SELEVDGE is the sonic outlet of Lawrence, Kansas-based musicians Chance Dibben. Combining elements of dark ambient, drone, electronics and noise, Chance contributes to the third instalment of Music in a time of Global Crisis. Like many of the names appearing as part of this series over the next few weeks, Chance was lined up to an album on RTR in 2020. SELVEDGE – ‘BLOOM IN RUST’ (RTR034) was planned for October 2020, but due to unavoidable delays, the album will be dropping at a later date TBC. A SELVEDGE track did make its way onto the RTR Sampler Vol. 3, offering those RTR listeners unfamiliar with Chance’s work a preview of what is on the way. In addition to a number of self-released albums and EPs since Summer 2018, SLEVEDGE has appeared on labels such as Wormhole World, Infinity Sync Studios, and Vivarium Recordings.
Chance discusses how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected his music making and the escapism it provides, the music he’s been listening to lately, how current situations are having an impact on independent musicians and labels, and the importance of being open an honest.
How have the widespread lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 crisis affected your music making?
In some ways it hasn’t and in some ways it has. Music making / art making has always been an escape for me, a way to participate in forms and language I love, and the means to connect with people all over the world.
My music making process is pretty limited as it is—desktop, some programs, a midi keyboard, and time to play with sounds, cut up sounds, loop and screw sounds. I still have this ability. Kansas, where I live, like many places, is under a stay-at-home mandate. Which seems like the perfect time to boot up my machines and get cracking on some tunes. But man, there’s a general dread and anti-motivation to the whole enterprise.
I’m in a pretty lucky position—I can work from home and we have the basics covered. But the feeling that reality has further cracked is heavy. I’m extremely empathetic to the people out there suffering with the disease, who have love ones in this condition, who cannot work from home or who have lost their jobs. It’s extremely scary. We have so many unknowns.
What music, new or old, have you been listening to lately, and have your listening habits changed as a result of the current situation?
I’ve returned to Rafael Anton Irisarri’s ‘Solastalgia‘ many times since it was released last year. A mournful and turbulent listen, it also brings catharsis. This Tyresta record is tactile and carries a sense of hope with it. Splendid work. Kali Malone’s ‘The Sacrificial Code‘ was something I needed on rough day. I run through Matchess’ and Broadcast’s discography like once a week anyway. Both acts have a spectral, haunted quality that is more felt right now.
I suppose my listening habits have changed in that I seek out music that is less abjectly noisy and dystopian. I’m gravitating toward and making sounds that are, if not completely hopeful, at least cathartic, celebratory in a way. This is what drove me to make my recent EP, ‘I HATE WINTER BUT I LOVE A GOOD SNOW‘. This winter was really rough for me for a lot of reasons and I wanted to make something a little happy-ish, in contrast to my upcoming noise release with ‘Mystic Timbre‘.
Consequence of Sound reported the worst week of album sales since the 1960s (28th March 2020). Do you think the coronavirus outbreak will have a lasting negative effect on the music industry?
Absolutely. While I think your major-label organizations will weather, with some cuts here and there, the bulk of the music industry is going to dramatically change. Most artists—even those with big followers and good press—operate on very small margins. Losing touring income, losing the ability to rollout a record, losing the ability to even put out a record beyond digital, will put a lot of great artists in an even more precarious situation than before.
With more musicians live streaming from their homes than ever before, do you think this trend will continue once things improve?
Given what we’re going through, live streaming has a lot of value. And I know as it becomes more common place and more artists make it a part of their experience, sets will become more adventurous and fans will begin to recognize the value and perhaps artists can make some money from their labor. I don’t think it’ll ever replace the magic of a live show, of connecting with people in the same room as you.
What do you think we as music makers can be doing to create positivity right now?
Tough question. I think it’s important to be honest. Be honest about your fears and worries. Be open about your mental state. Understand that not every day is going to feel good. When that is expressed—to me at least—it creates more relatability and, in some ways, alleviates the dread. Because we’re all going through it and if this artist I really look up to is also going through it, then I’m not alone. We need more ways to not feel alone right now.
Any way that we can connect, even if it originates from a place of shared grief, I think is ultimately going to be positive. I think the most positive thing we can do is prop each other up—not be shy about the artists and records we love, new and old. Help others understand what a particular piece of music gives you and might give them.