Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Jon St. James - Oogity Boogity

Fantastic electropop oddity from '84 with a suitably weird and wonderful video.

Jon St James is a US guitarist, songwriter–composer, producer and engineer who formed the electronic group Q and SSQ in the early 80s and later produced Stacey Q (who had a huge dance hit in the States with Two Of Hearts)  from the group's early work.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Yellow Magic Orchestra - Behind The Mask

Japan's Yellow Magic Orchestra are often overlooked when the histories of electronic music are drawn up but they remain one of the genre's most influential artists having inspired artists as diverse as Michael Jackson, Detroit Techno legend Carl Craig and Duran Duran while their music has been sampled by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, De La Soul and Justice. Afrika Bambaataa has cited YMO's Computer Games as a huge influence on his seminal Planet Rock.

A career retrospective/reappraisal is long overdue!!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Jean-Marc Lederman - Exclusive interview for Electrospective - Elektro Diskow! (Part 4)

In the previous installments of our interview with JM, he talked us through his time with Fad Gadget, forming Kid Montana and then the Weathermen and his work with Front 242. In this final part, Jean Marc brings right up to date as we go through the 90s and into the 21st century.

Part 4

-So you were working with Front 242, then into the 90s you collaborated with Alain Bashung and Julianne Regan from All About Eve (in Jules Et Jim), there seems to have been a lot of experimentation and freedom in that period…

Well, it’s funny. I got myself a sampler an Akai s3000 in the early 90s and started doing sampling and one day I got a call from Alain Bashung – for you English people must not mean much to you but he was the hugest rock star in France at the time so when he called me asking me to work one song with him and I immediately said yes. I ended up doing 5 songs with him so he really loved what I was doing. He really pushed me to experiment with stuff and I enjoyed that immensely. It was an experiment with him because he gave me tracks without the vocals and without ANY indication of what the chorus was and what are the verses and what the song is about. He also took out some instruments and so it was a really weird experiment for me to work on something so big and which was supposed to be still enjoyable for people in the mainstream audience. I supposed he liked what I did because he called me two years later and asked me to write songs for him that was even one step further. I’ve got one song on his album Fantasie Militaire which has been voted Best French Rock Album of the last 20 years which is kind of cool. I made some experiments with Julianne Regan from All About Eve under the Jules Et Jim name which was great also which was more kind of … electronic pop I would say you know but it didn’t have much success to be honest which is a shame because the songs are very good I think. And she’s marvellous.

-Around that time – the end of the 90s – one of the musical directions you embarked upon was composing for video games. How did you get into that?

In the mid 90s somebody I didn’t know but was working in a studio I did know of was asked to do the soundtrack for a game called V-Rally one of the early car games. The producer of the game wanted something that sounded like 9 Inch Nails. They thought of me and they called me said why don’t you do the soundtrack for that so I did soundtrack for that. Gluing to the idea that they wanted industrial style music like trance which I was doing at the time. It was for Infogrammes and they hated it so they didn’t use my soundtrack so they asked some rock band to play some hard rock music but I then started to make soundtracks for video games and I loved that to this day I still love it. I think it’s music complemented with images - it’s much more powerful than just music.

-Do you approach like a film soundtrack composer or is the process different?

It’s very different. In a game first you have to think things will be looping. If the player has to be in one interface if he can’t resolve the puzzle he’s going to be there for 5 minutes. So you have to think I have to do something remarkable but at the same time the player can’t notice it because if he notices it it’s going to distract him but at the same time it needs to be immersive. It’s a very complex thing. It’s not like in a movie soundtrack where you have to do things in layers which is going to be in the background. In a video game it’s very much up front. I try to do something which is great and at the same time I try to make it blend with the image. It’s quite complicated but it’s a great process. I start with either playing the game in its early form or with images from the game and then I build from that.

-Most recently you have been working with Masayuki Akamatsu and of course the legendary Kraftwerk keyboard and percussionist Karl Bartos on the iPhone app Minicomposer. How did that all come together?

I had done a remix for Karl Bartos a few years ago and we kept in contact. I went to see one of his shows which happened in Belgium two years ago and I thought it was just brilliant. It was imaginative and at the same time it was very nostalgic and sentimental and romantic, powerful – all the emotions that come with Kraftwerk. I told him you should do this and do that. He was bored of me telling him what he should do so he said, well, show me now. So I started to work with him more closely to find gigs. Then I thought why don’t we do a free application for iPhone. So this is how it happened … I looked for somebody to work on it that could program the application. I found Masayuki and we went on from that. It came out. It’s still available, still free and still fun to play!

-A final question – what are you working on now, what are your current projects?

Well, I have got several projects coming on. I’ve got one album which is made of cover versions which is called Leatherman with a guy who’s more of a lyricist than a singer. It’s cover versions of songs but the songs are totally deconstructed and played differently from the original-  The Ghost & Writer project which I’m doing with a German singer. We’re doing it the way more and more bands are doing it which is all the members of the band are disbanded all over the internet and they send files here and there. I send the music, he sends the vocal and then I mix the stuff.

I’m actually doing a soundtrack for a great video game which is going to come out in a few months which I’m working with classical instruments. After the early analogue synthesizers, digital synthesizers and samplers, now you have the libraries. Some libraries are amazing and I’m using one which is brilliant which allows me to play with orchestral instruments. I’m just f**king around with it. It’s really entertaining too. Sometimes it does sound a little bit like an orchestra but most of the time it’s just the sounds that you use but you use them in a way that a classical composer would never use. I am also doing a [sound track to a] movie. It’s very funny because this project is a TV movie about wildlife in Africa [so I thought] ‘What the f**k am I going to do with this? How is this going to work?’. So to start with I made some African music, High Life music, music I know and I love. I tried to do that with guitars it sounds OK to me but I thought when I try to place that on the images it doesn’t work at all. I was supposed to make music about elephants going to the river to drink or rhinoceroses at night or hippopotamuses … and it doesn’t work with High Life music like this. So I thought what am I going to do? What about if I did what Camille Saint-Saens did with the Carnival Of The Animals and I gave every animal a sound. So started working on it and I gave the rhinoceros a cello sound [from the library], the hippopotamus woodwind sounds and the elephant brass– and it works marvellously. The producer loves it, everybody loves it! I managed to get myself out of a hole I put myself in. How am I going to do music which is basically electronic in a field which is totally opposite to what I do.  Wild life in Africa – how do you come from listening to Kraftwerk and Brian Eno to end up doing music for that.  I don’t know! But they [the production company] love it. 

Jean-Marc has put together an exclusive Spotify playlist for us that chronicles over 40 years of music including classics, influences and some key tracks from his diverse and unique back catalogue. Listen here ...

Monday, 22 October 2012

Jean-Marc Lederman - Exclusive interview for Electrospective - Elektro Diskow! (Part 3)

In the previous two installments of the interview, Jean-Marc talked us through his musical beginnings and memories, his work with Fad Gadget and then Kid Montana. In this part we fast forward to the mid 80s - here's what happened next ...

Part 3

-Can you tell me a bit about how the Weatherman came about?

