Apr 212003
 
You might remember this profilic and versatile singer from his days with Talla in Moskwa TV. His new project, Lowy/Javelin, focuses on NYC and it’s many states of mind (pre 9-11, mind you), from the wonderous to the bizzare. All topped off with Harald Lowy’s (Chandeen mastermind) unique combo of pop, trip hop and amazing musical constraint, it could be the new template for those considering a move to NYC, as well as the first piece of real art-music to be doen this year. Definitely worth checking out ;-). Now here is the incomparable Mr. Javelin.

Chain D.L.K.: Well, one of my first questions is what led you to New York in the first place for the CD, since it takes place there?
Ion Javelin: I’ve been twice in NYC, but not in order to collect material for a text or for an album. The decision to make this LP came later and was originally inspired by a photo series.

Chain D.L.K.: How would you say New York is different from say, Berlin or Bochum?
Ion Javelin: NYC is THE symbol of the modern mega cities. I believe if people all over the world had to choose the city of the cities and if it were forbidden to elect those of their own countries, NYC would be in the 1st place. The most important reason for this phenomenon is the fact that an unbelievable large number of different ethnic groups lives there, day by day, side by side, influencing way of life, look, culture and atmosphere of this city. Nearly everyone will know someone whose citizen of NYC.

Chain D.L.K.: Does that bring out a new kind of inspiration in contrast to Germany or is it the same energy with different surroundings?
Ion Javelin: Let me put it like this: It’s no accident I wrote a text exactly about this city; usually I don’t write about cities, not a complete album…would be an interesting experiment to do a further one about another urban jungle and to experience whether the working on it could develop a comparable degree of inspiration…

Chain D.L.K.: From what I read on the Chandeen site, the CD originated from a series of photos coming from New York City. Where did you bump into these photos and how would they differ from ordinary photos, like those you see in ads?
Ion Javelin: Soon after having done these photos Michael Souvignier, Colognian photographer and a friend of mine, asked me for writing a prose text relating to this series. Originally he wanted to use ‘Broken Surface’ on the occasion of an exhibition of the pictures. Well, these photos are not colored as ads usually are; they hardly show the polished surfaces of NYC, rather the broken ones, or (slightly) grotesque/peculiar sceneries, at least. And they are really expressive, aren’t they?

Chain D.L.K.: Which was laid down first, the music or the lyrics?
Ion Javelin: First the text, then the music.

Chain D.L.K.: I read once where Ion was the singer of a group called Moskwa TV. Tell us a bit about this group since I can find no info on them and have no idea about them!
Ion Javelin: Numerous reviewers who wrote about Broken Surface appreciated Moskwa TV as one of the first and most influential European electro-wave formations in the eighties although we never really had a big commercial success.

Chain D.L.K.: There are many many levels of music on this CD. I sense some Pulp, Genesis, Pink Floyd, classical influences a la Schubert, etc. Who are some of your inspirations band wise?
Ion Javelin: When Harald and me started Broken Surface we didn’t ask ourselves which band or artist could or should be an orientation as to this project. Guess we both knew the work on this album would be much different from former ways of creating music for we had a literary text that ought to guide us. But surely we’ve got our preferences, and it seems similarities to Massive Attack, David Sylvian, Brian Eno, Tuxedomoon, even to the 1st Roxy Music Album can be detected sporadically.

Chain D.L.K.: The mood on the CD seems to be more post 9-11, since the mood surrounding some aspects of NYC seems to be calmer. Would it be a different CD before that time given the difference of mood within that city?
Ion Javelin: No, cause the music as well as the cover, all the more text and title had been finished before terror increased into a new dimension – this can be read in the booklet and is important to me, cause just a single glance at cover and title could bring about other associations; I wanted to exclude the possible imputation we want (ed) to abuse 9-11 in a commercial way. But don’t get me wrong: If an artist finds a serious way to be concerned with 9-11 I will respect that; but Broken Surface deals with another subject.

Chain D.L.K.: With the addition of two dance tracks on this CD, is it more to bring dancehall appeal or to show another side of the musical coin? Or perhaps an influence from working with De/vision on remixes work, given their dance oriented nature?
Ion Javelin: No, this hasn’t anything to do with De/vision. We wanted single themes simply to support the album, and what you can hear at its end are the Broken Surface versions of the main single titles.

Chain D.L.K.: Would those tracks be considered extra tracks or additional parts to the story (by the way I LOVE the dance tracks and are some of the best dance tracks heard in years! )
Ion Javelin: These two tracks are extra tracks and have no direct connection to the text cycle of Broken Surface. Nevertheless, they vary the themes ‘modern times’, ‘living in big cities’ (Berlin), ‘trouble emerging from blind belief in progress’…

Chain D.L.K.: On the song “Macrocosmic Termite-Town” how does that relate to the NYC atmosphere?
Ion Javelin: Atmosphere and lyrics of ‘Macrocosmic Termite-Town’ describe certain aspects of NYC which – I guess – nearly everyone who’s been in this city has experienced: ‘… rattling lungs, the actual core and the weirdness in backyards, the tone and the tenses of this macrocosmic termite-town…the incredible speed of NYC, its overwhelming power and presence.

