BY MATT CARTER
Choosing to call yourself a word that is omnipresent in society and technology can have its drawbacks, but for Portland’s Marius Libman that choice hasn’t been an obstacle to his success. “It’s hard to know how much the name gives people trouble when trying to find my music or social media presence,” he claims, “but I hear from people that they have had a hard time finding me.”
Around town it can be just as difficult to sniff out the local electronic producer – he blends in well as a casual record store regular, or that unpretentious bassist in a local indie art rock band. But under the name Copy, Libman is clearly in the public eye, which is why he was named Best New Band in 2006 by the Willamette Week. His first album, Mobius Beard was an introduction into prismatic synth lines, tight hip hop influenced beats, and the Gen-Y nostalgia for when your parents bought you a new Nintendo cartridge from Toys R Us.
“The video game/chip tune comparisons caught me by surprise,” he states when asked about the 8-bit sounds on his albums. “I never tried to reference that stuff, though I’m sure the sub-conscious influence is there. I was born in 1980, so I spent my formative years playing NES games.” But mentally Libman isn’t visualizing joysticks and pixellated graphics when we writes, he’s much more of a mathematical thinker than a conceptual one. When asked what appears in his mind while making Copy albums, he says, “Hmm, hard to describe, kind of overlapping lattices,patterns on top of patterns interlocking and layering on top of each other.”
All of the aforementioned elements of Mobius Beard can be found on the fourth Copy album Chalice Agenda, which has been a long time coming due to his commitments playing bass in the band Sun Angle and synthesizer in the improv electronic group Regular Music. But when not playing in local bands, Libman keeps busy in other ways, like releasing bootleg CDs with remixed material from big names in Hip Hop and R&B. Entitled The Pied Piper of Electro, his last remix album was a compilation of R. Kelly songs and was given away for free with a pre-order of his 2010 album Hard Dream.
“Hip Hop has always been a very big influence on me, and I used to do Hip Hop production for some local MCs before I released my first Copy record. I still listen to a lot of Rap because it’s a good place to find interesting production,” explains Libman. “It suffers from the same me-too trend-following that is a problem with modern electronic music in general, where you find huge swaths of producers with styles that are indistinguishable from one another, but there’s still a lot of really good stuff out there.”
Fortunately, Libman’s own production work does not suffer from the homogeneity of modern Rap and electronic music. In 2008 he remixed Ratatat’s “Falcon Jab” which was a sharp and easily distinguishable treatment of sweeping bass and a mesmerizing synth hook. Since then other invitations to remix have followed, including a remix of Portland’s own STRFKR, with them in-turn remixing the Copy track “Can You Smell It.”
Portland isn’t particularly well-known for its local electronic music scene, and for someone like Libman this means being a big fish in a pond that is highly dynamic. He straddles both rock music and the world of electronic production, a task that can often leave him feeling caught between the two.
“When I first moved to Portland, there were only a few people I knew of: E*Rock, Strategy, Solenoid, and a few others who were really active in building the electronic music scene locally. Becoming involved myself in the early to mid-2000s, I became friends with those guys, but nowadays there are a ton of prominent local producers I don’t know at all,” he admits. “I feel a little detached from the scene honestly, at least partly because I’d mostly been performing in the rock band Sun Angle for the past few years, but it seems like there’s a lot of cool stuff happening locally, which is exciting.”
With Chalice Agenda about to drop on May 15th, it will undoubtedly reintroduce Copy to the world, being that he has been away for five years and fans could use a reminder of what makes him noteworthy among his contemporaries. “I kind of look at Chalice Agenda as the last entry in a series of iteration on the aesthetic I started exploring in my first record,” he explains.
In the end it all comes down to the name. While his other titles were either a pun or a some stylized statement about the tone of the record, this one is a clear declaration of ascension. Whereby, the artist gives us something that solidifies his legacy, yet draws the title from an unlikely, even humorous, source.
“The name came from a joke about what to name a friend’s soon to be born child. I was with a group of friends and we were drinking at Tiga and coming up with stupid but half-believable child names, and both ‘Chalice’ and ‘Agenda’ came up. I was struggling to come up with a title for the record at the time, and out of context Chalice Agenda has a weird kind of oblique and epic vibe that I liked.”
Preview “Chalice Agenda” and be sure not to miss the release party for the album on May 16th at Mississippi Studios.