Florida-based musician Wave Temples steps up to deliver the 376th edition of the IA MIX Series, interweaving a far-extending mix spanning experimental sounds, piqued for sun-bleached climates, abstract meditation and pensive relaxation.
The mix, dubbed ‘Jungle Escape XXX‘ is a mind-game governed by the track list, featuring Not Not Fun Records cohorts X.Y.R., Voyage Futur and Andra Ljos, as well as unreleased tracks from a brand new label project.
Having recently released ‘Panama Shift‘ LP, plus a new 7-inch on Possible Motive, Wave Temples continues to explore oceanic anthropology, folklore, and the mythos surrounding seafaring cultures and long-lost civilizations. Past entries to their discography are synced to sleep cycles, collections of live sets, and clusters of vignettes laced with field recordings and home synth experiments.
In our wide-ranging interview below, we present a glimpse beneath the surface of the project. Wave Temples’ sonic aesthetic is woven together with a DIY attitude forged from years in Florida’s underground scenes, philosophical influences, and a lifelong fascination with music and art that ranges from Delta Blues to punk, noise, and Marcel Duchamp. They also touch on how each release resonates from specific periods in their life, the collaborative nature of ‘Panama Shift‘, and preparations for an upcoming Florida tour.
Interview by Jason Cabaniss
"I like the idea of Utilitarian Romanticism, romantic ideals but also serves a purpose"
Thank you for taking the time to record this podcast for the IA MIX Series. Please tell us about it – where it was made, your track selection and the vibe you wanted to convey?
‘Jungle Escape XXX’ is the vibe and it’s a mind game. The process began with the opening track Voyage Future – Blending In as the starting path. From there I gathered as much material as I could get together and just followed the path viscerally.
It was all arranged using Audacity and mostly everything is as it was intended to be heard. One thing is that I had every intention of making this mix as modern and as now as possible.
First off, we’d love to know more about the founding principles of Wave Temples? Who / what got you interested in experimenting and creating your own music and what defines a Wave Temples composition?
It should be said that it is incredibly difficult to talk about this project in a succinct manner. It is true that it has come to exist in like 5 dimensions all at once. There is the material aspect of how it gets done, the equipment used, and how it adapts to the laws of necessity. Then the artistic method.
There is the aspect of the public identity but for the most part it is all deeply personal. There is this philosophical and metaphysical angle at its core with wild imaginative aspects. I also can’t, as a person, really claim all the credit. It’s a place. An entity all its own. Since 2016 it has become my whole life.
My old friend Mark Creegan once told me a quote … and I’m paraphrasing… that to really make art you have to let everyone and everything you’ve ever known leave the room until it’s only yourself. Then you have to let that leave the room too. That idea was a foundational principal.
On the physical side… each album… cassette.. whatever… is created as a body of work rather than a collection of tracks. The idea originally was that it would be observed as a physical copy first and foremost.
With a cassette you have to listen to the whole thing rather than easily skip to the next track as you can with other mediums. That’s how it was originally intended to be heard. Some albums have been a little “choose-your-own-adventure” and others have had some guidance.
Compositionally, a Wave Temples album begins with an arrival and ends with a departure…except the few occasions where the adventure carries over across albums or is a stand alone sea adventure in between destinations. Some like ‘Isle Enchanted‘ and ‘Panama Shift‘ dabble in non-linear story lines. The whole body of work together is one long saga about ancient sea farers crossing the world in prehistoric times.
This saga is also an allegorical story about star charting perfect moments of coincidence, esoteric and exoteric exploration, and learning to surf the currents of real life. Personally, each album is a full moment in my life. Each captures the essence of what was going on at the time. Like ‘Keys to the Inner Islands‘ was from the FL Keys to the Inner Islands 2013 ..on top of how that statement plays allegorically. Lately it’s been trapped in the jungle.
Something else that has kind of been lost or maybe never said directly, is that this kind of music works best if you just put it at a low volume and treat it like background music. It’s often minimal and doesn’t beg for your attention so the hope is that it could be used for writing, drawing… focusing on mental things… creativity.
