Sonic Groove Records celebrates 25th anniversary this year. It is undoubtedly one of the most important modern electronic music labels in the world. We are talking with the founder and industrial techno legend Adam X and the label debutant MÆDON.
Sonic Groove Records 今年庆祝成立25周年。它无疑是世界上最重要的现代电子音乐标签之一。我们正在与创始人和工业技术传奇人物Adam X和品牌新人MÆDON交谈。.
We would like to announce special July issue of @keyimagazine. Sonic Groove celebrates 25th anniversary this year.
You are very distinctive figure in a terms of how you wear yourself, in terms of how you sound. I would like to know where MÆDON comes from? When did you start making music?
M: I started making music at a really young age but for some reason I can’t remember,
I stopped. I took piano lessons from 1st grade until I graduated. It was my dream to go to music school but I didn’t have the support.
In 2001 when the Twin Towers came down, I was really affected. I wanted to do something that mattered, that would counter the bullshit. Music was always my passion and in 2002, in my mind, it was the only thing that really mattered in life.
I decided to pursue going back to college to gain some skills I thought I lacked and to pursue my original childhood dream; I wanted to prove to myself that I could play a concert piano piece.
You have a very classical background, you were studying piano in college…
M: I’m a piano performance major drop out [laughs…]
M: Yes. I played a few recitals and the final recital I played at Loyola. I had an absolutely amazing teacher there. I showed up in my black leather corset, long black skirt, Betty Page haircut … it should be noted that the school was filled with norms … there I succeeded in playing a concert piano piece, Schubert’s Impromptu Op. 142 No. 2 in A flat major.
M：是的。我参加了几次独奏会，最后一场独奏会在Loyola举行。我在那里有一位非常了不起的老师。我出现在我的黑色皮革紧身胸衣，黑色长裙，贝蒂·佩奇（Betty Page）的发型中……值得提的是那时候学校充满了规范……在那里我成功地演奏了钢琴演奏曲，舒伯特的《 Impromptu Op》。 142个A大调专业中的2号。
Does your skills translate to what you do right now?
M: I tried to take my skills and my knowledge and theory and … shove them out the window, because it’s not really helpful with making techno to a degree. When creating a bass line, it’s helpful to know what a scale is but with EBM you want dissonant sounds, so you don’t really follow a scale.
How did you find yourself in New York City?
M: I was in Baltimore and there was no real scene there. With each passing year i was noticing I was getting older and older and I said: Fuck it. I need to go to New York now.
I had just put out the record on Detroit Underground and Kero sent me the promotional feedback that you get; I took notice that Adam X liked one of my tracks.
I moved to New York City on September 4th of 2018. Andi from Synthycide invited me to play the December edition of the party. Something in me told me that this show is really important and I really needed to reach a next level. Shortly before moving to New York I pretty much took all of my material and erased it, I wasn’t satisfied with my sound. I worked on creating a new set around the clock. When I played my set for Andi, it wasn’t completely developed but the people loved it and I had fun. At the end of my set I was walking towards the bar and standing in front of me was Adam X.
AX: You didn’t recognise me when you walked up; you were looking at me but you didn’t know who I was.
M: You went and introduced yourself and I was like “No shit!”. I didn’t recognise you at first because I don’t wear my glasses when I’m performing; it wasn’t until I got right in front of you that I realised that it was you.
我刚刚在底特律地铁站发布了唱片，Kero给我发了促销反馈。我注意到Adam X 喜欢我的其中一首歌。
Adam, how did you come across her music?
AX: I got a promo of her record on Detroit Underground. I didn’t know it was a woman, I had no idea who pulsewidthmod was.
M: My name prior to the EP coming out on Sonic Groove was pulsewidthmod; I never liked it. For the first show I played I needed a name quickly so I choose my online handle. I never wanted it to be pulsewidthmod.
AX: Around 2017-18 I received a digital promo from Detroit Underground. I ‘m really bad at keeping up at promos as I receive many and I just don’t have the time to go through them all. For some reason I listened to her release and was impressed to hear Detroit Underground release an EBM techno record. They are known for releasing IDM, broken beat and downtempo experimental music. So this caught me by surprise. I left a nice review on it not knowing anything about Maeghan.
Some months later I was visiting NYC, my friend Maria said „Hey let’s go tonight to Bossa Nova to the Synthicide party”. I said „”lets go!” I had no idea of the lineup, just knew that Andi who organised Synthicide is a EBM, New Beat fan. When we walked in, Maeghan had just started to play. We asked who it was playing and were told it was pulswidthmod. I was like “oh wow, I have her release on Detroit Underground … That’s fucking cool.” I don’t remember what sparked our discussion, I think Andi introduced us and I commented that I liked her set.
