They have been active for years and finally they seem to be experiencing the respect and attention they deserve. The Belgium act IONIC VISION still offers their fans NITZER EBB inspired old-school EBM anthems and have now released a bunch of CD’s. A lot of things happened through the years with and around them and they have seen the ups and downs of this business thing called music. And what other act can boast that it has its own sub-label to COP International? The years were filled with learning how settle the things and with their last CD “Actual”, they showed more dedication and a better production than their predecessors like Proceed or Spetsnaz. Reason enough to figure out more about this act and its ideology…
Chain D.L.K.: The last interview we did is now 10 years old and was featured in the German magazine Vertigo (R.I.P.). Aside from the fact that we are now older, what has changed since those days for you personally and musically? What happened in the meantime with your old comrade Kurt?
Ionic Vision: Personally, we both became dad twice (and godfather). Musically, we kicked out our hardware and studio equipment. We are only working with a super application called Reason, these days. In combination with a “Prodikeys” keyboard, it’s brilliant. We don’t need anything else….musically. We got in contact with loads of other bands during that period, so we gained good contacts. Next to all that, it seems that during that decade of EBM absence, we still kept our flock of fans, and particularly that resulted in the fact that, in 2006, we are a respected band in the scene. As for Kurt, we have no idea at all what he’s up to. One day he just turned his back towards us, and since then we lost contact.
Chain D.L.K.: Any morals you could learn out of your deal with CCP? You had a break in between and silence for more than two years, so how and why did this episode occur and what influence did it have on your band development?
Ionic Vision: Yes, the moral is don’t trust anyone in the music business. And even today, so many years after CCP that moral is as alive as can be. We learned to treasure what we have, and after all the ups and downs we’ve been through, it still is so that you make errors, after all, we are humans! The small break was used to re-invent ourselves. At some point in time, we started working on a synth-pop project, called “State Of The Art” which even included a female singer. But it stopped in the demo-stage (we did record 3 tracks in studio with Eric Van Wonterghem). I think that only 5 tapes or so were sent out to some people. Then we went back to Ionic Vision and somehow the synth-pop invaded that too. This can be heard in the tracks on “MaschinenAngst”. We were slowly drifting away from our original sound. So it was time to reconsider what we were doing, think about whether we would go on making EBM or not. At that point we had a full album ready, but it was so soft, so weak that we dumped all tracks, started all over; and we worked hard, with only one intention, to create a new EBM album. And the result of our labor can be heard on “NeuMaschinen”. We had so many songs and mixes that we decided to release the album in 2 versions, a special LTD edition (to celebrate our 10th anniversary) and a regular version. It proved to be successful and we made it into the DAC (between New Order and Iron Maiden), and we even had a special 12″ vinyl release (sold out in one day) with Thomas P Heckmann and Terence Fixmer on the mixing console… We sure made a decent comeback!
Chain D.L.K.: I’m also wondering a bit about why you are not signed with the rising Alfa Matrix label, since you were together with the predecessor Side-Line Records. Why and what happened?
Ionic Vision: Nothing happened; Alfa Matrix is just not interested in Ionic Vision. It is true that a lot of the former Side Line bands and members stayed with Alfa Matrix, but we were not one of them. For more details you have to ask them this question.
Chain D.L.K.: Instead of being signed to a label you have built a sub-label of COP International, Machineries Of Joy. Please explain a bit about the organization of it. What are the pros and cons of being responsible for all artistic and financial matters?
Ionic Vision: Machineries Of Joy was raised after many talks with Christian (the main man at Cop International). It’s a friendship deal based on mutual respect, and where can one find something else like that in 2006? A deal like that is of a greater value than any other deal with a record company. The main idea with Machineries of Joy was not to be a label, but a platform for real and honest Body Music. We have complete freedom in what we do, but we always ask Christian for his advice. We are allowed to use the COP Intl. connections with distribution etc. When it comes down to promotion, we have to do all this by ourselves and we have to finance all of this. And this is the biggest contra; magazines do ask a shitload of money for putting an ad. They exploit this situation like fuck, and so we refuse to spend money on that. For the price of one ad, you can print a full CD! You can put ads in magazines for tons of shit albums, but it’s better to release one good album and make less promotion. Music has to be for fun and sell itself!
Chain D.L.K.: Still a valuable person from the past days is your hidden third band member Louis Zachert. Please describe his position in the band and his importance to your music…
Ionic Vision: Indeed, if only one good thing remained from the CCP era, then it’s definitely our own “Brother” Louis. After CCP, we lost contact for years, and at a certain period we went searching for him (to ask if he would be interested in mastering “MaschinenAngst – ION005), but no one knew where and why, he vanished in the German air… Suddenly Louis turned up in Brussels, and since then we three became and stayed close friends. Louis is just as important to Ionic Vision as the two of us. He doesn’t contribute to the creating of the songs, he does not contribute to the concept of each release, but he has the final hand and ear to the mastering of the final product. He does the sound engineering on our live performances, which is half of a good gig, if you ask us. He’s incredibly valuable to us and we are honored and pleased to have him as a friend and expert on so many things. He’s definitely the third part of Ionic Vision.
