I thought I would post some of the old articles/interviews I did for traffic magazine in 2008, in the days when it was paper based before the swish new website was launched earlier this year. Articles include a review of Booka Shade live at Insomnia, a quick chat with Surgeon about his forthcoming gig in Leeds and an ace interview with Daz Quayle which I was pretty pleased about!
SILVER CLUB INTERVIEW - OCTOBER 2008
Silver Club is the brainchild of techno and electronica producers DNCN, Marc Ashken and Tommy Walker III. The trio have combined to form a live band with a fresh new sound that may come as a little surprise for fans of their individual outputs. Traffic takes five minutes to catch up with them and find out what they have been up to.
Right guys; who are you and what do you do?
Tommy: I'm Tommy Walker III and I play the bass guitar.
Duncan: I’m Duncan Edward Jones (aka DNCN) and I sing and play guitar and do some beats and synths and other stuff!
Marc: And I’m Marc Ashken and I control all the synths and beats and do some backing vocals too.
How long have the band been together?
Tommy: We’ve been together for around six months. Our first gig was in June but the material has been in development for a little bit longer.
Comparisons of the band with the likes of Depeche Mode, Beck, New Order and David Bowie have already been bandied about – that is quite an accolade! How would you describe the sound of SilverClub?
Marc: Nice, I didnt even know about the Bowie reference - We'll have to get the eye shadow out!
Tommy: Someone on Myspace told us we were like 'true Northern electronic soul'.
How many gigs have you played and how have you been received?
Duncan: It’s something like nine or ten shows now, and the crowd have been pretty enthusiastic for sure. It’s good to see the kids dance!
Tommy: We just played 4 gigs in a row for ‘In the city’ which is a big industry convention which happens each year in Manchester. That was pretty hectic! It was also nice to play the Academy with Sisters of Transisters.
And what type of crowds are you attracting at these gigs?
Duncan: It’s been kind of a mixed crowd although it is good to see some of the techno kids there as sometimes there appears to be a weird shyness about band crowds to cut loose and dance. If the crowd from the clubs are there then they are more likely to dance it seems.
Tommy: I'd like to see a few grannies in the crowd. And I want to hear mothers talk about us in supermarkets.
Duncan: Yeah that would be sweet! Nattering about Silverclub while getting their smart price orange juice and OK! magazine!
Tommy: Our PR person is hammering all the retirement homes right now.
The sound of Silverclub is a marked difference from the minimal, techno and electro beats the three of you have released individually on labels such as Leftroom, Dust Science and Rottenrow. What brought about the shift in style? Are the techno productions going to take a backseat for the moment?
Marc: Yes and No. Obviously I’m working on the band a lot more at the moment so my techno output has slowed down a bit; but at the same time I have got a few remixes and an EP due in the near future. After that though there is not so much as an individual until my second album.
Tommy: This project certainly gives us an outlet for a different kind of thing, but at the same time I've been doing band stuff on and off for years so its no big change of direction for me. I’m sure our solo careers will continue, but as Marc says, there is only so much time in the day!
Duncan: I’m still keeping it on with the techno.
I notice that Marc and Duncan provide the vocals on the bands releases. I didn’t even know you guys could sing! What is the history behind these secret vocal talents?
Marc: Practising in the shower… and the swimming pool.
Tommy: When someone holds a gun to your head and tells you to sing you can learn pretty quick.
Marc: I sung a bit on my solo album and it kind of developed from there.
Tommy: I’ve not opened my mouth yet but I can't promise that will continue
No school choir, singing lessons or embarassing stories about your singing career from a younger age then?
Marc: Nope – I didn’t sing at all as a kid. My voice seems to be eternally breaking!
Tommy: My only previous experience was hymns in assembly. I used to like singing 'The Lords Dance'.
‘Crash This Car’ is your first single, due out on Leftroom records in the very near future. Tell us a bit more about the release package.
Duncan: For our first single we have guest vocals from our friend Lois Winstone,and remixes from former Warp electro dude Jimmy Edgar and Leftroom’s own Matt Tolfrey alongside Marc Ashken.
Marc: Yeah that remix comes under our new guise of T.A.S.H, which has had support from Laurent Garnier, Dubfire, James Holden, Nic Fanculli, Lee Burridge, Simon Baker, Seth Troxler and Ryan Crosson. It’s quite different from the other T.A.S.H stuff but that’s where we were on the day so we went with it.
What are Silverclubs plans for the upcoming months? Many more gig and releases planned? Have you got an album in the pipeline?
Tommy: We’ll probably get another single out in January and we’ve got something like two albums worth of material so we need to get one out as soon as possible.