M: No one introduced us, I just came out and I stood there; you were there. You introduced yourself and the next thing I knew, the night was over. I think we spoke for over two hours, till the night was over.
AX：大约在2017-18年度，我收到了底特律地铁的数字音乐发行。我真的很不擅长宣发活动尤其是我收到很多的时候，而我真的没有时间仔细阅读所有信息。出于某种原因，我听了她的录音，听到底特律地下音乐公司发行的EBM techno唱片给我留下了深刻的印象。他们以发布IDM，broken beat和downtempo实验音乐而闻名。我还挺吃惊的。我虽然对Maeghan不了解但有很好的评价。
几个月后，我去纽约旅行，我的朋友玛丽亚（Maria）说：“嘿，今晚去博萨·诺瓦（Bossa Nova）参加“Synthicide”聚会。我说：“走！”我不知道阵容，只是知道是组织Synthicide的Andi是EBM，New Beat的粉丝。当我们走进去时，梅根Maeghan才刚刚开始玩。我们问还有谁，并被告知是 pulswidthmod。我就像“哦，哇，我有她在Detroit Underground发行的唱片……真是太酷了。”我不记得是什么引发了我们的讨论，我觉得是安迪介绍了我们，然后我说我喜欢她的音乐。
Speaking about your methods. You are running a label since 25 years.
What is your receipt？for staying current and fresh in terms of released music？Your ideas don’t really age. You incorporate industrial and EBM into techno starting from the late 90’s and it was a prediction of what then happened within next decades in this genre. How do you keep inspiration coming?
AX: Well I didn’t actually incorporate EBM into techno until the turn of the Millennium. The first record that came out on the label that had an EBM feeling was by Dean Dennis of Clock DVA under the artist name Sector in 2001. Then I followed with Adam X the Conflict EP.
I’d say many of the records on Sonic Groove before EBM came into play on the label had a hard dark industrial edge. The second record on Sonic Groove from 1995, Adam X – Snapped is nearly rhythmic noise industrial but with a twist of electro. The Distorted Waves of Ohm release from 1996 is very industrial Aphex Twin style. I’ve always been into heavy techno so it’s there on Sonic Groove thru it’s inception.
I listen to a lot of music and I’m very picky about what I want to put out. I don’t care if it’s an artist who sells well. If I personally don’t vibe 100% on the tracks I will not put it out even if I know others might like it. I’m a curator first and foremost and I started the label to release music I like. I am always listening for artists who will take a sound, even if it’s a classic sound, and improve up on it to make it forward thinking. Sound production is really important to me. Mix downs that are well balanced are extremely important. I really dislike lo-fi productions which strangely have a quite a following. Personally I don’t get why anyone would want to make music that is lacking in bass or has extreme highs. In the 90’s no one tried to be lo-fi in techno. The term didn’t exist. I don’t get why someone would want to mix a song down that sounds inferior on a large sound system.
M: I think it’s nostalgia.
AX: I’m not sure what is so nostalgic about lo-fi recordings though. Most of the great records in the early 90’s were most definitely not lo-fi. Of course they were not as tight and compressed as they are in techno now but the mixes themselves were well done. Listen for example to early 90’s R&S records from Belgium, one of the hottest labels of that decade and you will clearly hear many great sound productions. Music styles in techno in the past decades haven’t changed all that much since then but the sound production has gotten a lot better. If you listen to my music from the turn of the millennium and listen to my music now, you’ll hear a ton of a difference in the mix downs. Some of it can be equated to more experience but a lot has to do with the sound tools at hand that have just gotten better and better over time.
M: Technology for recording has gotten much better over the years. I put a lot of love into the sound design, production, and the writing process. I slave over every note for bass lines, how they interact with one another is what gives a track its groove.
AX: Usually when you’re deep into the sound design and production aspect it takes a few days to write a song. I’m quite sure the people who are doing the retro lo-fi sound are working much faster. I’ve been there and done that in the early 90’s where I could record three tracks in a day. Looking back in retrospect I’d now have much prefer to work longer on each one, I could have made them sound better. A lot of artists don’t want to sit and work a couple of days on one song, they prefer to make 2 tracks or more a day. I’ve heard artists who are like: “Oh, I just did an album in two days!”. Personally I don’t really care to hear those productions as the chances are it is going to sound amateurish.
