Steven Warwick, aka Heatsick, is a British musician and visual artist based in Berlin. His work encompasses technology, hybridization, performance, sculpture and film. His most recent EP, Convergence, was released this past September on renowned Dutch imprint Rush Hour.
I first met Lee through a mutual friend and also from sharing a bill at the now defunct Electronic Church on Prenzlauer Allee. It was 2008 and Lee was still very much still into his rule restriction computer music pieces, which are well documented via the London musique concrète label Entr’acte. We went for dinner before the set and discussed our shared enthusiasm for Xenakis light shows, rave strobes and dance music. It was refreshing and reaffirming to meet someone with one foot simultaneously in the experimental music scene and the other in the electronic dance world. Over time I would see him sharing a bill in London with Roska, dancing at a Hyperdub night at Berghain, and hear him recall DJing at drum and bass nights at West Indian clubs in Birmingham. Indeed, these are the interests and experiences that inform his latest release, Diversions 1994-1996—a reedit and morphosis of drum and bass taken from live sets and mixtapes.
However, this is not mere revisionist deconstruction. Gamble himself sees the work as dwelling within the context of the edit as opposed to commenting from the outside. Having spent his formative teenage years immersed in the drum and bass scene, he soon got to know the local DJs and would play at the parties. The pieces on the album are based solely on the anticipatory moments before a climax, and in that sense, Gamble’s approach is comparable to the extended disco edit: drawing out the ecstatic moment, smashing the spatial-temporal order, and prolonging a passage into bliss. Focusing on the build up, the music is based on longing. But instead of being retrospective, it looks forward in anticipation. It’s a pre-ecstatic exhilaration, if you will.
Gamble’s “cued recall” is a far more scientific approach than any spiritualist claim on nostalgia per se. Any notion of hauntology or occult spectralism is eschewed by his interest in the scientific response to drum and bass signifiers. Like 60’s composer Maryanne Amacher who worked in the field of psychoacoustics, Gamble is concerned with the body’s response of processing a sound, and specifically with how the brain produces “release hallucinations” in order to process and recreate a source of stimulation that it has become accustomed to. For example, the pulsing bass bins heard on a sample from the penultimate track “Dollis Hill” explore how we process language, only the language is made up of edits of jungle cassettes. The effect is mesmerizing and comparable to William Bennett’s neuro-linguistic programming on the later Whitehouse records, or the recent Chimerazation LPs by Florian Hecker, or even the after-hours feel of Rhythm & Sound. An inevitable comparison is of course the video work Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore by the British artist Mark Leckey, with its slowed down frames of a Northern Soul dance hall in full swing. It’s a form of hypnosis by using sonic memory.
Having recently seen Gamble’s pieces performed live at this year’s Unsound Festival in a club atmosphere, I realized how they function just as well in a late night dance setting as they do at home upon afternoon consideration. The extended looping of floating synths evoke images of oxygen tanks refilling a comatose body; or the airbag cushioning in a Ballardian car crash. The disembodied bleeps prefigure a smashed narrative like that of the cut-up motions of filmmaker Nicholas Roeg. Gamble is re-animating in the sense of animism, instilling sounds with a cinematic consciousness and spirituality. It’s as if he’s cast a net on locked emotions and yanked them back from rarefication, only to further catapult them into inertia, as heard on “M25 Echo”—a twenty-first century update on the PiL classic “Careering”.
Residing in a liminal zone between a social and an altered state, the samples on Diversions are as warped as the drugs used to open the nervous system. It reminds me of when I woke up one night as a teenager with the radio on to hear a broadcast on the BBC I ambient comedy show Blue Jam by British artist/prankster Chris Morris. The slow, warped dialogue left me wondering what was being said and what I was imagining. In a similar vein, Gamble reconfigures essential elements of bass culture, which he was involved with first- hand. By smashing them apart, he’s created a far more relevant sound sculpture than most so-called “bass music” around today. Diversions is a conceptual exercise in both rewiring drum and bass and, as a result, questioning how we remember or receive it sensually. ~
This piece appears in the latest issue of Electronic Beats Magazine.
