Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

Never Mind The Bootlegs: Aaron Dilloway’s Favourite Music

Aaron Dilloway picks thirteen 7"s, LPs, bootleg VHS and cassettes for his Baker’s Dozen, which veers from field recordings of bigfoot to experimental classical music from the early 20th century

Photo by Lena Shkoda

I heard it said once that Aaron Dilloway was born with a contact mic in his mouth. He works with tape loops, contact mics and other electronic and mechanical detritus, and is often photographed mid-grimace with a wire dangling from his mouth. It’s something first picked up in the 1990s in a group called The Beast People, an ‘all-vocal grunt band’ with Andrew WK, Nate Young and Twig Harper, along with a few others. "The idea behind it was that we were regressing into Neanderthals," Dilloway says. "We would do these gigs in costumes, crawling around on the floor. I really loved the different things I figured out I could do with the contact mic; something like controlling feedback by opening and closing my mouth was just a really fun discovery.” He later upgraded to a Madonna headset mic, but went back to it in Universal Indians with John Olson, where it was a practical choice as he was playing guitar as well, because "you don’t have to worry about a mic stand, you just pop it in there," he says cheerily.

Dilloway is a stalwart of the Midwest noise and underground scene, active as a musician and label head, he also runs a record shop and is a frequent collaborator with a long list of artists and musicians. He is perhaps best known as a founding member of long-standing Detroit noise band Wolf Eyes, which he started with Nate Young in 1998. They were then joined by John Olson, whose American Tapes label has now released hundreds of recordings by Wolf Eyes and associated acts. Their reputation spread in the early 00s when they signed to Subpop, then Dilloway left in 2005 when he moved to Nepal where notably, he recorded the Nath Family for his own Hanson Records.

Dilloway started Hanson Records in 1994, a label and distributor, it is also a bricks and mortar record shop. It released early Wolf Eyes albums like Dread and Slicer, as well as Kevin Drumm, Smegma, Prurient and other known and unknown contributors to a febrile underground noise scene that became internationally known, packaged in photocopied, screen-printed, and spray-painted artworks.

Over the years he has collaborated with Genesis P-Orridge, C. Lavender, Victoria Shen, Bill Nace and Kim Gordon, and most recently, Lucrecia Dalt, with whom he releases the collaborative album Lucy & Aaron this month, and he has recorded and released under numerous aliases, some over the course of years, others barely existing at all, with more bands and one-off projects than you can count on hands and feet.

Lucy & Aaron was largely recorded when in New York while Dalt was in residence at Pioneer Works, with some recording at Dilloway’s place in Oberlin, Ohio and some at Dalt’s home in Berlin. It was prompted by a shared sensibility they discovered after meeting at a festival, and there is an audible mutuality in their sound palettes: the quick grab of a groove, a slathering of tape hiss and electronic fuzz, or a non-verbal moment of untethered vocal. When Dalt describes seeing Dilloway play in the sleevenotes, she says: "I had never seen such an elegant, disturbing and powerful show at the same time, it was a wild combination," and her comments on Dilloway’s use of loops and dynamics echo his articulations of what connected with him in her music: "I use these old machines that limit me with what I can do, whereas she uses much more high-tech equipment and has almost limitless possibilities. I really admire the choices she makes with that… it lands in a way that is aesthetically perfect for me.”

Dilloway is a voracious listener and has been his whole life. The 7"s, LPs, bootleg VHS and cassettes he’s picked for his Baker’s Dozen don’t just say something about early lightbulb moments being exposed to raw, chaotic or free form music and sound-making, but also triangulate his own distinctive palette of sounds – his love of tape hiss and other analogue recording artefacts comes through when talking about Sex Pistols cassettes or Misfits bootlegs; the sheet metal used in avant-garde Russian compositions on a Folkways recording speak to the metallic and mechanical in his music; the energy and chaos of Couch and the Butthole Surfers contains the raw performance energy of his contact mic squalls.

Aaron Dilloway and Lucrecia Dalt’s new album Lucy And Aaron is out now via Hanson Records. To begin reading Dilloway’s Baker’s Dozen, click the image of him below

First Record

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