SLUG Mag Soundwaves
Episode #358 – ROUGH HANDS

Making generative music under the local label syzygysm, Josie Cordova explores the most biological and natural functions of living beings through the matrices of computerized systems. Their newest record, CUM FROM A PLANET CALLED EARTH by ROUGH HANDS (a band that doesn’t exist), continues Cordova’s thematic fascinations while contemplating depressive moral dilemmas. “I’m more of a curator or a midwife of these larger creative processes than a musician,” they say. 

For their latest record, the music is built out of an abstracted simulation of an ecosystem. “You have a handful of these sketches of animals with very simple simulated lifecycles and needs. They compete for resources, they court each other and they mate,” says Cordova. “When they do that, they express their genetic code in musical terms.” When starting to build a project like this, Cordova doesn’t have the end product in their sight. “I’ll usually have an idea for a system that I want to build, with a certain kind of flavor of output that I would like for it to be able to achieve,” they say. “The system that ends up growing out of this intention usually isn’t the thing that I intended to build and it usually doesn’t produce the thing that I wanted it to build.”

In the case of CFPCE, this seed was surrounded human impact and materialism. “At that time, I did feel like maybe the most important thing that one could do to have some lasting influence on the physical world or human culture was to hope that your kids could be more influential than you are,” says Cordova. This deeply human and existential fear is the exact sort of emotional connection possible in generative music that drew Cordova to the medium. “I feel like at once I’m distancing myself in an ego sense,” they say. “I don’t have ownership over anything that comes out of these processes so it kind of necessarily keeps me humble in a way. But then at the same time, if the output of a process [does work], I’m very proud of [it].” 

Cordova mentions the infinities possible through the form and revels in its fragility. “I could so easily just ctrl+F and replace all mentions of mating with some other form of creative communication. The organisms are abstract enough that they could be transformed into ideas,” they say. “It doesn’t have to be sexually essential or biologically essential. That was just the association that I assigned it years ago before I was able to reckon with a lot of stuff that now is important to me.” 

Be sure to check out CUM FROM A PLANET CALLED EARTH, as well as all of Josie Cordova’s, releases on Bandcamp. You can stay up do date with all their new projects by following them on Twitter @shuggy_mommer.