He doesn’t like to be asked about his passed involvement with the EBM formation Ionic Vision and he doesn’t like that much comparisons with his successful Metroland project. But he was pleased doing this interview about 808 DOT POP. Sven Lauwers aka ‘Passenger S’ set up his first solo-project ever, which is clearly reminding the Krawfterk-pop style. The Belgian project already released a few EP’s and the debut album “The Colour Temperature” (all released on Alfa Matrix). The album is a refined and accomplished catchy-robotic exposure of retro electro-pop music, which I invite you to discover or at least after this interview with Passenger S.
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: You’re now active for more or less 30 years in the electronic scene so what incited you to set up a solo-project? And how do you experience being the single board member?
Passenger S: I had many ideas and demo songs and finally wanted to take time to sculpture something that would entirely represent me in terms of sound and composition. The sole and most important difference of the solo aspect is that I now was able to meticulously define each left or right, every sequence or drum sound exactly the way I wanted it to fit into the entire scope of the album, when and where and nothing else, but myself to take into consideration.
Q: The name of the project seems to be an indication about style and influences, but what can you give us more details about it? What are the main differences and maybe challenges compared to your work in Metroland?
Passenger S: Clearly the 808 refers to the infamous TR808 that thoroughly changed the scope of electronic music. How simple it may still sound, it remains a fabulous and powerful machine. The POP refers to the sort of music that I like to tag it as techno-pop: soundscapes, sequences and melodies drowning in pure synthetic sounds, no acoustics involved.
I will never compare 808 DOT POP with Metroland and look at it from an 808 DOT POP point of view. The toughest thing indeed was to make sure the album would not become something of a Metroland shadow. Not an easy exercise, as I represent 50% input in Metroland and I am the one taking care of the Metroland sound in the final production. My watermark can be heard in both projects. However, I never tried to focus on this, forcing myself; it would have been wrong deliberately trying ‘not to sound like Metroland’. I just did what I personally felt I had to do at that point in time of composition and production; it had to sound as me in 808 DOT POP.
Q: I experienced your debut album as your most accomplished work to date. Your composition and production process have been never that elaborated so what’s your perception about it? And what can you say about the song writing properly speaking, the sound treatments and production process?
Passenger S: There is not a real pattern in composing for me. It can start from a simple sound or melody, or a bass sequence, anything can be a trigger. Usually when I have an arrangement ready, I take a deeper dive with a subject matter of the concept in mind and start to extend the sound sculpturing.
As far as sounds are concerned, I have an enormous pile available and can dig for days to get that particular sound, and tweak or layer until I truly want it the way I expected it to fit the song. Once into the final production, I start to play with effects and filter settings. I do not experience this as my most elaborated work, for me this is just the sound of myself.
Q: Just as in Metroland, the debut album of 808 Dot Pop became a conceptual one. The ‘colour temperature’ is not an easy theme to understand so what can you say about it and how do you transpose the theme into songs?
Passenger S: I simply love working around a central theme, it takes creativity miles further up than songs about random subjects. Simply so many common topics are interesting enough, look ‘ordinary’, until you start digging deeper. Things I read about the colour temperature enlightened my vision on something that we take so much for granted, giving perspective to things.
I also believe that the sort of music I create would be quite boring if there would not be that additional story to tell. A concept acts as a bonus to the music.
Finally yet importantly, a concept gives so much extra opportunities towards artwork. From day one Metroland opted for this approach, and it seems to affect others as I noticed since a few years several bands in the genre are picking up such approach.
I can watch Youtube movies on the subject for a few evenings in a row and suddenly a certain saying or statement can be the trigger to create a song around it.
Q: If there’s a common theme throughout your career and discography, it’s for sure the release of several EP’s around the same song. Why is it that essential to you and do you handle specific criteria when contacting/choosing remixers?
Passenger S: I grew up with Mute Records draining my wallet, and I loved their marketing machine like fuck. A 7-inch, a 12-inch with extended version, additional limited edition 12-inches or any other special format(s). That thinking outside of the box is something I dearly love. My releases can be compared with those 12-inches (or other) formats, unfortunately the music market is no longer open to this. The content of my download sets is never randomly picked. It is always another extension of the central theme in both art and music. I never fancied other bands to make tons of remixes (indeed, inside Metroland this was never my concern, it is Passenger A). I only had two other bands doing a remix and all other extra versions are mine. I might go broader in terms of remixing bands with next releases, but if I would do so, it would only be because I like the other artist’s works/attitude.
Q: What brings the future for 808 Dot Pop? Any chance to release more albums or is it just a one shot? What about concerts, remixes, clips ao?
Passenger S: One can never predict the future, but I can already reveal that I have a next conceptual album in the pipeline for end of 2020 (full collaboration with a superb artist) along with a third single from “The Colour Temperature”. It is an extension of the current concept, but with a nice/original twist. Moreover, after that, I have a new, second, conceptual album in the making. Around 20 songs/arrangements to choose from (even two singles already in advanced demo version. I already remixed several bands by now (some remixes to be released soon) and as far as live is concerned, yes I would love to take 808 to the stage, but not sure yet how to do it properly but live concept is bound to start up in 2020 and……too much inspiration. 808 DOT POP a one shot: No way!
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