Weird Interview: Anklepants

Anklepants
Photo by Dina Schweiger

Back in late June, we got to interview our current No. 1 Weirdest (One-Man) Band in the World, Dr. Reecard Farché, better known to his penis-loving minions as Anklepants. Reecard—or, more accurately, the man behind Reecard/Anklepants, [name redacted]—chatted with us for over an hour from his home in Berlin about everything from how he got interested in animatronics to why the Berlin music scene kinda sucks right now.

The interview was originally conducted as part of an article I wrote about breakcore for Insomniac.com, an electronic music site run by the folks behind such massive EDM festivals as Electric Daisy Carnival. But only a few Anklepants quotes made it into that piece, so I decided to transcribe the whole thing (well, most of it, anyway—an hour-long interview adds up to a LOT of words) and post it here so you weirdos could learn more about the man behind the mask.

We began by talking about what was, back in June, still the hottest Anklepants-related topic of conversation: his mind-blowing live set for the Boiler Room DJ video series.

 

WB: So let’s talk about that Boiler Room set. It got quite the response when it first came out.

A: Yeah, man, it’s completely nuts. In that first period, it was just ridiculous. I was getting emails every five seconds…it was just streaming in. It’s been less ridiculous since then, which is good. It’s hilarious to see what people write now that it’s getting more mainstream coverage.

My voice was completely fucked at that gig. That was my seventh show in a row, and I blew it out like three nights before that. I really fucked it up. And then I smoked a cigarette. I don’t smoke often, but sometimes when I drink, I smoke. I smoked one cigarette and my voice was fucked. I couldn’t even really talk before that gig—so that’s how much I was straining my voice.

WB: When you booked the Boiler Room show, did you have any inkling that it was going to be such a big deal?

A: No, I knew that would happen. It’s got the biggest captive audience for something of that nature, with people who are completely sedated by the DJ standing there playing tracks. That’s the thing it’s brought to my attention: I didn’t really realize how many people have been born into the world where DJing is the normal for music. People still think I’m DJing. I’m not DJing. People still don’t understand what I’m doing. You’ve never seen bands? People manipulating machines? Some of the haters’ comments are just so stupid: “I’ve never seen someone doing that on the decks.” There’s no fucking decks. There’s nothing like that. And they think that I’m just singing over the track for the hell of it or something. They don’t realize that it’s my music.

So I’m definitely not DJing. I don’t know if there’s a name for it, really. With the equipment that I use, there’s definitely no name for it, because it doesn’t exist [outside of my shows].

AnklepantsWB: Do you think that’s why people at the Boiler Room set were kind of just standing around? Because they didn’t really understand what they were seeing? Or they were afraid of the mask, maybe?

A: Usually when I play it’s completely fucking rammed and people aren’t afraid of it. Probably since the Arte thing, that interview…

WB: Oh yeah, the German TV show. [Note: We were thinking of this show. But he’s actually talking about this one.]

A: Yeah, it’s Germany and France. I don’t know if you know of this thing, but it’s the biggest arts show in Europe, really. It’s on mainstream, pay TV. So after that, my next few shows sold out straight up—in Germany, in Switzerland. They were fucking packed.

I can cum with the mask now. And at lots of gigs I’ve got guys and girls just lining up for me to cum on them. I’m not exaggerating. This happens all the fucking time. This Boiler Room gig is the first gig where you would see people standing like this in over a year. It’s usually people jumping up trying to grab me.

WB: So wait, the mask shoots liquid now?

A: Yeah, yeah, it has for quite a long time. It’s hard to see. There’s some photos where you can see when it’s fluoro coming out, because I put like glowstick fluid in there. It’s a button on the microphone I can just press at any time. There’s a small pump and a small tank. But anyway, this is the thing: People go crazy normally. This is why it kind of annoyed me. I was like, “Fuck, come on.” It was just a shame that when it finally gets a lot of coverage, it looks like people are scared. I think a lot of people thought that was the first gig, or normally I do something else. But it’s been happening for five years.

WB: Was the jester outfit new?

A: I’ve worn it on and off for awhile. But I wore it that whole tour. The black one is really, really hot. It kills me. It’s so nasty. I see stars easily five times a show when I wear that. I mean, I do anyway most of the time, because it’s so hot.

Anklepants black costume

WB: In the mask?

