Travis Egedy is one of those young artists we see a lot of nowadays: self-taught, self-produced musicians who don’t even consider themselves musicians at all–more like multimedia artists. They have the world at their fingertips, so why not recreate it in their image? In 2004, Egedy began expressing himself through “weird hip-hop songs,” as he calls them. He eventually infiltrated Denver’s underground scene (every city’s got one) by becoming a mainstay at Rhinoceropolis, the homebase for Denver’s music outcasts. Somewhere around that time, Egedy began performing as Pictureplane, and his sound evolved into goth-y, influence-heavy electronica. He described his music as “witch house” (a genre that now has its own Wikipedia page), released a well-received album (2009’s Dark Rift), and got enough blog love to justify a move to New York. Now Egedy–who hangs with Grimes and Crystal Castles when he’s not touring the world–can be found at your average unmarked venue in Brooklyn, singing material from his latest album, Thee Physical. We recently spoke to Egedy about inventing a music genre, Instagramming everything, and straight magic
So what is Pictureplane?
Pictureplane is more of a performance art experiment that I happen to make all the music for. It’s a music thing, but I treat it as an art project, basically. I’m working through a lot of different concepts that I find interesting, and experiment with relating people in the world and affecting change through sound and performance. It’s deeper to me than just making a song and performing it to people.
What’s your sign?
You wear awesome things by the way.
I like to think I have good taste.
It’s crazy how quickly you established yourself here in New York.
Well, I was playing a lot of shows here before I even moved here. That was one of the reasons I moved here. New York has always been one of my favorite places to perform. I have a lot of fans here. People respect what I do here.
Where have you toured?
I’ve been all over the world. I’ve been to every single state except Hawaii. Earlier this year I was in Japan and South Korea. I’ve been all over Europe. I was in Russia for my third time. I would really like to go to South America and perform there.
You are pretty global for an underground musician.
Yeah, I’m an underground musician. It’s through the internet that all this becomes possible and I’m able to reach and touch people of different cultures and backgrounds. People who are in the know understand what I’m doing. I’m still relatively unknown, but I’ve been all over the world.
How has your music evolved through the years?
In 2004, I was making very young and super crazy emotional music. I was half rapping, half singing, making these weird hip-hop songs. But I never wanted to do the same thing twice, and I still don’t, and in that sense I’m always try to keep it evolving. I try not be a one trick pony. I try to keep it fresh and keep it interesting and experimental.
What was the concept behind Dark Rift?
Yeah, the dark rift is the name of the center of our galaxy that we will actually be passing through on the winter equinox on December 21, 2012, which is coming up very soon. It’s an extremely rare alignment of all the planets in our solar system. It’s basically the clock resetting.
Is it the end of the world?
That phrase, end of the world, is subjective. It doesn’t necessarily mean death and destruction. It can mean a fresh start or a new change. An end of one world and the beginning of another.
Well, we are part of the Internet generation.
It’s weird that people can’t appreciate moments for just what they are. Everything has to be shared with everyone else. There can’t be a beautiful sunset anymore without it being put on Instagram, or a cool moment without anyone tweeting about it. I’m guilty of it too, but it’s just really interesting that something isn’t validated until all your friends like it. But I wouldn’t be anywhere without the Internet.
Is that how people found out about you?
What’s your process?
I just sort of go. That’s the thing. I just tinker around and build from start up from scratch from loops and drums. Getting the groove going. I’ll sort of come up with a phrase, that’s how I started to write lately. I’ll come up with a good title or a phrase, something out of a book I’m reading or certain concept I want to work with, and then I write the song around that.
So you write a lot?
I used to. In high school I had books and books of writing. I can’t write like that anymore. I used to write for pages, just crazy abstract rhymes and raps. I was an MC back then. I keep a journal when I’m travelling and stuff. I’ll write entries in there, sort of recaps of events. My life is so crazy, I’m in all these places all the time. I’m really paranoid about forgetting events and beautiful moments. I hate the idea of memory slipping away
You coined the genre “witch house.” What is it exactly?
It was meant as a way to describe the music that I was making, which was occult-based magical house music.
Yes, like actually house music made by witches. And it became something else. The name was of course very tongue and cheek but it was actually accurate. I consider myself to be somewhat of a witch. I practice magic all the time, every day. I live my life in a magical way, I guess. It got taken out of context online and applied to this new sound of music that was happening–this dark, new goth kind of vibe. It became a cultural meme. And it’s cool, it’s all over the world. People are quick to dismiss it, but I like it. I embrace it.
But you are okay with witch house being blown out?
Sure, but I don’t make witch house in that sense. What is now called witch house I don’t think sound like my music. I don’t mind being associated with that scene ,though. It’s not one kind of thing, it’s sort of nebulous.