To be a member of Norway’s experimental jazz band Jaga Jazzist is kind of like …
Last year I was sleeping warm and sound in my bed, probably dreaming a little dream, when I was awakened by the familiar chime of a message notification. In my stupor, I wasn’t sure what I was seeing. It looked kind of like a pig head, but it was dripping, and wearing a little crown.
This was Dr. Reecard Farché, a creature from another dimension that took an entirely different evolutionary course. If you were going just off looks, you could call him Richard “Dick” Face. He is a messenger, a pan, and a naughty, naughty monstrosity in a jester suit. He speaks in his own language of facé, which is somewhat haughty and alluring just the same.
I wanted to know more about this Farché, who turned out to be a man and musician from Australia, who had relocated to Europe (mostly Berlin), and has an IMDB page that lists him as working with animatronics on films such as Prometheus, The Host, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, and Where The Wild Things Are.
But he’s a musician first, and he melds the technology with the act to create an entire character that interacts with his crisp and sometimes extremely experimental electronic music. His music is layered and interactive. Over the years, the creativity spans space noise, dubstep and breakcore.
This also includes just plain weird shit involving ice-cream, economics, babies in the metaphorical, icky-wicky lollipops, and being smacked upside the head with a frying pan. There are cerebral incantations about visions and faces (because his facé is perfect) that come with beats, distortion, negative harmonies and a call like some unknown alien being. I just suggest you check out his tracks and perhaps buy this lovely electronic atrocity on vinyl.
During the show, the extremity on his face waggles about. It responds to his whims, and his microphone is an other-worldly instrument. Even his shoes make thundering sounds. Oh also, his face ejaculates. And get this: Everyone fucking loves it. The crowd pushes forward with their glasses held high.
When I went to see the show last year, it was Anklepants’ first time in Portland. It was also his first time in the United States. Ever. Beforehand, he lurked behind medieval hip-hop duo Dungeon Brothers draped in the black curtain while fine tuning sound equipment. And once he went on stage, it was insane. The voice goes from demonic to adolescent in moments. He “cocks” his head sideways to play his instrument. The music is dancey and deviant, but can also become meditative, until…
As I stepped away toward the bar, I sensed a presence behind me. I turned to see Anklepants in front of me, which was quite a terrifying sight to be facé to facé with. Then he immediately bounded away throughout the venue, playing on rails and in corners with his mic like a Turkish ney flute, his crown glowing ever brighter.
11: So who is Reecard Farché?
Anklepants: It’s Richard Face or “Dick” Face, but saying it in a more European way.
11: How long have you been touring?
AP: I’ve been touring since 2008, and non-stop since 2010. Mostly Europe as I have lived in the UK, but I’m from Australia. It’s weird going back to play Australia now. The shows used to be like 10 people, but now they are always sold out.
11: Does your mask respond to the music?
AP: At different stages it does. I’ve taken some of the functions out, like I used to have wave format amplitude, so if I was singing it might just go up. But now Ive taken that out. It’s pre-programmed with all of the songs, and then I can override that with the buttons and I have a sensor in my hand and I can control it.
11: How do you do all of the programming?
AP: It’s all Max NSP, a visual code-based program that is really popular in music applications.
11: How has working on film been incorporated into your music?
AP: I’ve built animatronics since about 2000. I learned a lot of mechanical stuff from there, and the coding and software stuff is coming more from working in a music background and having an interest in that.
11: You studied music?
AP: I played guitar since I was nine. My main instrument was guitar and played in some rock bands back in Australia. I always loved jazz theory. I was way into stop motion and this kind of stuff, but I did music way, way longer than the films.
11: So you were able to incorporate that experience into this character.
AP: As soon as I saw animatronics I knew I had to synchronize that into the music.
11: What’s new with your mask and suit?
AP: My entire live controller software and hardware system has been rebuilt and expanded quite drastically. It’s far more robust and a ton of new features. Between the mic, controller and the suit, I now have around 56 inputs, a mixture of digital switch inputs and linear analog inputs.
This was rebuilt over the last few months and encompasses a lot of the new things I’ve learnt over the last five or so years. I had some programming and general build guidance from Dr. Sebastian Magdawick of x-io.co.uk on this one which greatly assisted me in making not only a very very high performance instrument but also a more reliable and easily expandable one. This is the first of what will be a downpour of new instruments that I will be producing from now on.
11: Did you make “Thunder Shoes” as a part of this?
AP: The new facé_control_suit as mentioned above also features force sensors in the feed, so yes, this input can be used to modulate anything I wish. These foot inputs will feature more as the tour and time go on, as with any instrument I have to learn how to utilize and play and incorporate them in a nice way. With the additional 25 inputs compared to the last system, I want to make sure they are put to good use.
11: Your new track, “Just One of the Guys” seems more ambient/mellow/mysterious. It’s an amazing creepy video as well.
AP: “Just One of the Guys” is a song that was written and recorded in about 2004. I’m very, very behind with my videos and I’d rather do them to the best of my ability, so they do take a while and they are completely facé-funded. The process of making “Just One of the Guys” started about two years ago, and has turned out very well. I’m glad you think it’s really nicé. The re-release album is out on Love Love Records, a UK Label. There is a 12-inch vinyl available.
11: And new music in the works?
AP: The new album … it is more Arabic. Alternate tunings, more music theory to do with harmony, more into the realm of Eastern European modes and scales. Berlin is full of Arabic and Turkish people and you barely hear that come out in people’s music, which puzzles me because if you live there and walk to the shop you hear Turkish music. I was already interested in it before I moved there, now even more so.
11: And there are plans for collaborations?
AP: I have other people back in Australia, it just depends. I would like to have female backup singers, and pretty much like a band, with ultimately a bunch of strange instruments.
11: Do people ever ask to sit on your face?
AP: Yeah. A lot. Of course.
11: Why is it so important for you to stay in character?
AP: Because it’s not like a human. That’s the thing. It’s not just some human. It’s a difference that blurs between human and something else.»
– Brandy Crowe