"AN ATTRACTION TO THINGS THAT EMANATE DARKNESS, CONFUSION AND OTHERNESS" - 11 QUESTIONS WITH MATT MINTER
Roger- Where are you from and where did you grow up? Can you tell me about your childhood and teenage years?
Matt- I’m from and grew up in Lexington, KY. I have pretty nostalgic memories of my childhood between ages three and four, before I had to start going to school. After kindergarten my parents put me in Catholic school, and I look at that time like an eight year prison sentence. Certain family members wonder why my creative output is dark, as if Catholicism isn’t thematically fucked.
I had to put my foot down when my parents wanted to send me to Catholic high school. They mercifully caved and let me attend public. I wonder how much more hate-fueled and dysfunctional I would have become had they not backed off. I can’t really recall anything particularly interesting about my teenage years. I just watched a lot of Beavis and Butthead.
Roger- When did you get into making visual art and what prompted you to do so?
Matt- I think I had serious desires to be an artist when I was six. I was encouraged by two older brothers who also made visual art. I started out by drawing A LOT of Garfield. I had genuine aspirations of approaching Jim Davis on his death bed and taking over the strip after he died.
Roger- I believe when we first met was in the late nineties/early 2000’s in Lexington, KY. We were both involved in a lot of music projects, the radio station and underground scene at the time. Do you feel this time made a deep impact on you as an individual?
Matt- Yeah, I would definitely say WRFL built the foundation for which all my creative endeavors and long lasting friendships would be based. I think my present creative output has more to do with my experience at the station than with my academic education at the time—save for one genuinely supportive teacher.
Roger- You started the project Wretched Worst around 2008. What brought on the idea?
Matt- The name Wretched Worst was a joke that I did not intend on becoming the name of the band. I didn’t intend on naming the band nor did I plan on being in charge of its creative output. My memory is you started out being the main songwriter; after you left, I raised my hand because no one else wanted the job (yes, I was in WW briefly as drummer and lyricist, ed.). The band basically grew into its name; and with that, so did the rest of my creative output. I was doing flier and album art on top of song direction. So Wretched Worst started out as a dumb joke, and I think I maintained that line of thinking throughout the band’s run. Self-loathing mixed with bad comedy.
Roger- Are you still making any sound stuff?
Matt- I have been working with sound a bit on my own. I’ve been wanting to work more with video, so I’ve been creating soundtracks through crude tape manipulation. I used these for a series of short commercials to show off my merch. At some point I would like to invest in a synthesizer and expand into actual songwriting. Wretched Worst unexpectedly recorded a new track for a compilation, so I plan on using that for my next video.
Roger- Your art is seemingly informed by horror, fetish and outsider trash culture. How did you end up on this path?
Matt- I didn’t really get into horror until my early twenties, but I feel like it managed to penetrate my mind at an early age. My earliest nightmare feels like a legitimate childhood memory. I was not allowed to watch R-rated movies, but I would look at all the vicious VHS boxes at my grocery’s video section. I watched Night of the Living Dead at a slumber party and was shook by its ruthlessness. When the first Child’s Play came out, I was completely horrified by the commercials. In my mind, the film depicted Chucky brutally stabbing women and children to death.
By the time I was in high school, I had developed the attitude that horror was kind of cheap and dumb. It wasn’t until my early 20s that I started to grow a deep appreciation. This happened primarily through the encouragement of one of our WRFL alumni, Mike Connelly (Noisextra, Overload, Yellow Gas Flames, Clay Rendering, etc.). My appreciation of fetish and trash culture also grew through this association, and through our friendship with Ross Wilbanks. We were all pretty obsessed with noise and everything underground. A lot of exposure to fetish/sleaze art and photography came out of listening to noise. I don’t think my attraction and utilization of these elements is anything unique. I just think I have an attraction to things that emanate darkness, confusion and otherness. Whatever.
Roger- Have you ever had any criticism of the violent/sexual subject matter behind your work? If so, what is your response to that?
Matt- I do periodically. I had a peer that wanted to stop associating with me because of my art. We had a decent conversation and managed to rectify any ill feelings. I had the brilliant idea of going back to school, but was advised that my current work was too high risk for a lawsuit. I’m perfectly fine with hearing out someone’s criticism; I have tried to take people’s opinions and feelings into consideration as much as possible. I’m confident that everyone who knows me personally also considers me a decent person. I’m not out to be a troll and cause trauma with my work. But, you know, I can’t please everyone. I know my audience is limited; but limited audiences tend to be the rad ones, and I’m never going to deny myself from doing what I’m passionate about.
Roger- What other artists inspire you?
Matt- There was a point in my mid twenties where I had lost all confidence in my creative abilities. When I became friends with Irene Moon, she invited me to join her project Auk Theatre. I think that collaborative period really helped me to work through the insecurities I was having at the time, and kind of directed the future of my work.
I’ve condensed my stronger influences into a fairly concrete list: Raymond Pettibon, Patrick Nagel, Henry Darger, Suzy Poling, and Jean Rollin. I think those artists have had the most impact on where my work is at today.
Roger- What have you been watching lately?
Matt- I recently watched Mansion of the Doomed, a movie about people sitting in a cage with gaping eye wounds. This got pretty gross and depressing, even for me. I pictured myself watching this on TV as a kid and questioning if I really wanted to live past childhood.
I also just rewatched Paganini Horror, which is about an all female Bon Jovi tribute band turning the music of Paganini into outstanding italo pop. Paganini eventually shows up dressed as Blade from Puppet Master.
Roger- What is in the future for your work?
Matt- I’ve been piling up some commission work, most of which I can't share yet. T-shirts, label/album art, a contribution to a comic. I’m also contributing some programming to a New York theater in the very near future. It won’t be original content, more like a found video mix; formatted as a Worse Than Jail TV show.
Roger- Do you adhere to any type of spiritual practice and does spirituality/occultism play any role in your work?
Matt- I’ve never considered myself a spiritual person. The best way I can describe my method of working is utter chaos haha. Very rarely do I begin a project with a solid plan in mind. I think my approach borders more on cut-up or collage. I’ll draw a lot of elements, then frankenstein them into something. When I shoot video, I no longer bother with a script or storyboard; I just write down a list of shot ideas and assume they’ll cut together. All of this is an attempt to achieve an uncanny result; I feel if I plan too much, the product will be easy to figure out and ultimately boring. The closest I think I get to spiritual/occult practice is a sense of magic I feel when I’m happy with the results.
Roger- Thanks so much for answering my questions. It has been so nice catching up. Best of luck with your future endeavors!