Category Archives: Interview

Alpha Boy & Jan-Friedrich Conrad – Obsidian

Eighties-Sound-Instrumental-Producer Alpha Boy aka Norman Knight is collaborating on a project with northern-germany-based Jan-Friedrich Conrad. JF Conrad is well-known for his musical work for audio plays in germany. Audio plays are extremely popular in the german-language-area, and his scores for „The three investigators“ (largely known as „Die drei ???“) had been used in audio plays on compact cassettes which did 30 times gold and three times platinum.

Conrad is a true synthesizer maniac who used to produce scores with pure MIDI recording and no audio tracks at all except for the mastering procedure. This gave his arrangements, which consisted of up to 14 hardware synthesizers plus drum machines and effects processors, played „live“ by a MIDI sequencer without a single audio track, a real synthetic eighties feel. This have been the years of Jan Hammer´s Miami Vice scores and Tangerine Dreams hardware-sequenced Movie soundtracks. Besides being a skillful keyboard, synthesizer and organ player, Conrad plays melody lines on a five-string bass and guitar synthesizers as well.

Besides composing, Conrad works as a psychotherapist and as a lecturer and censor at School of Audio Engineering and as a widely-known product-review author for musician´s magazines. For their new album project, both composers are eager to redefine the essence of the psychedelic eighties electronic instrumental music sound, as it was defined by MIDI, analog subtractive synthesis and the advent of digital synthesis techniques. We are happy to had this chance to speak with Norman Knight and Jan-Friedrich Conrad.

BELL BIV LAEVOE: How did your collaboration start? How did you meet?

Norman Knight (Alpha Boy): I took all my courage and wrote to him. He is so easy to find on the Internet.

Jan-Friedrich Conrad: Fortunately I had a good day, and he’s survived without serious damage.

 

BBL: Do you regard your project as a meeting of the generations in causa eighties-sound?

JFC: I do not see a generational question. It is, however, that I had always been careful NOT to sound like eighties, because that always has been the first thing which would happen when I used to improvise with synthesizer arrangements.

NK: For me it’s a meeting of generations, since Jan-Friedrich has influenced me musically when I was a child.

JFC: Thus, thanks to Norman, it is a pleasure to explicitly being asked to reflect on „eighties sound“.

 

BBL: Can you tell us what are you working on now?

NK: We are currently working on a joint album. But we do not want to reveal too much.

JFC: So far I have spent much effort to keep up with the contemporary developments of musical styles. Thanks to Norman, I was reminded that what I have produced, actually always has been originary, if I had just played straight on. Or, as „Die Ärzte“ were singing: „You are always best when you don´t care at all.“ I just have to hit record and play simultaneously, that´s what I have to do.

 

BBL to JFC: What do you think of the idea of a new generation of eighties-musicians?

JFC: It’s a fascinating and heart-warming experience to finally be regarded as a musician who has influenced others, with a way of making music which nowadays can be called iconic, or, in certain circles, is considered a „cult.“ I´ve always been admiring other artists as well. Some of them told me, the real golden age had been the sixties or what decade ever.

But of course, every era has its music, and much of it appears as the golden age in retrospect, because only the good stuff in remains in our collective memory. The eighties gave birth to MIDI recording and more and more affordable computers, which led to a process which we can call the „democratization“ of music production today.

The music that I composed for the Europa label was pure MIDI recording, and I could afford to produce that as a student of musicology at home, competing with the hippest reel-tape-based 24-track-studios. Everytime I got payed, I was seeking for a new or used synthesizer, but it took a long time to earn enough for a couple of ADAT recorders. My radical restriction on MIDI recording has created a personal style. In parallel, I´ve always been making rock music, as a guitar and bass player as well as a drawbar organ player.

 

BBL to Norman: How does it feel to make music with the idol of your childhood?

NK: To be honest, even better than imagined. Jan-Friedrich is a very kind fellow. I learn a lot from him and I am very grateful. We complement each other in composition, and that in turn brings joy and a lot of funny moments. Indeed, it´s a dream becoming true.

JFC: Oh, thanks for supplying my narcisstic needs. Good to hear that.

 

BBL: Where can we buy your first song?

NK: You can purchase it online on Bandcamp. Our first joint track is called „Obsidian“.

JFC: What I like about Bandcamp is that it´s possible to easily distribute non-data-reduced music files with 24-bit resolution—which sounds audibly better than CD quality.

 

BBL: Will you still give your fans something to take along?

