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Dimitri From Trash Palace (& Paris)- London Is More Perverse (and I Like It).</b> “Trash Palace started out with the idea of music as sex, which is not exactly a new concept but I think that the way sex is usually exploited in the music and fashion business, in fact generally in all commercial areas, isn’t really sexual; instead it’s slick and exploitative and there’s nothing dangerous about it. I wanted to approach a deeper side of sexuality.”

Sitting in a west London bar on a sunny afternoon, Trash Palace main-man and former Parisien producer Dimitri Tokovoi, speaks softly as he outlines the centrality of sex in his electronic rock band and more specifically the importance of real sex behind Trash Palace’s aesthetic.

“There are so many programmes about sex on TV here but when you watch them you feel like you’re at school studying a subject such as how you should give a blow job,” he snorts.

“Sex is not about that in reality at all; it’s fashion, perversion, love, whatever; it’s much more complex than just the image that’s portrayed in the media at the moment.

He’s equally opinionated about Trash Palace’s perfectly formed fusion of rock & roll and electro-disco, which he’s created with the help of a highly impressive cast list of collaborators.

“I deliberately set out to find different people to collaborate with because sexuality is about a relationship between two people, it’s very hard to have sex by yourself,” he points out.

“I wanted to have different views, different moods and different sorts of perversions on the album and that’s why there are so many different people involved.”

That Dimitri’s as persuasive as he’s well-connected is clear from the characters he tracked down, who include Velvet Underground legend John Cale and Placebo singer Brian Molko. He also managed to seduce Italian sex siren Asia Argento into performing a version of Je T’aime, though admits he didn’t actually know her until she walked into the studio to lay down her part.

“I had this idea of doing Je T’Aime because I’ve always loved the track, but my idea was to invert the characters’ roles,” says Dimitri.

“In the original track, Serge Gainsborough is fucking Jane Birkin, he’s doing the act of penetration and I wanted to invert the roles; to have Asia doing the role of penetrating someone else. Brian (Molko) said he would do it so I asked Asia by sending her an email. Immediately she sent me an email back saying ‘yeah, I really want to do it’ so I flew to Italy to record her voice.”

“She was very nervous when she did it because she’s not a singer and she didn’t know what I was going to ask her to do, she was still shooting XXX at the time,” he continues.

“We did it in a small room with a very basic recording set-up and I remember her chain smoking with me sitting in front of her. It was a little bit of a tense atmosphere but that was good for the track. She didn’t know me, I didn’t know her so it was a slightly bizarre environment.”

With Asia being generally acclaimed as one of the world’s sexiest starlets, the resulting track is as salacious as Dimitri presumably hoped it would, reflecting the overall highly polished standards of all 11 tracks on Positions. Musically, he’s succeeded in tapping into the talents of all his various collaborators, to produce a album of punk, funk and electro songs that genuinely (and unusually, in this day and age) truly rocks.
 
“I come from a rock & roll punk background but like a lot of people from my generation, when I was 14 I got a computer and started to make music on it, I was always trying to translate this punk vibe to electronic music,” he explains.

“I used to love AC/DC and Motorhead and all that stuff. I think a lot of people from my generation grew up with that idea of translating that concept from one medium to the other.”


Skrufff (Jonty Skrufff): How long ago did you start Trash Palace?

Trash Palace (Dimitri): “I started it four years ago, I moved to London from Paris seven years ago and it was a fairly frustrating period for me initially, because I had to start all over again. I started Trash Palace because I had time to do it and all these ideas were floating around in my head about making music. Before that I was already a  musician and a music producer and over the years I’ve done remixes for bands like Goldfrapp, and The Raveonettes as well as working with lots of other bands.”

Skrufff: Did you know many people in London when you arrived here 7 years ago?

Trash Palace (Dimitri): “Not one person at all; which meant it was a difficult time in my life. I left France because I didn’t feel the music scene there was going anywhere and also because I’m not a big fan of French electronic music, it’s not really ‘my cup of tea’ (taste- slang Ed.) I’ve always preferred the harder kinds of music you find in the UK. 7 years ago I was into people like Tricky, PJ Harvey or even Bjork for example, who were much harder than French bands like Air or Daft Punk. Even more electronic bands like Depeche Mode are much harsher than them.”

Skrufff: How did you recruit your collaborators?

Trash Palace: “It was mainly down to luck. I was working with those people in different ways as a producer or programmer, and most of them I was introduced to them through my work. I told them about my project and usually I got a really enthusiastic response from them.”

Skrufff: Is your ambition to be famous, to be a star yourself?

Trash Palace: “No, I like to be in the shadows, I’m quite happy to be the man behind the keyboards and the computer, I prefer that, I find it more exciting not to be seen.”

Skrufff: You were wearing make-up when you performed at 93 Feet East recently . .

Trash Palace: “It’s possible, yes.”

Skrufff: Were you dressing flamboyantly in France before you came to London?

Trash Palace: “Yes, though looking back I don’t really know why. I think it’s a question of taste but going on stage is an act, it’s a performance and my main aim is to make sure the performance isn’t banal. I think it’s important to provoke something out of the ordinary and that’s how I always approach the stage show: I’d rather people hate the project than they don’t care about it.. I want the image on stage to be as strong as possible and to renew itself. Live performance is something unique, it will only happen once and you live with the memory of it that will keep evolving in your head.”

Skrufff: Is Trash Palace essentially you and the story of your life?

Trash Palace: “No, they’re two different things, Trash Palace is my fantasy, it’s something that I’m taking out of my mind. Sometimes I come very close to living it as well (chuckling) but essentially I don’t want it to be an explanation of my life. If I try to recreate my life through Trash Palace it will have limitations, whereas my fantasies or those fantasies that I’m generating with other people, are limitless. With fantasies there are more possibilities.”

Skrufff: Having lived in London for seven years, do you see yourself as a Londoner now?

Trash Palace: “I see myself as a foreigner living in London, I’m not a Londoner but I’m enjoying my life being a foreigner living in this country.”

Skrufff: How do people in Paris react to you, now that you live here?

Trash Palace: “It’s a little strange, I’m an outcaste in Paris as well, because I don’t live there, they see me as a guy who lives abroad, I’m a bit of a tourist in my own town when I return. I don’t know what’s going on in Paris, I have no contact with people so it’s a bit weird. I’m not aware of things, in the way you are when you live in a place. It’s interesting, I’m a freak everywhere I go.”

Skrufff: Many French people are quite nationalistic, I’d say more so than Brits, do you come across people saying you’re betraying France by living here?

Trash Palace: “I get a mixed reaction, some French people think I’m pretentious, they think you think you’re bigger than your country. For me, I have more freedom here because I don’t have any background, I don’t have any personal history of living in this country so I can create something new, It’s a brand new life for me and a brand new way of presenting things. The language factor also makes a difference. I think you have a different identity, depending on the language you use and the country you live in, it’s a bit like schizophrenia. It’s like when you’re with your family or friends; you act in different ways. That’s an early stage of schizophrenia and I think |’m at an advanced stage. And on stage it’s different.”

Skrufff: Have you taken Trash Palace to America?

Trash Palace: “Not yet, I wanted to start with the UK because it’s the place where I live. But I’m afraid of Americans.”

Skrufff: Why are you afraid of Americans?

