Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong — Interview with Dustin Wong

— Tristan Whitehill

Dustin Wong is a stalwart of the experimental music scene with his psychedelic and flowery approach to textures, rhythms, and melody. The primary narrator of Dustin's music has often been guitar but lately his voice and guitar have seemed to share more space together. This shared space is much of the foundation for his newest record Internal Hot Spring. The timbres have curves and edges, each placed naturally. I took this opportunity to inquire with the artist himself in regards to the impetus behind this beautiful record and his general perspective on life currently in Los Angeles, California.



Dearest Dustin, how has your last year been?


Dear Tristan, since March 2020 it has been pretty challenging. I played my very last physical show in San Diego, and everyone I know has been feeling a lot of anxiety/uncertainty. Me and some of my friends scrambled to fulfill a void in our spirit and tried to do some live streaming early on in the pandemic. You were a part of one too Tristan. But after all the news of violence that the police were doing towards black people, it just didn’t feel right to do the live streams, so some of us stopped for a while. During that time, I was doing a lot of self-education on the history, listening to speeches and debates, and interviews. I made two 2 hr compilations for dub lab that gets broadcasted every first Thursday of the month. I have dedicated my dublab block to these re-runs. In the fall, a friend from Baltimore passed away, Kevin O’meara. He was actually at the San Diego show helping and playing drums for Ed Schrader Music Beat. It shook everyone that knew him and were friends with him. He was an amazing human, so natural and had very strong principles that were so admirable. I was preparing for a live stream performance and I dedicated the performance to him, some of that performance became a part of the album dedicated to him. I was thinking about him the whole time I was making it.

All the songs were edited improvisations with the mind of instant composition. I joined a weekly Zoom group called “Listening Group” where we present new work and do a lite critique and conversation, joining this group really helped me get productive. “Internal Hot Spring” would not have existed without this group. And of course everything leading to the present is building towards that moment but, if I didn’t join this group I think this album would have happened much much later.

Dustin in his element

Your newest record Internal Hot Spring features beautiful processed vocals. The ebbing and flowing of these tonal clouds feel pierced by the sounds of your voice. Can you share with us about how you feel the vocal elements fit into the narrative of this body of work?

In the fall I moved from studio apartment to a 1 bedroom apartment and my domestic space felt so much larger and spatial. There was something inside me that felt like a knot unraveled, felt so much more relaxed. The studio apartment was right above this man who did karaoke at 2-3 AM and it was starting to get a little annoying. When using vocals I felt freer, I was able to sing what I wanted to sing at those moments of jamming. It felt really natural. Having a voice tone pedal and a reverb pedal really helps too, like a bath tub or shower reverb makes everyone feel at one with whatever they are singing.

The album art features a photograph of a modicum of ornaments and figures. This world depicted is both domestic and large, can you elaborate on how this accompanies the sound for you?

My mother was going thru a procedure for a brain aneurysm, a few weeks ago, it was found when she had a physical check up and was suggested that she go thru a procedure called Endovascular Coiling. It was a trying time for the family, but long story short, the procedure was successful and my mother came out the other side fully aware and communicative. Before the procedure the doctor showed us the X-ray of the aneurysm, and the way the image showed up it looked like this human figure embracing a child or something precious. In the center you see some coils. In my mind there was this landscape that was glacial yet warm with steam coming up and these entities guiding you to different hot springs. There are these hot spring theme parks in Japan and also places like Iceland. I was imagining a resting place within ourselves that was like a hot spring theme park.

There is something so tropical and evocative about your latest records. You have always been known as a guitarist but your newest work brings the listener a broad pallet and rich stereo spatializations. What influences have contributed to your recent perspective on your art?

There are so many! I feel like one artist I need to mention is Will Menter. He has this track called Out of Phase and it is such an amazing track. For a long time I couldn’t find the credit to the sounds but with a few hints I was able to deduce that it was him. His track some how has consistency of arrhythmic rhythm, the music has its own logic and rules to its own world. The sounds have an integrity that was gentle, broad but straight to the point and it has been a great influence and inspiration.

Dustin's light based art

Sometimes what someone says no to when making art defines what they might make. Do you agree with this generalization?

I wonder about that, I mean there are different processes for different people. When it comes to negation, I think of a sculptor shaving off the clay or whatever material he or she is sculpting, like a boxer getting ready for a match or even a body builder. But I think about a sumo wrestler too, the process of addition, gaining weight for the craft. Painters generally adds and applies paint to get to a desired image. For artists its a combination of that right, whether it's about concept or form. There are things that needs to be said no to tho, things that might compromise your soul and spirit.

Is there any insight into the technical processes you are learning or implementing that began with this body of work? I am particularly interested in how some of these textures and structures come together.

Ive been generally using my two Korg micro samplers, my guitar and my guitar pedals. Pitch pedal, delay and four Ditto loopers. I’ve been trying to experiment with loops that are not in sync with each other, and thru some experimentation I came to some neat results. For example I might have a 4/4 loop in my first loop pedal, then I feed those sounds but in double speed, but the second looper’s length would be in 7/6 and it makes really fun polyrhythms and variations that don’t feel repetitive.

Please tell us what is coming up for you with your art in the future? This record is a real trip and I hope the world will enjoy it as much as I have.

Thank you Tristan!! Im planning on gettin a laptop for gamers for the sake of video editing, my laptop right now can’t handle video so im very excited to work on some visuals in the next month : )