Western NY based non-binary visual & recording creator and harsh industrial pop artist STCLVR (pronounced “streetcleaver”) has been active in the noise and industrial scenes for close to a decade now, delivering releases with Damien Records, Phage Tapes, Uninvited Records, and Chthonic Streams. STCLVR ‘s newest mind-bending offering “Lover” comes out independently with a companion art zine titled Monochromatic Mortuaries, through Bandcamp October 16th. Filled with harsh, but danceable amalgam of noise, synth punk, synth pop, and industrial rock, the record serves a great treat for fans of acts like Genghis Tron, Godflesh, Crystal Castles, Prurient, Nine Inch Nails. Today, we’re giving you a special insight into what’s behind the unique art of STCLVR, along with full first-hand track by track commentary below!
“My good friend Angel Marcloid, better known as Fire-toolz, has mixed and mastered this release as well as a few of my others, and she also assisted with the art.” – comments STCLVR.
𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑚𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑠 𝑟𝑒𝑙𝑒𝑎𝑠𝑒 𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑠 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ 𝑔𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑣𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑎 𝑠𝑖𝑔𝑛𝑖𝑓𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑛𝑡 𝑙𝑜𝑠𝑠 𝑜𝑓 𝑙𝑜𝑣𝑒 𝑖𝑛 𝑖𝑠𝑜𝑙𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛, 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑟𝑒𝑏𝑢𝑖𝑙𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑦𝑜𝑢𝑟𝑠𝑒𝑙𝑓 𝑓𝑟𝑜𝑚 𝑡ℎ𝑎𝑡.
“It is angry and aggressive music, but it is not hateful and at times even somewhat dance-able. Drawing just as much influence from death metal as witch house. I am confident i’ve created and honed my own style over these past few years, and am anxious for more people to hear it.”
Created after a series of tough personal downturns, for STCLVR , “Lovers” worked as a creative therapy: “Writing and recording this album, along with drawing, was my therapy while I was healing which is why the first run copies of CDs will come with a limited edition art-zine of illustrations I made in that time period. I realize I’m not the first person to make a break-up record, or a quarantine record, but I do feel it is unique in that it isn’t necassarily attacking a person for hurting me as it is a realization of how we were both at fault and describing my own personal healing process.”
Track by track commentary:
DRY SOCKET: When i started putting the pieces together for this album i knew i wanted to pour my heart out over shorter, more aggressive songs but i also wanted it to sound “fun”. Whenever i’m working on any release, i always end up with 3 or 4 oddball tracks that really don’t fit in with the batch, and this beat had been kicking around for a while. I decided to eliminate some of the goofy samples, slow it down a bit (yes, it was once shorter and even more chaotic) and it became a sort of Cliff’s Notes version of the album: cathartic vocals, splattering un-human drums and synths with short bursts of 4 on the floor dance beats sprinkled throughout as palette cleansers.
Lyrically the song is a little cliche (seize the means of production/plant the seeds of destruction) and doesn’t fit the theme of the album entirely but i think i captured the anxiety of the first few months of quarantine as well as what i’d like to see happen with the current state of the country quite well, at least my own experience with it. The closest i’ll ever come to a “protest song”.
PAPER LANTERNS: In a sense this was the first song written for the album. Typically on tour i end up playing with a lot of noise acts, and if i’m lucky i get asked to play a fest. It’s where the roots of this project lay and a community that is very special to me. My style has gotten less harsh and more harnessed over the years, both in a live setting and on recordings, but i wanted to put together a brutal opener for some upcoming (pre-COVID) shows to prove i was still “down” with the scene. Of course I ended up unintentionally ripping off the intro to inistry’s “N.W.O” and it became more of an electro-punk song in the process, but it set the tone for the rest of the tracks that followed
and it’s inclusion on Lovers was a no-brainer.
Lyrically this song deals with clinging to a toxic person or situation you have a strong history with regardless of red flags or how hurt you are because you want so badly to believe in the version/vision of that person you’ve constructed in your mind. And once the veil has been lifted so to speak and you see that person for who they truly are, you feel completely de-railed and unfamiliar because you realize you don’t recognize that person (or yourself) anymore and wonder if you ever did truly know them. It can be a very confusing, heartbreaking and absolutely soul crushing experience. The only course of action that makes sense in that situation to me, no matter how challenging and painful it may be is to sever that bond entirely for your own health and safety. It’s an uphill battle for sure, but in time you will absolutely heal. The scars might be there for a while, but i’ve discovered you’ll be alot better off forcing yourself to move on rather than attempting to re-live a past that is long gone.
SKUNK CABBAGE: Continuing with the theme of pummeling the listener early in the album, I tried to make a straightforward thrashy industrial rock track. Like Dry Socket it also got a bit of a facelift in the final stages and the arrangement got changed up almost entirely but I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of those Locust-y synth melodies. It still needed some beefing up, so I had Angel Marcloid (who also mixed the entire album) throw down some guitars over the bassline and choruses.I was feeling particularly spiteful when I wrote the lyrics to this one. In relationships we absolutely become more comfortable with ourselves when the person we are spending most of our time with is in the same “rut” as us, be it financially, successfully, spiritually, or health-wise. When we’re down, we tend to feel better about ourselves when we’re not alone on that (completely metaphorical) level of life. Misery loves company, they say. So when things fall apart I think it’s natural to be resentful to see that individual moving on quickly, or finally meeting the goals they had previously only talked about. I wasn’t thinking with as clear of a head at the time of writing, and became rather offended when told by a former partner that seeing me get my shit together made them feel “undesirable” after being recently rejected by them. “Gladly”, the tarnished ego replies.
