Interview with Hunted Creatures

What started as a solo project for Pittsburgh, PA's Ryan Emmett has evolved into a group of kindred spirits whose varied instrumentation and soundscapes express the fragility of human emotion and the purity of sound as an art form.

Mr. Emmett was nice enough to let us look behind the curtain of Hunted Creatures.

How did Hunted Creatures start? I know that you and Reeves had/have Cottonball man going.

I've been performing solo stuff since my first real band, Pi Equals Three, broke up in 2003 or so. At first I went under the unfortunate name Droopy Septum but later changed it to Hunted Creatures and started exploring different ideas. It's experimental music by nature and to avoid getting caught in a rut I wanted to give up full control of the project and turn it into a band so that my ideas could mingle with the ideas of my friends as well. Cottonballman Enterprises is reworking the business model. We aren't sure about the future of the company since CEO Reeves Smith relocated to Oakland, California, but we may hold a Founder's meeting with our top investors soon.

The first HC material seems more straight synth-based ambience, whereas "Strobe Flowers Bloom" mixes in a more noise layered approach. Ryan, has the change in sound been the result of adding more members to HC?

Actually that track, "Strobe Flowers Bloom", was a piece I put together several years ago. I still enjoy it, so versions of it creep up on various releases from time to time. The current sound has certainly changed because of adding new members. There will be more solo

material being released soon probably under my own name, Ryan Emmett.

One of things I really enjoy about HC is whether the music is layered in soft textures, or harsher tones, there is still a sense of fragility to it. "Hunted Creatures," as a name, also gives me that feeling. So, what exactly is overall thought process and feeling behind it?

I love the sense that something could fall apart at any minute. I can't say much more about it, but your observation is the best compliment I've heard since being called "a fucked up Pink Floyd on coke" or something like that by an old biker dude in Athens, OH. Maybe Amy remembers the exact quote.

Amy: It was "Y'all sound like Pink Floyd on crack."

From the live sets I've heard on your bandcamp site, and live video online, it seems like you guys venture a little more into sound art territory with various instrumentation, objects, and methods. Is this a conscious decision to make a the live experience different from the recordings?

It sort of happened that way. It's conscious for me, to have some correlations yet remain separate things, but perhaps the other members would like to try to have them more related. We'll see what happens. I suppose my logic is that once something is on recording one can always go back to it and listen, whereas a live experience is different. Acoustics in the room are different… the whole thing is different by nature and I don't personally mind that.

The DVD that you guys released this Fall had a lot of interesting ideas; a lot of visual and sonic textures with each of the four pieces. Do any of you guys have a background in film design?

I went to school for Printmaking, but the entire time had an interest in other forms of art that weren't so traditional. 1960's modernism, Dada and the whole NYC loft scene, La Monte Young and structuralist film all interested me in conjunction with my involvement with punk and hardcore. I have always loved film. Anthony McCall's "Line Describing A Cone" blew my mind as a senior in high school. For me it was about getting rid of boundaries. You can use anything and combine anything to make enjoyable art. I think more bands should release DVDs as their official music releases and more people could have their TV audio connected to a nice sounding stereo.

The piece, "A Place To Stay," from the DVD is definitely my favorites in both sound, and the footage you guys used; particularly, the giant windmills in PA. I drive by those on the way to the show in Pittsburgh, last May. There's something monolithic about those things. Why did you guys focus so much on those structures in the piece?

Actually, those windmills were filmed in Illinois or Indiana I believe. But I know the ones you are talking about in Pennsylvania and they look amazing up on the hills as you wind around the roads. My process for making a lot of my art is based on chance and control ratios and boundaries. Oftentimes I will make a collage by limiting myself to a single magazine and creating something based on the images that lay within. With film it is similar. The end product is imagined but not planned. So I took a bunch of various footage I collected while traveling and then forced myself to create a video piece based only on those particular images. The whole time I was fairly blazed and just sifting through all this footage trying to make thematic, chronological and visual connections to make some sort of sense out of the arrangement. It ends up pretty abstract but it is through a process that I enjoy quite a bit.

What do you guys have coming up this year?

Hopefully, some releases on Pittsburgh based 800 Wild, Travis Bird's Notice Recordings, Baked Tapes and perhaps splits with Casual Male and Stone Circle. We're aiming to do a spring midwest tour, play more local shows and explore more green pastures. If anybody wants to release a 12" record for us please let me know because my label Dynamo Sound Collective can't afford to right now!

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