Christian Filardo: Avant-Garde "Has to Have Some Sense of Humor"
Christian Filardo is a local fixture in some ways. The 21-year-old is known as a noise musician, currently under the moniker Baseball Cap, and as an intermedia artist. He also is the founder of Holy Page Records, a record label that mostly releases cassettes of any music he finds interesting, ranging from indie pop to harsh noise to black metal. More recently, he's gained recognition as a curator of a DIY museum housed in two sheds in his backyard. In his not-so-distant past, he was known for his experimentations with "Dunkwave."
I say that he's only a local fixture in some ways because he'll be leaving Phoenix this summer to pursue new opportunities in Baltimore. I talked with him recently about his current projects, his past works, and the future.
You've transitioned in your solo noise efforts from being Good Amount to "Christian Filardo" to Baseball Cap. Is there a difference? Where is the line drawn between them?
I'd say Good Amount was pretty exploratory, soundwise. It was anywhere from hard-synth to black metal to ambient to experimental electronic looping. It was basically anything. And then "Christian Filardo" was more weirdo guitar stuff, and Baseball Cap is only pedals. Its all pedals and wire contact and that's it. It's stripped down to only one thing at this point. Pushing one thing to the extreme. For me, it's the first New Surrealist project that I've been doing, which is based on the New Surrealism manifesto I wrote.
Can you explain New Surrealism?
New Surrealism basically says that everything that happens in the present was created in the subconscious of someone in the future. It goes the same for the past. Everything that happens in the past, you currently dream in the present. Our dreams right now are creating the things we read about in textbooks.
You could say it's like an excuse to basically do and say whatever you want and have it be an excuse because someone else in the future thought of it and you're just a result of that. Like, what you do has no consequence, because you can take authorship or you can reject it based on this theory.
And you choose to take authorship?
I choose to just totally mess it all up. Like, it's basically pretend profound. It's like really wordy and really heady, but, ultimately, it's not anything. It's just extreme headiness to the point where it's not heady anymore. It's just goofy. Just try to think of the guy the dadaists and surrealists would hate, and that's what I'm trying to make. That guy. Like, the enemy of those guys. But he doesn't dislike them; he's just, like, annoying to them. He's a pest.
Maybe you've done this with other projects, but I've noticed recently with Baseball Cap's Facebook feed there is a lot of tongue-in-cheek satire of art and commercialism and the information age in general. How do you think that fits in with your aims for Baseball Cap as well as New Surrealism?
It's a major part. Pop culture is definitely major, in the sense that I think the idea of an experimental, avant-garde noise project being commercialized to the point of no return, like, "Give me a pizza sponsorship" or "Give me my own shoe" is funny. I started hearing of, like, bands getting their own sneakers and shit like that. Vans does something like that. A couple of bands have their own sneakers.
That should be a part of every weirdo movement. Every weirdo movement needs major sponsorship and has to be funny. Like, I feel if you are an extreme artist in any way, you have to have some sense of humor.
Art humor is always taken out of art. For people in the fine art world, if something is funny, it's not serious enough to be good art. I feel the exact opposite way. The funnier to me it is, the better it is.
What would your ideal sponsorship or sponsorships be?
I think something that would be really funny to be sponsored by would be a band-aid company. Like, if you're wounded, you could have the official Baseball Cap band-aid. Or maybe, like, a pen. A stamp. A commemorative stamp of me would be cool. Any sort of safety gear would be cool, like a helmet.
It's like there's a desire to be protective or maybe comforting.
Yeah. I feel like with all my art I want to be lighthearted. To a certain extent, I don't think people can do what I do. But I think everyone has it in them to do something profound. Musically, it's not anti-aim -- it's not aimless -- but it's very meandering. It's sort of profound in its moments, and that's kind of how I feel like art making is.
Like, the best song on an an album can be a profound moment, but then there are, like, nine other songs on there. Maybe they're profound, too, but they are less profound or something.
I want to talk to you about Holy Page. The label is almost two years old?
I think it's almost three, actually.
And you've done something around 50 releases?
Yeah. 50 physical releases and then there's probably around 40 other digital things.
When you started out, did you intend for it to be such a prolific thing?
I didn't intend for that to happen, but it's kind of how everything I do is. I'd say I'm very prolific. I feel like with Holy Page the difference is that, early on, the vision of it changed, but I wanted the aesthetic of it to stay the same. So, I had this really prolific way of releasing all this free digital music that I wanted to transfer into the realm of not free physical music, so I felt like that pace really needed to stay the same because we live in a digital age.
The thing is, new music to me is music that I haven't heard, and that's what makes it new. I don't think an album made in 1980 that I've never heard before is any less new than a new Vampire Weekend record or something. I'm prolific with it because of that. I think there's always a time and place for every kind of music for every given person.
What releases that you put out on Holy Page do you have a particular attachment to or are really proud of?
I have a big attachment to the Lusitania release. I never worked with anything in that sort of genre, any sort of metal. Metal has such a shroud of illusion around it, and working on that, for me, proved that metal is just like any other genre. It basically de-genrefied everything for me. Music is just music and genres exist to define it but don't constrain the accessibility of it.
The Ed Askew release was really awesome for me because I am a huge fan of Ed's and it was really important for me to do that. Same thing with the Ever Ending Kicks stuff. The same when I first released, like, local heroes: James Fella is, like, my dude. Stephen Steinbrink is, like, my dude. And, of course, releasing my brother's stuff is amazing. I could go on. I try not to put out anything I don't like.
I think you should try putting out something you don't like.
I almost did that, but then I decided not to. Because, you know, with the label stuff, if you get offered to do a release that could make you some bank, you can put out a couple of other releases. It's always that weird sacrifice.
You will be moving soon. I want to ask, as you part from Phoenix, could you leave any parting advice as to what the scene should do and what the scene shouldn't do.
I think what's so rad about Phoenix is the fact that it's kind of its own zone. Like, lots of people like to say that Phoenix is like L.A., that it's like L.A. [that's] 10 minutes behind or something, but I think it's so weird here. You're always getting surprised by something. I would say you should support your own venues.
There's a lot of places that don't have good venues. If someone's gonna let you play your dumb music there, try to be as open as possible, because I feel like when you start to be not as open anymore, you start to suck. Be as open as possible. I feel like that question's always imminent with stuff like this.
Yeah, it's not quite an outright "why are you leaving?"
If that's the question, I'm just leaving because I need to change. And, like, I think this place is tight and I'll always be from here, but I just need to go at a different pace. I'm just trying to keep it real for me.
You can catch Christian Filardo performing as Baseball Cap at the Trunk Space on Tuesday, May 21, along with Gay Kiss, James Fella, and Angelo Harmsworth. 7:30 p.m. All ages.
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