Trash Palace: “I think it’s a place which has a lot of blind conviction, they follow ideas to an extreme, without necessarily knowing why, which I find very scary. It can be amazingly positive and amazingly destructive, so I’m afraid of this aspect of America.”

Skrufff: How do you regard London’s vibe in sex terms, compared with Paris?

Trash Palace: “Sex is more diverse here and more pretentious in Paris. There are a lot more taboos in England which makes it a lot better because it makes everything a bit more perverse, so more interesting. There are more rules to break and places to go in the dark to break them, which I find really interesting. One of the aspects of sex I like is its danger; that makes it more exciting. In France, people are more upfront; there is less perversion in France, I think, perversion is more a part of the English culture.”

Skrufff: Are you a big fetish club regular here in London?

Trash Palace: “I’m not a regular but I like the idea of fetish clubs, though again, as soon as something becomes a routine or a cliché, you lose the excitement and the interest. To keep the excitement you need to keep meeting interesting people that have different views. As soon as become a member of a club it becomes a habit so even if it’s the biggest perversion you can imagine, it will quickly become something quite banal, which then has no more meaning to me.”

Trash Palace’s new album Positions is out now on Fulfill Records.

http://www.trashpalace.net

Interview by: Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

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New York’s Keoki on Drugs, Death, Fame & Redemption- I Feel Like A Teenager Again. "Charming, charismatic and remarkably fresh faced and lucid, New York superstar DJ Keoki is a million miles away from the junkie casualty caricature he’s sometimes been portrayed as in the press."

“Crystal Meth was probably the hardest drug to give up, because that physically got me. It wasn’t hard to stop but for months and months after, I’d still fell ‘icky’, grouchy and depressed, I gained weight and was miserable.”

Charming, charismatic and remarkably fresh faced and lucid, New York superstar DJ Keoki is a million miles away from the junkie casualty caricature he’s sometimes been portrayed as in the press.

“The weirdest lies I’ve heard are reports that I’ve passed out on turntables, I’ve never done that, I was always on speed, you don’t pass out on speed. I’ve even had people think that I’m tied in with the murder, that somehow I’m involved in that evil circle of monsters.”

The murder he’s referring to his ex-boyfriend Michael Alig’s infamous slaughter of their drug dealer Angel Menendez, a tale recently immortalized in celluloid as Party Monster (Keoki’s played by actor Wilmer Valdarrama). And as the film correctly depicts, the pair’s 7 year romance had ended over 12 months before Alif finally crossed the line.

“During the period when I lost my friendship with Michael I wasn’t in love with myself but rather the idea of myself,” he suggests.

“I don’t think you can truly love yourself when you’re on drugs, it’s not really possible. You can do all kind of things physically but it’s not real love, you’re actually hurting yourself because you’re closing yourself down.  I’m like a sponge; I can take everything in and absorb it but when I’m on drugs I can take things in but they don’t stay, rather they rot me from the inside.”

Keoki’s chatting to Jonty Skrufff in the corner of a busy Bayswater pub, sitting next to his long term boyfriend Alfio.

“Fortunately I met my husband here, Alfio, who’s been my rock, no pun intended,” Keoki laughs, gesturing to his partner.

“He taught me to look in the mirror and really see myself. When I was fucked up on drugs, he wouldn’t like me and treat me the way I wanted to be treated. It wasn’t because he didn’t like me, it was because he didn’t like me on drugs. I’m a totally different person when I’m on drugs; I’m very selfish. Which is cool, I don’t regret anything because if I hadn’t been selfish I probably wouldn’t have done any of the things that have made me who I am today. But I realise that life’s a lot more fulfilling in other ways, that I didn’t realise before.”


Skrufff: Starting with your music, you were known throughout the 90s for playing hard four/ four house and techno, though both your new compilations (Kill The DJ and Keokiclash) are electro/ mash-up compilations, have you abandoned house altogether?

Keoki: “I’ve abandoned everything that’s already been done, that same old DJ formula of build up, breakdown and trance out to washy synths. I’m too excited about what’s happening right now with the return of vocals, melodies and songs with beginning middles and ends and I’ve recently realised that I’m right to have totally changed what I do. In America, though, I’ve had it easy because people almost expect not to know what to expect from me.”

Skrufff: In practical terms, how did you do go about switching from house to electro-mash-up?

Keoki: “I started by completely changing my record box; I took everything out and started from scratch, and actually went to record stores again, listening to records and maybe buying two or three at a time, instead of 20, but knowing that those two or three are great records. It makes me feel like I’m 17 again, like I’ve just started DJing again, it feels fresh.”

Skrufff: Do you feel a part of the whole electro-clash-synth scene, with your old associate Larry Tee?

Keoki: “Definitely, Larry Tee has always been in tune with everything that’s happening and we’ve been friends for 16 years, we’ve always been around the same circle of friends. In New York City, it’s rare that you have more than six or seven really good friends and Larry is one of them to me. We’ve evolved in the same circles so when he did his Mutants thing in Brooklyn he had the same head-space that I was in. I’d go and listen to what was happening and realise, ‘OK, this is where I should be at’.”

Skrufff: I was surprised to see you started out in New York working as a baggage handler at one of the New York airports, how did you land that job?

Keoki: “I always wanted to travel and, in fact, the very first place I wanted to visit was the Vivienne Westwood shop here in London and I figured the only way I could ever make it happen would be to work for an airline. I was 17 or 18 years old at the time, I applied for a job, went through the whole training procedure then got a job placement in New York. And sure enough, I got free travel, so the very first trip I took was to visit London. I slept at Heathrow airport, travelled around on London buses and visited the Vivienne Westwood shop, though I was window shopping I must add, I made hardly any money at the airline job.”

Skrufff: How did you first penetrate New York’s 80s club scene ?

Keoki: “When I got there I didn’t know anybody at all, I had the airline job and they helped me find an apartment in Queens, which is near La Guardia airport. When I wasn’t working I’d take the train into the City (Manhattan) and wander around and the very first club I went to was Danceteria (NYC’s key superclub of its day) where I met Michael (Alig). We became friends and he got me a job there as a busboy (glass collector/ general assistant). I knew I wanted to be around the club scene and be a part of it, I loved everything I saw around me, coming in and out of Danceteria. So I got more nights bussing there (working as a busboy0 US Ed) while Michael started toying with the idea of doing parties for Rudolph (Danceteria’s front man/ chief promoter). Rudolph said to him one day, ‘You and Keoki don’t pick up enough glasses around here, we like you being around here but you’re not working that much, you’d better think of something else you can do if you really want to work here’.

So Michael came up with this idea to do the Filthy Mouth contest where whoever got on stage and said the filthiest thing would win 50 dollars. The party was really different and it was a success but we realised after the first party that the music wasn’t very good. I’d never DJed before and only had one turntable at home but I’d always collected music and I knew what a DJ booth looked like so started doing it and became Michael’s DJ. Meanwhile, I was still working for the airline but would always arrive late for work. I needed to get there at 3pm in the afternoon which I thought allowed me to stay up all night, but I then moved to The Bronx and eventually got myself fired. That was a sad day for my Mom, she was like ‘what are you gonna do, you have those travel benefits with the job, you’re not gonna’ be able to visit me’.

