Daniel Menche


Daniel Menche

Daniel is an abstract sound artist from Portland, Oregon.  He says of his music that its “…intent is to destroy all rationalized thought processes to make room for the emotional and sensual impulses to take over… The greater the intent, the greater the intensity, and intensity is based upon the blood rising in speed and heat through our bodies.”

Liles and Menche recorded the album THE PROGENY OF FLIES in 2008.

I always think about that old advertisement for Victor Records with the dog staring at the speaker cone and the slogan “His Master’s Voice”. I love that image and it represents many things. As in how music can become your master and simply seizes you. It makes you sit down like a dog and all attention and curiosity is fixed on the where that “master’s” voice is coming from.

I distinctly remember that happening to me at a young age of 13 when I first heard Flowers of Romance by P.I.L. That first listen just clobbered me. I was mystified and totally immersed. I just stared at the speakers throughout the whole album. I heard some punk and strange records before but hearing that album just grabbed me by the throat. It was the minimalism of the drums and simple noise along with that screeching voice. Those drums were just powerful to me! “Under the House” is still brutal sounding at full volume, and how about those double kick drums!!!! Way before the death metal/grindcore kids! I heard the Sex Pistols before and well it was fun and rock n’ roll but this Flowers of Romance just turned my brain upside down.

The interesting thing to me was the power of reinvention with that Flowers of Romance album. From Sex Pistols to P.I.L was a dramatic reinvention that was rather profound to me. I really admire artists who are in a constant state of reinvention. I immediately checked out everything else by P.I.L and sure some of it was cool but it’s that Flowers of Romance that loudly stands out to me. Even the artwork is just crazy weird! I wanted to know that lady! In attack mode with that crazy look in her eyes with a weapon in her hand and a mouthful of flowers. SHE”S COMING AT ME!!!!! Yikes! RUN!!!! AAAAAYYYY!!!!! Or second thought how about I invite her into my 13 year old world….awwwwww yes a mighty fine decision I made.

Mandatory one hour a day yet it tends to stretch 2 hours or more depending if it’s raining outside or not. Winter time is a busy time for me to work on music. I really do not like the sitting down aspect of music making. It’s just not healthy for me to be physically stationary for that long. The funny thing is that I’m a very active and physical person so maybe I am working in my garden or making furniture or other “grunt” projects and when I get exhausted I come into the house, wash my hands and then sit down to work on music for an hour. Then I spring out of my chair and out of the house back to shaking my ass with physical work or maybe a bike ride or a hike.

Making music is crucial and fantastic for me but the “static” physical state is something I deplore. I hate sitting in front of the computer or mixing desk! UGH! There’s this awful ache I get in my body and eyes from being in front of a computer too long and it’s the worst physical feeling for me. I much prefer an achy body from too much exercise over an achy body from doing nothing in front of a computer. It’s just awful. I repeat to myself all the time in a looping mantra “Nothing is worse than nothing”. Do nothing or achieving nothing is a high crime for me. Sisyphus is my co-pilot.

Creations…..hmmmmm……. That’s a noun. Well nouns are a problem for me. I’m more of a “verb:” type of guy. I’m never satisfied for a long time with a “thing” or “something”. As a child I would get excited in getting a new toy. Then after playing with it I would get bored with that toy and ignore it. So in defiance against the evils of boredom I would make a toy for myself. Like say a robot made out of tuna cans or animal sculptures made from the wax coating big chunks of cheese. But then I would get just as bored with my own creation as much as that toy that was bought at the store. The difference is that the MAKING of that toy was my favorite thing about it. So let’s use that analogy to records.

Buy a record at a store and love it so much you play the grooves out of it but with time grow bored with that record then decide “Hey I can make my own record!” Then work hard in making a record. That self-made recording is completed and played over and over again, and lo and behold that record becomes as tiresome and uninteresting as much as the record you bought at the store that inspired you to make your own music. And then the cycle repeats much like the “rinse and repeat” instructions on a shampoo bottle……for eternity…… sigh……

But back to your question (So sorry for my abstract brain farts). It’s the action-making process that I hold dear and not so much the actually creations-nouns. I very much like my most recent recording creations and how they sound yet the making process is very much not my favorite because so much of it involves the dang computer. Not a fan of computers but I still use it. My favorite “making” was my earliest work  which was wildly exciting and fun but the actual recording creations are really not good at all. My earliest recordings are my least favorite but the making of them was my favorite because it was crude times for me. I had to make some crazy noise instruments from junk. And then all the grungy dirty noise that would happen. Fun times! Like as a kid playing in the mud. Now it’s playing in the digital clean bathtub….. Clean bathtub is nice but that muddy puddle was FUN! I love making noise but it’s much more fun AWAY from the computer! For me it’s always the “verb” aspect overruling the “noun” aspect. And my newest recordings the “noun” aspect is great but the “verb” aspect is not fun at all. All of my recordings will someday make me cringe and groan. Yet I continue to make more recordings that I love making and for a short period of time I’ll love them but with time I will end up tossing them in the corner like a toy that is no longer enjoyed.

Whenever I find one of my CD or LPs in a record store I have an immediate “ugh and groan” response because it’s just this plastic object collecting dust along with several other plastic corpses stacking up in the bins. But then memories will sweep through me about the MAKING of that recording and then I’m feeling happier about that recording. All my CDs and LPs of my music are kept in a dark box deep in the corner of my darkest basement. If I stop and look at them there’s like a dead weight that pulls me down and prevents me from making music. The same thing happens if I go to my own Discogs page. I just get weighted down. Point being is I prefer a non-stop race car that only goes FORWARD. Never look in the rear mirror and never hit the reverse gear. Forward is the only thing in life that is real! Again the “noun” of something is a bummer yet the “verb” aspect will always give me great joy. Nouns bum me out- verbs makes me happy.

