In Session: cørdyceps
ALBANY – Courtney Guttenberg, who goes by her stage name of cørdyceps,is all set for her upcoming EP, 444, to be released on February 22nd. An album comprised of unsettling, uncomfortable, yet so damned intriguing electronic music, it almost immediately begs an immediate re-listening; if nothing more than to just try and further process what was heard.
Each track on this short EP, is rife with various sonic textures. The opening and title track, “444,” featured a nice airy synth blended with distorted synths. Throughout, a steady kick drum pulse tied the piece together. As the song progressed, an arpeggiated pattern emerged. Another element that glued the track together was the completely random, yet meticulously placed spoken word samples. Different textures ebbed and flowed in a really effective way. It sounded like something straight out of the show, BLACK MIRROR.
The second track, “they’ll hunt us down like fawn” began with a ringing telephone, which was then sampled into other chords. A gurgling, arpeggiating pattern quickly became present, followed by a drum machine pattern; very 808 sounding in nature (think electronic music of the eighties). The drum beat in and of itself was a very lo-fi drum beat. Halfway through, an airy pad entered the mix. Another thing worth noting is the song’s sub bass textures; super rich and compelling near the end of the song. The track faded out an muted keyboard arpeggios and chords.
Its closing track, “BONE STRUCTURE,” consisted mainly of sonar type effects and warbling entered the song soon after its beginning. This particular song featured heavily dense 808 toms. Then a hi-hat pattern and kick came in; which quickly replaced the tom motif. A glitchy snare patterns and bass riffs built the song further. The track was a great example of sidechain compression utilization. Ending just as eerily as the album began, the song faded out on an extremely high-pitched synth that seemed to last for quite a while.
I sat down with Courtney ahead of the album’s release. What follows is our discussion on music production, genre influences, and more.
Lucas Garrett: Well, thank you for taking the time to sit down tonight! I heard your new album 444! When is it going to be coming out?
cørdyceps: It is coming out Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022.
LG: All 2’s, huh?
cørdyceps: Lots of 2’s!
LG: It’s an album that needs to be heard on big speakers.
cørdyceps: Yeah, it’s definitely one of those EP’s that needs to be blared. I’ve been blaring it on my computer all the time. Every time I use my headphones to listen, I’ll hear something that I didn’t hear before when I was making it.
LG: Sometimes – I don’t know if you feel this way about your art. I’m never really happy with how any release sounds. It’s always like, “Oh, I wish I would’ve done that!” Or, something like that…
cørdyceps: All the time. I’m a perfectionist to the nth degree. I’ll listen to something back that I think I perfected and I’ll hear something I like or think, “Oh, that didn’t have to go on for that long.” I’m like that with 99% of the things I do.
LG: As creatives, there comes a point when we need to stop making it and just release it, you know?
cørdyceps: Exactly. Exactly, and that took me a long, long time to figure out. I sat on a lot of music and art for a long time for fear of: “What if people don’t like it?” Then, I finally realized it didn’t matter if people didn’t like it. I like it enough to think it’s important so I’ll put it out there.
LG: A friend of mine said – and I agree with this mindset, now – “OK, did this make it better? Did that addition make it better or did it just change it?” Because, they’re not the same thing.
LG: It’s hard when you’re doing it all on your own. If I had my way, I don’t know if I’d ever release a thing.
cørdyceps: Ha, exactly!
LG: When you’re making music, what’s your process?
cørdyceps: With all the cørdyceps projects, I go into it with a general concept or feeling of what I would want a specific room to sound like. What vibe do I want to give off? For example, with my last release, Cyborg Juice, I came up with the feeling of music you’d hear if you were trapped in a mannequin factory. I honestly start off with words; song titles first, and then kind of build around that. Then, I’ll find that loop or find that mod that I’ve done that just sounds right. It becomes the tone for the whole album or the whole project. That’s how I’ve been approaching things. At this point, it has to scratch that itch in my brain for me to be satisfied with it and for me to want to put it out. If it scratches that itch, then I release it. If it doesn’t, I table it and come back to it.
I’ll sit down and I write a bunch of beginning pieces. I’ll come back to it a few weeks later and bang out five songs at a time because I’m in the right head space. It’s an all or nothing type process.
LG: Right. The “tap” is either on all the way or it’s rusted shut entirely.
cørdyceps: Right! The way that I handle all the creative endeavors in my life is, “Don’t try.” If I force it, it’s not going to be… I have to seize that moment; know when it’s time to seize that moment.
LG: Sometimes, it’s unfortunate if we don’t get the luxury of waiting. I feel like a lot of artists dictate based on their fans, the dates of their new releases. Sometimes you need to put out an album and you don’t have that last song. Suddenly, you’re looking at a fast-approaching deadline. That can be a little intimidating, I think.
cørdyceps: One-hundred percent. I live by deadlines, but it’s also incredibly anxiety-provoking. It’s a curse.
LG: Correct me if I’m wrong, but after I heard 444, I got a huge BLACK MIRROR vibe. Do you like show?
cørdyceps: I’ve seen a few episodes of that show, but I had to stop watching. It freaked me out!
LG: I got such a huge, huge BLACK MIRROR vibe on that album!
cørdyceps: That means a lot to me! That means a lot. That is a show that is so terrifying to me that I can’t even bring myself to watch it. The fact that’s the feeling it evokes is pretty cool!
LG: I don’t mean anything bad by it! But, a lot of the album I was like, “Oh my god, what the hell is happening?”
cørdyceps: That’s what I was going for!
LG: It was uncomfortable; it was groovy; I don’t know what the hell it was, but I know I’m going to listen to it again.
cørdyceps: That’s the perfect testimonial I can release for this EP.
LG: As a producer – I haven’t had a chance to listen to everything you’ve put out, yet – is this your genre, or do you other stuff as well?
cørdyceps: I used to do lo-fi, kind of rap singing. I stopped doing that because it wasn’t where I was at, anymore. I’ve been writing electronic music since I was like 16 or 17. This has been the logical progression; either I stop doing it entirely, or I start taking it seriously. I started off with dubstep; very EDM-based. My transitions were all off and then I started getting experimental with it. I was listening to SOPHIE a lot, and I was listening to a lot of hyperpop. I liked how upbeat, yet sinister that it was. It had that weird little middle ground. I listened to The Prodigy a lot, as well. I was listening to them a lot when I was writing Poison Oak – my full-length prior to this EP.
444 is the EP featuring three songs off my upcoming album, king courtney. It keeps getting darker and faster. We’re calling it electro-witch punk. As I’ve rambled to answer your question: I’ve been making electronic music for a long time, but I’ve been all over the spectrum as to where the genre within that has fallen.
LG: I’m also getting – I don’t know if you’ve read this story by Vonnegut – a “Harrison Bergeron” vibe. When you make the album, do you that on your laptop?
cørdyceps: Yes, I use GarageBand. I love DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations). I used Audition a lot in college for mixing and podcast mixing. But, I’ve been GarageBand for a really long time; it’s evolved so much. It has so many different tools that you wouldn’t think would come with your computer.
LG: Do you ever perform these songs out and around?
cørdyceps: Yes! When I perform live it’s a whole other persona entirely. I have a show at No Fun in Troy on Tuesday, March 29th!
LG: Is there anything else you’d like to talk about today?
cørdyceps: On the 22nd of this month, I’ll be giving out free digital downloads of the EP, 444, to anyone that comes to Whiskey Pickle in Troy and buys Hypersaturation Issue No. 2.
LG: Thanks again for your time!
cørdyceps: Thanks so much! It’s been so nice to talk with you!
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