It was a big decision and it took me a while to decide whether I could give up the airline job and actually make a living playing records in a club. It was terrifying but I managed it, starting to DJ at Danceteria, then a club called The World, and also the Lounge at a club called Area (another of the era’s key nightspots). Area was where everything took off for me. I was playing lounge-y alternative stuff, Frank Sinatra next to The Cure, and the owner of that club gave me some really good advice. He told me, ‘I don’t care what you play, just as long as people stay in the club. And as long as you look fantastic and keep on dressing up.’ So I started calling myself Superstar DJ and I’d wear a crown on my head and loads of chains when I was DJing and everything took off. I realised I could keep on filling the room until 5am and started making $50 a night, three nights a week, which was perfect for me, I was making more money than I was at the airline.”

Skrufff: How long did it take to move from $50 a night to serious big bucks?

Keoki: “It took about two years, I paid my dues in New York City and played loads of shitty little clubs for nothing but it was the right place to be at that time. “

Skrufff: Reading some of your old interviews via Google, you talked about your crack addiction in 1997, and you said ‘I love drugs, but I can’t do drugs and other things at the same time’, when did it all slide out of control?

Keoki: “It went out of control around the same time Michael went out of control. I was travelling the world and I’d become really good friends with Caspar Pound (Rising High’s infamous label chief, from London) and Caspar really brought out the rebel in me and made me feel I could do anything. I thought I could DJ, produce and remix on drugs, but just as quickly as I thought that, I learned that I couldn’t. This was around 1995; I found myself making lots of money, getting offered every drug in the world and every opportunity in the world but everything started clashing and I realised that you can’t do everything on drugs.”

Skrufff: Crack’s renowned for being tricky to give up, how easy was it for you?

Keoki: “Physically, my body wasn’t addicted to anything, fortunately I never got into heroin, and I think I purposely avoided heroin because I’d never seen anyone come back from it. I dove into using crack, cocaine, crystal meth and ecstasy but never really had a physical addiction to any of them, but I started getting frustrated with them thinking ‘Why can’t I get high and still make catch my flight in time’. It became a mental problem for me and I needed to find other ways of doing things and fortunately marijuana’s always been there for me (chuckling).”

Skrufff: So with crack you just said one day ‘No more’?

Keoki: “Oh yeah, though I could do crack tomorrow but I’d probably have a two or three day binge then realise it wasn’t such a good idea. But I most likely won’t do crack again. I’ll answer that question in that rehab way; ‘Today I’m not going to get fucked up’.”

Skrufff: Larry Tee’s still very active in Narcotics Anonymous, hosting a group in New York; did you also join NA?

Keoki: “No, I didn’t do any rehab at all. Though I remember when I returned to New York three years ago visiting Larry’s club and I hadn’t seen him for a few years and I came up to the DJ booth with a drink shouting drunkenly ‘hey, Larry, how ya doin?’ and I split booze all over the mixer. He just looked at me with a frown and I said ‘I’m so sorry’, I felt like such a monster.”

Skrufff: I understand you’re a great believer in pursuing self-fulfilling prophecies, in what way?

Keoki: “If you truly follow what’s inside your heart and try not to hurt yourself and others around you, then you can accomplish anything, I’m the poster child for that approach, because I’ve come so far, I’ve sold over a million records and I honestly don’t think I’ve even tried as hard as I could. God was with me when I was doing drugs and he’s with me now, it’s all part of the masterplan. I don’t like to preach about drugs but I’ll always speak about them honestly. For me they became a constant battle and at one point I realised the battle was enough. Now, I’m aiming for some smooth sailing and I’ll deal with the ups and downs of real life like I was supposed to.”

Skrufff: You have a massive tattoo on your back saying Misery. .

Keoki: “That’s in homage to Michael. Before he went to jail he was talking to me about what happened and I couldn’t believe it in my head. I was battling my own demons at the time and I was just thinking ‘Michael’s lost his mind’. Up until that point I’d always thought of Michael as being one of the strongest people I’d ever met, I admired him, I thought he was strong, I thought he was smart, he just didn’t seem like the kind of person that could be crushed by anything. Then this happened, everything crumbled and he crushed like an eggshell. I interpreted that as him being a strong person going through misery and he’s going to be miserable for a long time. A friend of mine helped me design the tattoo, we took a weeping Buddha, put that underneath and figured out the word would be perfect above it.”

Skrufff: Do you believe in evil as a genuine force?

Keoki: “Yes. I believe that evil is really there and it can come in lots of different ways. I also believe that through the use of drugs you open yourself up to everything, evil and good, evil and ecstasy- you open yourself to all of that. So it’s scary when you’re on drugs and you’re around all those forces because they can take you over. I’ve been guilty of being evil when I’m on drugs, because it’s not been me, the evil has taken me over. I certainly do believe that there’s an evil force that can totally take over.”

Skrufff: Do you see Michael’s killing as being down to the drugs?

Keoki: “I think Michael was overtaken by evil and demons, the selfish entities that are out there that wanted to manipulate this brilliant creature into doing something for them, for the dark side. That’s what I think happened.”

Skrufff: You talk about the RAVE act on your website. . .

Keoki: “Just a little, I prefer not to get too involved in politics but I don’t feel that oppressing everything and trying to buckle everything down is helping at all in America. I think the Just Say No drugs campaign in America is bullshit, education is the most important thing, to teach people what drugs do for you. I thought we were moving in the right direction where raves started including pill testing booths and leaflets giving out harm reduction information then this RAVE act came in and started closing everything down. Now kids will try to find other ways to take drugs and they have to do it in hiding which I’m totally against.”

 Skrufff: Miami’s Space 34 almost closed down recently over drug issues, what did you make of that?

Keoki: “What do the authorities think is going to happen, do they imagine people are going to stop going out looking for their pills and ways to escape? Of course not, they’re just going to find other routes, which is kind of exciting because maybe something else will happen as a result. But it’s wrong, I wouldn’t be where I am, at the happiest point of my career if it wasn’t for clubs and music. It’s about being able to stand next to someone like Nina Hagen in a bar and talk to her. I remember realising that the one place I could meet her was a club where we could actually sit and talk. Or you could turn around and talk to a businessman, who has no idea but millions of dollars and can maybe produce a record together. Clubs are the only place you can find that kind of atmosphere and possibility.”

Keoki’s latest mash-up/electroclash compilations Kill The DJ and Keokiclash are both out now. For further information check his site.

http://www.djkeoki.com

Interview By: Jonty Skrufff (Skrufff.com)

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Alex Bau, despite being label manager of German based Toneman along with long time partner Sven Dedek, is also a celebrated producer of fine uplifting and sometimes hard or groove based techno.

Just as they see the birth of their second label, Pershing Records, with it’s first fine release by the duo Basic Implant, Alex took the time out after a hectic visit overseas to Canadian shores to speak to HKClubbing.com about the history behind the label, troubled times and the artists that have been involved in the string of successful worldwide releases over the years. Toneman are most definitely here to stay and are set to grow even stronger on the market.  DJ Alixir caught up with Alex to delve a little deeper into Tonemans’ world.

Alixir:  Hi Alex, firstly, can you please give us a little information as
to how exactly the birth of Toneman became a reality?  What lead you
and Sven Dedek into deciding to launch your 2 labels?  Did anybody
suggest to you that you should or was it merely an idea you'd had for a
long time?

