Noise still and probably always will remain a genre for the outsiders.
Only being pursued by the 110% dedicated, hiding away unseen honing their craft full in the knowledge that such a musical goal isn’t going to win them stadiums full of admirers and mainstream media coverage.
They follow the static ridden path in pursuit of making the ultimate artistic statement and self expression by pushing boundaries of what is deemed musically acceptable and bearable.
Vincent Ceraso is one such lone ranger, only 21 years of age, and based in New Jersey Vincent began laying down primal monolithic walls of harsh noise with first such project Blutbad (German word for carnage) which in total had 23 releases (2 of which were demos) before ending in September.
Adapting a different approach and experimenting with new equipment, the next month KIRA was born.
At the turn of February 2016, Vincent released his first full length album under the KIRA moniker entitled: Modernism Tragedy. 17 mind melting, nerve shattering tracks of demented audio. It is undoubtably his most accessible release to date and sees KIRA knocking down several of the noise walls he once resided in, and letting inside drone, dark ambient, minimalist and more eclectic influences.
(You can read my thoughts on Modernism Tragedy at the bottom of this feature)
Despite the dark and radical nature of his music, Vincent seemed a cheery lad and was more than happy to have a quick chat and answer a few questions on KIRA:
DMD: What were your first musical instruments and musical influences growing up?
K: Growing up, I was a HUGE fan of Green Day and Blink-182, two bands that opened me up to the world of music! They were the bands that got me into playing guitar and drums. I still play guitar, but not so much the drums anymore. In high school, I was introduced to the band Silverstein, and that was the band that made me want to start playing bass guitar, and in 2012, I was pulled on stage very briefly to play a song with them!
DMD: Wait…you performed with Silverstein? or did I just read that wrong?
K: You definitely DID NOT read that wrong! They did a tour in support of "Short Songs” and as a joke, my old bass teacher and I learned the song "See Ya Bill!" which is only a few seconds long. Long story short, I met Billy Hamilton at the venue and told him that, and he asked if I wanted to play with them later. They then pulled me on stage to play the song three times, and it was amazing!
DMD: Sick! So what do you like to do in your spare time when you're not making music?
K: The very little time I spend not making music (I have over a dozen music projects), I'm usually in school or at work. I also like to draw and watch cartoons. Sorry, but I'm just a very boring person that loves music!
DMD: What music are you currently into?
K: I’m into a little bit of everything! Country, metal, hip-hop, you name it! My favorite genre would probably be powerviolence, which is very raw and incredibly fast-paced, just the way I like music. I tried to start a powerviolence band months ago before KIRA got started, but that didn't exactly go well…Some of my favorite bands in powerviolence and extreme metal include: Infest, Coke Bust, Full of Hell, Napalm Death, Nails, Dying Fetus, etc. In fact I'll be seeing Nails and Dying Fetus in Philly this April, so pray that I don't die!
DMD: Do you play in any bands that make ‘normal’ music?
K: I played bass guitar in a band called Tragic Life from August of 2014 to June of 2015. Our sound (at the time I was in the band) combined heavy hardcore music with some elements of fast-paced Power-Violence. Sadly, I had to leave the band because of school and other priorities I was faced with. I played a total of four shows with them. They're still a band, and have an EP called "Cathedral of Despair" coming out soon!
DMD: What does the name KIRA mean? does it stand for something?
K: I get asked this quite a bit. KIRA is a reference to the popular Japanese Anime "Death Note". As explained in the show, "Kira" is derived from the word "killer", and is used as a nickname for the anti-hero Light Yagami. Around that time, I was having a hard time thinking of what to call the project. I heard Kira and thought the name and meaning behind the word sounded pretty interesting!
DMD: Why did Blutbad come to an end?
K: Blutbad was extremely sloppy and very un-organized. For starters, I used an old alarm clock radio to record walls with. Sometimes, just because I was incredibly lazy, I'd take a previous wall from one of the older tapes and re-use it, but change it around a bit to pass it off as a brand new recording, when in reality, I was practically copying and pasting the older tracks. Once I purchased pedals and a mixer, I thought about continuing with Blutbad, but then realized I wanted a fresh start. A couple weeks later, I dropped the first KIRA demo, and it was very well received!
DMD: Is there a scene for the music you make in New Jersey?
K: The music scene here in New Jersey mostly consists of metal, punk, emo, etc. Not much in the way of an actual "noise" music scene, compared to Massachusetts and California, although from what I've heard, Pennsylvania has a bit of a noise scene unlike Jersey!
DMD: what first inspired you to start making noise music?
K: My old band mate Spencer at practice one day showed me a video of Vomir on YouTube performing at Ende Tymes Festival a few years ago. At first I thought, "What the hell is this garbage? Its just a bunch of people wearing bags over their heads and listening to some guy produce static for 30 minutes!!" As much as I hated it, I was so intrigued that I found myself going back to that video, and listening to his tapes on YouTube. Eventually, it became an obsession, and before I knew it, I was on a mission to find whatever Vomir tape I could download on the internet!
DMD: How would you describe the music of KIRA?
K: At first, KIRA started off as strictly HNW. All I wanted to do was make 20+ minute walls. But that got old pretty quick, so I wanted to experiment a little bit. After purchasing more equipment, I tried adding elements of power electronics in my tracks, which is what my most recent releases consist of! Whenever I do splits or collaborations, I might go back to my roots of making those full-length walls!
DMD: So what equipment do you use in KIRA?
K: I use a tiny, 10-watt amplifier from Dean Guitars that I got for my 14th birthday, DigiTech Death Metal and DigiTech Grunge pedals, Electro-Harmonix Metal Muff Distortion pedal (borrowed from a friend), and a FAB Distortion pedal! As for recording, I used to use Garageband and a Blue Yeti microphone, and while I still use those, I've been trying out the voice recording app on my phone a lot lately!
