Mutagenic: Carbondale’s New Experimental Music Showcase

Mutagenic: Carbondale’s New Experimental Music Showcase

Carbondale’s New Experimental Music Showcase
Craig Wilson

On December 1st Carbondale’s Flyover community center will host the second Mutagenic, an evening dedicated to experimental music and sound art. Mutagenic offers sounds off the beaten path and a rare listening experience as well as a chance to collaborate with friends and complete strangers.

The first Mutagenic, also at the Flyover on November 3rd, featured Qkcofse, Howard Steeley, David Nelson, Alex Colombo, Matt McGuire, and Nuke Twins. To close the evening, there was a collectivecreation between seven players, some of whom had just met that night. The group session was an adventurous ad-hoc improvisationwandering somewhere between free jazz, noise and musique concrete. Everyone who played a set took part in the free jam and they were joined by Jennifer Kathryn Davolt from Jenni and the Housewives on the drums.

Nightlife talked more about Mutagenic with curator Howard Steeley.

What’s your background in Carbondale’s music scene?

I currently have an industrial noise project called Ptah which just released a tape on Midwaste. I’ve played in a couple of bands in the past, Drunk Virago and Dolphin Logic. Both were somewhat experimental. I’ve booked shows. Most recently, prior to Mutagenic, I organized an ACLU benefit at Hangar 9. You can hear my WDBX radio show The Panic Room from 11am to 1pm on Tuesdays.

Let's hear a little more about the Mutagenic experimental music series and what motivated you to create it.

I was thinking about how experimental music doesn’t have a real home here. In the past I’ve seen noise, free jazz and other fringe acts sharing bills with rock acts at basement shows and as cool as itwas to see that, the late-night start time coupled with the party atmosphere wasn’t always conducive to the acts or the fans of those acts. These types of music tend to attract, and sometimes need, an almost studious level of attentionwhich might bore people looking to cut loose and get rowdy.

I wanted to start a monthly showcase with an earlier start time, 7pm. The Flyover was very supportive and excited to host us. They’ve been great even letting us borrow gear. Right now Mutagenic is a fairly loose construct with an open mic format. In the future I hope to get out of town and touring artists involved. My dream is that Mutagenic can foster a thriving community of artists and enthusiasts that will do great things together.

What are your plans for the shows in December? I heard there were going to be two. And what about next year?

The next show is on December 1st. Mutagenic is always on the first Friday of every month. I’m hoping to have a second December show, on the 22nd, since a lot of musicians I know will be in the area visiting family for the holidays. Carbondale has birthed a lot of great experimental musicians that are now scattered all over the country and overseas. It would be great to get as many together as possible and seewhat happens.

Midwaste looks like a cassette only label out of the Chicago area, with some ties to southern Illinois. What’s your role in this label? Who are some of the artists appearing there?

My friends Nick Yeck Stauffer and David Nelson started Midwaste as a zine focusing on covering music and art in the Midwest that’s somewhat left of center. Midwaste has recently launched its music label, mostly small run cassettes. I’ve been peripherally involved contributing some writing to the zine, editing the Signal Decay tape and recording asPtah for the Subdermal Transmissions tape. It was a no brainer to ask them to be involved. Also, this will hopefully lead to other recurring Midwaste showcases in Chicago, where Nick lives and other cities where fellow Midwasters live.

Do you have any further thoughts about putting on these shows or about Carbondale’s music scene?

Carbondale is a great music town. The amount and variety of shows in a given month, sometimes in aweek, is crazy. With Mutagenic entering the scene I can now say Carbondale has something for every music lover.

If anyone is interested in becoming involved with Mutagenic or if they have any questions, feel free to email me at