Monday, May 30, 2011


This is likely my first digital image. I mislaid the original file. It is a self portrait I took at my neighbors house while I was cat sitting. . . They don't ask me to cat sit anymore. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Duane Michals Made Me Do It

I have met Duane Michals twice. Shortly after learning about his work, through a video I watched at the library for extra credit in my photography class, I moved to New York and discovered that he was listed in the phone book. My girlfriends and I, drunk on red wine, would prank call him just to hear him say hello. He would answer the phone and we'd hang up, we were total wusses. I met him several months later at a opening he was having for the work he did based on Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. I remember I was dressed like a dandy and had a friends big silk scarf tied around my neck in a bow. He came up to my friend and I and introduced himself, of course we were dying. We chatted for a minute and he found out we were both photographers and said "Go and do it. I've done it now you go do it too." I had this inexpensive paperback book of his work with me that was printed in French (even when there is text associated with the image, which is always in his handwriting, was also in French) that he signed for me.

The second time I met him was at a talk and book signing several years later in San Francisco. After his talk we all got in line to have him sign copies of the book he was promoting, which I could not afford but it was a best-of kind of thing anyway. I did have my favorite book of his with me Eros & Thanatos. When it was my turn I handed him my book and sang my praises and he said "Who do I make this out to?" I said Jody Jock. He said "Sorry, I don't do last names." then a second later said "Wait, what's your name?" Jody Jock I say. "Ok, just this once" and hands me back  my book.

This was torn from a magazine article about his work while I was traveling between New York and San Francisco. It's glued into my note book.

I Grew Up With Fear in My Heart

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Big Fake Tears

A few of my images from my 2007 Myth series will be used as the cover art for the next several releases from the San Francisco based dark minimal record label called Untitled and After. More than a little stoked over here.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Invocation of My High School Soundtrack

The Invocation of My High School Soundtrack

            In December my friend Gina Abelkop and I sat on the floor of my bedroom to talk with Josh Cheon about his project Dark Entries Records. We listened to a Borghesia record he brought with him, Ljubav Je Hladnija Od Smrti (Love Is Colder Than Death) which at the time was his current release. We were interested in chatting with Josh because we admire how his contemporary projects still nurture his juvenile obsessions. The thing that he has always loved is loved in a way that allows the rest of us to love it too. I love that shit. Through re-releasing hard to find music, spinning records for Honey Sound System and his party Nachtmusik Josh has found a way to give back the music that he’s been so passionate about.  Dark Entries Records has released 12 records in the past two years, is about to drop another 5 and has a wish list that is manifesting as we speak. The label reissues underground 80s, dark synthesizer, post punk music. Music Josh has been dancing to for most of his life. 
            “A lot of this music was a spin off from punk which was the answer to the end of disco, which though queer, was still very white rich straight music. It became wedding music. And then punk arose from that. But then if I ask these bands what were they influenced by and they’ll say Donna Summer or Giorgio Moroder. So they’re post punk but they were influenced by disco . . . as well as Crass and other punk bands. The records I choose to release I’m releasing because there are danceable songs that I want people to dance to. It’s underground music. The counterculture. They weren’t the majority, they weren’t the pop music that was played on FM radio, they didn’t have all the money but they were more of an earnest, honest DIY movement that has many parallels with the gay movement”

ME: When did you begin thinking about Dark Entries?
JC: I’m gonna say it was probably 1999-2000 that I knew I wanted to have a record label. But first I wanted to have a record store, as a high school kid going to New York and record shopping, I was like ”I want to have a record store” and just have my own records because I’ve always been a collector and then at one point I realized the circle kinda stops and I want to give back so I want to open my own record store-that’s a way for me to give back the records, recycling-keep it going. But instead I got a radio show at Rutgers University and that was my way of putting the music back out there. At the same time I started interning at record labels in Manhattan, and that’s when I said “ I want to do this.” I saw how it’s happening. People just release records. I never quite understood what went into it but I knew I wanted to have my own record label and put out my favorite bands.