Duncan: Well there’s enough tracks for a triple album if we were so inclined but that might be just a bit 70’s!
Tommy: We need to do EVERY festival next year.
Duncan: We're just putting some dates together at the moment
Anything else you would like to add?
Marc: No poll tax!
Duncan: Down with Thatcher!
‘Crash This Car’ is released digitally on Monday November 3rd.
SURGEON INTERVIEW - MAY 2008
Surgeon is certainly no stranger to these parts and makes a very welcome visit back to the city of Leeds at the end of June with a live set alongside Regis as the British Murder Boys at Detached. One of the most important figures in the UK techno scene, Surgeon has been at the top of his game for well over ten years; a time which has seen him hold down a three year residency at the infamous Tresor club in Berlin, find the time to manage two fantastic record labels in the shape of Counter Balance and Dynamic Tension and produce a discography that makes the bible look like a short story. Countless releases and remixes on revered techno labels such as Harthouse, Warp, Peacefrog and Music Man have cemented his place as a luminary in his field and as the years have passed by Surgeons sound has also developed to incorporate more and more less conventional techno sounds to create a powerful and intense listening experience. Never one to shy away from technological developments; his live sets incorporates the latest advancements in sound production and his collaborations with Regis have produced a performance which is as much visually assaulting as it is on the eardrums. Traffic caught up with Surgeon to cast a glimpse into the mind of a British Murder Boy.
Most people would file your productions in the techno department but in reality they blur the boundaries between many other genres including IDM, electronica, dubstep and glitch. How did the move away from the more conventional techno sound come about?
Surgeon: I've always worn my influences on my sleeve. Since the very beginning my music has contained many other elements than just 'straight techno'. I've always thought of techno as the vessel or carrier wave to transmit other elements.
The first, most obvious move from conventional techno in my own productions was my first LP for Tresor, Basictonalvocabulary released
Your remix CV reads quite differently to the average dance music producer with remixes for bands such as Mogwai, Faust and Coil. You cite these bands as heavy influences on your musical tastes so it must have been a real honour to get the opportunity. How did it all come about?
Surgeon: I've always found it much more interesting and fun to remix music outside 'straight techno'; it’s a way to create new hybrids. The
remixes came about just by being asked to do them and I accepted
because I thought they would be interesting and fun!
Is there a difference to your set up when playing by yourself or as the British Murder Boys? What equipment do you use when playing live? Do you ever play a conventional DJ set anymore?
Surgeon: When we play as British Murder Boys we sync our setups together. Our setups change all the time and incorporate different instruments and devices. I last played using a conventional DJ setup at the end of 2001; I'm having way too much fun using the technology I do to go back to that. I would never say that every DJ has to play the way I do, there are just more choices these days. In fact, it's still really rare for me to play with other DJs who don't play vinyl.
The stage presence you create when playing as the British Murder Boys really is something to behold; it sticks to fingers up to the people who say a live set looks like someone checking their e-mails. Is this something you and Regis intentionally set out to create or has it just flowed naturally as your live sets developed? How important do you feel it is to interact with the crowd?
Surgeon: It's something that occurs very naturally. There's a unique energy when we perform together, quite mischievous and on the edge of total chaos. We always said that if we'd gone to school together we would have been separated, if they'd let us sit together, we would have caused too much trouble.
Connection with the crowd is vital; otherwise we might as well be playing on our own at home.
The House of God is synonymous with the Birmingham dance music scene and has been recognised as the longest running techno night in the UK. How does it feel to be involved in something with such a long running reputation and what does the future hold for the event? How does playing at the House of God rank now compared to the early days?
Surgeon: My involvement with House of God is one of the things I'm most proud
of. At the moment we're just doing a couple of events each year.
We're all a lot older than when we started it back in 1993!
You have appeared in Leeds quite a few times over the years at nights past and present such as Superconductor, The Darkside and Room 237. You’re also credited as being the last DJ to ever play at the Orbit. What has been your favourite gig in Leeds and how do you enjoy playing in the city?
Surgeon: My favourite gigs are always in the UK, there's always a much more personal, closer connection with the crowd. I really enjoyed the Room 237 gig, playing after Rob Hall and Sleep Archive worked really well and the soundsystem was great that night. Another really great night I remember playing in Leeds was at Northern Lights in 2005 on the Squarepusher tour.
You’ll be back in Leeds at the end of June playing as the British Murder Boys at Detached. What do you know about the night and are you
looking forward to it?
Surgeon: We know for sure it will be a good one!
What can we look forward to in the rest of 2008 from Surgeon and the British Murder Boys?
Surgeon: More from Britain's best loved absurdist space rock duo!
