Published on: Thu, Apr 04, 2019
Drummer, percussionist, part-time DJ and full-time vintage media junkie, Rob Buttrum keeps his weeks busy with his live performances and side projects. He will be busy next week performing at Thin Line Fest as Filth, his experimental and industrial music project. Buttrum has been in Denton for more than 15 years, and has been performing as Filth for about 10. As a project with a unique and niche sound, Filth didn’t find much love here in Denton at first, but as time went on, the project quickly found a dedicated fanbase.
In this exclusive interview, we get a glimpse into Buttrum’s creative process and what we can expect from his upcoming live performance.
Discover Denton: So how did your project Filth begin?
Buttrum: I moved here from Maryland, and I was really just starting to get into experimental music and noise and that whole scene. When I moved here, there wasn’t really an outlet for it. One day I decided, hey screw it, I’ll have a show here and see how it goes, and it went really well. I did that for about 5 years, to the point to where I kind of out grew myself and it was just too big to keep having my own shows in my house.
Discover Denton: You said you moved here from Maryland, what are your thoughts on Denton so far?
Buttrum: I like it. It has the benefits a small town, while still having the kind of like the art and culture of a city. I think that there is what keeps it fresh – especially the music scene.
Discover Denton: When did you begin creating music?
Buttrum: I’ve always been attracted to music and art. I used to record stuff on tape players when I was a kid. I’d just carry around a tape player and record sounds, I just loved the whole process of being able to hear things, record it and then play with the recordings, stuff like that. In high school I started getting more into experimental stuff. I got to the point to where I wanted to go more into that territory, so I started creating my own experimental projects.
Discover Denton: What’s your creative process like when creating for Filth?
Buttrum: The creative process for Filth has more to do with the electronics that I use. I am really into analogs and vintage electronics, so a lot of it has to do with the sound those objects give. I use a lot of reel-to-reel equalizers, tape machines, just different electronics that are not necessarily made to create sounds. I use them in ways to create sounds from them and that’s what got me started with the Filth project. I started with using what I had laying around and forcing the machines to do things they weren’t supposed, things they were not made to do. I would just play with the sounds that they would create and I would have a palette of sounds to build on to create a musical composition.
Discover Denton: Is there anything that inspires your music?
Buttrum: There’s a library of stuff I find inspiring, but it’s hard to pinpoint where my ideas stem from. It’s often a collaboration of decades of taking in so much art, cinema and music. I kind of just pull pieces from everything when I’m creating my own stuff, it’s truly whatever head space I’m in that day when I hit record.
Discover Denton: What’s your favorite part about performing as Filth?
Buttrum: Probably the cathartic release of just performing. Every time I perform, I carry around a pair of huge speakers. For me, part of the release is having the sound incredibly loud, it helps me feel the visceral-ness of what I’m performing. A lot of the live aspect of my performance is just the sheer intensity of volume, so when people see me live they can actually feel the music.
Discover Denton: What do you want others to know about your project and your performances?
Buttrum: I have a very visual performance because I have such an abstract sound. I set it up in my performances in a way that brings a lot of the tension to the surface. For my performances, I’ll have a whole stack of electronics towering over me. The presentation itself is something people are always fascinated by after they see me live. Symphonically, I feel like it’s multi-genre – it’s has industrial vibes, power electronic vibes, it all hits under that experiment umbrella. I bring it all together in a way that’s at least different and unique to where it’s interesting both visually and symphonically as well. I’ve had a lot of people after shows been like, “I’ve never seen anything like that, I haven’t heard anything like that.” Some have an emotional response, and say “I’ve never seen something like this, but for some reason, it connected with me.” I feel like I have an edge that way. It’s not like it’s something that’s never been done before, but it’s done in a way that I feel like it’s pretty unique from a performance and symphonic standpoint, people get a lot of different things from it.