Alex: In 1998 sven started producing music for labels like touchtone and fine
audio, later on we more and more produced stuff together. after some not so
nice experiences in the biz and especially due to the fact that we wanted to
have more influence on what we put out in what way we decided that it was
time for standing on our own feet. it also was very important to have more
influence on the style of music we wanted to be identified with. formerly
all the labels just wanted to have the hard edged sound from us only...

Alixir:  Where exactly did the name Toneman arise from?  Is there a story
behind this?

Alex: Well, it was sven`s idea. we expect toneman to be more than just a
company, it should be expected as a kind of personality that translates our
musical philosophy to the audience.

Alixir:  Obviously yourself and Sven are the forefront of the company, does
anybody else make up the Toneman team?

Alex: We have our booking agent verena and some more unregularly helping hands.
but the labelwork itself is handled by me and sven.

Alixir:  I'm guessing there is always a huge financial risk involved in
hoping that releases are going to be successful and what the record
buying public want to buy.  Has there ever been a real breadline
struggle in getting Toneman to be where it is today?

Alex: It`s always hard to make your business growing, but it`s not just a
challenge, it´s also a chance. you are your own boss, investing your own
money, taking your personal decisions. in the end it`s interesting to see if
your work is respected by the people or not. the main challenge is always
finding the right business partners. it the same like in any other business.

Alixir:  Are you purely a European distributed label, or are you
represented worldwide these days?  If you're not represented worldwide,
do you have any plans to further the sales network?

Alex: Toneman is distributed worldwide by neuton distribution, this ensures
that every recordstore in the world can sell toneman if the like. we have
nice feedback from all over europe, especially easternh europe, but also
some from brasil or more and more north america.

A1ixir:  You have some heavyweight artists on your label from the techno
community, who approached who?

Alex: We had some remixers, probably known to everybody: Chris Liebing, Rush,
Pascal Feos, The Advent, Justin Berkovi and more. but we are also proud of
out upcmoming new acts like Multitude or Grafit and we do a lot on our own
of course.

Alixir:  Are there any other artists that you would like to see releasing
on Toneman?

Alex: The list is as long as the list of really most respected artists for me.
it begins with Martin l Gore (probably never - unfortunately) and ends at
real techno acts like Adam Beyer or Steve Rachmad.

Alixir:  Who mainly deals with the A&R of Toneman, who's the boss of
whether a track is worth releasing or not?  Do you play these tracks to
a wide variety of people or purely judge for youselves?

Alex: The boss is basically the discussion between Sven and me. Of course we
have to take of what can be sold and what can not, but the main goal is
finding pure techno, high quality, no matter if hard, melodic, minimal or
whatever. it just should fit under the genre "techno".

A1ixir:  Following up from the release of the mix CD "Propulsion", how well
received was it?  Has the release been successful?

Alex: It`s sold out, so I guess it was successful. we also had some good
reviews and feedbacks from the magazines and the people.

A1ixir:  Promotion of any release is priority in any label's eyes, do you
always take every chance and opportunity to get your message across
about certain tracks?

Alex: This is a point we probably could do more, but we are not about pumping
up stuff with marketing. we try to educate people to listen to the music,
and not just reading the names on the records. It’s not easy this time, but
I expect this to be a honourable goal.

Alixir:  What's the furthest you've ever gone to promote a release, have
you ever found yourselves doing something that you wouldn't normally do
characteristically?  There must be some interesting stories to do with
this subject!

Alex: Well, promotion is part of the biz, and we are grateful for every chance
to make promotion in a correct way, but we would never pull this to the
centre of activities. The best promotion in our eyes is being able to
convince the people live in the clubs that we are all about partying and
doing nearly everything to get the party started.

Alixir:  Where next for Toneman?  Are there any future conquests laid out
yet?  This is a good chance to plug any upcoming releases!

Alex: We had some really string records during 2003, even if the market was
extremely hard this year. now we just started to produce the next basic
implant single "revenge of the 202", it’s gonna be the follow up of our big
success "revenge of the 101". Just imagine what comes up next year... ;-)
beside this we try to get around the globe more and more, presenting the
music to the audiences all over!

Alixir:  Alex, thanks for taking the time to speak to HKClubbing.com, we
wish you every success!

Interview By: Alixir

Chris Liebing has been dominating the techno circuit for many years now and just finished and released his first album entitled "Evolution” worldwide in September after 2 years of sample gathering, travelling and playing just about everywhere there is in the world, from the world famous “Love Parade” event in Berlin to remote parts of Northern Canada!

He’s just scored a new residency in America (amongst others at home in Europe) and continues to run his very upfront and successful labels CLAU and CLRetry respectively which have artists such as Marco Carola and Steve Rachmad scoring hits for both amongst many other respected producers.  Chris took the time to chat by phone “studio to studio” with the UK HKClubbing office about his album “Evolution”, people watching, Final Scratch and upcoming releases from future unknown remixers.

Al: For your first album “Evolution”, it seemed to me that there are a lot of outside influences worked into the album.  Is this what you were trying to get across to potential listeners?

CL: Basically that’s what came out.  For me it makes sense but it doesn’t necessarily have to make sense for a lot of other people.  I think that’s normal if you do something like that.

Al: So basically it just culminated from people watching? The main stay of your ideas for the album? 

CL: Watching the news and everything yeah.

Al: So quite a lot of ideas from general life fitting into your writing.

CL yeah if you just keep your eyes open whilst you’re travelling and watching television in the right way then you get a lot of ideas I guess.

Al: The one track American Madness I perceived it as meaning “mad Americans” but I’m not really too sure on that thesis!

CL: the original title of that came not because of the idea of mad Americans, The original idea that came behind it was because we used a sample from Madness “our house”

Al: Oh yeah! Good English group!

CL: Yeah? This backwards horn, if you listen quite closely you might just hear that.  The bassline of the whole record,  when you only hear the bassline it reminds you of a slow version of “Kim Wilde’s” “Kids in America”.

Al: Oh right!

CL: putting the American and the Madness gave me the title of the track “American Madness” and I was just like “oh yeah”, thinking that the Americans are quite mad in the world, so maybe I have like give that as a title to that track and for me it has two meanings to that.  The first meaning is very simple and putting together the two words of basically the sounds which reminded me of them.

Al: Chris, where have you been touring around with the album?  Have you been playing live or are you aiming to take it out live?

CL: No not really live. I’ve always been a DJ, but with the new equipment and new software, I might be thinking about that in the future but so far, touring wise, I’ve only been DJing and over the summer I’ve been to south America, brazil, Columbia. I’ve been to North America and to a lot of major cities on the East Coast and to Canada.  I’ve also been to Japan and that was basically the summer and my normal stuff around Europe you  know basically like Spain and Eastern Europe, wherever.  Next week it’s already off to the States in spite of my American madness track!

Al: Well maybe they could perceive the track as a bit of a novelty, almost like “this techno guy’s written this track about us and we are mad!”

CL: The people who come to the party love it! These people come out to the party.  I’m rather talking about the politics of Americans you know, and I think that most people come to the parties and share the same opinion about their own country probably, but I already noticed that I’d better not show that record to any customs officers you know!  Not if I don’t want to get into any trouble! (laughs).  In the states is a good example, its really interesting because I’ve never really wanted to travel there, because the parties were always a bit like, you wouldn’t know what to expect and all has been good and there’s a nice little techno scene developing.

Al: I deal a lot with New York’s Gotham Grooves. I don’t know whether you’ve heard of them?

