ORGUE ELECTRONIQUE VS. LEGOWELT
By Erkki Rautio / pHinnWeb
29 April, 2000
pHinnWeb talked to the messieurs Brian Chinetti (BC, Orgue Electronique) and Danny Blanco (DB, Legowelt) in occasion of their March 2000 visit to Helsinki Turbo. Hear the electro ambassadors from The Hague, the Murder Capital of Holland, reveal their innermost secrets. Read about their dangerous escapades with psychedelic cults and the meaning of tropical plants in your studio. But what does Klaus Kinski have to do with all this?
- What is the origin of the name Legowelt?
DB: Lego blocks are the building blocks of one's imagination. Just as you can create your own little world with these blocks, I build my own little stories with sounds.
- How did Orgue Electronique get started?
BC: In the late seventies, my mother was a big synthesizer music freak. I remember playing with my toys in the living room, and my mother would play Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk. I remember these late seventies French movies my parents taped on video. It was the post-nouvelle vague, and a lot of the movies featured a lot of synthesizer music. I took my tape recorder and recorded the music from the television with a microphone.
When I was about ten years old, my brother (who is four years older) listened to obscure Dutch radio stations. I followed him and was obsessed with music featuring drum computers and synthesizers. Hip hop, Mantronix, Kraftwerk, Italo Disco and Detroit stuff like Model 500, but also Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Visage, Front 242, Cabaret Voltaire, DAF.
At this age, I rode my bike to the local music equipment store and stared at synthesizers and drum computers. But my monthly allowance wouldn't afford this equipment. My parents bought my brother a Casio Vl-Tone keyboard (not the Realistic!). My brother didn't care about it, so I played it. It didn't have keys but knobs. I was so happy with it, until my brother traded it for a stupid pile of comic books. I hated comic books ever since. I read a few of books on synthesizer music, but wasn't able to make any. Then, in the late eighties, I started to study and forgot all about the desire to make electronic music.
Five years ago, I went to film school and met Danny, from Legowelt. We started to talk and decided to make some music. When we got into his studio, he played some records that I used to play when I was a kid. There was this five-year gap in my electronic music knowledge (I almost completely missed the Chicago Acid thing), so Danny kinda taught me. He sold me a cheap Amiga computer, gave me some software and samples from his equipment. I was delighted. Finally I could make music!
- Any musical influences that deserve a mention?
BC: Legowelt. He got me into making music, which is the biggest influence you can have.
Dopplereffekt / Drexciya / Japanese Telecom / Elecktroids
This music is magic. In a way they do the same thing over and over, but every time they make a little twist and it smashes your brains out. Every album or song I hear is defined 'Genius'.
The whole Murder Capital scene is a great influence. The people are great and really care for the music. It's quite interesting what happens there. Duracel, Pametex, I-F, they are pushing electro into another perspective. Minimal, melodic, sometimes dark, but never lacking the fun of music. Its no fun making pure electro, electro-as-it-once-was. That's boring. Electro has been around for twenty years now; it has evolved into various styles. It's a real musical genre, not the latest retro-trend. But of course, there's a lot of older bands that I'm influenced by.
They are the originators of electronic music. I can't deny their influence. Some people disagree, but I was really glad that the Expo 2000 album sounds like the old Kraftwerk. Electronic pop music, nice electronic funk. I couldn't blame them if they would have made something very experimental, soundscape-kind of music, that Mouse On Mars thing. In their time, their music was an experiment with synthesis. So it would have figured that they'd still be experimenting. Personally, I'm glad they didn't.
"Situation" is one of my childhood favourites. I'm still very fond of this synthpop stuff. The synthpop is an inspiration. When I'm stuck, I play Yazoo or Gary Numan, Eurythmics, Soft Cell, Visage. Although it might sound boring, I really like what they did. Dark, danceable stuff, nice pop structures with lovely melodies.
I got his first album on tape for my 14th birthday. I played it on and on. I was really impressed with the way he did his samples, a bit like scratching. I recently listened to some newer work (I think it was early nineties). I didn't like that at all. No emotional bond, I guess. Maybe this later work is the reason I don't hear anybody talk about Mantronix?
