An exclusive interview with Jourdan Turner of Contaminated Intelligence
Contaminated Intelligence is an Industrial, Experimental, and Dark Electronic group. Jourdan Turner is the Frontman/founder of the group, collaborations with other artists include GQ Rivethead, Mentallo and the Fixer, Attrition, R010R, and Kinetic Eon. Straying off the safe path of instant club hits, the intent behind Contaminated Intelligence is to make music that holds true to artistic integrity. Music for your own mental escape.
Nobody can tell a story better than the person who lived it So here is the Contaminated Intelligence experience prior to the making of the album, “Mental Fractures”, as explained by Jourdan Turner: “On February 23rd 2014 I was involved in a snowboarding accident. I overshot a kicker ramp and landed flat 105 feet later. Upon landing I shattered my right heel and rupture fractured my L3 disc in my spine. I was in the hospital for ten days, I was in haze of pain killers with nurses coming in and out of the room. After my release I was being nursed back to health by my mother for a month. When I finally moved back home, the pain was still intense. Some days I never went in the studio because of how bad the pain was.. I decided to venture out away from the Industrial style music and experiment with Drum n Bass, Down Tempo Breaks and Ambient.”
So the flow of the album “Mental Fractures” goes like this: “The day it all happened, going fast down the mountain, going through the terrain parks down to the two kicker ramps and then… CRUNCH!…Rupture Shatter is about arriving at the hospital not knowing what’s wrong with me, then the haze of the pain killers, being operated on, wheeled back into my room and going in and out of consciousness. Recovery and Recovery Pt.2 are about the time afterward. Walking in a walker, being very restricted and in pain, it was a very difficult time for me and those around me to have to see. Still they were some beautiful and humbling times. I realized how fragile the human body is and to never take it for granted. The last song Healing is a chill ambient track, reflecting on the outcome and grateful for all that I have. The journey back into life.”
Here follows an exclusive interview with Jourdan Turner of Contaminated Intelligence
- How long have you been doing what you’re doing and how did you get started in the first place?
Contaminated Intelligence: I began collecting music equipment when I was 15 years old and when I was 17 years old, I bought my first synthesizer, a Roland JP8000. I was introduced to Reason/Rebirth and Pro Tools at the same time so I’ve been making music for roughly 12-13 years.
- Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
Contaminated Intelligence: Depeche Mode and U2. I was 5 years old when my brother gave me my first tape, DM’s People Are People. I remember taking it to kindergarten for “Show and Tell” and the other kids just didn’t dig it.
- Which artists are you currently listening to? And is there anybody you’d like to collaborate with?
Contaminated Intelligence: Future Sounds of London, Attrition, Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, Mentallo & the Fixer, and various artists on SoundCloud. Hmmmm , Bill Leeb or Nivek Ogre would be very cool to collaborate with.
- Describe the first piece of musical equipment that you actually purchased. And which is the one piece of hardware or software you’re still looking to add to your collection now?
Contaminated Intelligence: My very first purchase was a Kustom PA system, a DoD VoTec effect pedal and a mic. Very basic setup but it allowed me to experiment with my vocals and learn some basic mixing. Gear/hardware I want hmmm anything by Dave Smith, the keyboards he makes are some of the sickest out there. There are a few programs I want to invest in, but for now I can make do.
- Tell us something about your current hardware/software and instrument setup?
Contaminated Intelligence: I have two Roland JP8000’s, my effects for vocals, a custom made analog effect box by Dwayne Dassing and a Mooger Fooger for added flavor. I use a Macbook Pro with an Mbox Pro interface. I’m currently switching between software but I have used Pro Tools and Reaper as my main
DAW programs. I’ve used Reason ever since 1.0 for my beat production/synths etc.
- Studio work and music creation, or performing and interacting with a live audience, which do you prefer?
