Erin Rioux is a multimedia artist and cofounder of the New York label Human Pitch. His genre-bending productions under his last name traverse the worlds of biomorphic techno, environmental composition, and outsider pop.
Ahead of the weekend, Rioux has taken the time to answer a couple questions on his life as an electronic music producer. In advance of his debut with Blockhead in Zone One at Elsewhere on Friday December 22nd, Rioux shares new moods and zones that have shaped his world in 2017.
You’re a native of Detroit, a city rich with electronic music history. What impact did the city’s music scene have on you when you were growing up?
I grew up in Metro Detroit––a small town 30 minutes from the city––but the city was my happy place and point of contact with art and culture. Because I had an older brother and older friends who exposed me to really special music at a young age, I was able to catch groups like Konono No.1 and Stereolab before I could drive, but I’ll never forget discovering Detroit techno and house at Movement festival on my own in its second or third year when it was free. My guitar-centric musical universe expanded and I started teaching myself Ableton Live on my parents’ computer.
What recently released or soon to be released material on your Human Pitch label are you most excited about?
I have to shout out both of the next two records in the Human Pitch queue, due out early 2018. One is an EP by Ghanaian producer Galt Faculty, who makes hypnotic MPC music, channeling Detroit house (speaking of!) from a distinct, African perspective. Shortly after that Landon Speers will be releasing an ambient book/album––a collection of original photography paired with an album of environmental compositions. I’m really proud of Landon merging his visual and musical practices. They heighten one another and show the world just how special a person he is.
Whether it be artwork, animation, or video creation, you’ve been heavily involved in crafting the visual aesthetic for Human Pitch. What’s your background in visual artwork?
I have no technical training in visual art. It’s my punk rock! It’s liberating to know nothing in an area and create from that place of beginner’s mind. At a point, knowledge can become baggage. I’m working on unlearning music to an extent and at the same time working at being a better designer. I was very lucky to take a multimedia studio art class with Delia Gonzales in Berlin, which was very open and concept-driven. I think I learned more emotionally in that class than I did aesthetically, which I desperately needed at the time.
Having lived in Detroit, New York, Berlin and now New York again, what do you perceive as the differences and similarities between each city’s respective musical community? What drew you back to New York?
One of the biggest differences is the degree to which life is hidden/exposed. Detroit is a very hidden city. Things are very tucked away and obscured, which is not to say it’s inaccessible––the community there is small, tight-knit, and inviting. In New York, everything is clearly laid out by comparison. The best parties I’ve been to in my life were in Berlin but ultimately I have more friends in New York than anywhere else. I’m not very adept at social life but New York encourages me more than other cities to connect with others. The diversity here is also non-existent in Berlin and although segregation exists everywhere, it’s more deeply ingrained in Detroit than here. Diversity is really important to me.
I noticed you included “Kyanite” from Jlin on your playlist. Black Origami was undoubtedly one of our favorites of 2017. What do you like about this song?
To me, “Kyanite” and Black Origami represent Jlin transitioning from being a footwork producer to being in a world of her own. No one sounds like Jlin.
Interview by Shane Stroup