After we have listened to "Vonsachiang" the first full album from [Minmae] we know that it was time to send Sean some questions. So we have set up a mail conversation and the result you can read below. But first the review of the new album:


MINMAE: Vonsachiang
CD Airborne Virus Records (2000)

Sean Brooks have after some singles, compilation contributions etc, finally his first full CD released, and it comes to us in a flashy red design. Like out the reviews of his previous work appear, is Sean's project [MINMAE] a wild crossing between DIY lo-fi noise and music trends as drone, guitar ambient, experimental, singer songwriter…………Yes, a adventures mix from instrumental noise eruptions and avant arty chunks.
The CD is become very varying with songs, short noise eruptions, instrumental drone-ambient-post guitar plucking. One side of Minmae is lesser present he works not often with sampler and electronica on this release. But we get real self-willed pop tunes as "Of sapience and design", "for the new isolationist", beautiful lo-fi songs "hearst cruizer", "the celcius vs the fahrenheit" guitar, drone/ambient pieces "the excelsior", "the alchemist".

I think we can speak of brilliant madness. Minmae can the feeling of the nowadays "abstract minimalist" sound which is mostly fill in with electronica translate in guitar experiments.



Can you tell a bit about the arise of Minmae and Airborne virus? Who was first? Do you have previous projects/bands?

Airborne Virus predates [minmae] by about one year. Originally, I started the label with the intention of releasing my previous band, Thee Psychic Hearts. If the name sounds familiar, its because we took it from Thurston Moore's brilliant album, Psychic Hearts. We wanted to incorporate that sound as well as groups like The VSS, Angelhair and Seam.
We did two singles on my label and shortly after, the band broke up. At the time I was becoming heavily influenced by projects like Can and Flying Saucer Attack, and the logical progression seemed to be to bypass the whole idea of having a band, and just do my own music on my own label, hence [minmae] and Airborne Virus.
Going back farther than that, I played in a band called Several Girls Galore, that had a CD out on Pushpin and a 7" on a label called Rhetoric. Being in a band is always difficult. People compare it to a marriage, and rightly so. Seeing that I am not the marrying type, I feel that "going solo" and working with people on a non-commital basis has worked perfectly for me.

Where stands [Minmae] for?

Anyway, [minmae], or Minmae, is a character from a Japanimation cartoon called Robotech. I used to watch it as a kid. She was the mascot for a space station called the SDF1. She would sing the Intergalactic Space Anthem when the Robotech fighters, such as Rick Hunter, when they went into battle against the invading Centraudi Armada.
As far as a meaning, or how it applies to [minmae]. There isn't any, really. I don't even watch cartoons anymore. I just though it was a cool name, and it stuck.

A new full CD what is our opinion about it? (haha that's a difficult one not?) Are there songs one it with a special anecdote.

I've had about a year to come to terms with Vonsachiang. Its true that it emcompasses a few different styles. The reason for that is that I had alot of music, some new and some that even predated [minmae], that I felt needed to be released before I could move on. It was kind of a "catching up" album. But I had some great musicians working with me and that made it alot easier for me to appreciate what was happening musically. The aesthetic was very important. Songs like "Saturnine Particle" had to be released because there was a sound there I had been trying to get for awhile. I had recorded that song about 15 times before getting it the way I wanted it. Billy Sprague, who played drums and is also the brain behind Rocket Racer Records, played a big part, as he did the mixing on 40% of the songs, as well as playing drums and bass and some guitar.
The response I've gotten has been good, too. People either love it or hate it. If they hate it, its primarily because its too long. I admit, its a long record and deserves to be listened to in its entirety, rather than a few songs at a time. Like I said, there are some old songs, too. The more songwriter type songs like "Cleveland is a street" that I had done way way back. I had recorded that in this huge warehouse I used to practice in on a 4-track. It summed up alot of the feelings I had for my ex-girlfriend, Cris Cole. She actually used to live on a street called Cleveland. I really wanted to prove to her how in love I was, so I put that song, as well as a few others on there for her. It didn't work, though.


What are for your self the most important influences in Minmae? (Biggest examples)

There are so many. But the main influences for me, in terms of the sound I'm trying to create, are Flying Saucer Attack, John Lennon, Sonic Youth (Daydream Nation era), Gastr del sol, Can, Salome, Grimble Grumble [link 1] [link 2] , Lou Reed and The Velvets and even a bit of Dinosaur Jr.

