Chicago’s Caden Moore aka LAKE RADIO has been an important character within the realm internet electronic musick. He tends to pull away from stereo-types and avoids clichés like the plague. Although he has appeared on witch house compilations and been labeled as a “chill wave” artist, he breaks those stylistic traps and has some serious words about these genre restraints. NVR MND’s EA catches up with Caden for an in-depth interview.
EA: I know you have been in several bands and collab with some other artists, can you tell me a bit about your musical history?
LR: Yeah! I have been lucky to work with a lot of really talented people! My music history started when I was a kid and wanted to learn how to play guitar. I took lessons at this guitar shop near my house and learned how to play some cheesy classic rock songs, and learned the basic chords. I took lessons for probably a year and a half, probably. I started writing my own songs on guitar and recording them to cassette tape using this karaoke machine that my sister had. I remember writing and recording a terrible Rock Opera using that karaoke machine, a casio keyboard, and a guitar. I was 15 and it was really bad.
Then I got a laptop and started messing around with sound files and effects, and I haven’t stopped since!
EA: You told me before the interview, “I’ve got some hard opinions about the current state of witch house and harder opinions on vaporwave.” I’m interested to hear your opinions.
LR: Regarding Witch House, and my relationship with it, I feel like that’s over. There were things I didn’t like about it from the beginning. I remember this one dude on Last.fm getting mad that I was tagging my stuff as Witch House when I was just starting LAKE RADIO. I wont name names, but he wasn’t a musician, or really involved in music at all, he was just some guy that people respected for whatever reason. This was in wild west days of Witch House, and it seemed like certain people took the trend and assigned themselves some sort of authority to the genre: people who weren’t any more qualified to say what IS or ISNT Witch House. There was a tag on Last.fm called “True Witch House”, that this person started. He left me out, and I am embarrassed to say that hurt. Who was this dude to say I wasn’t TRUE Witch House? What the FUCK is TRUE Witch House? Did I not have enough claps and hoover synths in my music? I was just a kid that thought the idea of the genre was cool and fun and I had my own take on it.
I think Witch House is silly. I always have. The whole thing started as a joke. It was supposed to be fun, and it is fun! But when people take it too seriously, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
I’m worried about how it’s gonna age, and worried about how it already has aged. Maybe I, myself, am taking it too seriously, but its something I have thought about a lot. I am absolutely no authority on anything, especially Witch House. I was just talking to my friend, and telling her about how I feel about it, and it made me realize that maybe because I am sort of on the inside of it all, and one of the artists who put out Witch House music sort of early on, I lack perspective. I don’t think most fans give it much thought, I think they just like the music. And as a fan, I agree! I think the problem is when everything sounds too same-y, and I am proud of the fact that LAKE RADIO hasn’t ever really tried to sound like other Witch House acts.
I’ve tried to distance myself from the whole Witch House thing in terms of sound, and what I am working on now is not Witch House at all. I dropped the triangle. I didn’t tag my last song as Witch House on bandcamp or soundcloud. I’m not kicking it to the curb, or putting it down or biting the hand that fed me, but I am just ready to move on as an artist. I honestly wasn’t ever very Witch House anyway.
I’ll make a joke about it on social media, and people will think I am being serious. I made a joke about Witch Hazel being a new genre, and some people thought I was being serious. I don’t think I like the idea of coining a new genre for internet cool points.
Take Vaporwave for example; It was already a thing before the people who gave it a name decided to name it. Chuck Person’s Eccojams Vol. 1 came out five years ago. That’s a great album, for sure, but I wonder how Daniel Lopatin feels about being called Vaporwave or even more contrived; proto-vaporwave. A lot of the people who criticize it will say it’s too easy to just find an obscure song on youtube and slow it down in Ableton and add reverb. Thats fine! That’s nothing new; it’s called plunderphonics and thats like half of what I do. That’s not my problem with it. It’s the Facebook and Tumblr elitism that I have a problem with. People are hopping onto trends early for the sake of being cool, and then dropping the whole thing before the style of music has time to breathe and evolve, which is a shame. And then musicians will be afraid to branch out and do their own thing because it doesn’t fit into a microgenre, which is really suffocating as an artist. It’s dangerous, is all. My advice is to just do whatever you want to do with your music and not worry about what you are gonna tag it as on bandcamp or soundcloud. I think that’s important. It’s about self expression, not about trends. Make your own shit and let history decide what genre it is.
