Coarse Language makes music for a blacklit Berlin bunker

Teenanger's Jon Schouten shares dubious info on his solo electronic project.

May 13, 2015

It’s tough to separate fact from fancy with the minimal information available on Toronto’s Coarse Language. Main brain Jon Schouten is best known around town as the guitar slinger for bratty garage-punks Teenanger, co-founder of the great Telephone Explosion Records, and the guy with the mischievous grin who you can see at live shows almost every night of the week. Teenanger have toyed with electronics, but with his solo offshoot, Schouten has reinvented himself as the skulking star of a fantasy 5 a.m. afterparty. Halfway between the pummelling EBM of Liaisons Dangereuses and the mindless mechanical monologues of John Bender, this is late night music for a blacklit Berlin bunker.

The bio released with Definite Hiatus, the debut Coarse Language release on Artificial Records (described as a demo), shares some similar imagery, yet it’s hard to nail down the origin of its narrator. “I want filth. I want to be filth. By 5 a.m., I’m still spotless. How lame. But that’s the new Berlin, notable for its utter lack of actual Berliners. These days it’s a city populated with the self-exiled overgrown American children of rich people — rich, but not wealthy — at least the wealthy have the common decency to get off by pissing in each others’ mouths. Not these hip little shits — students, DJs, ‘artists’, rock musicians — they just talk, talk, talk (about the wrong kind of shit).”

In our interview below, Schouten’s own biographical info is equally dubious. All anyone can know for sure is that he’s behind one of the most exciting new projects in the city, and has recently expanded it to a live duo with Gabe Knox, the DJ and electronic head who showed off his knowledge of Canadian synth music with this fantastic mix. Coarse Language is now gearing up for an upcoming LP on Artificial Records, so we chatted about the product’s beginnings, avoiding musical influences, and what’s coming next.

How and when did you become interested in electronic music?

I think it all started with my mom being a middle-aged club kid who worked at a strip joint and would go dancing when she could. She was always blasting everything from disco to techno. I definitely have the lyrics of most classic ’90s techno jams engrained in my brain.

Your debut EP is built on dark themes of dystopian future / body horror imagery, which match up really well with the ominous and paranoid sounding songs. What sorts of images or ideas did you have in mind?

I’m constantly thinking about how fucked up humans and humanity are… That’s just what I started to sing about.

What are hobby bodies?

Hobby bodies are what we live in every day. They will not last forever no matter what you do.

I brought up John Bender in comparison to this project and you told me you were consciously avoiding listening to things that could influence you. Why is that important to you?

I’m just trying to make something new without one specific influence, even though I realize that its impossible. It’s actually horrible because I feel like I miss out on a lot of new music because I’m constantly trying to avoid influence.

You’ve mentioned that the first EP was the product of learning how to write songs on your own with purely electronic means, while also learning how to record and mix. How have your methods changed or improved as you move forward?

The newer stuff is taking a lot longer to make. Primarily because my brain is growing and I’m hearing new things. I’m definitely not mixing the next one.

How has the project changed since it became a two-piece? Are you working together on the upcoming recordings?

Gabe is definitely a part of the live show and he’s been a great teacher of many things but Coarse Language is still just one person.

You’re also taking off on a European tour with Teenanger soon. What are you looking forward to on that trip?

Not driving. Not caring. Not thinking — all the shit that comes with normal North American touring.

Lastly, for anyone that doesn’t know, you’re one of the brains behind Telephone Explosion Records. What does the label have coming down the pipe?

Crosss, JFM, Mick Futures, Moss Lime, Soupcans and Bruce Haack.

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