Christelle Gualdi’s work as Stellar OM Source has been called ‘visionary’, and certainly her sci-fi synths lend themselves well to visions. Her earliest music, collected as Trilogy Select by Olde English Spelling Bee, is the perfect soundtrack to any journey beyond the stars; her newest EP on Rush Hour the blockbuster sequel. In anticipation for her Berlin show tomorrow with ITAL at the art-collective habitat MindPirates, musician and promoter Brandon Rosenbluth spoke with Gualdi about how spirituality has affected her reality, and the reality of her music.
Tell me a bit about your songwriting process, and how a song finds its way to being released.
The tracks I record come from the live sets. That’s the way I start and since I work for quite some time on those sets the tracks are good enough to be recorded. But through that process some won’t stand out as they may work live but not necessarily on a record. Also the recording process is still something I struggle with. I realize that there can’t be one method applied to everything I record. Some tracks need spontaneity, some more arrangements, multi-tracking, some are all in the effects, etc . That’s why it takes me so much time to release new material!
How did you come to acquire your first synth?
My first synths are the ones that my dad was using when I was a child, which I own now and still use: a Juno 6 and a 106, Yamaha expanders and Alesis drum-machine.
Nowadays there aren’t as many geographically-based music scenes which breed a certain sound or style. Do you feel that you are part of a broader scene or movement? Who are your peers? What is it that ties you together?
I don’t know if that’s so true, otherwise people wouldn’t struggle to live in New York or London but live in the cheap and beautiful remote areas. A lot of new music is made in dirty basements in big cities. I think that the most exciting things happen through those real encounters between people. But I don’t see myself being part of a broader scene or movement. I’ve got dear friends who are musicians and we have a huge mutual respect and love for the music we produce. Most friendships started this way, we played the same bill and we found that we were enjoying hanging out as much as our music.
You recently performed a tribute to JG Ballard at Paradiso. How has Ballard influenced your music?
As I studied architecture, Ballard was very influential for me. I had and still have a strong attraction to utopias and their darker counterparts dystopias, like in the Ballard novels. I made music which could be played at night, driving through suburbs, walking back home after having taken the last subway, those kinds of situations which are very familiar to me as I grew up in the North/East suburbs of Paris.
How did you go about interpreting his sci-fi stories sonically?
Those tracks are heavier than the SOS sound, there’s no real joy and some quite dark melancholia mixed with disturbing thoughts and sounds, long heavy bass, odd-time drum beats. I wanted to re-create the feelings you get while reading his books, more than providing a background soundtrack.
One could call your music and artwork ‘psychedelic’, and you’ve made comparisons to cosmic musicians including Sun Ra. What is your connection to these cultures?
Last weekend I revisited the Ancient Egypt department of the Louvre museum as I’m planning a trip to Egypt and the Middle East. While looking at all this marvelous and secret art, I was thinking of Sun Ra and other 60s and 70s jazz musicians. I’m so attracted to musicians with some spiritual connection, who push boundaries of genres. There’s a quest for freedom and some other higher place which I also try to approach. Music is such a strong medium for that. I can’t really find the right words. It makes me love Sun Ra and Drexciya together.
How have you integrated this love into the non-musical aspects of your life?
Beyond music this is an attitude towards life in general. I wish to see people and society expanding instead of regressing. Spirituality is very strong in my life. I have a daily practice of meditating and yoga, which I teach to artists. Spirituality is also very important with music—when making new tracks, performing live, and connecting with the outside world and people. It probably all comes from having to deal with heavy personal turmoils and trying to stay sane…
Do you believe you can alter reality through music?
Reality is something which everyone perceives in their own way. Just as you can change your perception with different tools, music can alter your perception and therefore your reality. The moment where you surrender to the emotions that the music is unravelling, that’s one of the most important strategies. Same in a live situation: there’s a strong moment that you feel rising, a meeting of harmonies, rhythm combinations… You can’t hold it for too long but just go with it and allow it to change your perception, get higher! That’s why I don’t perform with a laptop and still improvise a lot, letting the unexpected happen, and changing your perception.
Louis Rogé rose to prominence during the initial wave of hype radiating from French Ed Banger sound of the 2000s. While fashion’s fickle halo may have faded on that scene, the man we all know as Brodinski has remained relevant; establishing himself as a DJ, producer and remixer of the renown – you heard his remix of Danny Brown’s ‘Die Like a Rockstar’, right? Not content with producing records, he’s decided to turn curator, launching his new Bromance Records in November 2012 with manager and collaborator Manu Barron. Functioning as a platform to showcase artists that have caught his ear and stirred his belief, Bromance has rapidly built up a string of singular releases. We caught up with him to shoot the breeze on life in LA, what drives the label and why he has never bought a slab of vinyl in his life.
