October 16, 2017
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Crossworm “A Dirtcore Extravaganza!” FLH Exclusive

Crossworm is an artist / producer extraordinaire, and by now you have probably heard of him. If not from his music or interviews online, then perhaps through his engineering credits with many of the underground’s biggest players. Crossworm has mixed produced and mastered sessions featuring powerhouse artists like Tech N9ne, Stevie Stone, Hopsin, Dizzy Wright, Lo Key, Mars, Cryptic Wisdom, Madchild, Immortal Technique, and many others. Born and raised on the other side of the Detroit border, Crossworm is now based in Grand Rapids, MI where he currently operates his independent label “Dirtcore Music”. I’m sitting down for this interview today because it’s obvious there is a lot going on these days in the Dirtcore camp.

Chad Thomas Carsten
Dirtcore Music looks to be setting up an incredible roster. What brought forth the decision to sign Damien Page and why should underground fans pay attention to his Dirtcore debut?

Crossworm
Dirtcore Music doesn’t sign artists or have a roster in the traditional sense. Aside from the records released through Dirtcore, artists are considered free agents. If they want to release more records through the company that’s on the table for discussion. But Damien Page’s record is important to Dirtcore because it is the first album released under the brand aside from my own work. It opened the door for the current structure to function.

Damien Page is a young artist originally from the Phoenix area. I held a contest in 2014 called “Dirty32”. He entered, but didn’t win or grab my attention that I can remember. BUT… the dude was relentlessly in my inbox just eager to learn and understand things better. Over time, we became friends and I realize how hard I slept on the dude. I kind of took him under my wing and eventually agreed to do some mixing for him at no cost to help him come up. When I heard a couple songs, I was like “YO gimme the whole record I’m gonna mix the whole thing.” As I started to hear these songs, I realized he is on fire, and I needed to release the record. So I produced a couple beats, co-produced a couple beats, and appeared on two songs, and that because his album “Z”. It’s short for Zyphril, his alter ego. The album is emotionally intelligent and super self aware. Damien suffers from bi polar 2, among a few other illnesses. I’ll leave his privacy in tact on that but he was told he’d never live on his own or support himself. His music is always amped up on inner turmoil. It’s basically his journey as he finds out he is broken, but fixable. I’m proud of all the strides the dude has made over the past few years. It was a no brainer to release his record on Dirtcore Music.

CTC

If you had a to choose a graphic novel to describe the musical sound of Damien Page, what would it be and why?

Crossworm

I’m not really well versed in graphic novels. But it’s somber, dark, introspective, and as I said before, emotionally intelligent. So as an illustrator, I can imagine creating a graph novel around his tunes that are tonally muted. Stark Contrasts. And confliction camera angles that go from wide shots to inner monologue from panel to panel. I would imagine key elements on each page having color, while the rest are greyscale. Like a Sin City kind of look and feel, but highly personal and introverted.

CTC

What is Caveman and why should Dirtcore fans be excited?

Crossworm

“I am Gilgamesh” is working on a million different things always. Just like me. But together we are working on his Dirtcore Music debut called “Caveman”. I’m about 3 beats into the EP and it’s pure fucking fire. When we work together I channel his energy. It’s a completely spiritual thing. We also have a group project in the works with a couple other dudes. It’s like an anti-super group. LOL But that’s a story for another time.
We’re excited. For that reason alone, Dirtcore fans are excited. They’re already in-the-know.

CTC

Lately you’ve been networking with the Nephilim a great deal! Let’s go into detail on who that is, and why this friendship has grown. What influenced you to network with them?

Crossworm

I’ve been there since it’s inception 10 years ago. The Nephilim is now a network of artists that work together to promote positively. The founder of course, is “I Am Gilgamesh”, an OG based in Tucson, AZ. Most people don’t understand that he’s an OG, but for 10 years I’ve seen him do some Shadow-boss shit for the scene. We’re talking about a guy that introduced Hopsin to our scene, intro’d him to Jarren Benton, intro’d Jokerr’s music to Lo Key. And he did a shitload of groundwork promoting the earliest version of Mission Infect, among other movements. He’s also the artist that pulled me out of my shell to become a better and more proactive networking artist.

