Artist Interview: POTAR

Interviewed by: Rodney Clark

I recently had a chance to hook-up with POTAR, a Long Beach Experimental Circuit Bender. I made contact with him via e-mail and had a couple of questions to ask. This is how it went down…

Q: Who is Potar, where are you from, and when did this all start…as far as music and circuit bending?

A: Potar is myself, Michael Winchester from Long Beach, Ca. I’ve been making music by myself since 1996, I had a little Fostex 4 Track and would loop noise from whatever sources I could find. I kept on picking up toy keyboards, drum machines, anything that produced sound. In 2001 I read my first article on “Circuit Bending”, opened up my trusty Roland TR-505 and was amazed at how many new sounds could be produced. I’ve been at it ever since.

Q: Who are some of your all-time music influences?

A: My musical influences as pretty eclectic, I have a pretty good sized record collection. Everything from the Butthole Surfers and Devo, to Hoarce Silver and John Coltrane, to Cold Blood and Dr. Hook.

Q: I since a hint of hip hop as well in your creation? How would that play into the equation?

A: I’ve been into hip hop since the early 80’s. I use a lot of hip hop production techniques in my music as far as samples, loops, and the use of turntables. I have a ton of musical influences and they all play a part in the music I create.

Q: Who do you hang out with and where do you go to hang out? What do you do for fun?

A: I pretty much just hang out at home. On weekends I’ll go to Yard Sales, Thrift Stores and Swap meets with my girlfriend looking for toys, records and the like. Monday or Tuesday JMM will come over and we’ll fire up the soldering iron and bend some stuff. Lately we’ve been building a lot of WSG’s and looking into synth rack schematics.

Q: I see a lot of posted bulletins on myspace about a reggae night with free taco’s…what’s that all about?

A: A really good friend of mine, Daddy Scotty of the Hip Hop Reggae group Chapter 11 does a weekly dj gig in North Long Beach. He spins early dancehall and roots. It’s a good time, plus free tacos and $2 Red Stripes!!

Q: What do you think of the Long Beach and L.A. area Experimental/Noise/Circuit Bending scene, and where will it go?

A: The Long Beach scene was pretty dead for a minute, but now with groups like 11hz Robot and GhostShip, I see it growing. The downtown art scene has been very good to us, people like the Hooray for Humans artist collective have been especially supportive. It’s getting better for us here in Long Beach, but L.A. is still the place for experimental music.

Q: What is in the cards as far as the near future goes with the direction of POTAR?

A: I’m recording a bunch of new material right now for a split release with Talking Computron on Tiger Claw Records. I’ve also been in talks with Hooray for Humans to do a circuit bending workshop sometime in October or November, that should be a lot of fun.

Q: What was the story behind Rolling Stone and the Jared Theremin?

A: My DJ and I were playing a battle of the bands type show at a local punk rock bar here in Long Beach. A couple of the guys from The All America Rejects were there. I used my homemade Theremin in a Jar like I always do and have been since building it in 2002. So a couple months later in Rolling Stone Magazine the All American Rejects were bragging about their homemade Theremin in a jar and how it really changed their sound on the new album. Rubbed me the wrong way.

Q: What are some of your recent builds, and what was or is your favorite bend?

A: Favorite build hands down is the Roland TR-505, mostly because of the variety of sounds it can produce. I also really enjoy building WSG’s & oscillators from scratch. The satisfaction of having a bunch of parts that do nothing and then building them into a useable device is awesome.

Q: What is a WSG?

A: A WSG is a “weird sound generator” as found on Ray Wilson’s musicfromouterspace.com website. It’s based around two IC’s, the CD40106 and the LM741 op amp. It’s basically six oscillators controlled by 9 pots. It’s a great build and super fun to play with.

Q: Any thing you would like to add?

A: Keep It Noisy!!

If you want to know more about POTAR check him out at … http://www.myspace.com/potar
There you can listen to some of his songs and get a good look at his bends.