Exclusive – Bong Ra Interview
Written by Chris Biggs
August 13, 2012 9:25 am
How did you first become involved in electronic music?
It must have been around 92/93. I was (and still am) a die hard metalhead, I was heavily into Earache Records stuff – Godflesh, Terrorizer, Carcass, Confessor, Cathedral and listening to a lot of Doom Metal. My link with electronica was somewhat non-existent except for Godflesh who were using drum computers. I thought bands like G.G.F.H (Global Genocide Forget Heaven) and Ministry were cool as well.
I was still living at my Mom’s at the time and we had just gotten cable and were able to watch BBC. I think it was Top Of The Pops when I first saw the M-Beat ft General Levy tune ‘Incredible’. I was gobsmacked by the beats, I only knew techno or gabber, 4×4 beats which i found boring, but this opened a whole new universe for me.
I needed a new fix after this and started going to dance record shops to dive into this new thing. The Prodigy Experience came out soon after that and that just did for me, melody mixed with breakbeats, just classic stuff.
I bought myself an Amiga 1200 in 1994 and started playing around with Octamed, a tracker program, and composing industrial/metal/breakbeat stuff under the name Soul of Cain. Sampling Black Sabbath, T99, Fear Factory, gabber, amen breaks, etc…
I still have the demo cassette and its fun listening, pretty crap though!
Around 1995 I moved into a student house and a friend was using Cubase, I switched to that and started making more jungle orientated tracks. My vinyl collection was expanding, I was really digging Shy FX, Remarc, Marvellous Cain, Tom and Jerry etc and at that time the darkstep / techstep sound was coming up and I was loving the No U Turn sounds.
The metal influence is something that definitely still runs strong in your music, this can be heard on the PRSPCT recordings releases. It seems that these days you’ve associated yourself a bit more with the thriving hard drum n bass scene as opposed to the breakcore scene, which a lot of people feel may have had it’s moment. Do you agree?
True, although I see more similarities nowadays with hard drum n bass and breakcore than 3 or 4 years ago. Theres more genre/style mixing going on in tracks, I think it has kind of mutated a bit.
Production-wise it’s way further ahead than how breakcore sounded back in the day.
I always try to evolve my style and production, which I think is necessary for every musician/producer.
The worst thing is to get stuck in some nostalgic trip and not accepting to move forwards.
It’s also a challenge to keep developing yourself as an artist. I love to be as diverse as possible but still keeping my own musical character. That’s why I have so many projects going on (The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble, Wormskull, White Darkness and older projects Glowstyx and Deathstorm), music is like one’s character, it portrays the whole spectrum of emotions and it’s just a gift to be able to transmit that into sounds.
Recently you’ve collaborated with Thrasher and Limewax, and released a 12″ with DJ Producer. Which other producers would you most like to work with?
The Thrasher / Limewax collaboration was fun. We did this for the tour we did early 2012. We are really close so I don’t really consider it a collaboration, just three mates having a bash at some tunes with some beers! I’d like to do a collaboration with Mathis (The Panacea) someday, we go back years so I think it’s time we should do some shit together. To collaborate with DJ producer again would be great, those tunes worked out really well.
Basically working with any artist you like is a fucking plus!
Having seen you play a handful of times over the years, it’s safe to say that you really know how to work a crowd and it’s always a pretty wild experience. What are your favourite cities/countries to play? And are there any specific events you’d like to play but haven’t had the opportunity to??
I don’t really have a favourite, there have been so many great parties in so many different countries over the past 15 years. The Bangface Weekenders are always a great blast! I’d like to go back to Japan again soon, and hopefully make my debut in Australia and New Zealand.
So you’re playing the Bangface Weekender in Cornwall this September, alongside the hometown hero Aphex Twin. How important do you feel his influence has been on shaping dance music as we know it today? And which current names on the scene do you think will go on to have this kind of legacy when it comes to inspiring future generations?
I’ve not got much to say about Aphex Twin, I didn’t really grow up listening to him and don’t know much of his stuff. If you want to talk doom metal then we have something to discuss when it comes to influence!
As for the legacy thing, I have no clue and I don’t really think it’s that important in the grand scheme of things. Music is personal, and a legend to someone might be an unknown to others.
Its great to hear producers that are so enthusiastic about genres such as doom metal like you mentioned, styles that so many ‘ravers’ would see as being so distant from electronic dance music. Who are your recommendations for Bong-Ra fans that might be new to the slow and sludgy world of doom?
I can advise the following:
Electric Wizard ‘Come My Fanatics’ (1997)
Cathedral ‘Forest Of Equilibrium’ (1991)
Saint Vitus ‘V’ (1990)
Sleep ‘Holy Mountain’ (1992)
Om ‘Pilgrimage’ (2007)
Serpentine Path ‘7″‘ (2012)
And so what can we expect from Bong-Ra in the near future?
Upcoming plans for 2012 include collaborations with Goetia, Sinister Souls and Limewax as well as remixes for DJ Skull Vomit and Dope D.O.D. And of course new stuff from The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and Wormskull.
Shout-outs to everyone!