Joseph J. Miccolo III's music can’t—and won’t—be pigeonholed
One would be hard-pressed to find a recording and performing artist in the Chattanooga creative underground with as many musical personas and solo projects as Joseph J. Micolo III (soundcloud.com/jjemmeiii), driven by a willingness to explore and frequently cross the boundaries of genres.
When existing genre labels are inadequate, Micolo will simply invent new ones. For example, his “soilcore” outlet, SEGAWORMS (formerly known as Segamented Worms), offers harsh synthetics, sample cut-up madness and noise, all “influenced by the insect universe” and “viruses, fungi, excretions, toxic waste or general decay,” and the moniker ROY G BIV is used for his music “made from colors.”
A New York transplant who relocated to the area five years ago, Micolo has a diverse musical background cultivated over 20 years, having studied jazz and funk under a professional teacher and earned a degree in audio technology. As a teenager, Micolo played bass in the metalcore band Skycamefalling and an early incarnation of Year Of Confession, which reunited in 2014 in Amityville, NY, and of which Micolo remains an active member.
On the other end of the spectrum, Micolo dives into ambient organ-centered improvisations (released as JJEMMEIII) and shimmery electronic music (as Guy LuPadre). On the heels of the release of GTRUK’s new album The Grey Veil (gtruk.bandcamp.com)—Micolo’s channel for downtempo instrumental hip-hop—he answered some questions for The Pulse via email.
The Pulse: Are there certain qualities that tie some (all?) of your projects together?
Joseph Micolo: I never really thought about that since all of my material is so compartmentalized into names. I suppose that they are all interpretations of things which inspire me, spoken in my own musical language. There is a quality of darkness to almost everything, both subtle and blatant.
TP: Do you have a favorite solo performance?
JM: I had such a great time playing Leaky Sockets 2015. It was the first GTRUK performance ever in the long history of that project. I was proud of the atmosphere I created. Though my favorite gig was one of the SEGAWORMS shows I had played this past February. It was a speedcore gabber set. For so many years I had wanted to play that kind of material live. Hearing those ballsy distorted 909 kicks pumping out of two bass cabinets behind me really unleashed that high school acid angst. I lost myself a bit and broke two of my painter’s lamps over my head, causing the bulbs to explode. Hazardous, but probably the most fun solo set I’ve done so far.
TP: How did the new GTRUK album come together?
JM: GTRUK started off as GrumpTruck, which I consider my perspective and dialect of the hip-hop and rap styles. I am fascinated by sampling and how existing sounds can be repurposed. It’s kind of like sonic Legos. The Grey Veil album sort of put itself together like a message from beyond. I found a tape I recorded a few months prior of beat sketches. This tape played at half speed because it was originally recorded on a Tascam 4-track. The sound of everything slowed really hit me; it all sounded very ghostly and dark. I thought about death a lot; not literal death per se, but how you can essentially cease to be in someone’s life. But you are still there, and your essence can speak to the world through various channels.
TP: What is an influence that might not be apparent?
JM: Good question. I’ve listened to so many different genres of music. They all influence me in different ways. Most of the music that I was first exposed to was produced during the ’80s. Those sounds and production techniques are ingrained in my mind subliminally. Things like electro, post-punk, synth-pop all have an energy which is forged into my work, even if an identifying sound is not present. Although in a sense of performance method, free jazz essentially prompted me to start improvising with noise and sound manipulation.
TP: What can we expect next from you?
JM: I’ve been meditating on the premise of pushing myself to do things in sound that have been unexplored as of yet, to try things that are new to me, outside of my comfort zone. This year has been one of profound personal experience and revelation. All of this will be channeled into a creative work which is currently undetermined. At this time it is just a piece of sand in the mouth of an oyster, yet to become a pearl.