Kid Montana [JM’s project after Fad Gadget] was camp and pop so I needed something more extreme so I started the Weathermen... At the beginning the Weatherman was a joke because I could hear what Front [242] was doing and I thought, ‘Well, I can do that, too. Let me try.’ I thought at the time that if you were into politics and really wanted to make an impact in the 80s you had to be in a band because this is what the media was listening to. More than politicians they were listening to rock bands. You had Bono. You had Live Aid. So I thought – what about the Weathermen who were an American terrorist group that went underground. They were very much feared.  And I thought what if they had to come back today and they had to make politics to music. So I started to do that [and took the Weatherman name]and sent anonymous tapes to PIAS [Play It Again Sam, famous Belgian label]. And PIAS loved it immediately and they decided to release it so I started with the Weatherman at the same time that Kid Montana was going. It was totally opposite. More aggressive, very ‘Beat’. Quite political but in a funny way. I did that with an American singer called Bruce Geduldig who was a member of Tuxedo Moon. That was 1985-86.  We decided to make a 12 inch every three months. And it worked! Because after a few [releases] we had a small following and people really liked it and liked the concept. People thought it was funny.  The label PIAS released an album and ultimately we had a hit. And that was somehow a little bit the end of it because after that people were expecting things from us, you know.

-Was that Poison?

Yeah. Poison was quite a big hit in Europe especially in Germany and Belgium. So we started to tour which kind of killed the idea of anonymous, you know. We were supposed to be a ‘terrorist band’ and then there we were on stage with our faces [visible]. We kept the idea of being different than into politics and fun by doing movies.  We had those motocross type of clothes on stage and we had on the rider that we need a female bodyguard on stage who must be at least 2m high and stuff like that. It was really funny to do. People were playing with it. And to this day people still remember Poison. So I think it was a good thing after all.

-That record in particular was a big record on the New Beat scene and influenced EBM. Do you have any memories of the clubs at that time?

Absolutely. It’s funny because EBM and New Beat have nothing to do with each other. It just happened that the two movements started in Belgium. Well, what happened was one DJ started to play an EBM band whose name escapes me and he played the 12” but at 33rpm [as opposed to the European standard of 45 rpm] so it slowed down the pace and everybody loved it at the time. So everybody was starting to make louder and louder slower and heavy music. So that was how New Beat started at the same time that EBM and Front 242 were getting very popular. So the two movements were kind of collapsed together but had nothing to do [with each other]. I do remember the New Beat clubs – I didn’t like it at all because it was stupidly hedonistic, stupidly heavy and had no content at all. If you take the New Beat, if you listen to the lyrics, it’s like most dance music - it has no sense and to me you need to inject at least a little bit of sense if not a lot of sense in your music.

-That’s the story of the 80s – you start off with the very political post punk early 80s, and it gets to the mid 80s and it becomes very hedonistic it becomes very drug-driven as a culture and that’s the way the clubs went …

This is why I kind of got out of it because I wasn’t into drugs at all. If you had to go to those clubs and listen to this heavy pounding music without drugs or without being drunk it was just boring, you know? I never liked seeing my friends getting out of it and then starting to act stupid. I suppose that if you take when it all started for me, which is Brian Eno and Kraftwerk, bands with a content. It’s normal that I just couldn’t stand the New Beat scene.

-Those Records From Belgium and Holland of that era had a big influence on House & Techno ..

Yeah, totally.

-Did you have much contact with those people [in Detroit and Chicago etc]? Did you go over and play?

Not at all. We toured the States in ’89 with the Weathermen but we had no interconnection with the Detroit scene. No … So that was the end of the Weathermen in 1989 we toured the States and I just collapsed I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I took a sabbatical and I started working for Play It Again Sam. This is when and how I got to work with Front 242.  As their [PIAS] office manager for 4 years. From ‘90 to ‘94. So for 4 years I was with Front 242. That was very very very interesting work because they were just signed by Epic and you could just pick up the phone and say ‘This is for Front 242…’ and all the doors would just magically open.  It was really exciting!

-Just to finish the Weatherman, I think one thing you did very well and very cleverly was integrate spoken word and dialogue samples and that kind of thing which I think ended up being an influence on a lot of 90s music. To integrate the snippets in an almost Soundtrack way …

I don’t know … people tell me that when they listen to the early Chemical Brothers they hear the Weathermen all over the place but I can’t see it myself! I don’t know, to me it seemed natural to inject things like that because it was what we wanted to do with content to make music that meant something. We didn’t want to make tracks that could work in clubs. We just wanted to make great music you can listen to in clubs, maybe, but would still sound interesting when you listen to it at home. That was the problem with the dance scene. The music, once you take it away from the big speakers and the clubs and the drugs and the alcohol, they sound really bad! We didn’t want that. We wanted something that would stand attention more than 4 minutes. Something you can listen to over and over again. Just like when I was listening to Brian Eno and Kraftwerk in the mid 70s and it would still mean something. Even when you listen to it 5 times or 17 times. Whatever. So, was it influential? Well, you tell me!

-Well, I’d say so!

Thank you!

Click here for Part 4!

Jean-Marc has put together an exclusive Spotify playlist for us that chronicles over 40 years of music including classics, influences and some key tracks from his diverse and unique back catalogue. Listen here ...

Friday, 19 October 2012

Jean-Marc Lederman - Exclusive interview for Elektro Diskow! (Part 2)

Here's part 2 of our exclusive interview with electronic composer and artist Jean-Marc Lederman. In part one he talked about his early musical experiences culminating in his time with the legendary Frank Tovey AKA Fad Gadget.  In this installment JM takes us through phase two of his diverse career following the Fad years.

Part 2

- The next band you put together, was Kid Montana, right?

Yeah. So I already had done an EP by myself with a concept band called Kid Montana. And Daniel [Miller] provided the remix for that EP. So I went to London. I played with Matt Johnson, you know [from the band]The The. I played with Gene Loves Jezebel. I played with several people like that. Then I went back to Brussels because Les Disques Du Crepescules were offering me a deal for Kid Montana. So I decided to stop singing because my voice is terrible and  I decided to team up with this American guy called Dudley Kludt and we decided to do the Kid Montana adventure which was brilliant because we could have access to a great recording studio which was the studio where Marvin Gaye recorded Sexual Healing. State Of The Art technology and my brother was doing the engineering. So we had a few days in the studio and we really experimented. At the time it was the Emulator II [early sampler technology] so the Temperamental album is entirely made with that and the MSQ 700 sequencer. That was already better than the early days with Fad Gadget and I was seeing Daniel [working] in the studio. He had to put on a tape a square [sound] wave of LFO and he would be able to come back to it and trigger his synth from that. So by the time we did the Kid Montana Temperamental album things had evolved because it was the beginning of MIDI. It was also the [Yamaha] DX7 [synthesizer]. The DX7 was a revolution. Nobody seems to remember that but the last days of real early analogue synthesizer were very very very boring. There was the Jupiter 8 – like you have all over the last Human League albums from that era. It was just like brass sounds. So nothing was happening really. In the mid 80s sampling started to be about and I went into it totally. I loved sampling.

-One of the things about Kid Montana which you touched upon earlier [in part 1 of the interview], that I get when I listen to it is that soul and funk influence. I think that quite a lot of music out of Belgium and the Netherlands at that time seems to be about bringing these two things together. The electronics and the black and African influences …

Maybe it’s because in the UK you have a scene that lives by itself.  You don’t need outside influences. Belgium is a country that is in the middle of so many different things. It’s normal that we kind of mix things more, you know. So for me it was obvious to start mixing the African music I love and the electronic music I love. This kind of influence you can even see it with Kraftwerk. They were totally about black American music. Funk and stuff like that. The electronic music scene – if you take it from the late 70s which was kind of the early days and quite trashy and noisy and then romantic and then you get into the mid 80s and you see it gets more into the African melody and kind of vibe. It helped to give it some new blood.