For instance I made a record called Kataract that is all made from waterfalls that I recorded while hiking and then mangled in the computer. Gigantic loud waterfalls. And those adventures hiking and hanging out behind the waterfalls while recording is a great memory for me. Even the times where I slipped and fell and almost died while recording these waterfalls holds way more joyous memories than the memory of the actual recording itself. It’s a noisy recording done on a computer which is very unremarkable thing to say but the gathering of the recording out in the deep forests were GREAT adventures that I’ll never forget. The old saying “All we create are memories” is a good mantra to hold on to. Creations are just symbols to remind us of our friendships and adventures.

Instantly my mind is playing that intro to that Butthole Surfers album “Locust Abortion Technician” “Daddy….. What does regret mean?”…… What is my biggest music related regret? Maybe releasing too many albums might be a minor regret of mine. But hey I can’t really help it. I’m too nice to whoever asks me to release something. Nice folks ask me to release something and I do what I can to support their requests. In the long run there are no regrets in doing too much over doing too little. I prefer overkill than underkill as far as achieving things in this short life. Sure it’s a bit ridiculous the amount of recordings I have and I’m really NOT PROUD at all but rather ashamed yet I’m very proud over the action and energy in making so many albums because all these countless recordings have given me the best things in life and that is friends! I make many recordings in order to make friends in the process. So come to think of it there are no regrets making too many recordings. You know that painful cringey question people will ask all artists….. “Why do you make your art?” It’s cringey as hell but the simplest and most honest answer is that I just wanna make friends. If I can make lots of friends by making noise well then….. No regrets I suppose.

There are personal regrets and that isn’t anything to chew on too much about because it’s the same as most everyone else has. Basically it’s the wasted time and energy of being too nice to people who suck out your soul. UGH! Total regret! There’s an old parable about crabs in a bucket or the “Crab Mentality” concept in which myself and countless other individual minded folks have endured. If you put a single crab in a bucket, it can climb out of that bucket and it will climb out. But if you put 2 crabs in the bucket, when one of the crabs tries to climb out, the other crab will pull it back in. Neither will ever escape. It doesn’t matter that it’s possible to escape; the crabs will hold each other back from doing so. We’re no different than crabs. It’s a sad part of the society we’re living in. When one independent freedom seeker tries to “climb out of the bucket” the rest of the herd will try to pull you back in. Amazing the regret I have in allowing these crab people enter my life. There’s a breaking point where a light switch gets turned on and POOF! No more CRABS!!! Your life gets very productive and awesome when you know how to spot a soul sucking crab. Sometimes….that crab is you!

Great question and now I have to really think about that because I rarely allow myself to relax. I love walking my tiny little Chihuahua dog on long hikes into the mountains and then when we reach the top of the mountain I like laying on the ground with my doggy sleeping on my belly while staring into the sky. That’s the good times! Just watching the clouds hovering above while my doggy gently snores on my chest.

Oh possessions. Again I’m not a fan of “nouns”. I can lose every materialist thing I own and I’ll be OK with that. My personal health and mental well-being (If it’s actually “well”!) is what’s most important. My tiny house that I live in might be my most cherished possession. Even if everything inside vanished the house itself means a lot to me. I have nightmares of it burning down. There’s a lot of deep symbolism with my relationship with my house and myself. I know it’s just wooden architecture but it’s deeper than that. I was raised to only desire a simple roof over my head and simple food and that’s about it. All my books and records and even music equipment can vanish and I wouldn’t really care much. I’ve lost way too many precious lives so any material objects doesn’t have much value to me next to living friends and family.

ONE: My Mom
TWO: My Dad
Three: David Lee Roth

Inside my body when I’m skateboarding……. On that note…. The worst place in the world is inside my body after eating pavement from skateboarding.

Professional skateboarder……. But at my current age of 46 I don’t think I can pull that off.

I’m a bit dyslexic. And I have a really hard time with reading and writing and always have. I do indeed read books but it takes me much longer than others. I have to read and reread each page of a book a few times before going to the next page. Writing is extremely embarrassing for me. I cannot properly hand write stuff either, it looks like a small child’s writing. And I cannot type properly too. I’m a pecker, you know where one types like a chicken pecking. Also speaking is embarrassing where I cannot pronounce “big” words or fancy smart words. I’m constantly mispronouncing word which is kinda funny to some people but can be embarrassing to me. For instance I cannot properly pronounce my “th” words. So when I try to say “north” it comes out as “norf”. Keep in mind that I am an elementary school librarian where I teach the tiny ones about reading yet I do a great job at this. School teachers marvel at how I connect with kids on reading but the truth is that I’m really a struggling reader myself. So maybe that’s my advantage? By not being a good speaker or reader I can help children read and speak? They tell me I’m doing a great job so I suppose I found my calling in life!

I remember meeting Masami Akita [Merzbow] for the first time and staying at his house in Tokyo and noticed he was very quiet but then I noticed he stutters and I knew that this was embarrassing to him. That explained a bit why he didn’t speak much. I really felt a strong connection with him even though we both didn’t speak much to each other. I hold Masami Akita up in the highest level of respect and admiration. But it’s very true with folks like me who have difficulty with language and communication is that what we cannot convey in words – we convey with sound/noise/music. One of the most comforting and inspiring quote comes from Goethe where he sums up everything in one sentence “Music begins where words end.” (Booom! mic drop)