Minmae can not be categories you made cool lo-fi noise as well as ambient drony guitar instrumentals, but one common factor Chaos. A punk past?

Yes, I'm glad you noted that. One of the biggest influences on my music has been the band, The VSS, a Southern California hardcore band. As well as Nation of Ulyses, Angelhair, Rites of Spring, and Unwound. I've always loved the sound that Unwound has been able to produce. They have the right amount of post-punk aesthetic as well as a refined edge that sets them apart from anyone else. I really love Justin Trosper's voice (from Unwound). He sounds like he just doesn't give a shit, and I've been trying to emulate that for awhile. People that don't understand that always think you're trying to sound ambivalent, but that's not the case. I'm so sick of these self absorbed songwriter types who equate everything to a mountain of bullshit and egoism. Music should be about realism; it should reflect imperfection, rather than some lame ideal of what perfection is.
I think Lou Reed understands that, as well as Steven Malkmus from Pavement. There's this whole war between so called "indie-rock" and so-called "electronica", but in my opinion it doesn't exist. There will always be songwriters, or people who care about what they're doing, that will transcend being a specific genre. Even Aphexy Twin, Add N to X and U-ziq are more songwriters, in my opinion, than merely DJs.
I believe people get fed up with being categorized, so they vehemently fight off the categorization bug by trying to do something anti-this or anti-that, when all they're really doing is lumping themselves in another category. Maybe they should have a category for anti-lumpers. Is that what "no wave" is? You see, its absolutely confusing. I mean, how do you categorize a band like the Dead C or The Silver Apples? Those bands are unique, and that is all that matters.


With Minmae you or sometimes on the border of songs and noise, how important are songs for you? Are the noisy parts juste experiments, a challenge for the listener…..

Its important that you bring that up, because the basis has always been to bring the accompaniment to the forefront and have the lead parts in the back. Its how I've felt all throughout life. I have a hard time trying to stand out as some gleaming rod of viscera. I like the fuzziness, the same fuziness that's been in my ears and head for almost a decade. One guy reviewed Vonsachiang and basically lambasted it, saying that it was all just My Bloody Valentine done over again. That's a shame. Its those lumpers again. On the other hand, it is nice to get compered to MBV, even if it is in a demeaning sense.
But at the other hand when I try to listen to the lyrics of the songs, they are well done a bit tormented. Why are they always mixed to the background? There are a myriad of reasons for this. Most of the time I just make up the words within five minutes of recording the song, or just mumble something into the mic. If you could actually hear what I'm saying, than you would realize I'm not saying anything. I also like the notion of letting listener decide for themself. People have told me my songs are saying all sorts of crazy things, and I'm fine with that. Whatever it means for them is fine with me.
I also like the idea of music being an inflection, rather than a thing onto itself, if that makes any sense. The music that always grabs me is the music that has an interesting sound. And I've always felt that what I'm hearing never seems to be exactly what the writer intended. If you can envoke a feeling, like when you see a film, or a painting, then you've accomplished alot more than actually "expressing yourself" through lyrics. This often creates problems with people I work with, because they have a problem with letting go. You need to let go, rather than try to perfect. Perfection exists unto itself. Its when us meddling humans try to mold it, that we end up ruining it. Everyone should stop trying to be number one, and start being number fifteen or a farther off number. Let the music breathe. It has its own voice. I want to be more of way for music to pass through me, rather than trying to say something that comes from me. That wasn't put well. What I mean is that the music is already out there, the musician should try to channel it rather than "create" it. Its like energy; it can't be created or destroyed, only transfered. That's the 2nd law of thermaldynamics, which in an anecdotal sense, plays a big part in the music of [minmae].

Can you agree when I say that one side of Minmae is not present on the CD, the sample / electronic site? Is there in your opinion a new direction in music (electronic minimalism) with labels/artist as drop beat, Kid Klayon, Blectum from blechdom etc..Is Minmae involved in a "scene" (ugly word no?).


