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Monthly Archives: October 2013

NORA BELOW

Swedish Summer I – The Twin Couples
oil on canvas, 1,80 x 1,90 m (2010)

norabelow.de

No, not sheep on drugs, this time it’s
CYBORGS ON CRACK – Drinking Air With Eyes

Album available from Room Tracks.

Catchy electronics, all data
intact, robot crazy and download free
via cyborgsoncrack.bandcamp.com

Life is a lie
IN DEATH IT ENDS

ANALOG WITCH TRIALS VOLUME I
Pay at will or download free from aufnahmeundwiedergabe.bandcamp.com

Also still available: OCCVLT MACHINE
ltd edition of 250 handnumbered copies, digipack w/ 7 additional bonus tracks

Here she comes now.

POPSIMONOVA on her long-awaited, first proper full-length 12” record.
sharp, minimal, direct and mercilessly innocent electronic music
purchase via enfant-terrible.nl/gooilandelektro

STYLE! IT! TAKES!

Fashion. Beauty. Arts. Music. Érotique. Urban Adventures.

style-berlin.blogspot.com

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Dotepenec (pronounced as do-t[e]-p[e]-n[e][ts]) is a regional slang word for a newcomer. It is also a one-man sound project that debuted on this year’s free download compilation of Croatian electronic alterground, called “Intentional Mistaeks ~ Pop Products of Electrical Post-Yu Ambivalents”, released by NAUK (The National Association for Arts and Culture) from Belgrade. Coinciding with this release, Dotepenec also debuted  live, contributing to the latest event of “Novo doba” (“New Age”) – a festival of authorial comics, that’s simultaneously held every year in Pančevo and Belgrade. In front of the enthusiastic audience,  Dotepenec presented his collection of sound experiments, called “A Subtenant’s Nightmare”. It was a very live demonstration of everyday struggle to find an ideal place to live – by answering to some of the advertisements placed in local newspapers, Dotepenec telephoned and communicated directly with potential landlords.

It’s hilarious. Ultimately brings a smile to my face, although I should be screaming of frustration, waiting for something to actually happen (musically). But that’s also the point – this is the sound of frustration; in his own words (literally), Dotepenec insists that anything can happen. “A Subtenant’s Nightmare” is a bitter study on every periodical change of residence, coinciding with regular worries of rent, vacancy, loneliness, roommates and personal belongings. In that respect, Dotepenec chose a number of simple words and phrases that depict this nightmare perfectly – in both, technical and practical terms. By merciless filtering, he lets them drown in repetition, creating a situation of unrest, “walking around in circles”, longing for a proper settle-down situation. It is also pretty close to a disturbing horror story, a person being haunted by ghosts of those who resided there before. If you’re looking for the ideal residence too frequently, then this is probably not something you’d like to think of as “your cup of tea” – but in a way, it’s quite therapeutic, helps you facing your everlasting cold sweat panic and fear of moving unexpectedly, at the very last minute. But in the end, there is always a happyend – you wake up.

“A Subtenant’s Nightmare” by Dotepenec is recently released on NAUK. Further information: nauk.rs

Growing up with education stuff on TV, was a real treat (at least on a subconscious level)  – looking back on it now, the fact that lots of weird electronic music was used at the time to point out the scientific side of things through these education programmes, it is truly fascinating – be it chemistry, mathematics, geography, history, foreign tongue or plain quiz-shows, each programme had its ideal presentation in terms of selected music numbers; “Equinoxe”, “Neon Lights”, “L’Enfant”, “Perfect Machine”, “Moments In Love” or “Rubycon”, to name a few, might have been an obvious but a good choice… Talk about discovering music when least expecting it, or knowing nothing about its origin.

Interviewing Heinrich Deisl, music editor and writer, the author of recently published “Im Puls der Nacht – sub- and populärkultur in Wien 1955 – 1976”, he also confirmed this interesting fact on
TV networks being more open to present the uknown music in their very prime time – “… yeah, there were times when ORF was really experimental.”, he said.

Once we mature enough to become aware of the artist, and are eager to discover one’s work, we realise some of these things were already there, as if injected into us while still in mother’s womb. Yes, this sounds a bit “over the top” to say the least, but that is how particular music numbers actually manifest themselves in the conscience of the general public – not that the general public cares much, still unaware of what is now part of history books itself. Yes, once upon a time, television wasn’t just plain entertainment (not that we didn’t want it more apart from these, somewhat too sterile – if not too dull – education stuff). The thing is, we never really think about how much of the obscure music stuff actually was used back then and how much of it might actually still be lost just the same.
And today when we are literally living in a mass-consumerist nightmare (with that famous “pill swallowing” scene depicting it so instantly, barking from the skyscraper scenes in Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic “Bladerunner”), it is only now that we realise how innocent those education programme TV times really were and heaven only knows what we are still missing to this very day. Deisl’s in-depth study of one such lost and fertile period of the Viennese obscure limelight is a stunning proof of treasures lost in time but once again brought back into spotlight.

What are you working on at the moment? I became editor-in-chief of the magazine skug – Journal für Musik, beginning of this year. I’m active at the free radio station campus & cityradio 94.4, which is located in St. Pölten, approx. 60 km from Vienna. I have a part-time job there as the head of the arts + culture department. For the end of the year, I want to start my dissertation project.

As a regular contributor to Vienna’s SKUG magazine and the author of recently published “Im Puls der Nacht – sub- and populärkultur in Wien 1955 – 1976”, a book covering specific era of Viennese sub- and popular culture. How connected is writing for a magazine and writing a book? What are your other areas of (personal) interest, other than just music? “Im Puls der Nacht…” is my first proper book. The difference between writing for magazines and on a book is a friend of mine made this wonderful analogy: Let’s compare it with music production. Writing for magazines is like to upload tracks randomly and from time to time on Soundcloud or whatever. Writing a book is like doing a full conceptual album. Writing this book was obvious for me as I am a music journalist since 1996 and I wanted to collect all those lose ends of thoughts and sketches that were around about the Viennese music-, art- and underground scene, with which I’m heavily connected as I live in Vienna. My personal interest in the book was to focus on one particular project. For me it’s hard to differentiate between various interests, as my research approach was and is an interdisciplinary one. I don’t see music as music itself, for me music is a “sociological crossroad”, music is a cultural, rhizomatic code in which everything is connected. So for “Im Puls der Nacht…” it was necessary do deal with phenomena of sub- as well as of pop culture, historical facts as well as aesthetic theories of art or film. Let’s put it like that: the big topics besides of music for “Im Puls der Nacht” were film, pop culture theory, cultural studies and contemporary history.

