Apr 252015
 

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His music has been appreciated by notorious DJs in the UK (Sir David Rodigan, Mista Jam, Mary Anne Hobbs, Charlie Sloth, Toddla T and dBridge, among others). His collaboration with brilliant Austrian producers Camo & Krooked, that led to “The Lesson”, was among the top hits on Youtube after EA Sports featured it in FIFA Street 12. He signed many great releases and toured Europe with MCing, mainly playing grime and dubstep tunes. These are just some of the reasons explaining the praises he’s been gaining on the Manchurian scene. His funny war-moniker is Skittles. After listening to his recent “Bumba EP” release, ft.DRS, on Estate Recordings (click here to watch/listen to it), we had a chat with this nice lad! Let’s get to know him better.

 

interview picture 1Chain D.L.K.: Hi there! How are you?

Skittles: Sup man? PRETTY SHADOW!

 

Chain D.L.K.: The bass-driven Manchurian scene has been gaining more and more visibility recently…almost surpassing the one in London…what’s your opinion on this fulminant rise?

Skittles: I guess the scene in Manchester is a lot more organic and based around good music and partying, rather than good business and political parties. Everyone there has a disco waiting for me.

 

Chain D.L.K.: I know you suffer from “polymorphic creativity” and you don’t do anything to hide it…how do you boost your creativity? Brandy? Skittles? 🙂

Skittles: My creativity doesn’t need boosting! It’s when I stop thinking creatively and attempt to put the millions of mental ideas I have every minute into play; that’s when I need a boost.

 

Chain D.L.K.: How’s Bricktop?

Skittles: Good question!! Bricktop is better than ever! He’s a vital part of what we do. He has worked with me since we came out with “Time for a spiff” and played a massive part in my music. I owe a lot to him, musically speaking. He played the DOT2DOT piano riff. He played every instrument on THE PRE All live! The infamous PEGGY MITCHELL skit was his, performed live with the guitar. He has since played keys for (if I’m not mistaken) CALIBRE, DUB PHIZIX, MARCUS INTALEX, DRS, JENNA G, and CHIMPO. He also helps massively with my live show and aided me to put the band together. ‘8 gold rings’ have played countless acts over the past few years. His solo productions are also incredible and, Oh God!, he can rap!! And sing and play any instrument this side of the horizon! The original Salford John tune was his. He has played so many parts for me in so many tunes, we ourselves forget them and then sit there like “who played that?”

I really could go on about this guy all day. He’s one of my best friends because he knows how to DISCO, properly! But if you really want to know about Bricky, you should probably interview him! Here’s his Soundcloud. Check him out! He’s got more soul than you could shake a bible at.
Chain D.L.K.: You’ve participated in many D’n’b festivals. Did any of them leave a mark on your soul or your future musical path?

Skittles: “Sun and bass” was amazing. There was a proper family vibe there. But they didn’t book me last year so if they don’t book me this year, I’m going to start saying it was really cold and rainy. Rain and treble! Ha

 

Chain D.L.K.: Your first release came out on Virus Syndicate’s Contagious Recordings, in 2007. After that, you took a break and reappeared in 2012. What happened during those 5-6 years?

Skittles: Don’t know. I was shredded for most of the time; loads of crime and drugs and women and all that kind of stuff. That 07 thing was just all the old shit I wanted to get rid of so I could start fresh. I thought I’d cracked it around 2009, so I started planning for “Poor with £100 trainers” and it took a while!

 

Chain D.L.K.: You’re open to collaborations… is there any D’n’b name you’d like to collaborate with?
Skittles: Not really. It’s not really my scene. They just like me because I did a tune with George ha (DUB PHIZIX) saying that I have felt a lot of Calibre’s stuff ever since DRS first played me some tracks they were doing.
Chain D.L.K.: Which collaborator gave you more in terms of ideas and “Eureka!”-type moments?

Skittles: I think it’s the other way round. I give them a vocal. None of them really gave me much; just a beat. In most cases, I already had the vocal. I find most producers give u the beat they can’t finish, and they want you to make theirs OK tune sound good. If they made a beat that was so sick…they wouldn’t need me. Other non-D’n’b colleagues, like DUB PHIZIX for e.g., are really exciting producers and can properly get things popping’. I’ve created countless beats with him.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Anything to say about your last release?

Skittles: BUMBA is just a small installment of some of the new stuff I came up with, without giving away too much. You can grab it here www.skittlesuk.com

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Chain D.L.K.: I know you started rapping when you were a teenager. Do you remember the very first rap song you tried to emulate?

Skittles: The Bosnians – The Manchester rap

 

Chain D.L.K.: And do you remember your very first live performance and audience?

Skittles: We put a proper hood night on in Kama bar, in Fallowfield, years ago, so we could showcase our shit. It was rammed! And shut down after two seconds!

 

Chain D.L.K.: What’s the most ridiculous and the most common definition of your style, according to people’s feedback?

Skittles: HIP HOP! Fuck off!

 

Chain D.L.K.: Any forthcoming collaborations or remixes?

Skittles: Me and icicle are currently working on some stuff which will surface in the form of an EP, if we can stop making tunes! I have a bag of beats from some top g’s, but I have yet decided which one will be used.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Do you prefer to be considered a musician or an artist?

Skittles: A musician is an artist. So I am both. But I am also an artist outside of music.  ——-> Look! I made an arrow!

 

Chain D.L.K.: Let’s come back to your recent EP…what was the sparkle that made you come up with “If I Know Then”?

Skittles: Just growing up, I suppose. Adulthood!