A: Yeah. When I have the black [costume] on, the only thing exposed to the air is my eyes and my hands and my mouth. It does up really tight around my neck. Which I could loosen up, but I like that suit because you can’t see any skin. So the illusion of the head being my head looks a bit better from a distance. But it gets so hot. The pants come up to my armpits and it’s all wool. So when the jacket’s on, there’s two layers of wool around my chest. So yeah, I’m completely drenched and the suit is completely wet by the end. It takes days for it to dry out.

WB: Did the music for Anklepants come first, and then you designed the mask? Or did it start with the mask?

A: Well, the mask was originally an idea for this stupid porn film me and my friend came up with. It was these two characters driving around space in a beat-up old spaceship, beaming girls up from different places and seducing them on the spaceship and having weird orgy parties. I mean, we still might make this film. But this is where the character came from. And at the time, I was making a lot of music with a friend. I was in bands with him and also making lots of electronic music with him. And I was like, “Hang on, maybe we should use this as a character for a music project.” ‘Cause I was already using the bear. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this teddy bear that I used to use? There’s videos of it around.

WB: No, I don’t think so.

A: The first animatronic thing I ever used at a gig was an animatronic teddy bear, which straps around my upper torso—and that goes with a whole different music. There are some Anklepants releases that are called Le Bear, but eventually it will be a separate thing. It was a pretty shit animatronic, but the new one is gonna be crazy. So yeah, that was the first one, and then I was like, “Well, there’s this penis character, maybe we should use this.” And at the time, we were making a lot of really slow, strange techno. There’s a handful of tracks that are from that but I don’t ever really play them. But it was like 110 BPM and really slow, and I dunno, I don’t even know how to explain it.

WB: Just slowed down techno?

A: Yeah, but this really kinda wonky thing with these really sleazy-sounding vocals, all pitched down. Just stupid, weird, joke kind of tracks. And I was like, “Well, that character would fit perfectly. The dicks would be moving in time.” Because at first, there was two of them.

WB: That’s right, I’ve seen some of those where you have a dancer in a mask, as well.

A: No, that’s a different one. The very first gig was two of us singing and two of us operating machines. So there were two animatronic cocks like in time, doing all different moves like synchronized. It just looks hilarious when they’re moving together. That was the first gig, but after that, he never wanted to play again. I don’t know what it was—he never said. He was kind of my best friend but he’s pretty weird with communication. I haven’t spoken to him in like a year now. Though I haven’t been back to Australia in five years, mind you. I’m going back soon and I’ll see him. But anyway, it was definitely a different idea at first and then—I mean, the music existed way before the cock face.

When I first worked on films and saw animatronics being built and started to learn a bit about the control systems and realized I already knew a bit about the electronics already, because I was really into radio-controlled cars and shit like that. I used to race them. So I was like, “Hang on, I can kind of understand this.” And I always wanted to do animatronics. I used to ask the electronic engineers questions. And then I found out a lot of the old animatronics were MIDI sequenced and I was like, OK.

The systems I use are far superior to [film work animatronics] now, as well. It’s kind of overtaken what I was first trying to emulate. Because you can’t manipulate audio when you’re programming for films. You can’t slow it down very easily with the systems they use. And they’re so expensive. What they pay a hundred grand for I can build for like 200 Euros.

WB: Would you ever want to get back into doing animatronics for film?

A: Oh, I still do. I’m doing two film jobs at the moment. But it’s not the same as if I was in Australia working for the same people—or being in the U.K. When I was in the U.K., it was just non-stop. But in Germany, it’s not as often and it’s not as much money.

WB: But it sounds like you’re too busy now with Anklepants anyway.

A: But it’s been like this. I’ve been gigging most weekends since I’ve been in Europe, since 2010. There haven’t been many months I haven’t played at least one gig in another country. This is the thing that’s hard to notice from the outside. I mean, yeah, it’s getting more popular in Europe, but at the same time, I think most of the coverage at the moment is from America and Australia. In Europe, I’ve played in most places multiple, multiple times.

A lot of the traffic I’m getting at the moment is from America. I think it’s the biggest surprise for America. I dunno—it’s not that strange. Fucking weird shit goes on in Europe all the time. I mean, yeah, it’s a robot dick face. But the music is not that weird. I could go out right now and 100 meters from my house, I bet you there’s something more obscure going on.

Anklepants live
Photo by Fabia Rodi

WB: How would you describe your music these days?

A: The newest stuff, the next Anklepants music is going into different microtonal ideas and more ethnic scales, different tunings, and more acoustic instruments, custom-built things. Really different. But I dunno, it’s parodying different things, critiquing things. A lot of different people might like different bits of it, and then maybe realize that they shouldn’t be so concerned about what’s good or bad about it.

