s trying to mimic the small particles and molecules rubbing on each other. The sounds are trying to get in-between each other as the music progresses and as it gets denser, it becomes a type of architecture. As a listener by accessing all the different layers, finding the first melody or third melody in succession in the midst of all the different sounds, that’s one of the fun things you can have with this music.
Was all the instrumentation on the album handled by yourself? How about the production?
Instrumentation and production was done by me. I had some help when I wanted to re-amp the songs at a venue called Soup, a place I play a lot in Tokyo. It was all me otherwise, I prefer this since I don’t have to work with a deadline, and it’s very inexpensive.
It supposedly caps off a trilogy of guitar and pedals solo albums. Do you have any notion of where you might go next?
I’m starting to write more music with Takako Minekawa, very excited on what we are working on right now.
I saw you mention Hawaii by The High Llamas in another interview, which struck me because it was genuinely something that Mediation reminded me of; more in terms of uniformity than of its actual sound, of course. Could you ever see yourself trying to write more traditional pop songs in this sort of style?
The things Takako and I have been working on have been leaning more on the pop side of things, since it has singing and drums and all. But it’s still experimental and we are trying to be very playful with it.
How would you describe your working relationship with Thrill Jockey? Do you like the other stuff they’re putting out?
I love working with them. They have been really supportive and just been believing in the things I have been making! The classic Thrill Jockey stuff I have always been a fan of, they put out Tortoise, Nobukazu Takemura, OOIOO, and most recently the things they have been putting out with Matmos, Barn Owl, Future Islands and much more have been fantastic.
What other new music from 2013 have you enjoyed?
Co La – Moody Coup and Rod Hamilton – Atitlán.
Dustin Wong, thank you.
Mediation of Ecstatic Energy is out now on Thrill Jockey.