-That whole post-punk era was about melding influences. I think that’s why that music has so much resonance now …

Yeah, I think so, too. People seem to forget that the New Wave movement and the post punk era which went on to the mid 80s was a very rich era because people were starting to be bolder and bolder and bolder. The influence the alternative bands had on the media was huge. Alternative bands were making it. You had people like Matt Johnson [The The] who was making records that were quite alternative but still made the charts. The technology was helping too. So you had three reasons why the mid 80s were so interesting musically. Also the arrival of the DX7 which made a huge difference for electronic music and the sampler. So you had a new rush of blood.

-It’s interesting you mention the DX7 because a lot of people seem to think that’s kind of the end, that it’s a negative influence on sounds and the 80s generally.  Interesting that you see it as a real positive…

Well it was positive because let’s face it the Jupiter 8 was a bore! There was nothing happening there anymore. People weren’t experimenting so from the moment that you start to take an analogue synthesizer and play big chords on it you just kill it. It’s not interesting. Yeah, you can make big waves, you can make this and that but it’s boring. I think the DX7 started the era of digital synthesizer which peaked being really boring with the Roland and Korg products. That’s probably more the case. But the DX7 was a liberation for me and many people because for once you had different sounds and you had a different synthesis. Because before that it was all about additive or substantive synthesis. Not about new algorhythms.

-So, with Kid Montana you did 2 albums?

I did a few EPs and one album and it was re-released 2 years ago on an English label. A label called LTM.  It’s a double CD which I think is really interesting if you’re into the early 80s because you can hear what I was doing. The early days when what I was doing was really home-made music to the end when it was 48 tracks going really crazy with the Emulator and stuff like that. Kid Montana was camp and pop so I needed something more extreme so I started the Weathermen...

For Part 3 click here!

Jean-Marc has put together an exclusive Spotify playlist for us that chronicles over 40 years of music including classics, influences and some key tracks from his diverse and unique back catalogue. Listen here ...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Jean-Marc Lederman - Exclusive interview for Elektro Diskow! (Part 1)

Spanning more than 3 decades, Jean-Marc Lederman’s fascinating career has seen him work with legendary figures like Frank Tovey AKA Fad Gadget, Daniel Miller of Mute, Front 242 and most recently Karl Bartos of Kraftwerk whilst producing innovative electronic music with his bands Kid Montana, the Weathermen and Jules Et Jim and latterly as a composer for TV, video games and apps. In this four part interview, JM will take us on a true Electrospective as he talks us through his musical life from tentative teenage beginnings in Belgium right through to composing for apps and video games in the 21st Century. He also touches on some of the advances in technology he has seen over that period including Midi and many of the iconic synths of the past 30+ years.

Part One

- Hello Jean Marc!


- So, to start things off, can you tell me a bit about your formative musical experiences – what were your first experiences in making and listening to music?

Well, when I was very young, when I was about 16, I wanted to do image experiments. I went down to London to see the Spectrum which was built by EMS. I didn’t know about it before but when I was there they told me about the synthesizer. I was interested but not much more than that because I started music really late, about 19 or 20. So, a friend of mind had an AKS synthesizer and showed me how to get around it and I loved it. I started to experiment with that AKS then after that I started to play with a punk band using a synthesizer which was quite “out” at the time. You had the punk sounds at the top and the electronic sounds in the background. That was quite funny.

- What was the first electronic music that was inspiring you at this time?

It’s very simple – I was totally in love with what Kraftwerk and Eno were doing at the time. I was especially in love with, first the music, but also the way that they were doing music because Eno was just an amateur – he didn’t have a real musical background like me. He was just making things with sounds. The same with Kraftwerk. I remember listening to Radioactivity or [Taking] Tiger Mountain by Eno all night long and thinking this is great music. Everybody else around me was into the Sweet and the bands of the moment and I was more interested in what was happening in the alternative scene.

- So your first synthesizer – that was the AKS?

No, I learned on the AKS but my first synthesizer must have been … 1977 …  So I brought my little piggy moneybox and went to London and bought myself an ARP 2600 because they were quite cheap in the UK at the time. So I was doing bass synthesizer for the band called Digital Dance. It was the first synthesizer I really had. So, I was on stage with that band using an ARP 2600 just for the bass sound which was really stupid but there you go!

- So, the first band you were using the synthesizer for was Digital Dance and then where did you go on from that? What was the next project for you?

After Digital Dance …? Well, I quit the band and then decided to go and try my luck in the UK. I called Daniel [Miller] and asked him “Do you know someone who is looking for a musician?”. It was quite bold because I was a terrible musician and he said “Yeah I’ve got this guy Frank and he’s looking for somebody to play live with him”. So this is how I met Frank Tovey from Fad Gadget and how we ended up playing gigs in the UK, Belgium and Germany.

- So literally, you’d have heard Warm Leatherette, heard about Mute [Records] …

Well, actually, I met Daniel at the place called BetterBadges. I think it was about '79 or '80 and I remember very clearly meeting this guy there who had a big long coat and he had a green bucket and he was putting badges in it – I thought that was quite funny. We just got together and clicked. There weren’t many people into electronic music at the time. So we got in contact then kept contact going. After this he told me Frank is looking for someone. I went to meet Frank and I didn’t audition or anything like this. He decided “That’s the pair!”. So Frank, this bass player called Philip Wauquaire who was with me in Digital Dance and myself we started to play live 

- Were you involved in the records or the live set-up?

Err, no we were involved in the live set-up. The tour was based on the songs you find on Fireside Favourites.

- The First [Fad] album?

Yes, I played some stuff on the first album but it wasn’t on the last mix.

- So you went out on that first tour for the first album. Frank sounds like he was a real character …

He was a real character and he had a great sense of humour. Really funny – deadpan type of humour and we got on quite well.

- I think Fad Gadget are often overlooked when people write the History Of Electronic Music and I think they’re an incredibly influential band. Depeche Mode basically signed with Mute because of Fad Fadget. One of things I wanted to do with Elektro Diskow – there are two Fad tracks on the album – is to talk about and bring attention to  Fad Gadget because I think Frank/Fad is very underappreciated …

Well, totally. I was quite conscious at the time that Fad Gadget was something totally special because all the other bands at that moment were nice electronic bands. I didn’t really see anyone who was even close to the intensity of Frank on stage. I loved it. I loved that time. I remember - and I’m very fond of the memory of Daniel [Miller], Chris Haas from DAF and myself in my little car in Germany just having fun and laughing and going to the gigs and doing the gigs and knowing that what we’re doing is totally unique.

- What were your highlights of that era with Fad? Your favourite records, songs, gigs, that sort of thing?

The Clarendon gig [in Hammersmith, London] was really something quite unique – the last gig I played with him. He opened his skull on the drum machine. Banging his head on the Syndrum wasn’t a good idea! He opened his head and it was bleeding and he wanted to keep going. Somebody else had to stop the gig and put a cloth around his head because he was totally bleeding. That was quite a moment. It was so intense. Being with Frank on stage – to be honest you didn’t know what he was going to do next because he was totally carried away. It was like electronic voodoo!

