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Bleep: Can you give us idea of your studio set-up and your usual process of making music?
Mo Kolours: My set up is small, just some bits and bobs to hit and shake! A couple of bust-up old keyboards, a mic, and some records. I’ve got some Philips SBC HP250 headphones.
B: It’s somewhat essential to mention your ancestry in relationship to your music. Both of your EPs are awash with the Sega music of your father’s homeland. Was it always a conscious decision to incorporate it into your work?
MK: Sega is an influence for me, but it wasn’t a conscious decision to put it in the music. My attempts at making stuff, are a reflection of all the music I love and more.
B: In light of that, how far is your work influenced by your other home, e.g. the sights and sounds of South London?
MK: South-London’s population mix fuels my interest for all cultures and their musics, you’ve got representatives from every corner of the globe!
B: You work closely with Paul White of One Handed Music. Is there anyone else you would like to collaborate with?
MK: It would be great to work with more people….so I’m always on the lookout.
B: What contemporary music are you listening to currently?
MK: Listen out for Tighface, Ujean Wilda, and Al Dobson jr.
B: Your debut EP was released digitally as well as on vinyl and most interestingly, cassette. How important as tangible forms of music for yourself and where do you sit on the digital/physical divide?
MK: Records and cassettes have some irreplaceable qualities. They have a history, a story, a smell, they develop a kind of characters of their own, and evoke memories. Not to mention the sound-quality.
B: What can we expect next from Mo Kolours?
MK: More beats, collabs, gigs, and general hitting stuff and jigging around!
Cologne-based Kompakt is one of the great independent record labels, treasured for its diverse but ever-brilliant mix of ambient, minimal techno, tech-house and more. On 3rd April, South Bank Centre and Ether festival celebrate their more ambient side with a one-off event, as Kompakt co-founders Wolfgang Voigt and Jörg Burger perform a special set produced for this concert alongside live visuals. Plus there’s also an exclusive live ambient sets from The Field’s Axel Willner (solo) and Walls.
We have a pair of tickets to give away for this event, to win simply e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us your ideal ambient setting and why?
This could be your “happy place”, a place where you go escape the daily madness of your life… points are awarded for creativity.
We give away some pretty good stuff on this blog… but we may have out-done ourselves with this one…
New collective on the block, Earnest Endeavours – are hosting a party in London on the 23rd Febraury with Lazer Sword, Starkey, Daedelus, Tokimonsta and the Patchwork Pirates…
DETAILS / TICKETS / FACEBOOK PAGE
They have been kind enough to offer us a bumber gift pack that includes:
1 x Shot In The Nite 7″
1 x Batman 12″
1 x Lazer Sword LP
1 x Lazer Sword CD
1 x Lazer Sword T-Shirt
1 x Pair Tickets to the London Event
To win this bumper Lazer Sword package, simply e-mail email@example.com and tell us what your ultimate weapon would be and why…
Bleep: How did you come about making your visual and recorded work?
Carsten Nicolai: Actually, I started being really interested more in visual arts, it was actually through a certain sort of crisis I would call it, I was kind of stuck with my work and looked in to media, and what was more ephemeral or non material. I was really interested as well in time, basically, the philosophical idea of time.
At the same time I started experimenting on sine waves frequencies- very high and very low frequencies; and how we perceive not really music, but more like a perception of high frequencies especially. This was around the early 90’s and from this point on I realised that maybe the material I wanted to work with is sound. This really basically was a kind of break through for me – my work really started looking a certain way.
B: How does the output of Alva Noto and Carsten Nicolai differ?
CN: Actually that is very simple, as Alva Noto I use as a pseudonym for all more musical material, like releases that have a musical approach. The is still the Noto pseudonym that I rarely use, but it is more like for more rough material, more like physics, and Carsten Nicolai is really pure, my normal name. You can see Alva Noto as kind of a band name or project name inside of my work.
B: How do you sketch out your ideas and go about their execution?
CN: I have ideas and mostly I am sketching them, like for visual work I have my note books and my sketch books. But mostly I forget about them, and then I remember them, and after two or three times I then realise that ‘ok this idea is really belonging to you and it is not just a moment there’, and that I feel attracted to a certain idea or a certain phenomenon.
The execution is mostly a work process, and the music is very different as to visual arts, but I have a great team, and have a small studio here in Berlin, where we have an incredible efficient team that are around five people that work with me together. Mainly they are doing work, but as well they’re taking care partly of the label – as we do design things of course, because we really like to control our visual output and as well our sound output. The studio is here too, the sound studio, and this is of course work that I will always do myself – I can’t have help here, that’s impossible.