ME: This is while you were studying?
JC: yeah studying biology and interning at record labels

ME: What happened a year and a half ago that allowed Dark Entries to manifest?
JC: Well I moved to San Francisco and I met my friend Phil, who runs a blog-A Viable Commercial. I bought some records he was selling on ebay and we met one day and started talking. He was like “read my blog” and I did. He said there are so many bands out there that want their music reissued. Also, I was living with Chris Rolls who ran Kimsiotic Record and I asked him “ how did you do it?” That’s how it started, just me talking to other people about their record labels. I also talked with Veronica Vasicka who runs the Minimal Wave label in NY who also releases dark 80s music and Marc Schaffer from Annalogue Records in Germany. . . I just got little tidbits. . . Strangely enough, today is the third anniversary of my dads passing and I got a very small chunk of money from an insurance thing and it was just enough to put out one record. So that’s where that money came from to put out that first record-which I then dedicated to him.

ME: Eleven Pond?
JC: Eleven Pond. Yes. They are my first American band. They’re from Rochester and it just kinda took off from there. . . there was a really good response because the original pressing of their LP had been this cult collectable record that sold on ebay for up to $500.

GA: How did you get in contact with the band?
JC: The mp3s from the LP were posted on A Viable Commercial blog and the band member found it and commented –“Hey if anybody wants to reissue this get in touch with me. Here’s my email”. It was that simple because no one had ever done it. I was just at the right spot at the right time and I emailed him and he said Sure, let’s do this. He lives in LA and he came up here and we met and it took about a year.

ME: Dark Entries has a niche?
JC: It is incredibly niche.

ME: When you were forming the idea of your record company were you targeting that niche?
JC: This is the niche I wanted to do. In college when I wanted a record label I’m pretty sure that I wanted to release new bands that were referencing these sounds, Like I was really into Tussle’s record label, Troubleman Unlimited. I mean there was stuff I definitely wanted to reissue because it’s really hard to find but I never knew I’d be so good at it or that it would come so naturally to me, like talking to these people who are my father’s age and are shocked that I have even heard of their album or that its selling for so much on ebay . . . but it really is the power of blogs, like I owe a lot to blogs and the bands finding their music and leaving comments “ oh hi, I’m the bass player from this band and it’s so lovely to see this” and that’s how I get in touch with them usually.

ME: Does reissuing a record effect it’s value? Like, does the Eleven Pond record still sell for $500 on ebay?
JC: Interestingly enough, the record came out in July and someone put an original copy on ebay in November and it sold for $911. I think it obviously heightened the awareness of it. The reissue sold out in less than a year and I repressed another edition of 500 in July, I want it to be in print instead of becoming this collectable thing again

GA: Do you pay the bands you reissue?
JC: I do. I offer them money or records, which they can turn around and sell. It’s up to them. A lot of them have no use for records, they don’t even use a computer and wouldn’t know how to sell the records themselves. Some of the bands are on tour and want the albums for their merch tables or to sell in local record shops or just give all the copies away to family and friends. It was steady for the first few bands and now it really varies

ME: Do the records you give the band count against the 500?
JC: yes, they’re all numbered.

P4C: Are the records you keep for yourself part of that edition?
JC: I keep numbers 1 through 5. Always. (Laughs) I used to keep the first 50 then I was like what am I doing with 50 records, I don’t need 50 so I decided on 5, that’s more than enough.

