Bonnie Baxter is a New York musician who has thus far been best known for her moody electronic pop project Shadowbox, but she’s lately taken a very dark turn with her newer project Kill Alters. Their debut tape, released by Godmode, is a raw, almost traumatizing listen—clear touchstones include but are not limited to industrial, glitch, and harsh noise—and the project’s sounds and images are largely culled from audio and video tapes recorded over the course of decades by Baxter’s mother.
Her mom, you see, has long suffered from OCD and Tourette’s Syndrome, and used obsessive recording as a coping mechanism. So devoted to the endeavor was she that she even continued making recordings while living in a shelter. Baxter’s discovery of the trove of tapes—some of which include sounds and images of her infant and childhood self—led directly to her embarking on the Kill Alters project, as she related to us in a telephone conversation:
It started when I came upon some tapes of my mother, she documented her life, and our life. She started in the late ‘70s, and there were a lot of tapes from the ‘80s and a few from the ‘90s. So I started listening. A lot of the early stuff deals with sadness, loneliness.
She started developing tics at 9, and learned that she had Tourette’s when she was 11 or 12, but they didn’t really didn’t understand what it was. Before she got diagnosed she got teased a lot because she made noises, and people said she was possessed. She got taken out of school when she was maybe 13, 14, the school system couldn’t deal with it. So on some of the early tapes, she was 15 or 16 and she was just screaming, but trying to hide her screams behind blaring radio or running water, because she was one of ten kids—seven girls, three boys—and they lived on an island in the Caribbean. So no privacy! So there are these tapes of her screaming, and it’s scary because it goes on for a long time, like a full tape of this. And that kind of scared me a little at first.
But she recorded everything—fights, phone calls, singing, dancing, crying, yelling at my dad…and when I started going through the stuff, I don’t know, maybe I’m detached from it, but I started laughing at a lot of it, thinking “oh, this is cool, this looks really weird,” but then some of my friends told me “yeah, that’s a little fucked up.”
Continues after the jump…