When I am working the A&R side of the label？I am looking for something innovative, stylistically it can be techno, industrial , EBM , Acid. I want to diversify the label more now. I also want to push more downtempo and ambient？ on the sub label, Sonic Groove Experiments. I’ve also pushed the label to do more album releases then 12”s. I enjoy promoting and pushing an artist with album releases much more the 12” singles.
AX：直到千禧年之交，我才真正将EBM纳入techno。在厂牌发行的第一张具有EBM感觉的唱片是ClockDVA的Dean Dennis在2001年以艺术家Sector的名义出现的。然后我跟随Adam X发行theConflict EP。
我想说的是，在EBM厂牌上演之前，SonicGroove上的许多唱片都具有坚硬的黑暗工业音乐优势.自1995年以来在SonicGroove上的第二张唱片.AdamX-Snapped几乎是有节奏的工业噪音.但带有electro。从1996年发行的《The Distorted Waves of Ohm》是非常工业化的AphexTwiｎ风格。我一直都很喜欢heavy techno，所以它从一开始就在Sonic Groove上。
You have been working with the greatest ones but I also know that you are keeping your eye out on the new talents and you also give notes to some young producers how to improve their music and style.
AX: I do that a lot. I like working with new artists and will often guide them on sound production tips and in the business itself. I’ve also started to put out digital only releases this year which has given me more possibility to work with new artists. With vinyl it’s very risky to release a brand new artist who has little or no social media base. Vinyl is already a difficult sell. The more known artists are often just breaking even on costs for the vinyl production. With new artists coming on the scene it becomes very difficult and can cause a release to land hundreds of Euro’s in the negative on sales. So doing digital only releases is a very good way to push new artists as the production costs are minimal. It’s nearly impossible to lose money and with most dj’s playing digital these days eases the pressure to work with brand new artists.
I can imagine it’s priceless to get this kind of feedback from you when you are trying to make your way in the music industry.
You have a lot of sense what’s coming next in the music and culture and there has been a situation within the lockdown when you have published the cover of the 25 Years: Sonic Groove anniversary compilation showing a man all covered in protection gear, soaping his hands. But the cover was designed before we heard about the new threat.
AX: Back in December.
您很有想法，音乐和文化接下来会发生什么，当您出版《 25年：Sonic Groove周年纪念》的封面时，锁定范围内就会出现一种情况，其中一名男子身穿防护装备，用手抚摸。但是封面是在我们听说 new threat 之前设计的。
How did you feel about it? There was a big discussion on social media…
AX: It’s weird. My designer Jon Turi is an original part of Sonic Groove. He ran the mail order department in the old Sonic Groove record shop for several years. He also did the label design for Sonic Groove from 1998-2012 and then join backed on last year after Janina Schuetz who did the label artwork from 2012-2018 departed from working with the label.
I had no clear idea what to suggest to him for the artwork of the compilation. I gave him free range to play around with it. He came back after a week or two of thought and said “I got this idea I think you will like”. On the outdoor sign of our old record shop, It said “Sonic Groove” and below it said “Future Underground Experiments”. We used the “Future Underground Experiments” quote on our business cards as well as our original online website. It was the Sonic Groove motto. Jon came back to me with the lab technician art which is perfectly inline with the old motto and I thought wow that’s cool, let’s do it.
Then this Corona crap happens and I’m thinking it looks like I’m playing off the pandemic which to me would be a cheesy thing to do.？ I would have changed the sleeve design but the album was already pressed in late March. It’s been kept in storage at my distributor as I don’t want it released until we have music events again.
我不知道对汇编的作品有什么建议。我给了他自由放任的机会，一两周后他回来了，他说：“我有这个想法，我觉得你会喜欢.”在我们旧唱片店的室外标牌上，写着“SonicGroove”.下面是“Future Underground Experiments”。我们在名片以及原始的在线网站上使用了“未来的地下实验音乐”的标签。这是Sonic Groove的座右铭。乔恩（Jon）带着实验室科技音乐的艺术回到我身边，这与古老的座右铭完全吻合，我认为哇，这很酷，那就去做吧。
It’s also the sign of times. Somehow there is always be a story behind it.
AX: I did think this too and was trying to find a balance in my thoughts to the artwork. I created the discussion on social media. I thought to get the opinion of friends and fans of the label. I also wanted to bring it to the attention of everyone that the artwork was done before we had even heard of Corona. With all these thoughts racing through my head, I do believe that music marks the time. I even called a release of mine in 2005 “ The Marking of Time”. I remember clearly the period of that release. I made an acid track in 1992 called ”51 Days In Waco” On the day of recording it I watched a very infamous American story about a cult leader who burned down his cult compound killing nearly 80 people in his cult in the midst of an FBI raid. It’s crazy that I can listen to that track from 28 years ago and relate the mood of the track to the event I just watched on live TV . I wouldn’t be able to do that with other songs on the same EP. So in many years from now the cover of the anniversary comp will evoke memories of this crazy pandemic. Hopefully we can look back and be like remember that crazy shit.