DB: Italo Disco, Chicago House, Detroit Techno, Sharivari, Juan Atkins, Blake Baxter and The Hague Electro-nix.
- And any current acts which would particularly impress you?
DB: Drexciya, Parallax Corporation and a number of other things.
BC: Today's music is definitely not what it used to be. I listened to the radio today (I never do that) and I was disappointed. We've got this radio station called VPRO in Holland. It learned me about electro when I was a kid, it's a high quality station, but what I heard today, people have no fun in what they do. That Drum'n Bass sounds like a pair of Nike sneakers. Hip, trendy, thirteen in a dozen. You don't want those sneakers, but since your friends wear them? They make music to be cool, and get respect. No experimenting involved; they just pull the same tricks over and over.
I love experimental tracks. Not that it has to become vague, or anything like that, but try to do something special, please! I was really impressed by Adult., when they played in Rotterdam. To me, they are the embodiment of today's electronic music. They actually make real songs. The same goes for Op:l Bastards. When I heard their soundcheck and performance, I was sold. Both acts make a difference; they really give a new twist to electro. The way Le Car and Op:l Bastards make music, with that minimal funk and the pop structures, you want to sing along. Danny from Legowelt is pushing me to use vocals. He's probably right, so I'm planning to do it.
- The obligatory fanboy/gear geek question: what kind of equipment you create your music with?
DB: Most of it is composed with the Dominatrix 1200, which is a custom-built hardware sequencer/sampler/drum machine with a really grungey sound. A bit like the EMU SP1200. I also use a lot of Yamaha DX and some old American instruments from Sequential Circuits.
BC: I use an Amiga as a sequencer. Recently I bought a Kawaii Q80, but I didn't find time to figure out how it works, yet. I use samplers, old obscure synthesizers but also digital stuff. Anything I can get my hands on. I use the Siel DK 80 a lot, and the Yamaha DX. Lately I'm using the Nord Rack a lot, together with the Casio CZ 101.
- Are you into vintage analogue gear like many electronic musicians seem to be these days?
DB: I am a connoisseur of antique synthesizers, but in the end I really don't care much about these machines. If they've got wooden sides, they fit nicely with the salon table and tropical plants in the studio. Yes... I've got tropical plants in my studio... you know, little palmtree-like plants... I saw it once on a studio photo on a Klaus Schulze album cover, I thought: "Yes, it makes sense": All those nice little wooden sides of American synthesizers and the dark green tropical atmosphere... I do have to be careful, though, when I water the plants.
BC: I use digital equipment such as the Casio CZ101, Roland D110 (it's a classic!) and the NordLead. But I also use the SH 101, and of course the Siel DK 80. It's true, analogue sounds different, it's warmer. But that colder digital sound is also a good sound, it can be just the sound you're looking for. For the performance in Helsinki, I had to adjust my set, because we were only allowed to take twenty kilos of luggage with us. Every analogue synth had to be replaced by this one synthesizer, the Nord. With some songs it wasn't working, but other songs became better. Now I'm happy that it worked, because I can step on the train and perform somewhere, something I couldn't do when I used all those big synthesizers.
- How have your live performances been so far? Any interesting anecdotes?
BC: When you play electro live, it can be a tough job to enjoy the crowd, since electro is a small genre and only few people know about it. Especially in the bigger theatres, where an audience is more diverse, you don't know what they expect. I really like the smaller places, where people come to hear electro instead of just to visit a party. I experienced this in Amsterdam. I had this idea that they would hate my music, because it's strange and minimal. It was really crowded, I was very nervous. But soon after I started, people actually danced. In the middle of my set they started to cheer and yell, they went nuts. That really made me feel good. Helsinki was an exception: a big theatre, much more people and everybody enjoying the music. I want to live there.
