By Drew Ailes
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By Tom Murphy
From a creatively active Denverite to a now fully immersed Baltimorean, Nick Houde has always been a vocal participator in the DIY community at large. Houde's musical projects — from Transistor Radio Sound and BDRMPPL to Snake Feathers and Future Heavy — have pulled from diverse movements like no wave and Southern rap, creating a sonic history all his own. His latest endeavor, SFTSTPS, brings Houde back to the Mile High City for a reunion show with friends and former bandmates alike, pairing his pop-intentioned noise with Married in Berdichev and Hideous Men. We chatted with the always-engaging Houde about moving from Denver to Baltimore and how his perspective has changed.
Westword: This show brings you together with friend and collaborator Ryan McRyhew. You guys recently released a new track. Does this mean BDRMPPL is going to reunite?
Nick Houde: I would like to say yes, but I don't think that's going to happen. You never know; I'll leave it at that. I was just coming to Denver to see friends and visit, but then I decided to book the show. Let's call it a "nostalgia dream team show." [Laughs.]
Your own musical history is fairly diverse in sound. How would you describe SFTSTPS, and what is your take on the latest layer of electronic music bring created?
I've always had a real inkling toward pop music, but I'm totally incapable of making it. No matter what happens, what I make always sounds fucked up. So I try to embrace the fucked-up-ness and create "off" music — kind of in the same way the Shaggs or Deerhoof does it. I work to break down the structure of pop music to make an altered "new pop." I really like the idea of breaking the narrative of Western music.
With SFTSTPS now, I'm working on reinventing the wheel. I'm changing the sound a little and incorporating more singing. I've been obsessed with James Chance, and also the idea of old soul singers and crooners. This idea of a frontman and the notion of swagger are appealing to me. I just saw Lil B recently, who is incredible. More next-level than anyone realizes — he is way more conceptual than he's given credit for. His whole persona and cartoonish mythology he creates about himself is definitely intentional, even though it may not seem that way.
What took you to Baltimore?
I needed a change of pace. Baltimore is about as antithetical to Denver as you can get. The attitude [in Baltimore] is great, and very open, like Denver. Well, I should be very explicit: As open as Denver's DIY community is, I think the rest of Denver's [music community] is extremely closed off.
How do you feel about the Denver music community, now that you are sort of looking in?
For a long time, there was a real antagonism in Denver by the powers that be — the sort of AEG/Live Nation/hi-dive world. There was this hate on the DIY scene happening where they weren't taking us seriously; they were treating us like shit, underpaying us and blowing us off.
But we are bigger and stronger and crazier than ever. Rhinoceropolis changed my life. Denver changed my life. The scene and community will always impact me. It's so important to keep our community vital. It's not about selling culture so you can make a buck on alcohol.