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eXelement - interview (2007)
2007-01-03 | Katarzyna NINa Gůrnisiewicz and Brian Backlash | e-mail interview
Brian Backlash: You seem like a pretty young guy. Have you been involved in the scene for a long time, or is it something you've only more recently become interested in?

Dan: Iím almost 26 so Iím not sure how young that is but Iíve been writing music for a long time. Itís only within the last two years that Iíve been involved in the industrial music scene. Iíve been writing Drum and Bass under the name Phenotype since I was 18 and I was in a D&B/Hip-Hop group called Bullet Tooth Smile for about 3 years. I used to play a lot of shows and I have a few songs out on compilations so this isnít really that different, just a different scene.

NINa: Are you a rivethead? Do subcultures make any sense to you these
days in comparison to the last 4 decades?

Dan: No, I donít even really know what defines a Rivethead these days. I wear a lot of different kinds of clothes and I listen to a lot of different kinds of music, I donít like labels. I hate when I go to a show and everybody in the place is wearing the exact same shit, some people act like they strive so hard to be individuals but how individualistic is it when everyone looks the same?

Brian Backlash: There is such a massive amount of music, bands and art out there. What do you think is the main difference between good art and bad art? Can bad art be appreciated as well?
Dan: This is a tricky question. First let me say that there is and will always be more bad art than good art, thatís because a few individuals come along and do something really amazing and then a much larger group of people come along and try to copy it. Art and music are so subjective so itís hard to say something is good and something else is bad. Thereís a lot of music I listen to that some people would consider bad but to me itís amazing.

I think where it starts to become clear that something is bad is when itís obvious that little or no effort went into creating it. I think a lot of times artists will try and justify their lack of effort by attaching some ridiculous ďmessageĒ or ďstatementĒ to their work. Donít get me wrong, I love art with a deeper meaning, but putting a dead shark in a tank of formaldehyde or putting a toilet on display in a museum isnít art to me. That sort of thing just seems so pretentious and contrived, art should be passionate and passion takes time.

NINa: I like the cover version of Piggy (originally recorded by NIN). How much time does it take you to make such cover?

Dan: Thank you. The ďPiggyĒ cover was actually the first eXelement song I did and itís what inspired me to focus all of my effort into this project. I think ďPiggyĒ took about a week to do including vocals and mastering. I find that coverís and remixes are always a lot easier to do than writing a new song because thereís already something there to work with. I really like cover songs because itís a chance to hear a different take on an existing song.

Brian Backlash: Are you involved in any projects that extend beyond music? If not, what else might you be interested in picking up?

Dan: jef (eXelementís bassist) and I are looking to start a graphic design company soon, weíre going to focus mainly on doing artwork for bands, websites, flyers, albums covers, etc.

NINa: Do you think your mixture of industrial, rock, and drum and bass styles of music could find a sufficiently large enough fanbase to convert it into a highly rated music popular on the dancefloors?

Dan: I hope so. Iíve thought about that in the past, whether mixing these three different styles of music is going to alienate people from my music or not. I donít think you have to be a fan of all 3 genres to enjoy my music. For example, someone whoís unfamiliar with Drum and Bass might not be able to pick out the Drum and Bass elements in my songs but if the songs are well written then someone should be able to enjoy them regardless of what genre they fall into.

Brian Backlash: With so many industrial/electro bands clogging the scene, why did you choose this vein to work in? Has the perfect industrial album yet to be made?
Dan: I donít think there are more bands in the Industrial scene than there are in any other scene. When I first started writing Drum and Bass I thought it would be really easy to get noticed because itís so underground but once I got more involved in the scene I realized that thereís a ton of Drum and Bass artists out there trying to get heard.

I donít think thereís such a thing as the ďperfect Industrial albumĒ, thatís not really something Iím striving towards anyways. To me the perfect album is simply an album that is the definitive vision of the artist and is totally cohesive from beginning to end, so in that sense the perfect album has already been made by many bands.

Brian Backlash: The Pixies were hugely influenced by folk groups like Peter, Paul and Mary - a style of music that was vastly different from their own. Ministry's Al Jourgensen was influenced heavily by country music. What art or music has influenced you heavily that we'd never be able to guess at?

Dan: People are always really surprised when they look through my CD collection because thereís a lot of stuff in there that someone might not think I would listen to. I really like Coldplay a lot, I think theyíre a big influence on me even though itís not reflected in my music. I like the simplicity of their music and how itís often very stripped down. I listen to a lot of Downtempo and Trip-Hop as well, I like mellow music just as much as the aggressive stuff.

NINa: What are your views about contests for album artwork, stickers, T-shirt prints, remixes, and covers of original songs? Does it make any sense in a case of promotion? Was there any genius promotional idea you have come across so far which you were fascinated with because of its simplicity and smartness?

