Interview and Guest Mix with Emile Strunz
Emile Strunz has been a favourite of ours since we heard his release “Voyetra Technique” last year and he keeps getting better and better with every release ! He has finally agreed to provide us with an interview and a live set !!! OH YESSSS!!!
Full live set from him with tracklist TURN UP LOUD!!!
Voyetra Technique, Hypnotised, Bubastis, Death by Repetition (Exclusive track), Shields, Hardbody, One Step Closer to Heaven – Belgian version, Erotique
Here is the interview :
Where are you from and where do you live ?
I’m from the home of 50% of Little Mix, and 100% of Joe McEldery and Lulu James. The North East’s Hit Factory?The mouth of the River Tyne?The end of the Great North Run?The coastal town that they forgot to pull down?The home of the Sand-dancers? South Shields? I’m from South Shields. I’m actually exiled in Leicester at the moment – centre of the musical universe you know – Showaddywaddy,Cornershop, Mark Morrison, Kasabi…them– that lot.
I’m trying to keep a low profile, but inadvertently upsetting very, VERY important people like the Police and Crime Commissioner. It’s a long story.
Where does your name originate from ?
Again, a long story.I used to frequent the Cross nightclub in London, that was run by Billy Reilly,brother of Keith, the man behind the marvellously perennial delights of Fabric. The atmosphere, the music, the crowd, the swagger, the women – it was just up my back alley, so to speak, and it felt like you were somewhere beautiful, sophisticated and exotic, and not in some converted Victorian railway arch behind filthy Kings Cross station.
The Cross used to attract a lot of cool Spanish and Italian hedonists, and in the midst of the usual (ahem) ecstatic talking of rubbish, when asked my name, I was usually met with an “Emile?”, instead of a Neil. Which is like, 5 billion times cooler than the name my sister, aged four (FOUR!!) gave me when I was born.
My Mam and Dad also used to make huge sacrifices to take me and my sister on amazing holidays across Europe and everything just looked better, smelled better, tasted better etc, and I’ve just always preferred mainland Europe to this poxy miserable little Island full of wankers, sly-cocks, and piss-weasels. In 1996, and whilst watching a European Championship game involving Germany, the commentator said the name ‘Strunz’, the name of the German fullback, and still tickled by being called Emile the previous weekend, the two names joined together in my head, and henceforth, Emile Strunz was born. A hard-partying European technophile and producer of razor sharp electronic dance music for cool and dangerous discotheques.
Of course it then took me, erm…16 years to actually do anything with the concept, but some things take time, and I hate being rushed so don’t judge OK?!!
How did you get into DJing, Producing , working with fantastic labels such as Join Our Club and Flight Recorder?
Long story – part three!!I’d always loved electronic music, and apart from a short spell aged five, when I thought Showaddywaddy were the pinnacle of man’s achievements in music, I’ve always liked stuff with synths throbbing away. You hear “I Feel Love” when you’re aged five and you’ve just seen Star Wars at the cinema and that’s it – your life is fucked in the best way possible – your imagination goes wild. Hand on heart, the first single I bought was Gary Numan’s“Cars”, in 1979, and from then on in, I remember Top of the Pops was just this amazing procession of great, great pop music.
Yeah, there was a load of shit around too, but you don’t remember that do you? If you weren’t seeing Kraftwerk at Number 1 with “The Model”, then you had Adam Ant doing this crazy tribal pirate thing with two drummers. Week in, week out, you had Teardrop Explodes, Blancmange, Depeche Mode, Human League, The Associates, OMD, Japan, Yello, Yazoo, Soft Cell, New Order – all mainstream entertainment on a Thursday evening.
Fast forward to 1989 – which was an amazing year for music, and I was in love with New Order, and Technique was just an amazing album and tour, and I was due some money that year after a plan to go to Italia 1990 fell through. I bought a Yamaha DX27, and wanted to make music like Nitzer Ebb, who were replacing New Order as my main musical pursuit. Since then I’ve always had a synth – a few Roland SH101s, Oberheims, and then in 2007, I bought a KorgRadias, and it was perfect for what I wanted to produce. Having had several clubbing epiphanies at The Cross at this time, I just had to make music at some point in my life – hard edged, hypnotic, but mid-paced and funky – the sound was and still is, in my head. I just had to learn a few things.
I was working in the Press and Parliamentary Unit of the Law Society around this time, but hanging out in Westminster and meeting such fine up-standing citizens as Tony Blair (weirdly tall, dead-eyed), Max Clifford (patronising wanker), and Rory Bremner (top bloke), wasn’t really cutting it anymore. I left and went back to study full time.
