Truancy Volume 208: SCRAAATCH

Hailing from Philly with roots in Maryland, the digital-dwelling, performance-minded sound art and music duo SCRAAATCH load their knapsack of self-determinative songs onto the platter for Truancy Volume 208. Their series of numbered performances each possess unique character thanks to a consciousness and deliberation in their concept and implementation, often through abstract electronics, noise, glitch and field recordings. “SCRAAATCH No. 12”, is their latest – a mediation on Kanye’s “Ultralight Beam” with organs, vocals and all. Recordings of the physical sets often eventually join the online realm alongside the pair’s monthly NTS Radio show, described as “sounds fugitive to the club, the web, the street and the future” and regularly featuring guests such as FAKA, Jessicunt and L’Rain.

The group is formed of two artists, one who can appear as E. Jane or MHYSA and another who surfaces as chukwumaa or lawd knows. MHYSA, a persona engaged with black divadom, is best known for her THOT FANTASY mix series and her enthralling 2017 album on Rabit’s Halcyon Veil, fantasii. lawd knows frequently works with MHYSA outside of SCRAAATCH and has his own locker full of productions and edits to boot. Their practice is emblematic of a constant, continuous growth through collaboration, participation, discussion and action where process is paramount. Through their intrepid attitude to the possibilities of sound, they make a vital case for creating your own space and searching for its potential. This quality permeates their mix for us in all of its chaotic fun, chucking everything from Benny Benassi basslines and Lil Uzi loops to disintegrating breaks and floor workouts into the same blender to make a protein shake for the freaks. Stream and download Truancy Volume 208 below and read our interview to discover SCRAAATCH’s wisdom on project ethos ahead of their European tour this spring.

Hey there. How’s you’re 2018 going so far? “It’s anarchy down here and we’re living it but it’s been cute also.”

On getting into SCRAAATCH, one of the things I sought to understand was who was E. Jane and who was MHYSA, who was chukwumaa and who was lawd knows. It seemed like I wasn’t the only one, but there was something really striking about not being able to conflate personas and essentially just being unable to immediately understand the heuristic. From your perspective, the choice to make those distinctions seemed natural and pragmatic in terms of finding places and velocities for your own creative instincts. How is the compartmentalisation of these things holding up for you both? “Now that we’re out of school and get to just be artists in the world, we like to keep it weirder and those distinctions really matter less. We really like to do what we want so having different containers for different kinds of impulses makes that easier.”

As someone who also regularly collaborates on projects with close ones, how do you balance your personal and work-related relationships with each other? “We don’t. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯”

It’s been a year of monthly NTS Radio slots for you now. How have you found holding down the residency alongside SCRAAATCH’s performance commitments? Do you approach both outlets of the project with a similar mindset? “In our numbered performance pieces, we’re usually thinking about Black people and what being Black means for us existentially and how we relate to each other inside of and across the African diaspora. Our NTS slot is a companion to our performances in a lot of ways. We play around in a sandbox of unformed ideas and interests and also use it to ask other folks what they’re listening to/making/thinking about.”

You’ve hosted various great guest spots on the shows too. As SCRAAATCH progresses, do you find that the number of artists you consider contemporaries or inspirations is changing? Is your world getting bigger or smaller at all? “We like to use the NTS platform to center up and coming voices we believe should be heard, E’s always daydreaming about A&Ring someday and I think we both have a passion for being a platform for folks we believe in. Specifically, we like to focus on Black and queer folks–Black women and femmes especially–many are friends or colleagues whose music we’ve been admiring for a while. We’re less interested in seeking out as many people as possible than we are in giving back to and being a platform for our communities. So we’re keeping the world small, but in a way that feels intimate and fruitful. Social media culture can sometimes make people fungible in a way that is violent. Online, people become numbers and as the world gets bigger through net interactions, oftentimes the relationships become watered down. Instead, we have very tight knit relationships with the artists we feature.”