I don’t think anything I do is that strange at all. And nothing is new. Animatronics is from the fucking ‘60s. Everything I use is old. Even the technology—it might be new combinations of things, but the sensors and stuff have been around for fucking ages. So it’s just mixing all different things together.

WB: As a writer, I find “breakcore” useful to describe your music. But it’s also a bit arbitrary. I’ve heard Otto Von Schirach’s music described as breakcore, Venetian Snares, your stuff. But really, if you put all three of you side by side, your music is pretty different.

A: Yeah, if it’s got breakbeats in it that are sped up and chopped up—I mean, I do have some songs that have this.

WB: Yeah, like “Ilikeyourfaceheadshoesanddick”…

A: Yeah, of course, but this is about the generic breakcore scene in Sydney. I was involved in this scene a bit when I first started Anklepants. I did listen to [breakcore] but I was really just fascinated with the technicality of it. I was never into chopping up pop tracks and speeding them up. That infuriates me, to be honest. Not many things infuriate me, but when people just get a Britney Spears song and speed it up and put a distorted gabber kick under it…this just infuriates me. It’s literally just turning a knob.

This is where society’s getting so fucking lazy. I’ve met people who do this stuff and some of the attitudes are just unbelievable. They think they’re crazy and wild. But I’ve had quite a few of them tell me what I should change. It’s pretty weird. They’re supposed to be rebels that don’t care about what anyone else does. But then—this is when I [came up with] this stupid thing, the übergrunde, a direct inversion of the mainstream. All they’re doing is the exact same thing. They have their own clique. They’re the same. So this kind of breakcore—I just think it’s stupid.

WB: So when you do a track like “Ilikeyourfaceheadshoesanddick,” it’s a parody of that scene?

A: Yeah, the lyrics are, “When I come to the bowels of the party, I really like to look at your dick at the party.” It’s just saying, when I go to the shittiest party—and it’s all guys, mind you—we just look at each other’s dicks. That’s what the lyrics are. They’re so stupid, but I just made them one day when I was so pissed off after I played one those gigs, with these assholes who pride themselves on being so completely open, and then you play their gig and they just give you a bunch of attitude and tell you what you should change in your music.

WB: What have they said you should change?

Anklepants

A: “It’s good but after you see it’s a dick, it’s like, whatever.” People just always try and put shit on it, because usually, what the problem is, if I play a gig with them, no one fucking watches them, they watch me. This is obviously the problem. It’s a weird thing with Anklepants, because obviously some people might not want to look at it, or they want to see the funny side. But a lot of the time, all people want to talk about is the dick face. They forget there’s even music there. And if they talk about the music, they just say it’s horrible.

But then there’s the other kind of breakcore I got interested in because of different kinds of software. For me, when it comes to anything you might call breakcore—this fast, heavily programmed music—it’s just the technical side I’m interested in, really. There’s just so many techniques trying to create contrast between different hits, different notes. The more contrast there is, the more your brain is being triggered that it’s a new thing that it’s hearing. This part of it I’m really interested in: tricking the brain, so when you’re listening to it, your brain feels like it’s constantly being shown something new. I like hearing all the techniques and people using all different hardware and software all mixed together. It’s still kind of exciting. And it’s like a challenge as well, because you have to use a lot of tricks with production to make all the sounds come through in the mix. It’s kind of like a weird jigsaw puzzle, and it’s kind of like a game, and it’s kind of problem solving.

WB: I think that’s what interests me about it, as well. Just the production skills involved with something like what Igorrr does, for example, taking classical and metal and breakbeats and stitching it all together….

A: I mean, Otto and Venetian Snares, those guys, they’ve been doing it way longer than me. I was playing in bands and stuff for a long time. I’ve played guitar since I was nine. Jazz theory and all kinds of stuff. I was doing that and I suppose they were making electronic music. I’ve been making electronic music for probably 15 years, but Anklepants is only since 2008. I was into all kinds of music, but a lot of metal when I was younger. I really only ever got into electronic music to add it to a band. Anklepants will be a band eventually. Not this new thing—Clock_yange is like a one-off thing. Anklepants will be a full band that’s got all these crazy instruments and all kinds of things going on.

WB: Is that the goal with something like the face-tar?

