Interviews

Detroit Techno Godfather Robert Hood Interview

To factor the influence that Robert Hood has had in modern electronic music is no easy task. For not only was he part of the era-defining, second wave, Detroit techno militia Underground Resistance, but also can claim to be almost single-handedly responsible for what we now term minimal techno. His Internal Empire and Minimal Nation albums stand to this day as blueprints for the genre that has since sparked ongoing generations of imitators with few managing to capture the raw essence of Hood’s vision. His M-Plant label has stood mostly as a vehicle for his own releases, though has from time to time played home to kindred spirits, and after a hiatus of some seven years was reactivated in 2009 with a run of new material and critical re-issues of classics from the vaults. In a career that spans some twenty years Robert Hood has indelibly left his mark on the techno landscape and to this day he continues to explore his particular brand of stripped back, haunting techno funk. we spoke to Mr. Hood about his new album, Omega, injecting faith into music and hearing the echoes of Motown through techno.

Let’s start with the new album. Lately you’ve been selecting pieces from your back catalog and re-issuing them. There may be some confusion about calling this album Omega and the title of one of your 2003 releases of the same name.

Robert Hood: Well the album Omega is based on the movie “Omega Man” and “I Am Legend,” so those are two separate ideas there, as the track “Omega” was taken from the album Wire To Wire and was just a B-side or a one-off from that album. This album is something completely different. It is talking about the end of times and it’s about the character Robert Neville (I don’t know if you’re familiar with the movie or not), but here you have a man who is trying to survive. He is seemingly the last survivor of biological warfare and he’s trying to survive the best he can and at the same time trying to come up with a serum or a cure for the plague that has affected these other inhabitants.

Was the music a metaphor for you providing the serum for a plague of not-so-great music out there?

No, nothing like that really. It was more me looking at if I was the last man on earth and chronicling that struggle; me putting myself in his shoes and dealing with my own psychosis and dealing with loneliness and dealing with a band of demented people who were out there to destroy me. So the music is me looking through the character’s eyes.

Is that something you do with your albums generally? Do you like to construct a concept behind them? Does that help you to structure a whole album?

Well yeah, I try to envision a world or an environment or a situation or circumstance and try to make a soundtrack to it, much in the way I did with Internal Empire. So I reflect and immerse myself in this environment and try to express that through the music.

You’re now living in Alabama. How does the more scenic surroundings go with producing something as raw and uncompromising as Omega?

Well you see it’s all in the mind, I just go inside myself and inside of my visions. When I was living in Detroit I had to step outside of myself sometimes and just observe the environment and grasp these visions and interpret them the best that I could. I would see life in Detroit as an observer. For instance on the Nighttime World albums, it’s basically observing urban life from a watchers point of view. So now, living in Alabama, I’ve had to go inside myself and pull out my imagination from experiences and imagining what life must have been like here in the South during the slave times and during segregation. It’s a process of pulling these thoughts and ideas and stories that I hear from other people and expressing them as best I can.

Robert HoodYour music has always stood out from the rest of Detroit techno. Can you tell us about finding your own sound and how conscious you were of making it so distinctly recognizable?

Well that was the first thing that I determined; I had to sound original. Of course I draw a lot of influence from a lot of other musicians and DJs; I also draw a lot of influence from a lot of film directors, from writers like Langston Hughes, from soul music, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, from lyrics, listening to David Byrne and Talking Heads. I determined that I had to identify with my own profile and not be like anybody else although I was made of many different influences. But I had to turn that into an original thought and an original vision. I had my own interpretation of electronic music and music as a whole; how I looked at love songs and traditional concepts and structures within all music. So I had to remember those things and at the same time take them apart and re-assemble them, so it’s just a strong identity and a strong need to be myself and not try to follow anybody else. The 70’s was a great blueprint for that; you didn’t have artists try to sound like and copy each other to sell a product the way we do today. We have this cookie-cutter idea in principal about music where it’s just a product and a commodity and it’s not art.

One of the things that has struck me about your music over the years is just how well it’s aged over the years in terms of sound quality. I remember picking up some of your earliest releases and you can still put those next to some of your latest material and there is just this clean precision of sound all the way through. Short of getting you to divulge your production secrets, what is your secret?

Well, listening to Kraftwerk and listening to Dr. Dre and people who take their time. You know, I really don’t consider myself an engineer in the traditional sense. In my opinion my ears are bad but I try to meticulously go through each sound and make them as vivid as I possibly can with the sparse equipment I have and just try not to clutter it up and try to keep it separated. Again, I’m not an avid technical person, I just try to listen as best I can. I just marvel at the engineers who worked on all of the Kraftwerk records and I just try to pay attention and to listen.

Throughout your career you’ve done so many remixes of incredible artists. What have been a couple of your favourite ones and perhaps ones that have challenged you?

I did one for a guy called DJ 3000, a Detroit native. Frankie is his name and he’s a very melodic type of cat and he has this pristine production too. So that was a challenge, to approach this particular mix and I had fun doing it too. It hasn’t been released yet but that was definitely a challenge. I had a lot of fun working on the Ben Klock remix too and it’s one of those records where it’s fun to play and it was fun to reassemble too. There was also a remix I did back in ‘94 or ‘95 for Ian Pooley and that was big fun. I still love that record today. I also did a remix of an X-103 project, “Atlantis,” and that’s one of my favorites as well.

You were talking a little earlier about being in to the sounds of Marvin Gaye and soul when you were young. Listening to your music, a lot of people wouldn’t be able to see the influence there. For you, how much do you feel that your minimalism draws on that legacy of funk and soul?

Well, for me personally, I hear echoes of James Jamerson (the uncredited Motown bassist on most of their 60’s-70’s hits). So the sounds that were able to take you into a place and a time after the riots in Detroit and give you a vision of an atmosphere that was like telling you a story. Isaac Hayes, for example, was able to give you an idea of life on the city streets through the “Shaft” soundtrack, so for me with minimalism, it was taking listeners into an atmosphere of Detroit the way I saw it; the greyness and the hopelessness. But through that hopelessness there was also a hope of a potential of what could be a bright future, of still having faith and hope. I think I’ve been able to do that through minimal music. It is at times dark and kind of sinister but then we’re dealing with reality, with situations and circumstances that are obviously there in our lives. We see what’s happening in Haiti, what’s happening all over the world with the environment, with wars and destruction but I try to evoke a feeling of hope and a hopeful future. And for me, with Marvin Gaye through songs like “Holy Holy,” “What’s Going On?” and “Save The Children,” Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key Of Life, that’s what I try to weave into the tracks that I make and I feel that’s been accomplished.

