Welcome to the first installment of 21 Sauces Of Inspiration. We set up this ongoing column to find out what really motivates the artists we cover. We have some interesting acts lined up for the future, so be sure to check back often to find out who we put in the hot seat.
If you looked up prolific in the dictionary you might run across the name Alec Empire. He has released well over a hundred albums, EPs, singles and remixes throughout his extensive career. Probably most recognized for his role as the founding member of Atari Teenage Riot and the formation of the digital hardcore movement, Alec Empire proved that noise and aggression needn’t only come from militants and indoctrinated fascists.
Known as an industrial noise terrorist, Empire has always attracted the musical avant garde and eclectic elite to his milieu, working with a myriad of artists like Thurston Moore, Jon Spencer, Dan The Automator and Definitive Jux bad boy EL-P. Currently on tour with Nine Inch Nails, we wanted to find out what makes this musical explorer tick.
1. What gets you going in the morning?
My morning usually starts around 3pm. Two Red Bulls sugar free, eggs and water while listening to Anton Webern or Wagner. Sometimes I work out right away.
2. What five records would you take to a desert island and why?
Charles Wright, "Soultrain", because it’s a great dangerous party record that you can listen to in complete isolation as well.
The Specials, "Ghost Town", because I love that end of the world vibe of it. It would remind me of the fact that many cites make you feel no different to that desert island..
Brainticket, "Celestial Ocean". It is probably the best record to take, wouldn’t even need a record player, I just need to look at the sleeve and get endorphins released in my brain.
Original Soundtrack, Logan’s Run. A great soundtrack that makes use of analogue modular synths and an orchestra at the same time. One can listen to this a lot; it never gets boring because new elements come to the surface all the time.
Nic Endo, "White Heat", you only need one noise record if you are not an "expert" of the genre, this is the one for me, and it would have a personal meaning to me. At the end of the day, that’s what’s most important when you decide to go to the island."
3. What inspires you to create?
The truth or what appears to be truthful to me at that point. And real people. I write most music for real people I know, never tell them though. It’s like looking for important dots which need connecting, when I have enough, I connect them, and that makes a piece of music. The next step is the recording process, which is completely driven by emotions. I want to capture something authentic. I still have that from rock’n'roll, these old recordings from the ‘50s, or early dance records from end of the ‘80s, which were made in a similar way.
4. What book or piece of literature are you reading at the moment?
Some Philip K. Dick book I bought at the airport. It’s in German and the translation is so boring, I have to force myself to read it every time I get on the plane. I have phases where I only read and not listen to any music or watch films at all. Right now I am not in that phase. And I also bought Karl Marx for my iPhone which is a great experience.
5. Favorite piece of literature and why?
I named that a lot over the past years, but it becomes more relevant in our times every time I read it again: Gilles Deleuze "Mille Plateaux". If one wants to understand the Internet age, why pop music is losing its appeal in a globalized world, read this book.
6. Favorite club or bar?
I LOVED the Noise Bar in Osaka in Japan, it is closed right now, but it was the best bar I have been to. "
7. What one historical figure inspires you or would you like to meet?
Rosa Luxemburg, John Coltrane, Obama, Karl Lagerfeld, Picasso maybe…
8. Five movies that you couldn’t live without?
That’s easy: Repulsion with Deneuve, Le Samourai with Alain Delon, Planet of the Vampire, The Tenant, Das siebente Siegel by Ingmar Bergman.
9. Favorite director and actor?
Director would be Polanski (still), I like many actors, but Willem Dafoe always fascinates me, Romy Schneider always had an amazing screen presence, I miss that with many of the new actresses of my generation.
10. Favorite piece of architecture or building?
The Memorial by architect Peter Eisenman in Berlin.
11. Favorite combination of food or recipe?
I love Tempura – all kinds.
12. Favorite musical genre in the last 100 years and what would you mix it with if you could?
To me that is musique concrète. I find anything coming from that genre unpredictable and challenging. What I would mix it with? British guitar bands… these guys need to leave music school at some point and get real, instead of imitating the past.
13. Favorite Internet site?
Hedi Slimane’s website has a really cool photo diary, Dazed Digital a great monthly playlist, Blip Fm is fun to stream songs, I hang out a lot at www.eyho-blog.com, because a lot of my friends post there, and I interact with the readers about my articles which is very inspiring most of the times.
14. Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?
Various teachers when I was a kid, who believed in me. My friends who give me honest criticism when I most need it. Berlin as a city, its history. When you grew up in Berlin it is easy to understand how important it is to be aware of that. The consequences of the Second World War are visible on every corner. But this also continues to give me hope to build something new, and that can be a great reminder in difficult times.
15. What is one record you should never be seen dancing to in a club?
I am never ashamed of anything, if I like it it’s cool. I keep playing this mind game, I DJ at Korn’s record release party and only chose music that will turn everybody off immediately. Sister Sledge "He’s the greatest dancer", perhaps maybe followed by Danzig’s "Mother".
16. Five music artists currently listening to?
Cx Kidtronik (Saul Williams/Kanye West DJ), Bad Brilliance, Ye Olde Maids, Motor, Mos Def.
17. Favorite piece of art or artist and why?
"Fire at Night” by painter Francisco Goya because it really touches me emotionally somehow. When I saw the images of the World Trade Center attacks live on TV, this painting immediately came to my mind…just an example of how powerful it is.
18. Artist you’d most like to collaborate with?
Prince, Grace Jones, Metallica
19. One obscure band you think should be more popular?
Yes, Chrome! Without a doubt. Highly influential. Perhaps more important for today’s music scene than the often quoted "Revolver" by the Beatles.
20. What is your current ringtone?
I still use Crazy Frog mp3s for anyone working in the music industry that calls me.
21. Does Alec Empire have a favorite sauce?
Japanese Ponzu sauce…!