LIP GLOSS: As mentioned before, I wanted to make a miserable and intense situation a bit lighter. I made a personal rule that everything I created in this period was valid and the execution of which should at least be attempted, no matter how oddball or (gasp) upbeat it seemed. I needed to push myself out of a comfort zone and truly capture a dark moment in life, but not make it seem like I was in anything but survival mode. In an unusually decent mood and hopped up on caffeine i whipped up this almost hip-hoppy little number and busted out the vocals in a couple takes. I feel like its one of the best STCLVR tracks to date, catchy as hell and kinda cute.
The lyrics however, are anything but. They deal with my own personal struggle to differentiate between the physical and virtual world, putting someone’s every action on social media under a microscope in an obsessive, suspicious fashion to the point of complete implosion. Feeling quite insecure, I viewed everything as a personal attack or unwarranted thirst trap. Why would someone in a happy relationship post so many sexy selfies? Why am I in none of these pictures? A lot of distrust, jealousy, bitterness, and old wounds became re-opened rendering me unable to realize this is just the world we live in now. I still hate it here, but I guess I kinda “get” it.
MONOCHROME: The bassline and beat of this track are very Year Zero era NIN-inspired, but someone pointed out that it sounded like the STCLVR version of dub-step. What the hell, leave it in. (I still have maybe heard only 3 actual dubstep songs in my lifetime) At one point there are 4 different synth melodies happening. Sometimes I layer the shit out of something just to give Angel a challenge, and she makes it sound crisp and clear like a damn wizard. I love how this one turned out.
Thematically it’s alot similar lyric-wise to Lip Gloss, but to a more extreme, and imagined extent. It is written from the standpoint of someone whose obsession knows no bounds or limitations and it starts effecting every other aspect of their life. Ignoring boundaries, not sleeping, just a completely unhinged and jilted person who refuses to accept the inevitable or stop fantasizing about what once was. Dealing with a significant loss in isolation, your imagination tends to run the gamut of scenarious and you start believing
the stories you tell yourself.
PLASTER CAST: This one is pretty cut and dry, but hardly filler (is that even possible an album that’s only 20 minutes long?) and a good “starter” track that represents the album and ticks all the boxes contained herein. One of my favorite basslines i’ve come up with. That rich, warm sampled moog really hits the right spot and the layers of noise over the top of it are the icing on the cake if I do say so myself.I wrote this one a good month or two after the others, and it was the second to last to be recorded. I had reached what I felt was a personal breakthrough, like a blanket of ugly emotions had finally been ripped off of me and I was allowing myself to feel good again. No longer tortured by the mere existence of the person I had so much contempt for, and things were looking up. This is the white flag. I surrender, i’m at peace and i’m tired. I still have to scream about it though, cause that’s what I do.
DEVASTATOR: One of my favorite records and a huge influence on this project and release itself is a 2007 album called Bored By Heaven, by a very short lived Wes Eisold side project called XO Skeletons. They were basically a hardcore supergroup with a sampler, super catchy riffs and the occasional guest MC. Every track is a stone-cold banger. I could go on and on about how much the record means to me but i’ll just say this track is a homage/love letter to it and I couldn’t think of anyone better to spit some bars on it than my
talented buddy Turtle-handz from a group called WRISTS. We toured together in 2019 and have done a handful of shows/fests together and there’s a lot of mutual respect and love there. I feel like our styles compliment each quite nicely, especially on this track. He brought his A game to his brief appearance here and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it came together. Definitely not the last you’ll be hearing of us together!
Writing-wise this is another one that sort of deals with the acceptance, but lingering pain of love lost. Me sort of telling myself “I know this isn’t what you REALLY wanted, but these wounds are still fresh so get the venom out of you now.”
ONE PHARMACY CALL: Although Angel plays guitar on a couple other songs I had to tag this one as the Fire-toolz feature because her guitar playing and additional production really make this song what it is and breathes so much life into it…This is probably the heaviest, fleshiest thing i’ve ever recorded and I almost feel like the next logical step for this project is to make it a full-on band. Vocally this was the last track to be recorded because i knew it was going to demand an intense performance and i had to get my mental strength up
first. Up until now my vocals on most releases were usually pretty undecipherable but I had some things I wanted to be heard here and felt like it might resonate with others. When your own song gives you chills, maybe you’ve done something right. At this point i’m angry at myself for wasting so much energy on this situation, I want to wash my hands of it and distance myself entirely from the toxic world i’ve created for myself and I feel like it really shows.In the background i’m suggesting to myself to “let it die” but ignoring that voice until I’ve said all I needed to say, and I think I succeeded.
I’m really proud of this one.