So the Nephilim network is basically what he does best, but full tilt. He’s releasing music under Dirtcore Music, but he runs the Neph. It’s full of artists, fans, and promoters alike.  There is an upper echelon of artists within the Nephilim called the Pantheon, and we are the artists that chose Gil and made HIM a priority at one point in his career. Mumm Ra is also a Pantheon artist in the Nephilim. It’s a completely different energy within this movement. I’ve never been a part of any of these other movements, other than being a Juggalo. Nothing else has been what I want to fuck with, personally. But I embrace this because it’s real. And it’s important. I can’t explain it other than the feeling I get from it. It’s just…. Important to me.

CTC

The Nothing is currently in production to be your very first music video! Why did you choose that single for your first video?

Crossworm

It’s the banger on my most recent release “Finding X”. It’s the pinnacle of the story and the antagonist I become when enveloped in darkness. Who we ALL become for that matter. I’m working on the video with a super talented writer / director named Andy Miller here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He’s the one that shot my promo video for Finding X. This song will be revamped and brought back for the new album. It ties in directly into the new mythos of “Wake”.

Andy and I met on the set of a music video he shot for local legends The Great Ones (J.Rob and Lady Ace Boogie). I engineered their whole record and one of their dingles was a controversial song called “Hands Up Don’t Shoot”. Andy is single handedly revolutionizing underground hip hop in west Michigan with the visuals everyone is bringing to him. He’s been integral to artists here being able to staircase into a more professional level. We’ve since become friends and plan to work together on some indie feature film stuff as well.

CTC

Will fans be able to sleep again after viewing your upcoming video for “The Nothing”?

Crossworm

Fuck, I hope not. *Laughs* When I showed my inner circle the promo vid for Finding X, they were kinda just like….. “what; the; FUCK???!” But seriously I don’t think it’s going to scare the FUCK out of people, but I do definitely think it’s going to be a pretty wild think-piece. It really has to do with the inescapably of darkness and negative spirits.

CTC

How does your latest single “Into The Ether” reflect your own personal life at the moment?

Crossworm

At the time of this interview it’s not released yet but INTO THE ETHER, drops next week (August 18th 2017). It explains the mythos behind the new Crossworm album. It’s a concept record about a mask that allows me to shapeshift and slip into a dimension where energy based life forms reside. Basically spirits and demons. Upon entering the ether (as I call it), I can see demonic spirits sucking the life out of people. So this song is an introduction to the journey the mask takes me on throughout the new album. Including being guided by a voice I refer to as the Mothership. I also talk about how the core of the planet is a dimensional rip where all souls are born from, and how it’s in danger of being breached by malicious spirits. The cool part is… all of the mythos was channeled from a series of lucid dreams I’ve been having. So my subconscious is actually writing the basis for the record. How that reflects my personal life I’m not sure. But it’s something that’s happening with AND without my control. The tentative title for the album is “wake”. But that may change.

CTC

“Continuously Punching Your Face For The Greater Good” has been released. How important is this release to the underground scene. What’s the true meaning behind its title?

Crossworm

Important is a really entitled word, old friend. I try not to let my ego drift that far into the red. It’s important to me though because it gives me a giant tool for converting new fans into Dirtcore Disciples. On my birthday this year (June 26th) I released the album as a collection of my best work in the past couple years. I’ve never had a hit. So punches to the face are as close as I get. *Laughs* Honestly, I always wanted to put out an album with a super ridiculous title. So here it is. It has a pile of features with veterans like Lo Key, DurtE, Cryptic Wisdom, and some from my crew. Including Gilgamesh’s new single “…There” Which I remixed. It sounds like Cthulhu throwing buses full of people into the side of a cliff.

CTC

Rumor has it you’re producing Lo Key’s next Oracle Masterpiece! Are you able to dive into detail on what you have planned in terms of production and the main goal behind the album?

Crossworm

For those that don’t know, I started producing beats for the “Book of Time” for Lo Key back in early 2012. He was promoting his movie “Chainsaw Symphony”, and I had some left over beats from another project from a few years prior. One of them was coincidentally called Bonesaw Symphony, so I reached out to him and was like, “hey man check this beat out”. He loved it and asked if I’d be interested in producing his new Oracle, “The Book of Time”. Easy decision. I like his oracle series because they are highly conceptual versus the typical social based bravado found in most hip hop albums. With all the elements he blends together I consider him a Dirtcore artist more than horrorcore or hip hop, stylistically speaking. Which isn’t a term I lend easily.

