Filed under: Interview
Intrigued as a child by the existence of alien abductions, these occurrences now spur the matured Jeff Mills into thoughts and dreams of a reality where we are but a single race of humans not separated by any negligible differences. The Contact Special, running over three weeks at Tokyo’s Womb nightclub, has been designed to hold a mirror to our lives through the introduction of an extraterrestrial element.
For the final night of his Contact Special, Jeff Mills enlisted the assistance of relatively unknown European acts Subspace and Elektrabel. Transported from France and the Czech Republic respectively the live acts were summoned to make contact with the unknown. Failing any sort of contact on the night the rhythms of the Parisian duo Subspace have been promised to initiate pure seduction while the music of Elektrabel purports to stimulate emotions through logical musical composition. A little bewildered by the press release we tracked down the two acts to find out more about their backgrounds and relationships with Jeff in a vain attempt to find out just what this conceptual party series was all about.
Interview by Nick Lawrence
HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Is it everyone’s first time to Japan?
Tomas Hartl (Elektrabel) : Yeah.
Julien (Sub Space) : Yeah.
Gonzague (Sub Space) : Yeah.
HRFQ : What do you think?
Gonzague : Crazy.
Julien : Unbelievably crazy.
HRFQ : For our Japanese readers, who might not know a lot about you, can you explain a little bit about your musical backgrounds?
Tomas : It starts with hip hop and moves to funk. Don’t forget Technotronic, Snap and the movement at the beginning of the 90’s. Then we are looking for an alternative to gothic rave, in Holland the rave culture, gabba hardcore and then finally found the techno sound of Surgeon, Jeff Mills and people like that. So I totally changed my mind and started to do what I am doing now.
Julien : All the black music. In fact from the funky music, to rhythm and blues to reggae. Also a little bit of hip hop in the beginning of the movement. Like Public Enemy and (Supreme) NTM in France. In electronic music, Jungle Brothers and Technotronic.
Gonzague : At first yeah. All the good black music from the last century.
HRFQ : Mainly from America or a lot from France as well?
Julien : No. From America.
Gonzague : No, from America. Well from France some hip hop bands.
Julien : In the funky music there are no…Maybe there is just one famous guy Cerrone, do you know him? It’s disco, not really the same. But there is really only one important person and that is…
Gonzague : Stevie Wonder.
Julien : Yeah. But we don’t have a Stevie Wonder or George Clinton in France unfortunately.
HRFQ : How did your relationship with Jeff Mills start?
Tomas : It’s quite a strange story. Jeff announced a competition on Axis Mission 6277 and asked people who had troubles because people don’t understand their music or don’t want to release their music. So I was one of the ones that sent in and probably a miracle happened and Jeff released it as the first one from this competition. From that moment I have three singles and one album on Axis Records and as it looks I could be one of the really good names for the European future of techno music.
Julien : Our story is a little bit different. Jeff is our best influence. Now we live in Paris but we come from Lyon. It’s a town in the centre of France. Around ’96 or ’97 Jeff played two or three times per year in Lyon. I think before that we played a lot of different styles like trance or happy house or this horrible style. After his gigs I must say that it all changed for us. We discovered a new way in fact. We didn’t understand immediately but in fact for us Jeff represented the future. When you see Jeff for the first time,WOW! You don’t…
Gonzague : You don’t think the same thing.
Julien : Yeah. I think around ’96 it was a really different way for us. I think after that it was our main model for DJing and composing. We had some releases before Jeff. We have a little label in France. It’s traditional techno not specific techno like Mission. So we sent all our releases to Jeff and he played our label for the first time in ’99. For us it was the best…
Gonzague : The best recognition.
Julien : We have a very special feeling with Jeff because he is really our most important model for techno music. And just last year, no two years ago when he launched Mission, just at this time we moved to Paris. Before we did more traditional techno underground in a cave. It was different. Then we moved to Paris, now we have a studio.
Gonzague : Upstairs.
Julien : Upstairs with a window. Because just at the same period that Jeff launched Mission it was perfect for us to try and change our music, to try and do something else. That’s it we worked on five or six tracks and sent them.
Gonzague : Then Jeff called us.
Julien : About ten days before christmas.
HRFQ : So how does it feel now to play with Jeff at his conceptual party?
Julien : For us it is a new way in fact. Before we just played…
Gonzague : Classical techno, rave parties, you know? Now we try to research a different way. For us it’s very important because we open our minds. This is more…
Julien : Mental and intellectual music. We like them both but now it’s more interesting for uscFor all our conceptual music we work with Jeff and it’s really fantastic.
Tomas : This concept of playing music is exciting and I always felt like that. It’s really good that it has happened to have at least some parties with the full concept, with the full idea behind. Working together with people from both sides. From the the DJs to the crowd and I think there aren’t enough parties likes this. It would be better if more parties were done with this in mind. I think the same about the music because the last few years a lot of music is released just for the money without any mind behind it.
HRFQ : Are there any parties like this in the Czech Republic?
Tomas : Of course, yes. As everywhere there is good and bad music, DJs and promoters. Just like everywhere.
HRFQ : Tonight’s event is the Contact Special, what will we contact through your music?
Tomas : We’ll see tonight. I’m not happy when I’m talking about music because music is about listening, not talking. Today is my first time in Japan and in front of me will be people who haven’t heard me before and I have never seen them. So it is better to wait.
Julien : Difficult question. The special thing will first of all be the music and also the lights. As for the result I can’t say. Like Eletrabel it is our first trip to Japan and our first Jeff Mills’ gig. It’s our first performance as Subspace. We play live and DJ for Mirage but for Jeff it’s our first time.
Gonzague : This night is not a classical party. We are very impatient and very curious to see the reaction.
Julien : The result. But a difficult question.
HRFQ : Well now an easier question. Any new releases coming up on 6277?
Julien : For the future we have a lot of tracks ready. In our live act we have around twenty or twenty-two tracks and there have just been four tracks released. All the other sixteen tracks are new. I’m not sure if all sixteen will be released on Mission but Jeff will check soon and I’m sure he’ll like them.
HRFQ : Any chance the tracks will be released as an album?
Julien : Well we have many projects but we can’t speak about them. But I hope it is just the beginning. At this time we work mainly on this project. In the past we worked on different projects but we have cancelled all our projects and we have just the one main project for Jeff. We continue to release some classical projects on Mirage but that’s it. Mainly projects for Jeff in the future. For a different direction because I think Jeff is starting to think about soundtracks or something like that. I think it can be very interesting.
Tomas : There was the last one that was released in April this year which I think was the breakpoint for my name on the European scene. People like it more outside of Europe though than inside of Europe. And now the third single on Mission is released today. It was released today for this event.
HRFQ : Do you have a message for your Japanese fans?
Tomas : Keep your mind open and stay as you are.
Julien : Keep your good education and keep your respect. I think for Europeans, when we come to Japan it is the first thing that we see. People respect other people. In Europe it is difficult to find that. For some people in Europe it is maybe boring to say thank-you all the time, but for me and Gonzague it isn’t boring. I think it is the best. We can’t compare Japan with another country in the world. It’s not like in Europe, France and Germany are a little bit the same. Japan is just one.
Gonzague : It is modern and has tradition. It’s a good mix.
Julien : If they can keep the modernity and the tradition then it is the perfect way. Just continue to be like that.
End of the interview
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