Kurt Rambus returns with bleak, conceptual dance music for bleak, dystopian times

Kurt Rambus returns with bleak, conceptual dance music for bleak, dystopian times
Kurt Rambus

Kurt Rambus has a guy named Hayek Von Pinochet that he's dying to tell you all about. Bur first, who the hell is Kurt Rambus?

Rambus is the shadowy alter ego of longtime Orlando DJ Nigel John. But whereas John would pack floors, Rambus operates at the outer limits, crafting dense webs of avant-dance music that summon up anxiety, melancholy and late-night panic attacks. This particular moment seems like a perfect time for Rambus to emerge again, with a new mini-album, The Misadventures of Hayek Von Pinochet and His Men of Action.

Written mostly during quarantine, it's a short sharp shock of beatscapes and melancholic interludes, with one bona fide industrial hit in "Entstehung." And for an instrumental album, there are some heavy doses of bleak humor and commentary underpinning this collection of songs. Orlando Weekly got John on the phone to talk about who Hayek Von Pinochet is.

What was the motivation for working on new material? How did you get your head together to just be creative?

It's difficult. I was talking to Jeff Wilfong, he had me on his Dub Ya Mind podcast, and I was like, I probably won't be making music anymore, because who cares, what's the purpose, blah blah blah. And he was like, "No man, you gotta do it, you have a lot of time now." So I just decided to take a small amount of time, and put together ideas on the spot. I did a track here, did a track there, and then I completed it all within the past month and a half, two months.

It's tempting to read some of your feelings on the current state of the world into this album.

The name of the EP, The Misadventures of Hayek Von Pinochet and his Men of Action, is a combination of two people. Friedrich Hayek was one of the pioneering libertarian economic conservative thinkers. And Augusto Pinochet was a dictator in Chile, who was responsible for taking over his country and having all these people massacred and all of this crazy shit. They work together. And it's basically about fascism. It's about two fascists.

It's just about how once upon a time, there were two men with fucked-up ideas that fucked up the world. That's the premise of it and, you know, it's also about the music and the beats and all that too.

Can you talk about "Hayek and His Black Friend?"

The whole idea behind that was the Hayek Von Pinochet guy goes to a house party and he's drunk off his ass, and they're listening to classical music. But he's shooting the shit with some Black guy that he just met. And the whole thing with that is, the person that Hayek came with, they're looking for him, and it's like, "Oh, where's Hayek? Oh, he's over there shooting the shit with his Black friend," even though he's not his friend because he's fascist and racist. But he's pretending to hang out with this guy because he has nothing better to do with his life. So that was kind of a joke, but I wanted to make it sound like a mix of classical and a Dirty South type record.

That's a wild concept.

It sounds stupid when I say it out loud to people, but that's what went on in my head when I made it.

And "Entstehung" felt sort of like an old Wax Trax! industrial release. The way you used voice samples as percussion ...

That one was fun. I wanted to make a track that was heavy, but slow. A friend of mine who I DJ with on the Terribly Wrong nights plays a lot of bass music that is almost like a post-dubstep style. And he made me a couple mixes of stuff like that. That was the inspiration. It gets nasty at the end.

Where will you be releasing it?

We're gonna release it on Bandcamp. I'm also going to upload it on DistroKid or whatever that thing is, just to get it out on Spotify and whatever those shitty-ass sites are where they stream your shit and you get paid for it. Just to get it out there. Whatever. Put it out, upload it, maybe five people buy it.

How is the rest of the Terribly Wrong family doing?

Everybody's doing good, we're doing our thing. The last show we had scheduled was Deantoni Parks, but we had to cancel it. We're going to bring him back down, but we're waiting until shit gets back to normal or figure out a way to do it another way. Yeah, we'll hold tight until everything's safe.

Are you still doing Instagram Live DJ sets?

No, I stopped doing it, man. And that's another thing too. So, I would play and then, because of copyright issues, they'd shut you off. And the fucked-up thing about it is, OK, so everyone's stuck at home and you just want to play and hear music, but you can't, because some corporate asshole wants to make more money. With that and with all the crazy shit going on, I'm not really in the mood to do it. I'm just not hyped. Questlove and D-Nice, they did livestreams. They never get shut off. OK, we're just lowly guys playing music in our bedrooms and we don't count, but this millionaire guy ... I'm sorry I sound so cynical but it's frustrating. There's a fucked-up, frustrating system that's trying to kill creativity. And now we're all trapped in it, man.


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