Can you tell us a bit more about it? Why these particular two decades and how big was the research task? I published a lot for magazines, catalogues and scientific journals. I can’t say exactly when the research process started as the topics of the book are those I’m dealing with on a daily basis. I can say that the idea to start this research task, called “Im Puls der Nacht” – in total, it covers Viennese sub- and pop culture from the turn of the 20th century to this day, and what is left after this book publication now, will be part of the dissertation project – it started with a scientific project I did for the town of Vienna dealing with locations (clubs, bars, etc.) since the 1950s. This project happened seven years ago. In spring 2012, I finally had enough balls to start the proper writing process and it lasted until November. I wanted to have the first volume of this research project to be located in a crucial historical period of Austria. In 1955, Austria became independent and in 1976 there was the squatting of the Arena, a location that still exists. Out of some special reasons, the Arena squatting was a changing point for Viennese pop culture as it started to constitute itself. But it was also very important to reflect back to the late days of the Austrian empire, the “good old times” of the Kaiser Franz Joseph, to detect theoretical arguments for the specific development of the Viennese sub- and pop culture scenes. It was e. g. very important to deal with operettas like “Im Weißen Rössl” (“The White Horse”) from the late 1920s, with what was called “Entartete Kunst”, with crucial composers like Max Brand, with comedians like Helmut Qualtinger or with the film “The Third Man” to draw a sociological picture of counter culture. I believe that high and underground culture are interdependent to each other, underground culture is unthinkable without high culture. As we all know, “underground” or “counterculture” is not a phenomenon since the 1960s, it existed in all times. I wanted to look at different (underground) art productions before there was something like a constitutional youth culture.

Is international edition of the book also in plan? I wish there was. The book was published by the company with quite a good reputation concerning philosophy, cultural studies and psycho analysis. It always was planned to be – not necessarily scientific – but a book for the specialized audience. In the end of the day, “Im Puls der Nacht” is more scientific than it is popular writing. En plus, one goal of the book was to make an “alternative soundtrack” of this city that so much is connected to its clichés of the “good old times” of the Habsburg monarchy. So far, there is no work that can be compared to mine. Which is a shame for the general situation; a discourse about sub- and popculture in/about Vienna is still in its beginning. When in recent times I was abroad and when I told people about my book, they would tell me like: “We find it very important what you do but, on a general scale, who should be interested in your book if you aren’t talking about Mozart, the Stephansdom or Falco”? Well, I do, but not in the way you would find it in the description of “Lonely Planet” or in the traditional canon of story telling about Vienna. It would be very necessary to have international editions in order to “straighten” the clichés of this town, but I guess exactly out of that there won’t be international editions. It would mean to partly destroy the pigeonholes people have about this town.

“Im Puls der Nacht: Sub- und Populärkultur in Wien 1955−1976” seems to point out to nightlife itself – besides the entertainment aspect, how much of it was the “dark times”, that you’re kind-of-referring to with this title? “Im Puls” in the title is a word game as it also can refer to “Impuls” (the impulse). Maybe an adequate translation would be: “In the beat of the night”, as “im Puls” means: “close to”, “actual”. As I said before, I wanted to make a kind of alternative soundtrack of Vienna, so the night life and its subversive potentials towards everyday routines play an important role. In the title, “Nacht” is not necessarily “dark”, it is more a metaphor for concepts, visions, situations, encounters etc. that are a bit blurred. That are not so clear as during day light. The true time of/for creativity. The title refers to a concept in which after World War II it became a mass phenomenon to be able to “use” the night for individual purposes. This darkness is nothing in comparison to the darkness that came in the times of the Austro-Fascism, the “Anschluss” and the Third Reich. With its rich history in former times as a melting pot for cultures and being the capital of a truly international empire, Vienna’s art production and everyday life before Austro-Fascism was much dominated by people from the so called “Kronländer”, meaning the “countries of the crown”, like Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Hungary etc. And there were a high percentage of people with Jewish background amongst artists and intellectuals – think of Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Max Brand, Egon Erwin Kisch etc. This intelligentsia that at the turn from the 19th to the 20th century made Vienna a truly international and multi-ethnic capital (not only a city), was radically extinguished by the Nazis. After the war and after Austria’s independence, this intelligentsia was not really invited to come back. Then, there was the iron curtain that was much of a demarcation line. Whereas Vienna once was the “entrance door” to Central and Eastern Europe, this international transfer was cut short and the town is still only very slowly recovering from this period. This is one of my historical arguments why it is so difficult to talk about a pop culture discourse about Vienna.

Did this particular scene reflect on the society in both, cultural and political terms – and did these influences stay with the society to the present day? What is the pulse of the night like in Vienna these days? As in every town, there were parallel developments. It’s more a question of shifting your focus. I think there always was political ambition in some scenes of the town, but they couldn’t form a collective statement. Back in the late 1960s, the Viennese Actionists could cause real trouble so that society was really shocked. But back in these days, Vienna in itself was a terribly conservative town. I mean, back in the pre- and war times of the 1930s and 1940s there was much going on in Vienna: there were jazz clubs, jazz musicians etc. But these were really hard times: To be spotlighted by the Gestapo, it was enough to say – instead of “Sieg Heil!” – the emblematic greeting amongst jazz fans, going “Swing Heil!”. You could be sent to workers camps for that. In general I think that the period of (late) punk, which means for Vienna approx. 1976 up to the middle 80s, was a highly productive period. There were lots of bars and clubs at that period that would play the “real stuff”. The “pulse of nowadays” is that of a town that slowly develops in a good, independent direction, mostly significant in singer-/songwriter- and in (abstract) electronic music. Vienna is not – in comparison to e. g. Berlin – a real “party town”, things roll slower here. Which has some good side effects as well, as Vienna stays pretty much “hype free”. The situation of now is one of a constitution after a certain hype of the so called Vienna Electronica back in the late 90s. Things grow slowly but steadily. At least now since a while people don’t make strange looks anymore when you tell them you are from Vienna and that you are not doing classical music. Believe it or not: not all Viennese women dress in a “dirndl”; some of them are e. g. internationally acknowledged techno DJs.

