KOMMANDO 6 RECORDS: Here Comes The Electric Night
Interview by Erkki Rautio / pHinnWeb
30 October, 2003 -- Kommando 6 Records is an independent electro label from Augsburg, the third largest city in Bavaria, Germany, with a great historical tradition of its own. It was founded in 15 B.C. by Roman Caesar Augustus, in 1555 the Peace of Augsburg was concluded here between Catholics and Protestants, in 1632 Gustaf Adolf of Sweden occupied the city. We are not concerned with history here, though it forms an interesting backdrop -- or contrast -- to some of the latest local developments about which you can't actually read from any textbooks...
pHinnWeb already interviewed in January 2003 Der Unsichtbare who record for K6, but now it's time to hear the label's main lady Beta Evers (a.k.a. Brigitte Enzler, picture on the right) herself.
- So what's now happening in the life of Kommando 6, any news?
Right now we are preparing for the next three releases, coming early 2004: Black Spider Clan EP, Beta Evers/Slick Rogers split EP and our third compilation, Dark Beat Detector.
- You produce yourself as Beta Evers; tell me something about your musical background.
As a child I heard lots of "black music" (from Jimi Hendrix to 70's disco/soul to Sylvester). The first "deep electronic touch" I had, when I heard 'Cars' and 'Down in the Park' by Gary Numan in 1980. As a teenager I got into punk/German new wave.
At the age of 17-19 I ran a tiny punk/experimental label, sang and played bass/keys in an experimental female punk band called Pervers, who had two vinyl releases. After some years my punk phase was over and I got totally into electronic music.
In the mid-90's I had another special touch again, when hearing some dark Dutch electro releases; tracks like I-f's 'I Do Because I Couldn't Care Less' beamed me to new dimensions. Today I listen to different styles of electronic music, but I've always had a weakness for darker, melancholic sounds.
As far as it concerns my own productions, I just let the music flow out of me and the results depend a lot on my mood: I couldn't compose a track with a special style on demand. Often people tell me that my music sounds pretty EBM, new wave or punk-influenced -- maybe true. I don't really think about it...
- How did Kommando 6 get started?
I was involved in a group of producers, DJs and underground party organisers, who had monthly electro parties at a local underground club. That series of parties, called Elektrik Nacht ("Electric Night"), took place from 1996 to 2000. After it was finished for different reasons, I felt the need to start something new. The first idea was to organise selected parties with international line-up (plus local support). Some months later the label idea came up. Some of my friends were producing electronic music, anyway, and I felt it was the right time to release some of their stuff.
- How would you describe your style of music?
K6 presents electro(nic) music with various influences and a special, dark (and sometimes rough) touch.
- Tell me a bit about your roster of artists. And are there any new signings on Kommando 6?
First there is the circle from Elektrik Nacht: TecRoc -- an experienced live artist and a passionated synthesizer freak; Slick Rogers and Greg Gravity -- both were earlier DJs at Elektrik Nacht. Then there is Dystronic -- a friend since my punk youth -- I do a side-project with him, called Black Spider Clan. And there is Der Unsichtbare -- a duo from Augsburg/Düsseldorf and a pretty cool live act as well.
I release also stuff from people beyond Augsburg: last spring there was an EP of Ra-X (known from Bunker Records, Den Haag) and in summer I released an EP of Manasyt, a freaky guy from USA. In 2004 there will appear some new names on K6 (watch out for the Various Artists compilation Dark Beat Detector, K6-XII). Maybe there will also appear well-known special guests again in the future; like I had it with Legowelt, Orgue Electronique, Le Syndicat Electronique and Luke Eargoggle on the Dark Connections compilation LP.
- Are there any role models or influential artists for you?
There are different influences. More or less I have still the spirit of the punk culture in me, which was pretty free and spontaneous in its early days. Which means: I like being open-minded, independence and freedom in art and creativity.
- And any current acts which would particularly impress you, or you feel are on the same wavelength with you?
I have my difficulties to make a clear selection here. Different people impress(ed) me in different ways or on different fields...
- And what kind of equipment you create your own music with? Your own favourite musical instruments?