- What year was that? ‘81? ‘82?

That was ‘81, yeah

- That was the final tour you did with Fad?

I just did one tour with Frank and then he went on and had the band, the band which he is known with. We were playing all the songs from the first album but very crude versions.  I was a really bad keyboard player – I still am! So it was all about the shock of Fad Gadget on stage.

- From that era of time [early 80’s] what were the records you were listening to?

Human League, obviously the Mute records, and also black music. I have always been fond of black music. After the Fad Gadget thing I went back to Belgium I did my military time, and then I went back to live in London and I put an ad in NME or Melody maker, I don’t remember, saying “European musician looking for someone into Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Kraftwerk and Fela [Kuti]”. I had no response because somehow my influences were too much of extremes. It was quite unusual at the time to be able to enjoy African Highlife music made by Fela Kuti. And Kraftwerk. And Brian Eno and Roxy Music. But for me it’s the same. The same music. So I was listening to that. I was listening to Faust. I was listening to most of the time electronic music, really. And black music.

Click here for Part 2!

Jean-Marc has put together an exclusive Spotify playlist for us that chronicles over 40 years of music including classics, influences and some of the key tracks from his diverse and unique back catalogue. Listen here ...

Monday, 15 October 2012

New Order Interview From "Rock & Roll: The Perfect Beat"

Interesting curio from a 1995 US PBS documentary. This clip deals specifically with New Order's work with the legendary Arthur Baker in 1983 which bore the singles Confusion and Thieves Like Us. Great footage of  NYC club the Funhouse, too.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Electrospective: Elektro Diskow

We are proud to be participating in Electrospective where EMI, Virgin and Mute Records bring together some of the key moments from the history of electronic music.

More details on www.electrospective.com including an in-depth timeline with Spotify playlists which chronicles electronic music from 1958 to the present day.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Electrospective?fref=ts
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Electr0spective

PS. Keep your eyes peeled for an exclusive Electrospective-Elektro Diskow interview next week!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Depeche Mode - Where It All Began & Television Set Live

With a new Depeche Mode album (their 13th!) very much on the horizon, here's a reminder of how it all started more than 3 decades ago in Basildon, Essex.

This is the '80-'81 segment of the album-by-album series of documentaries that accompanied the 2009 reissues of the full DM catalogue and takes us from the very earliest beginnings in Basildon, Essex to the point at which Vince Clarke leaves for musical pastures new.

As a bonus, here's a very rare piece of live footage of DM in '81 performing the song Television Set which has never had a full release!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Heaven 17 - Fantastic Documentary & Luxury Gap Deluxe Edition

Heaven 17's second album, The Luxury Gap is getting the deluxe 3 disc treatment this October which got me thinking and digging about and for all things H17. Lo and behold what did I find? A magnificent and definitive documentary of the Sheffield legends' career from the very early days  in the Steel City,  Human League 1.0, chart success and the British Electric Foundation right through to the present day. It also includes a very rare piece of recent (from  2010) interview footage with Martyn Ware and the League's Phil Oakey  - in the same room! - talking about the split of the original Human League

Fantastic stuff from one (two!) of the most influential electronic pop groups of all time.

Watch all 6 episodes here ...

Part 1 to start you off!

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

For more H17/BEF goodness, check out our exclusive Elektro Diskow interview with Mr Martyn Ware here.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Yazoo - Upstairs At Eric's 30 Years On - The Quietus

It is 3 decades since Vince Clarke and Alison Moyet released their seminal debut Upstairs At Eric's. The Quietus have an excellent new interview and piece on UAE with Vince giving his memories of the album 30 years on.


Have a listen to this wonderful album here:

Friday, 8 June 2012

Human League- Dare/Fascination Reissue

The Human League's masterpiece Dare! is released in remastered and repackaged Deluxe format this week. In addition to the remastered album the package includes the North American only Fascination! EP on CD for the first time alongside several other previously vinyl-only cuts including the Instrumental mix of Sound Of The Crowd (from the original 12") and the stunning Instrumental/Dub version of You Remind Me Of Gold which was an extra track on the Mirror Man 12.

The story of Dare! should be fairly familiar to pop and electronic fans but the tale of the hotly awaited follow up that never came is a case of what might have been... In 1982 with a world-conquering album under their belts, the League reconvened with Dare! producer Martin Rushent to make their next Global smash. The first taster of this new material was the brilliant electro Motown of Mirror Man. A new LP was expected to follow but then nothing for another year when they finally released the stunning (Keep Feeling) Fascination, a transatlantic top 10 smash. Tensions had been rising and Rushent quit the project soon after leaving behind some stunning tracks including the aforementioned You Remind Me Of Gold and I Love You Too Much. Their then US label A&M, desperate for new product, assembled these tracks alongside the two singles and put out the 7 track Fascination! EP in late '83.  It offers a tantalising glimpse of what Dare!'s follow-up might have looked like - we can only speculate as to whether it would have matched (or exceeded!) the 1981 album's success. Essential listening!

Friday, 18 May 2012

The First Modern Remixes: Donna Summer - I Feel Love (Patrick Cowley MegaMix) & Yazoo - Situation (François Kervorkian US Mix)

And while we're on the subject ... a quick mention of the Patrick Cowley Mega Mix (nothing to do with the later 80s concept of a medley!) of Donna's I Feel Love. Alongside François Kervorkian's remix of Yazoo's Situation it defined the modern idea of the remix as a radical reworking of a tune primarily for dancefloor rotation.

San Francisco producer Patrick (famed for his work with Sylvester) produced this 15 minute reworking in 1980 for the DJ only subscription service Disconet where it was an underground sensation. The multiple breakdowns, proto-acid house synth and toughened up rhythm track made the original Disconet 12" a must-have for progressive DJs and an instant collectors item. The great man and creator of the track Giorgio Moroder was also said to have loved Cowley's new treatment.

In 1982, Donna's label Casablanca gave this ground-breaking remix a richly-deserved full release making IFL a hit all over again, an edited version making no. 21 in the UK charts.

Sadly Patrick died of AIDS soon after the release of this incredible game-changing mix.

In 1982, another remix was released which was to have a similar effect on electronic dance music: Francois Kervorkian's legendary US Remix of Yazoo's Situation.

Starting off life as the B side to Yazoo's debut hit Only You, Situation, the track was earmarked for remix by music industry icon Seymour Stein head of Mute US licencee label Sire Records. He was aware of NYC-based French DJ François Kervorkian exemplary remix work for New York dance label Prelude and suggested to Mute boss Daniel Miller that FK gave Situation a more club-orientated mix.

The result was the sensational US remix and its accompanying Dub Mix (which appears on Elektro Diskow)  which their distinctive breakdowns, synth strings and use of cut up vocal stabs (Alison Moyet's laugh motif along with almost every other part of the track, would end up being some of the biggest samples of all-time). The track would take Yazoo and Mute firmly in to the clubs both in Europe and North America. The mix was a one of the top 50 records at Larry Levan's Paradise Garage New York, the band even playing a rare club gig there while it was also a key record in both Chicago and Detroit. Illuminaries such as Larry Heard and Derrick May (Derrick's Nude Photo includes a sample of the famous laugh) have declared it a huge influence.

