Like many people reading this, until a short time ago I hadn’t heard of Aleister X, but as fate and a lovely publicist named Jerry would have it, an email interview was organised to get the mysterious artist some publicity proceeding his upcoming debut full-length album, Half-Speed Mastered. Quite a character emerged; face covered in white make-up, not-quite-sure-if-they’re-ironic gangster hoodies and basketball jerseys, and music like nothing else you’ve heard before, with elements of rock, electro, rap, dubstep, pretty much whatever you can think of. But what’s he really like?
GiantMan: To me, you sound a bit like if The Streets took some acid and had a psychotic episode over a drum machine. How would you describe your music?
Aleister X: My music is always an amalgamation of good jams through a keen, wide-ranging psychedelic sense and sensibility.
GM: Is Aleister X a character, a persona, or you?
Aleister : Ultimately, he is all of the above.
GM: Does your name come from Aleister Crowley, the world’s most famous occultist? Have you sold your soul to Satan or is it just a coincidence?
Aleister: I thought I sold my soul to Satan, but it turns out it was just a bloke named, “Satin.” Could’ve sworn he said, “Satan.” I guess that would explain my near poverty, fledgling career, and 200+ Youtube “thumbs-down” on my latest music video premiere (“LAX” on Noisey). And yes, Aleister Crowley gave me the name.
GM: Have you always wanted to write and perform music?
Aleister: I’ve always written and performed music.
GM: Your music was described quite effectively as “multi-media head-fuckery”, what drove you in this direction in particular?
Aleister: I’ve always been a multi-media head-fucker, but I wanted to try something different. By some minor mystery I stumbled upon the “assholery” thing, and worked it hard, so hard it progressed quite naturally into, “fucking-assholery.” I managed to turn some ears with this, but still SOMETHING was missing. That something was good, ‘ol-fashioned MULTI-MEDIA HEAD-FUCKERY, so I dropped some of the assholery to make room for the other stuff.
GM: So we should probably talk about your upcoming debut full-length album. It’s called “Half-Speed Mastered”, a technique to increase sound quality on vinyl. Why? Are you just taking old-fashioned pride in your music?
Aleister:I stole the name from my good friend, artist, Spencer Sweeney. It’s for real audiophiles everywhere really. Just going to the furthest limits in hi-fidelity for my discerning, and highly sophisticated fan base. They have the most perceptive ears and deserve the best quality I can give. So we had the design team put that on there. Sounds killer, right?
GM: What are your top five track one, side ones?
Aleister: This really hard, I have so many, but off the top of my head:
1) The Clash “Safe European Home”
2) Bad Brains “I Against I”
3) The Nazz “Open My Eyes”
4) Kool Keith “F.U.M.F.”
5) Black Flag “Rise Above”
GM: You’re from London, and clearly don’t hide the fact – but this album is really centred on west coast America. Why?
Aleister: I love Los Angeles and California. Everyone always says they hate LA. So many great things came from there: cheeseburgers, Hawaiian pizza, California Rolls and sushi, pornography, French Dip roast beef sandwiches, LSD, IMDV, CSNY, SST, Arnold Schwarzenegger, burritos, Chez Jay, I could go on forever.
GM: What’s it been like working with Andrew W K [Musician, king of parties, recently appointed US cultural ambassador to Bahrain, and owner of Aleister’s Steev Mike label]? Clearly you guys get on well.
Aleister: Yeah, we get on. And when we get on we get going. When we get going we get gone. And when we get gone we go strong. That’s how we do it every time. Andrew W.K. is the most intense artist I know, and I know a lot of intense artists. I’m talking multi-media, head-fuckery, -all that-artists. Not just music. Arts and Entertainment. Not many artists get the whole big picture, or can really do/get it all.
GM: Up until now, your music’s flown pretty low on the radar, and you’ve only produced EPs. Now you’re touring with Andrew W K, full-length album debut, the big games. Has your attitude changed or was this a natural evolution?
Aleister: How soon is “now?” I feel fairly far from “now” right now. At times it feels as if “now” may never happen. Now it is true I’ve toured with Andrew W.K. I do have a debut full-length coming out soon, or quite possibly out now, depending on when this is published. So it’s like, “Wow. Now what?” If anything, I’ve learned how to now be more chill knowing that “now” is the only thing that matters. So my attitude is slightly North of prickish, but not quite a full blown cunt.
GM: You directed the video for the first single off the album, ‘LAX’. Care to explain that a bit? Is it a collage of how you see LA?
Aleister: The “Half-Speed Mastered” album is inspired and about LA. I wanted everything about it from the lyrics, the artwork, to the videos to be all about LA, the way it exists in the imagination of a certain type of person, because of Hollywood and the other Hollywood, The Valley (porn industry). During the editing of “LAX” I was shown the trailers for “The Canyons,” an upcoming feature from Paul Schrader, Bret Easton Ellis, starring Lindsay Lohan and porn star, James Deen. It appears I’m on the same page. Go look at those trailers on Youtube, especially #1.
GM: You’re obviously into your cinematography. Have film-makers influenced your music?
Aleister: Filmmakers influence everything I do. When I write a song I like to create as vivid a picture as possible while adhering to pop song format. Some of my favorites are: Gaspar Noe, Nicolas Windig Refn, David Lynch, Paul Schrader, Quentin Tarantino, Eli Roth, Monte Hellman, Orson Welles (esp “F” For Fake), Sion Sono, Takashi Miike.
GM: Last one. What’s your favourite dinosaur?
Aleister: Eoraptor. They’re so little and cute like they would’ve made good pets.
Aleister X’s debut full-length album, Half-Speed Mastered, will be released 19th February on Steev Mike.