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Interview With Jim DeJong

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I first got in contact with Jim DeJong years ago when the Nightwaves zine was just in its infancy.  I learned that he was the brains behind the daring experimental act known as The Infant Cycle.  In addition to this, Jim has made great contributions to underground music in Canada as the head of The Ceiling.  Through The Ceiling, Jim has worked tirelessly introducing brave, bold music to the open-minded.
I wanted to speak with this innovative and brave artist about his music and the history of The Ceiling.


1. Please tell us about the origins of "The Ceiling". What inspired
you to begin this?

The Ceiling began in 1999, after the dissolution of my old tape label. I
had also just done a disc for another label that had folded while there
was still interest in the disc. So The Ceiling started up first of all to
get the disc back in print (The Infant Cycle's "old Plus Four"). The
label does keep sustaining itself, though now the releases tend to be
smaller, more experimental releases.
2. Many artists who create music that is "fringe" or unconventional
often say they feel isolated. Do you often encounter this feeling of
isolation when you work on your music?

Sure, but this is not always a bad thing. I'm king of used to being a
freak. And I believe most of the people working this area didn't grow up to be homecoming queen. It is true though, that when you've spent a day pushing yourself and what you are working on, surfing your subconscious, it's kind of hard to relate to other people.

3. How would you describe the recordings of The Infant Cycle?

The everyday world the way you dreamed it, in audio form.... I still
haven't figured out how to answer this question. The Lens Cleaner Trio (who I released an LP by) used to call themselves "electro-acoustic rock", and I like that description.

4. When did the Infant Cycle begin? Have you been involved in any
other musical projects?

The Infant Cycle started in November 1992. I had managed to scrape
together enough money for a cassette 4-track. Before that I spent a year and a half in Mind Skelp-cher and some time also in Chronic Remorse. I did some tapes with both. I think both had moments when they were great, but not always. CR has reformed a couple of times and we did some more records together. 1991-92 was sort of the big time for me, when I realized what I wanted to do: make good noise I could get into when I was high, and scare everyone else off!

5. Who are your influences?

Initially, between myself and my bandmates, there was a lot of
cross-influencing each other. I've been influenced by a lot of different
artists from different times and places, but also the environments I lived in. The last CD I did ("The Sand Rays"), I was listening to a lot of
"Bitches Brew", early Chrome, A.R. Kane, King Tubby, but a lot of the
reason the CD sounds the way it does is because the place I live in,
across from a rail yard, on the edge of an old industrial area... the
sounds just creep in.
6. Many artists who record in their home studios today use a lot of
electronics. What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of using electronics for music?

In my case, the electronics are often 20-40 years old- they can't always be counted on!
7. Do you receive much support for your work in Canada, or do you find you have to go elsewhere?

Nobody releases Infant Cycle here (except for me, of course)- most of my audience is in Europe. A big reason I stopped pressing LPs was the
enormous shipping costs for sending the records to their faraway
destination. It's very rare to actually meet a member of my audience. It can be a little jarring, because usually the audience is an abstract
consideration when I'm working on something.
8. Could you please name one artist and one recording (song or album)
that has had an enormous impact on you?

This may sound funny, because they turned into this big lumbering
dinosaur, but early Pink Floyd (67-71) really did it for me. I was 10-11
listening to the top 40, and then I discovered something completely
different- I found it confusing that something so strange was having such an impact on me, especially the double album "Ummagumma"- I went from Casey Kasem to psychedelic sound collage overnight. I listened to it again a couple of months ago- I still think it's great!

9. What gear do you use? Any favorites?

My studio is sort of a modular set-up of various recorders, mixers, boxes- I never keep them hooked up the same way. The last little while, I've been enjoying my old early '70s spring reverb. I've sending stuff through it and into a small bass amp which it sits on top of, really interesting shades of feedback, speaker vibrations... I still like the dirty, somewhat degraded quality of not using software all the time (though I do use it). Generally with electronics, it's common to go direct in, but I've been getting more into amping and micing them now, different angles and distances, which changes the sound a lot.

10. Do you view the internet as a detriment to musicians or as a useful tool? What is your view on people downloading music for free?

Well, in general, yes, I think the internet is useful, though maybe now
the general ease that exists in making and promoting music (especially the kids doing everything on their laptops) means that there may be way too much of it out there. I don't think that is such a good thing.
The problem with the download debate is that it's so polarized when, I
believe, it is one giant grey area. People like to take one side or the
other, either it's a bunch of greedy assholes (multi-national
corporations), or a bunch of greedy assholes (people who download if even if they are fully capable of paying for it). It's convenient stereotypes they can use to justify their behavior "in response". I used to make tapes for friends and I now make copies for them. I also like to hear things I'm curious about... but I still do buy stuff. However, you won't be making friends with me if you tell me you like to seek out all my stuff and download it.

11. How can people learn more about your work?

Buying my records and CDs! Or downloading them (greedy assholes).