When I was about 21 years old, Skinny Puppy was one of the most influential bands for me. I saw them twice in 2004. Otto von Schirach opened for them.
Their music is relevant for brining together an eclectic batch of influences such as electronica, musique concrète, punk, and synth-pop. Their music was really sample heavy and this was incredibly influential. Their music sounded insane to me because it was so dissonant and so bizarre. If you strip out all elements and just listen to drums and bassline, they might sound like Depeche Mode or something of that style. Nivek Ogre’s vocals were heavily processed and reminiscent of cheesy 80s horror film creatures. Dwayne Goettel added a lot of heavily processed samples taken from so many sources. I recall bits of Charles Manson, cyberpunk sci-fi films, blasts of radio static, Gregorian chants, film trailers, recycled drum bits, classical music, and so many other sources.
Here is where Skinny Puppy was really important for me, they made mention of being heavily influenced by reggae and world music and saying this was the biggest influence for them. This was pretty important to hear because their aesthetic on a superficial level had no relation to reggae music and no resemblance to world music. After a bit of closer analysis, I could hear the way these influences had driven their seemingly chaotic drum arrangements. Cevin Key’s up-cycled oil barrel in the Ain’t It Dead Yet? VHS had ancestry in the regional music of many different cultures.
This is an important concept for me: synthesis and transposition. In my own musical compositions, as well as my artwork, I take various influences from various places. If I attempted to make a comprehensive list it might look something like this:
I am even wondering as I write this, if it might be a fruitful endeavor if I were to embark on a project where I attempt to bring all my influences into a singular creation. It would be incredibly ridiculous, but it would definitely have its roots in the strain of thought that Skinny Puppy sent me down for the last decade or so. God bless ‘em. lol
The playlist for this post is the set list from the last Skinny Puppy show I attended in Tucson, Halloween 2015. I had pizza, got drunk with a closeted Republican wannabe rockstar gun happy punk, enjoyed the show and then partied with a goth-girl and her fishnet clad boy-toy in an Airbnb until sunrise.
I can’t make something like that up.