For more on the remix and Yazoo's appearance at the Paradise Garage please have a read of our recent (and exclusive!) interview with Daniel Miller.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

RIP Donna Summer: Queen Of Elektro Diskow

Very sad to hear the news today that Donna Summer has died following a battle with cancer.

Her first hit, 1975's epic Love To Love You Baby changed the direction of dance music. Its hypnotic 17 minute groove expanded the possibilities of disco.

As previously posted, alongside the genius Giorgio Moroder she made one of the greatest and most influential records of all time, I Feel Love. With Kraftwerk's Trans Europe Express, it sparked the electro revolution creating the blueprint for electronic dance for decades to come.

Other classics followed including 1979's Our Love (with its distinctive stuttering drum pattern) which was a key influence on New Order's epochal Blue Monday and State Of Independence, a Balearic classic.

A truly sad loss.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Laid Back - Exclusive Interview For Elektro Diskow!

Another excellent and exclusive interview for you, this time with Danish electronic legends Laid Back.

Laid Back AKA John Guldberg and Tim Stahl shot to fame in 1983 with the release of their electro anthem White Horse (reaching the US top 30) from their second album, Keep Smiling. The record has been an enormous influence on artists as diverse as Prince (Erotic City and When Doves Cry in particular), Hot Chip, Timbaland and Miami shockrappers 2Live Crew. Records like Bakerman (with its famous Spike Jonze skydiving video) and Sunshine Reggae also found favour on the burgeoning late 80s Balearic scene. Their influence continues to be felt to this day - in recent years Boston production duo Soul Clap remixed Bakerman and lost classic Cocaine Cool while their tunes have found their way into eclectic sets with the likes of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy and Beats In Space/Loving Hand maestro Tim Sweeney dropping LB in to their mixes.

7th May sees the release of an EP of Laid Back ‘lost’ recordings entitled ‘Cosyland’. These include a previously unreleased extended mix of Cocaine Cool which is premiering for the next 7 days on www.Mixmag.net. Download it here!

We've also put together a special Laid BackSpotify playlist to accompany the interview, featuring classic LB tracks, remixes, inspirations tracks that sample LB and much much more. Listen here.


What are the origins of Laid Back? How did you meet and why did you decide to form an electronic group?
-In the early 70' we met in a band called Bobby Ball and the Starbox  Band, a post-Punk and Glitter band. We soon discovered having a good chemistry between the two of us, always keeping on jamming after rehearsals had ended. That band however didn't last long. After a disastrous support gig for the Kinks in Copenhagen we split up.

What were your early influences and how did that feed into the recording of your first (self titled) album in 1981?

-We both began to play guitar at the age of 13, mainly influenced by British groups such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

 Then The Animals came out, Tim switching to play organ. Other influences are Pink Floyd, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Blues and Reggae, roots music with a soul. In the late 70's, new equipment became available to us: like a 808 drum machine along with vocoder, SH 101, GR 500 Guitar Synthesizer - all Roland products. Along the way, also 4-track and 8-track tape machines with mixers by Teac/ Tascam at
affordable prices made it possible for two guys to set up a small studio in downtown Copenhagen. This was to jam with our machinery and recording, primarily for experimenting, for our own pleasure.

Ambitions to make a record for a release came later on when we teamed up with Kjeld Wennick as our personal manager. He made it clear that Laid Back had international potential and signed us to the German record label Teldec. This resulted in our first album, released in 1981.

Ironically, the single "Maybe I'm Crazy" was a huge hit in Denmark and went to Number One on charts in our home country.

Your second album Keep Smiling came along in '83 and contained the massive European hit Sunshine Reggae and also the club classic White Horse (which appears on Elektro Diskow!) - a huge record in the States. Can you tell us a bit about the making of the album and specifically White Horse?

-All of our material on "Keep Smiling" was born on 8-track and then later transferred onto 24-track for further production. At the time, no one really paid any attention to "White Horse". It nearly didn't make it to be transferred to 24 track had we not insisted. This track was just an instrumental jam we made on 8 track. It was later transferred to 24-track for vocal treatment, as well as adding drums and bass, all played by Tim. The few words in its lyrics fitted well in somehow describing the situation, we were in at the time. We just recently realized that! We had daytime jobs and jamming all night long. We simply needed extra gasoline in those days but we certainly didn't need anything to ease the pain.

Are there any other electronic or dance records from that era that stand out for you. Anything from Elektro Diskow?

-Donna Summer, Grace Jones, Robert Palmer Looking For Clues, Human League Don't You Want Me, Talk Talk, Michael Jackson Billy Jean

Were you aware of the effect records like White Horse were having in clubs both in Europe and the States?

-No, this was long before the internet

 Did you have a favourite club or DJ at the time. Did you play in any of the underground spots of the time like Danceteria, Roxy etc.?

-No, we were told to stay away from the US by Sire Records and its boss Seymour Stein - sales were good and people thought we were black! The biggest compliment we could ever get... It actually suited us fine not to go on tour, as we didn't have the right band together at the time.  Given our background as musicians, it has taken time to find out how to combine an electronic sound in a live set-up (like for "White Horse"). Our very first live attempts were based on a loose reproduction of original sounds and a good swinging band. -Once, we were on a tour in Germany and shared the bill with the US band Toto. They knew "White Horse" quite well and told us they thought we were a cover band! We finally began in 2000 to  work with two young guys, Mikkel Damgaard (keyboards) and Thomas Duus (drums and sequencer). With the added use of original samples, our live setup began truly to sound like Laid Back.

Laid Back inspired many of the young musicians coming out of Detroit and Chicago in the late 80s. How did you view the new House sounds?

-We didn't know what was going on. We had no idea of this and were busy working on our next album. People told us many years after that "White Horse" had influenced House music, especially what came from Detroit and Chicago. We are proud of this.

Did these House sounds influence you? I think you can really hear the Balearic vibe in Bakerman for example .

-We are not aware of influences, really... "Bakerman" was one of those magic moments. I came to the studio one day while Tim had a groove going on his Pro 16 Commodore set-up. I immediately plugged in a guitar, a mike and pressed "record" on our tape machine. Just a test ...you know, while grooving on a lyric by Arthur Stander. He's a poet that we have been jamming with many times. Words suddenly came into my mind and right out of my mouth!  It all happened as if in magic moment. Luckily, 6 minutes were recorded
 before the tape ran out. That is the reason for a fade at the end - tape running out! A part where I was jamming on other lyrics was later edited out for a final track length of 4:40.  Everything was done live while composing, first take. Vocalist Hanne Boel then added an overdub - the only one.

It was a thrill to release our own mix to a tremendous feedback - especially after it having been rejected as just another "nice demo"...

Do you hear echoes of your music in today's records? Are there any contemporary artists that stand out for you?

-We released "Cocaine Cool" last year and this track was made the very same night the backing track of "White Horse" was done. These two recordings are like brothers... One of the reviews in a music magazine in UK wrote that it sounded too much like Hot Chip. That's fun...honestly, we are proud to pass it on.

White Horse is still played in clubs across the globe. In the UK it's a mainstay of playlists in (fashionable!) Shoreditch and Dalston  and It is said it inspired records as diverse as Prince's When Doves Cry, New Order's Fine Time and Hot Chip's Over & Over while being sampled by hip hop groups like 2live Crew.  When did you become aware of its effect on other musicians? And how do you view its legacy?

