You are a classically trained pianist and violinist. How important do you think being a musician is in Dance music production today, given that almost everything dispenses with the necessity. Likewise, what would you say that it brings to you as a DJ?
EDC: A lot of it sounds as though the “so-called” producer dispensed the memory of dancing listening to some of this new shite… Let’s see I started dee-jaying at 15 years of age (mostly high school parties even though I was not in high school yet!?) I was chosen to do so as I suggested a disc-jockey instead of the regular solution to the diversity problem posed by hiring any number of “wannabe” bands or worse “cover bands”; my entire neighbourhood knew I was a musician with a plethora of records even before I was 15 so… it was a natural choice for them thus I accepted… by this point I played piano for ten years; was considered a master five years previous and wrote for two choirs in my church directed by me; one of these choirs my Mother directed however I wrote the “gospel” songs they sang… somewhere in all of this I picked up a violin (wanted a French horn however my parents thought with that asthma we’ll be in emergency rooms all the time! We were anyway I was chronic) alas the violin became an appendage for a few years: I excelled but hated my sound on it as a soloist so never practiced… I like the sound I’ve found on it in past years though; surprisingly? The musical formation is yes classic however I listened to any and everything plus developed a good enough ear to fool my teachers into thinking I memorized music from the notations when in reality it was pretty much all by ear which in turn made my playing far more emotional than many 12 year olds… the ear also helped in landing a job demonstrating Casio keyboards in Macy’s department store! There I’d grab any Casio (even sometimes a watch or calculator if it had notes in it) and churn out a spate of existing tunes one might hear on the radio? From new wave; to soul/funk jazz… whatever I can even fake a song from scratch and make people believe they know it when they have never heard it before (I still do that a lot and it truly confuses some l0l) Relevance to my dee jay style? People have told me they lime when I mix stuff because it’s in “key”!? I was surprised by that as I never thought of think of it when I mix records I just go with what feels right literally: when I moved to Paris at the age of 21 a lot of musicians wanted me to “sit in” and “jam”? I had no idea what they were talking about? So I stopped playing piano conventionally for about 7 years and started the computer thing and studio sound /producer guy thing; with a close friend named Eric Tabushi (Luna Parker) who taught me all I know about digital music production; writing like this with a sequencing genius helped me immensely in the realm of “jamming”! I thank him to this day! … in my career so far the early training though always there is not the sole place from which I can draw creative inspiration; I guess I’m one of the guys who knows the rules and does not give a fuck? I honestly can’t say if my music today would sound any different without all that previous experience; I’m not terribly cerebral I’m more a feelings guy…
Who initially inspired you to become a DJ, to start making your own music and to sing?
EDC: Aaron Shock was amongst the first dee jays I remember going to hear then befriending… I believe his biggest claim to fame was the theft of two Picasso’s or Dali’s from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art: he and an accomplice were returning the pieces by cover of darkness and got caught?! I mean returning them…? if I’d have done that and felt guilty I’d sooner leave em on a street corner somewhere? it was San Francisco in the 80’s! I’m certain they’d not have been vandalised… anyway Aaron was one and the other was a man named Adam Fisher; poor thing; for years he’d get a residency somewhere and I’d go and not even try to; but end up taking that residency!? l0l this happened about three or four times!? I recently found him on the net and we wrote each other and when I go to New York next year I will definitely try to find out where he’s playing ha ha ha no but we said we’d meet and shoot the breeze… he was a huge inspiration! This is all before 1987!? The singing thing came as an epiphany while trying out singers for WHIRLPOOL PRODUCTIONS: despite having released a hit in France way before WPP I did not want to front the group (on our first LP “Brian de Palma” you will note there is not one “song” on it: it’s a dee-jay/producer LP in my ears; when it came time to do more I said we have to do something differently or we and our public will get bored!? That’s when we started listening to singers looking for a gig: aw geez they were just too… “professional”; “trained” nothing even a bit raw (I had no idea Germany was so trite and unflinching in her Protestantness?! Ultimately as I wrote most of or all of the text it was decided I should give it a go? And I have to admit I write some of the strangest stuff? It does not seem strange until you try to sing it? Myself included! I’ve had to learn my songs again and again because as well as writing impossibilities into the syntax I put the accents in the “wrong” places rendering simplicity difficult? Always told I could not sing now I’ve done so with people I’ve looked up to vocally and they have confirmed to me that I can sing and quite well too… on occasion? l0l I say occasion as I don’t really try too hard however my falsetto is no joke!
You presented a talk on 13/12/16 at Institut für Populäre Musik. Can you tell us what you talked about and people’s reactions to what you had to say?