AX：我也确实这么认为，并试图在我对艺术品的想法中找到平衡。我在社交媒体上进行了讨论。我想得到该品牌的朋友和粉丝的意见。我还想提请大家注意，艺术品是在我们甚至还没有听说过疫情之前就完成的。所有这些想法激荡了我的脑海，我确实相信音乐标志着时间。我什至在2005年将我的发布称为“时间标记”。我清楚地记得那个发布的时期。我在1992年做了一段名为“ 51 Days In Waco”的录音，在录音的那一天，我看到了一个非常著名的美国故事，内容是关于一个邪教领袖在联邦调查局中烧毁了他的邪教组织，杀死了将近80人的邪教组织袭击。我可以收听28年前的那首曲目，并将曲目的情绪与我刚刚在直播电视上观看的事件相关联，这真是太疯狂了。我将无法使用同一张EP上的其他歌曲来做到这一点。因此，从现在起的许多年里，周年纪念纪念的封面将唤起人们对这种疯狂疫情的记忆。希望我们可以回顾过去，就像记得那疯狂的破事一样。
I want to stay on the subject of Corona for a while. This is a really specific moment. Everything that was planned for 25 years of the label had to be postponed. Also MÆDON you came to Berlin utopian rave city and it’s all off.
M: It was very surreal, I felt like I was living in a movie. There was no one in the streets, life looked like a scene taken out of the movie 28 Days Later.、
How are you holding up through this period? What are your thoughts about how it would influence the scene and our everyday?
M: I’m holding up by keeping busy in the my makeshift studio here. As far as corona is concerned, it’s caused my profession to be called the least essential work and also the most dangerous activity.
How do you like Berlin so far?
M: Oh, I love it.
AX: We were finally able to go out for the first time, so things seem to be bit more normal for the last few weeks minus the clubbing.
M: I was here just before the lockdown happened for two weeks to play in Tresor. Adam took me to Berghain and that was fun. I kind of feel like I’ve finally made it home, I feel at home here and I’m surrounded by amazing people who are on a resonating wavelength as myself. Back in the states, I always felt like an outsider; that I didn’t really fit in anywhere. The small techno scene in Baltimore didn’t really accept me in their circle which was fine. I moved to Brooklyn which was far more accepting, but New Yorkers have their sound. Hardcore, gabber, and just generally faster bpms was taking over the dance floors.
You didn’t feel it was your realm anymore?
M: Not really, I got to play some fun shows there but my vibe and my sound seems to fit better here.
How do you feel you will celebrate this moment that was taken away?
AX: This situation is awful. It sucks. April 20th was supposed to be the release of the anniversary compilation. For me it’s a monumental date as it’s when our first record store “Groove Records” opened 30 years ago. The plan was to tie in the 30 year celebration of the birth of what would later become Sonic Groove in January 1995. It was also celebration of my 30th anniversary of djing out at events. I had all these cool anniversary events planned. We had a really big after party event planned for the Movement Festival in Detroit. We had a big one planned in New York at Basement Club and at Tresor we were supposed to take over two floors of the club, on July 3rd. There were other plans that were coming into fruition for it as well. I was excited for the release of the compilation in April, the events planned, then all this hard work and positive energy just got sucked right out of me. I guess we can do 25+1 next year, but quite honestly it won’t feel the same.
I will release the compilation this Autumn. I’m really hoping that clubs are back open by then though I’m not holding my breath on it. I made all the artists give me the best they could do. Usually artists keep their best songs for their own albums or singles and will give their lesser quality tracks for various artist compilations. I said to all the artists on the label, that this a very special personal project and I want the best music for it. I was clear that I would pass on tracks I don’t like.
I have to say all my artists gave me great tracks. So because of this I don’t think it’s fair for me to put this record out when there are no clubs opened where these tracks can be heard at.
Some people suggested to me that I should just release it as there are plenty of dj’ s doing live streams, who would play it. To be honest I don’t really care about live streams. I have no interested in doing them or watching them, I don’t like the bedroom dj feel of it. The music on the compilation are all dance floor bangers. I want this music to be played loud at clubs. So I’m doing my best to wait for clubs to re-open before releasing it.
