New Brunswick composer and sound designer Mink tells us about his prolific creative outlet, Women of the Pore.
If you can imagine a 1950s National Geographic essay about The Hardy Boys’ searching the Congo for Joseph Conrad’s elusive ivory trader during an alien invasion, you’d be somewhere close to the imaginary auditory world of Women of the Pore.
The creative outlet for a Bathurst-based artist who goes by the name Mink, Women of the Pore brings together an incredibly wide-ranging, and haunting musical palette. Through dark, brooding compositions that submerge deep into the unknown, Mink’s arrangements play through like great works of fiction, transporting the listener to far off lands in search of undiscovered cultures and unmapped territories.
After releasing more than 60 singles, EPs and full albums worth of material as well as split releases and compilation appearances, it’s high time we connected with Mink to learn more about this project.
Can you give us a bit of background on this project? How long have you been making music as Women of the Pore and how did you get started?
Women of the Pore actually started back in 2011 as a one off. I had been doing a lot of guitar driven/noisey garage rock as 30 Year Hex, and seeing I couldn’t find a drummer in Halifax, I used to make accompanying soundscapes to keep things lurching forward. A friend, J. MacIntosh, took interest and released a few cassettes on his DIY label, Hamburger Tapes (which then turned into Existential Dread, and later, evolved into something completely different. What that is, however, I couldn’t say).
J. was releasing a pile of noise artists from around the East Coast at the time (i.e. Mess Folk, his amazing project Indian Smokes, etc.), and asked me if I’d be interested in doing a straight up noise cassingle, to which I agreed. 30 Year Hex needed to “devolve” anyhow, because I was getting weary of the process of writing guitar driven music. So a cassingle and a split cassingle later, Women of the Pore came to fruition, and that was that. Then life got busy, my wife and I started tramping around the country a bit, and it got shelved.
So…fast forward 7 years.
Now, I’m a family man – lovely wife, three beautiful children. I own a van. I have a house. I work. Typical things. Fantastic things. I get to see my people grow in a place that allows them to be free to run and jump and scream and spit and play like their old man did. But that grind, man! Routines can wear on a person. So on December 1, 2017, I decided to challenge myself, and see how much art I could create in a single calendar year. I had let this creative side slip, and felt it was time to sharpen the axe. So, I dusted off Women of the Pore.
63 releases later I saw what I could do when rubber met the pavement. It was at times very difficult. Releasing it, however, was a necessary part of the process, and it gave me balance in a time when I really needed it. The whole point was to push my creative self unmercifully, and let this artistic catharsis ebb and flow like the tide.
You have more than 60 tracks up on Bandcamp going back over the last two years, but recently you’ve upped your output considerably. Where is the new inspiration coming from?
My original idea was to stop on December 1st, 2018, but I couldn’t shut off the tap. I’m a firm believer that everyone needs a creative outlet, whether that’s painting, poetry, building sheds, gardening…we are an animal that was made to make. So I keep making.
As far as the spike in output, I think it’s really a matter of honing my craft. I’m getting faster…like how a Sherpa gets faster at scaling the mountain as years go by. So at this point, my process is pretty razor sharp. I also don’t spend much time milling over whether a track is “done” or not…Women of the Pore is like a shark – it just keeps moving.
Regarding the final part of your question, and not to sound pretentious, but I find my inspiration in weird/mundane situations…the sound of my dishwasher, scenes in film, lines in books, traffic…as processed and warped as some of my music sounds, it takes a large page from sitting in quiet places and listening to what’s happening around me. Also………lots of free jazz.
Can you talk a bit about your technique? Do you work completely with samplers and synths or are you recording your own percussion loops and other instruments?
A magician never reveals his secrets.
Women of the Pore has a distinct otherworldly vibe. Do you compose with specific intent of creating other worlds through your music or does that idea figure into your process at all?
It does. I love the idea of creating things that parallel other forms of music, and if you really listen, the majority of my music actually follows pop idioms (i.e. verse, chorus, bridge, etc.) it just does it in an abstract way…lots of polyrhythms and things that don’t work until they repeat at nauseum.
I’ve also always been a massive horror movie fan, and the scores that accompany those films set a heavy vibe that I’ve tried to embrace. Scoring film has always been something I’ve wanted to do. Hopefully one day. I know it would take a certain kind of director to embrace it, but we’d ride that moon pony off into the cosmos.
What can you tell us about the images you choose to pair with each track? Is there a theme at all that you’re pursuing?
I’m glad you mentioned the art that accompanies the music, because it’s always been a pivotal part of the process for me. The saying “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover” is total nonsense when it comes to releasing an album. If your cover looks janky/has cockroach style or doesn’t reflect what you feel the music sounds like, you’re doing it wrong…FACT. Art is important, and if your visual representation doesn’t grab me, then you’re not doing your music justice.
I do a lot of collage work that hopefully mirrors what I do sonically, which is reimagining something set and concrete into a way that works for me. I’ve also had my wife contribute an original piece for a cover (The Woman With The Raven Breasts), and there’s something haunting about late 19th/ early20th century photography that I constantly gravitate towards.
I often get lumped in with other noise artists, and I’m fine with that, but I’m not down with a lot of the imagery that accompanies those bands. Not to generalize, but there are typically Xeroxed pictures of cadavers, torture instruments, bondage, missing children posters, serial killers…you do you, Boo Boo, but that’s not my vibe. Art should make you think, not glamorize the bleak side of humanity. Or maybe I’m just a prudish Dad that drives a mini-van.
What do you have coming up in 2019? Any other projects outside your regular ambitious output?
2019 has been beautiful so far. I’m in the process of filling out grant applications, and I’m hoping to do a few live performances, but really, I want to build a lathe so I can release my own material. I’m a big proponent of the DIY mentality and feel that not enough people do things to completion, so this would scratch that itch.
I actually just released a couple albums on Bandcamp (21 and Hell Town Rippers) that I’m feeling good about. Moving forward, I still plan on releasing music under this project, but I am actually hoping to start something up with my man Jerome…back to basics. Guitar and drums. Wizard Van music.
Also, my friend Dave from Zeit/FAXES and I are releasing a split in the next little while that we’re pumped for people to hear. Tangerine Dreamin’ hard on this cassette, so that’ll be catching flies soon.
I’ve also been helping my friend Stephen at the UK label, Industrial Coast, compile tracks for an ANTIFA release with all profits from the compilation are being donated to Doctors Without Borders which is very kind of him. He’s a great man, doing great things. He also has me on deck for a compilation that the guys from Crass have signed off on – weird edits of late 70’s early 80’s Anarcho punk tracks. So, I’m waiting to hear back from Penny Rimbaud on something, which has my inner 14-year-old boy freaking right out!
There are other irons in the fire, but that’s for a later date…it’s summer soon on the North Shore. My tribe’s going swimming.