CL: I’ve heard of them but I’m not really sure what they do.

Al: They do very good tracks, that’s what they do. I get quite a lot through them all the time.

CL: Is it New York based?

Al: Well I can send details back over to you.

CL: Yeah, because I have spoken to a few people in New York and I don’t know, for some reason, Gotham Grooves seems totally familiar to me but sometimes im a bit, er, my memory plays tricks on me.

Al: Too many people, too many faces!  Great bunch of lads and the tracks they produce are second to none.

CL: Yeah, good!

Al: Quite housey tracks, quite techno.  Their whole point is to get good techno going in the states.

CL: Yeah, I wonder if they’re from New York?

Al: Yes they are.

CL: For example, next week I’m going to Philadelphia to a small club where Josh Wink also plays regularly which is really nice, there’s only like 50 people but these people are really up for it and even Miami, I’m going to Miami again, there’s a club that’s been opened only for techno music now, which you wouldn’t expect at all its just like “wow whats going on!” and, er, New York at the Arc I’m basically starting a new residency there to play 3 or 4 times a year and this is all with new techno music which I think is totally surprising because I was just like (laughs) “does anybody know this music in the states” and they seem to be quite up for it.

Al: Yes they do definitely. If you go up to Canada, up to Vancouver

CL: Oh Canada, totally, Canada all the time! Like Montreal Quebeq city and stuff like this yeah, the Canadians were already up for this a long time ago.

Al: I mean, I’ve been out there a couple of times to play and they do love it, they don’t get many techno DJs out there internationally, so its always something different.

CL: I even went to Halifax 5 times! (laughs)

Al: How was that?

CL: Oh, Halifax is in Canada, its in novascotia and er  its very far off, very far off! 

Al: Very remote!

CL: I didn’t even know that they knew electronic music up there, I don’t know what area in Europe you would compare it to but its like, totally far off.  It’s like playing in Northern Norway! (laughs) very interesting, nice people and totally up for partying.

Al: They probably don’t see many international djs up there so people are probably welcome there all the time.  Where are you heading off to next,  are you still promoting the album, and how much longer will you continue to promote the album for?

CL: I’m doing it for as long as I enjoy it.  I didn’t really plan a tour for the album. I didn’t really do that because I feel like I’m touring internationally all the time.  I didn’t feel comfortable putting up a poster saying like “this is now a big tour” you know because it’s been a bit tour for the last 5 years already!  (laughs) and, erm, because I released the album before the summer in Germany and now basically in the rest of the world. So for me, I’m just very happy with my first album and love to go out and play these tracks to the people as well as loads of other tracks in my set.  I kind of see it as loose, not totally album tour promotion thing, it’s just me being on the road anyway and trying to get people in to listen to what I’m doing

Al: So basically you’ve dubplated the tracks already and tested them out on the crowds.

CL: Oh I have a lot, I’m using final scratch already for two years now already and basically everything I’m producing I’m road testing for at least two months or three months even before it comes out. Using final scratch actually quite improved my production work because I’m more confident in my sound and what I’m doing because I’m able to test it quite quicker and do changes even sometimes on the road and things like that, so this all added up to, for me, feeling more comfortable in my productions. That’s already helped me a lot with my album.  Some of the tracks on the album I’ve already played one and a half years ago.

Al: Do you find it helps when you’re mixing a new track in through final scratch and that it tells you where you should change parts of the track.

CL: Yeah it totally does, the sound, if I like the sound and if it goes well with other tracks I do like to play and, er, if it fits well into my own set and I do feel comfortable myself by playing it with stuff like this and ive had it a lot of times that I have maybe a track which I wasn’t too sure of ,you know, you get out of your studio and you think like you’ve listened to it all day and, mm, I don’t know how it is, and then at the weekend you just drop it into your set and the weekend after maybe and you think like wow! And, erm, using final scratch and that happened quite a lot of times to me even. That I was always thinking that I could judge very well what I was doing, I was always thinking that I can judge if a track works or not. But since using final scratch it taught me that I was wrong quite a lot of times where I thought “uh I don’t know” and then I played them out like two or three times on weekends and It was just kind of like “wow that really is a track that has something”  and I wonder how many tracks I threw in the bin before I was using final scratch which were kind of cool and I didn’t like,  and therefore released tracks which in the end I didn’t feel comfortable with because also it goes the other way round. I do have tracks where I think “wow that’s great I love it” and then I play it out 2 or three times and I get totally bored with it and I’m just like “no that’s not a good track” so I don’t release it.  So that’s the good thing about final scratch it just gives me more confidence about what I’m releasing.

Al: Basically with the tracks that you’re road testing, were there any other additional tracks that may have made it onto the album?

CL: Actually not many, because I’m not kind of a producer that produces 10 tracks a week and then takes the best out of them, when I’m working on a tracks and I enjoy it, I keep on working, if I’m at the point where I just don’t get anywhere and don’t enjoy it then I usually don’t really carry on with the track and start off with a new one, so there’s not really a lot of stuff, basically when I finish a track in the studio I basically kind of release it, there’s not a lot of  tracks that are just lying around, there are some of course which I just told you before but not a lot.  Next to album there were 2 tracks which finally came out on my other label CLAU, number 8, these were 2 tracks, they were into the same way as the album’s thinking, they were kind of tracks that went into the way of “Disorder and Chaos” on the album and in the end I decided to put “Disorder and Chaos” on the album and the other two tracks I didn’t use for that spot, I just edited it a bit differently and released them as a 12 inch, just not related to the album at all you know.

Al: I’ve also noticed with the 12” you have released on CLRetry that none of your own productions are on there, is this a label that’s clearly aimed at remixes?

CL: All remixes which were released on Clretry. The originals were released somewhere else on CLR basically, so all the originals have been already release I just like the idea that friend artists, if you want to call it that way, friends or artists I really admire, to ask them and to wonder how would it sound if this guy is using the sounds of that track, it doesn’t necessarily need to be my own track but just something I have release you know and to see what the outcome of if a guy I really like his productions does a remix of some other good productions which are right again not necessarily have to be my own productions, but so far most of them have been.  I’m basically working remixes for Steve Rachmad’s CLR 10 12” and, erm, there’s going to be a CLR 11 of Hardcell and stuff like that, so there’s going to be much more remixes of other people remixing artists which are just released as well.

Al: So its pretty much the remixes are shared between all of the community and it just depends on the artists you like and respect.

CL: Yeah if I need a track and I just think like wow this could be something for this guy to remix because you know because the sounds would kind of fit like for example right now I asked Christian Wunsch.

Al: Yeah I do.

CL: You know the Spanish guy?  He’s dong things which kind of do sound like, for example,”Disorder and Chaos”, so I asked him to remix that track and I think, erm, sometimes if fits really well if you ask someone who’s sound comes close to it anyway, and sometimes it can be really fun to ask someone if it’s totaly different to what they normally do.  I don’t know, it’s always a decision that comes out of my stomach not really out of my brain! (laughs).

Al: So what’s next now you’ve got your first album out of the way? Are you going to start work on another album?

CL: Yeah I really enjoyed the work on my first album. I didn’t really know it would be so much fun to get together a bigger picture and idea of what you bring across, so I think that next February I’m going to hit the studio big time again, like, for more time and longer in order to do a new album.  Until that time, I’m going to keep on working on “Stigmata - the next chapter” which we’re currently sitting on right here now.

