FilthyBroke is the alias of a man called Michael J Collins. Last week he released ‘SketchyBook‘: a rapid-fire ‘sonic collage’ of off-kilter, unsettling, deranged and sometimes pretty ‘sound sketches’. What’s the story behind this release and his notable creator? Well, here it is: the rough guide to the work by FilthyBroke, the artist formerly and in daily life known as Michael J Collins.
Name, age, occupation, daily routine?
Whassup Fremdtunes! Michael J Collins, 36, retired psychotherapist/full-time musician, producer and DJ. Everyday has been quite similar these days: Get up, exercise myself and my two pups, then grind it out online for the afternoon… Searching for artists, returning emails, promoting like-minded musicians and labels, a little A&R, talking s**t with other beat junkies around the world, and prepping for FilthyBroke Records… Hopefully late May. Nights are all about the studio.
You currently live in Arizona. What’s that like?
Very different, as I was born in raised in East Coast cities such as Boston and Providence. I enjoyed urban living, and may return to it, but we are actually very far north… Mountains, beautiful trees and sunsets, and four full seasons. In fact it’s snowing now. It’s a small “artsy” community we reside in, and the small town vibe has absolutely enhanced the writing process. Sort of peaceful here.
Your latest release is called SketchyBook. Can you describe the process of the creation of this ‘book of sounds’?
That’s an easy one haha. After a near 2-year production hiatus that involved alot of ups and downs, creatively and emotionally, I was about ready to explode with music. My entire analog studio sat untouched during that whole time, so I knew approaching traditional “songs” would be overwhelming… Wayyy too many ideas. So I felt it appropriate to “sum up” the disorientation of the preceding months by just drawing some “audio sketches.” Ideas that basically represented feelings from moments in time. And the whole absence period was so difficult for me personally… That whole time was just weird and fragmented and happy and sad and angry. I just utilized all my gear and my record collection to present a skeletal, raw view into that period of my life. This business is really tough.
Did any of these sketches already lead you to making new tunes?
Yes. Several amazing collabs as well as a ton of original material are organically piling up over here, haha.
What inspired and inspires you to make music? And do you have a musical ‘hero’?
I have never NOT been inspired to make music. It’s all I know. From 2 years old I was playing with toy guitars and xylophones… Drum lessons started in eighth grade. Turntables in 1995. Never looked back. I am a very private, sometimes insecure person. Music is my “safe place”, hahaha. Hero… Too many so I will name three in no particular order: 1) Ween, the first three albums. They have been on rotation for 20 years and those albums are still getting better. 2) Scott Walker. 60’s pop icon that has aged like a fine, but very confrontational, wine. The day I heard “The Drift” made me realize music could both elate and terrify. 3) Bill Laswell, particularly his Material-era stuff. I love post-punk and disco alot.
What kind of equipment do you use to create your music?
Roland Jupiter 6, SCI SixTrak, SCI DrumTraks, Access Virus (the old red one), SCI TOM (so gritty), analog board, analog delay, space echo, mic, amps, toy keyboards from thrift stores, my way too big record collection. As for software, I keep it simple: Ableton is a “tape recorder.” Then I use Softube and Sonnox Plug-Ins (minimally).
You used to release disco records under the moniker Michael J Collins. Your new work, as FilthyBroke, seems to be more based on hip hop grooves, down-tempo funk, beats. Do you think, as you did, artists ‘need’ to reinvent themselves once in a while or do you think an artist ‘should’ stick to his ‘subject’?
I really don’t have any clue what artists “should” do… Be authentic I guess. My transition was based on necessity. “Michael J Collins” was a mistake. Simple as that. I started releasing before I had established my artistic identity. My first 12” was in 1998, but by 2001 I was pursuing real life endeavors/struggles. I struggle with Bi-Polar Disorder and Anxiety. In short, I was active musically during that time but not releasing anything. In 2008/09 I started playing around with music again with the intent of sending out some demos. I had last been playing trippy, West Coast House music and old school breakbeat from ‘99-’01. So I picked up from there with the production, and very quickly some of my “disco-y” stuff got some exposure and I was swept away 🙂 I had the honor of working with some very established imprints and experienced moderate success. I was like, “How am I remixing Ilija Rudman!?” The people I worked with were wonderful for the most part, but I immediately felt that something was “wrong” despite the success. People were expecting more disco, but that is only a fraction of what I am about musically. So, for whatever reason, the pressure got to me and I quit… Now I’m making the music I was always meant to make, and I learned alot over those years, wow.
Can you tell us something about your previous releases?
That they all suck? Funny and oh so true.
You have been releasing music on vinyl since 1998, a time when internet and all it’s possibilities of sharing music wasn’t as big as it is now; what do you think are the biggest changes in your own view towards releasing music compared to your view in 1998?
Well I miss getting paid for going to work hahaha! Seriously, as predominantly a studio musician, these are tough times. I bitched and complained for awhile. I was angry, I felt like the internet ruined the “industry.” Whatever, we need to adapt or die. So I have embraced the digital convenience and “global village” vibe, but still stick to my guns about the importance of analog/outboard gear/and physical releases.
Do you prefer working with other artists or rather make tunes all by yourself?
Are there any artists on Fremdtunes you’d like to work with?
Kelpe and Kid Sundance… Ha, I have had the pleasure of getting to know both these gentlemen and I still feel like a starstruck fanboy 🙂 They are two of the most innovative producers in music right now in my opinion.
Any future plans you want to share with us?
I am pregnant, just found out! So I will be changing diapers and grinding at FilthyBroke Records 😉 JK, I do not believe I’m really pregnant. I hope…
Final question: why do you like trap so much?
Vital, important question… Both existentially and musically. Trap is life. I live in a Trap House and I don’t even sell dope or own a gun. It’s just so cool. And I value swag greatly. How I look and who I chill with is certainly more important than my music. Swag Swag Swag. I actually have pots boiling right now with just water and a dash of a FABULOUS herbal blend to enhance the Trapness that is my life. Swag Swag Swag. Gotta go download the latest Trap loop-pack now. I like my music prefabricated… Swag 😉
U zijt gedankt!