With that in mind, you’re a religious man. Do you tie in your faith to your music and how you approach it?

Oh absolutely, God is the source of everything I do, is the source of our existence and the source of our vision. God is a spirit and so are we; I’m just in tune with the Holy Spirit and I give all honor and credit to that driving force and am always mindful of God’s spirit. I think we don’t realize that we are all spirits but there have been times I haven’t paid attention to my spiritual calling and my inner vision, so to speak, and tried to do it on my own. But it’s amazing what a person can do when they are in tune with the spiritual self.

The ideas behind the early second wave of Detroit techno always seemed to me to be more than just about the music. Can you tell us a bit about the ideals you had and those of people like Mike Banks and Jeff Mills who you were working closely with and how they extended beyond just making great music?

Yeah it was all about reality and dealing with reality. At the time Public Enemy was out there pushing this idea of being culturally and socially aware about our surroundings and about ourselves. That was the main focus of Underground Resistance, whereas some of our contemporaries were more concerned about a fantasy landscape. We were definitely all about reality and that was the driving force behind UR. We dealt with the experimental subjects on the X projects. But when you’re living buildings that are burned out from the Detroit riots, it just seeps into your DNA and so we felt it necessary to chronicle this life in Detroit. You know I rode the bus with these single mothers that would get up at 6 o’clock in the morning in the dead of winter and would have to struggle, the Detroit struggle was what it was about. We tried to focus on documenting this experience.

I’m not going to ask you the same question about what happened with you guys at UR because I’m sure it’s very boring for you, but are you ever in touch with each other?

I don’t know if Mike and Jeff keep in touch but we see each other on the road and it’s friendly. I mean, we’re brothers and we have a tie and a bond, musically and spiritually. We lived together, worked together and travelled together and that won’t ever change. They definitely blessed and touched my life and I would like to think that I did so likewise, so when we do see each other it’s all love.

It must be really interesting having been in that collective that was such an incubation unit for amazing ideas, being able to see where each other’s careers are at, that you’re all still upholding these ideals you forged back then.

Yeah it is, and I was like a sponge, man. At the time I was just a young impressionable adult just trying to learn from them masters. It was like learning from Obi Wan Kenobi and Yoda, learning how to use the force. It was amazing to see how they worked together because individually they’re both such completely different people. Mike was this militant, raw street guy and a great musician, skilled on the keyboard and the strings as well as on production. And then Jeff, it was amazing just to watch him edit on the two-inch reel, it was like watching a surgeon and scientist operate and making these drum patterns, so I was just a greedy sponge watching all this. And then the way they thought and their concepts helped me to develop and it was just an amazing experience.

You continued to release music after M-Plant went inactive in 2002. What was the reason behind putting a hold on the label and the reason for reactivating it, too?

Distribution after 9/11, it was already going bad and the industry was just over-saturated and I was becoming disheartened and uninspired. So all of these factors were just starting to mount so I just wanted to take step back and put M-Plant on hold to look at another approach. Music downloads were really starting to take hold and put a strain on the market so I was very unsure about what was happening as I’m sure a lot of labels and producers were. Bringing it back was just a matter of time; I just needed to catch my footing and approach things differently. The new minimal movement; you have a handful of artists who really got the artistic properties of minimalism, but for the most part, 85-90% of them did not and are just going minimal for the sake of it. So we had to bring it back to continue to tell the story and to set it straight.

Are we likely to see a continuation of Drama and Duet and some of the other labels as well?

I don’t know. I’m thinking that over right now and I’ve got a new Floorplan EP coming out later this summer. I haven’t decided on the others yet whether I’m going to revisit them too; I’m just so wrapped up right now in reinventing M-Plant and reinventing Robert Hood and reintroducing myself and the label to this newer generation and rehashing the old relationships for those who have been down with me throughout the years. So at the moment that’s my focus and we’ll look at the other labels a bit later.

Let’s talk about some of the pseudonyms you’ve used throughout the years. A lot of Detroit producers have played around with different names and you’re no different there. Some of your aliases are obvious — for instance when you use the Floorplan moniker. But what makes a Monobox release different from a Robert Hood release?

A Monobox release is — well, I don’t like to use the term “intelligent techno,” but it is more experimental. It’s taken from a book I read when I was a kid, maybe 13 or14-years-old, about these aliens who came to earth. There was this black box that floated above the Earth for weeks on end. It was just this ominous box floating above the earth and the book dealt with the minds of the earthlings who were just trying to grasp what this box was. The diminutive sound that comes out of this side of me is very different from the more soulful Robert Hood, Minimal Nation sort of sound. It’s more of a cold sound, looking at art and electronic music from more of an alien, android perspective rather than a human side.

And what about The Vision?

I got that name from a comic book character from The Avengers and at the time it seemed kind of fitting with being a part of Underground Resistance because I considered myself a rogue member of the UR organization, a renegade affiliate of theirs. I saw myself as this comic book character.

Technologically how much has your studio evolved over the years? Are you more digital based now?

It’s still pretty much the same as it’s always been. I mean I don’t use a 909 any more but I still produce the same way but the gear — I never really relied on samplers that much. Only really with Floorplan with some disco loops here and there but I still produce the same way. Hardware sequencing is still my choice. The biggest thing I’ve changed is my drum sounds.

You’ve focused the bulk of your career on minimalism. Being very ideas rich in how you approach your records, after all these years do you find your music is still giving back to you and teaching you?