Also working as a DJ, how hard is to adjust clubgoers to your personal music taste – are people in Vienna more open to discover/dance to the music they don’t necessarily recognise, or is it always a frustrating situation of compromising your own concept with “hits”, in order to keep the audience at bay? I’m a DJ now for a very long time. For a certain period, I found it interesting to be a “crowd pleaser”. But I came to the point where for me the “dictate of known” became quite frustrating. First and foremost, through my DJ-sets I want to tell stories, make jokes, and set up a discussion. Also here, it’s not about the music “itself” but about the social context in which this music happens. Being a music journalist, I had to listen to really a lot of DJs, ranging from real underground to rave parties. For my sets and as a critic, I’m not interested in a good mixing technique (OK, it helps in a way …) but in the story or conversation the DJ sets up. As a DJ, one should find the small line that separates the “jukebox on two legs” from an artistic individual. I personally am interested in new things but throughout the years I discovered that this is not true for the majority of people. I think that Viennese crowds are not different to any scenes in the world concerning a good mixture between known, lesser known and unknown tracks. It was often said that Viennese people are not so much into dancing. This is partly true. In my opinion, in the end of the day, the “classical” Viennese club goer is not too excessive.

How selective are you with music? When discovering something new in music, how accidental is your approach to it, what is the surprise element that amazes you most, when you first discover it? I had four crucial moments in my life in terms of music socialisation. First, I discovered Industrial music in my early 20s. Ten years later, I became a fan of Dub- and later of Dubstep music and then I fell into heavy guitar music. As I get many records for to be reviewed and as I consider myself much involved with music business, I think I have a good overview of actual productions. For me it is important, not to stick to a particular scene or genre but to have a greater, more general overview. Over the years, my personal approach/taste has become quite accidental/eclectic, as there is good music everywhere and from every period. It’s hard to say what amazes me in music; sometimes it’s a particular sound, then a special rhythm, then a unique mood. I appreciate music from which I get the feeling that for the artist it was a definite “must” to do it, a burning need that this particular record had to “come to life”. My girlfriend often told me that my reception of, or arguments about music are mostly more analytical than emotional. But sometimes, I can get shivers when I hear particular tracks or bands. Which are, randomly: Throbbing Gristle, Badawi, Shackleton/Skull Disco, Godflesh, The Cramps, Iggy & The Stooges, the Reggae-/Dub-stuff of Grace Jones (my favorite “pop” queen), Drexciya and most of the Underground Resistance catalogue. Concerning new stuff, I like e. g. bass music by Raime, Kevin Martin, material by the label Hyperdub, or jazz like that of the saxophone player Mats Gustafsson and from the label Rune Grammophon, or deep guitars by The Slug Guts, Boris, or records of the label Southern Lord.

Throughout the years, you met some of the true legends of the music underworld. What situation, or better, what encounter do you remember being the most amusing/emotionally charged for you? When meeting your favourite artist in person, or those of interest – how hard is it to stay objective and not taking someone’s potential arrogance too personal, which sometimes can ruin the impression of the very work (be it music, literature, films, etc…)? Amongst the most impressive interviews were those with filmmaker Kenneth Anger, Ilona Staller aka Cicciolina, Throbbing Gristle and Rolf Schwendter, a Viennese sociologist, who wrote one of the first German theory books about subculture back in the late 60s and who, back in the late 50s, was a founding member of the so called Informelle Gruppe, one of the very first real counterculture groups in Vienna. My two “all time favorite” interviews where those with the bands Techno Animal (Justin Broadrick/Kevin Martin) and Coil. These “heroes” didn’t give me for any second a bad feeling. The interview with Techno Animal changed to a conversation within minutes. Sleazy Christopherson and John Balance were the most inspiring persons I’ve ever met. I felt honoured when they signed my Coil-CD with the remark: “interesting questions!”. Of course, I also had (very) bad interview situations as well. It makes a big difference if you are talking to the bands as a music journalist or as a fan. It is important to stay as professional as possible in an interview situation. Being a fan of certain bands can bring the benefit of an extra reflection or feedback to the approach you have on their artistic work. For me a good interview is when it changes to a conversation on an equal level. But it is definitely up to the artist and not to the interviewer to identify that point of change. The interviewer is, in my definition, first and foremost a medium.

Couple of years ago, in Vienna there was a guest exhibition of Punk, documenting the primary UK/US/German Punk and New Wave scenes, plus there was also a tiny review of Vienna’s punk/new wave scene – presented (predominantly) in image archive, but it seemed rather modest by comparison… There is a common misunderstanding with that exhibition. It was mainly about punk as art and was not focussed on music. It is true that the curators presented a quite weak picture of Vienna’s (post) punk/New Wave period. Nevertheless, the good thing with this exhibition was that it started a certain discourse or discussion about punk/wave in Vienna. As in most other countries, this was a very fruitful period. Problem is that very little is documented. There was much going on but the output was not that “heavy”. My historical argument is that back then, Austria was governed by the chancellor Bruno Kreisky (1970−83) and Vienna by its mayor Helmut Zilk (1984−94). They were socialists and comparatively open to “pop” culture. If you look at the UK and the US, you had Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. So there was an “enemy” that could be named and worked against. In Austria and Vienna this was a period of relative freedom. So for (post)punk/New Wave there was no “need” to develop such an aggressive and anti-governmental approach like in those countries. Of course these movements were highly political, but compared to social changes, the middle 60s and late 90s were much more relevant.

