- Hi Ben, we are glad to host you on Paradox.
No problem. Thanks for asking.
- You grew up in New Zealand, right? We guess the Techno is not that big there, so how did you get in touch with electronics and Techno?
I actually grew up partly in the UK (Huddersfield) and then immigrated to New Zealand when I was a teenager – so I was already into electronic music at that point via the rave/hardcore/drum & bass/house mixtapes I grew up listening to (like a lot of other kids in my area at the time).
You’re right though techno wasn’t big in NZ when I lived there (I left NZ over a decade ago though so I’m not sure how it is now) but there was a small scene in Auckland so it wasn’t like a total void. In fact although it was a small scene the people involved had a great taste in music and were very passionate. Matt Drake (a very talented local DJ and promoter) worked very hard on bringing techno artists over to Auckland – he brought over Jeff Mills, Steve Bicknell, Claude Young and Derrick May to name a few so I got to see these guys play when I was young, which was pretty influential obviously.
In fact, I actually got into Detroit techno properly via an amazing techno section in a record shop in Auckland called Marbecks around 1997-98 (it was stocked by another local techno DJ called Miles Kuen). That’s where I first came across US labels like M-Plant, Axis and Metroplex. There was also a huge drum ‘n’ bass scene in NZ at that time, so I got to see guys like Dillinja, Doc Scott. Dub reggae was also massive and there was a pretty decent house music scene. So yeah – not a void.
In terms of NZ music itself, I’m more of a fan of the guitar side of things, bands like The Skeptiks, Bailterspace, High Dependency Unit, The Gordons, The Dead C… A lot of people think of NZ music and assume it’s all happy dub music and chilling at the beach but these bands tapped into the more adverse undercurrents and developed a sound that I feel is very unique to NZ.
- Your first material, No signify, was out on 6277, a sublabel Jeff Mills’ Axis intended to release uprising artists’ work. That was back on 2006… What was your background and influences by that time?
All of the influences I just mentioned were in place, but I was also into everything from Steve Reich to hip hop at the time. I never used to focus on writing techno music like I do now. I wrote and/or was involved in hip hop, indie, ambient and noise music as well. In fact, I was more involved in the Auckland indie scene in 2006 than the dance music scene. I hadn’t actually written any techno for a good year when Axis got in touch.
- You’ve released an album on Perc Trax on 2009 which has a smart experimental touch… That was during your stay in Tokyo. How far has this city influenced this production?
It didn’t influence my music in any obvious way – all of the usual clichés about Japan being neat and minimalist etc. are probably more apt to describe what I’ve been attempting to do since I moved to London. The music I wrote in Tokyo was actually more manic and maximal to what I’m doing now.
- Are you still interested by that kind of sound? And are you planning to put out another LP in the near future?
That album was quite percussive and texture oriented from memory. I’m more interested in working with pitch and melody at the moment so I can’t see myself revisiting that sound. I am however working on another LP, but it will sound very different to the Perc Trax release.
- Only few artists have found their specific sound and we really think you’ve found your own. It’s a bit hypnotic, for sure complex and often tension-generating… How would you describe your sound by the way?
Thanks. That’s a really difficult question! I think I’d just describe it as my personal take on American techno, my own spin if you like.
“I’ve found running a label to be fun so far. Waiting for the vinyl to be cut is a bit long sometimes, and cutting vinyl isn’t exactly cheap but they’re fairly standard complaints”
- Let’s talk about your collaboration with Fundamental Interaction. You’ve got a duo and a label both under the name of DYAD. How has the interaction occurred?
We met through the Lyon based label CLFT. (We each did a remix for the first 12” on that label a few years back). We both lived (and still live) in east London so we met up and as we had some ideas in common we started making tunes together.
- Do you think DYAD is the combination of your two own sounds or has it its own proper musical identity?
I think it has an identity of its own; there are certain tropes in the Dyad sound which differentiates it from our individual music. Also, our own sounds are quite purist I suppose, but the Dyad sound is a bit more playful I feel.
- How did the idea of creating your own label start? What do you find the most exciting/annoying when running a label?
I’ve found running a label to be fun so far. Waiting for the vinyl to be cut is a bit long sometimes, and cutting vinyl isn’t exactly cheap (and the margins are small) – but they’re fairly standard complaints.
- Any chance to see a DYAD live act in the future?
We played live for the first time for a Papa Maman night at Le Sucre in Lyon earlier in the year which went well. Hopefully moving on we will start to get some more requests.
- You seem to focus a lot on the label’s graphic identity, which is very pleasant and smart by the way. Do you always work with the same graphic designer?
Thanks. We work with Lenny Posso (Lenny is a professional graphic designer alongside being involved in music). He’s been great and really helped us to develop a visual identity for the label. He also gets what we do musically which I think is really important.
- What are your connexions with the French Techno scene?
Our main connection is CLFT. Mark and I are both friends with Simon and Iker – we have a lot of respect for them and what they do.
- How did you come out with this mix for Paradox?
It’s just an overview of my own music, with a smattering of Dyad in there.
- What kind of non electronic music do you listen to usually?
Recently? Looking at my iTunes playlist I can see Johsuha Abrams, Kurt Vile, Roc Marciano, Lower Dens, John Adams, Keith Hudson, Swans, Steve Kuhn… loads.
- What new artists/labels would you recommend to check out at the moment?
I’m really bad at remembering label names, but I’d say VSK, Rommek, Reflec and Setaoc Mass are all making really fresh techno right now. We also signed a track by a young Argentine producer called Tomas Kunkel, his sound is really raw still but it has everything in terms of rhythm and intensity.
- Can you give us a glimpse about your future projects?
I have a new five track EP coming out on Chronicle at the end of the year (I’ve included Red Light from the EP in the podcast). I’m also working on an album for Chronicle and a solo EP for DYAD. In terms of the label, we’ve just sent DYAD007 to be pressed (it’s our second Common Purpose Series VA). Collaboratively as Dyad we’re currently working on a couple of new 12”s, one for DYAD the other for a Spanish label.
Thanks a lot Ben, we hope to see you very soon somewhere, keep the tension on!
Love and respect