Gabriel Piller Talks Knife in the Toaster Records and How Performance Can Alter What You Play

"I was finding the audience would influence what I had in mind for what I wanted to do. And I didn’t like that."

You may recognize Gabriel Piller as one of the friendly faces at Fred’s Records.

That’s how I met him! He’s been my Drag City hookup for a couple of years now, and is often a great source for gems I’ve never heard of. One day he passed me some cassette tapes to check out. I loved them. Turns out he also runs a label, and the tapes were a sample of his wares. We met up in Bannerman Park to talk about it.

JOANNA: Could you introduce yourself for us please?

GABRIEL: My name is Gabriel Piller, I am the owner and operator of Knife In The Toaster which is a small print Record Label. I release a lot of different genres kind of under the umbrella of Experimental Music that has run the gamut of things from very theoretical, very heady non-music all the way up to things that could be described as Alternative.

JOANNA: Do you plan on keeping Knife In The Toaster a 1-person operation?

GABRIEL: Yeah, it mostly is. I have a little bit of help from a collaborator in Belgium, Joeri Bruyninckx, who has
been doing Noise.

JOANNA: What release are you working on right now?

GABRIEL: We just released a tape by a Polish duo. It’s sort of ambient, I suppose. It’s kind of an odd duck. There’s also a solo tape of mine called “Loops for Gerard”. I’ve got a few tapes that will be out in the new year, including some stuff from Thee Crumb and Seagull.

JOANNA: Are there any artists that you day-dream about working with?

GABRIEL: Oh yeah I have a list. The one at the top right now is this Danish saxophone player Mette Rasmussen who is just incredible. But that’s the kind of thing that needs a bit more money behind it. I cut and fold everything by hand. I do 99% of everything myself. I duplicate every release individually. I don’t pay a duplicator. So working with her would be a dream come true but in some ways a nightmare too. I’ve been lucky to work with a lot of really great artists. There’s this great group from Hamilton called Fossils and I’ve done a ton of stuff for that band and their related projects over the years and they’re really great guys who put out consistently good stuff so I’m pretty happy.

JOANNA: You are on the label as an artist as well. Can you talk to us about your work? Do you perform much?

GABRIEL: Yeah sure. I’ve changed names a lot. I’m trying different things, and different sounds, so I guess I see it as taking on different personas. Maybe that’s kind of pretentious. I don’t know. But it helps to differentiate. I don’t love performing in front of people. I find it pretty nerve wracking. I was finding the audience would influence what I had in mind for what I wanted to do. And I didn’t like that. What I’m doing isn’t geared towards audience participation, I don’t think anyway. So I don’t want to be aware of the audience to any degree. I’ve been putting a blanket over myself. It lets me concentrate and follow through with what I’m going to do. The last time I made a blanket fort and that’s what I’ve been calling my performances.

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