Apr 292009
 
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Chain D.L.K.: …Nonine, Taub, Patron & Patron, Nebau, Slowcream and how many more projects?…and to those we should also add your solo recordings, right? Please tell us and those who don’t know you yet about your many activities (I’ve had a hard time myself putting it all together)…
Nonine: Me Raabenstein: After the Nonine recordings’ relaunch in 2008 we played with the idea to open up the label to non-Raabenstein productions, such as the Neubau album ‘rymdmyr’… Compared to the Nonplace label, run by Burnt Friedman, Nonine releases are productions by and collaborations with Me Raabenstein. The artists I am proud of being able to work with come from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the UK and the USA. Each project has its very specific working method, either we are composing together in the studio or simply sending each other work in progress via the net… All of this creates the unique and upfront experimental electronica sound of Nonine.

Chain D.L.K.: After having listened to several of your releases I’d say it could have been easy (or at least not that hard) to find a good label, so why did you go for Nonine without hesitations? Are you afraid that people/journalists might treat you as a second class product just because you keep putting out net releases?
Nonine: Are you calling me second class? …Eh eh… No, you aren’t. You are saying that releasing mp3’s only is second class… well… I suppose it is. We did release vinyl and CDs… centuries ago, it seems. Five years, I’d say. I could stop releasing, kill myself or chasing snails in burgundy… I’d get bored sooner or later… You wouldn’t be able to receive any Nonine news, would you? And what about my buddies out there who don’t care for that commercial rubbish they call mainstream? Ehm, let’s say we all adore one flying lotus or such, but one hero doesn’t make an army… Nonine is not a global player, despite the daily growing number of reviews and playlists we receive, worldwide… Nobody knows what the future will bring. Is there any future for cultural property? Will the future citizens still have the wish and need to buy something or is the ‘all-you-can-eat-for-free’ behavior sufficient for their net soul… I don’t know (or should I care?)… Look at all these free download net labels, what are they then? According to your question they’d be third class? We don’t feel bad for being a net label. If the need arises, we’ll be physical again…

Chain D.L.K.: I guess with all those contacts and networking you do with Nonine you probably already have received offers to sign or release pressed version for this or that label. Does that mean you’re a die-hard believer of the Net or something? Also, considering the high quality of your materials, if you were to make it on a major label or if your music were to be used in a soundtrack of a movie, wouldn’t you have to change the terms?
Nonine: Our music has often been used for TV features (for example for the Biennale in Venice), so we have no problem giving it away for nice projects, movies etc… but, even if I have to repeat myself, I am not a hard-liner defending the web unconditionally. I think selling music as mp3’s is more than an interim solution and I guess I’d prefer releasing on vinyl again, if time and public demand are there… but back to the net, what we see here is only the beginning and nobody knows what technological ical developments will bring, and that’s without even considering consumers’ choice and behavior. I’ll give you the example of what people thought around the year of 1900 about automobiles: when asked what the future market for cars would be they thought there would be no more than 10.000 cars worldwide!!! And you know why? Because there were only 10.000 chauffeurs, or servants, that could drive these limousines… And to be honest, I did have requests from labels but never by a major one…

Chain D.L.K.: And what about your constantly changing monikers? Many “wannabes artists” would be afraid that having multiple monikers might deflect the attention? I understand that you work in the same area of electronic music, but in terms of popularity, aren’t you afraid music fans and journalists might forget Me Raabenstein is pulling all the strings behind all of these things?
Nonine: It is very common to have several id’s in the electronic scene. But what are names anyway? They are sound and smoke, so they say 😉 Those who write our reviews and play our music on the radio do know – this should be sufficient. I think it is more important to create musical credibility. If Nonine recordings is regarded as a high quality trademark with an individual sound, that’s all that’s important. By the way, don’t forget about all the brilliant producers and musicians that collaborate on Nonine… Me Raabenstein is only one part of the story. We have a certain Nonine sound I guess, but each project released here has it’s own particular color. Our sonic palette goes from broken beats to classical music based ambient stuff, fueled by our participants’ original choices and styles… that’s what counts. There are different and ‘real’ problems out there. The so-called well known labels do sell less and less, international quality distributors close down, but the number of new labels is rising daily. You mentioned ‘wannabe artists’, but whether you are an artist or not I’d say, there is no better or less, the only difference in taste and style. The sheer amount of releases makes it difficult to find real quality tracks today. Some of these releases, due to modern techniques, are produced rapidly and uploaded mostly unmastered. This is dangerous because the speed of this faceless production creates a speed of indiscriminate consumption. This mirrors the image of music itself… If curiosity is replaced by indifferent use, this media will die sooner or later, at least in terms of living emotional impact the way we know and love it… or it will be replaced by something different. Imagine yourself buying a Nonine pill. Swallow it and our music will play in your head for hours, including the video clips… nice future eh? And a haptic product, again…

