The Bunker Artist Salon: Leisure Muffin at The Bunker Stream
April 29, 2020
Leisure Muffin’s modern take on kosmische music is not easy to pin down. Influences and reference points are extraordinarily wide-ranged, but include early Warp (Seefeel, Autechre, and Aphex), Drexciya, Skinny Puppy, Meat Beat Manifesto, Coil, and Perrey and Kingsley. He was also deeply influenced by the sound of The Bunker (and other) dancefloors. A former audio engineering educator, Hopkins has a mastery of both Ableton Live and modular synthesizers. After drooling over, and even borrowing some key pieces of gear from Sarah Lawrence College and Charles Cohen’s studio over the years, the recent advent of more affordable modular equipment meant that he finally has a dream setup of his own.
“The fact that modular synths have become affordable now has really helped,” he says. “I always wanted to be writing using that stuff and after waiting for a really long time, I finally have the kind of setup I always dreamed of.”
It makes sense that someone with Leisure Muffin’s broad tastes makes music that is hard to classify. When most people tell you that they love all forms of music, further examination of their claim usually leads to disappointment. This isn't the case for Leisure Muffin. If you join him for tea, you could end up listening to an accordion record as easily as you might hear electronic music. He spent most of his life working in some of the best and worst record stores in the USA, for the pure joy of being able to hear new sounds every day (before the internet put all music at everyone’s fingertips). If you talk to him you might hear about the pleasures of attending the symphony after eating a pot brownie or how you should listen to African Juju records from the 1930s. .
"I don't know what to call it--I really just make the kind of stuff that I want to hear,” he says. “And honestly, if I didn't love dancing and playing at dance parties so much, I'd probably just be locked in a room somewhere torturing synthesizers or playing boring whale sound guitar solos for hours. Actually, I suppose I do a fair amount of that anyway. Maybe that's why it's taken me almost 20 years to actually release something that anybody is interested in putting out."
In the mid-90's, he was playing shows in clubs in the Lower East Side (Den of Thieves, Unity Gain, Tonic) when he was too young to drink. He pulled off a lot of great sets over the following years and built a reputation as a live electronic performer during an era when that was far less common. Live recordings of both his solo sets and his duos with Charles Cohen made the rounds among good friends (including The Bunker New York bossman Bryan Kasenic), but finishing a studio record had, until now, eluded him.
With the encouragement of Kasenic and The Bunker New York family, Leisure Muffin finally managed to finish an EP in the studio, and we couldn’t be happier with the results.SOUNDCLOUD
Welcome to The Bunker Stream. As we obviously cannot gather our community publicly as we have been for over 17 years, we will be bringing you streaming video from the studios of our family of artists. We hope this helps everyone in our community stay connected. Big shout out to The Lot Radio for being massively helpful in facilitating this for us.
On Wednesday April 29 at 8pm EST, Michael Hopkins, aka Leisure Muffin will host the first edition of The Bunker Artist Salon. For this stream, Muffin invites you into his home studio, where he will share the inner workings of his current setup for improvised live performance, followed by a demonstration. While Muffin apologizes for possessing only a speck of brilliance when compared to Gertrude Stein, he assures us that he is at the very least a better person than Hemingway was, and hopes to work hard enough to someday be perhaps a bit like Henri Rousseau. Bring your own absinthe or perhaps some Alice B. Toklas fudge.
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