Prophecy doesn’t happen very often, especially when it comes to music. “Motor City”.. resident, Bret Autrey.. aka Blue Stahli proves that in between madness and genius is divinity. His 2015 album, “The Devil” proves that prophecy doesn’t happen often, especially when it comes to music. But musical evangelism can cause an unsuspecting audience of heretics to the brink of uncontrolled frenzy. This is where Blue Stahli eclipses the atonal EDM world of loops, traps and dub/trap with songs that will have pagans fist pumping mercifully for salvation. Fans think of him less as a EDM D.J. and more of a heavy metal Svengali whose “shredding” guitar is the order of the day. His consecration among headbangers becomes clearer because the diocese of rave D.J.’s have lost much of their edge. The guitar riffs rain down like a buzz saw and the quarter-note ride cymbals sounds like an anvil! Heathens will love it.
“The Devil” is loaded with 12 unrelenting tracks (Rockstar,Demon are our faves) its a heavy dose of big beat, acid-metal amalgams and synthesized industrial sounds. Lyrically it’s when ethos meets pathos. Blue Stahli’s antecedents are fellow sound terrorists…The Prodigy to Ministry to Renegade Sound Wave to Skinny Puppy.Blue Stahli in his own way displays an anthropomorphic archetype of his self… He has released a series of albums simply titled… “Antisleep Vol 01 through Vol 04″ which are completely instrumental.. Equally as good as The Devil minus vocals. Perhaps describing it as ambient industrial is just a “hook” to hang a hat. His dossier of work has been used in countless films, video games and commercials… He utilizes his landmark“cyberpunk” pastiche in a way similar when films adapted to “Cinemascope” in the mid 50’s…bigger, brighter and broader….
We had a chance to talk to Blue Stahli questions about music, film and William Burroughs ….
Rock Bands of L.A.com:
We are great fans of William Burroughs… He was certainly a trailblazer and inspiration with books like “Naked Lunch”… You mentioned that you like to travel to distant lands for revelations….. While growing up what music was your beacon? was it literature? Was it film? Are you a fan of the Brit’ series, “Black Mirror”?
Burroughs is definitely an inspiration, particularly with the cut-up techniques and how that can be applied to music and tearing up audio. Not only was Burroughs a great inspiration to shaking my head loose from the typical approach to lyrics, but also treating songs as a chaos of sonic collage. The influences and beacons growing up were all across the board. Though where things really made an imprint on me was during times when I would take long drives listening to albums and homemade mix CD’s, or sitting alone in a dark room in headphones trying to reverse engineer whatever album I was being enveloped by. Taking in the sound on a 2am drive to nowhere is something that shaped my musical influence, and what I’m constantly striving toward creating for other people. Love the hell out of Black Mirror. That cynical approach to our future (and similarly, trying to find the humanity in the middle of it) is pretty well entwined with my outlook.
Rock Band of LA.com
There’s a definite disambiguate nature between the ongoing series of “Antisleep” (instrumental)and your other projects.. ie..“The Devil”… is it hard to keep the different projects going forward? I would imagine that you “ping-pong” from one another. Clarify the differences…
When Blue Stahli was first starting out, the Antisleep material wasn’t going to be publicly released. Antisleep Vol. 01 was something I was doing as a “production boot camp” that was meant only for film/tv/video games. But once that sucker was done, I and the label dug the material so much that the decision was made to actually put it out as a regular album. That felt like a flag in the ground of what Blue Stahli is and can be. I’ve always dreamed of having a project that was fully multi-genre in the weirdest and wide-ranging ways. I mentioned earlier that some big influences were movie soundtracks. In addition to the filmscore, I loved having the “band” soundtracks to movies as well. I’d drive around and listen to these albums that had everything from hiphop to electronic to rock, and thought “Why can’t this just be an album from one band?” Sticking to one genre would bore the hell out of me, and my favorite thing is taking influences from multiple sources and throwing them in a blender. When I’m writing, I do compartmentalize everything into what type of release banner it should fall under. Whether it’s something more upbeat, or film/tv focused for Antisleep, the more vocal-driven material of albums like the self-titled and The Devil, and the new series of music I’m starting up called “Abandonware”, where it’s all kind of the stuff that doesn’t totally fit anywhere else. Abandonware is stuff that isn’t meant for film/tv, isn’t really meant for the main vocal albums, and may be more experimental and lo-fi. It’s a bit of a return to the demoscene roots, and could be stuff you’d hear on a floppy disc with old .MOD files, mixed with 80s and 90s straight-to-video sci-fi and cyberpunk soundtracks.
Rock Bands of L.A.com:
You do something that I think is really awesome.. You answer fan’s questions on YouTube.. not too many artists do this.. Do you learn anything from their queries? Is it a “reality” check for you…???
I wouldn’t say it’s a “reality check” so much as it’s just good to have a direct connection to people and be able to address whatever people want to know. My aim and approach to music will remain the same no matter what. That’s the really the aim in running all of my social media. Getting to connect with people on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, VK, I try my best to keep up and stay direct with everyone. There are some ways I’ll be going even more direct with the fanbase soon, but the most important thing is that it’s a way for me to let people know how much I appreciate that they support Blue Stahli.
Your lyrics has a lot of references to anti-social, dystopian and general disdain of the status quo. After listening to you speak you seem pretty mainstream.. Do you have any thoughts on politics?
I’ve never felt the need to run my mouth and drive political views into the ground at every opportunity, because there’s an avalanche of artists and others throwing out their well-meaning but ultimately divisive views on social media that just devolve into an arena for other people to yell at each other and get even more divided in the comments. Little is accomplished, and a bigger wedge is driven between people. My views are pretty much all laid out in my lyrics, and how I treat people. I’m way more interested in the things that bring us together than the things that drive us apart, as cheesy as that sounds.
Ever thought about film direction? You see the world with a wide scope. I think you’d be really good at it. Hey if Rob Zombie can do it.. why not you!
I love messing with visuals, and it’s been a blast to do super lo-fi video segments of a weirder nature to announce things (I had just as much doing the sound design and foley for stuff like “The Mirror”, just to show what the tracklist was going to be for the first album). I’m way too dumb to manage doing a full on film. I do plan on experimenting more with strange and atmospheric video stuff, but I think that will all stay relegated to short segments that appear in weird places, rather than an actual film.
Your credits with film/T.V./Vid games is really breathtaking… do you write music specific to the needs or do you just lay it out there and hope it works?
There are times that I do custom work for film/tv, where I’m given a bit of direction, or they outline what it is that they want. But most of the time, I’m just doing what I do, and it just happens to work really well for those projects.
What are your plans for touring?
I miss playing live, and had a blast as part of the two-man Celldweller tour in 2010 and 2011. I absolutely aim to take Blue Stahli live, and can’t wait to meet everyone and personally thank people for supporting this action. There’s a lot of music and album/project commitments I have to finish before I can put the live show together, but it’s definitely something that will happen.
I want to thank Blue Stahli and James Rhodes of FiXT Records..