This ”artist talk” was unscripted: normally I make tons of notes; convict them to memory and (as when performing with a band or dee jaying) pull these disparate subjects from my head and make concise explanations of things hopefully inspirational to the students and others that attend? Made sense? Hans Nieswandt (my music partner since the daze of WHIRLPOOL PRODUCTIONS) is the director of the Pop Institut Bochum: he introduced me on the note that I’d just come from Paris where I’m writing/producing and arranging the second lp of AIKIU: I then played a song from the project and explained the process of working with the “band” (Alex is the driving force and conceptualist for the group with an amazing instrument in his voice and emotional delivery: Julien Vichnievsky is his trusted musical partner since they were teenagers and Eric Spring is the acoustic visionary who mixes live performances and is a whiz in the studio) so as I’m closer to Alex than the other two I must and do maintain a high level of respect for what they do and if I change something I make sure it does not come across in a rude or un-inviting way? As I can be rather harsh: over time we have developed ways to directly help each other and thus the project: bringing to creative fruition a dream in the form of music that WILL stand the test of time! This was part of the talk and in more detail explaining the need for stories and not just a phat ass bass line n such?! So much so called music today sounds AMAZING! But has absolutely no content let alone context to anything?! Living dead or other… just vapid production standards; so incredibly boring! I will have to go over the recording of the lecture which I’m editing now to tell you the exact subjects queried by the audience? however; I did see a few thumbs up heard some muffled laughter received applause… but they are true music lovers those who come to my lectures which are few… though I’d love to do more… The ensuing two days I had discussions with some of the individual students about their endeavors and sat in on Gregor’s songwriting/structure course which was eye opening for me as well! He’s an amazing musician!
Having lived and worked in different continents do you believe that music is a universal language. And with the benefit of your historical experience as people talk about a ‘Dance Music community’ would you recognise such a thing exits (and as a force for effective change)?
EDC: Music is a universal language indeed; I’ve heard melodies that have literally made me cry for no apparent reason other than they evoke a feeling/longing/mood that delegates the way the body reacts to them! Dance Music Community? Utter bullshit! What I studied primarily as a young pianist of the classical caliber was Chopin; Rachmaninoff and Joplin (Scott) with the exception of Rachmaninoff each engaged in the “frivolous” sometime whimsical lite motif of “dance music” people forget that Chopin created the Mazurka: Polonaise: minute waltz and revolutionized the waltz in general! Scott Joplin more or less created ragtime! This was dance music as well; and it irks me to no end that so many so called producers of “Dance Music” have not the slightest knowledge of at least the social impact made by these mavericks who in turn made it possible to give dance music a name today by which they may achieve their lopsided desires! Someone I thought I knew said something extremely stupid to me recently; it was akin to this though I’m not quoting exactly; “uh I hate all these Detroit Techno DJ’s pretending to be into Jazz and Soul music cause you can tell they’re not really but they say it to seem intelligent or deep”… Now wait fer it… I was livid! I railed into him (you stupid @&%# $%#%) calling him everything except a child of the universe and needless to say though I tried to accept him on his uninformed terms when I returned to lucidity after sheer and ample rage? the once “friend” is no longer in any way shape or form a human being anything other than an idiot being… he claimed to be part of this “community” so I just hope he’s an anomaly in it otherwise… This “dance music community” of which you speak is a farce led by exclusivity and misogyny; for myself I do not attest to it or any other group ethic it’s simply not in my mindset; YET!? I like to believe I can be positively persuaded out of my decided way of thinking through intelligence; I always have time for intelligence… they could maybe harness that dancing energy through an energy collecting dancefloor and store it for some other use? I have read it’s been done somewhere???
Please talk us through your working day in studio, where you find inspiration from and any favourite pieces of software/ hardware that you like to use?
EDC: I have absolutely no protocol in studio; I can sit at a piano and write or fire up a computer and start from a beat or bass line… and in rare cases a sample (I rarely keep them in the final piece) sometimes I will just sing a song dry long so with no music metronome; meter or notes and see where that goes (just did one like this with Hans the other day) I don’t generally use a violin for composing but to accentuate I will pick one up: I can’t play guitar to save my life but I’ve been known to track a mean guitar one note at a time 1 track at a time then mix then together rendering a perfect guitar part ha ha h a… yeah took a minute! I’ve recently acquired a sensational microphone made for me by Calvin Turnbull: he scours various sources to find bits and pieces of telecommunication hardware from the 30’s and 40’s to craft an amazingly puissant microphone with so much character you need no plug-ins in post-production?! Otherwise my fave mic is a SENNHEISER broadcast microphone from the 60’s? You see it on those DDR talk shows; they’re silver at the mic half and rectangular: David Bowie uses it in the video to “heroes”; I was given mine by René Tinner after we closed the CAN STUDIOS; I really miss having that place there… and is the one I used on my voice for everything from “Dense Music” onward to this day though I will on occasion use a ZOOM field recorder even for dee jay sets; nice like a postcard you hear the room as well as the music… Otherwise I’ve not been able to update my computer for a couple years as it’s too old and on that I run Logic Audio Pro: the last version before they got raped by Apple! It does what I need it to and I work in so many different places and on various systems I just trust this more?