Earlier, when we spoke in person, you made an interesting remark about how many synth-pop artists are mostly emulating the sound of a certain era – according to you, can something called “synth-pop” sound uniquely different today, without the necessary evil of replicating the “sound of 1979-1982”? Synth-pop was once accused of being “the end of music”. To you, what signifies true “synth-pop”, what gives it its character the most – and on the other hand, what do you consider the worst cliché in one such genre? Genres work/are significant in a certain socio-historical framework. Synth Pop of the original era would sound like that because there were no other tools available or because of political or cultural necessities. “The end of music” – Velvet Underground were confronted with such statements too. Back in the 50s, for an average Viennese citizen Rock’n’Roll music meant “the end of the world”. So this is nothing new or unique. For me this interest in Synth Pop, as it is evident in nowadays genres like Minimal or Cold Wave, is another sign of learning to deal or cope with history. I find it interesting that there so much is a perspective on a certain historical “sound”. This has become quite a hype in the “dark” underground. As an illustration, maybe the band Suicide is a good example: I think that it is impossible to separate Suicide from the New York scene of the late 70s, of the legacy of the Vietnam trauma, of American pop music of the 50s (Roy Orbison) and of the grievance of the American everyday life (like in the track “Frankie Teardrop”). As it happened in Brussels in 1978, to be chased away from stage by punks because they would play punk music with synthesizers: now that’s something. Means Suicide’s music arose from a socio-cultural framework tracing it back to what was around these days. That’s what I miss in retro genres: I want to hear their approach towards 9/11, the Arabian Revolution, Palestine, the information war etc. Things that are now. I see the minimalism in these genres not as a necessity but as a gesture in an over-saturated and over-stimulated world. It makes no sense to sound like an old, broken MS-20 synth machine, emulated on your stylish MacBook. It would be much more interesting to make a TR-808 sound like a patch of MAX/MSP. In short: I think that one should use those tools (ideas, contexts, contents) that are available nowadays. The machine you use doesn’t make a difference, as long as you tell your story in your actual situation. So “true” Synth Pop for me is the music of the late 70s, early 80s (and is something different to Synth Wave – which could be Soft Cell, Fad Gadget, Yello etc., Electro or early Detroit Techno): Duran Duran, Alphaville, Depeche Mode, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, OMD, Pet Shop Boys, Tears For Fears, Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Nomi, … (Kraftwerk for me never were Synth Pop but Electro. But that’s another story…

Heinrich Deisl writes regularly for SKUG magazine. Further information: skug.at
Interview conducted: 0.5, Heinrich Deisl photographed by Sabine Pichler.
“Im Puls der Nacht – sub- und populärkultur in Wien 1955 – 1976”, published in 2012 by Verlag Turia + Kant

Earlier this year, Sally Dige’s debut single was presented on Small Doses’ Surplus pages, dubbed
“precious little diamond”. Paying equal attention to video and music, her artistic persona comes to the fore – and telling from the sole 7” on Fabrika Records label released last year (the adorable “Immaculate Deception”, backed with the upbeat “Doppelgänger” on the flipside), it is a deserved success. Displaying both, the fragile and the tough herself, Sally is undoubtedly one of the ice queens of her generation – a new release has just seen the light of day via Night School label – the single “Forget Me”, which recently also won a “Track of the week” title in The Guardian. Once again, this is such an irresistible piece of obscure pop-candy, sweet but just as nutritive. Sally is just going through her new phase – relocating herself to Berlin, the ever-inspiring city that will undoubtedly embrace her muse.

How DIY are you and how much others are involved in your work (both, music and video)? I am almost 100 percent DIY, not so much because I prefer to be, but more so out of necessity. I really enjoy collaborating with other people and getting external help (if possible) but sometimes not all of these opportunities are present so I just have to make something out of what I have (which is pretty low-grade quality stuff – in terms of instruments and before, cameras)  and make something to the best of my knowledge and experience. However, with some of my tracks I have collaborated with some different musical artists, and for visuals, fashion designer Anna Artemova designed a dress that was used for my music video “Hard To Please” (the video isn’t released yet), as well as designed t-shirt prints for my merchandise and just recently I collaborated with the artist Laslo Antal, on the making of the music video “Hard to Please”.

Comparing it to the debut 7” release on Fabrika Records label last year, your new single “Forget Me”, seems to have expanded to a band sound, using more bass and drums. Is this approach also a test for your future studio and live set-up, adding more organic sound to your work? “Forget Me” was written and recorded with my ex-bandmate Robin Borawski some time ago. It has a more live sound because together that is how we always wrote, and Robin is a drummer so naturally we never used drum machines when writing together. For future sounds though, I do intend on incorporating more live elements into the songs.

How would you describe your own music – without using other popular terminology (New Wave, Goth, Synth-pop, Electro, etc.)? Pop.

What inspires you for the lyrics – are these addressing something that happened in real life, or are these mainly fiction? How personal do you get when writing a song and what is your favourite leitmotif to start writing a song? I write about real life events and feelings, as well as interpretations of an outsider’s point of view on how I think they feel towards me in a situation that I am connected in with them. Often though I will include different stories, events, feelings, people, phases and perspectives in one song, so to me it is quite a chaotic collage but to an outsider it usually looks quite linear and focused on telling a single story about one person or one situation.

Which one of the songs that you wrote so far is your favourite, that you’re most proud of – whether released or unreleased? I am still very proud of “Immaculate Deception” not so much because of the song, but because it was the time of really taking a departure from being in a band and doing a musical project completely independent. I didn’t have any knowledge about engineering as I had always recorded with people who took care of the engineering side, where I only had to worry about the songwriting part. At the time, I didn´t have a working synth so I had to borrow one on-and-off from a friend and record synth and vocal ideas on a cheap cassette player. I also had no place to record (or recording equipment, or even a computer) but another friend was kind enough to allow me to record in his studio basement space on days when no one was in there – so I would record at different erratic and irregular hours (usually in the night) during the week, and wait until the next time that he would let me into the space so that he could show me another tip on how to properly record and mix. So many more things are connected of course to making the song work, but why I am most proud of this song is because it is connected to making something work out of having no equipment, experience or facilities and seeing that it can be done if you have the determination, and passion for it.

