Cold, dark futuristic… not to mention French Canadian! In the vein of experimental techno greats Haujobb and Black Lung comes this up and coming addition to the next wave of IDM. Combining trance with a driving brand of cold, hypnotic EBM, this group will have you hooked. But enough from me, let’s let them tell you the tale!
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us a bit about yourselves and about Headscan, for those unfamiliar with the group (poor misguided souls! ).
Headscan: Christian: My father was a singer in a local rock band in the 60’s and that really had a lasting impression on me. I joined Claude and his band in 1997 as the lead singer for Insurgent, one of the great Montreal industrial rock bands of the 90’s. Claude and I left that band in 1999 to focus on a mainly electronic music project. Headscan played its first big show in January 2000, opening for Haujobb. We’ve since played lots of shows, produced an album entitled “Shaper and Mechanist”, did many band remixes and recently released a new split CD single. Claude: I’ve been into electronic music since I was thirteen, that’s when I first heard of Jean-Michel Jarre describing his music as sound paintings. That was in 1979, the year I was also introduced by an older friend to the music of German bands like Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze and Kraftwerk. It was instant love! The last decade was a great learning period for me. I did two CD recordings with my first serious band and some movie and theatre soundtracks.
Chain D.L.K.: I notice you guys hail from Montreal, Canada. Do you ever feel the Skinny Puppy and Frontline Assembly shadow loom over you, being electronic artists in a country known for holding on to the old school industrial groups?
Headscan: Christian: It’s a great heritage and we appreciate it very much. Being French-Canadian kind of sets us apart culturally from these artists of the west coast of Canada. We hope to bring this unique trait forward in our work.
Chain D.L.K.: How would you rate the support for the group and the scene for EBM and electro-dance there?
Headscan: Claude: The scene is very supportive and really goes for the genre. There’s a very good show promoter here and many cool club nights that play good intense music. Diversity is essential and all sorts of dark clad people come out to the shows.
Chain D.L.K.: There is a strong presence of machinery and technology in the group. Where did this interest stem from and where did it start?
Headscan: Claude: For me, it all started with a fascination for myths and one of the most interesting myths of all, the future. The mythos of the future as always been filled with humanity’s newest ideas and machines. The early space programs coupled with photos of live shows from J-M Jarre and TD’s huge live gear setups surely made for one hooked techno kid. I’m also an avid fan of science-fiction. Christian: My father bought an early model computer and the possibilities just mesmerized me. I’ve grown up in the 80’s playing with the Atari and other game consoles, the interactivity just made me crave for more. Now, technology and machines enable me to create better designs and also flesh out my imagination.
Chain D.L.K.: I noticed in the bio Christian also does website design and motion graphics. Do you do the art for any of the Headscan CD’s and for the Headscan site?
Headscan: Christian: Yes, I did all the Headscan’s CD covers and also our website. That visual aspect complements our audio production and is very important for us. We both did the videos we present in concert and the ones we’re working on now for our upcoming album. It’s been our intention from the start to be a multimedia project because we both love to create with sound and image.
Chain D.L.K.: I notice a bit of a Lassigue Bendthaus/Haujobb element to the music, ala LB’s “Matter”. Would you say that either had any influence on your music or no?
Headscan: Claude: I’m glad you mention that because we’re often compared to Haujobb which is a band we like and respect, but we don’t think it had a major influence on us. Lassigue Bendthaus is in fact one of the bands that’s had a major impact on our music. Many artists like us benefited from LB’s seminal works like “Matter”, the ”Cloned” remixes and the essential “Render” album.
Chain D.L.K.: You were recently added as one of the spearheads for Artoffact’s “U-Turn” project, which is aimed towards the dance floor. Would you really consider yourselves dance music or more so cerebral music?
Headscan: Christian: We make music for both the mind and the body. We like music that can be pumped in and easily appreciated on a basic organic level but also one that is multi-layered like a sort of soundscape for the mind.
Chain D.L.K.: Speaking of Haujobb, you played with them before live. How did that go? Any plans for side projects with them or remix work?
Headscan: Christian: It was on our first show as Headscan in Montreal and the expectations where high. Everything went very well and the crowd just went wild. We had a great time with Daniel Myer, he’s a very cool guy! The whole Haujobb crew was very kind to us, especially when we supported a small part of their tour with Hocico. We didn’t talk about music that much, most of our time was spent drinking, but we’d be greatly honored to share music and remixes with them.
Chain D.L.K.: Where did some of the songs titles on the CD come from as well as the CD title?
Headscan: Claude: The title of the CD “Shaper and Mechanist” reflects our mutual fascination for organic and mechanic evolution and is inspired by a series of short stories from author Bruce Sterling. The song “Immortal” was in part inspired by a book called Mona Lisa Overdrive from the cyberpunk writer William Gibson and the song “Singularity” by ideas included in the books Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte and The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil.
Chain D.L.K.: Where did you get a lot of the samples from, such as the ones on “Body Of Memory”?
Headscan: Christian: We like to plunder movies and documentaries for sounds and spoken word. We’ve got loads of recordings of all kinds that we’ve researched for Headscan. There are for example samples on the album that come from 60’s French avant-garde movies and others from different space programs’ audio archives.
