Questions For Jenks Miller

Credit: Jeremy M. Lange

Jenks Miller answered some questions for me. He prefaced them with: “I’m not being dismissive when I answer ‘I don’t know’ … just being honest.”
What is the best way to die?
I don’t know.

How do you think you’ll die?
I don’t know.

What makes you happy?
Sound, nature, new ideas, good people, my dog.

How can you die happy?
I don’t know.

How close have you come to death?
I’m not entirely sure. The distance in auto accidents and illness.

What does kindness mean to you?
Acting on a sensitivity to needs and desires outside of your own.

Where do you find love?
Sound, nature, new ideas, good people, my dog.

When were you most afraid?
In the time before I had accepted my whole Self, I was afraid of my shadow.

How do you listen to music?
On a CD or record player, with an open heart. I try to find something I can appreciate in whatever sounds I am hearing. I tend to spend time with sounds I haven’t heard before, those that push me outside of my comfort zone and want to be explored.

Album Review

Jenks Miller & Nicholas Szczepanik – American Gothic (Small Doses, 2010)

Jenks Miller & Nicholas SzczepanikWhite Light

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Another glorious collaboration, although I’m not gonna lie, I hadn’t heard anything by Jenks Miller prior to American Gothic. Not that it matters. Anything Szczepanik does is guaranteed gold and I was super pumped to hear him work with somebody else, so I was destined to love this record no matter what.

The opening track is one of the best. Pretty much embodies the whole record. It starts out with a shrill static insect drone, kinda piercing. It goes on for a minute, you think it’s going to last forever and maybe you won’t be able to handle it, but then some youthful xylophone like synths come in and all of a sudden it’s a pop song, like American Analog Set noise for infants. It’s so charming & easy going, but so abrasive & stabbing, the combination of textures & tones is unreal.

And that’s what American Gothic is all about. Smoothing your dreams with the beautiful, subtle, & low-key while scouring your face off with the offensive, brittle, & hardcore. Slow static buzz drifts with digital clouds, mournful organs sound the arrival of new life while a blissful chaos unfolds in the heavens, and an insanely epic album closer where the sun fills you with majestic perfection and the universe crumbles at your feet. So fucking incredible.

Not that I needed it, but this has solidified my faith in Szczepanik as a truly great modern creator, and it has only made me hungry for more from Miller. Collaborations ran amok this year and I feel like they generally tend to get overlooked. Don’t let American Gothic slip by unnoticed because it’s honestly some of the best noise drone. Period.