Al: Yeah, with Andrew wooden.

CL:  For the “Evolution” album there will be remixes coming out and the first remix will be by Christian smith and John Selway for the “Golden Age” track and the German producer called Alex Bau, he’s one of the guys from “Basic Implant”, he’s done a really nice remix so that will be the first remix edition of the album.  So there’s always enough to do, always a lot to do.  I’m working on a “Stigmata” compilation right now as well to round up the first chapter of “Stigmata” and, er, what is there really right now?  There’s so much I can’t think of it at the moment!!  Yeah basically next CLR 11 and number 12 and I’m just enjoying doing new stuff, I never hold onto old stuff too long I just go onto new stuff already.

Al: You basically release it and almost forget about it and on with the next one!

CL:  Yeah go on with the next one.

Al: I know Alex Bau’s work and releases very well.

CL: You do? Great!  But for the album I’m going to do, I don’t want to call it a remix contest, but for anyone who wants to do a remix of the track for the album, basically I will tell the people, whoever wants to do a remix can tell me and then they get the samples of the original track and I will release the best remixes then.  I want to give a lot of new artists and unknown people a chance to maybe have a platform to release something if they’re doing something. I’m going to release it on CLR so they’ll reach a bit more people than what they usually produce for.

Al: Thanks for taking the time to speak to hkclubbing.com Chris, good luck with your upcoming gigs and releases.

CL: No problem, thank you!

Details of the remix competition can be found here:

www.cl-rec.com

Interview By: Barry Hinselwood

HKClubbing had the chance to talk to Michelle Branch on her 10 hour visit to Hong Kong for the MTV Awards 2004 press conference and her 40 minute performance at the Hong Kong Harbour fest, before heading straight back to Japan to continue her tour there.

Alyson (HKClubbing.com): Hey Michelle! Thanks for coming down to Hong Kong!

Michelle: Thank you very much!

Alyson(HKClubbing.com): What’s the one thing that makes you most excited when you’re on the stage?

Michelle: Umm… the one thing that makes me most excited… I guess for me, you know… it’s not too long ago, that I was just sitting in my room, dreaming of being a performer, traveling the world, being on stage, and ah… if you think about it, I would say that was years ago… but that was really only a few years ago, I mean five years ago the most, and to be on stage and to look out and see people singing along to my songs, is absolutely incredible… such a short amount of time to experience what I have experienced it’s been really incredible!

Others: Are you happy now?

Michelle: Am I happy now after that?! (Undressed fan at press conference who proposed) Sorry for the free show!! Anyone else has a question or wanna take your clothes off? I thought it was a surprise plan… but I was looking around… haha!

Others: Are you writing a lot of songs on the road as what you were last time?

Michelle: I actually have to admit that I haven’t written a song since March… haha… so I’m hoping that maybe during the holiday, after that I’ll be going for a short short break, and maybe it will make me creative again!

Interview and text by: Alyson

One of Hong Kong's most well known local bands, these guys give us a minute in their busy gig schedule to let us know a bit more about their world.

1.Please let me know your names and what group or name do you go by?
Whence He Came
-Joshua Wong :: vocals, guitars
-Ephraim Bano :: guitars, vocals
-Ken Mimasu :: bass, vocals
-Stephane Wong :: drums

2.When can we expect you to perform at the Rockit Festival?
We’re not really sure what time we’re on… I think we’re playing in the evening… early evening.

3.What have you recently been up to?
We’ve just finished recording our second album, which will be released early next year… very exciting. We brought dutch producer Martijn Groenenveld over from Holland, incredible process… best stuff we’ve ever recorded.

4.Have you heard anything about the Hong Kong music scene and do you have any personal opinion about it?
We’ve got quite a lot to say abaout the HK local music scene, far too much to put on paper.

5.How does your performance differ from large events to more small intimate venues?
With a larger stage comes a larger sound, and we love playing venues with enough room to go nuts.

6.What other artists are you looking forward to see over the 2 days?
We’re mostly excited to see this incredible Japanese band “Buddhistson” who are coming over out of their own pockets… we toured with them in Japan and they blow us away at every show. These guys are powerful AND all about the music.

7.If you are not from Hong Kong is their anything you hope to check out? If you are from Hong Kong what would you recommend that visitors have to do or see?
See buddhistson!!! And make sure you check out and support all the local bands too… let’s build the indie rock community.

The boys were back in Hong Kong and HKClubbing.com got to ask them a few questions during their press conference in Hong Kong, the day before their outstanding performance at the Harbour Fest.

Alyson : First of all, thank you very much guys, for sticking to your plans and coming to Hong Kong!

All : No problem… Sure…

Alyson : Now, you guys have been going through a lot of rumours of breaking up as a band, what do you think is the key element for Westlife to stick together? And what makes the fans so loyal to you guys?

Shane : I don’t know! (Laughs)

Nicky : I don’t think there’s one thing we can put our fingers on and say, ‘this is exactly why we stay together…’ and there’s numerous things… I think we all realize how lucky we are, they are millions of boys and girls who’d love to be in the position we’re in, and the life we live at the moment is so busy and hectic, but it’s so enjoyable, I think we’re all kind of scared of having not enough of this life… you know, we enjoy it so much we always want to band to be like this, so what’s the point in ending it? In respect to us, we’ve always looked out for one another, in bands like this in the past, there’s always been hidden agendas, there’s always people who… maybe deep down wanted to try out on their own, unfortunately, it is time for the band to split, but we’re honest with each other, we put everything on the table, what’s the best for all of us. And right now, the best for Westlife is to continue, for a long time! We’ve got a brand new album in November, followed by a world tour… Last night we’re talking about doing six more albums! So we’re gonna stay there for a long time!

On the arrangements of HK Harbour Fest:

Bryan : We’re all very impressed with what we heard they’ve been doing. Because Hong Kong is really beautiful place, as we’ve said it before, we really like it, obviously the whole SARS thing… it did upset a lot of people in Hong Kong… and we had to wait until everything is settled down, so… This is great way to celebrate, and we’re just grateful to be a part of it. We’re here to congratulate all the Hong Kong people, let’s hope this will never happen again! People around the world shouldn’t be afraid to come to Hong Kong coz it’s such a beautiful place… it’s honestly an amazing place!


Kian : We’re very happy to be here obviously, you know, we’re very much looking forward to doing the concert on Saturday night, but we don’t feel like we’re under pressure of anything, I mean… we know we’re gonna get up on the stage and do a great concert for the people who come to see our show, so we’re just very happy to be here, and be a part of it all. As Bryan said, it’s a great event, a lot of people have done a great job, they’ve put the event on, so we’re just very proud of it, to be honest… with people like the Rolling Stones, Prince… people who are like worldwide  legends, so it’s really really good to be a part of the whole kinda thing!

On advice to youngsters:

Mark : It’s certainly not easy, I would never tell somebody not to do it, but what I would say is that, once it starts, it’s not just being a good singer, you know, a good performer… a lot of things are involved, so you have to basically sacrifice a lot of things you need to spend all day everyday out of it… you did a lot of dedication as well as us… and it can be some kinda long hard days if become successful, people would be ready to get you, so you’ll need to be able to take all that…

Shane : Take the good for the bad!