-It started in the US in the 90s and primarily with black artists using samples from "White Horse". The list is quite long and to name a few there are Monifah, Black Eyed Peas and Justin Timberlake. Later on and when computers got more common, variations of its characteristic groove popped up here and there, wherever we went around the World. Our local electronic hero Anders Trentemoeller told us being raised on that sound. We think he's among the quite few that took the riff further into today's electronic music sound

As you mentioned, last year you released the awesome Cocaine Cool.  Can you tell us a little about how you unearthed it and what prompted you to bring it out now?

-Way back in 1982 when we transferred 8 track tapes to a 24 track, not all material was transferred. When we recently came across these 8 track tapes, we were shocked to find material that sounded so fresh and up to date. The tape was then transferred to computer. One of those tracks is "Cocaine Cool", where only vocals and bass were added ahead of the final mix.

 What current projects are you working on?

-Our next ep / mini album entitled "Cosyland" will be released 7th May on our own label Brother Music.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Daniel Miller - Exclusive Interview For ElektroDiskow.com!

(Photo Credit: Erika Wall)

As a part of our continuing series of exclusive interviews, we recently spoke to electronic pioneer and Mute Records boss Daniel Miller. Daniel’s first single as The Normal, TVOD/Warm Leatherette, revolutionised electronic music with its punk aesthetic, stark sound, and dark subject matter and was the first release on the Mute label. His next project was another radical endeavour: Silicon Teens, a virtual pop group who did not do interviews and whose first and only LP comprised 50s and 60s rock n roll standards covered in upbeat synth pop style.

As head of the record label he created he signed and produced some of electronic music’s most influential groups including Fad Gadget, Nitzer Ebb and Depeche Mode with Yazoo and later Erasure joining the roster following Vince Clarke’s split from D-Mode. He also had a hand in both the Acid House explosion of ‘87/88 with his Rhythm King imprint (home to S’Express and Bomb The Bass) and the 90s Techno boom releasing Richie Hawtin’s vital works as Plastikman and records by Dutch minimalist Speedy J. In the course of the interview we discuss the making of the seminal Warm Leatherette/TVOD, remixes, taking Yazoo to Larry Levan’s Paradise Garage, Nitzer Ebb’s PWL connection and much more!

As an accompaniment to the interview, we have a Spotify playlist that reflects the breadth of Daniel Miller’s work as an artist, producer, remixer and label head over the past 3 and a bit decades. Have a listen here.


Hi Daniel


Can we start by talking about your earliest musical memories?

- What?  Ever?

Yes, what you were listening to when you were growing up and then when you started to make music …?

- Ok. Well, when I was a real kid, you know 10 or something, according to my parents I was always obsessed with my music, from even before I can remember. So I used to listen to nursery rhymes, 78 [rpm] versions of nursery rhymes, I just wanted to hear it over and over again. So that’s my earliest memories.  I grew up in the 60s, really. So, when the Beatles came out I was 11 or something like that so I grew up with all that music. The Beatles, the Stones, that whole kind of British R & B thing. I used to spend yonks exploring Blues, black American Blues, and the British white Blues – Fleetwood Mac, Canned Heat, the American band, were great and I saw a lot of those gigs. I loved the Beach Boys – I loved the contemporary pop of the day, really. Y’know – the bands. Pretty much everybody, including me was in some kind of band at school.  I was playing guitar and I was really bad …  I was in the worst  band in our class.  But, there was a guy in our class Paul Kosoff who was [later on] the guitarist of Free. Don’t know if you’re familiar with him?

Yeah, definitely …

- He actually was in my class at school and he was a friend of mine. He was a genius guitar player and he tried to teach me to play but I knew I didn’t have a hope. But I did enjoy being in bands.  Then towards the end of the 60s, I started to get more into experimental music.  The music had gone kind quite hard rock at that time, a lot of singer-songwriters … between 63 and 68 it was incredible how much it [music] had progressed and then for me it had slowed down a bit and I wanted to hear new things that’s why I started to listen to some of the up-and –coming German bands at the time like Can And Amon Duul and getting into more electronic music. I was listening to Steve Reich and Phillip Glass . Y’know getting into more experimental things, Terry Riley … And that led me into other fields really and I became sort of obsessed by German music . I was going to the Virgin Records shop at that  time . I was at college at the time and I’d just started to work in the West End above the Shellys Shoes shop in Oxford Street and there was a guy there who was in charge of all the imports and I befriended him a bit and he was always tipping me off to new German stuff that was coming in. And that became a bit of an obsession – bands like Faust , Neu!, Kraftwerk that was very much what I was listening to  and I kind of gave up on anglo-american music – there were some exceptions but that was what I was listening to at the time.

What made you decide to make the leap into making electronic music?

- I’d always been making music as a frustrated musician in school bands and then a little bit when I was at college. I was at college from 69 to 72 and I did film and TV and there was a little studio there as part of the film studio and it had 3 stereo tape recorders there and me and a couple of others started to mess around with tape loops and experimenting a bit with tape manipulation – basic musique concrète-y things, loop-y Steve Reich kind of things…  I really wanted to get into electronic music  making but it was very frustrating because electronic music instruments at that time were hugely expensive and something I could never think about owning or using. So, it was a bit of a distant dream really. But then punk happened a few years later, well a few things happened – punk happened and cheaper synthesisers started to come out. Relatively more affordable synthesisers – the big old Moogs , ARPs and stuff . Punk kind of re-ignited my interest in music. The fact that there was cheaper recording equipment and cheaper synths around - just the whole thing came together . I thought if I’m going to do something this seemed to be a good time. That’s why I bought the second hand synth and I bought a tape recorder. I started to mess about in my bedroom making electronic music of some sort or other.

You then went on to make single as the Normal, 1978’s Warm Leatherette [which appears on Elektro Diskow] which was a hugely influential record on several scenes. Can you tell us a bit about the making of the record and the initial reaction to it?

- As most people know the lyrics were based on a JG Ballard book called by Crash which I was very influenced and inspired by when it came out a few years before. I was kind of obsessed by it a bit, and an old college friend and I tried to write a film script for it so I knew the book inside out. There were lots of issues about the film script, who owned it … but we were doing it more as a hobby but it was an interesting film script. I didn’t want to throw all of that away so I thought I’d try and write a song encapsulating it in a 2 and a half minute song as a challenge more than anything else from a lyrical point of view. And then from a musical point of view, I really felt that, this was, like , 1977, when I started to make electronic music and I thought that it (electronic music) was much more punk rock than punk rock was. Punk rock was very much still rooted in the past, I mean I loved a lot of it but it was R&B really and I thought that to really take that idea of accessibility and DIY forward there had to be another way. You shouldn’t have to learn three chords and I just thought, apart from my love of electronic music I actually thought it was the next step on and I wanted to make a record that reflected that.

I think a lot of people thought, people in Sheffield in particular, they thought that [electronic music] was the most punk thing they could do …

- Yeah, exactly, I mean Punk – playing one note is much more punk than playing three chords let’s face it.

So, in terms of chronology, which came first the record [Warm Leatherette] or the record label [Mute!] ? How did you set Mute up?