Chain D.L.K.: OK, weird question here…………… with your music revolving around the progress of technology and technology in general, did you have any fears when the Y2K threat rolled around? I think deep down all in the electronic scene were scared shitless! I actually considered acoustic guitar again around that time.
Headscan: Claude: I remember we were playing live on the night Y2K came and I knew that most computer systems had been already patched up and that the problem was mostly fixed. Christian: Yeah right, but we still had our clocks set back on our computers and hoped for the best. Midnight rolled in and it looked more or less like a bad joke on humanity.
Chain D.L.K.: How did you meet up with Artoffact? Does it feel better to be localized in Canada label-wise versus being on a label in say Germany or America like many bands these days?
Headscan: Christian: We sent demos to a few labels but it was Yolk, the label owner of Artoffact, who was the most intent on signing us. Being able to sit down and talk eye to eye with the label owner is one thing we greatly appreciate. It might be a limiting factor to be on a Canadian label for now when concerned about the European scene but otherwise we’re most satisfied with how the label is handling things.
Chain D.L.K.: Would you consider your drumlines and basslines to be more techno or EBM? I keep hearing arguments on that one!
Headscan: Claude: Our drumlines and basslines are inspired by all the music we’ve been into the last twenty years, so yes you could say the bass and drum lines are inspired by EBM. We liked Front 242 as much as anyone else then, but it’s also true to say that they are also inspired by techno since we greatly enjoyed psy-trance music in the 90’s. It’s really a hybrid of these and other electronic genres. In fact, it’s something I don’t even think of when doing the music; it is as I feel it should be. I remember in the late 80’s when some friends of mine were saying that the term EBM Front 242 had come up to define their style of music was a bad idea for a name and that their style was dead anyway.
Chain D.L.K.: Any plans to tour America in the future and show the electro-starved masses here how it’s done?
Headscan: Christian: We’d really love to come back to the States to play. Playing in New York and Detroit last year with Haujobb and Hocico was incredibly cool. We met up with some very friendly people on these occasions. There is a possibility that we’ll be playing in Chicago later this year and hopefully elsewhere in the US to promote our next album.
Chain D.L.K.: What is a Headscan show like? Do you add any of your graphic design into the mix on the show?
Headscan: Claude: It’s loud, very dark, and thumping. Lots of energy and movement; we love doing shows especially for a crowd intent on having a good time. Christian: Usually, when possible at the venue we play, our shows are presented with synced videos from beginning to end. What we strive to present is a sort of futuristic movie atmosphere. We like having an intense dark techno ambiance for people to dive in and let themselves loose.
Chain D.L.K.: I notice you come from the French speaking section of Canada (or so I’m told). Would you ever consider doing a song in French?
Headscan: Claude: There are French sampled voices on an exclusive track from our first recording “High-Orbit Pioneers”. French is our mother tongue but I love the sound of the English language very much. Christian: There is a song with French vocals on our next record, it’s called “Arrache Moi” which would loosely translate as “Tear Myself”. I don’t remember how exactly it came to be, I think it just made sense for me to sing in French on that one, with that theme in mind.
Chain D.L.K.: Any side projects planned for the moment?
Headscan: Claude: We do have a project on the side that is slowly taking form; it’s with a friend called Nihil with whom we work on creating some very dark postindustrial mayhem. It’s very different from Headscan, there’s barely any techno influence, it’s a modern take on the genre defined by bands such as Test Department and Einstürzende Neubauten mixed in with some Esplendor Geometrico and SPK influences.
Chain D.L.K.: Fun, goofy question here to close things off with………………. OK, a robot from the future (yeah I know it sounds familiar! ) is sent to destroy you in a DJing tournament to the death (man does this sound corny). Who would win, you or the robot? Any secret weapons or equipment you’d pull out to win?
Headscan: Christian: It would surely be a hardcore match but I think we’d spin that dammed machine down to its bare dry components, all maxed out! Claude: Yeah, we’d play Kraftwerk’s “It’s more Fun To Compute” backwards and love to see it try to outspin us with some ultra high-level frequency Trekno. We’d probably have to use our military grade subwoofers to melt its core down. Hey, it’s him or us …
Chain D.L.K.: So, what’s in the future for Headscan besides kicking ass, taking names, and obliterating Future Pop?
Headscan: Claude: The last months have seen us very busy doing remixes for cool bands like Battery Cage, Interlace, Glis and many more. Next up is finishing the recording of our new album and assembling the visuals for it. Christian: We’ve got a great show happening next November in Montreal. It’s at the Elektra Festival, an event focused on international and local digital culture. Our new record, “Pattern Recognition, ” will be launched there and presented on a giant video screen, using three projectors synced to create one very large image and presented with a special surround sound mix. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time, an exciting time indeed.
Chain D.L.K.: Any last words or questions before we go? Thanks for the excellent debut and I know we’ll be hearing more about you as time goes on.
Headscan: Christian: Here’s hoping we have the pleasure of meeting you and some of your readers in the not too distant future. Claude: Long live the NewFlesh!
Visit Headscan on the web at:
[interviewed by Shaun Hamilton] [proofreading by Erica Breyer]