Slapping Purses' Jason Power talks art of musical disaster and recovery

Photo by Adam Bubolz


Slapping Purses' Jason Power is a conundrum, an exercise in opposites. He's a lanky kid with a perpetual smile on his face who's rumored to be a successful amateur mixed martial artist; a wildly expressive audio artist who, by his own admission, hates talking about himself. Maybe that's why he makes music so dichotomous. It's abusively noisy and eminently danceable, vocals buried under layers of effects but the beat as clear as day. Minneapolis has a core underground scene of people who make music at the furthest possible edge of what computers can program and homemade circuits can bend, and no matter what you call it--noise, dance, whatever--Slapping Purses is a fixture in that scene. Power's sound has attracted the attention of fellow local musicians like P.O.S--who cited Slapping Purses as a band to watch out for in a previous interview--and given him the opportunity to tour to the East Coast.

But electronic-based music has its tragic flaws, as Power just discovered: just a few days ago, gearing up for a show, his entire catalog of music was wiped out in a data disaster of apocalyptic proportions. But the thing about an apocalypse is that it's not, by the strictest definition, a world ender; it's a prediction of better things to come, and Power remains a smiling conundrum as he gets back to work on rebuilding his set. He took a few minutes to talk with us about the disaster.

Okay, so let's start with the big tragedy: what happened, exactly? What did you lose? Complete songs, or just samples?

Basically, I had hundreds of samples of from a homemade modular synth and various other home-baked electronics stored on a memory card for sequencing in my drum machine. It failed, and when I went to pull my back-ups and re-load them on my drum machine, it had some kind of error and everything was reformatted.

I lost basically all of my audio data. The control data is still there, but now all of my tracks consist of kicks and snares. I had about 13 songs that were to be recorded at Bon Iver's studio in Eau Claire on July 4th and a bunch of tracks for P.O.S. I would have tried data recovery, but I hadn't thought of it until memory locations on my computer had already been rewritten.

This is yet another reason I hate digital gear. If I could afford the kind of control setups I need to create sounds and sequence them with analog circuits I'd throw my drum machine in the garbage. All in all, it's really a "pooportunity" to start fresh. There was a very big change for Slapping Purses coming up even before this disaster, keep an eye out for the format and new band member in the upcoming months.

So, for people who don't know, who is Jason Power, and what the hell is Slapping Purses?

Ahhhh.....kay....I can't think of what to say about myself so I'm gonna say "I'M A MAN WITH A MUTHER FUCKIN PLAN!" Slapping Purses is the culmination and sequencing of many audio accidents that have occurred through the use of quasi autonomous electronics audio generators with for the purpose of ass shaking.  It's goal is to user in a new era of freakiness.

How did you get into music? Were you always into electronic/digital/noise/etc. or did you start in a more traditional "chord rock" background?

I really got into playing music in a band called Riot Map during a really blurry early-mid 2000's in a band called RIOT MAP, I like to think it was all caps, with my friends Steve (Whitesands Badlands), Patrick (Montgomery Ward, Leak Probe, Trout Maxwell Replica, Skull Bong, Director's Cut hahaha), and Caleb Koepp. I will try to describe was post rock, funk, jam band, dj, noise, thing.  It was confusing and fun.

I really only got into noise when I got interested in circuit bending through my friend Nick Heimer (Pelzwick). By messing around with those circuits and discovering this whole weird world of sound I eventually beganmaking my own circuits from scratch and getting interested in actual contrived synthesis.

What sort of things do you look to for inspiration?

The first place I look for inspiration is my friends.  I would say I've been more influenced in music by people I have met than people I haven't.  Markus Lunkenheimer [currently of Skoal Kodiak] would be a perfect example. When I saw him play for the first time at the final Quad Muth show in '04 I was just like "that's what I've been wanting to do."

That said I am really into 80's electro, Egyptian Lover, Newcleus and stuff like that.  I also love stuff like Kraftwerk and Yellow Magic Orchestra (subnote: Tender Meat destroys).

Any good tour stories?

Last fall I opened for [Austin, TX electro-dance act] Ghostland Observatory in Philly and New York, which all by itself was weird enough...but before my show in Philadelphia I was arrested for peeing behind a dumpster.