THE FANZINE THAT FEATURES SMALL AND UNSIGNED BANDS
Monday, September 20, 2010
INTERVIEW WITH PORTION CONTROL
HELLO JOHN, IT FEELS GREAT TO INTERVIEW A PIONEER AND A LEGENDARY MUSICIAN. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS ONE?
No. We were around at the beginning of the industrial/punk electronic music movement and continue to create electronic music today - so we have a long history and experience which means we are labelled as pioneers
IT MIGHT BE BECAUSE I’M GETTING OLD BUT EVEN IF I THINK THERE IS TODAY TONS OF GREAT MUSIC, I GET THE FEELING THAT THERE’S NOTHING NEW BEING MADE…. DO YOU THINK THAT TOO AND HOW COME YOU THINK?
I agree that lots of music fails to take risks nowadays as sales of product diminish I think this will only get worse. Groups have to rely on live performance and much music is created with this in mind. It is certainly much easier and cheaper to create music now than it has ever been which in turn creates lots of competition
IF I SEE PORTION CONTROL, THEN I AUTIOMATICALLY THINK OF ALL THOSE OTHER ELECTRONIC BANDS WHO WERE SO INFLUENTIAL…. FROM CABARET VOLTAIRE TO PSYCHIC TV TO… WAS THERE SOMETHING LIKE A SCENE IN THE SENSE THAT YOU KNEW EACH OTHER?
Yes, certainly in the early 1980’s most bands were linked in some way or other. We had a flat and modest studio at 319 Kennington Road, South London within a few miles radius SPK, Lustmord, Nocturnal Emissions, Chris and Cosey and Funky Porcini lived...and we all knew each other reasonably well
BACK THEN THE GUITARBANDS HAD JOHN PEEL. I KNOW YOU DID A SESSION BUT WAS HE IMPORTANT FOR THE ELECTRONIC SCENE?
John Peel was vitally important to the electronic music scene as well as the dub scene he played our singles and we were privileged enough to record a peel session. I discovered lots of music through his shows which i often taped and passed to my friends
BUT HOW WAS THAT FOR ELECTRONIC BANDS? WAS THERE ACTUALLY ANY COVERAGE AT ALL? I MEAN YOU ARE LEGENDARY BUT IF YOU SEE ALL THOSE OLD FOOTAGES…THAT ALL SEEMS TO BE QUITE OBSCURE, NOT?
The whole industrial, wild planet electronic music movement was always small in England with most bands playing across Europe for any recognition at all. The movement was about obscurity the music was often difficult and never translated into any sort of commercial success easily
YOU CALL YOURSELF ELECTROPUNK, SO I GUESS THE PUNKATTITUDE IS OF GRAT IMPORTANCE, NOT?
We grew up out of post punk in the UK. The idea that anyone could form a group. This doesn’t seem so unusual now at all but back then it took punk and post punk to really open the floodgates to music creativity again
YOU’VE BEEN NAMECHECKED BY LOTS OF ARTISTS WHO HAPPEN TO BE MILLIONAIRES NOW. HOW DOES IT FEEL….I MEAN IN A HONEST WORLD, YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN HOSE MILLIONAIRES!
Commercial success has never been a driving aim and we do not profess to being musicians. we have aimed to create uncompromising electronic music and single mindedly set about this goal. Of course we would have appreciated being better rewarded but we also took a long break to raise families etc
HISTORICALLY SEEN YOU INVENTED THE SAMPLING IDEA. CAN YOU TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT THAT? I MEAN, WAS THAT FOUND BY COINCIDENCE OR….?
In about 1980 we heard about a sampling system called ‘greengate’ powered by an apple ll computer and bought one of the first of these to be made commercially available. From this we learned the basic principles of sampling and the technology was set to accelerate We then progressed to the akai s900, s950 and finally our pride and main workhorse the s1000.
YOU KNOW, JOHN? I MISS THAT IMPROVISING THING THESE DAYS IN THE MUSICSCENE…. IT ALL SEEM TO BE SO MANUFACTURED NOW….
commercial pressure seems to apply automatically now. i think the naivety of the music industry allowed real creativity to occur but with that learning process disappearing creativity suffers. as was mentioned earlier taking risks is much harder now
SOMETIMES THEYSAY THAT WITH TODAY’S TECHNIQUES, EVERYONE CAN MAKE MUSIC…. I SAY TRUE, BUT IS IT GOOD MUSIC? WHAT DO YOU THINK?
i think having the ability to create music being so readily available is a good thing it is the punk spirit - but of course the downside is that it floods the market with copycat, manufactured stuff. good stuff will always be around it just takes more effort than people are willing to invest
YOUR OPINION ABOUT THE DOWNLOADGENERATION…I MEAN YOU BELONG TO A SCENE FROM WHICH THE RELEASES ARE WORTH A GOLDMINE!
again we have always pushed for the progressive edge and so we certainly embraced the software side of music production early on as we did with sampling etc. most recently i’ve looked at using apps like nanostudio and beatmaker for music creation. however many people, including many to young to have been involved at the time - still want to own the original vinyl versions from the scene. i am happy with downloading although it does undervalue the product
DO YOU FOLLOW THE MUSICSCENE YOURSELF?
not really although of course we meet other bands when we play
THE MOMENT YOU WENT ON A MAJOR, LONDON RECORDS, YOU WERE GONE. PURE COINCIDENCE OR DID THE MAJORTHING NECKED YOU IN AN ARTISTIC SENSE?
the major label thing just never suited our personalities, we were just not confident enough nor did we like the immediate concentration on commercial viability and profit we had been independent and self contained for to long... this period was our unhappiest and least productive. If you look back at the independent left field electronic acts that went to major labels few if any succeeded
I ASK THIS TO EVERYBODY…WHAT’S YOUR FAVE RECORD OF ALL TIME AND PLEASE STATE WHY…
the pop group Y, when this came out we hadn’t heard anything like it before. it was produced by dennis bovell so had loads of volume spikes, low end, feedback and dub reverbs and delays along with inventive dance oriented tracks and edgy intelligent vocals. To top it all it came out of Bristol that, at the time, was a UK city smouldering with unrest....
YOU SOON WILL BE ON THE BIMFEST. WHAT CAN THE AUDIENCE EXPECT?
we have been refining our live set [threat] to be as forceful as possible so expect pure sequenced electronics with plenty of bass, deans vocals, a new set of visuals mixed live into the output.... and a few surprises, of course