Bevan from Involve coaxes Thaddeus Herrmann from City Centre Offices into writing a thesis on pop electronica.
Here's the results.
Involve: Modern electronica. pop or glitch? discuss what you prefer? And where does 'techno' fit into things?
Thaddi: At the moment, I definitely prefer the more poppy productions. I simply had enough of all these powerbook hooligans, showing off with their crazy max/msp patches. I have the feeling that the producers just want to prove something. Maybe that they managed to write this or that litle application or that they managed to get this patch to wrok etc. I just don't like the sound anymore, it bores me to death. You can do other things with powerbooks as well...
Techno, I think was very important for the general attitude we all have re. making music. It introduced, to me at last, this 'diy-lets just do it' approach. also, very important, was the experience to produce tracks rather than proper songs with the classic refrain-bridge etc. structure.
Involve: I'm always interested in how people relate 'techno' i.e early detriot stuff to modern day electronics because I totally missed all of it and discovered electronica thru aphex, mouse on mars, seefeel and autechre really. (hmm not really a question, oh well)
Thaddi: I never followed detroit close enough to call myself a real fan or anything. I discovered that music around 97 when I was already heavily into electronica. back then, I went to detroit and spent a whole weekend with mike banks. although, again, this sounds like a cliche, then I suddenly understood the meaning detroit techno also has, not only being great party music but that is also has some other dimension. Nowadays, within 10 records I buy per week or so, maybe one is techno.
Involve: I wanted to know if you thought the influence of computers has been a bad one in the last 2 years. It's interesting because I know companies now are stopping production on some hardware.. i.e emu esi samplers,, because they aren't selling because more and more people are using software studios. How do you feel about making music on computers??
Thaddi: no more esi samplers? shocking! First of all, you have to do know that you're talking to a person who has grown up with hardware equipment. My very first piece of gear was an emax-ii. nowadays, I still very much rely on hardware: emu e64, emu e5000 ultra, 2x 808, 909, 606, cr 78, jupiter 4, virus b, juno 106, pro one. especially when it comes to sampling, I think computer-based systems are not very intuitive, reliable and overall helpful. I prefer the 'traditional' way of working. external synths/samplers and the computer controlling and sequencing. I also find it incredibly boring to work with aiff-files only on the screen. It's so boring to arrange a track just by copying and pasting soundfiles. However, I do have an apple g4 / 533mhz and I do quite some audio processing these days. some software synths are interesting (like the pro 52 for example) and the things you can create with plugins are amazing. in contrast, things like reaktor or max bore me to death
Involve: Sub question re computers: I find that one negative influence of the internet is that people (myself) included now expect to get things for free.. I mean... 'cracked' software. games.. napster for MP3's .. and then I start to get worried.. How do you feel about people downloading CCO's stuff of napster and never intending to buy themselves a copy?
Thaddi: Worried? Not really. I assume there is some CCO stuff on napster, but so what!? we are a label releasing vinyl in the first place which still makes a difference I think. I can only judge for myself, but there is nothing more boring than listening to music on the computer. stuff I really want and like has to come with the real packaging...of course I also burn off stuff for friends and get some new stuff to chekc out in return, but if I really like that music, I go out and buy it. i'm a record collector, you know :-) It is the same with software. I bought logic audio platinum and I bought protools, too. same with pluggo. although emagic and digidesign are big, coporate suckers, I think their software is worth the support. pluggo especially. Cycling74 is a small company and although cracks are everywhere and it wouldn't have been a problem to get a proper serial# from kit clayton...they are worth the support.i hope that people do it the same way with music...
Involve: What are the best and worst things about running a label?
Thaddi: Releasing records by great people and not getting paid.
Involve: What's it like for you running a label in Berlin. Generally considered 'ground zero' of musical nnovation. Inspiring? intimidating? Please tell me more about your history of making/releasing music. motivations and how you discover artists..? what your release philosophy is.. i.e woul dyou release anything you liked.. or does it have to fit certain parameters./..
Thaddi: Not intimidating at all. be it pole or basic channel...they are all very nice people. maybe I have some sort of special status because i'm a journo as well, and debug has loads of respect. - side note: I was offered the one and only interviews for germany with autechre and aphex twin yesterday...-for example, I wrote the first major article on pole. since then, we've become good friends. he helped me a lot while setting up city centre offices, premastering the first 7"s before they were send off to that gloomy place in the Czech Republic. He also remixed one of my tracks for free. His girlfriend runs a promotion agency and of course we're all going through her when we have a release big enough. whenever I release a record, I use Morr Music's account to ship the stuff to the distributors. I write the press sheets for him in exchange. Everybody working at hardwax is making music himself, we all like each other, hang out, listen to music, meet in clubs. It is not really a music industry either, more like a family...
