New York based producer and electronic musician 1700 Monkey Ninjas, is taking experimental music to new heights and then some. The swift-rolling name stems from "the title of a short story I wrote, in trying to emulate Haruki Murakami, but failing miserably" (Murakami is a revered Japanese fiction and nonfiction writer). By taking the bold step of "throwing away the story, I kept the name. I figured that it represents something of an onslaught of mania (a mass of militant monkeys)." The enigma behind the moniker, is Ed Purchla, a New York based digital abstract artist and experimental musician. While Purchla has "always made music and visual art in some fashion" all the work of 1700 MN "is made by me, and me alone."
Circling back a few years ago, Purchla spent time on acrylic paintings and singer-songwriter material, "but I grew tired of paying for supplies, and having less than five people in the audience at a gig in some dive," he explains emphatically. With an unending love for music and art, he'd "played drums for years in various bands, sometimes singing while playing."
After the band broke up, "I picked up guitar and moved on from there. The acoustic guitar, and even the electric guitar for that matter, has never really been what I enjoyed listening to however." For Purchla his love is for "industrial music, edm (electronic dance music), and music where artists who have primarily used the traditional setup (bass/vocals/guitar/drums)" look to push it even further "with experimental tendencies, noise being a primary one."
1700 Monkey Ninja's shares below, the philosophy behind his sound and current music and writing projects.
Question: Your track 'Slagg II' reminds me of the early days of 90's electronic music and even late 80's when it was hugely acid house, EDM etc. Tracks were really heavily synth infused and rave music was prolific for people to dance, push boundaries, experiment … I guess a legacy from industrial music and the punk movement – which was really about communicating messages.
What are you expressing through the tracks you are creating at the moment? If so, describe how involved you are and how you produce your music.
Purchla: I can understand the influence of industrial music showing in my work, definitely, as I am a great fan of NIN (Nine Inch Nails) and Ministry, amongst lesser others. As far as punk goes, the initial impetus for my creation of 1700MN was to spit in the face of whatever genre I could muster the spit for.
Work unreleased and found on YouTube explicitly reveals this tendency, if not for its substance, then for its harsh mastering (meant to make ears bleed.) Slagg II was the first track that I mastered differently than that prior, differing greatly from the original "Slagg," it is an almost entirely unique mix in comparison. Slagg II, however, definitely makes the listener think more. In that, I agree that this song is much more cerebral than the original.
Question: How long have you been doing this for and what have been your main projects this year?
Purchla: I've been making electronic music since 2012, and my main project this year is to be released on 15th December. It's entitled "you ARE the storm." It features the already released "Amarrikuh," as well as eight other tracks.
Question: What is the scene like for experimental music where you are based?
Purchla: The scene is my apartment. Like so many electronic musicians, the net is my base. This is the sheer beauty of the 21st century.
Question: Your Behance site mentions you are a playwright as well, I'm keen to know more. What have you been working on and do you tie your music in with your productions? Your live shows would be pretty cool if you did!
Purchla: As far as playwriting, I just started writing again after a long hiatus. I feel that writing takes the most concentration in comparison to visual art or music. Finished works since August, 2014, include "The Day the Congressman Cried," "Project Goldfish," "Lunch at Shirley's," "After John," "The Refusal," "The Consequentialist," "The Blemish," "Doctor/Patient," "Best Case Scenario," and "Day Shift."
While trying to push these works into contests/theatres, I will also be compiling a book of them later in the year. As of yet, none of the music I make has been incorporated into the plays. I appreciate the compliment regarding such a venture. Who knows what the future holds?