What can we say about formerwageslave that we haven’t already said.  He’s been an Industry Heavyweight, the winner of our first Figment Challenge, a runner up in several of our contests, and his bands’ regularly score #1 albums on the Figment Hot Albums Chart.  He is, without a doubt, one of the top players on Figment.  So we figured, why say anything at all, let’s let him do the talking.

Figment News:  Tell us a little about yourself. What do you do for a living, what part of the country do you live in, what are you hobbies, etc.

formerwageslave:  I live in beautiful Portland, Maine along with my wife, my beagle, and a few too many cats. For work, I’ve been doing Interactive Design ever since I graduated from college. My hobbies include collecting vinyl records and the discographies of defunct niche labels (WaxTrax!, Re-Constriction, 21st Circuitry, Zoth Ommog, etc.), collecting old video game systems, and writing (fiction & screenplays).

FN:  So you work in Interactive Graphic Design? What is that like?

formerwageslave:  Basically, I get to design and code full websites, mobile websites, and social media projects for sites such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. I’ve worked for little twelve-person companies where the environment is really laid-back and chill, and then also global ad agencies where I worked overnight and weekends on super-urgent projects for companies like Ford and Chrysler. Fun stuff. 😉

FN:  Do you ever get to design album covers at work?

formerwageslave:  Sadly, never!

FN:  You run your own independent record label correct?

formerwageslave:  More like mis-manage one, but yes! It is called the Slave Indvstries Collective. We’ve been around in one form or another since 1995. We recently launched a new site that still needs all the info plugged back into it– www.slaveindvstries.net

FN:  What it’s like to be a label chief?

formerwageslave:  It’s hard work, especially as the number of artists increases. Musicians, and creative types in general, are a notoriously fickle bunch (myself included), and so you’re constantly running around, hounding people for their tracks, artwork, promotional info… and now, in the age of every band having their own online label consisting of themselves and their close friends, it’s hard to even get noticed instead of being drowned out in a vast sea of voices. I don’t give it nearly enough attention as I should– it should be its own full-time job- – but I am planning on revving things up in the coming fall months. It’s also expensive, esp. in the beginning when no one is buying your stuff and/or you’re giving it away to get as much exposure as you can.

FN:  What kind of bands are on your label?

formerwageslave:  The roster is getting increasingly diverse as I get older and my own musical tastes and interests expand, but the primary focus is on darker and more abstract / experimental / extreme forms of music, especially (but not exclusively) electronic subgenres. Noise, industrial, digital hardcore, dark ambient, chiptune, glitch, breakcore, electronic body music, post-punk, coldwave, darkwave, industrial rock, neofolk, doom metal…

FN:  How do you distribute your albums – independent distributor or do you do it yourself?

formerwageslave:  In the past, I’ve always done it myself, which accounts for SIC’s abysmally low sales! I’m also really bad about giving my releases away for free… such a horrible salesperson. I hate having to pimp my releases and push them onto people– I would much rather just put my records out into the digital aether and have people organically discover how awesome they are all on their own, which is a totally naive way of doing things. I’m starting to post a lot on Bandcamp and press up legit CDs with barcodes, instead of the handmade CD-Rs I used to do in the past, so increased distro is definitely a goal for the near future… letting other people worry about selling my stuff for a change. 😉

FN:  What do you look for in a band before you agree to work with them?

formerwageslave:  Loving and believing in their music is a must. Not necessarily thinking that I can sell it or make a lot of money off of it, but just really digging it on a personal level and hoping that other people will do the same, which may be the crucial flaw in my “business” model. Heh. It also really helps, though it isn’t necessarily a dealbreaker, that I agree with the band’s politics. For example, I’m not going to sign anyone with an agenda of hate. I can’t handle dealing with jerks, either. It’s one thing to be confident in your music– it’s another thing entirely to constantly put other people down.

FN:  We all know you have a favorite vintage guitar, so are you in a band?

formerwageslave:  Yep! I actually write music under a bunch of different names. Some are secret, some not so much.

FN:  Do you create album covers for your band(s)?

formerwageslave:  With few exceptions, I usually end up being the graphic designer for all of the projects I’m involved in, from CD artwork to stickers, shirts, flyers, and websites.

