INTERVIEW: Pseudocipher

By Jett Black

Chain Border

PseudocipherWho are current members of Pseudocipher, and what roles does each perform?

Christopher ANTON: Keyboards and programming, vocals, songwriting, guitar.

Rhonda AMBER: Keyboards, vocals, songwriting.

Describe some of the creative techniques used to achieve specific aspects of Pseudocipher recordings.

ANTON: Just whatever I hear in my head. It's hard to describe. I use a Roland XP-50 for the sounds and a Roland VS-880 for everything else.

Describe some of the processes involved in composing and evolving soundscapes.

ANTON: The compositions themselves are written by Rhonda and I. If Rhonda has a song like Daddy's Girl she will lay out the chords on the keyboards and I'll build the drums and bass around that. If it's my song like Purgatory, which I happened to write on an acoustic guitar first, I'll think of all the sounds, changes and everything in my head, lay down the tracks and tweak it from there. It seems like it's so hard to get the perfect levels. That's the constant quest of mine. I've remixed Purgatory and Symmetry a thousand times. I think I have Symmetry where I want it though, finally.

What images illustrate your visions of a "New Dark Age?"

Everything and everyone is in the dark now, we think. There's no such thing as Customer Service. Everyone is into their own thing, and that's that. The music on the radio seems to accommodate this. We have no idea, what this world can possibly be like in 50 years or so, pretty scary though.

How do environmental and social stimuli of Long Beach and Southern California influence the developments of Pseudocipher compositions?

Southern California is very busy in their own world. There's a lot of writing material in that subject alone. The world could be on fire, but no one cares as long as their cell phone works and they have tickets to the next Britney Spears concert.

What changes in the music industry have caught your attention most during the '90s?

It seems that the production of a song is the criteria for the level of success it reaches and the amount of radio airplay it receives.

When not completely focused upon Pseudocipher, what do you do to support yourself?

ANTON: I work two jobs, just to keep afloat.

AMBER: Bookkeeping.

In what ways will Pseudocipher live performances differ from its recordings?

There's a lot of visuals to our performances. We kind of go for the "shock" performances.

Please describe the themes employed on recordings by Pseudocipher.

They range from child molestation and bulemia to alcoholism and other fun obsessions.

How do you relate with the music created for Pseudocipher?

We are very isolated people. We have a hard time with understanding WHY certain things are tolerable to a lot of people but us. Our music is in a desperate search of "WHAT THE &*%^ IS GOING ON?" We don't try to be something we're not.

What would you like to accomplish through Pseudocipher into the dawning of the new millennium?

A better produced sophomore CD. On the first one, we recorded everything on a Roland VS-880 within the first year of our forming. We have evolved into a more aggressive sound and we definitely would like to capture that. We're trying to decide how to get the funds together to do another CD. Everything is so expensive. We don't understand how all these other bands do it. We'd like to reach a bigger audience.

What other recordings, outside of Pseudocipher, have been released by its band members?

ANTON: Blue Accent, demo but no official releases.

AMBER: Soaking Wet Juliet, demo but no official releases.

What other side projects are currently being developed?

We're working on coordinating a compilation CD with Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties. All proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood.

What will you entitle the next release by Pseudocipher, and when will it be available?

We're not sure of the title. Our goal is to have an EP ready for release by June, 2000.

Who will be distributing your next releases?

We're discussing different options.

Where else might readers find releases by Pseudocipher available for purchase?

We send out a newsletter called The Trenchant Electronic Origin every month. If readers are interested in Pseudo mail, please e-mail us at and we will have that out to them every month.

What are you looking for now in terms of new musical influences?

We have a producer we're talking to who would like to hear our sound more influenced by drum & bass, so that's a possibility.

Which shows have you seen during the past year that impressed you the most?

We haven't seen too many shows this year, between work and Pseudocipher, there's not much time.

Backing up to now, what motivates you to continue performing and recording music as Pseudocipher now?

We love it, what can we say. We've gone more broke than ever before in our lives, our family doesn't understand why we don't go to college and become "human." But, we have a lot of faith in our music, and we know there's probably a couple or three people out there who like our music. That keeps us going.

Looking back, what mile-stones have been most notable for Pseudocipher?

We've done a lot for benefits such as Planned Parenthood and Multiple Sclerosis Society. We've played with Anything Box and The Roxy, we've acquired solid college radio airplay. There's a girl in Australia that has listed us as one of her favorite bands. That's all very cool.

Let's say it happens, you 'make it BIG' and retain complete control of your own music even, what then? How would you describe your music, and your motivation to continue as Pseudocipher?

