The Facebook Pages of Five Experimental Musicians


Experimental musicians cultivate an inhuman musical persona. Costumes, anonymity, artwork and aesthetics, nontraditional instruments and structures, a de-emphasis on lyrics and vocals and an emphasis on extremity and spectacle are all employed by experimental musicians to create a distance between producer and consumer. Whether it’s the murky evil of noise act Wolf Eyes or the lush, expansive soundscapes of Leyland James Kirby, it’s often difficult to think that there are actual people behind this music. But many of these people are on Facebook. What follows is a brief overview of the Facebook profiles of five experimental musicians.

Leyland James Kirby

Performs under his own name, as well as V/Vm and The Caretaker. Uses Facebook to share links on an exhausting level. Links are preceded by cryptic or nonsensical comments from Kirby. Entire Facebook wall dominated by YouTube videos posted by himself. Seems to spend an obscene amount of time online, and more specifically, listening to niche musical styles on YouTube. Only likes one band: his own. Provides e-mail contact and Skype name. Only non-American of the group (born in England, living in Germany). Sometimes comes across as sophisticated and inexplicable, sometimes appears like a normal guy: football fan, beer drinker, subject of party pics.

Lee Ranaldo

Guitarist of ‘old guard’ indie rock band Sonic Youth, steeped in experimentalism but also has appeared on Gossip Girl. Seems very famous, but seems to accept just about anyone as a friend. Wall devoted almost exclusively to MySpace holdovers saying “Thanks for the add.” Page is impersonal: shares only one profile picture, most content submitted by others and he is just tagged in them. Info page might as well be empty. However, does provide his email address, which is references SY track “Paper Cup Exit.” Ranaldo’s photos show Thurston Moore trying really hard to look cool, but mostly just being old.

Hisham Bharoocha

Member of Black Dice, now performs as Soft Circle. Demonstrates genuine use of Facebook for social networking purposes, especially with other experimental musicians and tastemakers like Vice Cooler, Zach Hill, High Places, No Age and Lucky Dragons. Despite these credentials, appears like a Cali bro. Has strange sense of style that relies heavily on over-designed t-shirts. Takes a lot of beach pics, or pictures with content and captions with old school hip-hop references. Takes advantage of the status update function for both the exciting and the mundane. Creates statuses that reference his mom in a “maintains healthy familial relations” sort of way. Displays an uninhibited sense of humor uncommon on experimental musician Facebook profiles. “Likes” over 800 pages, and has over 4,000 online friends.

Nate Young

Member of quintessential American noise group Wolf Eyes. Minimalist approach to Facebook maintenance. Facebook profile picture doesn’t show Young, but a drawing in the style of Goya’s Disasters of War. Indicates the bands of which he is a member. Only indicates three bands that he likes, one of which he is in. Provides e-mail contact information. Indicates he is in a relationship. Occasionally “likes” or comments on wall posts. Utilizes Facebook communication for international booking. Takes advantage of Facebook’s photo album “Mobile Uploads.” Communicates with bandmate Aaron Dilloway via Facebook in a playful way.

Keith Fullerton Whitman

Performs as Hrvatski and under his own name, among others. Facebook profile shares many of the facets of Facebook users born before 1980: a lack of humorous links, lack of status updates, overall tepid activity. Notable exception: pictures show him both ‘doing his thing’ as an electronic musician as well as just ‘goofing off’ in front of a mirror/hanging out with his girlfriend. Catherine Peterson tagged Keith in a post that says, “My cousin, Keith Fullerton Whitman, is on NPR! How cool – congrats!!” providing look into the acceptance and validation of Whitman’s work by his family and friends [via public radio]. Appears online in Facebook Chat.

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