DMD: KIRA and Blutbad have a lot of releases on band camp in a short space of time why is that? (Co-incidentally KIRA released a split with Koobaatoo Asparagus on February 23rd)
K: Simply because I have a lot of free time on my hands! As for Blutbad, as I said before, it had some releases that were lazily done using that "copy and pasting" method I mentioned earlier, so if I really wanted to, I could release 20 tapes in one afternoon. For KIRA however, I spend hours at a time in my basement recording tracks. I have a decent-sized archive of recordings in my computer I plan to release very soon, either as one big tape or several smaller tapes to be released gradually over time.
DMD: In BB and KIRA there are quite a few WW1 and WW2 references, care to elaborate on that?
K: I’m a huge war history buff. I'm in college to study some history. Initially, I wanted my themes to be real dark (as for most noise artists), so I took what I figured were the most disturbing and controversial photos from those war eras and used them as artwork, as well as having some songs reference things like the Vietnam War, WWII, etc.
DMD: Any plans to release some physical copies of KIRA’s music?
K: Physical CDs for Modernism Tragedy are in the works, as well as CDs for the recent KIRA/Koobaatoo Asparagus split "In the Heat of the Night". As for actual tapes, I'm not sure when (or if at all) I'm gonna make some, mainly because I don't know how to dub tapes. I do plan on making physical tapes in the future, after I've made the Modernism Tragedy and ITHOTN CDs!
DMD: Who does the art/photos for KIRA?
K: When KIRA first got started, I would literally go to Google images for the album art (I obviously didn't draw the artwork for "This Man"). I would actually type in the search bar "abandoned hospital", "scary forest at night", "dark trees", etc. I'd then edit the hell out of them. That was just for the first six or seven releases. Nowadays, I take the photos myself on my phone and edit them a bit! The Modernism Tragedy album art was the hardest to make, as I used a method called "sound wave art". Looking back now, I feel kind of horrible for blatantly taking pictures from Google images.
DMD: Modernism Tragedy is a bit more experimental compared to the last few releases, did this approach come out naturally or was it more of a conscious decision?
K: The idea for Modernism Tragedy was to take a different approach with noise. Around this time, I started listening to Prurient, now one of my biggest influences. His albums mix elements of noise, harsh noise, industrial, ambient, etc. I wanted to do something similar to that, however, I didn't want to stray too far away from what KIRA was in the beginning, harsh noise wall. At the same time, I seriously didn't want this album to be 10-15 tracks of 20+ minute walls. Because Modernism Tragedy was my first true full-length record, I wanted to leave a lasting impression on the listeners. The tracks on the album range from industrial, to power electronics, to harsh noise, and of course HNW. I wanted to limit the number of ridiculously long walls, so thats why "Death Aesthetic" clocking in at 15:07 is the only track on the record longer than 10 minutes. I had a lot of fun making this record, and while it was relentlessly difficult and stressful, I'm incredibly proud of it, and will most likely do another similar album in the future.
DMD: Tell me about the split with Verrukt and do you plan on any more in the future?
K: Verrukt is my good friend Mikey from Delaware, and that split was his debut! We've been close friends for a while, and always talked about wanting to do a future split. After months of talking about it, we finally made it happen, and it got a lot of attention from friends of ours and noise enthusiasts! Believe it or not, for a short amount of time, his track on the split had MORE plays than any other track on my entire Bandcamp page! We definitely plan to do more in the future! I also have a split with See Through Buildings in the works, as well as a few others!
DMD: Any plans to play live?
K: I'm not entirely sure if I want to start doing live shows... yet. I had one scheduled in Mantua, NJ for late May, but due to circumstances out of my control, that show has been canceled. I think eventually I'll start playing shows. I just need to get my act together…..
In MT, At times you’ll feel like you’re being laser-gunned to death by an unseen alien firing squad, (‘A face, a Name a Voice so Synonymous’) or sucked into a white noise whirlpool (‘Nasal shift’).
I really have to commend Vincent on his approach to the drums and samples on this release, which on tracks such as ‘Stigma Multiplex’ and ‘Frozen’ made me recall ‘Merciless’ era Godflesh taken to more brutal extremes. But It is when the foot is taken off the accelerator that the innovation truly shines out: Track 10 ‘Poltergeist’ is one such example of a sunken bass line married with ricocheting echoed samples to make absorbing percussive textures.
The Harsh Noise Walls of KIRA (and formerly Blutbad) architecture are still standing proud and screaming on tracks such as ‘Narrative Homicide’ ‘Biological Chemical Nuclear Threat’ and ‘Death Aesthetic’.
My favourite track of the full length has to be ‘Frozen’. Which, if set to the 2013 Disney Children’s Classic would definitely make for a more interesting view! Ghostly synths lead the way before thundering drums pummel your mind into nothingness, savage static clouds loom ominously overhead when all is replaced with the sounds of an eerie tolling bell just one of the many tracks on Modernism Tragedy that definitely wouldn’t be out of place on a horror movie soundtrack.
If I were to describe final track ‘Sirens and the Color of Sound’ (and I do hate to make this comparison once again) just imagine the ending atmosphere of your favourite horror/slasher movie, where you just know the director has one final scare in store before the credits roll and lights can come back on.
All in all, I can safely say ‘Modernism Tragedy’ is a stellar piece of work because: there is a fine mixture of industrial, drone, soundtrack (among many others) wrapped up in all the noise to make it more digestible for the newbies and still appeal to a more tinnitus craving listener without compromising KIRA’s sound.
And…it’s available entirely for free download on bandcamp so there are 0 excuses.
Noise freaks, dark ambient addicts and drone-workers everywhere….pour yourself a drink, pull up a chair and relax.