Sunday, March 18, 2012

Interview: Floatinghead versus Atheus

Last week after researching the post on some recent dubtechno I became intrigued by the statement on Atheus’s Bandcamp page which reads “THIS IS MY LAST (ONCE FOR ALL) TRACK IN THE MINIMAL ELECTRONIC DUB STYLE. THX TO ALL.” Was this the end of the dubtechno line for Atheus? The end of music making altogether? What’s next and what prompted such a change? Out of curiosity I decided to contact the Montreal-based producer also known as Serge Collin to find out

Floatinghead: I guess the best place to start is with the statement on your Bandcamp page.. So this means no more beat music from you? What made you decide that you had reached the end of your explorations of this style of music? Except for the two tracks for sale on Bandcamp there will be no more older tracks to come out either?

Atheus: Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying, and I never said that it is the «...end of dub...». All I am saying is that my personal artistic exploration in the so called ELECTRONIC MINIMAL DUB, BEAT ORIENTED as come to an end for me, and only me. 

I am simply returning to my first love DARK AMBIENT MUSIC, and for one of my first influence was  Popol Vuh  (Aguirre, der Zorn Gottes)

Strangely, I was discovered on Myspace because of my Dubtech tracks. Even if I have a main corpus of experimental material it's seems that the timing was "ON" for the electronic Dub genre. Nevertheless, I was able to keep my sombre atmospheric side into those tracks.

Floatinghead: Was this arrival at the end one of the reasons you decided to compile your work last year on the Silent Season and Ghost Sounds collections, to draw a line under the previous work?

Atheus: The "Compile" CD release was more intended to give access to my music for people who don't have a turn table!

It's important for me now to return to my roots. It all started in 1981 with a Korg Polysix a Digitech delay unit and a Fostex tape machine. Bouncing and bouncing tracks to build strange songs that nobody wants to listen too, at that time. Experimental stuff mainly. But don't worry for the new coming stuff, the arsenal of effects will always be there! No matter the style.
Floatinghead: Have you already started working on some new material for release? What sort of labels will you be targeting or will you try to release on your own? Will you still use the Atheus name or will you change as well?

Atheus: I have a lot of new audio experimentation already recorded. I have to find time to polish it. I'm a maniac, you know. Silent Season and Ghost Sounds are strong labels that I will work with again, I hope. There is also Cyclic Law, based in Montréal, that I may start a project with. They release some deep dark material. I might also upload tracks on Bandcamp, but I have no intention to change my Atheus name.

Floatinghead: You mentioned that Popol Vuh and in particular "Aguirre the Wrath of God" were big influences on you and will be for the dark ambient sound you are looking for. Was it this soundtrack that made you first start making music? What about the sound appeals to you in particular, is it the tones, the religious or transcendtal feeling?

Atheus: I don't like all the musical work of Popol Vuh, but I must say that the soundtrack for "Aguirre the Wrath of God" was awesome. Let's say, at that time, that "Radio Activity" from Kraftwerk, "Phaedra" by Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh did affect my brain enough to go buy a Korg Polysix and help me stop playing guitar. The tone of unexplored sounds have always attracted me. The psychoacoustic is very important, to be transposed to another physical space. It had nothing to do with the religious thing. But yes it could raise me to a more transcendental level.

Floatinghead: Deadbeat (aka Scott Monteith) was recently here in Barcelona for the Micro Mutek festival and he gave a live interview as part of the Red Bull Music Academy events. One of the things he mentioned was that he started out as an ambient DJ in Montreal (he is actually from Kitchener, but lived in Montreal). He mentioned the need for more spaces and more possibilities for people to play ambient music. Is this something you would agree in? Are you playing live from time to time or DJing? Is there much of an ambient scene in Montreal right now? And what about the impact of the Mutek festival on you and what is happening in Montreal, is it something you are participating in as an artist or as public and how do you see the impact of the festival on the home bred and based musicians in Montreal?

Atheus: « Red Bull "Music Academy" »... sorry, I don't belong to that business, so I can't comment this interview. What happened to the subculture, the underground? I'm a free electron.

I would like to see more guys like Mick Harris (ex Naplam Death drummer) or Nordvargr, invited here in Montréal, in those big electronic festivals: that's what I would call DEEP, DARK music show!

I stopped live performance 12 years ago. I used to make noise with friends, under the name of "ORAL" «with real synthesizers»  in contemporary art galleries, underground events, and other big shows like Elektra festival, Champs Libre, and even at the first Mutek festival when it started in 2000. But having a daytime job and doing shows by night was tough you know.

I have been working in the contemporary art scene/business for more than twenty years, and I must confess that I become disillusioned; we have come to a point where anyone with a laptop and a baseball cap can be an artist now.

I refused all invitations to perform live. I don't like to travel with all my gear. For now I prefer the obscurity of my little studio, surround by my machines. But maybe, one day, I should accept the idea to play live with a laptop...but with tons of effects!!!

Floatinghead: You also had a comment about Russian sites selling your music on your Bandcamp page. Were they actually selling the MP3s like a shop then and not even just hosting download links?  Has this been a big problem for you over the years then and has it been easy or possible to stop them in some way on your own?

Atheus: What's bad about those Russian sites is that they are, actually, selling my tracks! I don't care if they give it as free download. There is no copyright laws in the Dostoievski country. And there is nothing to do about it.

For more explanation on this video please click here.

Floatinghead: One of the new tracks on Bandcamp also mentions that you used only analogue equipment is this something true for most of your releases or just these two new tracks?

Atheus: Four or five years ago I did used some music software, mainly Reaktor. But I got bored of it. Since that time almost all of my (dub) tracks were done with a DSI keyboard Evolver synth. For the rhythmic part, I load my own beat in a Korg Esx-1 for sequencing purpose. Hardware effects units are used while I record in Nuendo (yes a software, sorry for that one!). I'm not perfect.

Floatinghead: Thanks again for your time and looking forward to the new stuff!

Atheus: Salut!

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