 

Chain D.L.K.: Regarding your track on “Bumba”, Marijuana makes less victims than alcohol, mobile phones and even soy! But hemp was turned into a drug by men in the oil industry. Anything to add on that matter?

Artist Name: MD’s safer than alcohol and tobacco, but not falafel!

 

Chain D.L.K.: The amazing and mind-boggling “The Pre” has a sample which reminded me of something: J Dilla. What do you think of that?

Artist Name: Don’t be cheeky! About that sample: everything was recorded live! Every sound in that tune is bricktop! Apart from the intro “Cornet” which was by infamous Manchester promoter RICH REASON!

The drums were recorded at Salford Uni by JOE V! What a collaboration!
Big up! Check out fox’s new ep! Estateuk. LEVELZ. MANCHESTER!

Visit Skittles online at: www.skittlesuk.com

Apr 222015
 

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Cat Werk Imprint recently released “Beauty Sleep”, her fifth studio album, which, according to the label’s introduction, “conveys through 11 tracks – including ‘In My Shed’,  a remake of the Recoil’s track ‘Stone’ from the album ‘Hydrology’, Alan Wilder’s second Recoil release (1988 – Mute Records) and ‘Live with me’, a sonic translation of a sonnet by Shakespeare -, cinematic spirits, shamanic visions, rituals with the spirit of Yma Sumac (the 1950’s soprano of exotica music) appearing as a lost woman in the forest of hallucination”. Let’s introduce Olivia Louvel through her own words.

Chain D.L.K.: Bonjour Olivia. How are you?

Olivia Louvel:  Not bad! Thank you for having me on Chain DLK!

 

Chain D.L.K.: Could you introduce yourself using your own words?

Olivia Louvel: I’m an electronic music producer, crafting electronic songs with my laptop and voice.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Is it true your career started at carnivals? Any inspiring freak in those places?

Olivia Louvel: I did start in the “circus”, a kind of modern circus performance with a flying trapeze company with whom I was performing/singing. It was an open-air show at night and I had to climb up there too. Yes, there were some strong personalities, with well-defined looks and eccentricity. It was all very exciting and a bit crazy. Don’t we all have some freak inside us?

 

Chain D.L.K.: I can imagine that your love for animals and nature was somehow related to your very first steps in music.

Olivia Louvel: I was stranded in the countryside, even though I’m an “urban gorilla”. I did have a rabbit, which I was holding in a clip for ‘Lulu In Suspension’. I also did one clip with my cat. We are ourselves animals and we are probably happier living amongst the fields and nature than we are when we stick too long to the pavement of cities.

 

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courtesy of David Ackroyd

Chain D.L.K.: You took part in Alan Wilder’s Recoil tour. Any artistic exchange with Alan on that occasion?

Olivia Louvel: Nope. We’re mates and hang out by the sea when the English weather allows us. Though I did rework his track ‘ Stone’, initially released by Mute Records in the 80s. I used a rather big sample of it for my track ‘In My Shed’. Alan was cool about it and liked the direction, so I released it on the ‘Beauty Sleep’ album.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Some years ago you made ‘Lulu In Suspension’, a cinematic opus inspired by Louise Brooks. Do you feel like you were Lulu?

Olivia Louvel: Somehow I did project myself into the film, the era. Also, I read Louise Brooks’s autobiographical book, which was very inspiring. I could have certain traits of Lulu or Louise. This album is about her and me. I play within the narrative and switch identity.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Before talking about your new album, could you tell us something about your previous one, ‘Music for Haiku’? Is there any haiku that keeps on inspiring or describing your artistic path?

Olivia Louvel: ‘ō, Music for Haiku’ is based on the Haiku poem, by poet Bashō, from the 17th century. It was a completely different approach; more minimalistic. I used the haiku itself with the vowels as sound material and I played with it in a kind of naive way.

I really got into the Wabi Sabi aesthetic after I read this wonderful book by Leonard Koren (Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers) Wabi Sabi is difficult to explain in one phrase, but let’s say it is about the acceptance of time, impermanence, imperfection, but also about intimacy, austerity, no preoccupation with status. Which is pretty much what an artist has to go through to create…
kumo ori-ori
hito o yasumeru
tsukimi kana

from time to time the clouds let people have some rest as they view the moon

 

Chain D.L.K.: You decided to wear wings for “Beauty Sleep” and turn yourself into a sort of bird-woman. This “mutation”, as well as some other clues (a track named “Bats”, for instance), made me think about the movie “Birdman”, that received a lot of awards. Have you seen it? Can you compare your character to Inarritu’s one? 🙂

Olivia Louvel: No, I haven’t seen that film yet, but I will try to. It all started with the furry gloves I found in Brighton in a fancy dress shop. I was looking for something that would bring an element of duality animal/human to the artwork.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Many reviewers compared your style to Bjork’s. Do you think such a comparison is appropriate or not?

Olivia Louvel: Bjork had a strong impact on me. I recall the day I saw a documentary about her in the studio on Arte. I was mesmerized and clearly thought: “how about I do something like that one day?”

It ‘s important to have strong female role models in music, as it is in any domain. I would have never thought I would become a music producer. Frankly, there was a time in my life when I did not even know how to create an email address! What struck me about that documentary wasn’t just the fact that she was singing, but also the fact that she was producing, realizing her vision. It was all very empowering.
The comparison is appropriate in the sense that I sing and compose with a laptop, but on the other hand, any electronic artist who uses her voice tends to be compared to her too rapidly sometimes.
I think I have my own vocabulary. (I hope, at least)

 

Chain D.L.K.: Could you explain a bit the main theme of “Beauty Sleep”, using your own words?