Absolutely, I mean when you’re in tune with where your wealth of creativity and inspiration is coming from then it’s a never-ending well of discovery and that for me comes back to my belief in God. On this Omega album I felt that inspiration coming from many different moments in time. I mean, there are moments on there that remind me of 70’s kind of David Axelrod feeling and then also a futuristic, sci-fi, cinematic feeling too. So I’m constantly discovering minimal grooves and percussion, bass lines, it’s just never-ending. I feel like I’m perpetually stuck at the age of 22. I feel like I’m growing spiritually and as a man but there’s this fountain of youth and my state of mind is constantly being renewed.

What can we expect from Robert Hood in the next year?

You can expect for me to work so much harder at expressing my spirituality through music and I want to take us to places we never even thought we could go. I want to express who we are as aliens, as spirits and I really want to expose and put out there that this is not our home, that we’re just passing through. So I really want to push the envelope on that principle that we are all spirits. Musically and spiritually I want to be able to take us there. How I’m going to do it I don’t know, but faith is not seeing the staircase but taking the first step.

Reposted from: littlewhiteearbuds.com


Tony Child AKA Surgeon Interview

Throughout the last 10 years, many people have been responsible for the development of the techno music scene, and moving techno forward and seeing what is achievable through new ideas and architectures of sound and boundless creativity. Within the techno scene, few people can claim to have done quite so much as DJ Surgeon.

DJ Surgeon

DJ Surgeon

Growing up in the industrial centre of Birmingham, he rose swiftly to worldwide recognition with a barrage of startling releases in the early ’90s. Putting out material first on local label Downwards, before progressing on to imprints such as Tresor, and his own project Dynamic Tension, he shocked the globe with his uncompromising, machine edged music. Under his moniker of Surgeon, he also began tearing up the dancefloors with his jerky, virtuoso DJ skills, earning him the enviable position of one of the most famous players of the era; and playing a part, along with his fellow Downwards crew, in setting up Birmingham’s premier techno event, House of God.

Having recently launched his new label Counterbalance, and for the first time involved with releasing work by new artists, Tony continues to be a driving force in the music.

Throughout his career, he has been well known for his interest in music above all else, and tired of press distortions and media bullshit. Because of this, we have chosen with this interview to explore some of the less known sides of his work, and his feelings on the techno scene as a whole.

Question: There has always been much talk of Detroit forging the dancemusic it has become known for – what and how much influence has the city you live and develop in had upon your sound?

Answer: I’ve always felt that environment and experience have a large influence on my music. I think the main influence Birmingham has had is the fact that if something didn’t exist there, then we had to make it ourselves. There was no techno club, so we made our own (House of God). We’d heard about Lost in London, but didn’t have the money to come down to London for a night out so we just made it up as we went along, we had nothing to compare it to. With Downwards, Karl (Regis) started it because I played him some tracks I’d done. I never thought about sending them to another label, I just did them for the hell of it. This whole ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude is very strong in Birmingham.

Question: What positive things have you experienced in the techno music scene since you first became involved?

Surgeon: There is a much bigger network of distributors, promoters, booking agents and a lot more DJ’s than when I first became involved! These days I think it’s a lot harder to break into the scene that when I first started, today people seem a lot more ‘career minded’ about trying to break into the scene and ‘work their way up the ladder’

Question: In a scene occasionally stagnated by repetition – generic music, constant plagiarism, etc., how difficult do you find it to keep pushing ahead and creating new music with an edge, when it would be so easy to give up and jump on the bandwagon?

Answer: The techno scene seems to ‘fold in’ on itself very easily. Techno influenced by techno, influenced by techno… etc. I don’t hear most of the tracks that are put out these days, that doesn’t bother me. I know the good records will find me in the end. Musically, I draw influence from music outside just the techno music scene, whether it’s Coil, or Missy Elliot or The Velvet Underground, etc. I try to create my own ‘blend’. Too much techno music sounds as if the same producer created it all with the same setup, no character or personality to set it apart from all the other generic records.

Question: What are your thoughts on the rapid commercialization of electronica – is it a passing trend, or will the promise of money clamp it down until it falls apart?
Answer: For me it comes down to the difference between creating music and creating product, it depends on the motives behind its creation, but you can always hear them.

Question: Do you have an interest in other art mediums (film, literature etc), and if so what (or who)?

Answer: Yes, but it’s hard to make the time. Film – Mike Leigh, David Lynch, Francis Coppola Literature – William S. Burroughs, Bret Easton Ellis Photography – Cindy Sherman

Question: Do you think techno music has a long term future, or is its life limited?

Answer: Electronic dance music is very effective, so as long as people want to go out and have a dance it will be here. I don’t think techno will ever be the most popular form of dance music but I’m sure techno will always be around in some form.

Question: You once cited your greatest influences as The BBC workshop recordings and the Doctor Who theme – – in what way were you inspired by such electronic experimentation?

Surgeon: I’m sure most of us remember watching Dr Who when we were very young. I used to love the music and sound effects, they were sounds you’d never heard before, not of this world, very dark. My dad had a few Sci-Fi/Space themes records by BBC radiophonic workshop. I really liked these when I was about 4 or 5.

Question: Some would say that techno has long been influenced by external media, particularly science fiction – do you draw influences from such areas in creating your music, and how do you think the shift in the media towards electronica will affect those already producing it?

Answer: Apart from my answer to the last question, I wouldn’t say that science fiction is a big influence on me, I don’t follow it, but I do draw a lot of influence from external media and other types of music. The shift in the media towards electronic music makes it more popular, more people want to DJ than play the guitar and all that. None of this changes to way I work, the music is the most important thing, there are no real stars anymore


Legendary Techno Artist Richie Hawtin Talks Plasticman Tour & iPhone App

5 questions with Richie Hawtin, a.k.a. Plastikman, legendary techno artist

It’s probably safe to say that for most techno fans, Richie Hawtin needs no introduction.

In a musical career that stretches two decades, the 39-year-old Hawtin — who grew up in Windsor — has strived to push the boundaries of technologically inspired electronic dance music.

Considered to be part of the second wave of Detroit techno in the early 1990s, Hawtin got his start playing underground parties in Detroit, then launched the record label Plus 8 with fellow Canadian John Acquaviva.

His early works, recorded under the guise of Plastikman, were noteworthy for their spare, minimal acid techno style. By the turn of the century, Hawtin was one of the most-sought-after DJs in the world. He eventually moved to Berlin — another techno music mecca — where he still resides.