FN:  I also noticed that you DJ a show on WMPG in Maine. What is that like and can we listen to the show online?

formerwageslave:  DJing on the radio is very different than spinning in clubs, which I’ve also done for many years. The radio is still really new to me. My wife and I do a 3-hour show every week called Dead By Dawn on WMPG, 90.9 & 104.1, Southern Maine Community Radio out of USM. It’s completely format-free and non-corporate in nature, so we can literally play whatever we want. It’s extremely liberating! You can stream the show live via www.wmpg.org or record it to MP3 for later listening using sites such as www.dar.fm .

FN:  So how did you end up playing Figment?

formerwageslave:  I honestly can’t remember how I first heard about Figment, but I think it may have been a banner on a site like SomethingAwful or an online gaming portal. I had already played plenty of web-based games, and Figment sounded like it was right up my alley. I saved the URL for future reference, then came back to it months later when I had collected a group of gaming friends to check it out with me.

FN:  You’re already run a record label and are a musician. Why play a game involving fake bands?

formerwageslave:  I mentioned in my Figment bio that I have more ideas than the time needed to bring them all to life, and that’s definitely true. I’m dreaming up concept albums and band themes all the time, and they’re not always practical or something I would be able to pull together in real life. For example, Tha Ronin 7 is a fun group, sure, but I’m not sure I would be able to produce an actual rap album with 7 MCs (and not have it sound like a complete hot mess, anyway). Besides, the hardest part of being in a band (for me) is making the actual music! Figment removes the labor and lets me focus on the fun stuff– I get to tell stories and make pretty pictures without having to worry about microphone placement, guitar tone, whether or not to add a bridge, booking shows, constant rehearsals… I’m a perfectionist with my own bands, and the doubt and constant tweaking can be paralyzing. Figment, on the other hand, is refreshing.

FN:  You’ve had an incredible run of creating #1 albums on the Figment Hot Albums Chart, what do you think the key is to having a successful band on Figment?

formerwageslave:  There are definitely several different paths to Figment success. You can make beautiful covers to catch the eye and draw people in. You can write deep, rich backstories for your bands down to each individual member’s story, what gear they use, what trouble they get into on tour, etc.. You can also create really compelling song titles and album concepts that just *feel* real… people start to rock out in their heads just thinking about them. Whichever of these paths you excel in, the key is to stay active. Release albums, or EPs, or singles, or digital files, or merch, or live records, or all of the above! Go on tour. Post news updates. Don’t forget to mix things up, either– it gets tedious when every release by a band is “their best one EVAR!!!~” with yet more mind-blowing solos and even faster songs and even catchier melodies etc. etc. etc. for Every. Single. Album. Even the best real bands occasionally release crappy songs. Albums flop. Members quit or go crazy or die. Bands break up. Tours get cancelled. The more realistic and human you can make a band seem, the more people will buy into it and get emotionally involved.

FN:  Your album cover designs are really well done. Where do you get your inspiration?

formerwageslave:  I get inspiration from my favorite real bands, my record collection, and the way my Figment bands sound in my head. It’s just like writing a fiction novel– the more releases I do for band, the more I get a feel for what kind of song titles and album covers they would want to use. I think to myself, “Hmm, Norselords wouldn’t have an album cover of a fluffy bunny in a field of clover…” Unless it’s one second after it steps on a land mine, that is! The stories of the bands often dictate their cover art, like Duane’s deteriorating mental state for the darker Vorpal Queen covers, the goat skulls as effigies of Figment judges for Vengeance Burns Eternal when they were pissed off, and so on.

FN:  Ever create a cover for one of your fake bands and wish you’d kept it for your real band?

formerwageslave:  All the time!

FN:  What tools do you use to create your album cover and band images?

formerwageslave:  Photoshop! All day, every day.

FN:  Given your experience in music and design, any tips you can pass along to your fellow Figment players?

formerwageslave:  For design, a lot can be achieved in MS Paint, but get Photoshop if you can. However, there are also a lot of free graphics tools out there, such as Gimp, and Firefox image editor add-ons like Pixlr, and Jetpack. A huge factor in whether or not I “buy” a Figment album is the cover typography. Don’t settle for the handful of boring default fonts on your machine! Real bands don’t! There are TONS of free fonts out there– I use sites like www.dafont.com and www.fontfreak.com to find new ones. Sometimes, a font can inspire the rest of the cover for me.