ME: Do you worry about Piracy? They exist as mp3s before you reissue them right?
JC: Right. What I do is re-master them so my LPs essentially sound better than any mp3 from the original vinyl that might be in beat up shape. Very recently, on Thanksgiving, I got an email that my latest release, that had only been out for like a week, was already pirated, someone ripped it and put it on the internet and I had a little mini panic attack. I mean, it’s an honor that someone went through the trouble to rip it and upload it but it was also kinda frightening to me because the record had only been out for a week. This specific release is available on iTunes and 100% of the money goes right to the band. So giving away the mp3s will interfere with the bands profits. But I have this dichotomy because I owe everything to blogs, that’s how I got started. If it’s available as a reissue at a pretty affordable price and digitally why would you rip it and share it? I took it really personal and I sent an email to the hosting site and they shut down the whole blog and pulled all of the songs off- they kinda went really 1984 on them and the guy from the blog emailed me and said “What the hell did you do? Why didn’t you email me and give me a chance to respond? Why did you go to the authorities, they wiped my whole account”. I felt horrible. He went on to say “Don’t you understand that this is press and it’s better than nothing at all.” He was really upset and I felt horrible that they took everything off his account.

ME: That’s not true that you don’t have any press right?
JC: Well no, there is press and actually the album that he ripped is getting me my first review in The Wire, which is like a huge thing, it’s this really fantastic magazine. It’s my first printed review so I was like well little does he know that if you look in December’s Wire there is a printed review and who knows maybe I will get more sales from his blog rip than from The Wire but it’s about integrity and that this is someone’s art. . . I have snippets available online. . . I go back and forth. He and I are still sharing emails, like every week he sends me another email saying “ Well what about this?” It’s difficult because if the album is out of print and goes for $900 on ebay and there is no way of getting it, then sure I’m all for blog sharing the mp3s.

ME: You guys are still debating it?
JC: Yeah (sigh) He won’t give up and I want to come to an understanding. I feel horrible that they wiped his whole account, that was never my intention, I asked them to pull two songs and they pulled everything from his account. . . maybe everything was pirated, I don’t know. So touchy. I do respect blogs and I get a lot of my music off of blogs but the music I am getting is out of print and stuff I will hopefully reissue one day and I need to hear it. I don’t know, It’s tricky.

ME: Do you have any plans to release new music?
JC: My second release was a 7” by a contemporary band from Baltimore, Death Domain and it did really well, it sold out in less than a year. When I hear bands from the 80s my ear really picks up on that a lot more frequently than with new bands and I love a lot of new bands but a lot of them wouldn’t fit into the scheme of my label so do I break out of that and take this new band because I am obsessed with them and even though there is not a synthesizer in it or whatever? I get demos sent to me, but my whole goal in the beginning was to do a classic release with a contemporary release, all my odd numbers be classics and all my even numbers be contemporary. It stopped after my second release because making a piece of vinyl costs a lot of money and to invest that into a new band I really have to love every song that they send me and the reality is that I don’t love every song but on the albums I reissue I love every song-there isn’t one that I want to skip past.

GA: Do new bands send you music often?
JC: yes, not as much as they probably could because they may know that my last 8 releases have been classic stuff so they might just think of me as a reissue label and not contemporary.

GA: You get submissions?
JC: Sometimes, but it’s tricky because with classic music the album is done, everything is done. I don’t have to pay for any production, I don’t have to help the bands to go on tour, I don’t have to support them any more than just giving them records and money and that’s it, closed case; but with a new band you have to be a little more nurturing, you have to support them, help them with tour and make sure they have extra records for their merch. . . what they send me often is demos and it takes forever for those demos to get finished and ready whereas the bands from bygone, it’s done, it’s ready, it’s a finished product, the artworks done. . . it’s a lot simpler and faster. 

ME: Do you reproduce the artwork from the original release?
JC: Yes. Eleven Pond had a silk screened jacket on chipboard with two different colors on the front and a color on the back and I totally copied that-we changed the image a little bit because the guy in the band didn’t like the original image, so we changed it but we kept the aesthetic of silkscreen on chipboard, black with bright green, we kept it similar and hand numbered, everything is hand numbered.

ME: You are doing the screen printing?
JC: I am screen printing them all myself, every single copy of every single release, I mean of every release that are silk screenable I’ve done every pull.