ADDICTIVE TV INTERVIEW - AUGUST 2008
Think the Plump DJ’s meets DJ Yoda and you wouldn’t be far off from Addictive TV. An English DVJ duo combine an array of iconic movie samples manipulated in ways you wouldn’t think possible with some seriously groovy breakbeat to create a full on audio visual delight with the focus firmly on the party.
Voted number VJ’s twice in the world in 2004 and 2006 by DJ Mag, Addictive TV were the first group to officially remix a Hollywood film when they transformed Antonio Banderas film ‘Take the Lead’ into a musical and visual dance track. Further blockbuster remixes included them scratching Samuel L Jackson to bits for a top dollar drum and bass take on ‘Snakes on a Plane’ and recently Robert Downey Jnr. got the Addictive TV treatment when they transformed ‘The Iron Man’ into a ravey breakbeat stormer.
Grandmaster Flash, Jeff Mills and Kraftwerk head honcho Karl Bartos all think they are the business and with two shows at Glastonbury this year and appearances in over 40 different countries it seems conclusive that the rest of the world agree. Traffic gets five minutes to catch up with the pair and switches on to Addictive TV.
Welcome Addictive TV – Give us a quick run down on who you are and what do you do.
Graham: Well, we're producers and audiovisual artists, think DJs but with added pictures. AV is a kind of cross over between, and joining of I guess, DJing and VJing and that's our thing really. To us, the whole visuals thing is really a natural progression of remix culture.
Tolly: And when me and Graham perform, we use DVD turntables - Pioneer’s DVJ:1000s, which in fact we helped in the testing and development of for Pioneer five or six years ago now. DVD turntables are a huge leap forward for acts like ourselves - allowing us to use DVDs in the same way a traditional DJ would use vinyl or CD. What we play though is very different from a standard DJ though, it’s all breakbeat oriented remixes that we create ourselves from all kinds of films and music videos. Everything from a breaks-ska remix of Laurel & Hardy or Blondie Vs The Doors, to our mad reworkings of cult 60’s films like The Italian Job or Get Carter.
How did the move into blurring the line between movies and music come about? Were you producing tracks before the visual element came along or vice versa?
Graham: Both in many ways. Long before now, I was a VJ for many years - doing visuals in clubs and at festivals, but yeah we’ve been remixing films and creating audio/visual remixes of tracks for years. It was actually our bootleg movie cut-ups that landed us work for Hollywood in the first place. Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of remixing a film. I mean people have been sampling films for years, particularly in the audio world, but artists generally never took an entire film and remixed it, keeping some form of narrative and building the actual beats and melody from just one film, completely sampled to the max.
Tolly: Yeah, personally I’ve been writing music since I was a kid, I was taught piano from the age of 5. And before doing what we’re doing now, I used to compose scores for theatre and for TV, which is how I first met Graham, as I wrote music for Transambient, the trippy late night visuals series that he was producing for Channel 4 back in the late 90’s.
Over the past couple of years you’ve become really involved in producing dance remixes of blockbuster movies. Where did the opportunity to do this come from?
Tolly: Well, it was back in 2006 and a really switched on marketing guy at New Line Cinema, the studio behind The Lord of the Rings, had seen some of our work and they simply asked if we were up for doing something similar for a promotional campaign for the Antonio Banderas film Take The Lead. It was all a bit of shot in the dark at the time but the fact our remix then won an advertising industry award proved something!
Graham: Yeah, it was kind of like a big experiment for them and they didn't really know what they were going to get. It was a completely new idea that no Hollywood studio had ever tried before - an advert made from audiovisually sampling and remixing an entire film. Fantastically, they gave us total creative freedom to sample and cut the movie up, and we were given over five hours of un-edited footage. They loved it, and now it's been downloaded over a million times across the web, and it led directly to us making the US network trailers for that Samuel L Jackson movie Snakes On a Plane - which is another whole story! But it’s great that other big studios like, say Paramount, have seen this and taken the initiative to approach us and embrace this too.
What are the most important elements when selecting a movie to use as part of your work?
Graham: Like any DJ or producer looking for great audio samples, what we look for has to sound good but also for us has to look good too. So a film ideally needs a lot of percussive sounds and, say, snappy dialogue, but the dream is when films include scenes of people playing musical instruments or singing, that makes it much easier. But with film remixing particularly, there’s the added complication of finding shots that also help explain the narrative and essence of the story but making sure they also work musically too!
Tolly: Yeah, thinking in two mediums at once can get complicated! It’s something we’ve had to work out how to do from first principles to achieve exactly what we want. It’s not easy to describe, but it’s kind of a cross between film-making and composing, the difference with us though is that we don’t separate out the process for audio and video - we treat them as part of just one thing, and hopefully that shows in the end results. What you see is what you hear and vice versa.
