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Archive for September, 2010

Win tickets to the LuckyMe NYC Party

NYC-EFLYER-ANIMATION

That’s right. Our Glaswegian friends LuckyMe are heading over to New York this Friday for a very special show with Hudson Mohawke, Rustie, Mike Slott, The Blessings, Eclair Fifi, Lunice and more…

To win a pair of tickets, e-mail info@bleep.com and tell us a story about your luckiest day…

Check for more details of the show HERE.

Bleep Interviews R&S Records – Part 1
Co-Founder: Renaat Vandepapeliere

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This interview is part of of our special R&S feature which includes 2 label samplers for £1 each (including the likes of Aphex Twin, Model 500, Joey Beltram, Pariah and James Blake to name a few), and interviews and Top 5 charts as well as a sale on all R&S back-catalogue.


BLEEP: How did the label start?
Renaat Vandepapeliere:
Out of passion of music, and simply – there were not many indie dance labels at the start of the 80’s

B: What do you feel has been some of the most memorable moments in the label’s history – both in the public eye and behind-the-scenes?
RV: It’s flattering that people think three have been a lot of memorable moments for the label, but we didn’t realise this, we were just having fun releasing what we wanted!

B: There was no releases from R and S between 2001 and 2006 – was there a reason for this?
RV:
Yes, i wanted to take a sabatical and refresh myself a bit !

B: With new artists like James Blake and Pariah – how is the current A&R handled by R&S?
RV:
Current A&R Policy is handed over to the young and talented Dan Foat a person, I see a lot of myself in! All supported by the wonderful label manager Andy Whittaker, they run the label from their London base. It’s up to the Young generation, to give them a chance to lead R&S in the future. Personally I am working on my new and first indie rock project, the Irish rock band The Plea.

Bleep Interviews R&S Records – Part 2
Label Boss: Andy Whittaker

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This interview is part of of our special R&S feature which includes 2 label samplers for £1 each (including the likes of Aphex Twin, Model 500, Joey Beltram, Pariah and James Blake to name a few), and interviews and Top 5 charts as well as a sale on all R&S back-catalogue.


BLEEP: How did you get involved with R&S Records?
Andy Whittaker:
Both Dan and I were approached by R&S to do A&R and label management respectively. We’ve both worked in music for a long time as buyers for record shops and at other labels. We know the history of the label very well, but also have
a strong idea of what the label should be doing in these modern times.

B: How does it feel to become part of a label with such a illustious legacy in electronic music? Do you feel that there is a lot of pressure on you to carry on “flying the flag” for the label?
AW: There is always people’s opinion of what they deem to be R&S sounding records, that may not always be in line with our view, but I wouldn’t say we feel any pressure. We just carry on having fun, releasing amazing music that excites us, just like Renaat has always done.

B: What is next for R&S Records?
AW:
Firstly some great singles coming soon by Model 500, James Blake, Untold, Space Dimension Controller and The Chain
Then Pariah, Space Dimension Controller, Pepe Bradock and The Chain are working on albums. The In Order To Dance compilation series will be resurrected and we’ve just received superb remixes of Model 500 from Bullion and Space Dimension Controller. We are also starting to move into parties and events with our debut show at XoYo in London in Novemeber.

Bleep Interviews R&S Records – Part 3
Model 500 (aka Juan Atkins)

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This interview is part of of our special R&S feature which includes 2 label samplers for £1 each (including the likes of Aphex Twin, Model 500, Joey Beltram, Pariah and James Blake to name a few), and interviews and Top 5 charts as well as a sale on all R&S back-catalogue.

BLEEP: Why did you choose that name Model 500?
Juan Atkins:
I chose that as a kind of repudiation of ethnic designation. I wanted to get away from people trying to put a tag on who I am and where I’m from. It’s simply a model number.

B: Recently, you have decided to take Model 500 on the road as a live act. Can you tell us why you have only just decided to do that in the past couple of years when Model 500 has existed since the mid-80s?
JA:
I thought that with technology changing and people downloading music, to me, the only way for an artist to exist nowadays is to be able to perform live. That’s where most of the income is going to come from for artists and a lot of new artists. I think that selling records is more of a promotional tool nowadays.

B: The first Model 500 record came out in 1985, but your first album, ‘Deep Space’ didn’t happen until ten years later. Can you tell us why this took so long?
JA:
The mid-80s was a ’singles’ market at the time. Everyone was so into just releasing single after single. I wanted to do a proper album project at the time, but nobody was prepared to give me the budget to do it.