- Well, I didn’t start a record label, I just wanted to put the single out. I was very keen on doing everything myself. There were a few people who were doing that at the time. There was quite a lot of documentation about how to put out a record. I was just really keen to do it myself. I didn’t really want to talk to any record companies. I didn’t know any record companies to talk to even. I had nothing to do with the business at all. So I wanted to do it completely outside of the business. So I just put it out really. I made some test pressings and I went to a few of the independent shops like Small Wonder, Lightning (who were a distribution company at the time) and I went to the Rough Trade shop. I didn’t know the people there at all but they really liked the single and they played it and they were the second people in the world to hear it and they fucking played it in the shop which was really embarrassing. So they were playing the record in the shop while all these people were listening – I wished the ground would swallow me up and all those kind of expressions. Anyway, they liked the single and asked if they could distribute it and I said, ‘sure, why not’ and that’s kind of how it happened. But the label … it still wasn’t a label it was just a single I put out  but the single did much better than I expected – I thought nobody would like it and I thought it would just disappear and I would carry on doing something else, y’know but actually people seemed to quite like it. I enjoyed the experience of people liking it, I enjoyed doing a bit of promotion for it and taking it around the papers or whatever so I started to get into the process. People did start sending me demos because it had my address on the back of the sleeve even though I wasn’t a record company. and then I did a bit of live work with another  guy who  had made a single, a guy called Robert Rental and we became friends. I didn’t know anybody making music of that kind when I put the record out but through putting the record out obviously I met a lot of people - like Robert Rental, Thomas Leer, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire – all those kind of people. There wasn’t really a community but all of a sudden there was a little network. All those people doing the same kind of gigs. And then a friend played me some demos of Fad Gadget and that was the first thing I thought, ‘I can really relate to that musically and lyrically that’s something I’d really like to work with’ and then I met Frank – Tovey who was Fad Gadget and we got on so I decided to put his single out and that was really the beginning of Mute as a label, working with other artists.

That’s actually one Mute artist I’d like to talk about [Fad Gadget]. He’s often overlooked in the histories of this period but he made amazing records – we have 2 of his tracks on Elektro Diskow. What was he like to work with and what do you think his legacy is?

- Well, firstly how was he to work with – we had a good time making the records, the first few records that I worked with him on. He was funny … we just had a lot in common in terms of sense of humour and how we saw that in relation to electronic music and he was a very warm guy and his stage persona was something very different – onstage he turned into a wild self-destructive character and offstage he was a very nice normal bloke, really. He had a very clear idea of how we wanted to do it. I had the tiniest bit more experience in the studio – I’d hardly done anything but still a bit more than him so I guided him through some of the things and we made those records. The first one of those was Back To Nature… The legacy is strange really because you’re right he did slightly get overshadowed by some of the other artists at the time but now when I’m working with some of the younger musicians, I mean teenage musicians, so many of them cite Fad Gadget as being a big influence, y’know. People like Liars for instance. Liars are one of the bands that every other band in the world likes and they say that they are huge Fad Gadget fans. They seem to be coming out of the woodwork as time goes on as people suddenly discover him and see how brilliant it was. So his legacy really does live on in that sense. He inspires people still, which is great.

Can you tell us a bit more about your Silicon Teens  project [State Of Shock Pt 2 is featured on the album]? It’s quite an interesting ‘turn to the left’ – how did it come about?

- When I first got the synth and the tape recorder I kind of had a creative explosion of doing stuff with it. I did all sorts of different things and so I thought for a laugh I would try doing a Chuck Berry song on the synthesiser to see how it would come out, y’know, cos I had been a big Chuck Berry fan. I did it in about an hour and a half or something and it was one of the other things that I’d done.  Then I was talking to someone at the Rough Trade shop who I’d become quite close to at that time and we were just talking about cover versions. I said , ‘I did a cover version of Memphis, Tennessee’ and they said, ‘I wouldn’t mind hearing it’. I didn’t think anything of it so I brought it in and played it to them and they said, ‘Wow! You’ve got to put that out!’ and I said ‘ What? Err, OK, yeah, maybe?!’. I didn’t want to put it out as the Normal cos it was a very different sort of thing so I made up a name, Silicon Teens as a group and then out of the blue out of that came the concept of them being the world’s first electronic teenage pop group or something like that. Some clumsy title like that. [From]My background there was the kind of that concept that, cos I was in my mid 20s and people like the Cabs [Cabaret Voltaire], Human League and Throbbing Gristle were all around the same age and we’d grown up in a different world and had developed into being electronic musicians. I thought the next kind of generation was the first where you had a choice between the guitar and a cheap synth. Up to that point  if you wanted to be in a band or play pop music you were either a bassist, a guitarist or a drummer and but now it was possible to make electronic music. It was the first time that, from a purely economical point of view it was possible. You could say I would rather buy a synthesiser to a drumkit or I’d rather buy a synthesiser than an amp and a guitar. So I thought, well, out of that there’s going to be something really interesting – a whole new generation of people making music, coming fresh to electronic music. But of course that hadn’t happened yet in reality. The Silicon Teens were the first of those [electronic pop] groups, even though they weren’t really a group, if you see what I mean. They were the first group where their first instruments were synthesisers. Does that make sense?

Yes, definitely!

- We managed to perpetuate the myth for about a month and then everybody twigged it but it was fun for a bit! Then there were actually groups like that … One of those groups that actually was a teenage electronic pop group was Depeche Mode and they came along about a year and a half after that. So the prediction kind of came true in that sense.

In addition to your own music you also produced a lot of your rosters’ records including Depeche Mode’s  brilliant debut Speak & Spell and Yazoo to name but two. What kind sounds were inspiring you and the artists, electronic and non-electronic  around that time?

- It was very much electronic at that time and I think Kraftwerk were the real common factor, y’know. Depeche and Fad Gadget were different in their influences.  Fad was a bit older, but they [both] had grown up with Kraftwerk, Human League, Cabaret Voltaire, D.A.F (who were also on Mute at that time ) … so that was their thing, that was their inspirations  so we had  a lot of things to draw on.

It was a fertile period, I guess?

- Yeah, it was an amazing period, actually. This whole discovery … people kind of woke up after Punk and thought there’s a whole world of music that I can invent and a whole load of people who were hungry to hear that kind of music as well.  So it was an amazingly good time in that respect.

It’s funny, cos I’ve been recently watching the re-runs of Top Of The Pops on BBC4 … Can were on the other week and it was like they were beamed down from another planet but you just got this feeling that something had to happen, something had to change in music.

- Kraftwerk were around then, of course they were on Tomorrow’s World [BBC technology programme] and Autobahn was a massive record for me, that was 73, I think. So, it was all there in the firmament, you know what I mean, it was there but it was a bit out of reach. Then when we could touch it we grabbed it and made our own thing from it inspired by that.

Yazoo’s Situation is a stand out track on the comp and a record that is cited time and time again as a massive influence on House and Techno. You co-produced it. Was it consciously made for the dance floor and how did you get legendary producer, remixer and DJ François Kervorkian involved with its seminal remixes?

- I don’t think I did co-produce it, did I? Am I credited?
You’re credited on it, yeah!