Dan: I really liked how Haujobb included a ton of leftover samples at the end of Ninetynine, I think itís really cool to do things like that for the fans. Trent Reznor released the audio tracks for two songs from With Teeth and that spawned an entire legion of fan-made remixes. I definitely think that was a good way to promote the album.

Brian Backlash: Your music has a really clean production sound, with some interesting sampling and programming work. What kind of studio set up do you have going on? What would be your ideal place to write and record?

Dan: Thank you. Right now my setup consists of my custom built computer running Cubase SX3, Kontakt 2, and Reaktor 5, along with a ton of VST instruments and plugins. Iíve been getting more into software lately but I still have a lot of hardware. I wonít bore you with the details, if anyone wants to see my complete gear list itís on our MySpace blog.

I donít really have an ideal place Iíd like to record but Iím really looking forward to having someone else master my songs. I hate mastering and thereís a few guys out there who Iíd really like to work with. Greg Reely comes to mind, heís mastered almost every Front Line Assembly album to date and his mix always sounds fantastic. For me the hardest part is getting the right balance of guitars and synths, it always seems like theyíre competing for the mix so if I can find someone that knows how to mix those elements well then Iíll be happy.

NINa: What could be the future of music in a general sense, if seemingly all kinds of music have been created, mingled, written about and screwed up?

Dan: Itís really hard to say, music is in a constant state of flux but at the same time itís the same. Thereís bands right now that are writing music that sounds like it was written in the Ď80s, so if theyíre writing Ď80ís music in the 2000ís then 20 years from now will people say it sounded Ď80s or that it sounded 2000ís? I think if anything music will just continue to expand, there will always be genres of music but I think those lines are becoming a lot more blurred, you hear Country artists using drum machines, Rap groups using Drum & Bass beats, Metal bands using samplers. If anything the future of music will be to just keep melding different genres and blurring the lines.

Brian Backlash: Who do you view as your generational contemporaries at this point in time?
Dan: I think Boom Boom Satellites are making some of the most interesting music in the world right now, itís a shame theyíre not more well known outside of Japan. Thereís the obvious bands like NIN, FLA, 16 Volt, Acumen Nation, etc. Really thereís too many to list.

NINa: If you had a chance to get involved in a big record label releasing mostly pop and hip hop music and allowed to you earn lots of money, or a job in an ambitious and independent effort created by a small group of zealots, then which option would you choose?
Dan: I guess it really depends. If the bigger label was trying to change my music to suit their needs then I wouldnít go with them because Iím not willing to compromise my music just to get paid, but if they were willing to let me keep my music however I wanted I would have to go with the bigger label because that would mean more exposure and I think people need to be exposed to different kinds of music. When I was a kid and I started listening to Nine Inch Nails I read an interview where Trent mentioned Skinny Puppy and I went out and got some of their CDís, now Iím a big Skinny Puppy fan. If I could make it onto a major label and expose more people to Industrial and Drum & Bass music then I think thatís good for everyone.

Brian Backlash: Has any film or film style had an impact on your work?

Dan: Definitely. Iím a huge fan of the Post Apocalyptic and Sci-Fi films genres. There arenít any specific films that have impacted my work but the visual style of a lot of films definitely has. I donít know if most people are like this but when I listen to music I usually conjure up images in my head that go along with the songs. A lot of times I feel like the artwork presented with a CD helps shape those images and so I really like it when I see album artwork that I feel matches the songs well.

NINa: Have you come across a most interesting, excellently designed band website recently? What should such a website contain besides a general info, bio, discography, contact, gallery, media section or an on-line shop to get people interested and keep them clicking with a mouse over there and returning over time?

Dan: These days the sites that impress me the most are the ones that have very simple but well-done layouts, something modern and refined. I think the days of huge elaborate websites done all in Flash are coming to a close, people are impatient, people want content and they want it now. Who wants to wait through some 3 minute Flash intro? I like websites that cut through all the BS and deliver the goods.

Brian Backlash: Do you think paintings or computer graphics are more interesting forms of visual art?

Dan: Computer graphics all the way. As a digital artist I feel that itís a lot easier to express myself in that medium. I do a lot of mixed medium work as well, photographs Iíve taken or artwork that I manipulate in Photoshop. The technology is there, why not use it?

NINa: Can anyone be a graphics designer these days? Does this job demand some special character traits?

Dan: Anyone can be a graphic designer with some training and experience but to be a good graphic designer takes a lot more than knowledge of the programs, it takes talent and creativity and unfortunately there are a lot of designers out there right now that have neither. Itís the same way with music, you can teach someone how to play the guitar or the piano but that doesnít mean theyíre automatically going to be able to write good songs.

Brian Backlash: What's your favorite piece of music to play in the morning?

Dan: Iíve been listening to a lot of Hooverphonic and Goldfrapp lately. I usually play something softer in the morning and then as the day goes on the music I listen to gets more aggressive.

eXelement at Myspace | official website

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