On ticket sale:

Shane : I think obviously you wanna sell as many tickets as you can, it’s a great event, but I think there are a lot of tickets that people buy… I mean there are a lot of shows, you don’t usually have this many shows happen, so obviously there’s gonna be people who would pick their favourite band, pick their favourite acts, so you might just wanna go to one show since there’re a lot to choose from. The more tickets are sold the better, the bigger event then! But we’re quite happy with our sale, so hopefully… it’s not on until Saturday, so, I still think there (would be more) tickets sold.

Mark : I think, you guys have the power as well to promote as much as you can, get more tickets sold, so hope that you can do a bit on that as well, of course we’re trying to do it too. If we all work together and we can try and sell more tickets!

On the show on Saturday night:

Kian : Unfortunately we’ll be doing three songs of the album, because the performance we’re gonna do on that night is actually our greatest hits world tour, but we have, especially for the show, we have put three new songs from the album into the show. We haven’t performed them live yet, but Saturday would be the first time to be performed live, so hopefully it’s all gonna go down well… but you know apart from, we’ll do 20 songs, all our hits from our first single to ‘Hey Whatever’, and then we’ve got a medley, an acoustic set… so it’s quite an entertaining show, we’re got good reviews around the world!

On the negativities…

Nicky : What’s the point of being negative? It doesn’t matter with the ticket sales, the show is still gonna go on, people are still gonna enjoy themselves. All you guys can help, and it’s not a negative show we’re here to give off, we’re here to give a great weekend to everyone in Hong Kong, so let’s stay together!

Bryan : I think it’s very important… that all the shows are gonna be on, it’s not about people making money, it’s about promoting Hong Kong as SARS-free, so we’re just gonna perform, you know it’s only 7,000 people, we’re gonna make sure the 7,000 people who bought tickets enjoy themselves, coz they’re the most important people. Thank you! See you again!


Words to Hong Kong:

Nicky : For me, to be in Hong Kong right now, it’s a huge pleasure to be here with Westlife performing at the Harbour Fest, to be honest with you, it’s a great cost, we’re here, and we’re gonna do the best we can ever do on Saturday night. Thank you!

Shane : Nicky’s kinda covered it there… I’m just like all the buildings here, all the architectures… so I wanna get a tour of this city before I go home.

Kian : I think Hong Kong is beautiful place, and actually myself and one of the members of our staff we went about the tram, and gone through the city, and got all these little things… you know, it’s a beautiful beautiful city, amazing architectures… and just, a huge thank you to everybody for welcoming us here to Hong Kong and make us feel so welcomed here again, to all our Westlife, for your love and support, all the media and press, let’s do our best show in Hong Kong on Saturday night!

Mark : I’m just very proud to be a part of this, it’s just true example to how everybody, the people of the world can stick together and help each other our in certain ways, and we’ve been looking forward to come here just because we like Hong Kong at the first place, it’s just an extra bonus to be able to lend the helping hand, and let the world know that it’s totally safe to come here to Hong Kong, I’m just very proud to be on the same list of artist who would come here… have a really good time! Thank you!

Bryan: I think he (Mark) just said what I was gonna say… so… thank you, and thanks everyone for coming down, and let’s make this a great weekend, so keep supporting! Thank you!

Questions and Text By: Alyson Hau

From the Drum n Bass collective White Label in Hong Kong, DJ Arkham talks to HKClubbing about what he has been up to in developing the small but developing community in Hong Kong.

1.Please let me know your names and what group or name do you go by?

DJ Arkham – White Label

2.When can we expect you to perform at the Rockit Festival?

Saturday 9:45 pm the dance tent

3.What have you recently been up to?

Involved in the opening of a new bar Yumla and been in the studio tearing up some rough bass

4.Have you heard anything about the Hong Kong music scene and do you have any personal opinion about it?

It is what it is and you’ve got to stick with it, people will appreciate good music eventually

5.How does your performance differ from large events to more small intimate venues?

You play for the crowd, so not really a difference at all

6.What other artists are you looking forward to see over the 2 days?

Everybody… it’s a great line up and worth every penny!

7.If you are not from Hong Kong is their anything you hope to check out? If you are from Hong Kong what would you recommend that visitors have to do or see?

HK based: Go see The Peak, Mong Kok Markets, Star Ferry and last but not least DJ Arkham at 9:45 in the dance tent on Saturday!

After a successful release of their album "From The Towers Of This City, I Can Still See All Your Promises", Uncle Joe talks to HKClubbing about their music and how the band came about.

Notable artist accomplishments:
Matthews =  Uncle Joe have played numerous festivals in HK such as the annual ‘Rock On Festival’ , the ‘Sound & Vision Festival’, supported US rockers Brandston and the upcoming ‘Rockit Festival’ this October in Hong Kong.  The band is set to grace the stages alongside fellow CMJ marathoner’s Electric Eel Shock and Supergrass.  Both the EP and LP as well as the compilation that the band have appeared on have garnered them praise from indi and national press around Asia.

Gardener =  The band have basically self-funded and self-produced two releases, and we are proud of what we have been able to accomplish given the circumstances within in which we find ourselves.  By that I mean Hong Kong, which has a really small underground indie music scene and no real support from local venues or enterprises. 

How would you describe your sound?

Matthews = The Uncle Joe sound is rock n’ roll but not in the traditional sense.  We play driving riffs and hard hitting drums but there is a constant sense of melody and depth to the sound.  No fast solos or distortion.  The live setting is where the band thrives.  You can hear all of us playing at the same time adding in our parts to make the overall sound powerful.

Gardener =   Most of the writing style has been heavily influenced by indie bands such as Death Cab for Cutie, Pedro the Lion and old Jimmy Eat World.  The emphasis is on clean but driving guitars that compliment each other, settled around punching bass lines and pounding drums. 

What do you really want people to know about your band?

Matthews =  We want people to know that lyrically this record comes from a Hong Kong setting and the dynamic of the sounds often echoes that of the city but also that the lyrics are there to be appreciated with an individual perspective.  Someone who is from the other side of the world could relate to these lyrics and kind of understand the general theme that runs throughout –hope.

Gardener =  The thing I really want people to know about our band is that great rock is not about how loud, how fast or how drunk you can play.  It’s about how passionate your music is and how dedicated you are to what you are doing.  Great rock has always been about the cause, and our cause as a band is help get Asia bands heard on the international stage, where they belong.

What are some of your major influences?

Matthews =  Musically I always feel people dig their own ditches by listing artists they admire.  In the case of Uncle Joe, we all have a similar middle ground with our tastes.  But we also have differing influences that are personal to each of us.  I think together we take all that eclecticism and make music that we feel passion for playing and hope others will also enjoy.  Some of our case logic folders have recently contained : Electric Eel Shock, Saetia, The Icarus Line, Death Cab For Cutie, Pretty Girls Make Graves, Pedro the Lion, Interpol and old Jimmy Eat World.

Gardener =  Hong Kong has definitely been an influence on us.  A lot of our music is representative of the city within which we live – sometimes hectic, sometimes beautiful, sometimes dirty, and sometimes clean.  Hong Kong is a complex international city and I think that our music reflects the struggles we have had in trying to get heard here.  Likewise, each of our own personal beliefs also play a large part on the influence of our music, and this come across especially in our lyrics.  Lyrically we sing about hope, being positive, gaining something out of life and being motivated to bring good into this world.  There is enough negativity in life and if our music helps someone feel positive about themselves, then we have achieved something special. 