Olivia Louvel:  Shamanic visions, rituals, a lost woman in the forest, a bird-woman.

 

interview picture 2Chain D.L.K.: Many artists “squeezed” animalism in their work. Is any one of them you feel close to, in a way?

Olivia Louvel: To be honest, I am stuck here. Nothing comes to mind. frozen. All I see are gremlins fighting in the room.

Chain D.L.K.: Your inspiration was fostered by a shed in West Sussex where “Beauty Sleep” was born. How have you perceived that shed from an emotional point of view, before, during and after the birth of “Beauty Sleep”?

Olivia Louvel: That shed is my working place when I build on some tracks. I am, at least with my mind, in my shed. Now, there was also a physical shed where I used to live at the time, in the countryside. I need that shed to be inside my head. It is also a shelter, a precious place protected from all the non-sense of the world.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Are you going to make a follow-up to “Beauty Sleep”, where Beauty awakens? By the way, regarding follow-ups, ‘Beauty Sleep’ is not only an oeuvre for eardrums, is it?

Olivia Louvel: As a matter of fact, three weeks ago I released a 2-track EP which is the sequel to ‘Beauty Sleep’. It includes my cover of ‘Night and Day’, the Cole Porter song which did not make the album in the end, and a remix I made of ‘Bats’ (extinction mix).

Yes, my work is also for the eyes as I produced some experimental films which you can view on my website. I call them ‘experiments’. There are 7 short films in total.

 

Chain D.L.K.: It’s quite strange that your album received not so much feedback, even if Graham Duff mentioned it as being one of the best epic album. What was your reaction to such positive feedback? Do you think that some reviewers had no words, as you inspired a mute pathos? 🙂

Olivia Louvel:  I was delighted with Graham Duff selecting my album. His BBC series ‘Ideal’ is pure genius! I love it! I hope to embody Mrs. Cartoon Head.

It was great to have Ed Benndorf from Dense, handling the PR. He did a great job and I got much more reviews than I expected. But yes, it’s tricky and at times frustrating when some magazine ignores your work. There is so much going on; thousands of CDs land on desks every week and very few make the cut to the review section. When and if they are heard. This is the boring aspect of the job, for an artist. The part I prefer is obviously being in “my shed” and doing my stuff.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Have you performed it on live stage?

Olivia Louvel:  Yes, I did. Recent set in Italy for Cronika and in Brighton for Spirit of Gravity was 50% Doll Divider 50% Beauty Sleep.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress? Are you going back to that inspiring shed in West Sussex?

Olivia Louvel:  The shed is with me.  An ongoing project is sonic tapestry with Mary Queen Of Scots. I still live in West Sussex, but by the sea now.

 

Visit Olivia Louvel online at: www.olivialouvel.com

Apr 212015
 

BQ - Class War

I’ve been listening to so called ‘industrial music’ since I was 20, therefore, being over 40 now, I must admit that I’ve missed out on the very first mystical era, as I was too young to be there at concerts. But I’ve dug quite a lot into hundreds of records, mostly from the ‘80s, of noise, extreme and – well – industrial sounds that have shaken my ears and nerves.

Surprisingly, it was already 2009 when, thanks to this excellent book by the French writer and journalist Eric Duboys, I discovered Bourbonese Qualk. Well, I must admit that I may not have been really attentive in my listenings, but that name had never popped out at me from readings, friends or musical shops (RIP) that I used to frequent. Duboys, who dedicates a chapter to the most famous bands in that ‘grey area’, such as SPK, TG, CV and so on, talks about BQ in a long note where he describes them as one of the most underestimated bands ever, so this aroused  my curiosity. I was able to easily satisfy my curiosity after a wild downloading afternoon on the website of BQ, where (again surprisingly) nearly all their records had been made available by the only active member of the band, Mr. Simon Crab.
And the music was just great.
One of the most relevant things was the – in my humble opinion – very high quality of most of their records, especially the early ones, dated 1983, like Laughing Afternoon or the wonderful Preparing for Power (1986), still my favorite with the later Unpop (1991).

I then tried to see if I was the only idiot who had never heard of them before, so I asked many friends, including well known musical journalists, what did they think of BQ. And most of them never heard of them or only knew the band by name. What about social? There must be a fan Facebook page with hundreds of followers, right? Well, today (March 2015) it has more than 1000 fans, but believe me when I say, five years ago that number was under 200.

This unbalanced situation made me even more enthusiastic about their art, to the point that I did a cover of one of their pieces with my band, and then I decided to contact Simon to let him know. Six years later, here we are with an interview which, first of all, tries to clarify why this world is so unjust and why they’ve never reached the fame they deserved. Or why are they so crazy that they’d do anything to stay in one of the most uncompromising niche of musical art for ages.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Why do you think BQ didn’t become as popular as other bands of the same period such as CVs, TGs or SPK? It may be my tiny personal opinion, but the quality of your music was great and deserved more success. Did you do anything in order to avoid success maybe? What happened?

Simon Crab: What happened? several things; some of them accidental some of them on purpose.

One comment that has been made about BQ was that it was free of artifice and pretence – ‘it was what it was’ i.e. we didn’t construct a myth around the music, the group or the personalities – we left it open to interpretation. I think this – creating a Myth – is how some groups become ‘famous’– very much the case of TG and to a lesser extent SPK and CV (not that we were anyway aligned to these type of groups). We were always told to make ourselves somehow more presentable – talk less about politics, squatting, rioting, be nice to the press, do more of the ‘commercial’ tracks and less of the noisy stuff. Needless to say we ignored this advice.