- Oh Ok, well, maybe I did some sounds on it something or whatever. Eric Radcliffe and Vince [Clarke from Yazoo] really produced it but I did help out in the studio. I did work on it but I don’t want to take credit from anybody else.  Well, that was a B-side, obviously [of 1982’s Only You] and like so many B sides it became the more legendary track almost. François was kind of legendary then. He was very underground legendary but hadn’t quite hit “Legend” yet. It was actually suggested by Seymour Stein who ran Sire Records, our American licensee, and he said ‘You gotta get a remix, get Francois to do it,”. Remixes weren’t part of the language at that time particularly, d‘ya know what I mean? We were very protective about what we were doing so we thought ‘Give The Multitrack to someone else to fuck around with???’, ya know? But we decided to do it and he [François] did the remix and there were certain things about the remix that we hated … the fact that it had strings on it – one of the production rules as a label as a collaboration with the artist was no way we’d ever have strings on any of our records. You’ve got to have rules, right! The remix had strings sounds on it, well not real strings a string machine. We were a bit shocked and we thought it was a bit … Vince didn’t like it but anyway we agreed to have it and it became very successful. In the end of course we became good friends with François as time went on and he mixed [Depeche Mode’s album] Violator.  It was a nice continuation of that .

It opened up a new audience in New York particularly; Paradise Garage , Chicago and Detroit as well …

- It was a very important track. An important mix as well.

Many records on Mute from this time were big hits in the underground spots. Ron Hardy in the Muzic Box in Chicago used to play his self-made edit of Warm Leatherette and Yazoo’s Situation was a staple in Chicago, Detroit and New York. Records like Warm Leatherette, Los Ninos Del Parque by Liasons Dangereuses and also DAF -  they all hit big in the clubs that would spawn New Beat, Industrial and EBM. Were you aware of the effect these records were having on these different  scenes and did that feedback into the music you and your artists were making?

- Up to a point. Yazoo played at the Paradise Garage which was very much the home of that kind of music. Not that kind of music but the music in New York.  That was really interesting because that was kind of outside my field of experience and knowledge. I went to the show with the band and it went down so well and it really taught me a lot about how our music could spread into other genres in a way. Of course, we were getting quite a lot of feedback from people and then when Techno came along it was very clear from what Techno musicians were saying that these records had been big influences.

Were you a clubber? Did you have any favourite DJs? Was DJing something you ever did as a consequence?

- I was never a clubber in the true sense of it. I wasn’t really into the whole Blitz [electro/New Romantic club night of the early 80s] at all when that started in London. I was a DJ in the mid 70s before but I was very much a pop DJ in a holiday resort. When Techno came along I did a lot more clubbing. Especially in Germany where we were very involved with the Tresor club which is a legendary club in Berlin. We ended up being the distributor for their records so that we were quite closely linked and actually recently I started DJing on a regular basis in the last year or so. So it’s taken a while!

How did you view the electronic sounds that followed after the initial burst of electro (House, Techno etc)? Did they influence your production style and your artists and the artists you signed?

- Oh yeah, very much. It’s a kind of feedback loop, isn’t it? You influence people and in turn they influence you and that’s always very exciting. We were very lucky to work with Richie Hawtin/Plastikman, Speedy J, Luke Slater some of the real top Techno people through our late Novamute label. Also, we became fans of it. Not every band on the label but Depeche were fans, Martin [Gore] especially. In fact, Martin & Vince, you probably know this but they’ve just got back together for the first time in 30 years to make a Techno record together. So, it’s very much a weird feedback loop. In a great way. Vince started that project because Richie Hawtin asked him to do a Plastikman remix for his remix compilation and Vince started to listen to that music online and really got into it so I then said to Martin ‘Why don’t we make a Techno record together’. So that’s a brilliant example of that feedback thing.

Do you hear the echoes of those early electronic records and the records you made  in today’s music ? Are there any contemporary electronic artists that stand out for you?

- You can definitely hear them all over the place. Whether it’s in mainstream Swedish House type music or more experimental glitchy things. Techno or Dubstep. There’s a lot of stuff in all that – and don’t know whether these kids have listened to it or not but you can hear the influence you can hear the roots of it. It all started with Kraftwerk really. Kraftwerk were the sort of Beatles [of electronic music]. So in the same way that in Oasis you can hear a lot of Beatles in that, you can hear a lot of Kraftwerk and then later Depeche … People discovered Kraftwerk after listening to Depeche. Electronic music now – there’s not that many electropop things that are that innovative at the moment. There is a lot of interesting electronic music being made now. Really interesting things. There are no artists particularly that I could cite, it’s about tracks really.  I think it’s interesting what’s happening in America with their take on Dubstep. That kind of Rock/Dubstep crossover thing which is very much in the vein of what artists like D.A.F. did and Nitzer Ebb. It wasn’t Dubstep but it was like Technorock. Rock kind of dynamics in a way. So all that’s very interesting

Nitzer Ebb is quite an interesting story with the PWL [Stock Aitken & Waterman] connection …

- Yeah! The guy who managed Nitzer had a management partnership with a guy called Phil … God can’t remember his name …


- Yes, that’s it. Phil Harding – thank you – who was an engineer in the PWL production team. So they picked up Nitzer Ebb for management and it was natural that Phil would help them make their first record. It’s funny to think that someone from PWL was involved that early-ish EBM [Electronic Body Music] sound. There were one or two other bands like Front 242 … I don’t know if it’s one of those little known facts but it’s a funny fact, anyway. Ironic. And he’s very good Phil Harding -  a brilliant mixer and he produced the whole of the first album and did a brilliant job. With Nitzer Ebb, there wasn’t much of that sound around, really. They were like the younger brothers of D.A.F., Nitzer Ebb, in their sound. They hadn’t really caught on at that point and I couldn’t work out why.  And then it obviously did – they started playing raves very early on, Nitzer Ebb. The whole original Balearic thing. They would do 5 gigs in Spain in one night time starting at 10 in the evening and finishing at 10 the next morning in the mid 80s which is the beginning of rave and all that sort of thing. It all connects.

They were very big on the Belgian scene which ended up being Rave and Techno and all that kind of stuff…

- Yes, but Spain was their thing. They would play 10 gigs over a weekend …


- They would drive down that coast on that horrendous road playing all these different clubs . They had an easy set-up. It wasn’t like a band  - guitar, drums etc. It was just two of them so, y’know, perfect. People were taking ecstasy and whatever and staying up all night dancing and that was like the precursor to the rave culture that started in Britain a couple of years afterwards. [Nitzer’s] Join In The Chant was a very big rave anthem in the early days.

Just to finish things off - What projects have you got lined up for 2012 at Mute? Anyone we should keep an eye out for? 

- Everybody! Well, we’ve got a new album by Yeasayer, a new album by Liars. We’ve got Cold Specks' debut album out in May, and the long awaited Can box set, The Lost Tapes, out in June. We’ve got ongoing projects that we’ll be working on from Beth Jeans Houghton & The Hooves Of Destiny, S.C.U.M., Big Deal, Apparat and Martin Gore and Vince Clarke's recent collaboration VCMG. We've just started a new imprint, Liberation Technologies, a more experimental electronic imprint more in the Novamute vein. Polly Scattergood is making her second album plus Laibach are releasing the soundtrack to Iron Sky and the Introduction To.. series continues with Fad Gadget / Frank Tovey and Laibach.
There’s a lot of really interesting records. They’re all sounding great and we’re working really hard to get those finished and sounding as interesting and as good as possible.

Thanks very much, Daniel!

- Congratulations on the [Elektro Diskow] project and good luck with it!

PS. Daniel will be DJing at festivals in Europe over the summer. Confirmed dates below!

15 JUNE - Sonar festival - http://www.sonar.es
13 JULY - Shitparade festival, Berlin