We (Legowelt and I) once performed in Belgium. This really classy-looking girl accompanied us to the house where we would spend the night, 40 kilometres from the theatre where we performed. In the middle of the night we followed her with our car. It was very close to a suicide: the girl was doing 160 km/hour in the really small villages. Sometimes we got lost there, because the situation became too dangerous. When we arrived, we talked a bit to the girl. She made a real quiet impression, although Wanda thought the girl was high. The next morning I woke up and walked to the shower. I dressed up in my suit and wanted to check the car. I saw Danny walking into the house from the backyard, looking really scared. The only thing he said was: "Those guys are weird, those guys are really weird". When we stepped outside, I heard this Indian Mantra music, from a speaker they had installed on the roof. The party organizers were chanting on a bench, eating rude-berries and mushrooms while two dogs were killing each other. We visited a sect.
- How is The Hague electronic dance music scene at the moment, in your opinion? For example, any great parties in The Hague?
BC: There are almost no parties in The Hague, except some squatters organizing something sometimes. There was this place in Rotterdam, called "de Hemel', which means heaven. It was just that: electro heaven. Ferenc and Serge organized the Murder Capital parties there. But the place was torn down, in order to build some expensive apartment blocks. Now there's the DJ Bootleg Cafe. I once performed there. It's a nice place and I hope there will be parties more frequently.
As far as the music making is concerned, it's a very good environment. The Murder Capital scene is doing great things. I like the La Haye Coca Disco; it's something completely different. Rough, slightly timid and very honest.
Put your purse on the floor and dance! Parallax Corporation's "Lift Off" is a true classic; the La Haye Coca Disco album was a classic before it even was released! The things Duracel does are great, experimental but absolutely not vague. His U-Turn album is beautiful, especially the title song. The same goes for Pametex and I-F. Everybody's got a different touch, but you can immediately recognize that Murder Capital sound. There's a lot of different styles, every label has its own peculiar sound. I love that. Nobody's copying; everybody is true and honest.
DB: Once in a while there is a party... to use the word "great" doesn't really describe it. Obscure is a better word. The party people mostly consist of pimps, prostitutes, drug addicts, borderliners, football hooligans and dealers. The other part, or they might just be the same, are mostly the artistic people from the local art scene. But the nice thing of this The Hague scene is that all these different groups of people can be at the same party. The atmosphere is positive, but there is always some obscure edge...
- Why is The Hague/Den Haag called "the murder capital"? Is it really so grim up there?
DB: Compared to the civilized utopian city of Helsinki it is definitely so.
BC: I've got a car with a central door locking system.
- And how would you comment the scene in The Netherlands in general?
DB: In general it's totally fucked, going nowhere, and most people haven't got a clue of what they are doing. Apart from some small unorganised cells of resistance, the Hague Hotmix Electro-nix/Clone scene is the only well-organised major fighting force to be reckoned with! And that's only because they don't take themselves too seriously, but still have a tremendous heart for what they are doing...
BC: I don't know, really. I don't get out that much. I hear some great things, but most of them are from the Murder Capital scene. But we perform a lot, so I think there's growth in the scene. Two years ago, you couldn't dream of electro being played in Amsterdam, but now there are a few small places that do.
-Your current Top Ten?
1: Adult. - Dispassionate Furniture. I like everything they did, but this one's my favourite.
2: Drexciya - I like everything he (?) did, but at the moment Neptune's Lair is constantly playing in my apartment.
3: Dopplereffekt - Sterilization. Dry, simple, a bit aggressive (the vocals).
4: Gary Numan - Are Friends Electric
5: Pametex - Car Demolition. Pametex is a great influence. Pure, dry minimal funk. I love that album.
6: Japanese Telecom - I couldn't find the title.
7: Yazoo - Situation
8: Kraftwerk - Expo 2000 (2002 remix). I keep on playing it.
9: Timo's light plan at Tavastia. Disco Heaven!
10: The Bunker label. It's very good to see that it's back in business. The Minimum for the Maximum!
Donna Summer - "Now I Need You"
Donna and Giorgio freak out in epic measures!
Visage - "Fade to Grey"
The greatest octaved baseline ever, beautiful melodies and great vocals.
Unit Moebius - "Acid Planet 6"
Total hedonistic mayhem from the original Dutch techno pioneers.
Ultravox - "Mr. X"
Cybotron - "Alleys of Your Mind"
Juan Atkins & the extra Rick Davis Vietnam vet touch make this even more haunting than "Mr.X"!
Moses- "Our Revolution"
You can't go wrong if you name a band after a Biblical figure, especially when the "band" is a group of top Italo Disco producers.
