Negotioating the oft pretentious world of electronics

w/Aspects of Physics
Friday, 9 p.m.
The Blackbird
21+ w/ID

J Lesser is a former metalhead gamer with an obsession with scratching CDs. He’s best known in the electronic music community for provoking German 퀌_ber-avant musician Markus Popp, aka Oval, with his single “Markus Popp Can Kiss My Redneck Ass.” Just before releasing his latest record on Matador Europe, he snagged an opening slot on Bj퀌_rk’s most recent tour. Lesser plays Friday night at the Blackbird with conceptual electronic outfit Aspects of Physics and guitar/bass droners SUNNO))).

As part of the loose collective associated with his friend kid606s Tigerbeat6 label, Lesser is no stranger to out of control glitch cutups and eardrum piercing frequencies. His girlfriend is bLevin bLectum, who made waves at last year’s Ars Electronica festival in Austria performing as part of the now defunct bLectum from bLechdom.

The following is an e-mail interview conducted with Lesser. At the last minute the Vanguard was informed it is Lesser playing Friday, rather than Sagan, the outfit made up of Lesser, bLectum and video artist Ryan Junell. Information received previously gave the impression that Sagan was scheduled to perform. At press time bLectum was preparing to play a Yoko Ono composition in a special program at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

You and bLectum seem to have different approaches to what you do. This shows up not only in your respective musics, but also in the visual accompaniments to your live shows. Can you talk a little about how the process is different?

I think really our processes are a lot alike, which is why we gravitated into each other’s respective paths. As far as the video goes, it’s something that we work on with Ryan Junell. He is the tech and controller and he keeps putting the idea of video into our heads and forces us to work on things. I never really thought about using video before, but at his … insistence … I now have started to come up with ideas. He is great at fleshing out little ideas into real projects.

In some interviews on your Web site you belie a refreshing attitude with regard to the “techno-geek”-driven aspect of the electronic scene. It can be a little alienating when half of the audience is craning their necks to get a look at the musician’s laptop screen. Some people, me for one, just like to hear the music. Do people do that a lot at your shows, and is it annoying?

Um. They don’t do it as much as they used to. I mean, still 90 percent of interviews are like, “Wow, you can make music with a computer?” But I think people at the shows are beginning to understand that it’s not necessarily what’s under the hood, but how you drive it. I’ve never been annoyed with people who do that, I mean, whatever gets you off. Probably artists that get annoyed with that are artists who are afraid that folks will find out they ain’t really doing anything up there.

You’ve also ranted a bit about over-intellectualization on the part of electronic musicians. Do you think Ms. bLectums museum performance will justify her intellectualizing what she does?

Um, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with thinking about what you are doing and trying to not just rehash or capitalize on a trend or something. I think my issues are with folks that try to convince you that what they are doing is somehow more important than something else. Quote: “If Bach were alive today, he’d be making electronic music.” I mean, that is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. Most electronic music (IDM or whatever) can barely maintain a melody with more that 3 or 4 notes. If Bach were alive today, he’d most likely be doing music for film. As far as bLevin doing the Ono thing, there are a few issues going on here 1) I believe she respects Ms. Ono’s body of work or, at the very least, can appreciate what she has done for the artistic world and, specifically, for women in the arts. 2) This event is being curated by a friend of ours, who is also an Ono fanatic, and they wanted to work together before he moved to New York. 3) The piece they are doing, “Strawberries,” was originally a tape piece and bLevin was an obvious choice for a local musician to perform the thing. 4) Making that skrilla yo. Ain’t you heard they art folk be throwin’ that money about?

How is it with Matador Europe, selling any records?

Eh. Could be better. I am working on a record deal in the states because Matador U.S. won’t touch my shit with a 10-foot pole. Gerard is the man though, much love.

What is your current day job?

Unemployed. Living off money made on the Bj퀌_rk tour.