We were approached by several major labels (who had no idea what we were about) and we basically told them to fuck off. I think we were very entrenched in our ways – we’d never have survived very long with a big label and the ‘music-business’ environment… that was somehow anathema; all that rock shit. We were much closer to punk than Industrial – we mixed with anarchopunk/skins crowd, don’t think we knew any Industrial bands. Groups like Crass were very influential on our music and way of working – that ‘complete independence’ from the mainstream attitude had a big effect on us.

Crass_Yes_Sir_BackAlso; It was not a career – we never thought we’d exist for more than a few months so we didn’t particularly care about longevity or success- And; what is success? we had complete control over our music, record label, performances, tours, images, video, posters, artwork. We financed everything ourselves and paid ourselves a small wage. This is more than most musicians achieve even if they’re working in ‘successful’ bands.

But It’s also down to personality. I think some people crave fame and adulation, they love the whole rock thing. We didn’t. We disliked being thought of as musicians (all that talk about guitars and amplifiers, diminished sevenths or whatever). I used to say that I was an accountant. Far more glamorous.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Yes, I knew of your respect for Crass, and as far as I understood you considered yourselves closer to anarchy than to other ‘ways of thinking’. Did this also maybe push some potential fans from the ‘industrial area’ away from you? Do you consider yourself an anarchist? Or a revolutionary? I saw you collect pictures of riots and of Nestor Ivanovič Machno in your Pinterest account!

 Machno-ABC2   Simon Crab: In general, people who openly describe themselves as Anarchists tend to be idiots. It’s become something of a lifestyle rather than a political movement with it’s own ‘rules’ dress codes and behaviour with little knowledge of Anarchist history and theory – so I’d be cautious to describe myself as such. But yes, something like a Libertarian Communist/Anarchist – Julian [one of the members that took part to BQ in the years, note by M.U.] and I were very involved in various events throughout the 1908s – ‘Stop the City’ (The original anti-capitalist riot that closed the London stock exchange in 1984) and the Poll Tax Campaigns of the late 80s. The Ambulance Station [the place where BQ were used to live and rehearsal, note by M.U.] was an experiment in practical Anarchism. I’m still very involved in political activism (and so is Julian). It may have pushed some Industrial fans away, and if so, good! there is an unpleasant strand of lazy Fascism in industrial music (Current 93, Sol Invictus and the like) which was evident even in TG’s work. This is one of the reasons we never liked being associated with the scene.

 

Chain DLK: At the same time, in the blog that you update from time to time, I remember I found a post where you said that the gear you used to record was previously in the hands of CVs, TGs and SPKs [maybe my memory is wrong, as I couldn’t find the post again now]. So you had close contacts with that ‘scene’, was it just a joke or just a real matter of instrumental market?

Korg_ASimon Crab: Something like that. We bought the equipment from the Nocturnal Emissions, who got it from SPK who bought it from TG. I was good friends with Nigel and Caroline of Nocturnal Emissions – we all lived in the same area (Brixton/Camberwell in South London) in a very tight-knit activist squatter community. I think they (N.E.) were the only ‘Industrial’ group we knew; we didn’t know anyone when we first arrived in London and they were very helpful and encouraging to us. If anyone’s interested; the equipment was an old Teac 4 track tape recorder, a Korg Stage Echo (which we used a lot – it’s an old tape echo with a very long tape loop) and I think, a graphic equaliser and a TR808 drum machine. The London Industrial scene became a recognisable entity only really after the release of the ‘Elephant Table Album’ which threw together a lot of different groups under one banner. I remember Portion Control – and Test Department who we let use our studio at the Ambulance Station (which they filled with tons of rusting metal) but then we also knew non-industrialists like Lol Coxhill, Royal Family and the Poor, legendary Pink Dots etc.

 

Chain D.L.K.: …and even in this latest case, don’t you think that your sounds were close to those of these bands anyways?

Simon Crab: It’s a bit hard for me to be subjective, but no I don’t think it was similar (also depends on what album or time period you are talking about) – to me our music was much more organic and instrumentally varied; we used guitars, bass, drums etc. drums especially were seen by others as being a bit old fashioned. I guess there may be a similarity in sound due to the equipment – pretty much everyone used an 808 drum machine at the time so it locates it as an ‘early 80s sound’. I’d be curious to know which tracks you think sound similar to the groups you mentioned… if it is the case then it was accidental – we certainly didn’t set out by saying ‘hey, let’s make an industrial track that sounds like TG’ if anything we would do the opposite and avoid sounding ‘industrial’ (guess we didn’t succeed!).

 

Chain D.L.K.: Yes I indeed meant a matter of sounds. The 808 was used a lot in these years as far as I know, and in fact I thought of some tracks from NE and SPK, like bits from Befehlsnotstand and Leichenschrei. But it was used as well  by many new wave bands… I mean: maybe one of the things in common with NE and SPK is the repetition of patterns, the obsessions in rhythms and the saturation of certain frequencies. Musically speaking, in my opinion you were totally different not only because of the use of the ‘normal’ instrumentation and the drums, but for a deeper care for melodies. The impression is that you and your bandmates paid quite a lot of attention to this. Did you study musical theory or do you think you were maybe more interested in some kind of ‘ beauty’ in your songs, more than other radical bands might have been?

images-2Simon Crab: I myself never studied music formally – self-taught. But yes I think we were equally interested in harmony and ‘beauty’ as you put it as much as noise and ‘ugliness’. All part of the same spectrum and needn’t exclude each other. I always wanted to create a wide spectrum of textures in a finished album with often jarring contrasts between, and sometimes within, tracks – a rich variety of sonic tones and frequency. I have always been interested in a wide variety of music not just a single genre; composers such as Erik Satie – who can also be very ‘experimental’ and surreal  at the same time as being ‘pretty’ so I guess this influence is audible…

 

Chain D.L.K.: Yes, I agree with this variety of influences coming into your music. One thing that also always surprised me in your album was not only this quantity of different genres coming together but also the way the ‘songs’ developed. The impression is that you got into the rehearsal room and played while recording everything, to capture the moments and the feelings of that time.