B: Your work investigates the visual correlation to sound, how do you go about deciding the parameters in how this is translated?
CN: Basically I am kind of using any possibility that sound can provide me. I use any kind of parameters from intensity, to frequency, to phasing, stereo imaging, to pure data. I think any kind of information that writes sound, is for me a parameter that I would like to use, especially because I am really looking more for graphical representation of the sound, where the sound grows really the image, rather than inventing a graphical pattern that get triggered by it. This takes time – a little bit of time of research and a little bit of luck as well, to find specific ways how you can do that, and translate it in a nice easy and connected way.
B: You have recently released an album with Blixa Bargeld, how did this collaboration come about?
CN: We were good friends for many years, and of course I grew up in Germany not only with Kraftwerk, but also the influences like Neubauten were really strong for me. Especially the moment when Neubauten started using samplers, I think this moment was really a radical moment, and it influenced my way of how I probably think or what I do now I’m sure. So of course to work with a voice like Blixa’s voice was a great honor, and Blixa was as well very much interested in it opening up new horizons for him.
B: How does working with a vocalist effect your practice, how does this work within a live performance?
CN: Actually from the starting point we really wanted a live performative aspect, and develop the recording out of a live performance idea, you can really hear this I think in the record. The songs sound almost as we play them right away, we did many takes, we did many recording sessions – rather than a multi-track recording situation. We had a studio that was perfect of course.
I created my sounds in a different way, and we wanted to have this collaboration to have some references to my work, but also to Blixa’s work. But in same time I wanted to have a really strong electronic sound, that had a certain sound quality that might reflect a real instrument – but is not a real instrument. Or might use space, like physical space like reverbs, or specific kind of reverbs to create a certain density, to create a room that you share for a collaboration as well.
B: Your work Unitxt has recently been installed in a space in the UK, what is it that you are wanting the audience to experience within this work?
CN: Unitxt is not only a record, it is as well a visualization, which I do a lot, in a quite interesting way – it is a kind of version of the record, which I could describe as a kind of installation version. I was really interested in this real-time translation of this kind of running tape loop. It is a kind of loop, it goes in real time, performed by the visual in a way, so it’s a kind of installed version of the Unitxt idea.
Ok I hope this helps you, thank you, Bye.
Customer Feedback Book from the recent Unitxt installation…
We recently stumbled across this brilliant project from Nick Luscombe of Flomotion Radio and Simon Jordan from Jump Studios design and architecture agency… It is called Musicity and we decided to talk to them about the project.
BLEEP: Can you give some back ground to the project. How did the idea come about?
Simon Jordan: The idea came about because Nick and I have been interested in exploring ways in which we can bring our ‘worlds’ together; Nick’s world being music, mine being design, architecture and the built environment. From a technical perspective, obviously a musician’s skill is different to an architects but if you elevate a conversation around the two disciplines to one of design and the creative ‘act’, how things are made, then there is an interesting correlation. There’s an obvious shared language; musicians might talk about ’spaces’ within music and architects talk about ‘compositions’, ‘rhythms’ and ‘pulsing’ of spaces. I think also that as art forms both are uniquely immersive experiences.
B: You have chosen some fantastic musicians to work with on this project. How were these chosen? What was the reasoning behind your selections?
Nick Luscombe: My aim was to find a cross section of London based electronic music makers to get involved in Musicity – people who’s music I’m really into – kinda selfish I guess! I was so curious to see how each musician would react to the idea, and thankfully everyone got it right away and said “yes”! Since I was a kid I loved futuristic City – Scape music. The emergence of Detroit Techno was a real moment for me and I’ve always dreamed of something like that in London. All the musicians have really engaged in the project – and it’s been brilliant hearing the music they each created!
B: In an age where people expect to access everything from their computers at home instantly there is something special about the act of going somewhere to experience something?
SJ: This is a really interesting area and one that works on many different levels for us but one key thought is that we’ve seen the digital realm totally revolutionize how prerecorded music is consumed but the live event has hardly changed. What I think we are doing, really, is harnessing digital technologies to create something that is a kind of performance where the
main actor is the audience. I think also there is something in creating a different way to experience music that is on a par with a live event in that it’s a shared, public experience. Another view might be that we are re -framing how people might see and experience the city, using music as the catylist.
B: What is next for Musicity?
SJ: We already have plans for further cities underway, both in the UK and overseas. Look our for news on that. With regards to London, we plan to release seven new tracks every three months to build on those already available and we are already commissioning the next artists. The plan is to eventually have a ‘map’ of each city constructed entirely from good music!
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!
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.
Available to pre-order on Bleep
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