Plasma Imports: Mystery Meat Podcast

Mystery Meat is a new experimental podcast sewn together, from audience submissions, by Justin Evans with help from Aaron Dawson, Annabelle Prince, Tom Vinson and Em Willy.  “Essentially, it’s a podcast where we take whatever audio people send us, manipulate it, and compile it into sound collages. Submitters don't have control over what we do with their audio, and we don't have control over what is sent to us to work with”, says Evans. The group bonded over their shared interest in experimental theater and radical forms of storytelling.

The Mystery Meat team draws on a wide array of surrealist influences from William S. Burroughs to Stephen Reich as well as the experimental musicianship of Laurie Spiegel. The real crux of the project settles on creating art that is worth a damn. Listening to Mystery Meat is to be exported to a different dimension. You never know what you’re going to get because they never know what they will receive. It’s very rare that the audience and producer’s relationship is tied so closely.

It's an interesting kind of experiment into the cultural subconscious/zeitgeist of our times, especially being submission based.  

“Yea, there's a democratic element of it to be sure. We also like it because it’s a less self-obsessed social media model.We want to give people credit, but no one is in charge of the final product completely. A lot of people might hear your voice, but you're not in control of the way your voice is heard. We're living in a world where we have a lot of control over the way we are perceived online, and there's a lot of ideas focusing on the empowerment of the individual, and we want to provide an alternative to that. We make Mystery Meat, but without submissions it wouldn't exist, and we have no interest in being in full control of it. We want to see what it becomes, and see what kind of relationships we can help to create between the audience and the podcast.”

How do y’all decide what material makes it into the next podcast?

“The 17th of every month we take what we received since the 17th of the previous month and turn it into an episode. What we decide to put in the episode can really depend. Some of it is just how interesting the recording is. Some of it is its potential to be manipulated.”

Mystery Meat just attended AtlAntiFest, which gathers artists in the experimental noise scene to showcase their bizarre sound machines which are many times home made instruments and synthesizers. MM brought their home own homemade jank tank which acts as a sensory deprivation tank to allow the sound collages to submerge the user.

How did the Jank Tank come about?

“We really wanted a presence outside the internet, and ways to introduce people to the podcast in novel ways that would surprise and intrigue them enough to help them to make the leap, cause this kind of stuff isn't too crazy for any art scenes, but it’s not what most people think they wanna listen to. So we didn't just want to hand people a pair of headphones.“

Image from Mystery Meat's Facebook

Image from Mystery Meat's Facebook

What is it? What kind of experience is it supposed to bring about?

There's a cushioned hole in the bottom you stick your head into and inside is a miniature nature scene, primitive drawings, and a page from a strange story about an orphaned seal that we found in a thrift store. Its sound insulated to give the participant a solitary experience away from whatever setting the tank is installed at. And inside we play portions of our sound collages.

The separation and solitary aspects are meant to inspire focus in the listeners, and the decorated interiors, playful and distinct from the sketchy looking exterior, are meant to create a sense of wonder and compartmentalization and childish open mindedness. We also just want people to feel safe, like in a little wooden womb.

Evans and his of audio conspirators received a warm welcome at AtlAntifest and expanded their audience reach. They recently attended the Charlotte Pub-crawl with their Jank Tank and it went over better than they could have imagined. The positive reception they’ve received is catapulting them into the new year. They have plans to perform some pre-recorded pieces at the Asheville FringeFest and plan on building several more Jank Tanks with different scenes to induce different mind melding experiences.

You can submit your own audio findings for mystery meat processing by emailing and check them out at website here.