Kjell K Nkanza Hansen is a musician and visual artist from Maryland. They’re the producer and multi-instrumentalist behind projects Spring Silver and Blonde Duluth. As of May 2020, they have graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a BFA in Visual Arts.
One of my favorite activities in music production is splicing takes together, especially vocal takes. In Logic Pro x, you can do this quite seamlessly. Each recorded take is stacked on top of the previous in a folder. You select the desired section, and create a composite. No, this isn’t an ad for a music production software — I promise it’s relevant. In my rock project Spring Silver, I’ll scrub through 30 or so takes trying to find the ideal piece of sound. Not just the ideal pitch, but interesting vibrato, mouth shape, and grit (though I rarely sing with much grit, which we’ll get to later). Recording the take is just half the fun. It’s the splicing that makes it complete for me.
But, like the robot in Wall-E that is let out of its contained maintenance area only to start searching for new things to scrub in the wider spaceship, I’ve started searching outside of my own singing for interesting vocal “takes” for me to splice. I listen to podcasts for manic monologues to patch together; I search for youtube videos with especially unhinged rants. I’ve amassed a library of this material to put instrumentals under. Still, I can’t place these samples in a Spring Silver tune, surrounded by live instrumentation, without it sounding like a nü-metal song (not that there’s anything wrong with that!!!). So, I decided to dig up my electronic project from my high school days, Blonde Duluth.
The original intention of the Blonde Duluth project was to edit existing tunes in a comparable way to how YTPs recut media. If you were born between 1991 and 1998 and have spent a considerable amount of time online, you probably know what a YTP is. There are probably tens of thousands of these on YouTube, and about a dozen of them are good. But, I’ll be damned if I didn’t spend my adolescence watching these fever dreams. A YTP, shortened from “YouTube poop,” is a genre of YouTube video where existing content is recut in editing software for comedic effect. However, upon first view, the rapid splicing and grotesque punchlines might hardly pass as humor. Like most millennial and z00mer internet comedy, YTPs contain an underlying base of chaos that has grown as the artform has evolved. YTPs are both a celebration and condemnation of media. TV shows, movies, even other Youtube videos are reconfigured to suit the remixers’ ulterior motives. They are made vulgar, surreal, mashed into an abstract paste. And each second is engineered for hardest impact. So, in keeping with my high school aspirations, “She’s Gone” is a mesh of sampled freak outs, warped into putty, and set to a blown out instrumental.
I was never much of a screamer, in life or in music. That isn’t to say that I never have the urge to scream. Nowadays, it’s more and more. Maybe that’s part of the reason for my audio library. I have a breadth of surrogate screams at my disposal to vent my frustrations. Not only this, but I got one of my favorite musicians, and good friend, Sam Woodring (of Mister Goblin) to showcase his rarely seen, always appreciated aggressive rapping style. “Why the fuck am I even awake now huh?” defines a generation with just one bar. Who hasn’t asked themselves that in the past few weeks (or, let’s be honest: past few years). The guy can do it all!!! Anyhow, if you feel the need to scream, but are quarantined with any parties that might object, let this song be your surrogate. And if you’re feeling extra wacky, check out a YouTube Poop. And TURN DOWN THE VOLUME IN ADVANCE, because, like this song, they tend to be unnecessarily loud.
— Kjell Hansen, aka Blonde Duluth