Ritchie Hawtin AKA Plastikman

Ritchie Hawtin AKA Plastikman

Hawtin’s adoration of technology was almost always a centerpiece of his artistry, consistently influencing his music and vice versa. He has long incorporated effects units, samplers and computer technology into his DJ sets.

To coincide with the rebirth of the Plastikman persona and subsequent tour, the ever-experimental Hawtin has upped the ante once again. Partnering with visual architects and designers, Hawtin’s latest concept involves an innovative integration of audio and visuals via a large curved screen placed in front of the performer throughout the show.

Fans can interact with Hawtin’s show via a customized (and free) iPhone/iPod Touch application called Plastikman SYNK. Fans who download SYNK will be able to interact with his performance in several different ways, including:

• Reorganizing word samples via 20 touch buttons, and then hearing those words through the sound system.

• Viewing a live video stream of Hawtin during the performance.

• Exploring the synchronicity of real-time generated percussion patterns and their visual counterparts.

• Seeing the console Hawtin interacts with in real time. We talked with Hawtin to find out more.

QUESTION: Tell me about your new iPhone application, SYNK, in relation to your current Plastikman live performance.

ANSWER: On a creative level, it’s my attempt to play with the crowd, blurring the border between the audience and the performer, which is where it should be. The app enables the audience to interact with me, playing samples back, taking visuals from the screen.

Plastikman has always been about a weird, crazy, unique experience for people. The iPhone app is a bit of an extension of that. … I decided that with this new Plastikman show, let’s play with (the audience). Let’s take this opportunity to use and (toy) with technology. Everybody knows I’m totally into that.

Q: Are you pleased with how SYNK is working with your show?

A: I’m honestly still changing and readjusting, especially with the syncopation with the visuals on the screen and iPhone, the triggering of the back and forth we’re still playing with.

We’ve been pummeling people with intense reds, then going to darkness, while adding the sonic landscape of Plastikman … taking it down weirder and slower, weirder beats … making the package part concert, part art installation, part rave.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for SYNK?

A: When we were doing the Contakt shows, everybody held their cell phones up recording it. We thought, “Let’s use that to be part of the experience, take that idea of recording the show into being part of the show.” At the end of the day, it’s a great physical and mental experience as a group. It’s all of you together in that moment of time experiencing something at once.

Q: How does the app work? Is this the next step in the evolution of musical performances?

A: It is a real-time data flow from every iPhone in that performance. Everyone’s saying electronic music is pretty easy to make these days — everyone has GarageBand (Apple music software) or some variation thereof. The next step is cloud computing. It’s part of the creative movement. Then it’s: “Who is the audience? Who is the performer?” I’m opening a window for people and anything within that window, they can do.

Q: Why did you opt to launch this app for the Plastikman guise?

A: This tour is really a conglomeration of everything I’ve experienced in the last 20 years. It’s a way to go back to where I began and modernize it in a way … using digital technology and plug-ins. This show represents updated versions of those early Plastikman records, while also allowing the live show to evolve and mutate. … To me, it’s like a Plastikman album. The beginning was 18 years ago and the end is yet to be determined.

Written by: Tim Pratt. Reposted from freep.com


Dave Clarke Interview

Interview With Dave Clarke

Listen to a Dave Clarke mix while you read: Dave Clarke Live-SAT-04-05-2009

Wotcha Dave, how the devil are you?
Feeling pretty shit actually, got a flu virus type thing and feeling really bored as I hate to not be working (unless it’s holiday time), but that sort of illness is inevitable when you spend a lot of time in airplanes, comes with the job.

What are you like when you’re not working then?
Bit lost to tell the truth, takes me a few days to get it out my system then I have a couple of days of being relaxed and really glad, then I’m itching to get back to the grind stone.

Got any other hobbies we should know about?
What apart from cigars, fast cars and leather pants!!!!! Music is still a hobby, love movies, recent faves are “Battle of Algiers”, “Ivans XTC”, “21 Grams”. also like trash eye candy films as well, can’t get into books, OD on Shakespeare’s soliloquy’s when at school which unfortunately put me off reading novels (the odd Gore Vidal does creep in though). Also love food, esp. Japanese.

LD is at the bar, what you drinking?
What are you buying! Depends where I am and what I’m doing, like jack and coke, old fashioned, straight vodka (when chilled down), Lychee Martini when in metro sexual mode, like wine too.

Best and worst gig ever?
Best Live: Creamfields, Worst Live: La Scala, DJ dates are more difficult, had a great weekend just now in Portugal, had some bad ones in Germany in the mid 90’s, hated the Tribal weekender that I last did.

Tell us something about yourself we’d never know?
One of my ex girlfriends is now the most wanted woman in the UK, Interpol are after her (saw that on the news over a year ago).

How’s the touring and Album going?
The touring is going really well, in a month I did Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia (including Hobart at last), Europe and Brazil, as times goes on I really appreciate how lucky I am to be doing something I adore. I have been touring heavily now for at least ten years but only in the last year or so have I started to do live as well, and I played live to 25k people in Sao Paulo so I have to say I’m pretty pleased.

The album got really good reviews in the world press and has been well received, I didn’t know what to expect when I released it from the press, the only bad review I saw in the printed press was in a really lame UK music technology magazine so I’m not disappointed. I felt happy that at last my 2nd album came out because when you fight on two fronts simultaneously to get out of an unjust contract it can get messy but eventually everything came through and Skint were there for me.

Nice, are you glad all the shit is behind you now and you can actually get your work out?
Yep, not nice having to deal with that, big big pressure, wish I could have released an LP sooner though but I was fighting legally for about five years.

Did you work with Tom Hingston on the sleeve design and typeface?
I didn’t directly work with Tom Hingston until the final bits, said what I wanted and got various ideas back, then eventually chose the end result, I wanted black and gothic. On Archive One I wanted it to be sealed in red with loads of languages so in a way had more input, but I’m not a designer so left it to the experts on “D A” and agreed the end via budgetary compromise.