I was watching your music videos on the net and found them to be totally engrossing. At times it was hard to focus on what was going on in front of my eyes and ears at the same time and can imagine the experience would only be more intense in a club setting! How do you work the live shows between the two of you and what equipment forms the basis of your performance?
Graham: Yeah, in a club setting with huge screens, the energy of both music and film completely combined can be really intense; we played in an giant IMAX once too – that’s was mind-blowing for the audience. As a good example, when there’s a breakdown in the music which then, say, slowly builds back up into a heart-thumping dramatic crescendo, we’ll build that musical composition with a very specific dramatic sequence within the film remix, making full use of the dramatic power of the images. This simply creates ‘a dance music audio/visual experience’, for want of a better phrase, that music on it’s own simply can’t do.
Tolly: For our live shows, I mostly handle the audio and Graham the video - but having said that I’m sending him video anyway and he’s sending me audio too! So it’s all complete crossover. Gear wise, these days we use a combination of laptop and 3 DVD turntables - the Pioneer DVJ-1000’s, plus an audio mixer with MIDI (like a Pioneer DJM-1000 or 800) that can control our video mixer, that’s also been modified to also take audio - so as an AV mixer it enables us to cut and scratch audio and video at the same time. The laptop runs VJammPro which is audiovisual triggering software, so contains banks of AV samples.
Graham: But that’s the club or music festival set-up. We also perform more on the art tip, with what we call ‘live cinema’ projects, and when we perform our show “The Eye of the Pilot”, like at film or arts festivals, we also have a second laptop running Ableton Live with a MIDI controller, three audio mixers and our guitarist Alex with his specially built fretless seven-string guitars! It’s a very rehearsed project, much like any band.
Is it exclusively your own material in your shows or do you drop tracks by other producers as well when playing live?
Graham: No, we only play our material in our shows. We’ve occasionally played the odd sample made by friends of ours, but no it’s pretty much exclusively our own created material. I think that’s because we’re more like a strange hybrid between a band or electronic act and a DJ, meaning that despite the fact that our shows are breakbeat driven and danceable for a couple of hours, like a DJ, we’re an act in that the material is our own - whether remixes or original compositions. And when people come to see us, they expect, like any act or band, to hear - and see in our case - their favourite tracks from us.
The path you’ve trodden as Addictive TV over the past couple of years has taken you to all corners of the globe and offered you the chance to play gigs in places that perhaps wouldn’t get offered to the typical dance music band. You have appeared at a very broad and wide variety of events, ranging from a rock festival in Texas, all out stompathons in Barcelona and Amsterdam, through to more artistic and film orientated events and exhibitions in Paris and Shanghai. Which type of gigs do you enjoy most and why?
Tolly: Yeah, travelling can be very tiring and playing gigs all over the planet is exactly what you'd expect it to be - sometimes amazing and other times really shit. Often you rarely get enough time to actually see places properly or get much of an insight into local culture - but we do usually try and stay a day or two extra in some places when we can and hook up with local artists and so on. It’s great that we’ve been able to play in places like China, India, Brazil - and even Bhutan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, places you might not otherwise get to visit.
Graham: But to answer your question about which type of gigs we prefer, the answer has to be both, in many respects no different to artists or DJs like Jeff Mills or Richie Hawtin who cross the same divide. Audiences go for different reasons, clubland and the more – as you put it – “artistic and film oriented events” are they're two different animals. In other words, clubs and art spaces, VJing and playing audiovisual sets, has to be treated slightly differently. It's not rocket science. Club and music festival audiences are out for a good time and want more “up-for-it” sets, art audiences tend to want something they can think about more. For example, our current live-cinema project “The Eye of the Pilot” we’ve only ever performed in cinemas, museums and art centres - it’s not right for a club, it’s much more of a sit down performance. Having said that though, a lot of what we do is created so it can be watched quite intently, and so works in a cinema space as well as in passing, like as part of a club set. So there is cross-over.
Visuals are becoming more and more important in clubland every day with VJ’s becoming almost as regular as DJ’s at big dance nights and previously ‘music only’ DJ’s such as James Zabiela and Sander Kleinenberg continuing to explore the ground between audio and visual performances. Obviously this is a positive thing; How far do you think the audiovisual experience can go and what other avenues can it explore in the media?
