DUB AND DRONE:
Tristan Shone performs
as Author and Punisher
surrounded by his
Guitars are cool, but there’s a whole
other way to make heavy music.
Interview by Goli Mohammadi
Engineer and musician Tristan Shone conceives and
machines instruments that look more at home in
a factory than a rock venue and extrude deep, dark
sounds rich with texture and emotion. We chatted with
him about engineering versus art, the trials of
fabrication, and industrial fetishes.
Goli Mohammadi: You started out as a one-man
heavy metal band. Tell us how you transitioned to
making your own instruments.
Tristan Shone: I had gotten rid of my previous
band and went on my own, so I wrote sequence
pieces that were basically for me playing guitar
with all the bass and synth sequenced behind
me. I would go and play live with that setup with a
giant sound system, [but] it seemed like I needed
to be more involved with the whole setup, like
I needed to be basically in charge. It just felt kind
of Milli Vanilli to me.
GM: How did you go from being a mechanical
engineer to deciding to go to art school?
TS: I had been working for artists building installations while I was at RPI [Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute]. I met this guy Chris Csikszentmihályi,
who is now at the MIT Media Lab. He was the art
professor but he was very technically oriented —
he knew how to program. He introduced me to
microcontrollers, and he knew how to use CNC
machines. He was also very interested in music,
so I helped him with a couple of installations and
traveled with him to a big festival. That kind of
opened up this other world that was creative and
technical yet kind of wacky, and the people
were a little more fun to be around. >>
30 Make: Volume