B: Has the way that you make music differed at all over the years?
JA:
I like to try new things that adds to the creative process; this has always stimulated my creativity. With all the software and plug-ins that are available, I’m having a great time doing stuff on a laptop!

B: Why do you think that techno started in Detroit?
JA:
Well, to make this a simple answer, I guess it’s because I’m from Detroit! The bleakness of the city was inspiring, as was the transforming industrial history of the city. The music that we made transformed right along with it.

B: If you could pick any musicians, alive or dead, to ’session’ on a Model 500 record, who would they be?
JA:
I would love to work with any of the members of Kraftwerk; that has been talked about before. Bernie Worrell [Parliament]; George [Clinton], of course, but he’s more on the lyrical / song tip.

Win tickets to Rinse 16th Birthday Party
and win a Rinse birthday t-shirt

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Rinse FM are celebrating their birthday and are doing it in style… They are throwing a party at Fabric on Friday 10th September, and the line-up is absolutely huge:

Skream / Benga / Boy Better Know / Geeneus + Katy B + Tippa / Heartless Crew / Plastician / Youngsta / Zinc / Joker / Elijah + Skillam / Shy FX / Ben UFO / N-Type / Supa D / Roska + Jamie George / Oneman / JJ / Spyro / Slimzee / Horsepower / Funk Butcher / MA1 / A Plus / Kismet / Blacks / P Money / GQ / Crazy D / Stamina

We are giving away a pair of tickets as well as a Rinse FM 16th birthday t-shirt. To win, simply e-mail info@bleep.com tell us what was your most memorable birthday party and why….

Bleep Interviews Michael Rother of NEU! (Part 1 of 2)

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This week sees the legendary NEU! have their classic albums re-released, including never before released material. You can see all of the catalogue here. To mark this occasion, we decided to talk to NEU! co-founder, Michael Rother.

Bleep: The late 60’s was a turbulent time politically in Germany, but exciting musically, as this era marked the genesis of elektronische musik or krautrock. Can you give us an insight into this period?

Michael Rother: I think the best that I could do is tell you about my own situation. I was born in 1950 and when Paris 1968 [student riots] came around, I was 17 or 18. There were political upheavals and the students demonstrating at the universities. Me and some older friends had problems at school – I was a good pupil – but the conservative teachers were surprised by this this previously ‘nice guy Michael’ suddenly coming up with strange ideas in his mind and my relationship with them at school slowly worsened. We did have one or two ‘progressive thinking’ teachers, but they were a minority. I finished school in 1969 and I knew that, then, I could no longer cope with this very conservative situation at school.

Seeing all the changes around the time, like the Vietnam War, even the changes within the media of film and art; this compelled me to develop my own personality further. My friends and I thought that these changes were like some kind of ‘virus’ that was in the air, and looking back, this was the reason why it felt so natural to develop who I was and detach myself from the background that I grew up in; especially growing up within the clichés of American and British rock music at the time.

B: Was there a mutual decision amongst your peers to react against these clichés?

I think that there’s a misunderstanding here, and I think that this might be a bit of a myth! I hope I’m not going to be disappointing people, but I felt quite alone with the idea of “not continuing with this old style of music” and by the time that 1970 arrived, I wanted to do something new. It’s not like we were all connected then like we are today as people. Back then, I wasn’t aware of what people were doing in musically in Munich, Berlin or other cities. At the time, I didn’t even know that Kraftwerk were in the same city! I went into the studio for the first time without even hearing their music, or even knowing them, and after chance meeting in the studio with Ralf Hütter [Kraftwerk], which led me to start jamming with them, I realised that my thoughts were not unique. We thought about leaving those blues-rock structures behind and having this idea of a more European-based music. From then on, I drew inspiration from and exchanged ideas with the musicians that I worked closely with; firstly in Kraftwerk with Florian Schneider; then Klaus Dinger in Neu! and then with Moebius and Roedelius in Harmonia.

B: Before Neu!, you were involved with Florian and Ralf of Kraftwerk. How did this came about and can you tell us more about the work that you did with them?