What were your artistic beginnings? You belong to a younger generation of Vancouver’s underground music scene – what’s it like nowadays? Is there a scene and how is it between Vancouver and other cities? Do people connect between themselves or is it more about, say, competition? Which Canadian artists are your favourites, which influenced you the most, be it underground or mainstream/past or present? My artistic beginnings started at a very young age haha, but in the Vancouver music scene, or perhaps the most talked about “Emergency Room” days, I played in a band that was created while I was still in high school. During these “Emergency Room” days, Vancouver was quite a vibrant city in terms of music, art and underground culture. Although my band was a part of ‘the scene’, we were never really a part of it somehow. We were always kind of outsiders; just a part of it enough. It was like having our foot in the door – never quite “in” but never quite “out”. How it is nowadays, I have no idea. I disconnected myself from the scene, and really from just people (haha), years ago as I began to work heavily by myself, on all my free time. I just know that the synth, electronic and experimental scene in Vancouver is very small. Most of the people that were making this kind of music left Vancouver, including myself. Favourite Canadian artist? Probably I will regret not mentioning someone, or some band later, but at the top of my head, I really like Martha and the Muffins.

Can a song exist on its own terms, without necessary information about whom we are listening to, without the image presentation? Sure it can, in fact I think songs are more powerful this way as it allows the listener to connect their own experiences, meanings and interpretations to the song. Art shouldn`t always come with a manual on how it should be read and interpreted.

What were the main sources of inspiration regarding videos for “Immaculate Deception”, “Doppelgänger” and recently “Forget Me”? While reading the book “No Wave”, I came across a video still from the movie, “USA Underground” and it completely influenced me artistically; around the time of “Immaculate Deception”. The music video aesthetics for that video was definitely inspired from this one video still image I saw of “USA Underground”, and trails of “Doppelgänger” were still influenced from that one image. For “Forget Me” I was interested in doing something with my illustrations, but make them into life-size figures and connect a story around that.

How important is video to you (not just as a promotional tool)? Videos are really important to me, perhaps just because of my sheer love for making films.

… and was your artistic persona initially considered to be more video-only – rather than (also) being presented through a record release? I always wanted to release records, but sometimes I wish I could only be presented through video, so live shows would be presented like going to the cinema and watching some new part of an extended film.

Do you prefer working more in the analogue field, VHS and the like? I like both (analogue and digital). I don’t like to be limited or branded to any particular tool, instead able to explore in all mediums and aesthetics. I worked heavily in analogue in the beginning because of my lack of facilities. Analogue equipment was all that I had at the time, and I just had to make the most out of my situation (and I also enjoyed the process very much).

Your videos share a sensual side and also echo tiny traces of feminism. How close would be this observation? Close enough.

According to listeners’ fascination, your music echoes the 80s nostalgia – what is your true nostalgia? Memories of the old family farm in Denmark.

Can you see yourself in 20 years from now, and where would that be – how much do you expect your music and life in general might change? Continuing to be pursuing creative projects, and hopefully not working a regular day-job.

Further information: soundcloud.com/sally-dige
Interview conducted: 0.5, Sally Dige photographed by Darryl Agawin
“Forget Me”  7” single recently released on Night School (LSSN019, 2013)

Information overload is a double-edge sword. No matter how much you try and get into something, there is always more and more of it pleasantly distracting, patiently lurking from the shadows. Which brings out the inevitable question – can anyone ever absorb as much during a lifetime? Of course not, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Curiosity kills the cat and the cat still has nine lives. Two amazing formations were approached to contribute with some of their gorgeous music – Soft Riot and No˝i Kabát. Somehow quite close-related in their collaboration (remixes and studio interplay) – both agreed, which makes Small Doses proud beyond words to present some of their mutual and exclusive, intertwined sessions – No˝i Kabát’s own, reconstruction of their ace track “Seeds Of Time” plus Soft Riot’s own re-vision of “Cinema Eyes” plus, once again, a radical  blast of
No˝i Kabát’s “Seeds Of Time”.

I am going to use Andrew Darlington’s definition of the two (in reference to his excellent in-depth article “Jazz Drugs, Jazz Violence”, about Clock DVA and Vice-Versa, back in the year 1980):

Soft Riot has two legs. It’s definitely a manifesto – say, a one-man guerilla operation behind the synth lot. I can clearly hear the act of subversive beauty in practically each one of Soft Riot’s pieces (at the time of writing, I am still impatiently waiting for my copy of freshly announced vinyl record via Other Voices label). This is a dancefloor soundscape – the bea(s)t that melts the hips and lures to its magic circle of pure neo-psychedelic frenzy. Cabaret Voltaire coined the phrase “Conform to deform” – in No˝i Kabát and Soft Riot’s case, it is more like “Devastate to liberate”.

Whispering vocals and dreamy soundscapes that slide over a thin line between soothing dreamlike state and the nightmarish world (of tomorrow). I prefer listening to this kind of music when moving fast. Turns regular leisure walk into serious action run – against the environment, drowned in its own static. The idea of movement suggests the fast-forward button pressing on the cassette player. Yes, it’s the joy of speed suggested from within the stripped down beat and melody that hypnotises and paralyses. Yes, it’s the musical equivalent of many impressive strobe light flashes.

Among Soft Riot’s jewels, lies one particularly shiny diamond that is “Cinema Eyes”. Just about to be fresh from release on the (forthcoming) album “Fiction Prediction”, “Cinema Eyes” is a multitude of – according to title – cinematic snippets, that immediately take over once the opening cut-up melody starts. Random bits tamed into a merciless electronic pop cocktail from within a dream (within a dream). Soft Riot’s Jack Duckworth explains: There are two songs from Fiction Prediction that were the hardest to write, and one of those was “Cinema Eyes”. I guess “hardest” is a bad term, more so that the writing went through many phases as the earlier ideas didn’t really work for me. If it didn’t sit well I’d often leave it to rest for a while and come back to it a later date, sometimes many months later. The earliest phrase written was the arpeggiating synth in verses. It is in D Minor and originally the music underneath it was in A Minor and D Minor in the verses. The chorus was established early as well although the sound design changed somewhat as it got to the final version. For whatever reason the verses didn’t gel for me so that track went to sleep for a bit.