What are your current engagements outside of SCRAAATCH/MHYSA? “E. is currently showing video work in the group show “Indelible Marks” at American Medium in New York and is presenting at Glasgow International in April, both in a solo show and group show. chukwumaa recently showed new sculptures and a sculptural sound work in a two-person exhibition titled “honda full o cousins” with artist and close friend Samuel Hindolo at Deli Gallery in New York as well as a sound work for 21 burner phones in a group show entitled “CONTRABAND” at Washington Project for the Arts in D.C.”

DJ Haram was telling me about how the ATM music/arts/performance series you used to collaborate on came to a close. I was wondering if you had some wisdom to offer on the events; lessons learned from running regular projects that seem to go against the grain in terms of what’s out there? “Do it because you love it, not for money or clout. Do it with people you can trust. Care for the people you bring out, don’t just exploit their labor. Really make sure they feel supported since queer people of color (especially Black queer people) engaging experimental music don’t get enough support from institutions. If you feel you can’t sustain what you’re doing, try to mentor younger folks because they might be ready to take on the task of keeping the energy going when you can’t. Don’t feed into press, use it but don’t let it overwhelm you. Media attention can change dynamics so beware of that. Don’t rush things.”

Where do you draw your strength and conviction from? “Each other and our cultures.”

Reading old interviews, there’s so much love for Kanye’s practice and approach and now, however many years on, you’ve just dropped SCRAAATCH No 12: Ultralight Beam Edit. In an age of hypervisibility and (mis-)awareness of people’s actions, do you think there is still a place for cultural icons and heroes in today’s societies, at any level? (I’m also thinking about MHYSA as a diva and lawd knows’ recent tweet about black visibility.) “Cultural icons inspire culture, so yes. Not heroes, though, because people are human. Visibility is a trap.”

We’re super pumped to have you on board for our mix series. Can you tell us about your approach to this Truancy Volume? “#moneymakinmonday”

What are your plans for the future? “#SUPERSEXYSTAYBLESSEDTOUR”

What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud? “We just made up a treatment for an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm while deliriously answering this interview in Norway.”

28 MAR – Lisbon – Galeria Zé dos Bois*
29 MAR – Barcelona – imaginCafe*
30 MAR – Brussels – Listen Festival*
31 MAR – Ghent – Courtisane*^
05 APR – Brussels – BRDCST^
06 APR – Amsterdam – Rewire*^
07 APR – Glasgow – Counterflows*
19 APR – Glasgow – The Art School^
21 APR – Bristol – Thorny*+
23 APR – London – Cafe OTO*
28 APR – Austria – Donau Fest*
29 APR – Aachen – Musikbunker*+

lawd knows – +

Kandi Burress & Friends – #MONEYMAKINGMONDAY (Suede Remix)
Goldlink x Leonce – Kokamoe Drums (lawd knows bootleg)
Omeed Norouzi – on’s tension x mc bin laden x tf
Missy Elliott – I’m Better (Air Max ’97 Retread)
NKC – ​Codeine Crash
T​ierra ​Wh​ack – ​MUMBO​ ​ JUMBO
Mr Real – Legbegbe ft Idowest x Obadice x Kelvin chuks
Mut4y + Wizkid – Manya (Ase Manual Remix)
Distruction Boyz & DJ Maphorisa – Tholukuthi Hey (Remix) ft. Killer Kau & Mbali
Dj CiroFox – Black Cloud (Original Mix) 20K17
M.E.S.H.​ – ​Damaged Merc​ (F​raxinus ​Remix​)
Brenmar – Hey Ladies feat. Uniiqu3 (Neana Remix)
Omarosa – Not My Circus Interlude
P. Adrix – ​D.R.É.N.A (Satisfaction Remix)
Sweet Pussy Pauline – Work This Pussy (Tim Dolla Remix)
Dj Spider & Phil Moffa – First Contact
Black Kray x Rezt x Mike of Doom x Photek – Light Rings (lawd knows bootleg)
LYZZA – Talk Ur Talk
Justin Timberlake – Cry Me A River (GrooveBeatz Kizomba Rework)

SCRAAATCH: Facebook, Soundcloud, Twitter

Photo courtesy of the artist – credit: Luis Nieto Dickens