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MARTIN STEINEBACH

INDUSTRIAL, TO MARTIN STEINEBACH, IS NOT ABOUT PRIMITIVE SHOCK TACTICS OR BLAND POLITICAL STATEMENTS. RATHER, FOR THE ENTIRE TWELVE YEARS OF HIS MUSICAL CAREER, HE HAS MADE IT HIS TASK TO CHALLENGE CONVENTIONAL LISTENING HABITS. CERTAINLY HIS PROLIFIC OUTPUT AND VARYING STYLISTIC APPEARANCES HAVE MADE IT HARD ON MOST TO FOLLOW EVERY SINGLE STEP OF HIS CAREER. UNTIL RECENTLY, THREE DIFFERENT PROJECTS MADE UP HIS COSMOS: CONSCIENTIA PECCATI IS HIS RITUAL, NEOCLASSICAL MONIKER, MONOID SHOWS US HIS RHYTHMIC AND RAW SIDE, WHILE STILLSTAND IS A UNIQUE COMBINATION OF AMBIENT, ABSTRACT TEXTURES, NOISE AND THE OCCASIONAL FIELD RECORDING (SUCH AS IN HIS LATEST, MOST AMBITIOUS ALBUM „SCHAUER“, A MORE THAN AN HOUR LONG COMPOSITION USING THE SOUND OF RAIN AS ITS STARTING POINT). WITH EACH ONE, HE HAS RELEASED ON A MULTITUDE OF SMALL-SCALE LABELS, ALLOWING HIM FULL ARTISTIC FREEDOM AND ESTABLISHING HIS NAME MAINLY IN AN APPRECIATIVE UNDERGROUND. IN 2005, HE ADDED A FOURTH MEMBER TO THE FAMILY WITH THE MUCH APPLAUDED COMPEST – A MIXTURE OF ALL PREVIOUS INGREDIENTS IN A SEEMLESS BLEND. BUT OF COURSE, IT DOESN’T END THERE. HIS DREAM OF WORKING WITH FEMALE VOCALS STILL REMAINS, AS DO MANY OTHER VISIONS STILL IN THE PIPELINE. EXPECT MARTIN STEINEBACH TO KICK ABOUT SOME LISTENING HABBITS FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER TWELVE YEARS TO COME. HI! HOW ARE YOU? WHERE ARE YOU? Fine, thank you. Right now I am in Mosbach near the Neckar. I am sitting in the garden of a university campus enjoying the morning sun. WHAT’S ON YOUR SCHEDULE RIGHT NOW? I’ll give a lecture on security in computer science at a university of cooperative education. This will take most of the day, 8 hour block session. Rather exhausting for your voice, I can tell you. WHAT OR WHO WAS YOUR BIGGEST INFLUENCE AS AN ARTIST? DO YOU SEE YOURSELF AS PART OF A CERTAIN TRADITION OR AS PART OF A MOVEMENT? Well, I see myself in the classical industrial tradition with respect to music. I question as many hearing habits as possible and play with them. I do not embrace the other aspects of early industrial like shock tactics or pseudo-militarism. This rather seems to be outdated in a culture where you can buy pink girly cameo suits in fashion stores. War has become an accepted pop item, it seems. Influences are always hard to tell for me. I am quite fascinated with bands playing different styles over the year, always re-creating their sound anew. Die Form in their early releases is an excellent example for this, and I am quite disappointed about the similarity of their newer releases. I also like the way Einstürzende Neubauten changed over the year, avoiding the trap of becoming a copy of themselves. Besides the electro and industrial genre, I am also a great friend of well-made Hip-Hop music. Especially the more underground-based producers explored fascinating ways of combining beats and noises. WHAT’S YOUR VIEW ON THE MUSIC SCENE AT PRESENT? IS THERE A CRISIS? There seems to be a crisis when one looks at big company sales. But I’d say that these are rather the outlet stores of the music scene. The scene itself seems very productive at the moment, just check the stream of releases. CDR productions enabling cheap small number editions in high quality and constant improvement of virtual studios and musical instruments allow anyone interested to participate as a label owner or an artist. This may lead to some sort of crisis sooner or later, bringing the scene to a point where everyone is busy doing new songs and no-one is left to listen to them. But this may be some interesting state for some time, a sort of constant flow, enabled maybe by Internet-based distribution platforms or even online music production portals. At the long run, I’d rather say this will collapse and many people will step back becoming a customer as many will recognize that production mechanisms are not a substitute for ideas. But I could imagine that music is not distributed in a fixed mix, but as a editable and adjustable set of sounds, setting and scores. WHAT DOES THE TERM „NEW“ MEAN TO YOU IN CONNECTION WITH MUSIC? “New” for me is a previously unheard combination of styles and sounds. This may be a new form of synthesis strongly influencing a musical style like the Legion releases. Or a new style of music like Acid or Drum&Bass. It is about ideas, about next frontiers. HOW DO YOU SEE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SOUND AND COMPOSITION? Both interact with each other. Sometimes sounds enforce composition, sometime composition requires certain sounds. It can happen that a sound is a sort of inherent