Collector, AKA, Jason Campbell is an electronic musician and skateboarder from Newcastle, Australia. He is nothing but passionate about everything he does. Collector has two new releases (see links at end of interview) and Jason is currently filming for the upcoming Sprawlers video. With so much creative output coming from one person in such a short period of time, I felt it necessary to ask him some questions - Jim
How has living in a smaller, post-industrial city like Newcastle influenced your creative output?
I think people easily write it off but Newcastle is incredible, unique and heaps weird. If you feel like you need to move to Melbourne or Berlin to be inspired then I think the art that you’re trying to create must be pretty tepid. There’s a tension between the blue-collar past and more recent gentrification attempts that result in some interesting cultural clashes. Some people seem to be scared by Newcastle - it’s often seen by outsiders as really rough and unforgiving. I hope that a no-nonsense undercurrent is evident in the music that I’ve created over the years.
What are the pros and cons of producing music somewhere like Newcastle, as opposed to say Sydney or Melbourne?
It’s difficult in Newie, no doubt. Nothing comes easy, but if people are willing to get stuck in and work for it there is so much potential here. We don’t have as many legitimate venues like other cities but we’ve also had some amazing DIY venues that have grown out of the more marginalized areas.
Being a fairly underground subculture, it’d be easy for people that hadn’t done their homework to think they were breaking new ground. Is there a rich history of experimental/electronic/noise music in Newcastle?
Most definitely. Bloody Fist were churning out some incredible heavy electronics in the mid 90s which was huge overseas and especially in Europe. I was a bit too young to experience this scene first-hand. I cut my teeth playing warehouses in post-punk bands with a lot of noise and experimental musicians that were so important in shaping my musical trajectory.
It seems as though Collector has a fair bit of momentum at the moment. Is this a culmination of work from a set time period that is just coming to fruition or have you been more motivated lately?
I’m always motivated, always trying to chip away at one project or another. I think the process of recording and releasing music and finally seeing it realised officially is fraught with so many hurdles that there is often a back-log of finished work. I have a new album on Clan Destine Records from Glasgow about to be released in December and all of the pieces were finished over six months ago. The material on Triple Crown was probably finished a year before the LP actually saw the light of day.
You’ve recently released new work on both vinyl and audio cassette tape. What’s the appeal of these mediums as opposed to CD/digital?
I think it’s important to note that all mediums have their advantages and disadvantages. I’m not opposed to CD’s and especially not to digital, but to release it solely in this format doesn’t interest me. The tactile quality and shelf-space that cassettes and vinyl occupy encourage another level of engagement and commitment. Noise or experimental music cultures have always had a close relationship with both formats, but especially tapes. They’re cheap, straight forward and are easy on the eye. The limitations of the medium definitely work in its favour. You need to actively switch between the A and B side, and the tape often degrades little by little making it sound even more fucked up and damaged.
Academically you’ve been involved in the study of cinema and its cultural significance. Have you thought about moving into that area, be it writing scores or directing films?
I have contributed music to a few short films and one feature film when I was working under my previous project, Stitched Vision. One of my pieces was used in a softcore avant-erotica film called We Must Remain The Wildhearted Outsiders – I though it worked quite well with the narrative. I’ve never worked with a prior concept in mind in terms of writing compositions but the prospect of scoring films definitely interests me and is something that I’d like to pursue in the future.
Outside of music, you’re also a sponsored skateboarder. Explain the project you’re currently filming for.
We’re currently working towards a video that will hopefully not only showcase our skateboarding but also how we see Newcastle as a city. We’ve been spending time most weekends exploring for new spots and trying to come away with some footage at the end of the day.
Do you think these kinds of skate videos have more appeal to the everyday skateboarder than a big budget skate video? If so, why?
I think the idea of professional mainstream skateboarding has become less and less interesting. I’d much rather see a unique approach to skating a city, and also a city that hasn’t been oversaturated in skate culture. Hopefully our video will achieve both. We’re not under any obligations or pressures, just regular guys spending their free time pushing each other to skate.
What’s next for Collector?
Take a short break from live performances, continue to become more familiar with my equipment and work towards another release.