At university I launched a clubs and dance music section on the student union magazine, and interviewed Richie Hawtin, Moby, Lee Burridge, Alan Wilder,and erm…Judge Jules, before doing some work for Mixmag, and then working doing PR for Seb Fontaine who was a resident at Cream at the time. But production and performance just had to happen. In the lead-up to a painful break-up with my girlfriend, I started work on a remix for a mate.
That track turned into “Shields”. I stuck it on Soundcloud. My mate Craig (the ‘Glass Unicorn’ bloke from the intro of the first Horse Meat Disco compilation) went to World Unknown in London on NYE 2011. Met Andy Blake and Joe Hart at the after party. They heard “Shields”, got in touch, released it, and I’d like to say that the rest was history, but what followed was the most traumatic and painful period of my life – you name it – I lost it. And tragically, that included my Mam, to cancer last year. Then I was shafted by the highest ranking official at Leicestershire Police just as I was piecing my life back together. In the words of Cevin Fisher, “music stepped in and saved my life”. Or some shit like that. Pass the sick bucket!!
After “Shields”, I produced “Sin City”for Porn Wax, which was big in Rotterdam, did a couple of releases for Rothmans, Andy Weatherall picked up the North Sea Body Music EP on Flight Recorder, and then People get Real released “Voyetra Technique” on Join our Club. Ali Renault’s VIVOD label released “People Who You Know (Who Can’t Say No)” earlier this year and Erol Alkan played that on BBC 6 Music just before I headed off for a small tour of Russia.Which in lieu of money and regular sex was a nice little boost to the ego. The only boost to the ego as it happens…
Tell us about any upcoming releases/tours?
The second North Sea Body Music EP is out next month on Flight Recorder, and I’ll be promoting that around Europe in October and beyond. Lord Sabre – Weatherall played the first one, so I’m hoping this one is as well received. Things need finalising as always but hopefully I’ll be in Glasgow, Amsterdam, Berlin, and a few other places too. Like everything, it all needs financing, but fingers crossed.
Tell us a little bit about your podcast and what we can expect to hear ?
Expect to hear throbbing, penetrating shards of crisp, glacial electronics that force the listener to challenge the accepted Western hegemony of the producer/consumer paradigm. The repetition of rhythm merely reinforces the notion of a false consciousness that consumer capitalism has insidiously infected the population and…. this is for The Wire magazine isn’t it? No? Really? Death by Repetition? Shit, sorry about that. Ok, I’ll start again. Expect to hear hypnotic, European sounding electronica, future New Beat, Erotic Body Music, lashings of 303, and middle-eastern-tinged Slow Trance. A tad clichéd in places, but who gives a fuck. You’ll like it.
Any unreleased material on the mix ?
Pretty much all of it, you lucky, LUCKY bastards. It’s either new or it’s been given a smart new haircut, some new clothes and a voucher for a food bank.
What do you use to produce music and how do you go about it?
Hmm, trade secrets eh? Ok, take several decades of agony, ecstasy, pain, frustration, anger, bitterness, elation, joy, heartbreak, disappointment, betrayal, debauchery, love, and lust, add hours and hours of listening to great music and watching amazing films, throw in a faded copy of Razzle from 1987 – then buy a few synths and samplers– say a Korg Radias, Korg Electribe, Roland TB3. Stick into an Apple Power Mac.. Stir and simmer for a few years, unwittingly place yourself in an economic, social and emotional cul-de-sac, and then voilà!!
Tell us about 5 of your favourite tracks of all time ?
Tracks as opposed to songs? Ok…
Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence (Hands and Feet Mix). The original is probably one of finest pop songs of all time, but this Kevorkian remix is pure gold. That pulsating modulating bassline, Dave Gahan’s rich vocal, the glacial melancholy of it all. Oh my God, it even has a watermark.
The Flirts – Passion (Bobby O Remix). So many Bobby O productions are amazing, but this one is a bit different. Felix Da Housecat sampled the shit out of it.
Nitzer Ebb –Control I’m Here (Strategic Dancefloor Initiative Mix). A concept perfectly realised. In Essex. From track to video to sleeve. It all works. I even got to speak to Simon Grainger at Fabric a few weeks ago about his dynamic artwork.
Patrick Cowley – Sea Hunt. It’s like slow Hi-NRG/proto New Beat that treads a very fine line between extreme camp and purest exotica. Inspired by Cowley’s admiration for Lloyd Bridges.
Les Negresses Vertes – Zobi la Mouche (William Orbit Mix). Wild Arabic, Parisian punky folk music with William Orbit supplying the electronics. Orbit was on fire around this time, and the manic energy of this track is infectious – a real inspiration to Emile Strunz.