I’ve had truly humbling feedback on using some of it for sleep purposes, especially ‘Nice Dreams‘. Low ebb on repeat and forget about it. I usually try to burn Wave Temples stuff onto a CD for my cats and just leave it on repeat… they love it…they kind of love it too much haha. I like the idea of Utilitarian Romanticism, romantic ideals but also serves a purpose.
As far as inspiration to create my own music…that’s a too long and complicated story. I’ve been doing creative stuff for a very long time…I guess my whole life really. Directly related to Wave Temples could be the testicles of Marcel Duchamp ….the balls on that guy…hahaha.
When you were growing up – what artists and albums did you absorb and relate to the most?
The earliest love all my own was the old delta blues. That grainy lo-fi early 20th Century stuff. I discovered punk when I was about 12-13 years old. From a DIY punk ethos standpoint it has never been a question in my mind that you can’t make your own music by whatever means available. Also in my early childhood I was fortunate to grow up with some exposure to a lot of weird creativity.
But MAN I’ve had so many influences!! I met a guy named Chris Spohn in 1997 while I was dishwashing at this restaurant in a local historic arts division here in Florida. He invited me and my girlfriend at the time to come to his show after work at an Indian restaurant nearby and his band played the wildest psychedelic / exotic music all dressed as Hindu gods… full sitars, tabla, and everything. It was magically theatrical and so raw…at the end of the show they set the keyboard on fire. I had long been down with psychedelic and experimental music but that was definitely influential.
Chris Spohn has a very storied catalog of artistic work that hasn’t been fully absorbed by the machine. I still have his first 7-inch ‘Mystic Drone Oracle‘ and it’s one of the most cherished things in my record collection.
Some other important influences directly tied to Wave Temples. There is just too much to mention it all here. I could be here all day about this stuff.
- Fill Spectrum ‘Open Entrance into the Closed Palace‘
- Astral Planes Drifter S.O.S. ‘Colors Jump‘
- Royallen ‘Motivational Tape‘
Of all of it though, traveling around for a couple of years doing shows with an improvisation / noise / experimental scene from 2010-2012 had a really profound impact on my approach as a musician.
How I regard the importance and challenge of doing live improvisation…. a study in how both good and bad experiences can be equally formative and creative. I also hosted shows between these years and was exposed to and met so many unique interesting sound artists from all over the world.
Your first release as Wave Temples was in 2011, when did this project begin and what was the initial ideology behind it?
I consider 2011 to be the inception. I probably had the name written down before that. I didn’t officially use the name until 2013. ‘Shores to the Barrier Sea‘ is a collection of material from two live shows in the Summer of 2011.
A bare warehouse show that was being readied for a massive hive of artists (that still exists today) and a packed house show in Jacksonville hosted by John Touchton – now of Severed+Said and his brother Josh.
The warehouse show was hosted by Josh Tip of the Permanent Nostalgia label out of Gainesville and featured Peat Raamur, Tristan from Euglossine, Royallen, and the other half of Perspectives under the project Do Tell. That was a once in lifetime experience. I have great respect for all those dudes, some of the Church of the Holy Colors gang.
As far as ideology. First and foremost it’s been about inner discovery and freeing myself by suspending internal critique and learning to flow better with the currents of life. In the very beginning there was probably some sardonic celebration of the fate that awaits us all with climate change but as the journey progressed it became more about encouraging my better nature. To cast off old outdated dwellers and search for that hidden 5th kingdom of ideas.
You maintain relative anonymity with this sound project, including a social media presence featuring thematically appropriate images. What led you to pursue a low personal profile and what’s your view on social media related to music and operating a project like Wave Temples?
The term “thematically appropriate” doesn’t really resonate but aesthetic is a key. I had once used social media to share the moments where life started to imitate my imagination in the real world… I stopped sharing as much personal stuff for personal reasons but do continue to share adventures and promote upcoming material.
But yeah.. it’s been really hard to make this about me personally on an exterior level and that has presented some real challenges. On some levels this project has a life of its own and it amazes me how it goes sometimes.
Sometimes I feel like I just serve the project and follow the path. The deeper I’ve gone the more these boundaries get totally blurred in the most surreal fashion. I was talking about all this with Justice A.Gonzalez…what is the motivation to do this public at all…why release and jump through the hoops to promote…play shows… sell it… and honestly for a long time I couldn’t really say.