Simon Crab: I guess it was a bit like that – improvised, but not necessarily in real time; I basically had a whole pile of tapes of ongoing work which I kept adding and editing random bits and pieces of whatever we were working on at the time –  and over a year or so until it almost organically coalesced into something that resembles a complete work (such as an LP). I’d usually start by making a rhythm track with tape loops or electronics, then layer instruments over it and add the vocals at the end. If a piece is good it usually ‘works’ straight away – there’s a kind of immediate energy and vitality about it and it’s very obvious (to me, anyway). If it needs laborious working and re-working it usually means it’s not that good in the first place. So, in that way, most of our work was very spontaneous.

 

Chain D.L.K.: …and to me it also seems that there’s very little post-production. Right? I noticed that some tracks finish all of a sudden, with no ‘coda’ at all, and they seem to start and finish from nothing.

Simon Crab: Yeah, it was intentional; abrupt starts and stops, changes of mood and texture. I wanted it to sound as if the sound was a continuum, that it was constantly going on and that a vinyl record was just a glimpse of a musical landscape. As well as that we had no interest in song structure – we didn’t really have verses and choruses, middle-eights (whatever they are?) – they just start and then stop with no traditional ‘musical development’. I like that basic-ness. There was a also a heavy dose of punk attitude; we saw ourselves as attacking the audience and shocking them out of their (supposed) complacency – give them the opposite to what they’d expect… or want.

Regarding post-production; when it came to mixing, we had very crude equipment. ‘Laughing Afternoon’ was mixed without a mixing desk! Just using the output controls from a TEAC 4-Track. So the brutal splicing and editing became a way of creating a specific feeling. I think I was very influenced by Faust’s ‘Faust Tapes’ album – everything edited together with a constantly shifting tonality.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Personally I think that this way of building tracks as ‘glimpses of a [wider] musical landscapes’ is one of the elements that has made, compared to others bands of the same period, your work less subject to get updated quickly. You can listen to some of your songs several times and you’ll never get bored exactly because there’s something missing that you’ll always be searching for.

About this process, again: you say “I’d usually start by making…”. Over the years several musicians took part to the albums, but you’ve been the only constant presence. How much did they contribute to the music? Tell me something about Steven Tanza and Owen If (I love his drummings) and then, if it’s not too sad for you, Miles Miles and the others.

Simon Crab: There were, I guess, three distinct periods of BQ: 1 – (1979-1982); me and my brother Ted. 2 – (1982-1986) the trio of Steven Tanza, Julian Gilbert and me… and 3 – (1986-2003): Miles Miles, Owen If and myself with big contribution and spiritual guidance from Kif Cole.

They all contributed in varying amounts of course – as you mentioned – I was the constant member and was responsible for pretty much all of the music – or at least I’d start the tracks, as described above, and then bring in musicians to add their bit. Julian was very involved; writing texts and lyrics, vocals, ideas and some instrumentation – we all lived together at the Ambulance Station at the time, so it was a very tight group of people, very committed, obsessively fanatical about what we were doing. Steve was, how can I say, quite a difficult character and less committed perhaps… he didn’t contribute a huge amount in terms of musical concepts (though I’m sure he’d disagree) during that time – he was more interested on the ‘art’ side of the project – videos and so-on – ironically I think his best music was after he left BQ and worked as ‘The State’ for a short period.

Owen (If) took over as the drummer around 1986 – I’d known him from his previous group ‘Scatter’ (which became The Stereo Mcs) who I’d worked with in our studio at the Ambulance Station. Owen was a very jolly South-Welsh bloke, a very talented percussionist and always completely baffled by BQ’s politics and theory. Owen started working as the drummer for the pop group ‘Stereo MCs’ at the same time as working in BQ – a strange combination – but I think you can see the influence in their early work! (‘Connected’ LP). They almost released a duet I did with Rob of The ‘Stereos’ luckily it was never released.

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I started working with Miles shortly after Owen joined. Miles was a self-taught, gifted and unconventional guitarist and multi-instrumentalist. He was a deeply troubled and intense individual who most people found impossible to work with; we immediately became very close friends.

We lived, worked and regularly rehearsed during this period in a squatted street in South London (Malt St SE1 – which no longer exists). This is where we recorded and used as a base for touring around Europe – we stopped recording for about a year; concentrating on performing live. Miles and I worked very closely together; creating rhythm tracks, instrument parts and the bringing in Owen to play over the top, Miles brought a musical complexity and depth that we’d never had before. This collaboration resulted in the three albums ‘My Government is My Soul’ , ‘Unpop’ and ‘On Uncertainty’ – which in my mind are our best work.

 

Chain D.L.K.Yes, I like those albums, and just today my friend Alberto sent me a link to an ‘Unreleased Demo’ of that period and I find it very inspiring too, very pure, even if I somehow miss the vocals. You mentioned that point and it makes me curious too: so it’s not always you that sings? What’s the ‘relationship’ you have with your voice?