Tell us about tracks that you currently play out?
I’m not a DJ. Maybe I should be. Taking CDs and a memory stick around the world sounds like much less bother than taking three synthesizers and a drum machine. Can someone teach me?
Favourite venues to play in the world?
Everywhere I’ve played has been an experience. Playing straight after The Hacker at Magic Waves in Berlin in July was amazing – especially as I’ve been buying his records since 2001. It was an inferno of strobes, dry ice and body heat in the main room – I loved it. Playing Moscow and St Petersburg was straight out of a Boy’s Own adventure, and anywhere in London is always good. Oslo in Hackney is literally two minutesfrom where I used to live, so it’s weird playing there as an artist now – but my gig there in March was straight out of the Guide to Rock and Roll Excess and will live long in the memory, although not for publication here.
Discuss some of your influences ?
Bernard Sumner is for me, a fucking genius. I had the privilege to have met Tony Wilson a couple of times before he died, and we spoke about Bernard Sumner’s production skills, and his ear for melody. Listen to his work for Marcel King, Quando Quango and Section 25s’ From the Hip album, alongside his work for Electronic and New Order. His ability to write and produce pure electronic pop music is amazing. People talk about Kraftwerk being the Godfathers of Techno, but Bernard Sumner is up there with them in my opinion. Heused to actually build synths and sequencers for New Order you know.
Nitzer Ebb are a massive influence. When I was 18, I was so blown away by them at the Astoria and then at a gig at Subterranea, that I felt compelled to write a review of the show and send it to their management. And they published it as part of their official publicity material early in 1991. I was a contributor to Nitzer Ebb Produkt!! Once an Ebbhead, always an Ebbhead. Or should that be dickhead?
Anyway, Nitzer Ebb were just so cool, and beautifully designed and presented, and hard and funky and for a pretentious little shit from South Shields, nigh on impossible to resist. Listen to ‘Join in the Chant’ – the Phil Harding version, and it sounds (obviously) like a PWL track, but with an edge and an energy. In fact, if you listen to Kylie Minogue’s “I should be so lucky”, or Rick Astley’s “Never going to give you up”, the basslines and percussion are just perfect – SAW are totally underrated in dance circles – probably because of Sonia and the fucking Reynolds Girls – so fair enough I guess!!As much as I love Basic Channel and the whole Chain Reaction thing, when I switch the machines on, I’m more likely to listen to a tacky 12” New Beat remix from 1989 or a SAW remix for inspiration.
Actually, can I have a whole year as an influence? 1989 it is then.
That year started with New Order’s Technique album (I seriously want to cover “Vanishing Point”), Nitzer Ebb’s “Hearts and Minds” single came out with an unbelievable Daniel Miller remix – the Hypersonic one that Hawtin rinsed to buggery a few years ago (when I spoke to Daniel in 2011he told me that he has very little memory of even making it!).Depeche Mode’s 101 live album came out, tracks like Capella’s“HelyomHalib” were in the Top 20, and something from Belgium, called New Beat, was making its way to these shores – anything by the production trio of Morton-Sherman-Belucci was usually brilliant. – with the Erotic Dissidents’ “Move your ass and feel the beat” being my favourite commercial New Beat tune.We had a great summer that year– even in South Shields, and the great music just kept on coming. Lil’ Louis’ “French Kiss” was in the charts, and I remember tuning into Tony Wilson’s The Other Side of Midnight on ITV and seeing some band called The Shamen play an 303-drenched little number called “You, Me and Everything (Else)”, and was blown away.
Depeche Mode released “Personal Jesus” – which was off the map! Technotronic’s “Pump up the Jam” was in the Top 10, and the Happy Monday’s “WFL” was in the charts – Vince Clarke is a huge influence and I always preferred his mix to the Paul Oakenfold one. I got to meet the Mondays before a gig at Newcastle Poly by swearing at Shaun Ryder through the window and his Dad then let us in via the fire exit – I was corrupted permanently that night! Looking back, you had these mid-tempo, synth-heavy futuristic and hypnotic New Beat pop gems invading national radio and the Top 40 and it was amazing – the so-called ‘drug-chug’ has been with us a long time. I also bought Front 242’s “Headhunter” on a miserable shitty day in November at RPM in Newcastle – I was at World Unknown a couple of weeks ago, and Joe Hart dropped it at around 4am, and the place went absolutely fucking crazy – there were a couple of blonde stunners going mental to it – really throwing some shapes, and it just made perfect sense to hear it in this environment. Yep, that year was a huge influence, everything sounded great.
Ever heard the 12” mix of Erasure’s “Drama” in a club full of wasted Geordies?
Well maybe you should.