Chain D.L.K.: First of all, the classic question: how was Neongrau born and why?
Neongrau: As a singer, programmer, guitar player of an avant-gardisticelectronic indie band (’88-’96), I joined the music business a long timebefore now.After quitting the former band and for about six years of taking shit fromthe biz (mostly from shit-talking label heads), pissed off and bored fromlistening to nearly al music productions nowadays, I just wanted to start upa solo project, which allows me to do whatever I want, without wasting timecompromising myself.
Chain D.L.K.: I read that your lyrics are created from a cut-up process (originated byWilliam Burroughs). Can you explain what your method is, and do you finallytry to give them a logical sense?
Neongrau: To be honest, this is a story written by one of my former label headsat LoFi Stereo (the record company I was signed to, before Das DrehmomentRecords). The background is that my lyrical work reminded him of theWilliam Burroughs “cut-up” tradition!? But I donÂ¹t think that Mr. Borroughshad the opportunity to use spam-mails, then.I hope that there actually is a logical sense in my lyrics (mostly verycritical, sarcastic and cynical) — by trying not to use so many words, suchas ordinary love/hate songs normaly contain. I try to manage it in a kind of”Spam-Mail-advertising slogan” way.
Chain D.L.K.: Do you apply the same method to the music, playing around with thepatterns on a sequencer?
Neongrau: Sometimes, but mostly it seems very planned by some kind of impulseafter impulse automatically telling me the next step/track. It is more likerebuilding an already finished virtual, pre-listened song playing in myhead.
Chain D.L.K.: Your main influences are Gary Numan, Soft Cell, Fad Gadget and all thelate ’70s/early ’80s electronic bands (even though I hear also new wave andpost punk elements into your sound), but as I wrote in my review, your styleisn’t a mere reproduction of those times. Can you tell our readers somethingabout the tuning that brought to the birth of your music as it soundsnowadays?
Neongrau: It isn`t really a secret that I truly love and being influenced by thelate ’70s pioneer electronic stuff, such as Fad Gadget, Soft Cell, GaryNuman, The Normal…. And I really think that their 25-30 year old tracksare still better than most [current] productions of DJ A to XYZ…They were and still are so modern and authentic, created to be a kind of aworld record in electronic songwriting. Valid up to now and for sure infuture times — same as Led Zeppelin, T-Rex, Beatles, Stones for theRock/Pop scene.The point that puts my stuff into the present time is very simple, because Ilive, feel and think now. I am only me, aka Neongrau, and I don`t try tojust copy things. There is a massive invisible list of prohibitions (givento me by myself) that guides my work.To me, music is a lot about style and class and being conscious about usingspecial sounds in classic song structures. Style always depends on thepresent time and class is the quality aspect that makes art last.
Chain D.L.K.: You chose as [the release’s] title “Spam ‘N’ Space,” and looking at thecover we could link the internet spam (internet is the main place wherealternative music is promoted nowadays) with the aliens of “Space invaders”(which is a symbol of the ’80s). Are there other possible explanations?
Neongrau: I wasn’t thinking of spam [as promoting] alternative music. The spamaspect is more about the crap emails (penis enlargement, Viagra, pills,silicone, advertising trash) which is very funny and frightening at the sametime.But you are absolutely right that the cover art work (test-picture, invader)very much symbolizes the early ’80s.One more explanation is; I really, really love the test pic colors (Cyan,Magenta, Yellow) in front of a black background.
Chain D.L.K.: This is a difficult time for music, because of piracy and because of thehigh number of bands that make it hard for a newcomer to get known. In myopinion a band to get some results should stick to originality and”honesty”, musically speaking. What has been your experience, since yourfirst record is already out of print, and what do you think about thisissue?
Neongrau: The first Neongrau 4-track vinyl release (on LoFi Stereo) was up forillegal download a week before the official release. Fortunately, it soldout anyway. But it isn’t a good feeling to get cheated by people whoactually love your sound. If you create nothing special you maybe get somedigital random distribution via the Worldwide Web, but who is actuallysearching for totally unknown songs/artists?I think that most of the small indi(e)vidual bands that actally have acertain quality and potential will be killed by this download shit, [by] notgetting hyped.
Chain D.L.K.: On your album you decided to cover “Photographic” by Depeche Mode, aclassic and a difficult thing for an electronic band. How did you decide todeal with it and why did you choose this track?
Neongrau: First, just because I love the song. I totally agree about thedifficulty and high risk factor, for an electronic (related sounding) artistlike me, attempt to do a Depeche Mode cover version. Their fans definitelyseem to be the most severe and hardest crowd [to convince]. But I took it asa challenge and fortunately it seems to work. Even hardcore DM Fans seem tolove it, too!
Chain D.L.K.: Usually electronic bands are always busy by remixing other people’smusic. Have you already done remixes? If not, what band would you like toremix and what would be your method?
Neongrau: Yes, I`ve remixed my own songs, just to prevent someone else fromdoing it in a bad way. 😉 It is indeed very strange that an electronic artist like me is more gettingremixed than doing remixes for others. But honestly, for me 99+% of allremixes are not worth being done. The remix thing, for me, sounds like acheap way to satisfy the dance/club scene. I haven`t thought a lot aboutremixing, because the songs I would really love to remix are so great, thatit would be a crime to interfere and change a thing.But I must say that Patrick Pulsinger did a great job, remixing “Hi LevelSlacker (+)” for the Neongrau Vinyl EP (2005).To me Neongrau is more about listening, not about making e-chicks shakingtheir asses. So the method would be: sense-making indi(e)vidual quality.
Chain D.L.K.: In this period you’d be busy by promoting your album. Are you doingconcerts, promotional parties, where people could get to know you and yourmusic?
Neongrau: My record company did a release party in Berlin a short while ago, butit wasn’t actually labeled like that, so no one knew about it. Kind of asecret release party, funny.Right now I am just doing interview after interview. The fact that I don`tlike to see all these kinds of boring, mostly unnecessary one-man laptoprip-off shows, is one more important point on my prohibition list, whichmakes it impossible for me to play gigs at this moment. Maybe I have tosurprise myself by developing a show, because quite a huge number of peopleseem to be very, very interested. More time! (To create a certain hi-levelwhatever).
Chain D.L.K.: What records would you suggest to our readers?
Neongrau: The Normal, “TVOD”
Fad Gadget, “Singles -82”
Goldfrapp, “Black Cherry”
Sneaker Pimps (all)
Lamb, “What Sound”
IAMX, “Kiss + Swallow”
Japan, “Gentlemen Take Polaroids”
Soft Cell, “Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret”
Depeche Mode, “Speak And Spell”
Duran Duran, “Girls On Film”
Chain D.L.K.: Something more you’d like to add?
Neongrau: Thank you!!!
NEONGRAU: Hi-level trash glam for hi-level indi(e)viduals
Visit Neongrau on the web at:
[interviewed by Maurizio Pustianaz] [proofreading by Benjamin Pike]