Implant - I assimilate all that I see and hear, and incorporate it into my music
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Since 1992, Len Lemiere and his cohorts have been instilling their unique brand of electronic whimsy into the Belgian electronic music world. Implant started off in rather mundane territories, exploring that expanse between the spheres of trance and EBM, yet at the turn of millennium things began to molt in interesting new directions. While still rooted rather deeply in their psytrance-influenced roots, their Alfa-Matrix debut, Planet Euphoria, opened their doors to what would become a long list of guest performers. However, it was with recent releases Self-Inflicted and Audio Blender that Implant truly found their voice, tossing aside all pigeonholes and dipping their toes into everything from industrial rock to minimalist, eighties-steeped retro-electronics.
For 2009, Len is still confidently marching to the beat of his own drum, with his latest release Implantology bolstered by a host of new tangents and compatriots. However, according to Len, don’t mistake his cohorts as the shapers of Implant’s sound. Read on as he informs Side-Line about to their role in Implant, and find out about not only his two side-projects, but also how his first electronic mix-tape fits into this new work, as well as why the results of his remix competition touched him on a level above the contest. (By Vlad McNeally)
SL: I caught on your website that you recently were interviewed on national radio by Jacques de Pierpont, whom apparently is of quite some repute in Belgium. What was that experience like?
LL: It is always nice to get recognition from a legend like Jacques de Pierpont. The interview was really long, and he played five tracks from the new album on national radio. Kind of a big deal for a band like Implant!
SL: As usual for Implant these days, quite a cast of characters joined you in the production and writing of your new album. How did you choose whom to include for Implantology, and how do you think their presence influenced the final results?
LL: Except for Angelspit, all the people involved are ones I know really well. Well, at least well enough to send them an e-mail or phone call asking them if they would contribute to the album. Choosing them has never been about namedropping, but about what I consider would fit the album perfectly. If I ask Pete to contribute guitars, then this is because I really think this track needs it. And if I ask Claus to contribute vocals, it is because I really think this track needs German vocals, and my German sucks.
SL: With working with so many guests over the years, do you ever worry about losing your own voice as a musician? I know in the past, you mentioned adding people is kind of like adding instruments, but do you see yourself as more the conductor, or more like a lead guitar?
LL: Working with guests is a very strange thing. People keep focusing on those guests... and I’m not blaming them. If you see an album with vocals by Jean-Luc, it does mean something, but I sometimes have a feeling people are judging this incorrectly. Implant is my music. It sounds how I want it to sound. In other scenes, guest contributions are a way wider-spread phenomenon, and those albums get judged differently then an industrial album with guests. So to return to your question, I’m not worried at all about losing my own voice. Implant is my little cry to the world, and I don’t mind crying with other people.
SL: From my perspective, your work as Implant reminds me sort of like Star Trek's ‘the Borg’. While always uniquely Implant, the sound of each album seems related to what you've recently assimilated by way of listening, reading, and viewing. That said, beyond your collaborators, what sources artistically influenced Implantology and where can one witness the evidence?
LL: Ha-ha, great comparing Implant to the Borg! In fact, we work with a Belgian booker now, whose DJ name is Borg! Anyway, the comparison is not only funny; it holds a lot of truth. I assimilate all I that I see and hear, and incorporate it into my music... though I’m not sure if I can pinpoint one instance on this album. But some people tell me they can even hear that I’ve been playing a lot of Nine Inch Nails this year!
SL: I was rather surprised to discover a cover of Liaisons Dangereuses ‘Los Niños Del Parque’ on this one. Why did you choose to cover this song, and how does it fit into Implantology?
LL: I recorded it out of pure nostalgia! When I was sixteen, I was introduced to this music through a cassette I got from a friend. For me, the tracks on there were the basis to what came later... and when I listen to that cassette now, it is incredible to hear how many classic tunes were released during that period. I wanted to make a tribute to that period, so I made a short list of classic new wave tracks that I could cover. Eventually, I picked ‘Los Niños’, because it kind of summed it all up to me. The track is very minimal (which they had to be at that point in time - a synthesizer was extremely expensive back then), very experimental (that is kind of the mark for that period for me) and very danceable. Also, it is the type of track that gave me room to input in my own ideas.
I worked very hard on it, and wanted it to show my love for that period and my love for that particular track. It’s an homage to the early 80’s, not some cheap rip off... so I hope I succeeded. I’m sure some people will hate me for touching such a classic!
SL: As someone whose sound constantly changes, I'm curious about the motivations behind ‘Out With The Old - In With the New’. What is the story behind that song?
LL: Oh, it is always hard for me to explain the lyrics to a song. Let’s just say it has something to do with a certain person I know...!
SL: Speaking of familiar topics, drugs come up in ‘Dropping Acid’. Does this song have any roots in personal experience, and how do you think your audience will view its message?
LL: It is not from a personal experience, but something I’ve seen happening with friends. For me, the message is a neutral way of looking at the use of LSD. I’ve seen people around me idolize LSD as if this is ‘the’ drug that alternates reality and that it’s a must-have experience... while I see them as reacting very strangely to it. So, this is kind of a scientific approach, showing those same people it is nothing but their brain playing little tricks on them... and you got to admit, drugs, sex, and rock and roll are the best topics for songs!