Is it nice to have someone as big as Skint behind you?
Skint have been very supportive, but I wouldn’t say they themselves were big, they just could call upon the muscle when it was needed.

IN THE STUDIO

Would you describe yourself as a bit of a “techy nerd”? And do you like playing with instruments and studio equipment, or are they just tools of the trade Dave?

Sadly yes, but a hardware techy nerd, love being in studios with all the lights off, LED’s flashing and flying faders moving, really get into the engineering side as well. It’s really sad how many big dance artists (some in the techno field) have their albums ghost written and engineered and put their name badge on afterwards, I feel it’s so important to be there at every level, my weakness is I can’t play instruments, I hate that, but eventually I get the sound I want through trial and error.

Full kit list?
Haha in your dreams!!!!!

Come on Dave, 3 favourite bits then?
Tannoy Speakers, Blue Cactus Microphone, Cranesong Hedd

Analogue or Digital?
All dynamic outboard is analogue, all eq analogue, samplers, mastering tools, desk and metering is digital (prefer the ballistics of digital and as mastering is normally with the CD in mind the vu, whether BBC or CBC is near useless…..need to get within 0.01db of final headroom). All the above is entirely hardware as well.

I’m not a flat earther I do believe that with digital we are almost at analogue level and both have advantages and disadvantages, but if used together the old cliche “best of both worlds” rings true.

Any particular favourite bits of gear?
Love my speakers and decks, the only bits to have not been part ex’d at some point. Also love my cables (solid silver AES EBU with massive Teflon insulation)

Fuck me you are a nerd, check the cable specs [laughs]
Didn’t tell you that all the molecules go one way!

Software vs. hardware? Done to death but still, have you tried both? Do you have a preference? Do you care?

Interesting, have always used a software sequencer since the Umi, then went on to c-lab notator on the Atari, then I had to go on Cubase as no one in Italy (at acv) used C Lab and have stuck with it ever since. Got my wallet burned when I took on digital audio manipulation via a nubus sd2 card on a Power Mac 8100, never did what it should’ve so after spending over £6k back in the mid 90s I felt shafted so stayed with hardware which never broke down, didn’t need to be beta tested, and had a resale value, occasionally I looked at what was on offer, but didn’t liked the interface or the converters…….until now, just got a waves diamond bundle so I can do shit on the road.

With the technology and software readily available these days, every amateur/semi-professional producing music in their home/bedroom/shed is expected to deliver commercial quality recordings. Do you think that it’s compromising the musical output as people get lost in the technology? Should labels take more responsibility and be prepared to pay for studio time to make a good recording out of a good piece of music?

Yes and no, there is something inherently snobbish about declaring disdain on the democratisation on technology (and yes I have a moan too), it is compromising the output but that is because the filters (record labels, magazines as opposed to the 6 pole variety!) aren’t working, too many labels putting out too much lame shit in the hope that if you throw enough mud it will stick, then you get distributors going down as their quality control was slack, but without this initial democratisation, all of us reading this would dream about £20k samplers with 8bit sampling and 512k memory (forgetting that Gordon Moore even had a law for a second).

With regards to studio time being paid for, I would rather see an artist do their electronic stuff on their own then get fleeced in a rock and roll establishment, you can buy a decent hard drive multitracker and sampler now for less than a day’s rates in a decent studio, so you can spend more time honing your craft with no bills coming in aside from the techno lust that we all fall too!

Do you produce in your own studio and prefer to use others? How involved are you in the engineering side? Do you prefer to use a studio with a dedicated engineer to do the tedious bits, or just get stuck in yourself?

Mostly my own studio, recently finished off a remix in Laibach/Umek’s studio which was fun. I adore engineering, I actually feel I construct music not write it. I haven’t used an engineer since 1988 on my own material, there is nothing better than getting stuck in, I feel like a pig in shit, utterly happy.

Who do you most respect as a producer these days and why?
I really hate these sort of questions as I will always think of someone later. I respect the people from the sixties who had shit to play with except for their imagination, producers of The Stooges, Lou Reed (really don’t believe Warhol had anything to do with desk manoeuvres though), Hendrix, George Martin etc, etc, etc ad infinitum.

Biggest pile of crap you’ve ever bought?
Some horse manure for spreading on the garden.

Come on, I once bought a JP8000 and sold it after two days, it was the biggest trance machine ever, only to informed by Vince Watson that it’s what he use (I love Vince’s work) and he duly announced that I am in fact rubbish – you must have bought something that when you got it home turned out to be crap instead of clay?

Didn’t like the Tascam DA88, thought the converters were horrible and the interface wasn’t as good as it could have been, luckily didn’t buy it though it was on loan. I spend a lot of time researching before I buy, if you don’t then you waste money and time.

How do you approach writing a track Dave?
With trepidation, a lot of insecurity…..then normally after either the rhythm or bass does everything either fall in place or get scrapped.

Do you master your own stuff?
I Premaster it, you should never believe you know better than a good vinyl masterer or CD, I am lucky I have at my fingertips a lot of hardware mastering tools like phase meter, gunometer, fft and precise eq and multiband compression etc, but there is still a lot to learn, sometimes nothing has to be done to my stuff on transfer, other times minimal re’eqing, Miles from Metropolis finally finished “Deo Gratias” for me with eq and dynamics, he nailed it in 30 mins when I just couldn’t. Don’t believe your software/hardware can do the job with wizard….anyone can “pump a track” nowadays.

Do you always use the same person to master your stuff and are you always there when it being done?
Haven’t used the same person and I’m very rarely there now, was for the LP but for the singles I don’t need to be, Nilz does a lot of my Skint vinyl 12″ stuff and we just talk frequencies and phase alignment over the phone, these people are professionals why should I not trust to do a job they do every day? I would love to have Bob Katz do my stuff some day and Rick O’Neill at Turtle rock.

What made you decide to go Live?
I first went live back in the late 90’s when Tribal Gathering was Tribal Gathering, and my then A&R guy said I should do it, I was shitting bricks 3 months before, I mean there was UR, Carl Craig, Kraftwerk all at the same gig in Luton Hoo, but a lot of those cats came over to see me and wish me luck and it was an amazing gig, afterwards I didn’t have a record career due to not receiving any royalties or statements and I concentrated on my DJ career, but when I had an album deal working again (Skint) and loads of new material it seemed to make sense (although I did have to be talked into it).