Simon Crab: After Julian left around 1985, Steve and I both had a go at doing vocals… but, for some reason I ended up with the job – and since then I’ve done all the vocals. I’ve never set out to be a vocalist and it’s not something that comes naturally to me. Again, i think the ‘anyone can do it’ punk attitude helped here – it didn’t matter if you were ‘good’ as long as you do it with originality and verve! I created a kind of agit-prop repetitive, sloganised, short-phrased style that I liked – it was more about haranguing the crowd… I had absolutely no interest in singing… That kind of aggressive style was all around us at the time – hard-core punk was the unavoidable soundtrack to our lives at the Ambulance Station and osmotically became a part of our music.

 

Chain D.L.K.You describe the ‘Ambulance Station’ period as a very creative one and it looks to me this was almost like a ‘commune’, similar in a way to the Dial House of Crass.

Old_Kent_Road_Fire_Station_c_1905__Built_1903__xxxxxSimon Crab: Yes it was a very creative period, more active than the Dial House (which was outside London in the country) – we rebuilt the building (with zero budget) to accommodate artist studios, filmmakers, darkrooms, recording studios, rehearsal space, print workshops, free cafe, sculpture studios – we even had metal casting equipment for making sculpture – and a big performance space and bar. There was always a lot going on and we lived in the middle of all of that madness.

 

Chain D.L.K.Now I think you’ve changed your life a lot, right? Do you miss that period? Do you see any red line connecting the life you did at that time and the work as a designer you do now?

Simon Crab: Well, it was a long time ago – thirty years almost! So one would HOPE that one’s life has changed. The Neo-Con revolution that started in the Eighties completely changed everything, especially here in the UK – the cultural dynamic (to use a pretentious phrase) is completely different. But yes, I’m still connected to ‘that life’; I’m still active in direct action – anti-capitalist riots, black bloc, anti-fascist action as well as running and mentoring various activist and social technology groups.

It has been quite a schizophrenic, perhaps hypocritical existence; until recently I was a well known Creative Director in the advertising industry with big global clients. One day I’d be at a Bank’s board meeting, the next I’d be burning the same bank at the G20 riots (this actually happened). I’m not doing that (advertising)  anymore – I’m using my skills in a more ‘socially-progressive’ way running antipoverty, fair taxation and healthcare (Ebola currently) campaigns for development charities.

And, I’d like to add that I think we are about to see the beginning of the end of the Neo-Con Agenda, in Europe at least. Interesting times…

 

Chain D.L.K.: One of the things I’ve always been curious about was the titles or the ‘themes’ of the BQ songs… some time ago (again) I’ve read this post http://crab.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/what%ef%bb%bf-the-song-you-play-that/

But did you use other ways to name the songs in the past? Or can you describe how some of them were born? I’m interested in particular in “Soft City” and “Born Left Hearted” (Preparing for Power), “Barcelona Telephone Exchange” (Laughing Afternoon), “Call to Arms” (The Spike) “Always There” (Bourbonese Qualk) and “M25” (Unpop).

Simon Crab: Well, we didn’t set out, as I guess other groups do (though I might be wrong), to write songs about something – love songs about girlfriends or whatever. The music almost always came first and the vocals later. Because we didn’t write ‘songs’ as such, titles were mostly decided right at the end of the process when we were putting the album together (unless there was an obvious vocal-lead title). However, there are ‘Themes’ that developed of various periods, for instance; ‘Soft City’ is the title of a book by Jonathan Raban – an early kind-of psychogeographical study of London. I was very interested in urban geography at the time (which has become very fashionable now in the UK with writer like Iain Sinclair etc) from a political and psychological point of view;

“In the city we can live deliberately: inventing and renewing ourselves, carving out journeys, creating private spaces. But in the city we are also afraid of being alone, clinging to the structures of daily life to ward off the chaos around us”

This obsession with the City and urbanism was a major theme in our work – music and visual – from around the ‘Preparing For Power’ period – partly because we were so involved in buildings; exploring the empty and disused landscape, squatting and rehousing homeless people in London, taking away control of buildings from local government and opening them up to new uses.

Similarly ‘M25’  was part of a theme around politics, power and architecture; The M25 is the London Orbital motorway built during the Thatcher regime as an example of the victory of individualism (private cars) over the collective (public transport) – a symbol of Thatcher’s ‘Great Car Economy’ (another track off ‘Unpop’). Strangely, Iain Sinclair much later wrote a book about the M25 as well…

585612_thatcher_226656c

‘Call to Arms’; It’s hard to describe adequately here how we lived at the time this was written but we – and this was a commonly held view – saw ourselves as being at war with ‘the state’. Sounds a bit over the top now (kind-of) but when you are living a daily reality of being attacked, arrested, searched and in constant poverty with no way out it does makes sense. There is a more recent parallel with the so called ‘radicalisation’ process of young European Muslims. So this title was a ‘Call to Arms’ – an expression of righteous anger in a Mayakovsky-esque, short, slogan style. There were several tracks named in a similar theme. And, incidentally, throughout Europe, this track was played in nightclubs when they wanted everyone to leave at the end of the night and became known as the ‘The Rausmeister’ (‘Bouncer’ in English).

‘Born Left hearted’ is a rare example of a track being called after the lyrics – my brother Ted wrote some lyrics for us in the mid Eighties (think the other one was ‘New Jerusalem’). ‘Always There’ was as close as we got to a love song; a piece expressing tenderness and closeness…

So; a very mixed bag. I’m guessing you are looking for some kind of process or method – but, there wasn’t (isn’t) any. Sorry about that. All in all, it’s very hard, in a few paragraphs to explain the basic ‘meaning’ of what we did – it was something that was lived rather than theorised. And, we were ‘anti-meaning’ in other words, you had to work it out for yourself, and any conclusion was as valid as any other.