As for the music, think about the genre(s) you want to dabble in and your favorite bands in those areas. What do you like about them? What would you change or do differently? Imagine fleshing out your band enough so that they would make a good opening act for your fav bands. What topics do you want your band to write/sing about? War? Sex? Global warming? Puppies? Do you have some favorite instruments or equipment brands? Mash a couple of genres or groups together and see what comes out. Get inside your bands’ heads. Create conflict and drama to offset their successes. Try to see through their eyes.

FN:  You use the pseudonym Remy Brecht a lot. Any significance to this name?

formerwageslave:  It’s been my DJ handle and pseudonym for all of my music-related activities for many years now.

FN:  What are some of the real and/or fake bands that you would say have influenced your fake bands?

formerwageslave:  Spinal Tap! For LLP, scary and larger-than-life figures in black cowboy hats like the 1990’s incarnations of Al Jourgensen and Rob Zombie. Johnny Cash. Outlaw country/western dudes. For Vorpal Queen, all of the bands they’ve covered and the ones listed in their bio… classic psych rock and modern stoner/doom.

FN:  Any Figment players who you’d like to laud for their work?

formerwageslave:  I’ve seen a lot of great, imaginative work from FuriousGrace, theHoseman, Infacticide, ChildofAlma, Crypt_Keeper, poppinfresh, frizbee, Raybo, TMTYTF… the list goes on! There are a lot of inspired, cool individuals in the core Figment community, which makes collaboration (and competition!) really enjoyable.

FN:  If you could make one of your fake bands real and then join the band, what band would it be and what instrument would you play in the band?

formerwageslave:  First choice would be Lucifer and the Long Pigs, lead vocals and acoustic rhythm guitar. I would get to wear the black cowboy hat, the black boots, the bolo tie… and the spurs! Second choice would be lead guitar for Vorpal Queen… I’d have a huge pedalboard of effects. So many effects.

FN:  What is the band and/or album you’ve formed/released that you are the most proud of?

formerwageslave:  In a lot of ways, it would probably be my very first release on Figment, Lucifer and the Long Pigs’ “Death Country” EP. I certainly didn’t expect it to blow up like it did, and it helped make me realize that I was sitting on a great idea for a band. I’m really proud of how the Badlands Tour came together, and I put a lot of work into the design and story of the “Screwtape” double-album between LLP and Squidbitchez.

FN:  If someone asked you why should I play Figment what would you tell them?

formerwageslave:  Figment is for people who love music. People with imagination and creativity. People who like to roleplay. It’s also a great way to sharpen your graphic design skills. All of those things. If you don’t have any musical ability, it can be a chance to live out your deepest rock ‘n’ roll fantasies. If you *are* in a band, it can be a way to explore genres and ideas that you might never have thought to tackle in real life. Finally, it’s just plain fun!

5 Responses to “Player Profile – formerwageslave”

  1. FuriousGrace Says:

    Great interview!! I always look forward to player profiles!

  2. Raybo Says:

    Amazingly insightful and so great to meet the man behind the (fake) music!

    I love your life, brother. With the exception of the cats, I mean. Those things make me sneeze like a mutha.

  3. poppinfresh Says:

    What a great interview! Formerwageslave, your background is not only extremely interesting, it shows in all your work on Figment. Your work is impeccable. My hat’s off to you, sir.

    And I agree completely with your thoughts on typography. I’m going to try to up my game in that area.

  4. theHoseman Says:

    As always, I love the Player Profile interviews. Thanks Eric!
    This one is no exception. Great thoughtful answers to great questions. Formerwageslave, you are an incredibly creative person and I’m looking forward to exploring some of your real life work.

    Side note – Thanks for the compliment!

  5. frizbee Says:

    Another awesome Player Profile. I love this feature because I love getting to see behind the curtain, especially when it involves people that I enjoy here on Figment. formerwageslave always has some great stuff up his sleeve, and I hope to work with him on something in the future.

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