This time I didn’t brick myself, rehearsed for one hour before the gig ( BO! at Creamfields), rehearsed with CoS for the first time at the sound check and then two hours before bricked myself bigger than at any time of my career! However that was the most amazing gig of my life (next to DEMF), 10 mins before I went on 500 people were in a 6000 cap tent and then two minutes before my slot it was capacity with overspills outside (Massive Attack where still playing at the festival), it was obvious at that point this was a good thing to do and every time after that (with the exception of the London gig…..which I didn’t want to do anyway) I really enjoyed myself, I was playing my own music (with a few remixes in between) and the crowd were there to hear that, damn life can be good!

What was wrong with the London gig?
I just had a negative on it from inception, and unfortunately was proved right…….I don’t like to entertain “the industry” but the public is a different matter, furthermore I had no idea about the ticket price…..at that stage I wasn’t making any money on the live dates, that wasn’t the point but the entrance fee should have been £6 less.

The line between DJ sets and the live band is gradually becoming more blurred, thanks to DJs creating more complex mixes. So for you, just how live is “live”? Would a mere laptop be enough?

To see a guy on stage with a laptop is about as inspiring as watching someone do your accounts at the council tax office, Techno is a bastard though to represent if you are a solo artist, I prefer to use keyboards, I do not use a sequencer at all, any person can push the start button and do a few mutes…big deal.

Bollocks Dave, I’m not having that – so you’re telling me Kraftwerk look like tax men with a slide show and Surgeon is an accountant that doesn’t rock the house, no chance – these people aren’t performers, they don’t act – it’s what comes out of the speakers that counts and the fact that they have even more control, can speak through their music and can play stuff you could never hear anywhere else just adds to it for me. I agree that anyone can press Start/Stop but in the hands of a creative person it can make for a truly magical night and you know it’s all in the programming. Do you want to rethink that one or is that your final answer?

I’m not and never have been a massive fan of Kraftwerk, I appreciate their role in the evolution of music (and yes it is a big one), but if you put a minidisc on then you could still rock the house, it’s not just about the music it is about the performance and the ability to not be tied down via a sequencer. I do wish that my tax men looked like Kraftwerk though then I think council tax would be worth it just for that.

How does this differ from the studio set-up, do you take all your kit out live?
Never!!!!! The gear is just for live use only, it would scare me to think of any of my studio equipment going out on the road, puts shivers right down my spine.

Haha We knew you’d say that, all that sweat and make-up dripping into your kit Dave, would that keep you awake of a night?

No, it’s the fact that it probably one day wouldn’t come back after it being checked in and that would be the day I would need it most. Make up and sweat dripping are good things.

Are you now placing more emphasis on musicians and vocalists rather than technology?
I like songs, always have done, would like to get the best of old and new if possible, working with vocalists is exciting because it gives me new challenges.

Every fancied doing a “Weatherall” and singing yourself?
Phew, I thought you meant grow a moustache!!! I “sung” on the flip of the red series quoting Rabelais through a pitch changer, but otherwise I have no plans for inflicting pain on other persons via singing.

Hahaha, He shaved that off before playing up here, one aspect that was interesting with his new stuff was that he’s put some of his DJ style into the construction of the song, which I think is an interesting thing to do and seeing as you have a very different style I wondered if you’d thought of trying to work it in somewhere?
I think most dance producers do that via instinct anyway, from bomb the bass to the present day.

What urged you push in this direction, it’s a lot of pressure?
It’s also progressing my path, can’t stay doing the same because of fear.

Did you consider the possibility of playing live while writing and producing the latest album and did it have an effect on the creative direction?
Didn’t think about live during the recording, I tend to split and compartmentalise so I don’t think it had any effect on the creative direction at all.

For those who haven’t heard the live performance, would you say it’s dramatically different from the album recordings? (audiences tend to have mixed reactions with those who want to hear the familiar sound of the recordings, and others who want to hear a new spin on the whole thing)
I play some old tracks and dub out the newer ones, it is very biased towards a club / dance festival environment, I’m thinking of having more mood changes in my next sets.

You used a few samples from the Bauhaus and Tones On Tail on the album, did you ever get into the whole Goth scene when it was happening?

Can’t really see you down a Flesh For Lulu or Sex Gang Children gig…Well when Bauhaus was happening I was at school listening to Electro and when Tones on Tail came out I was already deep into techno/house, my girlfriend used to play tones on tail and used to do “crunch gob” tapes using my old decks so they stayed with me in the back of my head, when I was signed to XL in the late 80’s I would use some of those records to sample for rough demo’s which (thankfully) never came out.

I have always been into music in a big way but got into Bauhaus retrospectively (although I was into Punk when it came out), I actually found a different mix of “She’s in parties” whilst on holiday in a 2nd hand record shop and could finally use an accapella that wasn’t on the album mix. The weird thing though is I got to speak to Daniel Ash and found out he was living in Brighton at the same time as me just down from my Gran’s, using a studio near where I was living and when he was a kid he would buy toys from Adie “Vinyl Underground” West’s Dad when he had a toy shop in Northampton, I love shit like that!

Yeah, it’s a small world fella, I stayed in Brighton for a while and kicked around with Gen (TG/PTV) and the rest of the mob, it’s a weird place – I felt uncomfortable there, going for a pint of milk and standing behind Kirk Brandon (Spear of Destiny/Theatre of Hate) in the Offy was just to surreal for me, and talking of surreal my best mate once delivered a settee to Pete Murphy’s dad in Northampton, see if you can beat that fella…
Brighton has some weird lay lines or something, but in a way coincidence makes sense of things, I don’t think it’s a glitch in the matrix at all.

Shit, showing my age now – Was Punk and Electro your first thing? What where the first records you bought?

I had a lot or records passed down to me from my Mum , Lonnie Listen Smith, Roy Ayers, Rappers Delight. The first ones I bought are difficult to pin down, but things like The Sparks “Tryouts for the Human Race” and Ian Dury “Reasons” were my first 12 inches, The Sparks “La Dolce Vita” was my first import 12″, XTC “Making Plans” and Charlie Daniels band “The Devil” were my first 7″s

All time top five punk and electro tracks?