Well, the reason there isn't a big part of sampling on the CD, apart from the aforementioned reasons, is that I just didn't have anything to sample with. I love all styles and want to bring more of the electronic sound into the music, but I don't have a sampler or drum machine at the moment, because I spend all my money on Airborne Virus. It doesn't leave me with much left over to buy nifty gadgets that make weird sounds that are so popular right now. Another reason is that I've been listening to alot of Roy Montgomery and Fripp & Eno as of late, so that's waylaid it a bit, too.
If I'm part of a "scene", I don't know which one it is. Maybe space rock. That sounds fair, even though lately I've been doing songs that sound more like Robyn Hitchcock than Grimble Grumble. Maybe I'm part of the "Syd Barret Wannabe" scene. Who knows?
I guess my main point here is that one should really do what makes them happy at the moment, despite what genre it may fall under. Let the lumpers keep lumping. The critics can critique, that's there job. Maybe we should all listen to Britney Spears and wear white belts. I'm wearing one right now.


Is it just a label for Minmae stuff or are we get also other bands from Airborne?

I'm only seconds away from releasing '19 ways to avoid the draft.' Its a compilation that will feature Drekka, Halkyn, Ms. Black, Moral Crayfich, cLOUDDEAD, Steard, Empress, The Nylon Coated Cats, Karina ESP, Monera, Federico Castaneda and the Spiders from Mars, Women, Gang Wizard and more. Its been the first big step for me in terms of releasing non-[minmae] stuff, although [minmae] will be on it as well.
Primarily, because of money, Airborne Virus has just been [minmae], but I've done splits with other bands and I want to start releasing other music as well.
Actually, I'm working on a CD EP for the band Seaworthy right now. I'm looking forward to that as they are a great Austrailian band that will really extend the Airborne Virus sound. I also just finished a split CDR with ONQ from Italy, and there will be a split with Moral Crayfish, as well a full length from a band called Fern Trio. So its expanding and that's good.
What are the criteria for being on a split single with Minmae?

There's no criteria. It just sort of happens. [minmae] has done two split 7"s. One with Gang Wizard and one with the and/or'S. In the case of Gang Wizard, Mike and I had already been working together with Airborne Virus and his label, Black Bean & Placenta. We co-released it at a pressing of 200. It was cheap, easy and fun. At the time Mike was working at a place where he could do small runs like that for a couple hundred dollars. Billy Sprague did the artwork and packaging by using stamps and some pictures we found in an old electronics magazine.
With the and/or'S split, Danny (from the and/or'S) and I had been friends for awhile. He even played in [minmae] for a time. He had this Curve cover he did that I fell in love with. So I just asked him if I could use it, and that was it. He helped with the printing of the sleeves and we pressed 300. Every situation is different. Obviously the music has to be something I like, and the people have to be nice enough to work with, which is usually the case. Every scenario is different.
Can you give some information about the and &or'? And Gang Wizard?

the and/or'S are a band fronted by Danny Power. His girlfriend, Arabe, also plays in the band. Since I've moved to San Francisco I haven't really stayed in touch with them, so I don't know what they're up to at the moment. Last I heard they had an album on the way, but I'm not sure on what label. It may be Caffeine vs Nicotine.
Gang Wizard is Mike Landucci's band. He also runs the label, Black Bean & Placenta, which I mentioned. Its a great DIY label. He's done hundreds of releases. Gang Wizard is a great band, too. Very noisy and unpredictable. We've done a handful of shows together and will probably be doing a collaboration at some point, at least another split somewhere down the line.



Airborner Virus Catalogue

AV001-Thee Psychic Hearts S/T 7" (Sold Out)
AV002-[minmae]/Electroscope Split 12" EP $6 (Co-release with Rocket Racer)
AV003-ThenceForthPsychicHearts 'The Sky is Falling' 7" (Sold Out)
AV004-[minmae] 'Poltergeist over England' 7" (Sold Out)
AV005-[minmae] 'I'd Like to Apologize for Last Night' 7" $4
AV006-[minmae]/the and or'S Split 7" (Sold Out)
AV007-[minmae]/Gang Wizard Split 7" (Sold Out) (Co-release with BBPTC)
AV008-[minmae] 'Vonsachiang' CD Full Length $7
AV009-'19 ways to avoid the draft' CD Compilation $8
AV010-[minmae]/ONQ Split CDR $6 'Simplicity and her sister, Laziness - Volume I'
AV011-Seaworthy CD EP (Coming Soon)
AV012-[minmae]/Moral Crayfish Split CDR
'Simplicity and her sister, Laziness - Volume II' (Coming Soon)

All prices include shipping:
Checks payable to Sean Brooks c/o Airborne Virus
PO Box 420825 San Francisco, California 94142-0825 U.S.A

[http:www.minmae.com]