In Conversation With AC Carter, the artist behind Lambda Celsius

Words by Lindsey Anderson
Photos by Alexa Rivera

AC Carter is the mind behind Lambda Celsius, a vehicle for AC to question and challenge the various rules and regulations that exist in society. With DJ assistance from Alexa, a virtual assistant, AC performs in a karaoke set up in hand-made costumes, speaking from a post punk ethos highlighting gender inequality and the passivity of the stereotyped gendered voice.” (bio courtesy of artist’s website)

Lambda Celsius caught Tom Tom’s attention in June with their single ‘Get Out’ from the upcoming album Ana Echo and the Beauty of Indifference. The track was an unforgettable sonic experience that left us wanting to know more about AC.  Ana Echo and the Beauty of Indifference marks Lambda Celsius’ second album and Tom Tom took some time to chat with AC about the album, the creation of Lambda Celsius and what they’ve learned while making this album.

What was it about music that piqued your interest? Were there any roadblocks that initially prevented you from seeing music as something you could pursue?
Something about the pop artist/icon was always fascinating to me because it seemed that they created their entire image. Of course when you get older, you see that there’s an entire team of people that assists in creating the pop artist’s image & while collaboration is great, I still think it’s exciting to be able to produce all the different elements yourself. As a kid I always imagined being a pop star but I didn’t really have the confidence or wherewithal to really do that; I grew up in a town that really looks down upon difference in all capacities so I grew an insecurity that prevented me from seeing myself as a music maker.

I know you make clothes as well; when did you get into costume design?
I got into costume design as a kid; I’d make these dolls and characters….which at the time I didn’t even realize but the characters I created didn’t have genders, so I made these gender-less people that became personal icons that I aspired to be. Actually, the drive I had to make those characters as a kid has carried over to my work as a sculpture grad in that I still strive to make costumes for this character that does not ascribe to gender specificity.

Where do you pull inspiration from when you’re making clothes for Lambda Celsius?
I pull from conceptual artists or artists that are highly formal in their use of color, shape, form & their disruption of where art can be exhibited. I think about artists like Isa Genzken, Jessica Stockholder & Rachel Harrison; these artists do a lot of work around bridging the gap between high & low forms of art-specifically sculpture-based & assemblage. I think visually that’s where my interests are because I’m really interested in making very theatrical, spacey, pseudo-industrial garments.

How did Lambda Celsius come to be? What moment(s) led you to deciding what this entity will be?
It’s still somewhat in process; I’m still trying to figure out who the identity of Lambda Celsius is. In some ways Lambda Celsius allows me to investigate a number of personalities. I think using the karaoke setup allows me the space to investigate the choreography, the pose and disruptions of gender norms through a more theatrical presentation rather than a purely musical one. For awhile I was playing all the parts live with a DX7 piano, bass guitar and drum machine; but I wasn’t very interested in the musicianship. In some ways, I don’t think of myself as a musician; more so a musical performance artist.

In addition to art, you bring influence from literature. What books were you reading while creating ‘Ana Echo and the Beauty of Indifference?’
I was reading ‘I love Dick’ by Chris Kraus; it’s so funny! I was also reading this book on Marcel Duchamp which while reading, I asked myself ‘Why am I reading this?’; I don’t really align with his feelings in relation to art-making and therefore had a difficult time with the text. Duchamp has this quote that’s along the lines of ‘If you’re indifferent to the art, you can actually make it’; and I’m just more interested in a process that isn’t devoid of feeling. I was also listening to a lot of audiobooks; one book I listened to was ‘Girl In A Band’ by Kim Gordon. It’s actually really hard for me to stay focused sometimes while reading but if I hear the story, I understand the story a lot better.

What are some things you’ve learned during the recording process for ‘Ana Echo and the Beauty of Indifference’?
I’ve been recording music since 2013, all self-taught, and it has been quite a ride trying to figure out exactly how the music-making process works. Learning the language that comes with each DAW(Digital audio workstation) has definitely been a fascinating process. Disrupting and questioning the factory settings and terminology connected to each workstation has been a lot of fun for me.

Your record is being released on your own label, Scorpion Beach, how did you go about starting your own label?
It was really just by announcing it! At the time I was living in Nashville and there were a number of DIY labels that I reached out to about putting out my material and I wasn’t well-recepted or even listened to there. Granted, I feel things are changing but when I was there at that time, the main DIY labels in Nashville were only listening to straight cis-white dudes. So after that I was like ‘Fuck it, I’ll put out my own material.’

I currently live in Athens, Georgia and Athens has definitely allowed me to have agency as a woman and as an artist. I think that’s because there a lot of strong women in Athens that are able to be viewed in a non-sexualized way or present themselves in a way that people simply can’t ignore. There’s an artist here named Linqua Franqa who is not only a hip-hop artist but also works in government(her name is Mariah Parker) and it’s really fantastic that she’s able to be a leader in the south!

What’s the album’s release date? What excites you about this upcoming release?
The album is slated for a September 28th release! I’ll be having a listening party and for sure want to host the party as a DJ alter-ego DJ-ing the album. I also want to play the album in conjunction with music from local artists and other musicians I admire.

Keep Up With Lambda Celsius

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