Damn
Five Punk/new wave groups….will that do?
1) Devo
2) John Foxx
3) The Ruts
4) The Damned
5) Stranglers

Why do you do so few electro sets these days?
I never really did that many anyway, also kind of shyed away from it due to the trendy vibe happening at the same time as downward numbers of good records coming out, also like to choose the space to do it more carefully….shit loads of bass and good people.

Talking of Goths, how did the Gary Numan remix come about? And did anything else come out of that session?

Frankie D, who used to run Eurobeat 2000, knew Gary as he ran his fan club, then Steve got in contact with me and a load of other artists (if memory serves there is an amazing Underdog mix on the LP) to do some mixes, all the remixers, Hell, Armani, Dearborn, chose tracks and I was given “Cars”, it was the first mix I did on my new 02R desk, but the interface was so intuitive it took me two days and I remember using over 20 compressors, but to hear a track you loved as a kid in all it’s composite parts is both weird and extremely daunting, so I chose to update the track as opposed to deconstruct it (like the Aphrohead and DJ Hell remixes I did). Nothing else came out of that except “Q magazine remix of the year, a nice notch in my remixology and Gary and his girlfriend coming round for tea.

Yeah, I like the fella, we are interviewing him next, although I find it strange that he doesn’t really accept or understand the influence he’s had on Techno don’t you?

I don’t think he understands what techno is…he had a large amount of time in the wilderness, Leo Sayer, flying stunt shows etc. At least he’s not cashing in on it as well, I also think techno is too clean for him….he’s still a goth.

Gary has a very good little cottage industry running these days, I always buy my stuff off his site – I kinda like the fact that he gets a bigger cut and the fact his mum sends it all out, have you never been tempted?

Not really, you should just concentrate on what you do well is a good motto in life.

How do you view the state of the UK techno scene, on the whole?

Well for a long time (probably 7 years now) UK made techno has featured prominently on my set list and charts, I love the work of so many UK artists, Inigo Kennedy, Mr. Ruskin, Makaton, BMB, etc etc and whenever I can I always try and give it props by talking about it or getting some of the people I am fans of to remix my own shit, but I’m so obviously not the only fan of it worldwide as I hear UK techno blow up everywhere around the world.

The UK club scene is a different matter, I am in a fortunate position of being able to travel the world on a weekly level and when I come back to these shores I feel saddened by the bitchyness and the lack of cohesion that seems prevalent in the press, jungle/d&b came after techno and was inspired partly by it and because all the artists stuck together (or seemed to stick together) they got more press respect and yet Techno is still absolutely massive, the same with Trance, again after Techno but partly inspired and later bastardised by it. Also I feel that radio in this country has let us down badly, in Holland (where I live part of the time) you get to hear great techno at the weekends from the likes of Carl Craig but not here, also with perhaps the exception of Radio 6 the normal music played on daytime radio here is dire and has killed the music industry full stop.

To be honest though, I am saddened by the way UK techno is perceived internally (i.e. bitchyness about clubs like Bugged Out playing techno when they have supported it from their first gigs, Atomic Jam for clubbers enjoying themselves “too much” and not chin stroking enough, and the amount of playa haters who are bitter because their latest “Mills” soundalike isn’t being played but won’t deal with the fact it’s them that is the problem by not supplying anything original) and externally (press and radio). However I am also hopeful as Techno, when done well, is still amazing and challenging and there is another wave of fans that have less emotional baggage and newer artist and labels that seem to have a less po faced attitude.

To sum up: UK techno is a world leader, if we ditch the playa haters we could take over because the talent is certainly there.

Sure, but I don’t feel it would be that hard to pull it all together, from working on LD I know it would be easy to unite everyone if people could leave their ego’s at the door – there’s a lot of good people out there – Monox, Dust, Outlet Collective, Locked etc and I think we could all learn something from the Detroit players here. They refuse to talk about anyone else or bad mouth anyone – they take care of their business, they don’t fuck anyone over and they (promoters) protect each other – thus ensuring they can all keep going – do you think we should look to them for such advice?

We should look to ourselves and get inspiration from where ever we can.

I also feel that a lot of techno labels/distributors and P/D deals have a lot to answer for, it’s easy to knock trance but I feel we should all have a look at our own output and check the reasoning before to hit out at anyone else don’t you reckon?

As I said there are a lot of imitators now that aren’t pushing anything except a record that sounds close to what Mills was doing ten years ago, for a while (5 years ago) it “seemed” like every other record was imitating Red2, I’m not going to be negative though…..there are some incredible producers in the UK putting out the freshest most evil shit around, I would rather focus on that and the fact some businesses have now gone we have fresh fields to build on.

How do you view the relationship between ‘big name’ DJs that dominate airwaves & club bookings and the promising but lesser known talents who are struggling to get gigs and airtime?

It’s an age old question, everyone is to blame, promoters need bums on seats, big name DJ’s want to protect their position, and talented DJ’s need to have luck on their side, I hate that side of the industry, I have seen many talented lesser “knowns” disappear, if the DJ hogs aren’t careful then no new blood will come through and carboxyheamaglobin will starve the industry of fresh new blood and more kids will buy guitars.

In your view, how do we change it Dave – $64,000 question I know but you have seen more shit that I care to think about – is there a solution?

huuuuhg….it makes me sigh, just believe in what you are doing and hit through, I had no help when I started (in fact quite the opposite) and there is an element of luck as well, it’s quite Darwinian, the tough will survive and all that, be single minded, that is what got me here.

Projects like SPLIT and Retro_Vert are organised and supported by ‘techno heavyweights’ of a similarly high profile, with a view to putting something back into the scene that has supported them. Do you have any such aspirations? Are you concerned at all with such sentiments?

That sounds almost like a loaded question! I don’t live in a place that can support a specialist techno club ( in a small village), so I am not part of any local “scene”, when I lived in Brighton I tried to no avail to have a weekly techno night(played with people like Jungle Bros when they were Hip House), and it would be pointless of me to do one in London or say Birmingham in direct competition with passionate and competent promoters, further more spreading the word on a global level doesn’t leave much time (last month I did 100k miles) for keeping an eye on flyer production.

