For the co-founder of a website focussing a significant amount of our attention towards Techno, I haven’t visited Berlin nearly as much as I should. One of the things that stood out most from my handful of pilgrimages however, was a Stroboscopic Artefacts showcase held at Suicide Circus, preceded by the screening of Paris/ Berlin: 20 Years of Underground Techno. It was a remarkably extensive study of the genre, from the early influence of Kraftwerk, all the way through to mainstream acknowledgement. The film’s producer & director, Amélie Ravalec, naturally had her own ties to the Techno scene from before making the film, helping to run label and event series Fondation Sonore alongside her forays into the visual arts.
Her latest film comes in the form of another genre-study, this time putting focus on the avante-garde music that stemmed from jeopardised Industrial British cities such as Manchester & Sheffield in the 1970s. Entitled ‘Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay’ the film expected for release in 2014 boasts a remarkable array of interviews, from Boyd Rice & Cabaret Voltaire to Test Dept. & Throbbing Gristle just to name a few.
With the release of the film’s trailer expected next week, we caught up with Amélie to discuss the new film, new developments for Fondation Sonore, and the crossovers between Techno and Industrial music.
So first off how are things? How long have you been working on the film and how does it feel to be in the final stages?
Great, thank you. Travis and I started working on the film in November 2012. We’re still editing the film, licensing music and applying for funding, but we’re hoping to release the film in 2014.
Without giving away too much, can you tell us a little bit about the new film and the inspiration behind it?
The films features pioneers of the industrial movement such as Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, NON, Clock DVA, Test Dept and Z’EV. We also talked to V. Vale, publisher of the influential Industrial Culture Handbook/Re/Search fanzines and Jean-Pierre Turmel, who edits the beautiful fanzine and record label Sordide Sentimental.
We interviewed contemporary artists and labels that play an important role in today’s industrial scene, such as Winterkalte, label owner of Hands Production, Stefan Alt from Ant-Zen, Orphx, Klinik/Dive. Some of our other favourites industrial acts Click Click, Prima Linea, Hula and In The Nursery are also featured.
I wanted to make this documentary as I felt this genre and these artists deserved to be exposed to a broader audience. This film is about more than just industrial music, it also reflects on art and history, politics and social issues, post-industrialisation and urban decay.
I have always been inspired by harsh sounds and industrial architecture, often wandering through decaying cities of Belgium or England. As I dug deeper, I suddenly realized that I shared a lot common influences and preoccupations with those artists, even though they were from a different generation. From a really young age I read books by Burroughs or Ballard and became interested in art movements like the dadaist and the futurists.
To what extent do you think the success of the first film has helped with this latest project?
Directing _Paris/Berlin: 20 Years Of Underground Techno _taught me a lot and obviously it made the process easier for the new film.
I read in an interview done about the Paris/Berlin film you felt there had been plenty of documentaries done about the early days of Techno, but few that came to also include the current scene. Would you say the same sentiments apply with industrial music?
There has been some good documentaries made about the current industrial scene, such as Maschinenfest and Form of Hands festivals. There has also been documentaries about specific artists or bands too, such as Boyd Rice or Neubauten, however I’m yet to see a detailed documentary about the industrial movement, which is why I decided to make this film.
During the making of the film did you find yourself discovering crossovers between the two genres?
Some of the artists I interviewed for Paris/Berlin like Ancient Methods, Adam X or Terence Fixmer are heavily influenced by industrial bands. There are many similarities between `Industrial techno’ and the modern rhythmic noise / industrial scenes although these scenes rarely crossover, which is a shame. I don’t think that classifying music in sub-genres is necessarily a good thing. Good music is good music and hopefully my films and the bands featured can appeal to any music lover.
You have an amazing set of interviewees included in the film, you must have travelled around a lot! What were some of your favourite places?
I always loved decaying architecture and industrial cities. Sheffield in particular is somewhere I always wanted to see, even though the city is not as industrial today as it would have been in the 70s. The people were very nice and helpful too and we had a great time both times we visited to shoot interviews. We also travelled to Rouen, a beautiful part of the French countryside, to interview Jean-Pierre Turmel, that was kind enough to show us around the town. Unfortunately we couldn’t afford to travel to America ourselves, but we were lucky enough to have some friends interviewing artists Genesis P. Orridge, SPK and V. Vale on our behalf.
Was it a struggle to secure some of these people for the film? I’ve heard Test Dept for example rarely give interviews.
All the artists we interviewed were helpful in the making of the movie. I was surprised by how it all came together so quickly . From the moment we decided to make this film, we were recording interviews less than a month later! I`m not sure about how many interviews Test Dept have done, but they were happy to be featured in the film. We interviewed the band after their concert in Belgium, where they played for the first time in years.
You are also part of the ‘Fondation Sonore’ label/event series as well, what can we expect to see next from this?
The next release on the label is the vinyl soundtrack of Paris/Berlin: 20 Years Of Underground Techno. It will be a double vinyl featuring Regis, Adam X, Ancient Methods, Kareem, Oyaarss, Makaton, Archae & Grovskopa and a secret track. We’re also planning a release with Orphx side project O/H, partnering with Huren from Zhark for some beautiful rhythmic noise. Also expect some very interesting newcomers.