Egyptian Lover - "The Lover"
A poetical masterpiece from the true Don Mega: "My style and finesse are also best, chilly and fresh as in different from the rest, my voice is so smooth, check into the groove, we're definitely making girlies want to move." How's that for some hardcore poetry!
Rhythim is Rhythim - "Nude Photo"
Drexciya - Journey Home (+ everything else)
Their music has an emotional feel and funk beyond anything comprehensible. Highly respected, whatever they produce.
Mr. Fingers - Distant Planet
Larry Heard makes some beautiful music, sometimes a bit cheesey but this is one of his finest hours.
- Your future plans? Forthcoming releases?
DB: My future plans are made as we speak... they are going to be deep. I am going to do another album for Bunker Records, which will be in the "Pimpshifter" style.
BC: We just released the Legowelt vs. Orgue Electronique album, Derrick in Nord Korea. Serge is interested to release something on his Clone label. I had a few other offers, but I'm looking into that. Bunker is planning to release some old songs I made, and Danny and I are working on a new concept that's got Bunker's attention. I'll see. The past few months were great, I performed a lot, and I'd like to continue doing that. But I also feel that I have to learn a lot, so I want to make a lot of new songs.
- Which film do you prefer: Getaway by Sam Peckinpah or Scarface by Brian DePalma?
BC: Did you know we make movies? I haven't seen Getaway, but two Peckinpah movies belong to my long list of favourites: The Wild Bunch and Convoy. However, since this is the choice, I'd have to pick Scarface, because I have the poster in my studio.
DB: Scarface... perhaps a tough decision to make, but look at the facts... Steve McQueen vs. Al Pacino? Quincy Jones vs. Giorgio Moroder? Tony Montana has got the winning cards... but all that aside, I'd rather see a good Werner Herzog movie such as The Wrath of God or his remake of Nosferatu. Klaus Kinski is even more harder than Tony Montana!
- Finally, your favourite question no one ever asks in interviews?
DB: Let me take this opportunity to tell you about the Conga Sharivari GSI. This is the car I am planning to design and build, and with which I will resurrect the Dutch car industry from its grave. In contrary to what that name might suggest, it's not a sports car; more like a big decadent cruisin' car. Its design will combine the best elements of the Opel Manta and Maserati Quatro Porta. Of course, with today's standards, it will be enviromentally friendly and all that stuff. Conga is going to be my brand name... so when I designed the Sharivari, which is indeed named after the greatest cruising track ever, there is going to be a Conga City Bird or something. Now I must say nobody is taking me seriously, when I tell them all this... but as Juan Atkins said: "If you've got the vision, then it will come true!"
BC: "What do you think about 'pure' electro?"
You've got these fundamentalist electro freaks, who apparently have no joy in their lives. Everything they do is dedicated to electro-as-it-once-was. It's like a bunch of archeologists rebuilding a shrine, next to the existing shrine, because it's so beautiful. It's no use reconstructing that old music; it is already there. The fun with those freaks is that they all say they love electro, that they keep it alive and that it should never become a retro trend. But they actually are the ones that make it just that: a retro trend. No evolution, no creativity involved. You should make music for the future. Again, I have to give my deepest respect for the Ersatz Audio label. Their sub-title "Forgotten Sounds of Tomorrow" really applies to electro(-nic) music. If the genre doesn't evolve, it will die.
The guys visited Finland again in February 2001, playing in Turku, Helsinki and Tampere.
- How was your second visit to Finland in general?
DB: All you Finnish people are crazy! Freaks! But overall it was quite nice, except for those f*ckin' homosexual Moomins, of course. We stayed in a sports hotel in a Helsinki suburb the last night after the Tampere gig. A sports hotel is a nightmare for people like us. You cannot smoke and there is this horrible gym and sports hall where people are playing volleyball. Everything is like the gym from school. And everybody was so happy & healthy there, of course. F*ckin' idiots. So we visited the Moomin Park and stayed in a hotel.
Copyright © (for the text) pHinnWeb 2000-2001.
Legowelt - Official Website Orgue Electronique - Official Website Info @ Bunker Records