A: Yeah, and as soon as I start getting big enough bookings, where I can afford to have other people…the first person I want to bring in is a drummer. I’ve always wanted to use this guy in Australia who I’ve played in two bands with. And he’ll be using a mixture of conventional rock drums, but also triggered and strange electronic percussion, weird instruments that are electronic and acoustic and moving, as well. And he’ll have some character. But yeah, the main focus is to get the guitar built. Although that instrument is based on a guitar, it’s gonna have a lot of sensors and things.

I used to manipulate the music a lot more, especially arrangement-wise, before I had the wireless microphone. When I built that microphone, it started to be more about the microphone vocal manipulation. When the guitar comes, the music will be as manipulated as the voice. When it joins together, everything’s just gonna be way more free.

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This preview of Anklepants’ new band, Clock_yange, will scare the crap out of you

Anklepants and Ratbag are Clock_yange
Photo by Laura Fusato

Our favorite penis-nosed provocateur Anklepants has been having a busy month. Just a few weeks after knocking the entire Internet on its ass with his bonkers Boiler Room set, he’s unleashing a brand-new project this weekend: Clock_yangé (or possibly Clocké_yangé—the spelling seems to vary), a collaboration with a mysterious, tin-foil-faced guitar player called Ratbag. “Clocké_yangé is the übergründé Convict cloud chamber encapsulating Reecard Farché (Anklepants) and RATBAG,” declares the duo’s Facebook page, continuing in the grand Anklepants tradition of sticking accents and umlauts all over the place while making as little sense as possible.

Earlier today, Clock_yangé released what we believe is their first online music, a little two-minute SoundCloud preview of their live set. You can check it out below, but be warned: You may want to listen with someone you’re not ashamed to cower behind. Shit’s kinda scary. Right, Mom? (I cowered behind my mom.)

Rumor has it this unholy duo will unleash their aural onslaught upon an unsuspecting Berlin populace this Saturday. Half the city is gonna wish they left that wall up. (Too soon?)

We’ll leave you with one final fleeting glimpse of Ratbag and his amazing animatronic inverted cross hat. I hope they made extras, because they really need to give one of those things to every member of Mayhem.

Anklepants just played a Boiler Room set and people are losing their minds over it

Anklepants at Boiler Room

If you’re into electronic music, you’re probably familiar with Boiler Room, a roving dance party that sets DJs up in the middle of the crowd and then films them at work while people dance behind them trying really hard not to look at the camera. It’s a simple but really effective setup that’s captured some of the best DJ sets now available on YouTube from big names like Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox and the late, great Frankie Knuckles. But apparently, nothing could have prepared Boiler Room fans for the dick-nosed aural assault that is Anklepants.

Anklepants recorded his Boiler Room set in Berlin back on May 20th, where he was actually opening for another Weird List alumnus, breakcore guru Otto von Schirach. But since videos of both sets hit YouTube on May 29th, Anklepants has totally upstaged the headliner. The man behind the dick-nose, [name redacted]—or Dr. Reecard Farché, as he likes to be called—clearly knew that Boiler Room was his opportunity to reach a wider audience, and he rose to the occasion with a funky, frenetic set of techno, breakcore, glitch, drum-n-bass and dubstep, all slathered with distorted, pitch-shifted vocals sung into his custom mic/vocal controller with the intensity of Chris Brown picking a fight at a strip club. And he did it all dressed in a head-to-toe jester costume and terrorizing the polite German dancers by running around like a monkey with its hair on fire. Well-played, Reecard!

At first, no one seemed quite sure what to make of the penis-nosed one. “Behold, the Boiler Room set that will haunt your nightmares,” ran a one headline from the electronic music blogosphere. “It’s like a car wreck that I can’t stop looking at,” read a typical YouTube comment. But in recent days, the positive comments seem to be outweighing the negative ones. And certainly, based just on how much traffic our original Anklepants post is getting, a lot more people are seeking out the mysterious Dr. Farché and his not-so-dulcet tones.

So here, to haunt your nightmares, is the Boiler Room set that’s caused all the fuss. Is it too soon to say that the folks who were there witnessed a legend being born? Probably, especially since most of them look more terrified than enthralled. But hey, most births are messy and terrifying. At least you can dance to this one, if you try hard enough. [Note: For reasons we can’t quite figure out, the video automatically starts 38 minutes into his set, but you can just manually rewind it to the beginning—which we highly recommend.]