I didn’t know Kraftwerk. At the time I was doing service in a hospital as a ‘conscientious objector’. I refused the military draft. The alternative after a court ruling was quite tough at the time – these days you can refuse via sending in a post card, or something like that! Anyway, at that time, I didn’t know the music of Kraftwerk, and, as mentioned earlier, my initial meeting with Ralf and Florian was purely chance after a friend invited me to the same studio. I picked up a bass and started jamming with Ralf Hütter, and from that moment, things started to develop. The melodies and the music that we created were really quite interesting. Everyone in the studio had the same idea; Florian and Klaus were sat on a sofa listening and then at the end of the session, we exchanged numbers and they called me a few weeks later when Ralf decided to go back to university, leaving Kraftwerk for a few months. So I actually met those guys after jamming with Ralf but started performing live with Florian and Klaus as Kraftwerk. A very exciting time!



B: Can you tell us how Neu! started?

Contradictory to myth, Klaus and I were not friends – as strange as it might sound – but I thought Klaus was a fascinating drummer and I had never known anyone with that power, energy and radical approach to drumming. I guess that he was attracted by my style of guitar playing; approach to music and where I was heading. We had this immediate similarity of where we both wanted to go creatively, and when we stopped collaborating with Kraftwerk, in the summer of 1971, we decided to go our own way together. As much as we were very productive together, Klaus was a very difficult guy to work with from the beginning. He wasn’t very pleasant and the way that he drums tells you the story of Klaus! Once when we played with Kraftwerk, he cut his hand badly on one of the broken cymbals that he preferred (he liked the sound) and blood was literally squirting all over the stage! He didn’t stop for a moment and I could see jaws dropping! This approach to drumming was how he would treat his own body and this would get worse in later years. But as an artist, this behaviour would be the extension of his creativity. This was the core that we needed in the studio. I had no idea what to expect in Autumn 1971 when we booked the studio with Conny Plank and took all of the little amount of money that we had to pay for production costs. It was a very stressful time. After recoding for four nights (the studio was a little cheaper at night) and mixing for a few more days as was at home with Hallogallo and other tracks. This was a great moment that I remember so clearly.

B: Neu! has a very unique sound, synonymous with the motorik rhythm structure of tracks such as Hallogallo and Negativland. This highly original sound has influenced the likes of Stereolab, Sonic Youth and countless others. What influenced you at the time?

This is another opportunity to contradict the a myth! A lot of people try to understand and analyse Neu! as the beat created by the drums. There’s no understanding of the music of Neu! if you only look at the drums. Try to imagine ten minutes of simple drumming – nobody would want to listen to that. The magic is the relationship between the drums and the harmonic and melodic instruments. If the drums are taken away from the guitar / piano parts that I played and vice-versa, you are left with something totally different. Neu! is about the relationship between the two. The time that I spent in Pakistan, I listened to a lot of music and I was fascinated by how hypnotic it was, and also the idea of music that went on forever fascinated me. Klaus and I never discussed theories. We were never talking about music, we were making music. The harmonic structures that I put together, I guess, were based around European folk and classical music, but without the song structures of that kind of music or the approach to classical music. It’s basically the ideas of which notes go together and which don’t. Combining these ideas with the hypnotic music that I listened to in Pakistan somehow lead to Hallogallo and what followed. I’m always surprised when people talk about the drums and think that this is the essence of Neu!. It doesn’t make sense if you just listen to the drums and think that’s Neu! If bands are inspired by us are only picking up on the drums, then, in my opinion, are quite far away from understanding what really made Neu! You can hear this effect if you listen to Oasis’ The Shock Of The Lightning – it works if you combine their ‘Beatles-style’ with Hallogallo.

For Part 2 of our interview, go here.

Bleep Interviews Michael Rother of NEU!
(Part 2 of 2)

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BLEEP: Legendary producer, Conny Plank, was involved with the production of Neu!’s music. What was it like working with him and how was this relationship started?

Michael Rother: I met Conny when I tried to record the second Kraftwerk album with Florian and Klaus in the summer of 1971. He was the obvious, and natural partner for Neu! when we wanted to record our album. Conny was an amazing character and I guess that he was similarly crazy and special in his approach to music as we were. He was the only sound engineer that I knew who was willing to listen and to work with us crazy guys! Kraftwerk were very popular at the time and we were a minority and very underground; I think that it took years for people to understand us. I remember that we once did a concert with a very popular jazz player and he said, “Why do these guys get as much money as I do and they only play one note!”

Conny was very capable of handling the studio technology; at that time it was so simple, making what he created even more amazing. It was fascinating to see him work. He was a strong character and also very gentle. He didn’t try and impose his ideas and I guess he understood that when he started working with Klaus and me – we weren’t the kind of musicians that wanted a ‘total’ producer role i.e. “do this, or try this”. He was attentive and picked up our ideas very, very quickly and offered us all these possibilities towards creating our music. That was the understanding of his role. He had this amazing capability of memorizing the good parts of a session.

