Monday, October 19, 2009


Rjyan Kidwell is also known as CEX. Scooped up by Tigerbeat6 at the tender age of 17 or thereabouts, he's been thirsting along music's electronic byways for almost nearly but not quite decades. He's inquisitive, brutally smart and a voracious reader. These days, he lives in Baltimore, does the dishes, and makes frequent public appearances.

What do you do? What are you doing the most lately?
I pretty much only ever really just pray all the time. That’s what I do the most, both in terms of frequency and percentage of the over-all effort I put into living. If I were the United States’ budget, praying would easily be my defense spending. But I suppose it’s “defense spending” already anyways, innit?

How long have you done these things?
Longer than I’ve done anything else I still do. Maybe 16 years? Which, now that I say it, seems like a really long time to nurse a secret of this magnitude. Dan Savage never answers my letters for some reason, and there’s basically no one else on the planet I can broach this topic with safely. Imagine going somewhere for 16 years where no one ever called you by your real name—could you imagine suddenly after 16 years what it would be like to hear a stranger’s voice suddenly call your name out somewhere behind you? That’s what this interview suddenly feels like.

Why do you do them? How does it make you feel?
It makes me feel good. Exactly because the prayings make me feel physically euphoric and —perhaps even more importantly— completely present, this is precisely why I am all the time doing them. To override my programmed, robot mind— the mind that can never leave the site of clocks or dollars, the mind that manages the litany of inane and repetitive tasks I must complete over and over and over in order to earn the money for the bank and the landlord and all the politicians and the drug dealer— having access to a completely non-diminishing method of flushing that mind out of existence, even just temporarily, is something for which I feel a profound, genuine gratitude. It makes me feel connected me to the Earth from which I was born in spite of the web of alien contrivance the military-industrial people-management behemoth has used to ensnare my existence.

I think ancient monks would understand how I feel— praying a hole right through the polluted ozone, lifting your voice above the maddening, bloodthirsty racket made by the rest of humanity, shooting a prayer out into diamond-speckled space farther and faster than any graceless hulk of materialist science-sculpture will ever be able to travel, so that the source of this immutable and ever-present good that I feel whilst praying will know I am here and that I have not forsaken the beauty of her natural arrangements.

When was That Moment in your life that told you you would become what you are? What happened?
That Moment has been the climax of virtually every prayer I have executed in during the course of my adult life, a re-occurring phenomenon which, when ranked against any other re-occurring phenomena, easily comes out to be the most preferable of all re-occurring phenomena. In every case, there was a literal climax. The most literal climax. The archetypal climax. Most of the time there’s more than one, and every person who joins in these kinds of devotions magnifies the scale of every climax (indeed, of the entire universe, which must expand to yet contain it) exponentially. Like the prophet says, “Wherever three or more are gathered in my name, I am there.” Group prayer is a holy ritual and people who are deprived of that experience cannot truly contemplate unity with anything but the foggiest approximation. Tragically misdirected violence gushes like a geyser of blood from the wounded psyches of these isolated creatures. That’s how you domesticate an animal— you put a rubber band around their nads and eventually they turn black and fall off.

How has your life changed or not changed to accommodate that moment's effect on you?
It’s pretty easy, I don’t need any equipment or particular environment of any kind, I can pray basically anytime, anywhere. And contact with that force to whom I feel so much gratitude— that immersion in, and merging with the source of mercy itself, with a fountain that never stops flowing, that has gentleness and mercy in quantities far more than sufficient for any and all who desire— it is necessary for me to experience this regularly, or else I begin to feel morbid, irritated, and rash. I’ve been sure to organize my life in such a way that material concerns can’t ever draw me too far away from my communion with the infinite, with the physical manifestation of (and material evidence of!) love.

How has your work affected your life in return?
It is probably the only thing in this universe that has stayed my hand the many times I’ve lost my patience with humanity and felt it necessary to fatality the whole species at once.

Please expound on your favorite book, movie, color and breed of dog or cat or horse.
I think EYES OF THE OVERWORLD by Jack Vance is maybe the best book. It’s about the future, when the sun shines much less brightly, and nobody knows how much longer til it goes completely out, and everyone’s a dick.

On a scale of one to ten, how hot is David Lee Roth at his hottest? What/ when is his hottest? What is ten?
Ten is when you see the person for the first time and you immediately start freaking out like Eddie Vedder at the end of the Jeremy video, shaking your head and doing the “Spo-o-whoaaa-ken” part and the “Woo wooo woo” part and the “Ay yay yay yay” part, all the parts near the end of the song. That’s ten, that’s what ten is all about.

His hottest was when he was nineteen years old, and on this scale he was maybe a 5.

Do you have anything you'd like to ask me?
How do you feel about techno?
Yes! What is techno? What constitutes the basis of techno? It seems to have so many attractive and ingenious variants. Fancy perky guises. Awful hideous manifestations. What accounts for how it can be so good and fun and so bad and irritating all at once, or if not all at once then how is it that elements closely related either gel or chafe. Good rave and bad rave are very close neighbors, why is that? The drugs?It seems to take so little to make something that is often lame truly exciting and interesting. By little I don't mean talent I mean tiny turns of electronic phrase, choice changes etc. Here's what I like: MJ Cole, Carl Craig, Mouse on Mars, Lo-Fi FNK, that French House stuff, Chili Hi Fly, Morgan Geist and the Environ 12" series so I really like Metro Area, plus Bolz Bolz, and Chicago dude Beige, oh man this is really making me miss WEEKEND. Do you remember that store in Chicago? Jim Magas would buy the music and his wife would make soap and bubble bath goo. What a field day. "Jim, whats the awesomest thing you've heard all week?" BLAM. Also at the time I was working for Thrill Jockey (2000 - 2002) so I was listening to a ton of Sonig stuff, Schlammpeitziger etc.
And then that at Robert Johnson in Frankfurt a DJ played a techno version of a Spyro Gyra song I used to listen to religiously at age 13. Almost puked from nostalgia and back-seat feelings. Who can get me that gig of the lady who sings one or two phrases over and over during the course of a song?

Rjyan can be found at
Top two photos by Rjyan, bottom orange-shorts photo from CEX Wikipedia page
he's on twitter too @cexmang ha ha ha

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