Occult A/V is David Kumler, best known among fans of postpunk and darkwave for his work as part of Foxxxy Mulder. Last year he decided to take a brave dive into electronica and released a series of stylistically diverse EPs.

The particular song that caught our ear is his latest single Reaching Across The Void. The track inherits its rainy crackle- and sample-heavy sound from Burial, but puts a pleasant shine on it, without sacrificing the deepness and ghostly character of the composition.

Watch the video for the single, listen to a selection of other tracks from Occult A/V and read our thorough interview with David.
— Your press release says: "Occult A/V represents the first(ish) foray into strictly electronic music by someone who really has no clue what he's doing." Can you talk a bit more about that? What was your background when you decided to plunge into electronica?
— Since, I guess, middle school, I've played in rock bands, punk bands, hardcore, things like that, primarily as a guitarist and occasional bass player. But all that music was largely guitar-based. In 2016, I started Foxxxy Mulder with Kori Hensell, which was initially conceived as a shoegaze project—but, since we didn't have the means to record actual drums, we used midi drums for all of our releases. So, in a sense, I guess you could say my use of midi drums (and the occasional midi keyboard) was my first foray into electronic music, but the approach was very different. I guess you could say I was still writing "guitar songs" and then using midi to fill in where I needed it.

However, shortly after the pandemic started, my partner and I moved to a new apartment, which was a bit smaller than our previous apartment, and around that time both of our jobs became fully remote. The result has been that I don't really have a dedicated space or even a dedicated time in which I can make noise—so everything I do has shifted to things that can be done quietly and on headphones. That shift prompted me to buy my first analog synthesizer, a Korg Minilogue, and to begin experimenting with synthesis. The first track I wrote with that synthesizer was "Recovered Memories," off my EP What Was Forgotten Is Now Alive. So, for a while, I was writing music mostly with this synthesizer, trying to mold and shape different tones and textures, and supplementing it with the midi drums in Logic, as I had with previous projects. The emphasis on texture was definitely something that I learned from shoegaze, but was now able to do in new ways through synthesis.

Anyway, after learning about synthesis and manipulating waveforms and things like that, I ended up getting my first drum machine, a very simple Arturia Microbrute, and those two instruments became my primary setup. Those two instruments were the foundation of pretty much all my Occult A/V releases up to this point. However, I also started learning about sampling and taking a much deeper dive into that side of things—and, at least with my forthcoming release, sampling becomes a pretty central component.

So, anyway, the whole electronic thing has really been a product of the pandemic and the new constraints that it placed on me. One thing that has always interested me is the way that musical innovation tends to emerge from constraints, and that's certainly been the case for me. In fact, that's kinda where the title Nightworks comes from—I pretty much made all these records in the middle of the night because that was the only time I could get some space to myself to write and experiment.
— You were new to electronic music as a musician. But you probably were not new to it as a listener. What kind of electronic music informed your experiments at that time?
— Initially, I think my two biggest influences were probably Pye Corner Audio and Mort Garson. Mort Garson's work really influenced my use of arpeggiators and some of the tones I tried to produce, and I've always been a huge fan of Pye Corner Audio's warm, analog synth textures. While I wouldn't really describe most of my music as ambient, Abul Mogard's textures were a big influence early on as well. A lot of my harsher, more abrasive tracks from the time draw a lot on artists like Blanck Mass and Vatican Shadow. Since the beginning, I've pretty influenced by hip hop as well, particularly in terms of percussion and, later, sampling. In my own music, I'm drawn to the slower tempos and syncopated beats of hip hop. J Dilla and Madlib are two of my favorite artists, and their approach to sampling has been a huge influence. Teebs and Ras G are also huge influences more recently. Coming from a recording background where the emphasis was on accurately reproducing the sound of a guitar or a drum set or whatever, I've been very inspired by hip hop's entire history of taking a sound from anywhere and just manipulating the hell out of it until it does something interesting or unexpected.
— We do get "interesting or unexpected" sounds from time to time, but only within certain limitations. It's hard to imagine coming across a sound that will totally blow the listener's mind. Most of what we hear in even in experimental music sounds similar to something already done, whether we want it or not, thus working like a sort of homage or quote, turning an experimental search for the unexpected into a postmodernist collage. How do you feel about it? And do you believe we can still find sounds that sound unlike anything else?
— Yeah, I think that's basically true, but at the same time, "newness" or "strangeness" is always contextual. What makes a sound weird or unexpected or mind-blowing isn't usually the sound itself so much as the context in which we hear it—it's the sense that this sound, whatever it is, should not be here, in this moment, but for some reason, here it is. That's why, for me, the most surprising stuff usually comes from sampling and collage. You'll have a chop that comes at a totally unexpected time and, while the sounds themselves might literally just be reproductions, it's the disjunctures and splicings that make things interesting. For example, I think about a lot of JPEGMAFIA's productions, which, when I first heard them, just totally blew my mind. Pink Siifu hits me in a similar way—he'll put out these records where you've got what's basically a Bad Brains-esque hardcore punk song that transitions out of nowhere into some Houston-style chopped and screwed hip hop and then into some borderline ambient stuff. The sound in themselves are maybe not new, but when you put them together like that, it's unlike anything I've ever heard. And when you're hearing these sounds in that context, you hear them differently.
— "Tide Pools" sounds a bit like Animal Collective melodically. Was that an influence? If so, what about Animal Collective's music felt inspiring to you?
— You know, I hadn't actually thought of that comparison until now, but I see where you're coming from. I haven't listened to much Animal Collective in years, although I really loved Meriweather Post Pavilion when it came out. So it's definitely possible that it was an unconscious influence.
— Occult A/V's music is remarkably diverse stylistically. How would you describe the glue that holds all of those tracks together?
— I guess if there is a glue that holds it together—and, to be honest, I'm not totally convinced that there is—then it's kinda just me. For a long time I played in bands and had different projects that were committed to a particular genre or aesthetic or what have you, and I always found it to be somewhat creatively stifling. I have a huge amount of respect for people who can carve out a specific style and hone that idea over the course of a number of releases, but I've never been very good at that. My creative process isn't linear at all—I'm always distracted by some new idea that I'm interested in. That said, I really do aim for each release—be that an EP or an album or whatever—to have its own kind of unity. That part is really important to me. But even with that, I think the glue often comes after the fact—I look back at the stuff I've made and begin to see some ways that it fits together. So maybe that's what will happen with this Occult A/V stuff—in fact, I kind of hope it will.
And here are some more examples of Occult A/V's stylistic diversity.