Triptic Of A Pastel Fern Interview

Originally printed in Spinal Jaundice #11 – 1990


‘Sound architecture’ is a term I could use to fill one in on TOAPF, or maybe ‘astral implications,’ with titles such as “2nd Jefferson Blythe” and “Fisty Stealth.” Consider this music indeed as a triptych sound panel, engineered with depth. Clever patterns and rhythms arise out of a myriad of traditions. Treiops Treyfid leads Poison Plant the label, and he leads TOAPF on emotive synth trip odysseys. This is well manufactured experimental music that ought to be examined in the forefront of tried and true musical categories that be.

MJ: Who operates TOAPF?
TT: TOAPF is a wondrous and many splendored machine aptly operated by a team of specialists. The three main operators are; myself…Treiops Teryfid, Clermont Grava, and Dida Nenny (when she’s in town). TOAPF enlists peripheral vocal help on occasion from the likes of Sara Trezona, George Fox, David Aub, Phil Pegg, and my little sister Leah. TOAPF concentrates on creating moods and atmospheres of unique design through unusual sound productions. TOAPF work drifts from standard song structure to feigned songs to audio art experiments.

MJ: How do you think all of it has evolved from the beginning?
TT: The first project TOAPF completed was a 90 minute tape of music entitled “Quill The Slay Top.” It was a soundtrack intended to be played while one was performing various and functions such as: eating, putting up wallpaper, taking baths, waxing kitchen floors, and writing letters. I think most people who heard it were turned off by the sheer monotony of it. A lot of music in the cassette underground is much of the time only interesting to the people who create it. “Quill,” I think, suffered from this affliction. We soon realized it was just boring. Our music now is a reaction to our previous indulgence. It is constantly changing and reforming, keeping the listener off balance and interested.

MJ: Poison Plant products clearly evade categories. Can you outline the type of releases available and the drive behind them?
TT: We at Poison Plant foster a proud aversion to cliques. Diversity is the most important thing that PP offers. When my friend Jack Hurwitz and then myself started making contacts in the underground music ‘industry’ we encountered groups and labels with strict dogmas. Groups associated with a particular type of music would not parley with anything even slightly different. This is frustrating and highly haughty. It is made even more absurd by the tiny number of people involved in the particular ‘scenes’. We believe it highly unproductive to engage in this sort of limitation. The only way to prosper and receive fulfillment is to open up one’s mind. Therefore PP offers a large range of different types of music. They include: industrial, new age, psychedelia, rock, electronic, sound collage, and experimental weirdness of all kinds. The drive of PP is simply to help each other out in our musical endeavors and create more interest.

MJ: Is there some isolation in this area of music or do you find the support to really be there?
TT: The isolation of underground music transcends styles. People are used to hearing studio perfect ultra normal crispiness. No matter what the music, people will tend not to listen to it if it has bad sound quality. But nothing can be done about this. We are all underground unknown people doing artistic music with no financial support. The masses are the problem because of their closed minds. I work in a record store and I encounter people who have never heard or heard of industrial, hardcore, noise, or avant-garde music. People are so conservative and unimaginative that they are satisfied with the standardized product which is fed to them. There really is an incredible array of interesting music out there but it takes effort to find and I suppose that is the reason, ultimately, why people don’t take advantage.

MJ: With the wild imagery of Triptic’s music, and for example, Rob Lippert’s material, do you feel a sense of lightheartedness is on the brain of Poison Plant?
TT: I personally find nothing sacred. My cynical nature makes it difficult to take anything seriously. If you would listen to Rob Lippert’s comedy tapes you would find that he has a similar viewpoint.

MJ: You tend to use many different instruments. Do you see the usage of strictly electronic instruments as more mundane?

TT: Yes, how would a synth go about reproducing the sound of an art deco dresser full of marbles falling down 3 flights of stairs.

MJ: What all types of instrumentation do you use?
TT: Guitars, synthesizers, samplers, digital effects processors, drum machines, drums, pans and pot lids, tape recorders, distortion, microphones, found noises, violin.

MJ: How much importance do you place on retaining ‘mystery’ in music? Is there ever a conscious effort to incorporate that?
TT: Mystery…like a bent willow yawning through moonlit toxins. It beckons towards our proudly blushing mugs. Satisfaction behind shadow and betwixt lecherous vines. Hark! What monstereth lurketh. ‘Tis only a phantasm, you simp. Merely an indistinguishable blob of unexciting foliage. Perhaps this milkshake will ease the tension…

MJ: Would you consider yourself to be a perfectionist when setting out to record?
TT: Yes, we believe it is very important to make ourselves sound as good as possible. We all check ourselves to an almost ridiculous extent. We will then make premixes, listen to them over a soda and take notes. Then we will sleep on it and change the mix in some slight way many times adding or deleting an instrument.

MJ: Overall, who do you admire that is involved with music in general at this point?
TT: 2 artists that I think do very good work stand out in my mind for two completely different reasons. Negativland is interesting because they take clichés and stupidities of all kinds from our decadent culture and totally bastardize them. Jeff Grienke’s work is great because it transcends music, creating moods.

MJ: What lies ahead for Triptic and the Plant?
TT: Poison Plant will continue to promote its artists and grow, if there’s room. Our first vinyl compilation is out which includes: Cyrnai, Ditto, G. Fox, J. Hurwitz, B. Gingrich, TOAPF, Stolen Government Binder Clip, T. Fletcher, Paul Lemos & Joe Papa, and Ben Kettlewell (not all of these artists appear in the Poison Plant catalog). Anyone wanna buy one? We got hundreds. After this gets distributed, PP will probably do a compilation CD and if that works well we will use the profits to release more. Triptic Of A Pastel Fern is putting the final touches on some music that will appear via vinyl hopefully, before early 1991. After that we will probably still be enjoying complete obscurity.