Well, we've kinda gotten over the idea that we'll make it big. But, if we did, we would hope that our music would have those $100,000 productions that Korn is able to enjoy. I don't think we would have any control though, cause the label kinda runs the show. But that's cool, as long as the lyrics stay in tact and they don't tell us to play the Polka (or Ska). We'll continue with Pseudocipher until we're old, fat, and gray always describing ourselves as Trenchant Electronic.

Could you illuminate any significant details that may have influenced the development of sadness in your music?

Without getting too depressing:

AMBER: I have been in countable mental institutions for depressions and/or eating disorders. My brother died of over-dose at the age of 13. Major turning point.

ANTON: I've had problems with drinking and anorexia as well as depression, the only specific thing would be that I felt a lot of pressure growing up to become a scholar.

What particular interests might you explore along the route of this next tour, if opportunity permits?

Well, opening for The Cure, would be very cool. We'd like to go to Seattle Washington then up to Canada and play on college radio stations.

What new opportunities would you seek and develop to advance the music of Pseudocipher?

We're looking to purchase new software that would allow us to utilize samplers and other modern technologies we have not even begun to incorporate into our music. We're very old school in the sense that everything we program is from scratch. We'd like to change that somewhat.

Any re-mixes from previous releases?

Many, but none have been re-released due to financial restrictions.

What changes have been made in Pseudocipher during the last year?

We had a guitar player, Wyman Gentry, who still plays live with us sometimes, but is no longer officially with the band. After his departure, we experimented more with intricate drum patterns, and even produced a trip-hop song called Rupert's Star that we probably never would have attempted before. This song will appear on the Planned Parenthood compilation scheduled for release in June, 2000.

What songs have been in development since last year?

Rupert's Star, Nothing Sacred, Pleading Hands, Doubt, Creation Party, and a few are in the works.

Considering other musicians with which you have performed in the past. What experiences seem most memorable for you and what have you been able to draw out of those experiences and into Pseudocipher?

AMBER: When I was real young (7-12 yrs old), I was singing for my family then for a top forty band with professional musicians. I think this developed my love for interesting chord progressions and singing. My family band was on The Gong Show!

ANTON: Created Blue Accent, playing at venues in Rancho Cucamonga for (just about) my entire high school. This developed my love for electronic music allowing me to build a song from scratch using my own bass, guitar, and drum ideas creating a sound that I couldn't have imagined acoustically.

When and at what location is your next tour set to begin?

As we mentioned, we'd like to start here at a goth club in Long Beach and travel up the coast to Corvallis, Oregon, then go to Seattle, Washington, then to Canada.

What gear are you using to develop music for Pseudocipher?

Roland is the key to everything we do. We have a Roland XP-50, VS-880, JX-1, a Joe Meek compressor, and a Mackie mixer. We are hopefully going to add "Mark of the Unicorn" software and (of course) a Mac computer.

Which songs required more significant development in production?

All of them are very time consuming cause everything is from scratch and it never sounds good enough (to us).

Which musicians have won your admiration in the music industry and why?

Danny Elfman is incredible vocally, musically, everything. Robert Smith is a genius with lyrics. Kate Bush has the most beautiful voice. Early Genesis (Peter Gabriel on vocals) cause of their brilliant progressive style. Depeche Mode, of course for the obvious reasons.

What are you looking for in terms of musical styles and influences now?

As we mentioned before, we'd like to be as aggressive and as progressive as possible with a lot of drum and bass undertones and lots of harmonies.

Besides performing live from one gig and tour to the next, what other forms of media will Pseudocipher explore in the future? And, if applicable, have you already begun to explore beyond the routines of 'record & perform?'

We have pursued many gothic zines for reviews. We have pursued Music Connections and Billboard with some response. As soon as our sophomore EP is released, we will be contacting all the local newspapers, zines, college papers, etc. It's very costly to record and perform. We would like to move past that. We are very grateful for any opportunities or reviews (good or bad) that come our way.

What new goals will you focus upon now?

The new EP and acquiring a solid production, be it a professional producer or upgraded equipment.

What more would you like to share with our readers?

SUPPORT the underground. Just because a band is not on commercial radio, does not mean it doesn't deserve the same passionate attention.

How can music enthusiasts best contact Pseudocipher for more information?

Through our website, or they can e-mail

What other resources might be available for avid readers?

As mentioned earlier, we have a newsletter (THE TRENCHANT ELECTRONIC ORIGIN) with not only info on us, but info on the music industry and other hilarious events. We would be more than happy to send a copy to whoever would like one every month.

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