Free Music! Junk Culture - 'West Coast'

Junk Culture is a new project by Deepak Mantena on the Illegal Art label. The first Junk Culture EP, West Coast, was released in October 2009, with another EP to follow in the Fall of 2010. On West Coast, Deepak's samples are all run through a handheld recorder that gives his constructions a gritty lo-fi loop-based sound, mixing fractured vocals, pop hooks, and an overall euphoric warmth. Described by press as "sound tapestries" somewhere between "ambient, dance mash-up, and glitchy electronica" (Todd Olmstead), "West Coast" is a manifesto of energetic raw sound that transcends rigid genres.

MP3: "West Coast" -

VIDEO: "West Coast" -

Born in Idaho in the mid-80's shortly after his family immigrated from India, Deepak grew up in several locations ranging from Texas to Michigan, and ultimately he enrolled at the University of Mississippi. He recently relocated to Portland to pursue graduate studies, and while his sound collecting process is removed from the computer, his research focuses on interface design.

In discussing his artistic direction, Deepak elaborated in a recent interview: "I got really bored playing [guitar and piano], because it seemed as though the sounds I made were like the sounds everyone else was making. I'm always capturing field recordings, or samples of songs I really like, or samples of me playing instruments on this cheap pocket recorder. I started to get a little more excited about making music again, because the sounds I was capturing seemed really fresh to my ears." West Coast embodies those "fresh" sounds, and employs them for what Mantena describes as "a love letter to outer space -- it gets desperate and schizophrenic as the record plays out, but is a sort of celebration of spirit as a whole."

Emulating more of a live band than an electronic act, the visceral Junk Culture live show also involves Deepak's younger brother, Nitin, on drums. The performance includes the Mantena siblings jamming to a tight string of sequences that involve sampled patterns, live percussion, synced visuals of films from the 50's/60's, and Deepak's singing. Live, the West Coast tracks have him singing on top of sampled voices, while material already being developed for the subsequent EP involves a more traditional vocal approach, further bridging the gap between sample-based production and songwriting.

When citing musical influences, Mantena rarely mentions electronic music, but rather lists eclectic indie artists and bands such as Caribou, Tortoise, El Guincho, Olivia Tremor Control, Atlas Sound, Madlib, and Scott Walker. The name of his Junk Culture project comes from combing through his record collection and being struck by the name of an Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark album. Besides composing and performing music, Deepak has been involved in producing short films (and curating a film showcase), photography, writing (at one point for the blog, Brooklyn Vegan), developing apps for the iPhone, and even acting on stage and film.

Joining the ranks of Girl Talk, Steinski, The Bran Flakes, and other artists on the Illegal Art label, Junk Culture's use of samples is more obscured and more a means to production rather than a recontextualization of recognizable bits. Yet it still falls within the scope of what the music industry might consider "unauthorized" assemblage. Deepak rarely considers such things, and the end result is music that is textural, emotive, and compelling.