Graham: I think there are many new avenues to explore but quite what they all are is a little difficult to say. As with a lot of new things, where they go and how they spread depends on loads of variables, most of which are unknown right now. In the case of AV, technological advances in software and hardware are critical to its development. And there’s a plethora of cultural trends which always shape art forms - and these are notoriously difficult to predict or even categorise! There’s definitely a few trends appearing though, you can see how audio/visual remix culture is certainly now influencing mainstream television - particularly advertising and music videos. I think its influence will get stronger in those areas and then also be felt in other fields from film-making to computer games. It’ll also figure much more on the web as data transfer speeds go up and web based video is everywhere, as seems to be happening now.
Tolly: Lots of theatrical performances now use video as a part of what they do, quite a lot of traditional artists, who come from a fine art background, are turning to motion graphics now too.
Graham: Yeah, I've seen street theatre and even opera using video, and I also know of people working with projected light graffiti for live performances. If those are just a few current trends, who knows where it will end up. Hopefully everywhere!
You were recently in China promoting ‘Sportive’; your art in sport audio visual presentation to tie in with the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. How did it go down with all that’s currently going on surrounding the Games?
Graham: It was great, we were performing at the opening of the Adidas “Sport in Art” event in Shanghai before the whole exhibition then went on tour to places like Nanjing and Beijing. Bear in mind this was right at the end of 2007, well before any of the political issues began to flare up around Tibet and the whole torch fiasco, so there was no trouble in that respect.
Tolly: The event though was held outside in the grounds of the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Shanghai, something they hadn’t done before; and just as we started it did only take five minutes before the police turned up and tried to shut it down, but the organisers did have all the correct paperwork, so all was cool. But it was great being part of that exhibition, there were some fantastic pieces of work there from all over the world, and we were really privileged to be the only UK artists chosen to take part.
Graham: We were actually commissioned direct by Adidas to create Sportive, as opposed to anyone directly from the Olympic organising committees or the Chinese government I should point out, so our involvement was slightly tangential in that respect. I mean in theory, sport and politics shouldn’t mix too much, but unfortunately in the real world they do and some think the that Western artists should boycott working in China. But I don’t really agree, I think we actually need cultural engagement and artists shouldn’t be afraid to do work that’s going to be seen in China. An artist might not agree with a country’s government or their policies, but does that mean their citizen’s should be denied access to culture from elsewhere? It’s easy for people to jump onto a ‘politically cool’ bandwagon, whilst not thinking about their Chinese-made clothes, watching their TV, using their laptop and mobile phone that have all been made in China! In fact most governments around the world do questionable things, the British government included, but you never hear of artists saying because of the Iraq war they won't play in the UK or the USA. I think some people need to be careful of double standards. Right, I’ll get off my soap-box now!
What's next in the pipeline for Addictive TV?
Graham: Believe it or not, next up is another project to do with the Olympics!! But this time for live television. It’s an interactive experiment remixing the Olympics live for Austrian broadcaster ORF, who are boldly going where no TV channel has gone before! So we’ll be capturing moments as they happen, looping them, scratching them and mixing them with music, audio and video effects, and audio/visual tracks we’ve created from the Olympics archive they gave us. Right now we’re cutting breakbeat AV loops from table tennis, weight-lifting and beach-volleyball…! So we’re off to Vienna, to the studios and transmission suites at ORF.
Tolly: Then after that it’s another movie remix for Hollywood! Things aren’t all signed off yet, so sadly we can’t talk about it - but the film has a big fan base waiting for this movie already!
Graham: And more on the art tip, we’re working on our new live cinema project ‘Sampling the Culture’ about the isolated Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, which this earlier this year became the World’s newest democracy as it happens! It’s a very closed off country that not many people have ever been allowed to go to, let alone film there. They only allowed television seven years ago and most of the country still has no electricity. We spent time there last year, filming traditional musicians and ancient dance rituals in a monastery with Buddhist monks in the mountains. We also shot monks playing volleyball and completely stoned cows eating wild marijuana that just grew everywhere on the mountain sides...! Absolutely incredible place. It’s a slow burner this project and taking time to create… so check back with us in a year!
Tolly: And with gigs, we’re doing a huge outdoor gig in Liverpool for the European Capital of Culture celebrations, at the Mersey Tunnel - that’s in October. And we’ve got dates coming up in Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, Poland, Switzerland and best of all New Years Eve in India!
Finally – Chances out of ten for seeing an Addictive TV remix of Hollyoaks?
Tolly: It’d have to be the signed one on Sunday mornings!
Graham: EastEnders and Heroes are ahead in the queue though I’m afraid - and then there’s Ray Mears too, and Bruce Parry and his umpteen episodes of Tribe! …and The Queen’s speech.
Tolly: But then again, if Channel 4 asked us… :o) …lol
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