I’ve had some very deep and profound connections online with people all over the world that have resonated with this material and that’s been rejuvenating and I’ve come to the conclusion lately that I just love doing this stuff… I’d love to be creative for a living. Social media is still a great place to share artwork to a much wider audience and connect with like-minded folks all over the world, although I’m not that good at it.
I’m not a great promoter or networker and not having an outward persona has been a real challenge. But those who have found this place on their own and resonate with it, I think have a deeper connection to it than if it had happened any other way.
"I always thought the idea of sound painting was romantic. The idea of picking out the tools and textures unique for what you are working on"
From live instrumentation to field recordings – your music emits windswept planes, deserted beaches and tranquil forests – tell us about the methods you employ to achieve your sound?
I always thought the idea of sound painting was romantic. The idea of picking out the tools and textures unique for what you are working on. I use a lot of old stuff. Pawn shop stuff. Scoop up some old gear on eBay whenever I can. Salvage or be gifted stuff.. I’ve inherited a lot of stuff from some kind sorcerers over the years.
There really isn’t a set method. It’s often just collecting material…field recordings etc. Then setting up what I want to play with and how I want to record ritually. Once the conditions and medium are set, it’s just following the flow viscerally until I lose myself.
2023 saw the release of your first vinyl long player, ‘Panama Shift’, in addition to the cassette ‘Another Night in Peru’. These marked your first two new releases in a few years. What have you been up to in the years since ‘Isle Enchanted’ and now?
Man…2016 was one of the most beautiful waves I’ve ever ridden. I saw fantasies mimic reality in ways that just destroyed the skeptic in me. I got married that year to my long time partner. Arrived at the Isle Enchanted. My life was completely changed forever. Still hands down one of the most formative and beautiful years of my life.
But every wave crashes…and I guess I rode it straight into the ground. The years following, 2017 – 2019, were probably the worst years of my life. We were seriously tested repeatedly. We spent the entirety of 2017 thinking my wife was going to die… I kinda cast away creative work all together and just spent most of a year taking care of her and trying to get a grip on reality.
Then a few years later we thought I was going to die… spent an entire year in-between fighting off the most heinous enemy not of our own making… survived some pretty gnarly hurricanes…I had to face death and impermanence at every turn. Shadows and illusions were constant.
I’ve often joked that in hindsight it was probably a real adventure because death defying madness always looks better at a distance when you know things eventually work out. It was terrifying though. I really had to accept that all things end and what that really can look like…what’s it’s like to feel completely powerless… that all has left profound scars on the very fundamental aspect of our entire world. But that time clarified things. I really had it made clear what is most important to me and in the end gave me reason to continue.
Then 2020…I was fortunate enough to score a job working from home before COVID hit. The very moment COVID began to cause a real panic I was starting to work on what became ‘Panama Shift’. I remember this distinctly because my wife was flying home from work travel as I was recording percussion with an old alarm clock… and trying to help get her home seemed kinda like the sky was falling. As soon as she arrived home… COVID fully became what it was for years following.
All of ‘Panama Shift’ and ‘Portals’ was recorded during COVID. Like most everyone learned during that time, and in my case add +3 years prior, the most precious resource is time. Time with the ones you love. Time to realise and manifest good purpose. It was no longer possible to sequester myself into the cave that usually constitutes the Wave Temples process.
‘Panama Shift’ and ‘Portals’ was the first fully collaborative Wave Temples situation. We worked on it as a family like the old days when families played music together as a bonding ritual. There was a review when ‘Panama Shift’ came out that mentioned a folk comparison that oddly is very appropriate. I collaborated with Justice Gonzales for a track. Britt from Not Not Fun shaped that album a lot too. The mastering by Alex Nagle is very different in my opinion from the original masters.
‘Portals 0’ is the original ending of ‘Panama Shift’. So the order goes Panama Shift > Portals 0 > Portals 1 and that is a chapter 2020-2021. There is much more for the Portals series in the works if we can be granted the time and resources in the future.
‘Another Night in Peru’ is actually later. Closer to now. That’s a new chapter. It’s more of the traditional approach and suddenly finds us closer to the modern day headed towards exploring jungle mystery and forbidden taboo. This 7-inch coming out is a continuation of that.