Chain D.L.K.: You’re a Berlin based label and artis. This town has been constantly changing over the years and I know it’s going through a sort of decadent period… More and more people are staying there just for a while and leave after a couple of years or so… at the same time it’s still one of the capitals of electronic music. How do you perceive these changes and what opportunities does the city offer to a musician like you?
Nonine: Berlin is an all time bitch, in a way it is no different than the time before the german reunification. This city has always been a melting pot for social behavior and vision, people came and left leaving more or less traces. It is hard to believe that the area I live in (Schoeneberg) was seen as the center of the musical world thirty years ago, when David Bowie and Brian Eno toddled the streets. Berlin is a poor city, no industry, low standard tourism, snobby foreigners in their uptown lofts. It is funny that they all live side by side. Quentin Tarantino is shooting a film here, Brad Pitt is sipping his coffee in a cafe by the river, hopelessly ignored by the born berliner who is burning through his social welfare with alcohol. When these strangers are gone the streets are cleaned on the surface – the next full train has just arrived. Berlin’s fame? I wonder where it comes from. I’d say, the capital of german electronic music is Cologne; if you want nice living move to Munich, the coolness factor breeds in Hamburg… If I want to have fun I go to Rotterdam, Antwerp or London, meet my mates, produce there, hang out. Berlin’s a cold and hungry whore and it will be treated as such for ever. On the other hand I couldn’t live anywhere else, if you know what I mean. It’s a love and hate thing…

Chain D.L.K.: I think your way of thinking globally about your music activities is great but do you think that all this talk about widespread globalization of the power of the net has a risky angle? I mean massification is creeping, if you know what I mean…?

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Nonine: I see no danger there. Quality will find its way and massification is not an invention of the net. Producing music with affordable tools and uploading it for free is a mirror of contemporary society. It’s a simple way to express something, which is by no means a new thing, it’s the current sporty bubble, a swarm thing, funny though. In the movie “The Godfather” there’s a line when Luca Brasi swims with the fishes – which means he’s dead… On the other hand, there are so many talented new groups playing on stage with nothing but their talent and a guitar…

Chain D.L.K.: Beside leaving you complete freedom of expression, was running Nonine good to you in terms of contact/networking and notoriety? It looks like some of the most famous artists in different musical fields are in someway label owners. I’m thinking of Cold Cut (Ninja Tune), Aaron Turner (Hydra Head), John Zorn (Tzadik), Stephen O’Malley (Southern Lord) etc…
Nonine: That’s an easy one. Contacts = Brillant… Networking = Excellent… Astonishing reviews – loads of playlists – hard not to like the applause… notoriety, well, let’s say are workin on that one, and thanks a lot for putting me in such nice company. Doing it this way is the only way I can imagine… Think about what happens when your producer adds some soupy strings on your punk tune – brrrrrrrruuaaahhhhhhhhh ah ah… here we go…

Chain D.L.K.: Going back to your roots, how did you get hooked on to electronic music and what did you grow up listening to… Were you a diehard rocker, a techno raver or simply a passionate young listener?
Nonine: I did start my dance with the Peter Gabriel Genesis era, King Crimson, yes … art school rock… Then a slip to Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Talking Heads, Tuxedomoon… After that I got into Erik B and Rakim, Epmd, Paris followed by early Warp Beaumont Hannant, Speedy J, Orbital, Fila Brazilia and then I took smooth side step towards Underworld…. a gentle pause here to jump to Four Tet and a (up to now) last move to Flying Lotus… The underlying carpet is Kraftwerk, the ceiling is Steve Reich… i was involved in making music all my life, but never touched it seriously. In the late nineties I switched from annoying my friends with endless mix-tapes to finally roasting them with my early sound stuffings and escapades… Some survived…

Chain D.L.K.: And now that you’ve become an active player and left the role of being just the listener behind (did you?), how has it changed your relationship with other people’s music?
Nonine: To lay back and chill I like a contrasting playlist… Free jazz Eric Dolphy versus new americana iron and wine, ambient Brian Eno versus experimental soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith, and very late at night Roxy Music versus early King Crimson… Spiced up with Max Richter, Murcof, Soap and Skin…

Chain D.L.K.: So here’s the classic last question: what’s in store with Nonine and with your solo projects plus collaborative career?
Nonine: Hmmm, that’s quiet a list. Pepper and Bones’ “One” was released last month. it will be followed by my first solo album “Esk” as myself, Raabenstein in June. Actually I’m working on several albums to be released in 2009 and next year – Kaisen (with Dov Waterman, UK), Rael (with David Minor, USA), Lagerfeltz (with Menno Jager and Ruben Koster, Netherlands), Heurtebises (with Tim Saul, UK), Nailsea (with Simon Weinert, Berlin), the She Hero (with Helmut Neugebauer, Austria, and Tristan Dee, Berlin). I am producing the upcoming Nonine albums by Subsequent and David Minor and doing work on the second Taub album, to be released on Harold Nono’s label Bear Suit… There are some more projects in the air not quite ready to be talked about just yet… this is Nonine, you’re safe.

Visit Nonine on the web at:

www.nonine.com

[interviewed by Andrea Ferraris] [proofreading by Marc Urselli]