Contaminated Intelligence: All of them actually; however, right now I can’t really perform live shows. I’ve had to take off this entire year to recuperate from an accident this past February. All of them are great, in the studio is where I can mentally escape from this world and go into my own little world.. On stage I get to bring my world to the audience and engage with them throughout the performance. In both ways it’s a cathartic experience, being able to express raw emotions both physically and musically.
- Which sounds and effects do you prefer working with between Analog and Digital and why?
Contaminated Intelligence: I’ve mainly worked in the digital area with effects. The Mooger Fooger and the custom effect box are the only analog effects that I’ve used. I like a mix of both software and hardware effects because each one’s sound engine is different and it’s great experimenting with them one on one or altogether. My preferred effects would be Delay, Reverb, various Glitch vsts, and Phaser.
- On which one of your songs do you feel you delivered your personal best performance so far, from a technical point of view and why?
Contaminated Intelligence: Awakening. Vocally it is one of the more taxing songs on the upcoming album PREPARE. Lots of lyrics and it’s very fast paced vocally. In the song, I’m touching on various tragic events past, present, and future and putting myself in those scenarios to come up with the lyrics. It really challenged me as a vocalist; to be able to flow right without any mistakes took a lot of training.
- Which ingredient (or trademark sound) do you think is most essential in making your music sound the way it does?
Contaminated Intelligence: The percussion and vocals.
- If you were forced to choose only one, which emotion, more than any other drives you to stay in this tough business. Is it joy, anger, desire, passion or pride and why?
Contaminated Intelligence: Passion and desire. I do it because I truly enjoy making music. Nothing feels better than finishing a song and saying “I/we made this.”
- Which aspect of being an independent artist and the music making process excites you most and which aspect discourages you most?
Contaminated Intelligence: I am free to be who I am and have more control in general. A discouraging factor would be that it’s more difficult to break through without the support of a label. A label has a lot more contacts nationally and internationally that would take a lot of time to build up, so having a label gets you known and established a lot easier, but depending on the label they can tell you what they expect from you. As in if they want a more commercial sounding version of your music than you’re left in an awkward scenario of sacrificing your artistic integrity or doing as you’re told.
- Tell us something about your songwriting process and which instruments or music software do you primarily use for composing?
Contaminated Intelligence: It all depends on how I’m feeling at the moment. That will then become the tempo. I’ve mainly used Reason and Reaper to do my percussion/synth/noises and a Roland JP8000 as my main synthesizer. Depending on the song and if I feel it needs vocals, I’ll plug in the rest of the gear and get ready to record.
- How involved are you in any of the the recording, producing, mastering and marketing processes of your music in general. Do you outsource any of these processes?
Contaminated Intelligence: On the upcoming album PREPARE roughly 80-90% of the music is produced and recorded by me; the other 10-20% is by my partner in crime Rick Mitchell whom I’ve known for 23-24 years. He helps with additional production, effects, samples and is very knowledgeable when it comes to genres, tempos etc. He produces his own music as well under the moniker Kinetic Eon. For the mixing and mastering it is 100% Martin Bowes from Attrition at The Cage Studios. On the previous album TRACKS, 80-90% of it was written by me and the other 10-20% was Keith Lee Price (aka Lee). He helped in additional production, effects, samples and bringing an old school feel to the album. For the mix down of TRACKS it was done by a close friend Bryan Tully up in Seattle. Then it was mastered by Dwayne Dassing in Austin Texas and remastered by Martin Bowes in Coventry England. So our work travels around to a few places 🙂 For marketing/promotion we use Taurant Services. Their services have been great and their rates are fair and competitive.
- The best piece of advice in this business you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t follow, but now know for sure that you should have?
Contaminated Intelligence: Always engage with your fan base—never make them feel unwanted or below you. Without them, our music would never be heard and we don’t take that for granted. As my good friend and colleague Gary Dassing puts it, “They can tear you down faster than they built you up,” so remain humble and grateful that you even have a small dedicated following. We’ve been very fortunate to have people who have been in the business help us along the way. There hasn’t been any advice we’ve ignored/not followed that we regret now.