Electronic Beats: I read somewhere that you’ve never bought vinyl in your life. Is this really true?
Brodinski: I discovered music via the Internet, and I don’t regret it. It’s a generation thing.
It’s becoming more common for people not to go through these little coming of age rituals; buying their first record, vinyl or whatever, because music is always available for free. Do you think that’s going to have ramifications in the future?
People like Soul Clap or Blawan are playing a lot of vinyls. Recently, I made a remix for Jon Convex as G. Vump (my side project with Guillaume from The Shoes) and it only comes out on vinyl, which is really weird for me. But I do hope that this ritual will come back for future generations.
What was the impetus behind forming your own label?
My manager and I created our label Bromance in order to releasing the music we want, when we want.
Did you have a mission statement when you set out?
I’m just releasing music that I love, that I believe in, and that I can play in clubs.
I noticed the records you’re putting out cover quite a broad range and you’re not afraid to be somewhat strange…that Gesaffelstein track ‘Belgium’ with the huge shocks of mentasm riffs, for example, or that monstrous ‘90s-style rave record ‘Now U Realize’ by Club Cheval.
Club Cheval are my producers. When I heard ‘Now U Realize’, I just loved it! The whole vibe means a lot to me, and I love the fact that we’re all doing different kinds of music!
What are some of the challenges of launching a label in 2012?
It’s an investment of money and time, but I think the whole point is to make people listen to the music I love. I don’t see Bromance as a money-making venture. It’s all about passion.
Are there any labels out there right now that you feel are getting it right?
French labels like Marble and Sound Pellegrino. Labels such as Rush Hour, Osgut Ton, Turbo (of course), Pelican Fly and Zone are amazing too.
It seems so long ago since you were roped in with the whole French scene in the mid-2000s. Did you feel you had to prove your diversity to shake off the associations?
You mean the whole first-era Ed Banger stuff? They inspired me more than anybody else, musically and humanly. We’re really good friends and even if we’re not playing or releasing the same kind of music, I will always collaborate and do business with friends. That’s the best way to have fun in this amazing job that we’re doing.
Do you find that life in LA has any discernible influence on the music you’re making?
I moved there last January. It’s an amazing city and the music scene is pretty crazy too. I work with locals now; I signed Pipes recently, and Louisahhh sings on my two last singles on Bromance. You can find amazing DJs there too, like Stevie B From Pipes, Thee Mike B, Rick Rude, the Body High guys (Samo Soundboy & Jerome From LOL Boys). Such an amazing vibe. It’s the beginning of something!
Your Fabric mix was dedicated to your friend Mehdi, who sadly passed away last year. Was it strange carrying on with making music when you’ve lost one of your friends and fellow artists?
Definitely. It’s still difficult to talk about that, about him. I loved him, as a friend and as a mentor. I will try to keep his memory alive for the rest of my life. Mehdi was such a light, he was a walking smile. I dedicate Bromance to him, but I wish he were here to see what we did. He would be proud. Photo: Dimitri Barclay
We were blown away the first time we saw Kim Ann Foxman’s ‘Creature’ video, and since then we’ve been salivating for more of her voice. Now the wait is ogre, as we recently learned that she’s provided vocals for a new single in collaboration with Bulgarian house-head Kink and UK producer Neville Watson, whose ‘One Four Green‘ is pure Miami sunset neon. Stream a snippet of the single below, and watch for the release toward the end of October on Hour House Is Your Rush.
The shares include a label feature about tastemaking Dutch techno imprint Rush Hour filmed in Amsterdam. Moreover there are new interviews with Dorian Concept from Vienna, MMM, Kangding Ray as well as a talk with Iftah Gabbai and Olaf Hilgenfeld aka Skinnerbox, who come out of the scene surrounding the Bar 25 and the Bachstelzen Parties. All well worth seeing, so don’t miss it!
You can also order Slices at the EB Shop. Since Slices is a free DVD magazine you only have to pay postage. If you want to go for the most comfortable option choose the yearly subscription which brings you four issues of Slices straight to your mailbox.