Wolf Eyes co-founder, programmer and vocalist Nate Young sits on his sun-drenched second-floor porch smoking American Spirits, sipping on a 40-ounce of Sol Beer and listening to mixtapes of classic techno, electro and disco on a crappy boom box. The porch of the former Detroit flophouse leans down at a slight angle, overlooking the stately old homes of West Grand Boulevard. To the south you have Canada, to the north the intoxicating smells of La Gloria Bakery and Mexicantown — a perfect day in Detroit.
It's fitting Young lives here with video artist, Demons collaborator, AA Records co-owner and girlfriend Alivia Zivich. The common strand in Young's prodigious artistic output is taking the glorious, cast-off tools, techniques and media of another era (especially mid- to late 70's electronica and punk) to create his primitive yet futuristic visual and audio works. In most other cities, the mini-mansions from the 1920s and '30s on West Grand would be out of reach for most artists. Here in Detroit, they're perfectly affordable places for Detroit's creative class to call home. (And to drop a ramp on a side street and go skateboarding when you need a break.)
The apartment oozes inspiration. His studio is a veritable island of misfit synths where he works on recordings for Wolf Eyes (an in-your-face musical freak-out) and Demons (a hypnotic audio-visual revisiting of early classic synth pioneers Tangerine Dream and Goblin with Zivich and Steve Kenney). Also in the studio is an old record lathe he uses to custom-etch records for his label AA Records. Covering the walls of the apartment are examples of his elaborate and lysergic art; some pieces on bed sheets take up entire walls.
His newest band with Dave Shettler — drummer of SSM and Doop & the Inside Outlaws — is Moon Pool & Dead Band. The project is a musical curveball for Young. It's a synth-based, Giorgio Moroder-inspired band with its heart set on the dance floor of the underground dance clubs of the late '70s. It's the most pop music Young has ever done. It's also one of the best electronic music releases out of Detroit this year. The band evolved out of southwest Detroit neighbors Young and Shettler hanging out (and nerding out) about vintage synths and electronic gear.
"We realized we have the same taste in gear," Young says with a grin. "Dave wanted to make straight-up dance music. I wasn't opposed to that, but it was mysterious to me. Once I started watching him, I learned a lot. I'm usually pretty free with things. I wasn't used to quantizing things as much."
To listen to Moon Pool & Dead Band's go to tinyurl.com/ychpsxk. You can check out Nate and Alivia's videos, art work, recordings and lathe-cut records on their AA Records label at wolfeyes.net/aaindex.html.