Malok Interview, 1990

Interview conducted June 1990 (it’s timeless, trust me) by Jake Berry

The first part of this interview was published in GAJOOB #7 where, for some elusive reason, the latter two-thirds of the interview was cut off! While going through my notes found in various boxes while moving to my current home, I happened upon the full text of the interview. I believe it deserves publication in its entirety, which is why I include it here. The first three questions and answers are repeated here from issue #7, the final five questions are published here for the first time. –Bryan Baker

Malok lives in an upstairs apartment in the small town of Waukau, Wisconsin with his cat and his demons. For years he has created cassettes, writing, collages, and pyschedelic inkblot glyphs, all of which reveal in their uniqueness an artist as brilliant as he is bizarre, enormously intelligent in his idiosyncracies. To confront a work by Malok is to enter alien territory. Only faint twisted reflections of the old world remain as one is initiated into what lies beyond the edge. Without doubt Malok is one of the contemporary masters who discipline it is to expand the peripheries of our species. This interview was conducted through the mail in May and June, 1990.

LET’S START AT THE BEGINNING. WHY AND WHEN DID YOU START WRITING? COLLAGING? PAINTING? MAKING TAPES?

Well, been writing since I could. My stuff is spurty, don’t like “assignments,” etc. Rules pretty much meaningless & admit that 90% of what comes out has no real point or intent to inform, etc. figure out it’s been said better before or anybody with 1/2 a brain’ll know the shit anyway. I think (in every strata) my concern is more with the method or process – the product seems beside the point, especially regards collage & audio stuff. I just do it & whatever anyone thinks or feels about it, well that’s their business, eh? I really only consider my ink glyphs original & unique in the universe, since as far as I can assertain, there’s nobody doing anything close to their particular process. This all started about 13 years ago in earnest, going thru stages to the point where it has become pretty set in; so the glyphs can go till my fingers drop off. Collage, found sculptures, audio stuff can pretty well pinpoint to the mail “art” discovery in 1985 & regard your eminence, Mr. Berry as the catalyst, etc. The why? A question we all grapple with & probably uncomfortably tied to the pompous sounding, but true nevertheless, the will & complusion to create. The creation of something that has never been seen or experienced before. And we ain’t talking nature paintings or pottery here.

Whatever.

Do you see your work as part of a tradition, or more idiosyncratic, isolated? or possibly both?

I tend to believe that I work & create from a Critical Void. I don’t discount osmosis or subconscious subliminalics, but what comes out of the filtering process is my own. At least again, can say with certainty regards my glyphs; they are virgins, whatever.

Is your work extreme because you live that way or vice versa?

If somebody watched my ostensive physical “activities”, they’d probably say I do nothing (at least in last decade), so yes, the extremes are played out in my works. I push the limits because that’s the only avenue left, it seems. But then there are people in the network who I’d be leery of, so who knows? But I do know that I’ve got a very low tolerance for “cute” eh.

What are your obsessions?

Marcy Lorena Griner-Clark and the creation process.

Who is Marcy Lorena Griner-Clark?

An unrequited love (age 16).

Where does the name Malok come from? Are there any distinctions between teh person you are from day to day and the persona that comes across in your work?

This could take forever and I tend to short. But basically in the 70s I went through a lot of shit, doing time in nut houses and seclusion rooms, the whole psycho bit. And in one of those rooms Michael John Kubsch “died” a mental and psychic rending, etc. In 1977, going to college poetry class (where I met my blood blue Michael Anderson) and numerous controlled and accidental syncronics happened. The “M” could be for Marcy or Michael. The “A” for Anne (retrospectively). “L” for Lorena. The “O”? A circle, infinite with limits? And “K” for Kubsch. “Lok” could refer to June Lockhart, who shares the same genetic pattern as Lorena. And then, coming up the stairs, I heard somebody mention the antacid Maalox, just a right instant and viola! MALOK. Who exactly knows? But I had to create a name that distanced my subsequent and present being from that which (to me indisputedly anyway) had died. Suppose that fits too. I am locked into my created name. I consider myself Malok and not the other legality based in another person.

You’ve been called “a true mutant of the human race” and a “giant of the experimental underground.” Do you feel these descriptions are accurate in any way?

Since my line ain’t going anywhere, progeny-wise, it would seem that my part in any mutation would be limited. I do believe in my own down-to-the-genes differentness, if that’s what is meant. And maybe that’s putting it overly mildly, eh? And as for giantism, well my feet are pretty solidified in my hermitage and post office box. I can’t get too big-headed the way I live. But, like I said before, I just do what I do and whatever comes, comes.

Was there anyone in particular that influenced you to work in cassette culture, anyone that influenced your approach to the medium?

Probably Miekal And & Liz Was & Al Margolis initially. And I’m always pleasantly gratified that the primitively produced and pissholding stuff can get by toleration points out there. Haven’t really cracked into the culture wholehartedly, still gotta get some equipment and chops, etc.

What significance, if any, do you think the current underground/micropress has?

I think we all have to have in our heads (regardless of verity) that we in the so-called underground micropress-network, etc., are the ballgame. And we are an entity, distinct from all that we “rebel” against or reject. Maybe we are misfits and marginals. But we aint’ wearing suits and sipping tea at art auctions or worrying too much if this tit over here is going to blow grandma’s brains over there. We’ve got our universe and they can have theirs, eh? All I see in the so-called ARTWORLD is the same old structures and techniques. And the same old ass-kissing and politics of getting a paycheck for putting your moniker on a painted piece of “property.” To them, there is no significance. We just have to remember ourselves and keep pushing our individual envelopes. To the point were we don’t even think of THEM.

I’ve noticed a couple things, right off the top of my head, that seem to come up as recurrent “themes” in your work, regardless of the medium, there are others but these two come to mind. That is, Martian, Mars, etc., and words that appear to be from an unknown tongue, they don’t seem to be neolgism with set definitions, but something more ecstatic. First of all, is your sue of Mars intended metaphorically, symbolically, ro do you feel yourself somehow related to the physical planet? And secondly, are the original wordforms a documentation of glossolalia or something more specific?

Well, this could take forever, but yes, I believe that heritage-wise my ancestry is Martian and it’s simply a matter of planet-hopping. I’ll just leave it at that. Except Mars also parces into Marcy, etc. The words just come out and I try to put spelling that seem appropriate, defining principles later that fit the situation, etc. All pretty arbitrary, it seems to me. Whatever. Oh, fuck this — I am a Martian!

Do you see anything of value in popular culture? In academic culture?

Cinema-wise maybe. Otherwise tubecity. School’s out forever.

What does freedom mean to you and how do you exercise it?

You don’t fuck with me and I won’t fuck with you.

If the world ended tomorrow would your heart be right with god?

The world ended on June 19th, 1987 and God said everything’s fine.


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dabodab is a blog about various things DiY and the creative people and activities surrounding them. I am Briyan Frederick (aka Bryan Baker), probably best known as the publisher of GAJOOB and a founder of Tapegerm Collective read more.

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The corporations have taken over. Even in the recording studio. Actually, the corporate companies have taken over American life most everywhere. Go coast to coast and you will see people wearing the same clothes, thinking the same thoughts, eating the same food. Everything is processed.Bob Dylan