You’ve released music on a variety of labels including Not Not Fun, Possible Motive and Rainbow Pyramid. How do you decide on which label to issue your music through?
Up until now it’s kind of been like…if someone has asked to release something I could be sure they are of a certain adjacent wave length…so I’ve accepted just about every opportunity offered. That satisfies the earthy aspect of the process by giving that spark of purpose and a practical reason to create.
You could say that that has been the initial inspiration for most of it. I’ve also released through hidden Floridian label Illuminated Paths, Department Tapes – a limited tape label hailing from Mexico in 2014 – and Rotifer Cassettes who relocated to California from Gainesville Fl .
When we spoke in 2016, you discussed finally getting your gear set up in your new space, which you dubbed Hawaiki. Can you tell us a little about your current studio setup?
I prefer analog on the creation side. Not really for nostalgia purposes but more as an artistic choice I would say. A certain sound that resonates. I like it a little dirty. I’ve done both digital and analog with Wave Temples. There is a lot of freedom with digital and way more choices but more choices is not always a good thing for me. Doing it the harder way I think feels better.
The current studio set up as of summer 2023 is a cubby corner packed into our…kind of library / creative room. Right now It’s just my live set up: Boss SP202, Casio CZ-101, a Moog Mother -32, Korg Micro Sampler with Boss DD20 Giga Delay Pedal and an older Boss RC2 all run through a small battery operated mixer into an 1980s AKAI tape head. Once I finish this track I am working on for NNF, the tape deck is joining the set up for shows and I’m running out through a Yamaha G5-112II.
Before the current era, from 2020- until this past August 2023… we had set up in a place here we called the Tree House…because it’s not a stretch…it is actually kind of a tree house. But the A/C went out right at the onset of a monster heat wave this past summer and we had to abandon ship until we can get it replaced.
When the tree house was active, we made it just like a big play room with as many moving parts and things to play with as we could manage. Part of the ritual was arranging the set up you wanted to play with. A lot of acoustic percussion stuff, a couple Casio SK1/SK5…a Korg MS2000 that Steve from (x)ora gave me in 2012 + the stuff mentioned above.
A good deal of the earlier Wave Temples has been about experimenting with sound shaping and sound creation on that Korg MS2000. Right now I have a full drum kit set up there to practice rhythm and sample beats in the heat haha.
I’ve heard scattered live excerpts on Bandcamp. How do you approach Wave Temples in a live context? How do crowds respond to your sets?
I’ve been getting this question a lot lately. It’s always different. From the link above to this is a good example of the range live shows can take. This set was about a month before ‘Keys to the Inner Island’ came out and I was still working through the material. You can see the full set here. (Note: Keys to the Inner Islands was combined with an ‘Open Oceans‘ EP to make Spring Ritual. This got remastered and re-released in 2023 also)
Sometimes when I’ve opened for intense noise shows I’ve tried to be as pretty sounding and boring as possible haha… this comes from being involved in that scene for a long time now… but the new set is very different.
One thing that has been the ethos since the beginning is that once something gets laid down on tape then it’s on to new places. I don’t usually attempt anything from another era. However, for this tour coming up I do have some material from ‘Panama Shift‘ and ‘Another Night in Peru‘ in my bag if needed.
"There really isn’t a set method. It’s often just collecting material…field recordings etc. Then setting up what I want to play with and how I want to record ritually. Once the conditions and medium are set, it’s just following the flow viscerally until I lose myself"
Videos play an important role in your work. Do you have a hand in how those turn out or do you trust the creators (Broken Machine Films) with crafting a suitable visual accompaniment? What qualities do you look for in a music video?
I first met Joshua / Broken Machine Films during the ‘Sleeping Tortugas’ era in 2014. He offered to do a video for the cassette coming out on Rotifer and I was very stoked with the result. It’s got that analog quality… minimal but a real work of art in its own right.
This is the first video we did together – for this latest video we had some back and forth about making it as “taboo” as possible. I really wanted it to be as risqué as he was willing to go and push that comfort zone. But aside from that I trust him and have faith in his work. He also runs the Illuminated Paths label which released ‘Nice Dreams’ in 2014.