JFC: A quote from Kraftwerk: „Es wird immer weitergehen – Musik als Träger von Ideen – It will go on forever—music as a carrier of ideas.“

NK: Enjoy our music, folks! We will keep you in touch, hopefully in this blog, on the Facebook Sites of Alpha Boy and Jan-Friedrich Conrad.

 

Check out and buy their fantastic tune „Obsidian“ on Bandcamp below.

 

 

Zimmer – Interview

 
Since we opened this blog about one year ago we could watch narrowly the development of the sound and sets by parisian producer and DJ Zimmer. Fascinated by his music we had a lot of posts of him and so we are looking forward to have Zimmer back in Berlin on december 1st. Playing at Berlin´s Klub International with BELL BIV LAEVOE`s LA Schmock, it`s time to bring Zimmer`s so his unique brand of Horizontal Disco sound to Berlin for this one night.

While Zimmer is touring his US-Tour this fall we had the chance to ask him some questions about the way his career grew the last year, his relation to Berlin, his label plus a lot more. And we are pleased to got some interesting and exciting answers. Read it below.
 

BELL BIV LAEVOE: One year ago you lived in Berlin and accidentally we met after a concert of Anoraak. I told you how excited I was about your track „Cruisin“. Some weeks later you released your „Horizontal Disco“ E.P. on D.I.S.C.O.T.E.X.A.S. How much changed your career-life since that time?

Zimmer: Things have changed a lot! Music has become probably the most important thing in my daily life. I’m touring a lot, and studio sessions are filled with datelines. Also, I never thought of my self as a real musician back in these days. I didn’t think it could be a job. Now it’s became my career, and it’s great ! One thing hasn’t changed though, my love for disco music!
 

What was your motivation to live in Berlin and how influenced it the sound of your productions and DJ-Sets?

I was always very attracted by Berlin, because it’s a city that’s chaging a lot, there’s a lot of energy. I had the opportunity to live there last year as I worked for Native Instruments. It was a great period of my life. In terms of influence, I really understood what „deep“ means. This has translated in my DJ sets a lot, and quite a few of my productions have been influenced by the sound of Berlin, like my new remix for Eskimo.
 

You play a lot in France and also in other many places worldwide and you also know Berlin. What`s special in Berlin and is there something about Berlin where it should have a more open mind in the electronic music-scene?

I love Berlin, but it’s true the city is pretty restricted to techno and deep house. On one hand it’s great, because Berlin feels like the capital of this sound. It’s great for a musical scene to have one place where you feel this sort of energy. On the other hand, I wish the nightlife music was a little more diverse. I’m excited to bring Horizontal Disco to Berlin!
 

What do you think will be progress in the electronic-disco music? After we had a lot of 80ies influences the last years it seems the tendency now turns into the early 90ies house-classics. Is that appealing you in your music or do you just don`t care about such trend-snapshots?

I try not to follow these trends. Of course I’m always a bit influenced by trends in my DJ selection. Production wise, I’m just doing my thing. It feels like a lot of the new 90s influenced house sounds a lot the same : a groovy bass and R&b vocals. It’s never good when something becomes a formula. Even though house is bigger every day, I think nu disco will keep appealing to a growing number of people.
 

You are signed on D.I.S.C.O.T.E.X.A.S. The Label always seems like a big family of creative heads. Is that a benefit for your music to have all these talented guys around you or is everyone just simply doing his thing?

It’s a benefit for sure. I get a lot of advice from Luis (Moullinex) and Bruno (Xinobi). Even though we don’t see each other often because of the distance (paris/Lisbon), I feel connected to these guys. We share the same tastes and work ethic. And each time we get to play together, we always play back to back and have a wild party!
 

We are big fans of Justin Faust. Are there plans to have a remix by him or will you remix some of his forthcoming tunes?

I love his sound too ! No remix for him planned, but could be an idea sometime in the future. I’m finishing a remix for another discotexas artist though : Kamp.
 

Leave the music behind you, if that is even possible, what do you like to do on a free day?

I wish I’ll never have to leave music! Otherwise, I love photography and graphical art. I also would like to get into sports. Musicians are always super lazy.

Thank you!

 

Don`t miss Zimmer on Facebook here and check out his latest sounds below including his brand new remix for Jean Winner`s „Alive And Kicking“ on the new Eskimo compilation. Here you go!
 

Zimmer – Lust | October Tape

 

Jean Winner – Alive And Kicking (Zimmer Remix)

 

Pompeya – Power (Zimmer Remix)