M: It goes two ways when you are playing – you are behind the decks or behind your gear and then you have the crowd. It’s a give and take thing. On a stream the energy is missing.
AX: It’s being in a room full of people, and if we break it down to physics – it’s all about physical energy. I feed off the energy of the audience and if I play to an empty room I feel no energy. I don’t have a dj setup at home since 15 years. Djing at home bores the shit out of me. I much prefer to listen to songs in their entirety.
M: That’s why my set at Tresor was pretty much the best gig I ever played, because I had an absolutely amazing crowd.
AX：这种情况太糟糕了。糟透了。原定于4月20日发行周年纪念汇编。对我来说，这是一个具有里程碑意义的日子，就像30年前我们的第一家唱片商店“ Groove Records”开业一样。这项计划是为了庆祝30周年纪念此后成为1995年1月的Sonic Groove。这也是为了纪念我在活动中脱颖而出30周年。我计划了所有这些很酷的周年纪念活动。我们为底特律运动节计划了一个非常盛大的afterparty。我们计划在纽约的地下室俱乐部举办一个大型活动，而在Tresor，我们应该在7月3日接管俱乐部的两层楼。为此，还有其他计划正在实现。我为4月份的音乐汇编发布，计划的活动感到兴奋，然后所有这些辛苦的工作和积极的精力就这样离我而去。我想明年我们可以做25 + 1，但是老实说，感觉会不一样。
How did the lockdown influence your creative process? For many it was a really hard time to focus on working.
AX: I just need to get back in a flow. Corona kind of sucked the energy out of me for making music. I haven’t worked much on music since the pandemic began. Back in January I started working on a new ADMX-71 album which is my downtempo experimental side project. I sketched several songs before the pandemic hit and I was making pretty good progress on them but then the pandemic hit and with all the lost gigs , all my year travel plans flushed down the toilet it sucked my energy for it. So instead I’ve immersed myself into my graffiti art & photography projects. The album though is around 70% done now and I’m slowly working on it again. I’ll try to finish it up in the next months.
I haven’t had any inspiration to make dance floor music, because when I make dance floor tracks I like to test them at different stages when djing out. If something is not working right: the sound production or if the crowd response is underwhelming then its back to the drawing board.
Forthcoming in September is the Adam X-Acid Archive 92-94 album on L.I.E.S. It’s a compilation of my early 90’s acid techno works that was also to come out when the Sonic Groove compilation was supposed to be released back in April. It will be out in September now. I am also working on a new single for BITE. I already have one song done for it. I will finish the second track at some point.
At the moment I’m listening to a lot of music and catching up on some recent music that I missed.
AX：我只需要回到流程中即可。 电晕使我从制作音乐中汲取了精力。 自疫情开始以来，我在音乐方面工作不多。 在一月份时，我开始制作一张新的ADMX-71专辑，这是我的低速实验性音乐的副作品。 在流行病爆发之前，我草绘了几首歌曲，并且在它们上取得了不错的进步，但是后来流行病流行，并丢掉了演出，我全年的旅行计划都付诸东流，这让我很吃力。 因此，我将自己投入到涂鸦艺术和摄影项目中。 这张专辑现在已经完成了大约70％，我正在慢慢地重新制作。 我将在接下来的几个月中尝试完成。
即将在9月发行的L.I.E.S.专辑Adam X-Acid Archive 92-94 这是我90年代初期制酸技术作品的汇编，也是在Sonic Groove汇编本应于4月发行的时候发行的。 现在将在九月发布.我还在为BITE制作新单曲。 我已经为它做了一首歌.我将在某个时候完成第二首曲目.目前，我正在听很多音乐，并赶上一些我错过的最新音乐。
What are your inspirations lately? Who are you listening to?
AX: I listen to all kinds of electronic music. Techno , acid, New Beat, EBM, Industrial, Downtempo, old and new. At the moment I’m not following any one artist. I like an assortment of different tracks from many different artists.
Are there any artists you would like to give a shout out here?
AX: All my Sonic Groove people: MÆDON, Rhys Fulber, Orphx, Realmz, Diagentic Origin, Crystal Geometry, Dasha Rush, Max Durante, Panacea, Henning Baer, Rawkorder, Monolith, Ireen Amnes… and of course my close Berlin scene peeps Phase Fatale, Zanias, Unhuman, Sarin, David Foster, Philipp Strobel, Tommy 47, Mliton Bradley.
Sonic Groove http://www.sonicgroove.com
Photos : Keyi Studio www.keyi.eu