Chain D.L.K.: Let’s talk a bit on your new CD. First off, I am surprised that it isn’t officially licensed to your partner label in the past days, the US-based label DSBP. Why is this, and does Tommy T, labelowner of DSBP, still take care of some distribution for you overseas?
Ionic Vision: Well, there was an issue with our European distributor “Alive”. “Actual” (ION009) was released sooner than expected. We had to set up a last minute promotion, losing so much valuable effort; we missed interviews, radio promotion…. And at the same time it was pointless to set up a US campaign, as the market would be flooding with European imported CD’s then. We from our side had the intention to create a US-only version of the album, with several mixes, different artwork, just to give DSBP that extra dimension. But all in vain, we still feel sorry for this, as if we turned our back to DSBP. But it was not the case, not at all, Tommy still does his good work for us, and we hope to collaborate more.
Chain D.L.K.: The track “Ich Will” features German lyrics, which can be often heard especially from acts representing the old school form of Body music like Sturm Café, Proceed or Spetsnaz. What makes the German language that “cool” that it can be heard that often? Why do you go with German text — and did Louis help you out here with the grammar?
Ionic Vision: One of our influences is D.A.F and sometimes we find that baselines or rhythms are crying out for German lyrics. “Ich Will” was one of them. It just fits better than “I Want” for instance. We wrote the lyrics ourselves and asked Louis to check the grammar. We do not have the intention to include more German lyrics, these things just come, like “L’usine”, that’s French (and extremely rare in the EBM world). Maybe on the next album we will include a track in Dutch!
Chain D.L.K.: “Watching You” and “God’s Garden” are dealing with an erotic – maybe S/M-based — background lyrically, also something you have had used thematically here and there. Why the strong dedication to this theme?
Ionic Vision: Some songs not only ask for German lyrics, but sometimes sounds or sequences are so naughty that they require sexy and erotic words. There is no particular reason. It’s not that we are into S/M or so. “God’s Garden” is the ultimate sex song, let us all hope that if we die and end up in heaven we can fuck all day and all night! … and drink beer, loads of beer, yeah!
Chain D.L.K.: Also used is a politically-inspired theme in “Puppet Nation” for example. Please give us a very personal point of view: how do you see the current political situation globally?
Ionic Vision: It sucks. That’s why we stick to music, because we can find ourselves there. We don’t care about politics at all. We just care about the music we make and the way we can let ourselves go in the creation of both music and the concepts. Every once in a while our lyrics are sharp-edged against what is going on outside our door. Same with In the news (“NeuMaschinen” ION006), that had lyrics dealing with all those darn idiots who think they can change the world with blind violence, so common in 2006, but don’t these people know that violence only breeds violence?
Chain D.L.K.: What’s going on with your live sets? Lately you were on stage in Magdeburg/Germany on the latest Electro Tremor festival. Any further dates you can already confirm?
Ionic Vision: So far there is no confirmation yet of any new gigs. We do take pride in the fact that we are one of the few bands that make different live versions for each studio version. We hate it when we attend a live performance of a band and notice that we might as well just put on a CD. The Electric Tremor festival was a good gig. We made good contacts (especially with Orange Sector, hello Kurt und Günter). We talked over some plans, but it’s not the time yet to reveal them. Besides the fact we never play studio versions, we also refuse to play a lot. It is better to do few good gigs a year, rather than doing two every week. This sort of music is just not good enough for overkill.
Chain D.L.K.: What’s next for you and for your label Machineries Of Joy? I have heard about an upcoming compilation release…
Ionic Vision: Indeed, we have released a compilation, called HYMNS OF STEEL. It’s a gathering of 18 tracks, all unique contributions to this sampler only by great bands, be it new or famous. Besides ourselves, we have exclusive tracks by Orange Sector, Der Prager Handgriff, E-Craft. On the more or less unknown side, you get Void Kampf, Jäger90, Sequenz-E and many others. The nice thing about this compilation is that all songs handle one theme only : STEEL/STAHL. This has never been done before. And old-school EBM compilation with exclusive tracks around one theme, steel/Stahl! We are a definite first, no matter what others claim.
Chain D.L.K.: Anything else you guys would like to tell our readership?
Ionic Vision: Thanks for the support and remember: keep raging against the acoustic! We do, even when we are enjoying that fuck in god’s garden!
Visit Ionic Vision on the web at:
[interviewed by Marc Tater] [proofreading by Brandon L. Clark]