 

Chain D.L.K.: Ok, we’re at the end of this long and (at least to me) very interesting interview. I know there are some ideas of re-releasing your old material. Can you tell me more? Are you going to play/publish something new? I’ve also really liked  your EP for Thisco, not to long ago…

Simon Crab: It was long for me as well (joke!). We’re re-releasing the old material – first off is a double vinyl CD compilation 1982-1986 on the Berlin based Mannequin label plus a 12” of ‘Lies’ and a remix by Ancient Methods. We will be re-releasing all the old original work on vinyl in 2015. Myself: I have just released my first solo album “After America” on the canadian Fathom label. I’m planning another solo release in 2015 (it’s more or less finished now) and some live performances – oh, and I WILL finish the remixes of Sparkle in Grey soon(ish)… Steve is doing his art stuff , Julian has recently been revealed as a Russian spy! (bullshit). Everyone else is dead.

Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 21.40.38

visit the artist on the web at: http://www.bourbonesequalk.net/

Apr 202015
 



• SNOG vs BLACK LUNG "A CURIOUS & EXOTIC JOURNEY …": PRE-ORDER OPEN !

We are very happy to present this new 16 cd tracks album by SNOG & BLACK LUNG "A Curious & Exotic Journey Into SOund & Philisophy": A Compendium Of Collaborations, Seldom Heard And Previously Unreleased Works by Snog & Black Lung.
This exclusive release celebrates the return in Europe of Snog and Black Lung for shows at the Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig on 23rd and 25th of may 2015. Available only at the festival and on our website.
INFOS
PRE-ORDER LIMITED CD

Snog & Black Lung " A Curious & Exotic Journey Into Sound & Philiosophy"

• SNOG / BLACK LUNG @ Wave-Gotik-Treffen Leipzig
We are very happy to announce that we have booked SNOG and BLACK LUNG at the Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival in Leipzig next month :

SNOG: Monday 25th of May
BLACK LUNG: Saturday 23th of May


• YS ATLOV "Please" VINYL 12" + CDS OUT NOW !

Ys Atlov is where Depeche Mode meets Debbie Harry. She's influenced by electronic sounds and  mixes her songs with a pinch of disco and new wave music. This young french artist is part of the parisian alternative scene. 

Famous graphic artists duo Akiza and photographer Frédéric Fontenoy bring visuals of glam and retro chic athmosphere to her Disco – wave world.

Vinyl EP 12" (limited edition of 300 copies)

Tracklisting :

A1. Please

A2. The Eastender

A3. You can't fool me

B1. Please  (People Theatre's knee Remix)

B2. O.M.G. How Did I Get There (Original Gom MIX)
A 3 tracks CD Single version is also available.

 INFOS

• NEW FREE DIGITAL RELEASES : PHOTOPHOB AND ENABL.ED OUT NOW !


We have a bunch a great new digital releases for you by  two high talented artits PHOTOPHOB (Austria) and ENABL.ED (USA) that we are very proud to welcome on M-tronic.

All five releases all free or you can donate the amount if you want to support us !!!
CLICK ON THE COVERS TO DOWNLOAD

 
 

————————————————————————————————————————
/// D-MONIC  NEWS
————————————————————————————————————————

• JAMES RAYS GANGWAR "BEFORE AND AFTER THE STORM": OUT SOON

We are  very excited to announce that we will release a live album of the cult project James Rays Gangwar . It was recorded in 1996 in Leipzig (Germany), it contains all the classic hits of the band. As you know, this project was signed on Andrew Eldritch's label Merciful Release.
Tracklist:

01. Fuel

02. Rev Rev Lowrider

03. Sinner

04. A Strange Kind Of Assassin

05. Badlands

06. Hell Blond Chiara

07. Take It

08. Hardwar

09. Without Conscience

10. Lowdown

11. Luxury

12. Destination Assassination



• SWEET WILLIAM "LIVE ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA 1995" OUT SOON

We will release an exclusive live recording of Sweet William of their single live performance on the french riviera back in 1995.
This is an epic live album with extended versions.
It will be limited to 100 hand-numbered copies !

01. Follow

02. Show

03. Space Entrance

04. Out Of This Nothing

05. Behind The Scenes

06. When The Leeve Breaks

07. Streams Of Summer

08. Across The River And Into The Trees 

 

• MONOLOG "HASTA LA REVOLUCION" STILL FRESH

MONOLOG is the new D-monic signing, somewhere between the Wire and Interpol.

With his debut album "Hasta la evoluction", he proves that he has a great sense for catching melodies, his deep and mysterious voice is also simply splendid, imagine a combination between David Bowie and Andrew Eldritch ! Cold wave, post punk, pop, there is everything in this CD that will apply to all our D-monic followers.

 > OFFICIAL VIDEO CLIP
 > BUY CD

• CURL "EXIT REAL LIFE" STILL FRESH
It is time for the release of the new album 'EXIT REAL LIFE', a new wave, dreamy production that will send the listener through an emotional sonic journey. Angelic combinations of twisting guitar chime, fluttering synthesizers and beastly rhythms are married to Goddess like vocal melodies – intense sonic sculptures for the audio palette.The 'Award winning' French film documentary 'Les Enfants d'Okeanos' (The Children Of The Sea) features a soundtrack taken from this new album, the film was directed by Fabrice Begotti who has since been filming the new video of the song "Boards" with the group on The Côte D'Azur. Curl is a truly international project with the group sharing studio time between Nice and Marseille on the South coast of France and Portsmouth on the South coast of the UK. Psychic Uri Geller was quoted as saying "Lord Admiral Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte are big fans of CURL and regularly get together to listen to their music over several tots of rum". What else is there to say ?!
OFFICIAL VIDEOCLIP 
BUY CD