What can you tell us about the Florida music scenes you’re involved in? Any favourite underground venues? Artists you love at the moment? Are you friends with Orchid Dealer (enmossed)?
I had not heard of Orchid Dealer. Very cool name. Interesting Floridian observations. Beautiful sound. Our paths have not crossed. I actually reached out to several people I know that keep a pulse on what’s going on in the experimental community in Florida and no one I know has heard of them. It was well received though. As one person whose opinion I have a great regard for said…“soars masterfully”.
From 2010-2012 there was a flourishing experimental, improvisational, noise scene all throughout Florida. It was several individual regional outfits that had been operating alone for a good while, like Action Research for example, that all came together to form a circuit.
A lot of it was based and founded around the Laboratory in Gainesville. Haaal Mcgee…!! haha…A lot of it was connected to the International Noise Convention held every February in Miami.
We had artists from all over the world come through. Australia, New Zealand, Spain, Japan, Antwerp, New York, California. We had all kinds of folks coming through on the steady. I had a partnership that got us legit access to some of the wildest places…in an effort to foster economic development of under-used spaces downtown and encourage artistic culture in the River City.
A lot of those people still do shows independently, but after 2012 it just wasn’t the same anymore for me and I think things have gotten a bit splintered since. There are some Keepers though who have kept the torch alive. Wave Temples has never really been a part of any of that until lately. I take the island metaphor shit really seriously. I really needed to get away and work on myself for a while.
What do you have in store for 2024?
In January 2024 Wave Temples leaves the island and joins a cast of fellow travellers across the state of Florida for a tour like no other I’ve been a part of. I’m just getting reintroduced to what’s going on in the experimental music community around Florida and I’m really excited. Each show is at a unique venue and it’s an absolute honour that people came through for us like they did.
We are playing places like the Stardust in Orlando, The Department of Contemporary Art in Ybor City, Portal 4 in Gainesville… which I’m very stoked about. I love portals obviously and then ending at Keeper Fest in Jacksonville.
This will be at an art space called Bespoke House celebrating fringe creativity and featuring 14 acts, an arts market, an online live mural painting of the entire building in the weeks leading up to it… I don’t even have a clear picture of everything on that one at this time.
I’m traveling with fellow Not Not Fun alum Tegu who is featured on this mix, Justin Depth out of Tampa, and Black Wick from Orlando who also has a collaboration on this mix and will be doing Broken Machine Films style projections. We should be sharing the stage with regional artists at some of the stops and I’m stoked to see Steve/ (x)ora and play with Palm Cinema in Gainesville.
I’m recording a new track from my live set for Not Not Fun for a 20th Year Anniversary, double vinyl coming out sometime in 2024 and then I’m going to take a week off for the holidays I hope.
I just got asked to contribute to a 12” split with Fluorescent Heights, possibly around late summer 2024, and I am really stoked about that.
I’m also working on setting up a limited release label with my wife. We have some great stuff already down the pipeline. We never run out of ideas. We’ve got more ideas than I’ll probably have time for in this life.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Nah not really. I think we covered a lot. Maybe… that It’s really worth noting how important my partnership with my wife is. 2024 marks 19 years together. Without her support and collaboration none of this would be possible.
Photography by Jadi Lane
1. Voyage Futur – Blending In [VILL4IN]
2. DRAPIZDAT – Сам Себе Па – Тер Ве [Not Not Fun Records]
3. Tegu – III [Not Not Fun Records]
4. Eyot Tapes – Luna Reflec [Muscut]
5. X.Y.R. – Eskimo [Constellation Tatsu]
6. Tokio Ono – Tendency [Not Not Fun Records]
7. Akasha System – Overture (A New World) [100% Silk]
8. Dravier – Palm Dance [Not Not Fun Records]
9. Coral Club – Tribe [Not Not Fun Records]
10. Andra Ljos – Garni [Not Not Fun Records]
11. Vague Imaginaires – L’Essor Du Roraima [Not Not Fun Records]
12. Justice A. Gonzalez – IV [Not Not Fun Records]
13. Voyage Futur – Visuals [Villain Records]
14. Dylan Houser + Black Wick – A Sterile Boulevard [Illuminated Paths]