Anklepants’ new 12″ single is epic

anklepants-moon

Something old and something new from our penis-nosed friend Dr. Reecard Farché, aka Anklepants: He’s just released a 12″ single on off-white vinyl featured a massively extended club-anthem rework of “[speak you little facehead],” the track that (along with its hallucinatory video) first introduced us to pleasures of this Aussie breakcore/tech-glitch weirdo over a year ago. Called “SPEEK YOU LITTLE RE-ƒacéé,” the new version clocks in at nearly 12 minutes and features a long four-on-the-floor outro that sounds like 4 a.m. in a Berlin S&M club. You can stream the whole glorious thing below via Soundcloud.

“SPEEK YOU LITTLE RE-ƒacéé” is out now on Love Love Records and available for purchase here. DJs who still spin vinyl, do your record crates a favor and score a copy. It’s worth it for the baboon cover art alone.

Watch Anklepants freak the fuck out (and get interviewed) on German television

anklepants_baboon
Credit: Torsten Solin

Oh, Anklepants, how we’ve missed you. Recently, our favorite penis-nosed breakcore lunatic stopped by a German TV show called the Network Awesome Show to perform the song “Ilikeyourfaceheadshoesanddick” and give an interview with, randomly, a muppet bat and a robot/crash test dummy. Oh, and some American dude in one of those pointy Asian hats.

You can watch both the performance and the interview below. We don’t want to give away every revelation bomb Anklepants drops in the interview, but we will tell you this: We still don’t know why he has a penis on his face. Maybe some mysteries are best left unrevealed.

In other Anklepants news: After hanging out in Berlin for some time, the man behind the penis is returning to Australia. He’s also releasing a new 12-inch single soon on Love Love Records. We’ll be sure to let you good people know when it’s out. Yes, even you fuckers who didn’t pledge money to the face-tar.

Help Anklepants make the Face_tar a reality

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I gotta say, I am feeling pretty damn good about myself today. I just ponied up $10 to one of the worthiest causes I know. No, not defeating Mitt Romney, although I really should give the Obama campaign ten bones just as a thank-you for the 83,792 emails they’ve sent me over the last six months. My wife writes me less.

No, I parted with my hard-earned ducats to help one of my favorite weirdos, Anklepants, build a new instrument called the Facé_tar™. And you should join me, because the man creature also known as Reecard Farché is, as of this writing, a little (okay, a lot) short of his goal of raising $1,875 for all the necessary components. So he needs a little generosity and a little help getting the word out.

The Facé_tar™ is explained, sort of, on the Indiegogo page Reecard/Anklepants creator [name redacted] has built for his fundraising campaign. I say “sort of” because, like Anklepants himself, this Facé_tar thing is a little hard to explain. Here, I’ll quote Reecard/AnkleP’s:

This hybrid Robotic instrument will be the second character (along side Reecard Farché) for the future Anklepants live show.

The body of the guitar (A large lip syncing animatronic creature /puppet made of silicone and fibreglass) with a large mouth , moving eyes and very expressive face , delivering lip synced vocal performance and a range of interaction with Reecard Farché as he carries and plays the instrument like some kind of deranged and loving ventriloquist, bag pipe player / guitarist /pied piper.

If that still doesn’t make sense, there are some concept drawings you can check out here. Still can’t wrap your head around it? Fine. Just know that [name redacted], in addition to being a pretty killer breakcore/IDM/drum ‘n’ bass musician, is an amazing designer of prosthetics and animatronics who, among other things, worked on [he doesn’t want you o know]. Oh, and his headpiece for Anklepants has an animatronic penis-nose that moves in time to the music. So your money will almost certainly be put to good use.

As with Kickstarter, it’s a little misleading to describe Indiegogo contributions as “donations.” Depending on how much you pitch in, you can get any number of Anklepants goodies in return, from a digital WAV copy of his latest album to your very own silicone cast of the full Anklepants “facéhead.” (It’s a bust, not a headpiece, so sorry—you can’t wear it to your next DJ gig. Make your own damn penis-nosed prosthetic!)

We’ll leave you with that Indiegogo link one more time and a little taste of the Anklepants live show. Just imagine this shit with the added bonus of a guitar that’s also a face!

New Anklepants album available for free download

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Good news for fans of our favorite penis-faced EDM producer, Anklepants: For a limited time, he’s making his brand-new album, Social Patching and the Pixel Pagent Facéd Boy, available as a free download on Bandcamp. Go get it while you still can, and if you dig it, be sure to grab the free bonus track, “Bellofacé,” which he just added yesterday. Yes, the man’s generosity knows no bounds. Now, who’s hungry for grapes?