Of course, we did the mixing without any computer aid, and many of our fuzzy ideas were scattered over the tape and he had this quality of remembering where all the good parts, the nuggets, were, and while the tape/mix was running, he would focus on these moments. I try to make people remember Conny and to give him enough credit because he was so important for Neu! and Harmonia and, also, the first three solo albums of mine that he recorded. Conny left his mark, and without him, it’s hard to imagine us releasing anything similar. A man with a great open mind that was looking for people to work with like we were all looking for him. It was logical for both sides, really, he was looking for these new musicians with a new approach and that’s where he nurtured his inspiration – we were so lucky to have him in our production team!

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B: Last week saw the ‘official’ release of the fourth Neu! album, entitled ‘86′. Can you tell us about this record?

MR:
There’s a difference between the first three albums and this one, and that is that Klaus and I did those together. In the mid-80s, we tried to record our fourth album, but the record companies whom we approached with some tracks that we made were not interested in Neu! at this point. The Brain label had stopped pressing our first three albums – and only recently, after sitting in an interview with Steve Shelley [Sonic Youth], I found out that he and the rest of Sonic Youth were listening to Neu! in the mid-80s – I had no idea .

I think labels were not convinced about what we were doing because the music scene in the 80s was a lot different. Klaus and I, had to accept that this album was not going to be released. Klaus was taking substances that he believed would enhance, not only the music, but his perception of what was going on in life. He really believed this, and as a result, things became more and more difficult; he became more and more isolated and seemed to be on a different planet. In the early 90’s, things started changing and Daniel Miller [Mute Records] wanted to release Neu! and suddenly people were starting to talk about us.

But Klaus, in the end, and I don’t want to be unfair as he’s not around any more to explain his motives, but he always said “no” to all the record company offers. He wasn’t prepared to compromise with them, and being such a strong and stubborn guy, he always wanted to ‘run through the wall instead of taking the door that was opened for him’! I had a very different understanding of the situation, even though we were equally as unhappy about bootlegs that were circulating, but he just wasn’t willing to sign the contracts that were offered and he would not trust anyone who was trying to negotiate with him. He was very paranoid, short of cash and thought that no-one wanted to work with him any more; which was quite understandable being the person he was at the time.

My mother liked Klaus a lot; she thought that he was a crazy guy, but she really had a soft spot for him! Many people thought that he was very interesting. But sooner rather than later, his behaviour made sure that he was left more-or-less alone. He sent me a fax once saying that there was a label in Japan that was willing to work with him and had decided that this album that we had been working on ‘Neu! 4′, or ‘Neu! 86′ as it is known now, was to be released. He had finished his own version of the album from the tapes that he had and, basically, took the money and ran!

Of course I didn’t find this very amusing at the time and the artwork for the album had Klaus Dinger all over it! He even started a project called ‘La Neu’ which used our original logo… These where the darker and more bitter times of the 90’s and at this time, Klaus was so far ‘away’ from everyone. I decided not to take court action against him and my girlfriend said that if I did, we may never ever reach and agreement and if I did, that would be the end of Neu! and I wanted to keep this music alive.

I had worked so hard on getting things together all the time while Klaus was getting more and more paranoid, and to him, even I was one of the ‘gangsters’ that was trying to cheat him! It was a terrible and depressing time; I was trying to find an agreement between Klaus to release ‘Neu! 86′ as a better version because I didn’t like what he had done to it and all the crazy ideas that he added!

We were lucky that superstar actor and owner of Grönland Records, Herbert Grönemeyer, decided to re-release our back catalogue in 2001, but it was still impossible to find an agreement with Klaus… a few years later he died. I had a meeting with Klaus’ widow and the Grönland team in Berlin to discuss the situation with Neu! and what to do. I was very, very relieved and happy that Klaus’ widow was prepared to compromise and she also knew that ‘Neu! 86′ could not be released in the way that Klaus had recorded it. I offered to rework the music, which I did last year, over a period of six months, transferring all the tapes. It was such a great experience and very important to, as the whole experience that had passed was like a wound that had never healed. I felt that it was important that the ideas Klaus and I had in the 80s were correctly documented. With this album, I tried to the best of my ability, present my understanding of his vision of music at that time, and when I presented my final version of ‘Neu! 86′ to Klaus’ widow and the people at Grönland, everyone was very happy with it.

All of Neu!’s albums are available to buy from Bleep.com

For Part 1 of our interview, go here.