Also, I am well aware no one asked for my advice.
EA: What is your music about? It seems very personal even when you do covers like “In Heaven” or mash ups or original tracks or even mixes. Its kinda like you use songs and samples just like you do notes from a synthesizer like colors on a painters palette.
LR: My music is about a lot of things. Dreams, nightmares, mental illness, love, loss, confusion, anxiety, feeling like an alien, drugs, addiction, trying to hold onto youth. Mostly, just stuff that I have gone through in my own life. Self expression, you know? I think that’s the goal of any artist; to find a way to translate how you feel inside into a music language. I hope I do a good job about that, because I know there are other people who feel the same feelings I do, and know how nice it is to be able to find music that you can relate to. I feel like an alien most of the time, and I hope that people from the same planet as me are able to relate. I think that’s what my music is about more than anything; putting my innermost feelings and fears out there and hoping people vibe on that and connect with that on a level other than “oh, this sounds cool”. I’m a lot less worried about something sounding cool than I am something sounding authentic and true to how I feel.
I think that today, where all of recorded music is at our fingertips, it’s only natural for an artist to want to use anything they can get their hands on. Especially for someone who is my age and was raised on the internet and has always had all of culture and recorded media accessible to them thanks to the internet. I was raised on the internet, and I get just as many of my “notes” or “colors” from the internet as I do from the real world.
I’ll find bits of music or sound that I feel connect with on a deep level and listen to it pretty obsessively. In the case of “Waiting In Heaven,” my song where I sampled “In Heaven” from Eraserhead; I didn’t even intend on making that a song. I heard the little song and wanted to listen to it on a loop for a while and vibe out to it, so I plopped it into Ableton and looped it. After a while, I started adding all these other elements to it in my head — the drums and the lyrics I added and the bass line, etc. The same happened with the song Always, where I sampled a line from a Vashti Bunyan song (I’ll always think of you/ and all the hope we knew). I dropped that into Ableton, looped that part, put on some headphones and laid in bed in the dark listening to that for a while. There’s a power in repetition and loops, for sure. It puts you in a trance. A friend criticized my music as “being 80% bullshit” because it’s pretty repetitive, which is fair I suppose, but I really honestly think in order to ‘get’ a lot of my stuff, you need to put on some headphones, close your eyes, get under some overs and really feel the repetition. Maybe that’s what my music is about, too: introspection. I don’t see extroverts really connecting with my music on a deep level. I don’t see my music really resonating when played at a house party.
I’m glad my mashups and mixes feel personal, too, because I don’t like using songs that I don’t connect with in those.
EA: Wow, you do get a of of criticism, but that seems to be balanced well by the fanbase you have.
LR: I don’t mind criticism! I think its an inevitable part of putting yourself out there as an artist, and is totally healthy. I don’t pay much attention to it unless I respect the person who is doing the criticizing, though. And I’m very happy to have people who connect with my work. There’s more than I ever could have imagined, even though I am not the most popular artist with the most soundcloud plays or whatever. I’m not too concerned with that. I ultimately make music for myself.
LR: I love psychedelic music! Heavy Ghost, my old band, was very heavily into psych stuff and we really dug deep into some obscure stuff. There is so much of it out there. On a superficial level, I think I just really like how guitar sounds recorded to cheap tape.
