INTERVIEW: Chris Portka
Chris Portka is an artist and musician living and working in California's Bay Area. His newly-released track with a pretty self-explanatory title "Ambient Jazz Metal" brings together gritty guitar textures, frenetic drumming and bass that you don't always hear clearly, but can certainly feel in your guts. The composition also features vocals that instantly bring to mind Robert Pollard. We talked to Chris about the writing and recording process and more.
— Can you please talk about the writing and recording process?
— As the name implies, this is jazz. Jazz in the sense that it is improvisations around a theme. I record, play and mix everything. Not that I'm opposed to working with people, but I tend to jump into music a couple times a day – and if I'm in a certain mood, then I'll record it. I have decades of recordings of me playing with myself, in audio form that is. I go through these recordings occasionally (or more often never) and if I find something I connect with, I'll refine it. The album this song comes from is a batch of 8 songs i worked on all around the same time in 2020.
— What was this song written about?
— This song wasn't written so much as summoned. Diary pages, repetitive mantras and lucid dreaming all helped as well. I was feeling a lot of self-loathing and angst around jobs and money, hence the title "Hey buddy, can you spare $74k / year?", 'cause that seems like a good universal basic income for everyone. $74k for the masses, every year.

— Any personal experiences?
— Oh yes, a lifetime enveloped in sound. I worked in tech as a software engineer / designer / manager, so I'm used to staring at screens all day in a meditative, drooly, trance-like state. I tried to capture this feeling at times – difficult but with a certain pleasure at gazing into the LCD abyss.
— What was the music inspired by?
— Wanting to make something really loud and cathartic. Like a hurricane washing machine which you can hold in your heart.
— How did you work on the lyrics?
— I once did daily pages for 10 years. When I was done I knew two things:

1. I can breathe.
2. I like music.

Most things come from those two facts now. The lyrics come from these mountains of notebooks.
Check out more music by Chris.