 ————————————————————————————————————————

Visit our websites / fb pages for more infos 
————————————————————————————————————————
www.m-tronic.com / www.facebook.com/mtroniclabel
www.d-monic.net
 www.facebook.com/dmonicofficial

Apr 202015
 

————————————————————————————————————————
/// M-TRONIC  NEWS \
————————————————————————————————————————

• SNOG vs BLACK LUNG “A CURIOUS & EXOTIC JOURNEY …”: PRE-ORDER OPEN !
We are very happy to present this new 16 cd tracks album by SNOG & BLACK LUNG “A Curious & Exotic Journey Into SOund & Philisophy”: A Compendium Of Collaborations, Seldom Heard And Previously Unreleased Works by Snog & Black Lung.
This exclusive release celebrates the return in Europe of Snog and Black Lung for shows at the Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Leipzig on 23rd and 25th of may 2015. Available only at the festival and on our website.
INFOS
PRE-ORDER LIMITED CD

Snog & Black Lung " A Curious & Exotic Journey Into Sound & Philiosophy"

• SNOG / BLACK LUNG @ Wave-Gotik-Treffen Leipzig
We are very happy to announce that we have booked SNOG and BLACK LUNG at the Wave-Gotik-Treffen festival in Leipzig next month :

SNOG: Monday 25th of May
BLACK LUNG: Saturday 23th of May

• YS ATLOV “Please” VINYL 12″ + CDS OUT NOW !

Ys Atlov is where Depeche Mode meets Debbie Harry. She’s influenced by electronic sounds and  mixes her songs with a pinch of disco and new wave music. This young french artist is part of the parisian alternative scene.
Famous graphic artists duo Akiza and photographer Frédéric Fontenoy bring visuals of glam and retro chic athmosphere to her Disco – wave world.

Vinyl EP 12″ (limited edition of 300 copies)

Tracklisting :
A1. Please
A2. The Eastender
A3. You can’t fool me
B1. Please  (People Theatre’s knee Remix)
B2. O.M.G. How Did I Get There (Original Gom MIX)
A 3 tracks CD Single version is also available.
 > INFOS

• NEW FREE DIGITAL RELEASES : PHOTOPHOB AND ENABL.ED OUT NOW !

We have a bunch a great new digital releases for you by  two high talented artits PHOTOPHOB (Austria) and ENABL.ED (USA) that we are very proud to welcome on M-tronic.
All five releases all free or you can donate the amount if you want to support us !!!
CLICK ON THE COVERS TO DOWNLOAD

 
 

————————————————————————————————————————
/// D-MONIC  NEWS \
————————————————————————————————————————

• JAMES RAYS GANGWAR “BEFORE AND AFTER THE STORM”: OUT SOON
We are  very excited to announce that we will release a live album of the cult project James Rays Gangwar . It was recorded in 1996 in Leipzig (Germany), it contains all the classic hits of the band. As you know, this project was signed on Andrew Eldritch’s label Merciful Release.
Tracklist:

01. Fuel
02. Rev Rev Lowrider
03. Sinner
04. A Strange Kind Of Assassin
05. Badlands
06. Hell Blond Chiara
07. Take It
08. Hardwar
09. Without Conscience
10. Lowdown
11. Luxury
12. Destination Assassination

• SWEET WILLIAM “LIVE ON THE FRENCH RIVIERA 1995” OUT SOON
We will release an exclusive live recording of Sweet William of their single live performance on the french riviera back in 1995.
This is an epic live album with extended versions.
It will be limited to 100 hand-numbered copies !

01. Follow
02. Show
03. Space Entrance
04. Out Of This Nothing
05. Behind The Scenes
06. When The Leeve Breaks
07. Streams Of Summer
08. Across The River And Into The Trees

• MONOLOG “HASTA LA REVOLUCION” STILL FRESH

MONOLOG is the new D-monic signing, somewhere between the Wire and Interpol.

With his debut album “Hasta la evoluction”, he proves that he has a great sense for catching melodies, his deep and mysterious voice is also simply splendid, imagine a combination between David Bowie and Andrew Eldritch ! Cold wave, post punk, pop, there is everything in this CD that will apply to all our D-monic followers.

OFFICIAL VIDEO CLIP
BUY CD

• CURL “EXIT REAL LIFE” STILL FRESH
It is time for the release of the new album ‘EXIT REAL LIFE’, a new wave, dreamy production that will send the listener through an emotional sonic journey. Angelic combinations of twisting guitar chime, fluttering synthesizers and beastly rhythms are married to Goddess like vocal melodies – intense sonic sculptures for the audio palette.The ‘Award winning’ French film documentary ‘Les Enfants d’Okeanos’ (The Children Of The Sea) features a soundtrack taken from this new album, the film was directed by Fabrice Begotti who has since been filming the new video of the song “Boards” with the group on The Côte D’Azur. Curl is a truly international project with the group sharing studio time between Nice and Marseille on the South coast of France and Portsmouth on the South coast of the UK. Psychic Uri Geller was quoted as saying “Lord Admiral Nelson and Napoleon Bonaparte are big fans of CURL and regularly get together to listen to their music over several tots of rum”. What else is there to say ?!
OFFICIAL VIDEOCLIP
BUY CD

 —————————–——————————————————————————————

Visit our websites / fb pages for more infos
————————————————————————————————————————
www.m-tronic.com / www.facebook.com/mtroniclabel
www.d-monic.net
 www.facebook.com/dmonicofficial