For 666, I sampled an outsider downer folk artist named Dave Bixby. His story is really interesting. His story is really interesting. He is a guy from Grand Rapids who was involved in a cult, did too much acid, and recorded an album about it after he lost his mind. It’s beautiful. It’s really sad and mellow, and produced beautifully. It’s a perfect album, and everyone should listen to it. He is an older gentleman now, and has been recently discovered again and started making music once again, which is awesome.
In a way I sort of aspire to be one of those kinds of musicians; one that has a small following, but in 20 or 30 years, the cool kids will discover my stuff and get really hyped on it. Theres something really romantic about that.
But about my song — I made it as a demo beat for my friend Sam to rap over, she is so talented and I want to make a whole album with her. I love the idea of using obscure psych and folk samples for hip hop instrumentals. I put the 666 on soundcloud for her to listen to, and wasn’t really thinking about other people listening to it, but I am glad people are liking it!
EA: Do you perform a lot live? What is the live Lake Radio experience like?
LR: I recently played my first show in over a year and it was so fun. I was very sick with a cold, and showed up five minutes before I had to go on. My laptop is broken, so I had to bring my huge desktop IMac, which looks kind of silly on stage, but oh well. I was all hopped up on DayQuil and coffee so that show was high energy, even when I was playing a slower song.
I’m not sure what my shows are like from an audience’s perspective, but I try to create an intimate experience. I have the venue turn off as many lights as possible, so it’s dark and spooky. I don’t use any lights on stage either, just my projector that I trigger manipulated video with while I play. I don’t use any sort of midi controller – just a mouse and a keyboard, but that doesn’t mean I’m just pressing “play”. I try and make every show different.
My video projector is really the star of the show, I think. I’ve started filming my own stuff, manipulating it, and using that for projections rather than using found footage. I do use a great deal of found footage, though, just not the kind nerdy electronic musicians usually use. I stay away from archive.org. I like ripping stuff from youube and manipulating it beyond recognition. I was sampling a full house episode for a while as my intro, actually.
Just like the samples I use in my music, I like to use videos that I connect with. Sometimes, my music samples are from a YouTube video, which is cool because then I can project that and it will match up.
I am not a great singer, but I love singing on stage. I performed “Ghost For You at my last show and felt like a singer in a Lynch movie.
EA: You’re a very busy guy. You’re working on 3 albums for release this year?
LR: Yes! Three albums! I feel like jm back into the swing of things since I got out of a deep depression. I made an EP that short of chronicled my depression and where I was at called Dreams Are Gone. I released that early last spring, and I haven’t put anything out in any official capacity since then. A year is a long time for me not to put something out, so releasing three full lengths is sort of my way to make up for that.
The first one I am going to release is called Spooked Out and is not going to be electronic at all — I already released a song and a video for it called Ghost For You, and if you watch the video or listen to the song, you’ll get what kind of vibe I’m going for on Spooked Out. Doo wop chord progressions, spooky vibes, vocals, guitars, saxophone by Jonathon Freund who is killing it right now with his project JTF. I love collaborating with him. We speak the same musical language. We’ve been collaborating since we were in Heavy Ghost together. He has showed up on some of my songs over the years — We Were Psychics/I Want You Here, Community College (ft. Pixel Grip), YR LOVE; those were all collaborations with Jon. I’m very excited about Spooked Out. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before, musically and it’s fun to figure out how to get the sounds I want.
The second album I’m gonna finally put out Bedroom Dies, which is something I’ve been working on for years, which is gonna be more electronic and sample based. A return to something like Planet Earth About To Be Recycled or The Weather, in terms of sampling. It’s interesting to work that way again because I am a pretty different person than I was when I put those albums out. I’m more grown up now and I think that comes through in the music I’m working in for Bedroom Dies.
The third album is going to be a collaboration with my friend Sam, who is a great rapper. I love hip hop, especially female MCs, but never have properly dove into that genre. The songs I’m sampling for that are old folky psych records. I’m very hyped on it.
I’m always busy, especially with recording music. I record almost every day, but I don’t release about 90 percent of it.
EA: Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with the NVR MND blog!