The Exchange is a periodic in-depth look at the artistic motivations of musicians and collectives. We try to approach this from a more cultural and societal perspective, aside from the necessary musical one, because we cannot deny the influence of modern age bringing ideas from all over the world which broaden our horizons. It is a fact that we can learn a lot from movements that are foreign to us.
Body Beat Ritual, NZ
Transnational ties to scenes abroad and overseas have continued to pique the interest of our own collective. For a while we have been keeping a close eye on the endeavors made in New Zealand and Australia, especially by HAVEN, a label founded in Auckland by Keepsakes. One of the newest announcements has been the Body Beat Ritual record ‘Instinct Primitive/Crash Report’, with heavy remixes by Blush Response and VTSS. The release has an authentic edge to it, cross referencing 80s body music (FLA, Skinny Puppy, etc.) and 90s rave music into equal parts anger and joy. With the aim to give a nice outline of the influences that have shaped the music of Body Beat Ritual, we present not only a podcast but also a small Q+A.
Z – Hi Alex, thanks for this Q+A, giving us insight into your work as producer/DJ, especially connected to the spotlight attracted with your new release on Keepsakes’ HAVEN label. How do you navigate the scene in New Zealand?
A: Techno is still very low profile here so there’s a limit to the audience you can reach, but that doesn’t affect what you can achieve creatively. Working in isolation is great for finding your own sound, but like a lot of New Zealand based artists my audience is overseas. That’s the problem with paradise, it’s its own kind of hell.
Z – What other physical surroundings have influenced your music?
A: I live near the sea in a faded commercial town with a lot of empty industrial buildings. It reminds me a lot of the North West of England where I grew up. The first two 12”s were mixed at The Lab studio in Auckland on a vintage Neve desk originally made for the Granada TV studios in Manchester. The famous video of Joy Division playing Transmission was recorded through that desk which made it quite special for me as that’s one of my favourite pieces of recorded music.
Z – HAVEN, where you released on recently, is a product from the same region, but does that mean that the body music/industrial techno scene is alive and kicking there?
A: New Zealand has a very diverse musical landscape and celebrates unique voices (to a point) but there hasn’t been a scene for industrial or edgy dance here music since some pioneers in the 80s and 90s. Techno is making a resurgence in Auckland since the HAVEN club nights kicked off a few years ago and the concept of intimate parties has been taken on by people who appreciate harder dance music, but don’t know anyone who makes anything remotely like Body Beat Ritual this here.
James and I are very much products of England but we owe a lot to New Zealand for the same reason. You can find yourself here and evolve in a natural way without pressure and you have to be really committed your music in a place where it’s not celebrated or heavily supported. There’s a lot of DIY DNA in HAVEN and I hope they continue to embrace the edges of what can be played within the context of a techno club night.
Z – Concluding, to where do you trace your musical influences, which we can also hear in the mixtape you kindly made for us?
A: I grew up with Nitzer Ebb, Depeche Mode, New Order, and stuff like Technotronic in the charts so that hard hitting synth bass and snare is part of my muscle memory. I make music that’s a collage of ideas from all eras of music but I’m always trying to make something that smacks of the future. The artists on the mix (with the exception of a couple of the techno tracks) were outsiders who stood apart from their contemporaries. Revolting Cocks, Suicide, Tack>>Head, MC 900 Ft Jesus, Bauhaus, Psychic TV, Cabaret Voltaire, My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult all had a unique sound based on how they distilled their influences. I think that’s the one thing about the mix that comes through – these tunes are more than just club tracks they are saying something, and it’s not all darkness. It’s about how fucking crazy and fun life can when you accept that dark edge is always around the corner.
Order ‘Instinct Primitive/Crash Report’ [HVN004] via https://havenakl.bandcamp.com/album/instinct-primitive-crash-report-hvn004