I started with some mini equipment in 2001: a software sequencer, drum machine and one VST synth. This was very helpful to get into the basics. In the meantime I have purchased some more: hardware synths (Korg, Roland), an effect machine, a MIDI keyboard... it is no secret that I use different VST synths. I am pretty fascinated by those virtual instruments. I don't care that software-made productions often are titled as "inferior" by some people. Of course I am also very fascinated by beautiful-sounding hardware synthesizers, but at the moment I cannot afford any more hardware.
- What about your live performances, and any interesting anecdotes about them? What have been the best and worst places to play, for example?
I cannot tell you any special anecdote yet, since I just started performing live some months ago; when I had my first live in Brussels, I enjoyed the live atmosphere a lot. For future gigs, I want to prepare some tracks with live vocals...
- I asked this same question from Suction Records, but how is it to make your living with an independent record label these days? Is it possible at all when the music market seems to be concentrating more and more in the hands of big multinationals?
It is hard. Really. The biggest problem of Kommando 6 is the distribution and its payment politics. I could write a book about that topic. As far it concerns the multinationals: of course I watch these concentrations of money and power with some sorrow, but as long as small labels can afford to press/sell editions of 300-1000 copies, I am not that scared of the future. The increasing power of big companies or any distribution difficulties don't make me consider giving up -- it's more like they are a kind of challenge to me.
- So more power to you! And how's the music scene in Augsburg and Germany at the moment? For example, any good clubs there?
Augsburg is pretty dead lately. When we meet, we meet privately. We have no progression or open minds in clubland here, and we get no location or any other kind of support from our local culture administration. At least we have some active circles and a handful of active record labels here. In Augsburg things can change quickly. We always had dead phases here, and suddenly a new location is found and we can set up parties or other events again... who knows? As far as it concerns the rest of Germany: I think in Berlin and in the Ruhrgebiet area (Duisburg, Dortmund) there are some good parties, clubs and interesting, small scenes.
- And you have organised some parties yourselves; can you tell me something about those?I was involved with Elektrik Nacht where I booked some of my favourite artists. When I started Kommando 6 -- the days before the label ran -- we had some label nights with Bunker Records, Holland, and Invasion Planète Recordings, France. At our first record release party we had Luke Eargoggle from Sweden as a special guest. After our own label had started, the interest in organising parties decreased. The label enjoys the highest priority, so to say.
- What is your own take on "electroclash" craze?
I didn't really care -- hypes come and go. I always wondered why this one got so much attraction and publicity.
- Is German electronic scene political in any way? Your own relationship with political activism?
I seldom see or hear political statements in the electronic scene. It would be nice to see more engagement, but these times are pretty unpolitical anyway. Many people do have their big/little private/financial problems and don't want to think or take care of problems out there. Most politicians are known to be corrupt anyway and lots of people feel pretty powerless.
I grew up in a pretty political house and since my punk days I have been interested in politics. I support different political organisations, although I know that I won't be able to change a lot. I want to keep my mind open, alive and critical; I try to act with some sense of responsibility and I engage myself for things that are beyond my egotistic needs (international human rights, animal rights, protection of nature).
- Your own future plans now?
Making music, releasing music, discovering new interesting artists, keeping the label alive. I have some different interests apart from music as well, for example photography. Basically: enjoying my days on Earth, which are always a bit too short, by the way...
- Your classics Top Ten?
This list contains releases from 1975-1982 only:
- Gary Numan - The Pleasure Principle LP
- Tubeway Army - Replicas LP
- DAF - Alles ist gut LP
- Palais Schaumburg - Kinder der Tod 7"
- Liaisons Dangereuses LP
- Krupps - Volle Kraft voraus LP
- Kraftwerk - Computerwelt LP
- Einstürzende Neubauten - Kalte Sterne 7"
- X-mal-Deutschland - Schwarze Welt 7"
- Suicide - The Second Album
- Your favourite question they never ask in interviews?
Have you ever heard of any funny rumours about you or Kommando 6? Yes, there are some, for example: that we were observed by the German Verfassungsschutz [the Federal Office for Protection of the Constitution, who keep an eye on political extremists in Germany] due to some of our political statements (who knows?); that I earn some money with the breeding of exotic spiders (a fascinating thought, but not true!); or that I don't live in Augsburg any more, but in Amsterdam (not true, but I would love to have a second basement in between the ports of Rotterdam).
Copyright © (for the text) pHinnWeb 2003.