Buried At Sea’s Sanford Parker on his latest album with Neurosis’ Scott Kelly under the Mirrors For Psychic Warfare moniker.
Mirrors For Psychic Warfare are a US-based industrial duo consisting of Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and Sanford Parker (Buried At Sea). This project could somewhat be seen as an offshoot of Corrections House, in which both also perform. The release of their second full-length I See What I Became has seen the duo make a much bolder and more distinct statement, allowing this project to carry its own weight.
Astral Noize had the pleasure of chatting with electronics maestro Sanford Parker, so that we could look deeper through the looking glass.
How far do you and Scott [Kelly, guitar and vocals] go back and what brought you together as musicians?
I met him through a mutual friend years ago, maybe 2003, something like that. We’ve always had some sort of relationship. Originally before Corrections House, we were going to do solo sets, the four of us. We started booking a tour and our booking agent was like, “why don’t you idiots start a band? It would be so much easier to promote,” and we said “yeah, that sounds like a good idea!” So, we decided to write some songs and start playing as Corrections House. Originally the idea was the four of us would do solo stuff [live], and then we would join at the end and do three songs at the end of the set.
So did Mirrors For Psychic Warfare form out of those solo performances?
Kinda yeah. It originally started out as another thing that Scott wanted to do. He would actually work on the songs while we were touring with Corrections House. It got to a point where he needed to bring someone else in and he asked if I was interested, and I said absolutely! So it kind of came out of that. The first record [2016’s self-titled album] was mostly stuff that Scott had written, and he gave me the tracks and I added my parts, and then we started incorporating them live.
Do you feel like Mirrors For Psychic Warfare exists within the same creative universe as Corrections House, or is it meant to be a separate entity?
We never really discussed that. Neither one of us wanted to do Corrections House part two, but obviously, it’s going to have some of that because of who we are. The idea was not to just copy that, but add something different. We share a lot of the same elements, but Corrections House has Bruce [Lamont] and Mike [Williams]. Obviously, that is a big part of it that would be different. We kind of knew we wanted it to be as different as we could make it.
We feel like with I See What I Became, you’ve made a more distinct and developed sound compared to the debut. In particular, you’ve pushed the electronic and industrial elements even more. Was there a sense that you wanted Mirrors For Psychic Warfare to stand out more and not just be looked at as a side project?
Yeah, the newer record was more of an effort between the two of us, whilst the first one was more Scott, and then I got involved later on. This one was more of the two of us working together. That is the biggest difference with this new record, I had much more of a hand in the songwriting and the production from the beginning. I’ve always had some sort of electronic influences in my music, so that’s what I listen to, and those are my influences, it’s always going to come through in my music no matter what it is. It wasn’t anything we sat down and discussed, it just came out and we kind of went with it.
What particular electronic influences did you have going into this record? We detect hints of Godflesh, Techno Animal and even Depeche Mode…
Yeah totally! All of those are big influences on both of us. We wanted to have an element of hip-hop as well. We are both big fans of Massive Attack and Portishead. But it’s not like we got together and said let’s do a song like Massive Attack, it just happened to come out.
On I See What I Became, the songs feel a bit more condensed and immediate. The average song lengths here are four or five minutes, whilst they were much longer on the debut album. Was there a sense that you wanted to streamline your sound with this record?
Yeah, that is one thing where we kind of went in with an idea. We definitely wanted the songs to be shorter and more structured, more song-oriented rather than doomy, droney experimental stuff. So yeah that was definitely a conscious thing as much as we could.
So the album title I See What I Became comes from a lyric in ‘Crooked Teeth’. What does the album title mean, is it about self-reflection?
Yeah, when Scott wrote the lyrics, a lot of that came from recent experiences he has dealt with. It was kind of a reflection of him and who he is, and his interaction with his family. The lyrics were really heavy for him. After we tracked the vocals, it kind of put him in a dark spot for a little bit, but I think it was something he needed to do and needed to say. I think it was very therapeutic for him. All the lyrics on the record sort of tie together, so we felt like that would be a good title to represent the songs as a whole.
So with Scott pouring his heart out and having these very personal and cathartic lyrics, was there a sense that your electronics had to match that tone?
It was probably a bit more of the opposite. I feel like maybe the electronics influenced his writing, rather than his writing influenced the electronics. His writing definitely had a heavy weight on how the songs ultimately ended up being mixed and produced. A lot of the electronic stuff, I would send to him and he would kind of write his parts around that. Then when we got together and recorded his guitar and vocals, the final production played a lot on the vibe that he ended up giving it. He definitely took it in a much darker, kind of personal direction. The electronics can be cold and brutal, but once he added his elements to it, it made it more organic and gave more life to it. That definitely affected the final outcome.
The album has quite a cinematic sound to it, were there any films that influenced the recordings?
No, not really. We talked about that though, because it does have this kind of cinematic feel to it. We’ve talked about maybe doing a short film and creating a soundtrack for that. It could be something that happens down the road.
What plans do Mirrors For Psychic Warfare have going into 2019?
We’re kind of on hold for the moment, but I’ve been writing a ton and have ideas for the next album ready to go. We’ve talked about doing some remixes too. We’ve talked with Justin Broadrick about possibly doing one. He was stoked when we approached him about it. There is definitely enough around that will keep us busy for a while.
I See What I Became is out now on Neurot Recordings. Purchase here.
Words: Chris “Frenchie” French
Photo Credit: Julie Patterson