composition, especially in field recordings. Then one only needs to refine and enrich it, and the composition comes with the process. HOW STRICTLY DO YOU SEPARATE IMPROVISING AND COMPOSING? Quite strict as both are done in different environments. Usually improvisation takes place in my home studio where analogue instruments, mixers and microphones are present. Composing is done at a computer, using sequencers and virtual instruments. But of course there are interfaces between both worlds. Recently I enjoy using improvised tracks as a background or starting point for more strict composition. WHAT CONSTITUTES A GOOD LIVE PERFORMANCE IN YOUR OPINION? WHAT’S YOUR APPROACH TO PERFORMING ON STAGE? Either a really good show with effects, visuals, and great sound that sums up to well done entertainment or a tangible intimacy between artist, music and audience. In my case I do some background tracks and perform some improvisation on these. Usually rather with effects manipulating the existing tracks. Instruments only take a small part of this kind of performance. A LOT OF PEOPLE FEEL THAT SOME OF THE RADICAL EXPERIMENTS OF MODERN COMPOSITIONS CAN NO LONGER BE QUALIFIED AS “MUSIC”. WOULD YOU DRAW A BORDER – AND IF SO, WHERE? No, I do not think borders make much sense. And technically, as pure sine tones and white noise have been successfully described as music, the whole range is set up. There’s not point in defining what is music, the listener just needs to define what he enjoys to listen to or where his interests are. ARE “SERIOUS” AND “POPULAR” REALLY TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF MUSIC OR JUST EMPTY WORDS WITHOUT A MEANING? Both words work for a certain subset of musical output. The definition of the sets may change over time, and both sets together are much smaller than the sum of all music. But using these sets makes as much sense as any other label for something you want to sell or advertise for. And it is helpful who do not see music as an cultural good but as a source of entertainment they just want to buy for the next party or as a gift. There may certainly be examples which fit in both worlds, and I’d say click and cut experiments of today’s progressive techno artists may be popular today but would have been typical examples of serious experimental without pop appeal 50 years ago. DO YOU FEEL AN ARTIST HAS A CERTAIN DUTY TOWARDS ANYONE BUT HIMSELF? OR TO PUT IT DIFFERENTLY: SHOULD ART HAVE A POLITICAL/SOCIAL OR ANY OTHER ASPECT APART FROM A PERSONAL SENSATION? No, art should be accepted as art and not just as some sort of communication channel for some other, higher or more important truth. In some cases art as a medium works best when it carries also some sort of message, but this should not become mandatory. I’d rather be curious what kind of political message one could embed in abstract ambient as an example. Emptiness as a result of social anonymization? TRUE OR FALSE: PEOPLE NEED TO BE EDUCATED ABOUT MUSIC, BEFORE THEY CAN REALLY APPRECIATE IT. False. Many people appreciate a vast diversity of music without understanding it. I think this is one of the most powerful aspects of music, a kind of intuitive insight in the beauty of music. It may be more true for more complex pieces, be it pop, experimental or classical music. But I am not sure if this is not only a kind of getting familiar with certain patterns. People tend to like familiar things. IMAGINE A SITUATION IN WHICH THERE’D BE NO SUCH THING AS COPYRIGHT AND EVERYBODY WERE FREE TO USE MUSICAL MATERIAL AS A BASIS FOR THEIR OWN COMPOSITIONS – WOULD THAT BE AN IMPROVEMENT TO THE CURRENT SITUATION? Well, you are quite free today to use whatever you wish for your compositions, and nobody will stop you from releasing it in most cases. But you may lose all the money made by the release to the original creators of the compositions you borrowed. To prevent this, today using elements of other compositions is a complex issue done before releasing the work. Maybe speeding up this process and making it accessible for everyone would be sufficient to solve the problem. YOU ARE GIVEN THE POSITION OF ARTISTIC DIRECTOR OF A FESTIVAL. WHAT WOULD BE ON YOUR PROGRAM? A good mixture of styles and clashes, enforcing artists and audiences to cross borders. MANY ARTISTS DREAM OF A “MAGNUM OPUS”. DO YOU HAVE A VISION OF WHAT YOURS WOULD SOUND LIKE? No, I’m sorry. I am rather exploring new directions than going extremely deep into one. I did various approaches on working with female singers, as I really like industrial music with female voices, but it never worked out. So maybe this comes close to the unfulfilled dream.

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