Without the backing of a label, how do you go about the business of getting your music out there? What’s the most outlandish thing you’ve ever done for self-promotion?

Matthews = Two of our band members run a non-profit label by the name of Far East Records.  Tom and Andrew decided that Hong Kong was never going to start promoting young alternative rock bands or whatever they were called at the time.  They started the label and released a few EP’s and full-lengths over the last 5 years and have kind of got a nice healthy appreciation going.  We pretty much took the backseat with Uncle Joe until this year when it was time for our band to have its focus from the label.  They had been concentrating on making other peoples records and then when the songs were being written we felt it was time to unleash it.

Gardener =  the other thing we do is play a lot of shows.  Most shows in Hong Kong are in the Universities here or local bars and schools.  There are no real venues that are supporting the music scene here, so it is quite different to other countries.  What this means is that we need to get out there and just play to as many different audiences as possible in order to get heard.    The most outlandish thing we have done for self-promotion is walk around in a typhoon, in torrential rain, winds at hurricane speed, and try to hand out flyers for our CD release show!  Pathetic…

What has been your most memorable moment as a band (or, if you’re a solo artist, just in your musical career in general)?

Matthews =  I think we would all agree that just over a week ago when our record was released would have been the most memorable experience for the band.  We played a packed club (300 plus people) billed as a ‘Release Party’ in Hong Kong to friends and family and a whole lot of new faces we had never seen before.  It was very rewarding, seeing new people as well as the mainstays at shows tells us we must be doing something right!  We had this whole audio-visual element incorporated into the set for the first time and we did some older acoustic tunes.  We used some samples and people got to see and hear the album in its entirety performed live and it was pretty wild.

Gardener =  I agree with Ben.  Definitely getting our album out after spending almost the whole year in production was a great moment.  Now we just hope the record will help us to sign a record deal that will get the music wider distribution than we can provide. 

What is it that makes you different from other artists in your local scene? (Note: just saying you’re “better” won’t help much.)

Matthews =  Firstly we are in a minority in Hong Kong.  At most shows we play we are the only non-Chinese faces there.  We see ourselves as locals having grown up here and spent most of our lives here, but the local scene still sees us as foreigners.  Our band sound is also seen as quite unique.  Most bands rely on heavy distortion and solos and all that stuff.  We tend to bring the feeling of rock to our music via our performances while keeping the guitars clean, driving and the rocking but at times we lend ourselves to more subtle textures and sounds.  Another notable difference is that we are the first independent band in Hong Kong to fly over a producer to make the record in Hong Kong.  Dan Burton (Early Day Miners/Secretly Canadian) was called in to record, mix and master the album.  The mixing was all done via correspondence using FedEX and took place in Indiana at Dan’s own studio.  The final result is awesome.

Gardener =  To echo Ben’s words, we are the only band in Hong Kong that is made of foreign members but that plays within the core of the local Chinese scene.  It is very rewarding cause we are respected and accepted in this scene, even though we sing in English.  That makes us different and automatically helps us to stand out – people don’t expect to see people like us playing at their shows!   But on top of that, I think we stand out cause we don’t really play with distortion on our guitars.  The local scene in Hong Kong is full of heavy rock bands that play hard and fast, and we are almost the opposite – we play upbeat, mellow, driving indie-rock.  That makes us stand out completely, and people generally find the change refreshing.

Have you, or any members of your band, been in other groups that people would be familiar with?

Ben M played in HK indie-rockers Kid ZERO and the others played in Micah 68 another old Hong Kong alt-rockish band.

How did your band come together?

Matthews =  Uncle Joe started with Tom and Andrew jamming in Tom’s bedroom making demos with acoustic guitars.  The first EP came together fairly haphazardly due to the lack of a solid line-up.  Ben Tse joined on bass in mid of 2002 and I joined in July after I bumped into Tom in a mall and he gave me his number.  It’s so ridiculous cause Tom and myself were in the same year at high-school, we both loved and played music, but never got together in a band until now.  Our school was all about it’s cliques, and so years later we are now laughing, telling each other what we used to feel like back in those school days.  We were kind of outcasts but have always been kind of similar.  The love of music definitely runs deep in this band and has ultimately brought our paths together at last.  Having been the last addition to this band I am told we are a ‘real’ band now.  Now the rock can start!

What question are you just dying to give the answer to that we haven’t asked? (Please supply both the question and the answer.)

Q: What are the immediate aims of the band ?

A:  Matthews =  We are currently seeking distribution in the US and Europe for our new record.  We have had some interest from one European-based label but are ultimately looking to take this music across to North America, Japan and Europe.  The response to the record thus far has been good and we hope that other countries will also show interest as a result of generous praise from Asian media.

Please use the space below to say anything else you’d like us to consider for inclusion in your profile.

Gardener =  We believe strongly that there are some awesome bands in Asia that make great rock’n’roll.   I think for too long the rock scene has been focused on bands coming out of the US or the UK, but there are so many awesome bands in the Far East (Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong) that bring a different mix to the global rock scene.   Our hope is that the international scene will begin to sit up and take notice of what is going on in the Far East.  It is about time we had a rock band from South East Asia make it big on the global stage, and we really feel that US labels need to start taking notice of what is going on out here. 

HKClubbing talks to Robot a local live performance group from Hong Kong spinning and producing electronic tunes fueled by stunning visuals.

1.Please let me know your names and what group or name do you go by?
Robot ‘live’, as in: not DJ-ing this time, all our own tracks. People involved are many and their talents varied. Primarily; Mike the Unstoppable and Jay Pelmet on the music front, with Andy One Sock Full Power on the visuals. Bobby Parsley, Rave Swan, Kumiko, the mechanical cat, and Dazzling Darren in charge of performance (won’t be entirely sure what they have in mind until the day itself!)

2.When can we expect you to perform at the Rockit Festival?
About 9.00pm on Saturday 25th, if we can get everything hooked up in time!

3.What have you recently been up to?
Making music relentlessly, enjoying Hong Kong’s fantastic fabric district, monitoring bits of ourselves fall out or off as we continue to grow older.

4.Have you heard anything about the Hong Kong music scene and do you have any personal opinion about it?
We have heard just about every possible opion (HK is a very opinionated place), mostly negative, but having said that a few people have said that this is the year for music in Hong Kong. We are still suffering the fall out from ‘Rave Parties’ in terms of the dodgy promoters, the dodgy press and the dodgy police, none of whom had a clue what was going on and noticed only the obvious effects of dance music, e.g. drugs and money.

5.How does your performance differ from large events to more small intimate venues?
If we have a large stage area to work with we will make use of decoration, installations, visuals and performance. Often though we are crammed into small DJ booths. We make do. Smaller venues are obviously more intimate and there’s a better chance that the people are there because they genuinely like your music.

6.What other artists are you looking forward to see over the 2 days?
Waxed Apple, Finley Quaye, Audio Traffic, Electric Eel Shock, dunno really, there’s a lot of bands that we haven’t heard of so it will be nice to chill out with a few beers and see where we end up.

7.If you are not from Hong Kong is their anything you hope to check out? If you are from Hong Kong what would you recommend that visitors have to do or see?
We would recommend that all visitors get their arses to Kennedy town for some preserved mushroom and salted fish action. Kennedy town is about as local as one can find this side of the abyss and there’s loads of quirky mad Chinese stuff to check out.

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