ADULT.: Mature Audiences Only
Interview by Erkki Rautio / pHinnWeb
October 5, 1999 - Interview with ADULT. (Ersatz Audio) featuring Nicola Kuperus and Jack Vulpine (aka Adam Lee Miller). Ersatz Audio is also run by the 2 of them. -
- Your relations with other electronic music artists in Detroit? Your opinion on the Detroit scene at the moment?
We really don't get out much. We are too busy with the label. We are probably more connected to the Art scene in Detroit than the music scene. We both have art degrees (Nicola: Photography / Adam: Painting). Here is a small list of people in the music scene that have really helped us over the years and deserve note: Rita Sayegh (Constructure Design, she came up with the wonderful Ersatz Audio Logo), Dan Bell (the Seventh City crew), Brendan M. Gillen (Ectomorph / Interdimensional Transmissions / Star67), Jon Layne (Intuit:Solar), and Hannah at Planet E.
The Detroit scene is always exciting and changing. This Ghetto-tech thing is really becoming popular, which is great, because there is usually pretty good music pumpin' out of cars that drive by nowadays. But other than that we don't really follow things too close, we just do our own thing.
- Your brief comments on the following artists?
We used to be very annoyed when people made reference to Kraftwerk and the music of Ersatz Audio. We thought it was too obvious, "Duh! All electronic music goes back to them." But now we see it differently. Actually, there are few labels out there that are really related to the tradition Kraftwerk laid down. A tradition deeply rooted in synthesis, pure electronic sounds, mechanical rhythms, austere vocals, pop structures, and the right amount of stiff funk. We are honored now when people bring them up in the same sentence as us.
We're not nuts about them, but they get their fare share of airtime with us. There is something about them we would like to mention. We find it funny that Juan Atkins' "Alleys of Your Mind" (1981) is considered a "Techno" classic, but the music of Ersatz Audio is often referred to with many "New Wave" references. Why is this not just a lost "New Wave" rarity, or why aren't we compared to early Juan Atkins? The comparison of "Alleys of Your Mind" and "Mr. X" by Ultravox are so extremely obvious. We always find this very funny.
This is one of our favorite artists, but not so much a direct influence anymore. He was the biggest influence Le CAR ever had.
Just got a copy of Gary Numan live (1981, UK). Love it, but we wish he had quit when he was ahead. His new stuff stinks.
We love all their stuff, including the later stuff! We are fascinated with this time around 1984(?) - 1988, when all these Synth-Pop bands switched from analog to digital. It is like being fascinated with a car crash. It may be disgusting, but you can't stop looking.
- Less obvious influences or favourite artists you think deserve a mention?
We'd rather decline from answering that question. We think too many people categorize us by our influences, and there are enough answers in the above question anyway.
- Which contemporary artists you feel are most on the same wavelength with you?
Chicks on Speed: Their Punk Rock attitude of "anything goes", and their lack of a "specific" genre of music is an inspiration.
G.D.Luxxe: Not only is Gerhard Potuznik one of the most prolific musicians in the scene, we love 99 percent of the tracks he puts out. Another huge influence, not just stylistically, but as a hard working musician.
Kitbuilders: When we went on our first tour together (4 cities in Germany in 1997 under the name Artificial Material with Third Electric of ELECTRECORD for the !K7 CD2000 compilation tour), we thought we were the only Girl / Guy team in the world. We showed up in Cologne to play, and there was KITBUILDERS (another Girl / Guy team). Not only did they show us we were being conceded, but they kicked our ass with their music!
Perspects: We obviously love this music, or it wouldn't be the next release on Ersatz Audio. So completely sterile and so completely emotional at the same time. Unbelievable!
- Tell me something about your previous live performances and tours. Best and worst experiences?
Our best live performance experience was definitely in Rotterdam (Holland). The crowd was very flattering in their enthusiasm, the club was dirty(?) / not too big / not too small(?) and sold out (3 things we love in a club), and the line up was great (DJs: Serge of Clone Records, I-F and Electronome. Live: Adult. and Ectomorph).
Our worst experience would have had to been in Belgium. It wasn't because of the people, the club, or anything like that; it was simply because the technicians didn't have the correct power conversion, and so we literally could not play. It was very sad to be there, with all our gear set up, ready to go and not being able to play. We're not mad about it, but it was very disappointing. But we are going to get back there soon, and try it again.
- Vocoders overused in contemporary electro music? Discuss.
We don't think vocoders (in general) are being overused, but the generic WAY they are being used is. By this, we are referring to the typical "robot" voice that is being overused in "Nu Skool Electro" tracks. Not only is this "robot" voice overused, it is often the only voice a band uses at all; or is the ONLY voice in a specific track. ADULT. is trying to use the vocoder in new ways: to supplement the vocals, to add new tonal color / contrast within a song, to add a vocoded notation underneath the main voice (like in the chorus), to add vibrato, to add noise, the possibilities are endless! Just listen close to our songs, and you will see new and uncommon ways to utilize the vocoder. I think the problem we have is that a lot of new acts that are new to using the human voice approach it as just another "sound" in their track, which can be limiting, plus they get "the typical sound" they know of on the vocoder and they dont try to get any other sound. We approach song writing and vocals as a whole, so there are more combinations available.