When I came back to it I had an epiphany to use a chord progression from another demo (and another band actually!) in the verses, which was in B Minor and C# Minor. I loved how these chords clashed with the arpeggio, still sitting constantly in D Minor. I’m all for controlled discord and whatnot so I kept it. For the other synths I was really into creating these distant-sounding shots or blasts, sort of like the sounds I would hear in the mountains from boats and horns when I was growing up in coastal British Columbia, Canada. I think it gives what is a synth-pop track a more “electro-acoustic” sound with more depth. I’ve been a long time big fan of classic Kranky Records stuff like Labradford and Stars of the Lid and the textural ambient sound their style is based on. Even late 90s Plastikman is great for those sorts of sounds as well. Anyway, with the music coming together and listening to it late at night I had this concept of contrasting the grace and melancholy from the Golden Age of Film against this idea of Marshall MacLuhan slanted view of the power of suggestion and control through film and television, so the lyrics sort of come from that. I find this especially relevant when we have more grassroots sources to our news and what happened in historical events and how film and television – and now the internet – can be cut or written to present a certain bias of a certain slant to present a take on an event that in many cases doesn’t not cover the whole story.

This fascination with “Cinema Eyes” led to a proposal that Soft Riot re-construct the track for Small Doses’ 5th issue. Jack continues: It’s not a drastically different version but there are a lot of noticeably differences. I’ve done three versions of this track so far including this one. Each mix is based on different ideas I had come up with during the original songwriting process but may not have used. As we all know that when writing a song many different things are tried out and a lot of ideas get dropped in favour of the final result. I guess this new version is a possible way how the track could have come out had I taken it in a slightly different direction.

No˝i Kabát has six legs. And a great sense of humour. In vocalist Dee Rüsche’s own words, the name is not to be taken that seriously – “before you laugh, we have reasons”, he said. “I would find fun in all the English bands in the scene who have a ‘German sounding’ name, to be a bit mysterious. It’s been going for a long time. So I was looking for a Hungarian word as a parody of these. It’s almost like Depeche Mode. Meaning “Fast Fashion”. Ours means “Women’s Coat”. However I do also like the androgeny that this brings once people find what it means. It’s almost a glam name. Part parody, part dead serious.” For a year now, Just like Soft Riot, No˝i Kabát have a special place in my consciousness – a band I was first introduced to when staying at Mike’s place in Vienna. Cannot tell why, but from what Mike played me, the sounds immediately stuck in my head and caused an unknown sensation – it wasn’t love at first listen but became an obsession with every next one. “I’m telling you, this is the next band that’s going to make it big”, Mike said.

From all the documented live snippets throughout the Internet society, I am sure No˝i Kabát are getting there deservedly. Energetic stuff, synths but with organic sound attached to it – especially evident in the effective drumming. Speaking of releases, it’s still a proper album wait – apart from a few recordings made audible via the group’s Soundcloud stream (some of which were also released on a cassette), so far the group delivered a respectful (and recently sold out) 7” single “Make Room! Make Room!/Industry”, on the amazing, obscure German label Aufnahme + Wiedergabe. For Small Doses, they chose to re-brush one of their earlier jewels, called “Seeds Of Time”. As mentioned earlier here, the song appears in both, No˝i Kabát and Soft Riot’s exclusive re-interpretations; No˝i Kabát’s version suits the disc’s opening track purpose perfectly, slowly building itself from within a drone-like sound forming a massive, menacing mixture along with discreet kick drum and the song’s trademark, chant-like vocal performance.

Soft Riot version is another stunning example of how a song can be split into fractions, a million splinters that burst right through the air. Dee explains the idea behind the song – The title “Seeds Of Time” comes from a book of short stories by John Wyndham, one of my favourite science fiction writers. The chorus lyrics are saying how you can sow all these little seeds throughout your life and how some of them come back to haunt you by ‘blowing in your eye’. It’s cyclical, like life, so when I say ‘eye’ it goes back to start of the chorus ‘I’. The Verse lyrics are the story of a seduction and one night love affair in which the protoganist suceeds but later regrets using the seduced so cheaply. One of my favourite lines early on is ‘A roll on the lino is a needle in the hay’. A twist on a roll in the hay (euphemism for sex) in which a roll on the linoleum (cheap kitchen flooring) is brought to a very suburban level. This action being ‘a needle in the hay’ or essentially one of many. I enjoy the slight play on words and changing of common phrases. Playing games with the listener. Verse two shows the disdain for the victim and in ‘on you will shatter a glass or two of wine’ we see the plying with alcohol to shatter or tire the person into submission. And of course the quietly spoken ‘shout wildly in the air’. A vocal oxymoron? The final verse breathes the lines ‘And I will break your heart and forget your name’, ‘but all lovers leave scars and blackened words to shame’. These and the final ‘savage me with silence in the future without you’ belay the aggresors regret in the situation. Another notch in the bedpost but perhaps the bedstead is starting to show it’s cracks.

Enjoy this tiny exclusive oddity of a conceptual split single release by two extraordinary defenders of electronic pop earth.

Further information:

softriot.com
noikabat.com

Soft Riot’s “Cinema Eyes” original version appears on the forthcoming album “Fiction Prediction”
(Other Voices, 2013, VOX16LP);

No˝i Kabát’s “Seeds Of Time” originally released on a self-released cassette (2012, 001)

Soft Riot photographed by Del Jae
No˝i Kabát photographed by Jack

Seeing Patrizia Doná’s work, in its own, unique way, it pleasantly (if not instantly) evoked another striking individual’s world – that of Natascha Plum. “Oh yes, I love her work” – confirmed Patrizia in one of our D-Day conversations. Without doubt, Patrizia and Natascha would make a winning combination between them, if only they ever team up – reflecting their mutual, everlasting love of monochromatics. Patrizia started Laboratorio Doná, a place where reinterpretation of found objects takes hold, directing these into objets d’art – but not objets d’art in themselves. Yes, at first it was pure and simple exhibits but exploring the possibilities of reinterpretation further, Patrizia turned these into functional, eye-catching accessoires, strikingly unique for both, the creator and the customer.