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SL: Since you've previously stated that every Implant track is based on an aspect of your life, are there any autobiographical nuances that us listeners might find interesting in regard to its other tracks?
LL: Just for the record: I did not build a machine made from crushed up men... and neither did Amelia!
SL: I caught a mention on your site that you're already planning a new digital EP devoted to "Violence" from Implantology. What prompted you to go digital for this companion piece?
LL: Look, these are strange times to release albums. We have a scene that is declining, and more people are downloading now (maybe because of the economical crisis). As a result, releasing CDs for a label has become a risky thing. Don’t get me wrong, I think there will always be need for a physical release, but face it, a lot of bands are experimenting to see what they could do to escape this downward spiral.
SL: At the same time, while I see a rise in legal downloads for Implant, I know it is hard to find a market for EPs these days. Yet, I still think an EP to promote this album with a little bit more club material is a good move.
LL: So, going digital is kind of a solution, and a way to explore the market to its full potential. This EP will hold four unreleased tracks, so a real Implant fan will not be disappointed if they buy this one on iTunes!
SL: Another interesting facet of this EP is that you're currently wrapping up a remix contest for it s well. How has that gone for you?
LL: It is very interesting to see how many talented people are out there, willing to invest some time in a track that might not even be heard by anybody. We received over 25 remixes, and some were real pearls. Now we are facing the hard part of having to declare one mix the best.
I even got faced with a strange story during this remix contest. At one point, very close to the end of the contest, I got an e-mail from a guy that really touched me. He did two remixes, but couldn’t send out the MP3s. According to his mail, the guy was a soldier in Iraq, and each time somebody in his unit was killed or wounded, the military shut down from the internet until their family was notified. His mail ended with ‘lately we have been shut down a lot’. The fact that my music is part of somebody’s life in a war is mind-blowing to me, and it proves that music sometimes goes places you would never expect.
Meanwhile, he managed to get the MP3s to me, and I have to admit, the mixes are pretty fine.
SL: I recall during the Self-Inflicted and Audio Blender sessions, you sampled quite a diverse array of things, including if I recall correctly, a squeaky chair, your children’s toys, and a coffee grinder, which in my opinion was pretty inventive! What objects or unusual techniques did you use for Implantology?
LL: These are the type of questions where you really look into the kitchen of the musician, and like a good cook, I’m not always sure if revealing the recipe is a good move! The wildest sampling on this album is a drum loop I made using a sample of roadwork that was being done in my street.
SL: Outside of Implant, there's your project 32crash with Jean-Luc De Meyer. Considering he appears on Implantology, I'm left wondering - will there be another 32crash album in the future?
LL: We are working on a new 32crash album. In fact, we have twelve tracks finished right now, and to me it feels like this new album will be a lot stronger than the first one. Yet, I’m not sure if it will be released in the near future. The main goal right now is to have the full album finished before the winter, and then we’ll see what will happen with it. But rest assured, it is on its way.
SL: Speaking of side-projects, your name has been attached to an entry on the Endzeit Bunkertracks IV compilation called Deathgression. Could you tell us a little bit about this tidbit of information?
LL: Deathgression is actually the project of Rinze Wonda. I did the production for this one. In the end, the production got a little out of hand, and I think I wrote most of the album. Rinze came in with basic ideas and melodies, while I turned them into songs, adding some typical experimental structures and a harder, more aggressive sound. Then Rinze re-wrote some of the vocals. Rinze thought it was only fair to credit me as a co-writer for the album.
The album is still not out, though it has been finished now for over a year. I really hope people will pick it up. You can hear that I have been working on it, yet it is more of a dark CD. We even started working on a second album.
SL: When I last interviewed you, you mentioned in passing that you're a big fan of the Spanish director Alejandro Jodorowsky. Considering his unusual methods of filmmaking, I'm curious - what do you admire about his work?
LL: I’m more a fan of his comics then his filmmaking... and this has been a super year for Jodorowsky comics for me. I read these comics in Dutch, so they have to be translated from French, and the company releasing his comics was way behind on the French market. But this year, they translated all comics that were due, resulting in me finally reading the end of the Metabaron series, but also the end of the Techno Father series and reading the announcement of a new John Difool cycle. So, there’s been tons of goodies.
I’m also a big Billal fan, and an idea from his newest comic might make it into the new 32crash album. Again, with his latest comic (Animalz), Billal proves to me his incredible talent. In this comic, he has two minimal-dualists. The idea is that they do a duel like in the old far-west, real cowboy style. Except that the bullets need to collide in mid-air. If they fail, they die.
SL: Lastly, do you have any final words for our readers?
LL: Nope, unless ‘nope’ is considered as a final word. This could easily be the start of a deep philosophical discussion on the meaning of ‘final words’...!
Posted by: yluko on Aug 11, 09 | 1:05 pm
I like the preview video posted. The production on this sounds amazing and the music sounds very diverse. Looking forward to hearing the whole thing :)
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