GA: Do you do the whole thing totally alone? Do you have anyone you work with?
JC: I have a designer, Eloise Liegh, who’s amazing and helps me, she’ll be the one that will lay out the stuff if I have to create anything I will give her all the artwork and images and a font idea and tell her Oh why don’t we do this this and paste this here. . . She’ll totally lay it out. Most times she just comes up with it all herself. Neon Judgment she did herself, it’s beautiful. It’s a scan of their cassette jacket then she did this half tone effect that I love from like other records like the first Voice Farm 7” and other records that I’m totally obsessed with. Then we decided on bright neon red. Every release has like some kind of ephemera inside that I have been consistent about and it’s all Eloise, it’s band photos that the band sent us or lyrics but it’s her layout and design.

GA: Do you do all the mailing?
JC: I do all the mailing myself.

GA: You have a regular job too?
JC: Yes I do.

GA: Do you find it difficult to balance the two?
JC: I do. Always. I find myself slipping into my record label a lot at my regular job or thinking about it all day, it’s always what’s next? What do I have to do? It takes up a lot of my brain space.

GA: Is it your goal to just work on the record label?
JC: Yes and no. I love my job, I love what I do, I kinda wish I could work part time and still get paid, because I need that income because the record label is definitely not enough to survive off of, nor do I ever want it to be. Once I start thinking of it as survival money I fear things will take a nasty turn. I do this for fun. I love doing it and work on it a lot more than most people work on their hobbies, I spend a lot of my time and energy. It’s more than a hobby, it’s like a passion.

ME: That’s true with your record collecting, are you passionate about most things?
JC: I am. Even when I’m getting ready for a DJ set I get really passionate and really nerdy about what I’m picking out thinking about what theme I’m creating that night, what journey am I taking people on.

ME: Were you familiar with the bands you are reissuing when you were younger?
JC: Some of it. Eleven Pond I was brought to my attention by Phil, so that was a new band for me to obsess over because it had elements of New Order, The Cure and Depeche Mode and it was like “Ding!”, those were the bands I grew up listening to, like the older 80s synth post punk. But the Neon Judgment I had on a CD in 1999, I bought it in Philly on South Street. I remember finding this CD with all this underground (mostly Belgian) 80s music and Neon Judgment was on there with their song TV Treated and here I am ten years later reissuing that song from that CD. As for Borgehsia, I had their vinyl when I was in high school, I was into all the Wax Trax, EBM stuff. This music is just what I’ve been really passionate about since I was introduced to it, danced to it every weekend in New York when I was 16, 17 and 18, it was just a big part of my life. But yeah, there were a lot of bands that were played when I was younger that I get to reissue now. It’s a mixture because some stuff has been underground forever and some stuff is just being discovered now.

ME: How did you research obscure music before the Internet?
JC: I had really amazing friends that worked in college radio. I always had friends that were older than me that were into this music as well. But then once you get started and you buy one record, for me at least, I always look what else is on that label and then I just buy things on that label; like Wax Trax, discovering that at a young age through KMFDM and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and Chris and Cosey and early Ministry and all this stuff just came together because I love that label and their records used to come with order sheets and I would just check off what I wanted and mail order directly through Wax Trax. Also, just going to New York a lot as a kid and just talking to people behind the counter and digging in the industrial/goth section and try to find album covers that I like or listen to music. And just going to clubs and dancing to this as a kid and I’d ask “What’s this? What are you playing?” and make a mental list. I also had a cousin who was into this and umm three goth girlfriends. One of them was super goth, the other two were posers, they listened to trip-hop but the one goth girl was serious and she had some really good stuff. It’s really funny, I’m reissuing this band next year called Clan of Xymox and whenever we would get ready for our rituals I would always bring the Clan of Xymox “Medusa” album and play it before our rituals and here I am all these years later releasing an album by this band that was my coven music. I haven’t told the guy in the band about that but I told him how I loved him and he was part of my high school life and I really have an affinity to him but when I put that album on still to this day I just think about getting ready and prepping all this stuff. We used to go to the Bank which was Avenue A and Houston. And I turned on a few girls to the whole scene and they would get all dolled up, at school they wouldn’t dress anything like that but on the weekends they would break out the fishnets they bought just to go dancing with me, big dresses and tease their hair all out and all this make up and then at school, you know, they might wear all black. I never dressed like that at school. I was like t-shirt and jeans.