In fact, so unique that on one occasion Patrizia even experienced a theft situation – a person who stole one of her unique purses was quickly found and when given the opportunity to explain, this person said – “no, I didn’t steal it, I only borrowed it – it was my performance”. Well, if this is some compliment – or to some consolation, Patrizia’s work tempts people to commit petty crimes and explain their actions as “art”.

Can we view your work through the “ready-made” prism? My studio, Laboratorio Donà, can be described as the place of redesign, reconstruction and recycling of various found objects for everyday use and reinterpretation of fashion as a medium. When consciousness divorces all knowledge about a subject, and its original function, a space for any number of unpredictable transformations opens. I am fascinated by highly aestheticised, simple and complex mechanical objects, such as old typewriters and musical instruments, whose parts I use in my collections.

How do others view your work – how do you imagine an ideal carrier of your creations? I have not yet experienced my work leaving anyone indifferent, although I have to say that people have different views on it. For example, some may view my unique bags with built-in typewriter keyboards as a piece of art, a sculpture, and are not surprised when I tell them the price of such an object. Others may see it as a wacky bag, a fancy toy they might like to stroll with through the promenade. The ideal holder is the one on which such an object will not “stick out”, but will present a “pièce de résistance” in their fashion style and lifestyle.

Handmade work is always more appreciated. Is there, in the context of your products, which – each in their own, are unique – something we might call the “general public”? How many models are produced annually and where can people acquire your creations? I started a series of accessories called “Hommage à Remington” a few years ago. At first I exclusively made uniques which primarily functioned as exhibits. In early 2011, as part of the same theme, I presented the commercial line where artistic models of Remington bags were simplified for functionality’s sake, without losing the exclusivity of their design and the quality of their build. Unique models are exclusively made to order, while this commercial series is available in Dizajnholik, Top, Sky (Zagreb), Mar & Val (Zadar), gallery Kiks (Rovinj), and Mixer House (Belgrade) stores.

Where would you say is the boundary between “applied art” and just “art” – does design in general today lean toward the latter? Art knows no boundaries, and “applied art” must have “applicable” character, thus it is somehow limited, i.e. it is necessary to take care of the functional components. When I start thinking about a new work, I approach it as “art” because of the freedom of expression, but in the end I do like to examine its possible “usable” commercial derivatives. I am only satisfied when next to a unique and complex “wearable object” in my collection, I also have its simpler wearable version intended for a wider audience. The boundaries between art and design are now loose, and one enters the field of another, thus creating more space and freedom to create ideas. Today, design leans toward art, and an excellent example of this is the Dutch product designer Hela Jongerius, whose work inspires me over and over again.

“Hommage à Remington” is the name of your latest collection of accessories which you presented at this year’s “D-Day”. What is your creative process, do you choose the additional materials randomly, or do you know in advance that it would be a “Remington”, a “Petrof” or a “Hohner”? How much time do you devote to creating one of these unique items? I do not start on a predefined idea. When I see an object – a typewriter, an accordion, a trumpet or a winding key, I start thinking about how I could transform them into a wearable object. I do not do sketches, I start to work on the material immediately, or I deconstruct a ready-made object. In this process of deconstruction and reconstruction, “wearable objects” are formed – some of which function only as exhibits, while others are fully usable (wearable). My most demanding work, conceptually and technically, was the Metamorfodion #2. It is a complex object on which I have worked for two months. To create a bag with a built-in typewriter keyboard I usually need about two weeks. Each typewriter is a story in itself, and every time I create a new bag, I seek another technical solution to the whole problem of integrating the key mechanism into the bag, which should ultimately be functional.

Can you name an ultimate favorite among your previous works? The Metamorfodion #2, the bottle for the Chanel No. 5 perfume (from the “Pleasure to superfluity” series).

You nurture a strict relationship between black and white with subtle planes of colour – is there a place in your expression for multicolour / psychedelia / kitsch? I love the monochrome and pastel, pale colours… gray, skin, milky white… Lately, I’ve been breaking the paleness of the colours with bright orange, yellow or red, but still at a ratio of approximately 90% paleness and 10% of colour. Kitsch is alien to me, but you never know, maybe I surprise myself suddenly one day…

Have any of your bags ended up as a museum exhibit? Would you prefer that your work comes to life as a museum piece or would a fashion show be a more fitting “museum” for presenting avant-garde garments? For now, there aren’t any works of mine in any permanent collections of a museum, but I have no doubt that several of my works shall to find their place there. I absolutely prefer museum and gallery spaces for my work, and I avoid fashion shows.

Further information: laboratoriodona.com
Interview conducted: 0.5, proofreading/translations: Goran Gregor
Patrizia Doná’s work photographed by Pasquale Protopapa and Jovan Kliska

Maybe it was expected that this title be used, paraphrasing De Sade, but in a way, Sanja Rotter’s work is just as provocatively teasing and daring. With “Woodoir” as her choice of name that has become a brand, and her unique hand-made objects, Sanja openly talks about  this “dark side” of furniture and how it is shaped into a product that refines and enriches, not just the interior.

As a product designer, what are your views on the design profession in general, regardless of the aspect of the “graphic”, “virtual” or “industrial” – do you think the design is supersaturated with both avant-garde and kitsch? Can there be a new environment from which to act alongside these two currents? We can talk about opposite values we have called avant-garde or kitsch, but the more-less way is not even close to being the only dimension in design – even if it’s what you might first see. In contemporary design, I can see the digital – analog relationship, as well as the mass-oriented – unique relationship and a lot of other “axes” by which we experience each work in the domain of design. And it’s certainly something worth exploring. Personally, I am quite interested in the relationship between order and chaos, intentional and accidental, the rational and intuitive methods of design.

Who are your role models and whose work is most inspiring – the one that was created by your role models or the one your idols have nothing to do with? This is an excellent question. If there are any role models – my inspiration is not necessarily found in their works, but in what they themselves were inspired by. I seldom draw inspiration from someone’s final products – I’d rather draw it from the ideas which had created them. I feel the link between the author’s personality and their works in an unusual way: I am completely my work and not at all. The properties of objects that I shape are not in the least part my qualities as a person – I’m temperamental, chaotic, messy, irrational… while through creating, through these physical objects, I project what is harmonious and poetic. And this is a process that completely makes me what I am. Speaking of actual persons who inspire me, I would first mention the ideas and texts of R. Buckminster Fuller, and the work of the Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala.