Now, we'll tell you what IS being overused: the Mac-In-Talk voice! If we have to hear another track use that, we'll go crazy. Perhaps there are still a few interesting ways to use it, but it is still driving us crazy!
- Your current top ten?
1: Soft Cell "Sex Dwarf" - the track specifically.
2: The Photography of Helmut Newton.
3: The Horror Make-Up of Tom Savini
4: Chicks on Speed "Glamour Girl" 10" (GO RECORDS)
5: "Cremaster 1" an artwork / film by Matthew Barney.
6: Japanese Telecom(?) ITU 002 (Label: Intuit:Solar, Release date Nov. '99)
7: Aphex Twin "Windowlicker" EP & Video. (First Aphex we've liked in a long time)
8: G.D.Luxxe "the 20th door" (Interdimensional Transmissions, Release date unknown)
9: The Paintings of Lari Pittman
10: Perspects "desire & efficiency ep" - out on Ersatz Audio in December.
- Do you know anything about Finnish music or local scene?
Yea, we met Mika Vainio in Zürich last year at Grey Planet (an electronic music festival that he spun at and ADULT. played live at). We also saw Pan Sonic here in Detroit (at a cool non-dance club 5 minutes from our house). We have a few releases from Sähkö. We were also familiar with Tomi Koskinen's (and Kimmo Rapatti's too -ER) track Uni: Latch (Dum) on the From Beyond compilation on Interdimensional Transmissions. We also just got a copy of "Prospective" magazine in the mail today. We should know even more about the Finnish (Scandinavian) scene after reading that!
- How do you see the future of electro music?
We hope it dies soon, and it resurrects itself as electro-pop.
- The future plans of Ersatz Audio?
You're going to see a lot more from Ersatz Audio coming out starting now. The new ADULT. entertainment 12" is scheduled for Nov. 2 and then the new PERSPECTS "desire & efficiency 12" is scheduled for Dec. 7 (we mastered it last week). Then, in February, we plan to release the first Ersatz Audio CD, which will be a collection of the first 5 years. We have a lot of other plans, but that is what is already in motion.
- Let's imagine you become the head of a multinational music corporation. What is the first thing you would do?
We'd put other people to work, and we'd take a long overdue vacation.
- Your favourite question no one ever asks in interviews?
* "Where do you think the style you are involved in is going?"
We believe that the scene is ready for another split. The crossovers are bigger than ever now. Part of the indie-rock scene (especially in America) seems to be breaking into a new faction that is interested in electronic music as well, from Stereolab and Kreisler to Pan Sonic and Aphex Twin, and the underground dance scene seems to be breaking into a new faction that is interested in vocals, pop structures and more variety.
Ersatz Audio NEVER felt comfortable back about 4 years ago when journalists started lumping its music as part of this "Nu Skool Electro" stuff. That tag may have worked for acts like Aux 88 or Dynamik Bass System, but we felt that was too limiting a term for the music of Ersatz Audio. Currently, we also have all this talk of Retro. Once again, we feel that that tag may have worked for acts like Miss Kitten and the Hacker or some of DMX Krew, but we feel that we are trying for something more. Perhaps we haven't got there yet, and perhaps were are just trying to fight pigeonholes, but we are trying for something original. It is what makes us go into the studio each and every time.
This is all a bit speculation, and we understand it is impossible for us to be objective, but it's where thoughts are coming from and where they are headed. We hope that a new scene develops with bands that can cross over genres, from the Dance scene to the Indie scene and anywhere in between. We think this new scene would differ from the IDM scene because this new scene would have pop appeal. We think this new scene would differ from the Techno/Electro/Dance scene because this new scene would have attention to song structures and variety within a songs. We think this new scene would differ from the Indie Rock electronic scene because this new scene would be more rooted and loyal to 100% electronics and synthesizers. We think this new scene would differ from the mainstream because this new scene would be more into originality. A music that might be called GENERIC, or something like that. We like embracing words with bad meanings. We like imagining someone going into a record store and asking the clerk, "Where is the Generic section?"
Click here for images from Adult. live @ HKI Turbo II, Helsinki, 15 October 1999.
Dispassionate Furniture EP [review @ pHinnWeb]
Entertainment EP [review @ pHinnWeb]
Resuscitation CD [review @ pHinnWeb]
Interview @ Capsite
Interview with Ersatz Audio @ Igloo Mag (go to 'Profiles')
Interview @ Projecta
Copyright © (for the text) pHinnWeb 1999. Thanks for scans to Mikko Niemelä.