We've been meaning to get Eloise here on the Zine for a while - from checkerboard cake to Renaissance Pizza she's been creating the daily posts of the last few months and now hosts her own show that goes by the title New Age Rage. A graphic designer by trade she's behind the record sleeves for San Franciso based label Dark Entries and more - check out her website Eloise Leigh and tune in once a month on Thursdays from 5-7pm for the "rage hour"...
Hi Eloise! first of all we have to thank you for all your hard work and dedication to BCR, it's been great having you on board and we hope you're enjoying it - how's life in Berlin?
It’s been quite a ride so far, and despite some challenges, is a move I have zero regrets about. The progressive music culture here was definitely my gateway into being interested in Germany. I’m also drawn towards environments that aren’t too perfect or predictable, which is everywhere in the industrial aesthetic and abandoned leftovers of this once-divided city. Also the travel potential to see the rest of Europe, and the lifestyle that people can still afford to have here even if working in volatile creative industries was a dream compared to where I was coming from.
Are you missing anything from life in San Francisco?
San Francisco was A LOT of work! Ok and play too. But working full-time in publishing, an extremely demanding industry, plus trying to have a life outside of work, and having both my job and hobbies depend on being constantly creative, was a perfect recipe for burnout and exhaustion. It did lead to amazing people and projects tho, and nothing really compares to having everything from oceans to deserts as weekend getaway options year-round, super diverse communities and the food and culture that brings, and California levels of sun and chilling out.
Now that you're hosting a show at the station we're getting a peek into your music tastes as well as design, would you say there's a connection between the two? Looking at some of your projects for children and heavy acid tracks on New Age Rage, what's going on there :)
Yes, I totally see how confusing it is to have playful Children’s projects in my portfolio alongside dark industrial records! I guess it is reflective of having opposing personalities…not officially diagnosed as schizo or anything, but I have a side that can be silly and juvenile and take nothing seriously, and a side that can be super introverted and aggro and dark. I think design and music experiences are where those opposing energies battle it out internally for me, and also balance each other in a necessary way so that by the time I deal with people externally I’m pretty calm. Representing those opposing energies via music is also what New Age Rage is about. All I know is that I’ve had some of my best creative breakthroughs for Children’s projects happen while listening to the harshest, most intense music I own, so there must be something to that!
Can you tell us how you started working with Dark Entries and how you go about the designs for the records - any favourite releases and covers?
Ok I have a truly full-circle answer that attests to the cultural value of community radio. I was casually listening to a random show playing on a pirate radio station that used to be around the corner from where I lived in SF in 2009. This song “Anyway” by O.T.O. came on and I literally dropped everything I was doing because it embodied all I wanted to hear at the time. I got sucked into an online research wormhole that eventually led me to find the show Minimal Wave on East Village Radio, a well-known meeting point for anyone into underground synth music. I fell instantly in love with the music and craved it, wishing there was something similar in SF happening around it. Well one day I was streaming the show and a guest came on who said he ran the label Dark Entries Records based in SF! I knew I had to connect with him somehow so just contacted him and offered my design services as a hopeful way to get involved. Josh was instantly amazing and responsive and the timing was perfect to find that community and help grow it.
Dark Entries was a new label too and open to experimentation. Releases were often originally recorded in the 1970s-1990s, and for me this is also a golden period of graphic design. I am forever in awe of art created between photocopiers and early computer graphics. When designing the records or accompanying materials, Josh and I are equally die-hard about honoring the original vision of the musicians and DIY era the music came from. Sometimes it is just a matter of reproducing the original design as cleanly and accurately as possible. Other times we will have only a faded photo or cassette texture to work with, so other visuals have to be built from scratch with graphics sourced from vintage zines or flea market finds or illustrated by hand. For earlier releases we’d screenprint stuff, fold everything by hand, regularly visit this recycling center called S.C.R.A.P. to buy out discarded paper with strange colors and diecuts and design truly one-of-a-kind inserts with whatever we found. We still try to do this but the sheer volume of releases now makes it impossible to be as perfectly DIY about it every time. But the love and respect for that process is always there.
Some really special releases to me are Dark Day - Window and the zine we made to accompany it, the Bay Area Retrograde (BART) compilations which are a culmination of so much music and graphic treasure-hunting and gathering, and the latest Psychic TV - Alien Be-In release, also a culmination of music and aesthetics for me personally.
Back to your show, have you done radio before and how did you get the idea for it?
Yeah, I have to give credit to my college radio station KDVS 90.3FM at the University of California - Davis. Being involved with that was as essential to my education there as any classes were. I co-hosted an experimental show during the Friday night graveyard shift, kind of the epitome of college radio now that I think about it. So I have a soft spot for community radio and as soon as I found out there was a station in Berlin with the same values…well you know the rest!
New Age Rage reflects where I come from musically; before the aggro industrial phase, there was new age. My parents often played Yanni and Kitaro and all the rest, I had an art teacher that played Enya on repeat, I took yin-yangs and my chosen power stone of hematite very seriously in my early teens growing up in the deep forest suburbs of Seattle. I didn’t realize these experiences were part of a larger cultural movement until years later. So NAR is rooted in that, but not meant to just represent classic new age music. Hence the “Rage” part accommodates the mix of influences that I’m responding to. Going back to yin-yangs, the first hour is more like the “yin” hour, meant for fluid, deeper listening, while the second “yang” hour is meant for more cathartic, rhythmic, primal release and crosses into dark ambient, noise, doom metal, industrial, EBM and psytrance. I will be the first to admit some of what I play is super cheesy! But hopefully some listeners will enjoy the nostalgia of these opposing expressions which share the same underlying epic, atmospheric, transportive quality that defines the New Age aesthetic to me, that seeking to connect with universal spiritual forces and sort out one’s consciousness whether relaxed or raging.