Laying down industrial beats and digitized metal riffs, the spectacle of garbageface is known to originate from Peterborough, Ontario, but will often roam and travel many spots across Canada. He takes on the form of a loop powered, rap spitting doom engine. His lyrical flow strings together existential contemplations, while the hard hitting rhythms and gritty electronic aesthetic get people moshing and dancing (respectively).
We first encountered garbageface on one of his travels when he was rocking his earlier album Obduracy. He calls it ‘doom rap’ and it’s about exactly what you’d expect. There’s the abrasive, bassy chug of doom metal which lays the foundation to a high-energy rap component. However, the final result comes together with garbageface’s lyricism and showmanship. His writing digs deep into the human condition and brings out one raw, thought-provoking verse after another. It takes the listener to outlandish sci-fi dystopias and transhuman wastelands (all of which are excellent topics to headbang to). In terms of the performance, there isn’t quite anything like being there in person. Marking his presence with a duct tape pentagram on the stage, garbageface delivers a hyper-powered set full of up-close-and-personal rapping, moshing, audience dialogue and even acapellas.
Two albums later, on to Apostasy, and the doom machine is going strong. He is travelling Canada from end to end “spreading the bad news,” as he’s called it. While the people slumber, garbageface is making his rounds, connecting with far out multimedia artists (such as ViRE / EXE and Jonah Hache), crushing up sequences, and making his mental alchemy that much more potent. We were happy to get in touch with him right after his DEATHCEMBER tour for some quick questions. Here’s what went down:
YTMS: What is the history of garbageface? How long has it been a thing? How did it come to be?
g: garbageface started in earnest in the Summer of 2009. I had been performing in bands ranging from acoustic to metal to rap since my teen years, and found the most fulfillment in performing rap live. I was in another rap group called Hush Money, but it wasn’t really a touring machine, and I really really wanted to making touring a bigger part of my life, so I started it as a solo project. To enact this plan, I sold my soul (no joke) to a local Peterborough Satanist (who gave it back to me in 2012). Though I’ve changed up my sound and my live show throughout the time since 2009 (and will continue to), the general ethic and ethos remains: hard beats, heavy bass, lots of eye contact, and a lyrical and live approach that explores the limits of perception, morality, consciousness, existence.
YTMS: How did it evolve over time? Was it always as seen right now or were there prototypes/versions? Trials and tribulations?
g: There have been many trials and tribulations over the years, but as I said before, the basic ethic has always remained the same. One thing that has changed is that it started as a loop based act. Back in 2009, doing live looping rap… people really looked at you like you were doing a magic trick… “WHAT TYPE OF SORCERY IS THIS,” kind of thing. By 2012, people were thoroughly unimpressed with looping, and I would have people come up to me after shows and say “oh yeah, I have a cousin who does that.” Ooof. So, in mid-2012 I took about 8 months off playing shows and re-did my whole approach to sounds and live performance.
YTMS: What’s garbageface’s sound arsenal like? What kind of gear/goodies do you pack with you?
g: So, related to that, I shifted in 2013 to using an SP-555 sampler… much more advanced than my old 90s SP-202. I still use a looping pedal, and also added a vocal processor. I route both the sampler and vox through the looping pedal and send that all out to the PA. One of the most important things in my arsenal is my mic: for a long time I used an SM57, usually a guitar amp mic, to really bring out the mids and highs in my voice. I tried a couple of other brands that couldn’t take the abuse, and then eventually settled on a trusty SM58.
YTMS: You tour quite a bit. How are you finding it? What’s the tour life like?
g: Well, let me be the first to say, I love touring, and I love all my friends that tour. It’s a weird thing, and it really teaches you something very valuable: that a big part of our existence, as indie musicians, is dependent on the kindness of strangers. It boggles my mind when I see indie touring bands full of assholes… How do these people find places to sleep? How do they survive on the road without showing kindness? I think touring has made me a kinder person, because it’s really made it clear to me that kindness is a circular process. I get a lot, A LOT of kindness on the road, and I give as much back as I can.
I’ll also say I have grown a little tired of “#tourlife.” Maybe I just dislike lifestyle hashtags. But like… part of it feels like a way to either glamourize tour life or make it seem harder than it is. I will do things like show my #toursocks or my #tourbeds, and of course show the #tourcats. But there is no real way to show #tourlife. The truth is, much of it is boring, some of it isn’t, and none of it can be summed up in a simple way.
YTMS: How did your Deathcember tour go? Give some highlights?
g: Deathcember was dope! It was cold, it was slippery, it was warm, it was dry… I played some packed out bangers, and I also played some dark nights when the snow and ice was pouring down and every other band on the bill cancelled on me. One highlight was having the honour of playing Muelkik’s last show in Chesterville, Ontario. I love those guys and I love Chesterville and it was a fucking WILD night, which reminds me, I need to check if Mike’s teeth ever got found. I also played my first NYE show at The Outpost in Kitchener, easily one of the best venues in Canada. It was my first time playing an NYE show, and I played right before midnight, and it was fun to be in charge of setting that tone. Finally, I toured with a Jason mask as my good luck charm, and over the course of the month long tour, I managed to watch all dozen Friday The 13th movies. It was a trip!
YTMS: What’s the most important thing the touring/music/diy life taught you?
g: Apart from what I mentioned before about the kindness aspect, I would say the biggest thing is that nothing is worth doing if you don’t follow through. I have seen many of my peers have a bad time on the road or bad shows, because if the crowd is sparse or the circumstances are weird, they don’t give it their all. I’ve really learned that no matter how many people are there, if you don’t play and follow through with all yr force, you will not have as good of a time as you can. Of course, it’s easier to play to packed out rooms, because there’s a minimum level of energy there that you can feed off, but don’t disrespect small audiences by giving them a half-assed effort. Give it yr maximum effort, or stop performing. There are so many touring bands and local bands that need the space. STOP. TAKING. UP. SPACE. WITH. MEDIUM. EFFORT.
YTMS: Plans for the future? (Where will garbageface be in 2025?)
g: In the immediate future, I’ll be touring Northern Ontario with my homies in Pseudo in February. I’ll be releasing my new LP Apostasy in April and doing a fuck tonne of touring over the Summer. You can pre-order Apostasy here. I’ll be releasing another new album, Unreliable Narrator, later in the year, probably closer to the Fall / Winter. In 2025 I’ll be nearly halfway into my 40s and probably questioning many of the life decisions I’ve made, including this one. But, if history is any indication, I will probably just keep making the same beautiful mistakes and trying to fail better.
You can get more garbageface here:
Pics (photo credit Chris B. Khan)