- At this point, as an independent artist, which is the one factor you desire most, and feel will undeniably benefit the your future (for example increased music distribution, better quality production, more media exposure, bigger live gigs etc…)?
Contaminated Intelligence: Bigger live gigs, more importantly,being on tour with an already well-established act. Going on tour by ourselves wouldn’t break the ice as much, but if we’re opening for bigger act than we would fare better and get known faster.
- Do you consider Internet and all the social media websites, as fundamental to your career, and indie music in general, or do you think it has only produced a mass of mediocre “copy-and-paste” artists, who flood the web, making it difficult for real talent to emerge?
Contaminated Intelligence: Social media has done both. It’s a great tool and has allowed me to interact with a wide variety of people from around the world. At the same time, you’re in competition with other unestablished acts and it does make it hard to stand out. One thing you have to have is consistency. If you disappear for some time, people move on, so engaging with your fan base on a daily/weekly/monthly basis is critical to survival.
- Do you consider video a fundamental tool for your artistic expression and music promotion in general or could you pretty much do without it?
Contaminated Intelligence: I’m a very visual person; unfortunately, I have never made a music video to any of my material. All of my work has a concept or story behind it, so bringing video into the mix would bring it alive that much more and help to bring deeper meaning to the song.
- Could you tell us something about the making of your EP “Mental Fractures” which apparently came about after a snowboarding accident?
Contaminated Intelligence: Yes, Mental Fractures is a new EP we released this past June. It is available as a free download on our Bandcamp page as a way to say thanks for all your support! OnFebruary 23, I was involved in a snowboarding accident at Snow Basin. I over shot a kicker ramp and went 105 feet in the air and landed on flat ground. Upon landing I shattered my right heel into bits and rupture fractured my L3 disc in my spine. When I was laid out and waiting for Ski Patrol to arrive, I couldn’t feel anything below my waist. My disc had pushed into my nerve column an inch or so, I was millimeters away from severing all the nerves in my spine and being paraplegic for the rest of my life. I spent 10 days in the hospital, two surgeries later and I was released. I stayed at my mother’s home as she nursed me back to health. Going from walking, working, being independent etc. to completely helpless in a matter of seconds was the real reality check for me. It was the most painful experience I’ve ever had in my life. It really humbled me and made me realize really fast who you’re real friends are in your most painful moments. While I was recovering, I would go into my studio and try to make music, but the pain was unbearable at times that I never went in. Rick would come over and help me get things rolling and come back throughout the week to hear the progress. At first it was only going to be a three track EP but it turned into five! I really wanted to venture out from the Industrial side and try something new. This EP offers a good variety of music which I’m glad I had the time and ability to make. It allowed me to capture the moment(s) in that time… Finally I regained the ability to walk again and could go back to work. What a relief!!
- Can you anticipate any news about the sound and style of your upcoming album “Prepare”? Is it an elaboration of the Ep or a totally different project?
Contaminated Intelligence: PREPARE is very, very different from the previous album TRACKS; TRACKS is my personal album. PREPARE is an album where I’m not talking about myself, I’m talking about a dire serious situation that’s much bigger than my personal struggle. Both albums are standalone works and tell different stories. PREPARE has been done for a while, Mental Fractures came after PREPARE actually. I’ve waited to get back to work to be able to fund the pressing for PREPARE myself, and eventually the pressings for the Worn Teeth single and the Mental Fractures EP. PREPARE will be released on November 5th, 2014. It will be available in all major digital stores and a limited edition of 50 hard copies.
- What is the ONE thing you are NOT willing or prepared to do, in your quest to achieve a successful musical career?
Contaminated Intelligence: Be something that I’m not. Staying true to myself and my art is important and I wouldn’t want to sacrifice it just for a short-term gain.