While it’s nothing new, UK’s industrial techno scene is not only revived it’s been throbbing(gristle) for the past few years & it doesn’t appear to be slowing down. The lightly coined ‘second generation’ of producers such as Shifted, Ventress, Karenn & Forward Strategy Group have injected much needed energy into a genre that was drowning in Beatport’s pool of sheet metal and two dimensional sonics. Furthermore twenty years on, Karl O’Connor (Regis) along with Juan Mendez (Silent Servant), Anthony Child (Surgeon) & James Ruskin are more influential than ever.
A quick overview of O’Connor’s projects & releases from the past two years is enough to make most producers exhausted, let alone his twenty-plus year career. However there’s no need to drop balloons & create a scene, nor is there a need to hyperbolise the importance & influence of Downwards & Sandwell District. His body of work speaks for itself & in turn respect is ever-present among the techno community. We caught up with Karl briefly before he heads to Poland, then London where he will showcase his Necklace of Bites live show at Fabric.
What projects have you been involved with lately?
To be honest, I can’t remember. There is a few coming out I think.
You’ve described your earlier work as “quite raw, open & very personal” compared to production fifteen or twenty years on. What allows you to create music that still evokes empathy without revealing your personality?
I’ve only really applied my own sound to what I’ve done or do. It’s just what anyone one with half a brain would do, I’d have thought.
Why do you think there’s such a close relationship with art & techno? Does Downwards or techno producers in general use artwork or installations as a way to put music into context to educate listeners who may refer to it as “soulless repetitive club noise”
Don’t you just hate it when ART does that? Makes things legit.
What happened to good old fashioned getting off your tits to soulless repetitive club noise? England’s artless sons and daughters were far happier then.
For people that aren’t familiar with your live show ‘Necklace of Bites’, would we be correct in stating it’s a Downwards retrospect, structured with a bulk of your older work & layered with other DR elements?
It is what it isn’t. It’s not just about the sonics and structure it’s about how much game I bring to it .. It’s not about past or present, it’s about the experience of the experience .. aka Repetitive Club Noise
I’m interested to hear more about your time spent recording your Tresor Peel Sessions; from what i understand it was the only session where John Peel was in the studio?
It really was the most special evening, it was in the big studio at Maida Vale (where Bing Crosby recorded ‘White Christmas) i bumped into him in the toilet before hand and had an awkward exchange, which he remembered and mentioned when Tony and myself did his show in Birmingham years later. For this night he sat in the middle of the studio and we were all just set up around him. I think we all knew the importance of the show and what it meant to him, there was a really great tension and energy in the room which is unheard of in these situations. I remember driving back to Birmingham after the show and thinking, ‘what ever happens from now on, they can never take that away from me.’ Music just didn’t seem to matter as much after he passed away .. i guess for the generation that grew up on his show it never will.
What was it about Mute & Some Bizarre Records that you find so special?
NON, PTV, TEST DEPARTMENT,SWANS, COIL, SCRAPING FOETUS OFF THE WHEEL, DEPECHE MODE, FAD GADGET, SOFT CELL, EINSTURZENDE NEUBAUTEN, NICK CAVE AND THE BAD SEEDS, NITZER EBB, DAF, LIABACH, THE THE, SILICON TEENS, THE BIRTHDAY PARTY, CABARET VOLTAIRE, MARC AND THE MAMBAS, CRIME AND THE CITY SOLUTION…. WELL YOU GET THE PICTURE : )
You’ve included the Dad’s Army theme in the Blackest Ever Black mix series & aside from Monty Python, are there other comedic acts that you enjoy? Do Tony & yourself share a similar sense of humour?
I think BMB were essentially England’s best loved absurdist space rock duo. Viv Stanshall was a huge influence on both me and Tony. Trouser it to me!
After already having over eight years worth of experience working together, Child & O’Connor began producing under British Murder Boys in order to further push the limits of their production.
To much despair BMB’s production was short-lived, with the duo calling it quits to the project in 2005. However after three years & only a handful of releases, it was enough to leave an impact on the broader techno community; certainly some could argue that it played a large role in influencing the greyscale textures & chaotic complexion of the aforementioned industrial producers of today.
Their surprise return to the studio in 2012 resulted in ‘Where Pail Limbs Lie”, a two track masterclass of relentless drum patterns & hypnotic vocals, was released on Mute’s sub label Liberation Technologies which was followed one year later with a mentally & physically exhausting final performance in Tokyo that was film & released June 2014 .
What was the decision behind bringing back the British Murder Boys?
To finish it. Properly.
How was the experience in Japan for both of you?
I think it was for the most part enjoyable. But we knew it was unrepeatable and final.
What made you decide on Japan as the place for the final BMB?
It was Tony’s idea, he loves japan and has a connection with the place that’s very special for him and his fans. We felt it was the only place that could provide all the technical and creative understanding to pull off a show like that.
Are there any plans you can comment on for future Downwards releases this year?
Im going to sign a 14 year old boy, but I have to go and meet his mom first to prove I’m not pulling a Gambaccini. His music is amazing.
The long awaited Oake LP, Talker 12″ plus the BMB live film / Cd complication and Grebenstein a new German act which I’m quite excited about plus one surprise LP.
Downwards North America will release a Marshstepper LP and a DVA DAMAS 12″ too.
Oh and I’ve remembered .. Ugandan Methods on DN, I’m defiantly on that .. 100% !
Very exciting to hear that there is another release under the Ugandan Methods alias, what can we expect?
The Ugandan Methods features Prurient on guest vocals, so i’m sure you can guess the rest.
Regis’ live show Necklace of Bites can be seen Saturday 20th at Fabric alongside Silent Servant, James Ruskin & Broken English Club (Live)