Do you have a favourite instrument, do you own one?
My violin: as I have come to find out it was the first ever allowed to augment the design of Stradivarius and it was built in Berlin in 1916… Oh! my Cadillac; it serves as another listening post while I’m in California… I own all this shit…
Tell us about what is currently happening with SUBCURRENT MEDIA®©?
EDC: We are on bandcamp and it’s always been an alternative to an alternative even before bandcamp?! So it lives on as a place I will post unreleased remixes or my class of bootlegs which end up being full on productions thus having little to nothing to do with the original even if some elements remain: that’s the free stuff: there will be sometime soon a release by me called “Music I Love You” it’s an LP I completed over the past few years and finalized a year ago dedicated to my parents who are both deceased… however I’m never in a rush to release as it takes people so long to “get” my music anyway? It’s done I’m pressing it physically as well; booklet CD n such… if I can find just the right place? So there may be some singles off it as there are remixes already by a whole slew of producer deejay musicians; like Lady Blaktronica and Ashka or Andreas Dorau (who is a good friend I’d say) Supa DJ Dmitry from Deee-Lite; my best buddy Tyree Cooper plus collaborations with Scott Matthew; Ralph Locke; Mouse on Mars; Alex Aikiu and and and… so much music!!
‘Music I Love You’ LP Title track (single version): https://ericdclark.bandcamp.com/track/music-i-love-you-7-dit
A lot of ‘new’ music sounds like it could have been made decades ago – often produced by young producers. Do you think this fascination with the past is a healthy thing for music culture, and what do you think is going on?
EDC: It is no surprise; what with popular culture being cut and pasted together at lightning speed! It will happen in one place and again and again until we’re left with merely a shadow of what is attempted at being transmitted; it’s very unhealthy as it makes true artistic endeavor a foreigner in its own existence; meaning that so many attest to what’s generated by a thing that the thing in this environment is considered to be the “it” factor; this is no good as due to this the generations that follow will have no girth or explanation (thus rendering the “new” to them truly new! and nothing if anything ever truly is) to their generic beliefs and at some point it will start to bother people; look at this “hipster” movement; they establish brands and every last one has a back story?! “the conditioner we are using on your beard today is made from Tibetan sheep’s milk ape baculum and cold pressed coconut oil…” for example? And they are still (rightfully or wrongly derided as what is wrong with society when we actually let it/them proliferate). This I can only imagine must be due to the fact that the popular world is devoid of her own history and without a history you can go no further: (the great Library of Alexandria: the Buddhas of the Middle East: der Reichstag… to name but a few) however nowadays having a history is part and parcel to excel in business? That said; age is still considered a non-discussable subject especially among women in that area… agh you know that throng of proud uncultured immigrants above the Great Nation of Mexico with the dodgy “leader”? What’s it called again??? New Mexico? l0l It’s pure and simple diabolical cultural genocide these are the times in which we live… all is vapid for the most part: I mean how many more variations of the same story line can we stomach before we finally stop supporting the entertainment industry as a whole… especially considering their foothold in politics? Face it homo-sapiens are not merely “creatures of habit” thus merely lazy punters who want the same thing all the time: why else would we strive for permanence when in reality there is nothing in our “Mother Nature” depicting to us this permanence? So to me it’s merely a construct of an insecure mindset…
EDC: I don’t plan anything really? However I am planning on moving to an island in the middle of the Atlantic! I will not tell anyone else (in publication) where; as I don’t wish a further spate of gentrification coming through to ruin yet another wonderful location on this planet of ours!
Piece Eric D. Clark a/k/a Kent Chesterfield/Yashar Voltaire/Professor D. Clark/€DC/Childeric/Eric d’Clark/Eric de la Clark/Eric des Clark & THE FUTURE SOUND of YRSTERDAY Dee Jay/singer/songwriter/label owner/publisher/restauranteur/Guest Professor/producer/arranger/clothes hog and entrepreneur oh! and slum Lord extrordinaire! Languages: French: German:Spanish:Catalan… and to a lesser degree: Albanian: Portuguese: Japanese and English indubitably… Favourite books: “á Travers Le Miroir” by Antoine Giacomoni “That’s Blaxploitation” by Darius James “Tao-tö king” by Lao-tseu “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss “Stalinism on the frontier of Empire” by Elena Shulman “Swingin’ singin’ and gettin’ merry like Christmas” by Maya Angelou “Edgewise a picture of Cookie Mueller” by Chloe Griffin “±8” by Hans Nieswandt “The Amityville Horror” by Jay Anson