Interview: JeRm La Haine — On Transhuman Unit and his new project IAIO
h+: Hi good morning, I’m here talking with JeRm La Haine, founder of music act Transhuman Unit.
JeRm, can you just say a few words about who you are and what you are doing?
Jerm La Haine: I’ve been doing music production and graphic design for just under twenty years now. Currently I’ve been getting lots of positive attention for my new record label Collective Conscious Records.
I started the record label because I wasn’t happy with any of the offers i got from other record labels. It’s a way I can release my own stuff on my own terms. After the first couple releases people started getting interested in the label. I’ve even started working out deals with some artists. I recently released a few tracks with Lonnie Dangerous and Collective Conscious Records is getting ready to release an album by Young Boy Hybrid. Currently Collective Conscious Records has eighteen releases available and we have several more on the way this year.
h+: You are part of a number of different groups including Transhuman Unit. Can you tell me a bit about how TU in particular got started?
JLH: I just started writing some material while I was in my previous band DV8RZ. When that band split I decided to release the material I had been writing just to see what people thought of it. I didn’t really expect too much, but i ended up getting a really positive response from people.
h+: How did you first hear about transhumanism?
JLH: I’ve always been a fan of science fiction literature and film. Things like robotics and computer science has always been interesting to me as well. I’m not sure where I first heard the term transhumanism, but the whole idea or concept seems to have always been a part of my life because of my interests.
h+: Transhuman Unit explores are dark side theme, exploring a possible dystopian future. Is this the probable future you imagine?
JLH: I think that there is a possibility that things could go either way. We could just as likely work our way into a beautiful utopia where technology, humanity and nature are more balanced at the very least. Currently I don’t think we are in a very good state. Some areas of our world could be seen as very dystopian, couldn’t they? They could potentially get worse if aspects of life aren’t changed.
With my music I kinda focus on that. When I got to the point where I had a few songs, but I didn’t have any lyrics I thought to myself, what should I say? So I began just writing my thoughts and about my interests. This is just what came out. This sort of psychedelic warning of some potential terrible future I guess.
h+: Can you list some influences whether books, music, artists, etc.?
JLH: I guess some of my biggest creative influences would be films like Ghost In The Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Lawnmower Man, Robocop, Blade Runner, Hackers, The Matrix, stuff like that. Movies that kinda play with the idea of potential dystopian or even utopian future. Musically I think some of my biggest influences would be Ministry, Massive Attack, Fear Factory, Android Lust, Front Line Assembly, David Bowie and the bug among others. I also feel comic books really influence me creatively. The visuals and the storylines both. I often listen to music while i read so I sort of create a soundtrack for my reading sessions. I still have a collection even at my old age.
h+: You create music as well as producing visual art. Can you summarize the various artistic projects you are currently involved with?
JLH: Currently my main musical project is IAIO. A duo of myself and Shawn Bowen. We have released several singles including our debut Transhumanism Suspended. We are currently working on our first full length album it should be out by next winter. Once the product for the IAIO album is wrapped up Ill begin production on the next Transhuman Unit album.
I also do graphic design for Astral Vision Design. I often do album art for other bands, but I have also done artwork for video games as well as film. Currently I’m working with a few start up companies helping them with branding, but all of that is just sort of my day job I guess.
h+: Tell me about the new project a bit more. What is Transhumanism Suspended about?
JLH: IAIO started when I met Shawn Bowen online. I heard his other band Didges Christ SuperDrum and really liked them so I asked about remixing a track for them. I ended up doing a couple remixes and then before we knew it Shawn and I began creating original works of our own and decided that what we wanted to share what we are making with people.
“Transhumanism Suspended is about the fact that instead of using technology for the intention of Transhumanism we seem to be using it to actually de-evolve and de-humanize society in general.”- Shawn Bowen
h+: You currently are living in Bakersfield, out in the central valley of California. The area isn’t known for cutting edge arts and culture or technology. Can you comment on the scene in Bakersfield and beyond and how being outside the big city environment influences what you do?
JLH: I actually live in Tehachapi, Ca. Its a little rural mountain town about 45 minutes outside of Bakersfield. There isn’t even a computer store out here. It’s madness, but then again we do have the internet and I can order anything I want and have it delivered (by a drone soon) so it does’t really effect me too much. I really have nothing to do with the scene. I did in the early 90s into the early 2000s. It was the only real way at the time to network, collaborate and share your work with others. I’m glad I got to experience it really. It made me who I am, I guess you could say. But once the internet really took off and social networks became a part of everyones live things kinda shifted to a new way. Shawn lives in Florida and I live in a tiny Southern California town and we are constantly collaborating on art and music projects nearly every day. When we have something we really dig on, we just share it online on Facebook and the Collective Conscious bandcamp. It’s great. We can work really fast and we can release the stuff we make just as quickly. As far as my area influencing me. I guess living in a big city and then moving to a rural area has made me realize I prefer being in a quiet slow paced sort of environment. I’m a very calm, quiet, reserved kind of person. I like studying and working in isolation. The city is great to visit, check out museums, shops, go see a band play, that sort of thing, but I really prefer the quiet life. I’m a much happier and more productive person living in this sort of area.
h+: Regarding the name of your new project IAIO, a name of God, and the use of the Cross of Lorraine, the emblem of the Knights Templar, can you comment on the religious significance (if any) to you of these names and symbols? Are you aware of the growing movement of Christian Transhumanism? How does this tie in with transhumanism and the techno-future aspect for you?
JLH: I hadn’t heard of Christian Transhumanism until today. I guess my personal religious beliefs would be on the optimistic side of agnostic. I think there is something that we can’t define beyond this I guess. The symbolism really has multiple meanings. To me, music is my religion in a way. It’s my way of life. It is part of who I am. So calling the band “god” or using a cross as the symbol of the music is just me saying that this is my “bible” this is my “faith” so to speak. The way this ties in with technology is this, I really think it is important that we keep morality in science. I love science, its a very big part of my life, but we have to make sure we hold on to our “humanity” while we work our toward whatever objective we are trying to reach.
At the same time many artists that sound the way I do or create art similar to mine sort of focus on the negative too much, they use satanic imagery and lyrics, that sort of thing and I wanted people to know that I have nothing to do with that sort of thing. Though some of the lyrics in my songs could possibly be seen as being negative, they are more a sort of warning or maybe some sort of self criticism and I hope people see it as that and not as something sinister.
Listen to Transhuman Unit and IAIO