Why do I have a label? hmmm. It started in manchester in Shlom's kitchen after his shop had opened and I had played the opening show together with Max Tundra. We thought it would be a good idea to do a split record with max and myself (back then, I was still doing breakbeats on digital hardcore rec...) we never did that, but shlom and myself started the label anyway. I asked Arovane and he did this very first 7" for us. For me it is really easy to discover new stuff. I have to listen to new music all the time, I know many musicians, so...there are no rules of what to release and what not. for instance, the next 12" we'll do will irritate some people for sure. It is different stuff. or the geiom album we'll put out in the summer turns more and more into an acoustic album. I find that very exciting (i have this indie label dream :-)the only parameter which is important...we have to like it. also, it must be fun working with the musicians.
Involve: I have this whacked out theory about the correlation between the 'technical nature' of the German language and it's relation to most of electronic music of germany, which to me sounds very very technical/scientific. (in my limited understanding German is ultra precise language and you have all these words that we don't have in English hence we say 'umm that stuff' a lot to describe things... hereas German has this particular word of 15 syllables... ) Not to say that it doesn't groove, quite the opposite. But arovane, burnt friedman, pole etc, all seem like mad rocket scientists compared to artists from places like US,, NZ, etc etc.. dunno what you think.. (that's why I'm asking) ..
Thaddi: couple of things here...yes, the german language can be pretty detailed and is, as far as grammar and declinations for example are concerned, somewhat more complex and difficult. however, I do not see the relation the language and the music has. I always find it irritating to meet uk-artists who do this very detailed music. When you meet them, most of them speak this 'alright, mate, fucking wicked tune' language, all with a very heavy dialect etc, someting I associate with a 'not-very educated life'. this is a bit different in germany. americans are nerds, same as germans
Involve: Funnily enuf the UK scene has a lot of these mad scientist types to Luke Vibert, AFX, Autechre.. where the music is supremely technical but also very warm and melodic.. why germany and england... ??? hehehe 4 page essay required please.
Thaddi: Interstingly enough, the english have a focus on german music and the other way around. it makes sense for germans, because the anglo-american influences were always big after the second world war, for obvious reasons. but I never really understood why english people are so into german music. when you read the wire, you might even think that they get some fundings from the goethe institute or so...
do you understand what I mean?
Involve: The observation about English is sooo true. they're a whacky lot with their clunky talking. I get these demos from kids in the UK and it's always so hardcore in terms of tehnical stuff. loads of scattering beats, time compression and chopped up loops and rapid basslines and stuff. I don't understand where the inspiration for this comes from... I can understand from living in london, it's manic and noisey and you have to be pushy and alert all the time and how your music might reflect this 'urgency of life' But these kids are often way out in the country.. producing this manic urban madness.. cracks me up.. and they're like 'yeh its allwight innit'
I don't think of Americans being in the same geek league as Germans. What do you think about the upsurge in American electronics? how do you see it differences/similarities to the German scenes?
Thaddi: i'm not really sure. but i'd say that the san francisco posse is extremely nerdy. don't you think? people like kit clayton? I had the 'pleasure' of listening to a conversation between him and mr. monolake in pole's living room...the nerdiest tectalk you can imagine. if you think of german geeks, whom do you have in mind? I cannot really think of any.overall, I really enjoy what is happening at the moment in the states. freescha, marumari, safety scissors (although he lives in berlin right now...his new album on plug research is *the* record of the year)...something is happening
Involve: Do they have technical backgrounds?
Thaddi: Some do, some don't. arovane for example is wizard on the emu sampler, but he uses his powerbook only for checking mail :-) when it comes to reading music etc...i really don't know
Involve: Are the Germans making music generally a well educated bunch? do they have technical backgrounds? have they come from pop bands? what about the influence of pop in Germany... is there much i,e r'n b and stuff. ? or is the electronica scene so strong because when you have pop.. you have pop like Kraftwerk??
P.S I think that the strenth of 80's british pop really inspired the UK electronica scene ,, all these modern artists were growing up on this fucking cool synth stuff,, they can't help but have good taste? thoughts?
(as for NZ we grew up on British pop too.. NZ music scene is profoundly guitar based,, this whole bunch of jangly guitar bands inspired by velvet underground and associated with the Flying Nun label...)
Thaddi: there are definitely some people around who started in popgroups, but again I do not know. hah! hang on. moritz von oswald...50 % of basic channel, maurizio, m, burial mix, rhythm & sound...he played in palais schaumburg, together with thomas fehlmann and holger hiller. not really pop, but definitely a band, back from a time when there was this movement 'new german wave'. nothing political, just a bunch of bands doing cheaply produced, mostly electronic, music with german lyrics. it ranges from daf to andreas dorau to nena.
i think so. I do not listen to the radio and do not have mtv or viva (german equivalent) on my tv anymore. but I guess so. pop has always been strong. but compared to france for example, german kids used to listen to mostly american or english pop. when the new german wave came on on the early 80s, suddenly there was some awareness. one for the german language within music and two for the bare existance of german musicians and producers. before that, we only had frank farian, you know...
i really don't know how important kraftwerk really were. of course everybody mentions them as a major influence. I tend to do so as well. but I do not really listen to kraftwerk that often
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