I did my radio show for over two years promoting techno (both UK and global) and got over 400k hits a month three years ago, and it was broadcast on fm in many different countries and was the first international techno show, I took risks when I stood in for Annie Nightingale for 3 months on radio one inviting Claude Young, Regis and Surgeon even though the producer thought my music was too abrasive (got support from various mags like Jockey Slut and listener figures were up), I also now do a techno tip sheet on my site which gets great response from shops, fans and artists alike, furthermore I had nothing when I started and kept with this when others have sold out and pretend to be techno DJ’s when it suits them, so my sentiments are written down in stone.

Nar, not loaded one bit and believe me they have their share of haters! It’s a conversation we have often late at night in the office, we are always looking for new people to get behind and push forward, people like Jerome Hill for example – without doubt one of the best new talents in Europe, really good fella and he could work the floor and decks like Satan himself – shame he pissed off to Brazil the selfish fucker. So, what I’m saying is how do we ensure the next Hill/Surgeon/Young doesn’t get missed? Or do you feel talent will always get spotted?

If their light is bright then they will be spotted, I will continue to do my bit as I’m sure everyone reading this will do theirs, if you care about techno there is no alternative and it will be second nature.

You’re quite a powerful force for pulling people into clubs. In reality, do you think your prolific booking schedule is fuelled more by Dave Clarke ‘the celebrity’, or Dave Clarke ‘the talent’?

Thanks, probably both, and if that gets people converted to Terence Fixmer, BMB, Electrix Label and away from shit god awful trance then I’m happy.

You’re also very loyal to clubs that have supported you in the past, is that a decision you made a long time ago?
“Death before Dishonour” without loyalty what the fuck is there?

What’s your view on drugs these days?
Same as before, smoking is fine but the other shit is destroying the scene. Pills have watered down the musical content and Coke has created ego’s the size of Mons Olympus with the fragility of the hymen, too many great careers/minds have been destroyed by the latter. However people should have freedom of informed choice.

Your manager says you are always getting misquoted, what’s the worse one over the last year? And is there anything you’d like to clear up here and now?

True, but so does everyone somehow, I just take it to heart. I can’t think of any quotes but I don’t live in a “mansion” I don’t wear gold chains, I have never voted Tory (almost sued over that one, some stupid intellectually challenged fuckwit “journalist” with a blunt axe to bear). I am just bored by the caricature that the press seem to like to hang on me. I like to be ironic but that doesn’t work too well on paper. Everyone should have an interview done to see if a) they recognise themselves b) what “facts” are true and c) when quoted in inverted commas is that what they actually said………

Yes I know what you mean and often people don’t see what ends up on the floor/bin, in many ways tho you often remind me of Morrissey – publish and be damned, often not bothering or feeling the need to explain everything, I personally don’t think an artist should have to – would you agree?

An artist is as human as anyone else, I’m not prepped by PR school, I have emotion and belief and naivety, so hang the Dj.

The “techno is too white” comment tho (I’ve seen this used against a few people), that must have had your blood boiling?

I feel that the black roots have been forgotten about, for me the inspiration was mostly from the black influence in all music including techno, hip house, acid house and electro, this simply cannot be forgotten about by the new school of writers or fans. The fact a lot of these artists got ripped off in the US and got no props both financially and culturally is abhorrent, also the gay influence is completely written off now, I get so pissed about the lack of research by the majority of journalists today and then they get quoted in other magazines higher up the food chain, it’s a white wash (no pun intended). We need people to straighten the facts because if we let it lay it will be too late and our musical history will be bunkum.

Do you think this problem has got worse since the internet really kicked in?
Again, double edged sword, it liberates and condemns in equal measures, maybe the darknet is where it is safe in the short term.

After all these years tho, do you really take everything to heart still?
I’m passionate and in the UK that seems to be a weird part of someone’s character.

Seems like your stuck with the tag of “bad boy” of techno, don’t you ever get sick of it ? – it’s a bits Phil Mitchell Dave…

Actually don’t really give a fuck about that one, if you know me you know me if not and you believe what you read then that’s the way it is.

It must be a pain in the ass sometimes tho surely? Although I could see how it would be a good piece of character armouring…

Haha……………

It’s a real love or hate thing people have with you Dave, there seems to be a whole legacy of rubbing people up the wrong way through ill-thought out words and actions, are you really that rude to people on purpose or is that just a case of take me as I am?

I can be a rude fuck but normally when I am opposite a wanker, there is also a case of take me as I am…I appreciate no bullshit and like WYSIWYG, sometimes though, people talk to me before a gig…..I hate that, I want to be in the zone concentrating not talking before I go DJing or live, some artists have managers instructing on their behalf to put it in a contract or verbally warn the promoter that the artist is not to be talked to directly…what the fuck is that about? All I ask for is peace and quiet before a gig and maybe afterwards for a while or two. So if I am sharp before or after a gig, just bear that in mind, it’s not personal.

As Scott McGill once said to me by quoting Bill Cosby…..”You can’t please all the people all the time” and personally I have never trusted people that smile all the time”, look what Blair did behind the smile.

But you know the playing field Dave, pilled up and as happy as Larry to see you – you can’t really blame them can you? Or after all this time are you just sick of it?
Or maybe I believe in the music in my naive way.

You also took a lot of stick for the leathers and make-up, UR get away with it and often most fans moan about the faceless techno bollocks, so why is it that when some who dares to be themselves or do something different they seem to suffer at the hands of the very people who moaned in the first place?

As Blake Baxter says “I’m will not be a victim of your insecurities” they should deal with their own psyche.

Are you good at being wrong?
Isn’t everyone?

Blair and Bush aren’t…
No, scarily they think they are, but they like covering stuff up and then getting fall guys in when the shit hits the fan. I also think it’s important to keep getting better at doing things wrong otherwise you are in denial and limit your expansion

What’s the future looking like for Dave Clarke then?
Ask me then!

Reposted from http://www.littledetroit.net


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