An Interview with Wretched Excess

Kansas City musician Tyler Chambers has been releasing albums as Wretched Excess since 2012. Despite drawing interest from out-of-state labels and various online communities, Chambers' music has flown under the radar locally, with nearly no press coverage taking place. The fact that he has never performed the music of Wretched Excess live may not help in that aspect, but the recordings alone are worthy of in-depth exploration. Chambers' stirring sound collages and murky ambient tracks are arguably the most otherworldly compositions of any Kansas City musician in the internet age. Read his first interview and prepare for a new album in 2017.

What were your experiences with music growing up?

When I was young music was kind of like a series of vicarious reactions to what was around me; what my parents had on in the moment, what my brothers and friends were listening to. Growing up my dad played alot of R.E.M.'s "Automatic For The People" in the car which was the first real organic feeling I remember getting from hearing music as a powerful and emotional experience. Later on that feeling resonated through artists like Radiohead and Aphex Twin, though the idea of becoming a "musician" was never a concern, it was always about the listening experience and where that would take me. The idea of creation came much later. 

Have you been a part of any bands or done any other music projects before?

The only collabing I've done is with my girlfriend on a project called White Tropics back in 2013, but I'm open to the idea and would love to include various collaborators on future records.

What's some of the main inspiration behind Wretched Excess?

It started out as a reaction to all of the ambient and drone music I was consuming at the time, namely from online friends and my girlfriend (who records as Apollo Vermouth). It was (and still is) a fascinating culture and I love the DIY aspect of it. There's something pure about pouring your soul out through these ominous sounds into a tape recorder and releasing to the world's ear in a limited run of copies that transcends pretension. Early on, The Caretaker and William Basinski were influences as I tried to carve out my own sound, but as I got more confident in my direction I've gravitated more towards an open-ended sound being made by people like Aaron Dilloway, Graham Lambkin, and those on Erstwhile Records.

The albums are tagged as "sound collages" on Bandcamp. How much of what's heard on the songs is created by you and how much is sampled?

It's a combination of samples and field recordings, more so the latter on the last record and moving into the future. A lot of the samples are actually more so field recordings in that they've been mostly played back through one source and recorded through an outside external source (like a loop being played through laptop speakers and then re-recorded through a tape recorder, before being put into software to be further edited). I like the idea of not being able to figure what exactly you're listening to, and layering and composition can work in its favor to make it even more deceptive and difficult. 

Your most recent album, "Anxiety Suite for Broken Speakers," came off as a bit less dark than your three previous albums. Why do you think that is?

I feel like with "Anxiety Suite for Broken Speakers" I've finally been able to find a sound I feel comfortable with calling my own and can continue to build on that in the future, so it's interesting you say that because I think a lot of the appeal of the older records was that darkness, so perhaps it's a result of it being less straight-forward and brooding than its predecessors. Though darkness and lightness has never really been a concern, it's more about how the creative process happens to translate my current mental state, so my approach is more amorphous. For example this record came to be through a series of trial and error over the course of a few months as I was throwing myself to the wind through a heap of incidental cell phone recordings and sonic experiments that worked like audible frames to a much larger, chaotic picture. The idea of what this record was going to sound like at first compared to how it turned out were two completely different things, but it's all for the better.

Do you ever anticipate performing live?

My focus right now is more so on making records, but in the future I'd love to. It'll be interesting and really fun to began working on a live setup, I've just gotta get around to it.

What's next for Wretched Excess?

I'm currently in the beginning stages of a new album, taking the foundation of "Anxiety Suite..." and opening it up to something wider and more self-aware, but that's all I'll say for now.

Listen to Wretched Excess on Bandcamp or SoundCloud

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