Terminal 11 (aka Michael Castaneda) is a renowned electronic music artist hailing from Tempe, Arizona who produces a frenetic and kinetic assault of splintered breakcore chaos with idm undertones. He has released music on Hymen, Cock Rock Disco, Schematic, Ad Noiseam, Phthalo Records – as well as numerous other indie electronic micro labels.
I first discovered his work when I picked up a copy of 2007’s “Fractured Sunshine” (Hymen) on disc at Maschinenfest 8. Breaks collided with samples at such an incredible speed that it produced a warm wash of sound – it took on a ambient quality in its own right. You almost have to change the way you process music to listen to some of his material.
I then found the 2012 release “Self-Exorcism” (Hymen) to be mesmerizing in that it was a deconstructed version of Mike’s work, slowed down and entirely in the open. It was a personal statement. More recent endeavors such as “Tracing Structures” are a return to speed and complication, rapid fire snares and melodic bursts.
I recently caught up with Mike Castaneda and was thrilled that he agreed to discuss his creative process with Hypnos Audio.
HA: What inspires you to create music?
MC: The cathartic release it provides and the endless possibilities contained within the act of creating whatever you decide to call music are the biggest inspirations. When I was a kid I saved up for my first micro cassette recorder which started a love for sound and the ability to record/manipulate it’s speed, pitch, and volume. Not much has changed. The use of production as a cathartic means to communicate has been the core of just about everything I’ve done. Translating emotion through this process has gone from mandatory to optional within the past few years which I’m thankful for.
HA: Could you describe your creative process of starting a new musical project, either tracks or a release?
MC: So far I haven’t approached any of the albums with predetermination. They have all been curated clusters of tracks that came from specific sections of time but with no advance thought towards concept. I have several modes of workflow I go into and the tracks/albums are hybrid collections of these modes. Field recording, manipulation, hardware sessions, tracker sequencing, and live performance are used as source materials. At some point I end up having enough to create an album so I’ll sort the order at that point and find a name that glues it all together.
Photo by Sam Angiulo.
HA: There was a considerable difference in composition styles between an album like “Fractured Sunshine” and one like “Self-Exorcism.” It’s like you have oscillated between controlled chaos and careful introspection. Could you describe this transition and what inspired it?
MC: The further I went into deconstructing myself around that time the more I had to reconfigure my approach to everything in my personal life as well as my creative life. You could say the progression away from haphazard and chaotic productions was a direct reflection of the necessary work that had to be done in order to live a healthier and more focused life. Learning to create from a chaotic place without being chaotic myself was a hard lesson.
HA: I could really feel that examination of self in that release – it struck a personal cord with me. You and I spoke before about the importance of the creative process over gear – do you think that too many artists focus on the tools and not the creativity and inspiration?
MC: I think process, technique, and emotion will always breathe life into music no matter what the tools are or how few tools you have. There’s nothing wrong with getting gear and adding to your studio but I feel it’s worth mastering what you have if you’re going to go that route. No point in gear hoarding if you’re not going to master any of it.
HA: Are you currently working on anything new post “Tracing Structures?” Do you find yourself going in different/new directions?
MC: I have a new album called “Harmless Chaos” which will be released by Love Love Records on 5/11/18 that contains selected tracks made between roughly 2014-2017. Definitely seeing things going in new directions with integrating more hardware into the studio and allowing space for the creative process to become more malleable. I’ve got a collaborative side project I started with my friend John Q on drums which is more of a freeform improv live performance. He takes care of the drums entirely so it’s been fun to learn how to put all the focus on synths and accompanying noise. It makes me uncomfortable to release control of the drums so that meant I should do it.
(Terminal 11 – “Harmless Chaos” coming soon from Love Love Records – May 2018.)
HA: In addition to electronic music, are you currently working on any other artistic projects, or in other mediums?
MC: For the past few years I’ve been creating visuals and videos for my event/label Sunwarped which are constructed from a combination of animations I make on my phone and footage I shoot. My camera roll looks like total nonsense most of the time. It’s been fun to bridge what I do with audio over to the video realm considering the editing processes are so similar. It’s easy to get lost in micro editing so the newest lesson is not to spend too much time micro editing the micro edits.
HA: If you could give advice to one artist on the creative process, what would it be?
MC: Keep the process malleable! Great things can come from experimentation so I’d highly encourage it to keep things fun. It’s fun for me at least. I don’t know. Approach it like a cat. Be unpredictable. Scream for no reason at the universe.