Chain D.L.K.: I also read the album was done in a manner completely unheard of in this day and age: lyrics first, music second. Was that difficult to do, or more so than doing that in reverse?
Ion Javelin: No, I don’t remember bigger difficulties respecting our setting. It was unusual, especially for making so-called Pop music, that’s true, but I really enjoyed to work that way. But to do a concept album you need a general subject, and the best and rewarding one is a good text (at least a layout for a good story or even a plot). What I want to say is that you hardly can begin/process a concept album with lyrics in the customary succession, I believe.

Chain D.L.K.: Were they originally written as lyrics or as poems never intended to be put to music?
Ion Javelin: Originally there had been no intention to use the essay as a subject for music. But long before Harald and me began to work on Broken Surface I felt that this text could – and someday should – be translated into music!

Chain D.L.K.: How did you two meet and how did you arrive at the idea for “Broken Surface”?
Ion Javelin: We became acquainted at Stephanie Härich’s dwelling. The idea to collaborate arose quickly, but it still took some time till Harald made the proposal to work on a pure art project; I immediately presented him Broken Surface, originally written in German language. Think the same day we decided to take this prose as basis for our ambitious and unusual project.

Chain D.L.K.: With Harald I’m guessing there is some classical training behind the playing on this CD. Would I be wrong?
Ion Javelin: Guess above all you allude to the piano. Well, some parts of this instrument were played by me (‘The Japanese’, the end solo on ‘The Sound of leaving Foot-Steps’, also the organ parts), but neither Harald whose play is more flowing than mine nor I ever had a classical education, isn’t that so, Harald?

Chain D.L.K.: I’m not familiar with Moskwa TV, as I mentioned, but what differs between making this CD and that of a Moskwa TV album, Mr. Javelin?
Ion Javelin: The setting concerning the words as well as the possibility and the ability to compose together and that in an utterly spontaneous manner. Another important aspect is the total artistic liberty concerning the chosen styles and sounds without any consideration for the so-called market requirements.

Chain D.L.K.: And how would you say your vocals have changed since that time?
Ion Javelin: (smiles) Well, basically I think I’m simply better nowadays. Moreover the texture of these lyrics in themselves offers innovative and very different kinds of interpretations.

Chain D.L.K.: Hmmmmmmmmmmmm I did find some Moskwa TV info here! I also notice the dance track on the end of “Broken Surface” is perhaps the old Moskwa song “Generator X. O. 7/8”. Is this true? I’m also curious about the now provocative lyric “You better pray to Heaven’s Gate” given the recent cult happening around that group. Was that there before?
Ion Javelin: Yeah, ‘Generator X. O. 7/8’ is a totally new version of Moskwa TV classic ‘Generator 7/8’. Indeed, I modified some phrases for the new recordings but not the one you mentioned.

Chain D.L.K.: I also notice that the founder of Zoth Ommog Records (now defunct sadly) was also a member of Moskwa TV. How did he suddenly shift over from doing electro-pop to making such a hardcore industrial label? Seems like a turn of the tide, everyone in the 80’s went industrial from pop music, then the 90’s came and they went back to pop and techno!
Ion Javelin: Talla and me haven’t any contact since he left Moskwa TV. So I can’t tell you anything about his motives that let him choose this way. But I wasn’t surprised at the fact he produced techno – and still does, I guess. Techno is and remains ‘music’ made by technicians, not by musicians, after all.

Chain D.L.K.: I also noticed that you brought up a good point that it is thought to be hard to distribute music in Germany sing in English. How do you feel about having paved the way for fellow English singing German artists such as Wolfsheim, and having beat those odds?
Ion Javelin: With all good will: Thanks but this would be an overestimation of Moskwa TV’s effect, I assume. Maybe we influenced sound and style of some following bands, but commercially we weren’t successful enough to say that ‘we paved the way’ for English singing German bands. (smiles) Maybe it were some paving-stones we’ve been contributing to this, still in a little bit bumpy way. And one further remark: Okay, to some extent Moskwa TV had been able to ‘beat the odds’, but if Mr. Lowy hadn’t founded an own label maybe it would’ve taken us one further year or longer to publish Broken Surface cause – I’ve got to mention that – the musical quality represented by this project had hardly been noticed by those good old German record companies, no matter if they were independent or not. See what I mean?

Chain D.L.K.: Tell us also a bit about your solo work that has just come out, “Shelter Of Love” and “China”.
Ion Javelin: I’ve been writing & producing a lot of songs during the last decade, also a complete solo album (Art Pop/Wave) including the songs you mentioned but till today a release of this work hasn’t come about. But I’m confident that before long it will. Some of these songs – amongst other projects – can be heard on >www. ionjavelin. com