ME: I imagine that’s how you dressed to go out dancing too.
JC: Sometimes. . . .

ME: Like, did you have gloves?
JC: No, I never had gloves. No. I had a black button down shirt that was really tight with blood red buttons and these black and dark red pinstriped pants that were super straight leg and really nice black pointy boots. But I was 16 and kinda awkward and gangly. That was me dressing up, but I never wore make up or anything or had fishnets, maybe my friends would paint my nails but I would be so scared at school that I’d take it off.

GA: Were you called a freak or gay?
JC: It happened because-then during the day at school I would dress up in all these 70’s clothes, way before bellbottoms became fashionable, it was like when everyone was wearing big jeans and raver pants and I was in my grandpa’s plaid polyester golf pants and Qiana shirts with big collars, like total fire hazard and really skinny pointy burnt orange leather boots with heals and my dorky glasses. I would walk around with my hair parted or all gelled up. Really. I never got beat up but I got called a fag almost everyday. I didn’t care

GA: What kind of a relationship do you have with the bands you release? Are you friends?
JC: It’s incredibly friendly. I get calls every week, I get emails, I have lunch with them, I have dinner with them.

GA: But do you really shoot the shit?
JC: Oh yeah, all about their personal lives, visits to the doctor . . whatever is current in their life, girls they’re dating, guys they’re dating it’s very close personal. They’re my friends.

ME: Working with artists that you’ve admired are they contemporaries or idols?
JC: I really hold them on a different plane. I have this ultimate respect for them. I am a fan boy on the inside. With this reissue stuff there is this really sad quality because a lot of these people feel like failures and they carry a lot of that baggage with them into this. They’re like “Well, we didn’t make it the first time, 30 years later why are we making it now?” They can be kinda bitter but that’s when being a big fan helps and you can feel it out. It’s a bizarre place to be because everything’s already happened and here I am extending my hand and giving them this opportunity 25 to 30 years after the fact. Some of them have horrible memories of this music. People have flat out told me no, they never want to listen to that music ever again. They were cheated, money was stolen there are some dark secrets and dark energy too. It’s a lot like playing therapist, we talk for hours.

ME: What music is on your dream list?
JC: My dream list? Ministry, The old old Ministry. There is stuff that has never been released, early eighties gay, really gay. Neither of them are gay but they were marketed as a gay boy band, gay synth pop band. Clan of Xymox was on my wish list forever, and I’ll be releasing it later this year. Skinny Puppy’s first cassette, Nitzer Ebb’s first cassette. Q Lazzarus, who sang the song from Silence of the Lambs during Buffalo Bill’s naked dance in the mirror. Sad Lovers and Giants, a British band I used to love to dance to at the Bank. I’ve talked with them but it’s harder when bigger labels are involved. With these bigger bands it’s harder but I am focusing on their early self-released cassettes before they had record deals.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Pure Phase

At the beginning of March I quit smoking marijuana after being a user for more than 20 years and a heavy user for about 13 years. Quitting almost killed me. I suffered every kind of illness including a migraine headache that lasted longer than three weeks. I dissolved long standing partnerships with the webzine I co-founded, Prayers For Children, and alienated myself from most of my friends and all of my lovers. I thought of myself as a lion with a thorn in his paw attacking everyone who passed by. It was easy to think that my life had more value when I was high especially while I was laying in bed wishing to die rather than wake up to another headache. I regretted choosing to walk this road. The nightmares and incredible night sweats eventually ended and it's been about a week since my last headache. I have been able to exercise and have generated a few portraits. I took this pic today to see what I looked like after such a long illness. This is my new zero, the beginning of this next part of my life. Oh, and I will never cold turkey anything ever again. 

Monday, May 2, 2011