I remixed the entire BOT album with all new beats, and even had several addition “low-key” remix versions. Pardon the pun. Those chill versions are really kind of somber and melodic, versus heavy and rhythmic. Anyways. I remixed that album in October of 2014. Worked on it solid for a month. Glad to see it’s finally coming out. Lo key just hit me up about audio stems for one of the songs, and I sent him a beat for his new record. He loved it…So that pretty much means I’m on board for the 3rd Oracle as well. *Laughs* I never usually ask. I just do the work first. *Laughs*

CTC

A couple years back I gave your 2014 release “Parasite Avenue” to Violent J in person. I heard there’s an interesting story to follow that.  Please explain that for the Juggalos reading.

Crossworm

Yeah that did present an interesting turn of events.  Some things I have never done before…. So  In 2014 I was invited to perform the Gathering, but couldn’t due to some ugly details of immigration process.  Last year I posted about how much Joe Bruce, Joey Utsler, and Mike E. Clark influenced my humble beginnings as Crossworm.  I’ve been a Juggalo for 22 years.  Since Riddlebox.  I remember anticipating that release.  My first ICP cassette was Terror Wheel!  Anyways,  I made the post about my influences, and ICP’s lighting guy Josh happened to be following me ever since you gave them my record Parasite Avenue.  So Josh chimed in on the post and let me know that they were listening to it in Jay’s whip and that they were feeling it.  That gave me a huge shot of courage, knowing that the catalyst that created Crossworm was feeling my work.  I decided to get brave.
 
I designed a mystery box in December 2016, printed and cut everything at the place I work.  Inside I placed a couple recent projects, a couple books I’ve released, some promo photos, a bio, and even a custom beat I made for ICP.  It was basically a super fresh press kit / demo box.
But as we all know…. some chaos hit the family and I decided to hold off a bit.  When the demo was finally mailed to Psy HQ, things were getting even more tense in the camp and it kind of got put to the wayside.  It was unsolicited and I’m sure they get SO MANY fuckin demos its hard to sift through no matter how hard mine popped.
I decided to reach back out to Jumpsteady to let them know about the demo and some details about not being able to  perform in 2014.  Ironically, I happened to be walking downtown Detroit on my way back to Windsor to visit family when he finally replied.  He just confirmed that they do fuck with me but they just aren’t signing anyone right now.  I kind of felt like some of the other artists that blew their opportunities blew it for me too, honestly.  But I offered my skills to their cause if ever they need it, and things were left on positive terms.

CTC

You’ve expressed interest in composing music for TV/Gaming/Film under your real name. What inspired this decision to go down the composing path and which scores from any form of entertainment influenced your own creative direction?

Crossworm

Recently I’ve taken a massive interest in composing for film / tv / gaming, so I am currently writing an album under my real name (Steve Weatherbie) called “Score Tissue vol 1”. I’m pressing up a limited run of 300 units and I’ll be using them to network heavily in those industries. It’ll also be made available on Spotify and all the major digital retailers like iTunes, amazing, google play tidal, etc.
My goal is to start off with indie film and games, and put in a TON of groundwork. I’ve always been influenced more by film than I have bands / recording artists. One of my all time favorite scores is Tangerine Dream’s score for the US version of Legend. Also, The Neverending Story (Wolfgang Petersen) and The Dark Crystal (Trevor Jones). All the fantasy films I grew up on in the 80’s. Stranger Things OST is shattering my mind right now. I still listen to the new Evil Dead score by composer Roque Bañoso, on the regular while I’m knocking out design work. Hans Zimmer is definitely a fav.

CTC

Which film producer/director would you absolutely love to score a movie for?

Crossworm

Off the top of my head, I’d say probably Danny Boyle. I’m in love with the bleakness in many of his films. There’s so much beauty in his writing and how he shoots. I love his ability to tell a story with minimal dialog. I feel like my own personal style could really work well with Danny Boyle’s direction. That would be a dream. I do really love what John Murphy composed for 28 days later.

CTC

What do you want to accomplish with Dirtcore Music in the next 10 years?

Crossworm

Broooo. I hate the “5 / 10 year plan” question. *Laughs*. Honestly, Dirtcore Music is a company. It will either still be doing what it’s doing (releasing product), or maybe no longer exist. But as long as I exist, I will be creating, pushing my limits, and exceeding my boundaries. I’ve been Crossworm for 19 years. Been a musician since 1991 when I picked up drums at age 10. In 10 years I’ll be 46 and creating the best work of my life. That’s always what I’m doing!

Stay tuned  on Crossworm’s Official Facebook page for more news about all his upcoming musical projects and art! https://www.facebook.com/crossworm/

Interviewer: Chad Thomas Carsten

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