What is for you the ideal starting point in designing something, and is it easy to create a unique piece today, not necessarily inspired by someone else’s work? In my case, the someone else’s work you mentioned is the design of leaves, flowers, shells, desert dunes, bird nests, leopard patterns, branching trees, constellations in the sky… and so on. I admit, I am strongly influenced by that, and it’s just not that easy to get away from it.

In your opinion, where is the fine line between original work and plagiarism? I believe that the plagiarist can convince himself that his work is an original idea, while it is probably a subconscious memory of something already seen. I very confidently state that I have no need to plagiarize things. To use a banal analogy – why would I steal water if I own the spring? I saw some works that could be said to resemble something that I have made – after I made them. It is nothing of concern – people around the world have similar problems resolved in a similar way, but if the author had their own, unique design process that led to the final product (research, experiments, causal relationships in the process) – that can not be plagiarized. Of course, there is a special category – those works that fall within the domain of ready-made, pop-art, homage, and the like.

In furniture design, are laws of physics really that important in everything? To what extent can you predict and avoid pitfalls related to the (lack of) functionality, and how often do these pitfalls lurk when you least expect it, when you believe that you have the project thoroughly thought out? Such a case recently took place, although the project was not related to furniture. Tragicomic situations, when something seems perfect and goes wrong are probably an integral part of this job.I often joke – unless you’re a master of organization, you have to be a master of improvisation. Sometimes it works out, and the “saving things” process alone often brings out something different and even better.

Given the specific nature of your profession and the ideas you turn solid, how do your works rate on the domestic market? On the domestic field there seems to be scarce interest in the innovations of product designers… there prevail the frustrations of people who often do not find the ideal buyer and therefore numerous prototypes remain only prototypes. Where would you say does the main problem lie, unrelated to the (failed) industry? Distribution channels and their conditions are certainly a problem, and the fact that due to small series, the price of each piece increases significantly compared to real industrial production – with which Croatian designers still have no proper relationship they deserve. Let me cite a rare bright example – the cooperation of the Borovo shoe factory and Mauro Massarotto to revitalize the Startas brand. I’ve never designed anything for mass production, and I have a great desire to do so. For now, my production is based on my own desire and my effort to have a piece made. Precisely due to the lack of infrastructure that would enable production for me, I was forced to a “do-it-yourself” operation, a process through which you learn so much, and furthermore – it’s a new way, a new trend of production that is not closely tied to the small field of product design. We see this trend through increased homemade arts and crafts, local food products, home music production, redesigning of clothing and restoration of flea-market furniture, etc. In spite of everything, I can only see positive changes in the future, primarily in the fact that people are developing awareness of what design is and why it is worth the trouble.

Regarding this, what about working abroad? Is there any interest out there for young people like you – if you could choose, who would you want to produce your own furniture and jewelry for? My parents lived abroad for a few years and I’ve lost some illusions related to this concept. In short – I could not. I’m bound to Croatia, my language, my city – its places and people, friends and family: the emotional and social “infrastructure” of life. It is my great desire to design furniture for some of the lumber industries in Croatia and I am particularly interested in quality use of our most valuable timber species – the Slavonian oak. I have to mention how quality management of Slavonian oak includes proper management of forests, as well as protection of wetlands and deep groundwater, which are crucial to the maintenance of high quality oak forests and the prevention of oak drying in the Spačva basin area.

If you spoke to someone who did not necessarily understand your aesthetics, would you accept the challenge and try to reeducate such a client or are there limits due to which you feel that money is not always worth the time and effort? Or would you agree to a compromise? Creation-wise, which would be the worst compromise that you would agree on? Of course I have my limits, but I am still learning a lot about compromise and interpersonal relationships at work. It’s hard for me to say because I do not have much experience in this regard. Generally I do not agree to any compromise for which there are no arguments. I start from the point stating that I am the master of my shapes, and I know what’s best in the formative sense! On the other hand, I absolutely accept to compromise for technological and structural reasons, which is very important when working with wood – a material that “has a will of its own”. Recently I worked on a quote for some furniture where the client requested that an element I designed as a standalone – was hanging, and with a slight change in size, which required space. There was no problem about that. The worst horror scenario would be the one in which I would work on, for example, redesigning semiautomatic weapons or something like that. Designing something that causes destruction goes against all my principles.

At this year’s “D-Day”, you’ve presented a range of wooden jewelry, along with images of selected furniture. Are these two branches your favorites or are you planning to expand your talents and ingenuity even further – and if so, in which direction? Jewelry is something not very important, today it is very widespread and commonplace. But the reactions of people recognizing their uniqueness and value in a little thing that they will wear and love a long time – that’s what the designer wants to feel, regardless of how banal the thing itself may be. The thing itself is not important – it’s what it means to people, how they feel about it! It’s how I feel while I create it for them! In the spirit of this philosophy, I really do not care what I do, as long as both the audience and I find quality and beauty in it. I do definitely plan to expand the activities I do. In which direction – only time and experience will tell. I am interested in environmentally friendly, sustainable concepts that take advantage of local production capacities, traditions and resources, which in the bigger picture brand Croatia as a country that uses renewable energy, preserves and properly uses its resources, where people eat local, organically grown food… in a nutshell, a country that is aware of its values and preserves them. Also, most of all, I have an ambition to open my own gallery / workshop / studio, which I especially fantasize about while watching all these abandoned spaces in the city. I look at the empty places and visualize possibilities: I imagine painting the walls, furnishing the space, pouring champagne at the opening of the Gallery Woodoir to the music… Sounds ridiculous and far-fetched – but if there is no vision, there can be no accomplishment!

Further information: facebook.com/woodoir
Interview conducted: 0.5, proofreading/translations: Goran Gregor
Woodoir Noir photographed by Adriana Pavelić, Tarna Putina and Sanja Rotter