Ultraviolence – “Success through crisis”
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For ten years now Ultraviolence aka Jonathan ‘Johnny Violent’ Casey has been riding the routes of electronics. With the release of the double CD “Blown away” on Earache the celebrations have only but begun. The best reason to have an in depth talk with the man behind the band who left the world electronic pearls such as the by now classic tracks “Hardcore motherfucker”, “Psycho drama”, “Paranoid” and the list goes on and on and on. Side-Line discussed all aspects of Ultraviolence, the good the bad and the ugly ones, in depth with the master of uk electronics. (By Stéphane Froidcoeur)
SL. 2004 and the “Blown away”-dcd comes to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Ultraviolence. Tell us what comes directly into mind when evoking this event?
JV. Honestly I had a bit of a life crisis whilst compiling it - it's the culmination of my entire working life. Although I was releasing music before it really wasn't anything great until this era. Listening to it, which I had to do on numerous occasions for technical reasons, I'm really proud of what I have achieved artistically if not commercially - but no amount of money could buy what I've done.
SL. “Blown away” is a kind of a ‘best of’, so let’s have a look into the past. Was there an album that left an everlasting impression on you when we look at the production?
JV. The album that leaves the biggest impression on me is “Psycho Drama”. Even though it is primitive technically and lyrically compared with later releases it has a wholly original artistic vision which doesn't waver for its entire 67 minutes. Listened to as a whole – loudly - it has the most emotional pull of all my releases. The fact that it must be listened to like that is too challenging for a lot of listeners but I'd advise them to try it! My most accomplished production I feel is “Superpower” - that took ages and it's big technical achievement to produce a sound like that with a miniscule budget. Or any other budget, probably. On disc two my favorites are the remixes I did for Misery Loves Company and Laibach. I hadn't heard the Laibach one for around ten years and it was quite a relief that I enjoyed the experience so much! The Laibach mix came through their record company - I hope they like Ultraviolence as I was a fan of theirs since the 1980s.
SL. You¹ve been also remixed by different artists, did you pick up some ideas out of these remixes and how do you stand in general towards remixes?
JV. When someone remixes me I just let them get on with it. In general I think a remixer’s job should be to enhance and add something to the vision of the original track in which case it's worthwhile. When a record company is just using the mix for marketing purposes and the remixer is doing it purely for the money they can be really pointless and crap.
SL. In, which way did it become different from the original purpose of your project?
JV. Not at all, really. My objective has been to make hard, listenable music with an emotional pull. The tracks on "Blown Away" are always extreme but that doesn't mean 200+bpm with fucked-up industrial noise - although in some cases that’s true. The most important thing is that I feel something when I write the music and pass those feelings on to the listener whatever they may be.
SL. Your sound is a melting pot of different influences and opposite styles, like hardcore merged together with classical elements. What vision lies behind this?
JV. This is a really simple point but one few people seem to understand for whatever reason. Ultraviolence is exactly the music I want to listen to and therefore contains elements of every genre I like. I find music that exists purely in one genre good to listen to for a certain amount of time then I get bored - be it hardcore of whatever type, rap, hard house, classical, industrial, rock...whatever.
SL. Some people probably didn’t know - while I personally couldn't remember it - that you had been in touch with Moby, back in 1996. What impression do you keep from this tour across the UK?
JV. It was ok, but he was playing a rock set which wasn't really his best music. I got drunk and told him to go back to electronic music - I don't think that went down very well as I was extremely rude but he did and look what happened! I really admire Moby as an artist - some of his work has a unique purity.
SL: You also went on tour with the legendary punks of The Exploited! That’s hard to believe, but tell us a bit more about this tour and the shock between different styles and audience I imagine?
JV. That was a great experience - I had liked their music since I was about ten years old. At its best we had my crowd and their crowd going mental to both bands and at its worst there were old punks standing at the back saying "what the fuck's this shit!?!" I can truthfully say I've never been spat on so much before or since...
To read the complete interview, be sure to buy Side-Line issue 50!
Side-Line issue 50 at Side-Line shop
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