Dirk Da Davo will be always linked to The Neon Judgement. Time goes by and today The Neon Judgement are no longer although they remain in the collective mind of EBM and related music styles. But Dirk Da Davo remained active and released a new album with Neon electronics. Originally set up as a solo-project, he however always have liked to work with other musicians. Throughout the years Glenn Keteleer (Radical G, The Juggernauts…-) joined in and for the new album the duo got joined by bass guitarist Pieter-Jan Theunis (bass guitar). “Apollo” has been originally released on Dirk’s label DanceDelic-D while the CD format got released by Wool-E Discs. It’s definitely one of the most open-minded productions from the band, which is moving from EBM to electro-wave to electro-rock while sometimes reminding to The Neon Judgement… This is what Dirk Da Davo had to say.
(Picture credits by Nele Breyne Photography; interview courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: I realized the first ever released work by Neon Electronics was already 20 years ago! How do you perceive the evolution of the project and the move from a solo-project towards a ‘band’ or at least a trio for the new work?
DDD: Indeed, time flies! In the beginning Neon Electronics was a solo-project with the ‘debut album’ release in 1999. But over the years I’ve worked with several people on the project, mostly DJ’s and producers as The Hacker, David Carretta, Chris Shape and many more. It was never a target or a ‘must’ to be a solo-project. Working together with different people can be inspiring. But now I work with Glenn since a long time. Bass man PJ joined us around 2014/15. Before I was the bass player myself. But I felt the need to add guitars to the project, so we went looking for an extra band member to play the bass. The growth in the concept that we have now all happened in a very natural and spontaneous way. With Neon Electronics everything is possible, no limits, all freedom!
Q: Let’s talk about “Apollo”. How did the work came through? What have been the main influences and what has been the (extra) input of Glenn Keteleer and ‘new’ member Pieter Jan Theunis?
DDD: Well, to be honest I’ve never expected a new Neon Electronics album after the ending of The Neon Judgement in 2015. It was also the year that I’ve moved to Spain. So I thought things might become too difficult to keep the project alive in this concept. But suddenly Glenn came up with some demo tracks in 2018 and I liked the work. They inspired me to add guitars and vocals. So actually the whole album got put together with file sharing, chatting and talking/discussing the final mixes over the internet! As I said, at that point we were already a trio. PJ our bass player had already joined.
The main influence on the album is just to act as ourselves. Glenn is mainly responsible for the electronica on “Apollo” and PJ became the bass player, being himself instead of me on the bass. And I did guitars and vocals and the end-production with Glenn.
Q: “Apollo” clearly sounds as the most eclectic work ever released by Neon Electronics; a real melting pot between different styles and influences. What did you want to accomplish and tell us a bit more about this diversity?
DDD: Eclectic, well maybe yes. It was also the thing with many The Neon Judgement albums. We also went from industrial over pop to country on the album “The Insult” for instance. I guess it’s a way to keep it interesting for ourselves… Maybe it also has to do with the fact that, after I received Glenn’s demos, I also started to write new material using mainly the guitar to write songs; “Off Da Hook” for instance was originally written as a ‘guitar punk’ song before Glenn came into it. That of course is a different style and approach of music. Probably that is also a reason: different instruments were used to compose the overall album. But I don’t mind about diversity!
Q: Dirk, how easy or difficult is it to leave The Neon Judgement behind as “Apollo” features two great hits of The Neon Judgement?
DDD: The 2 The Neon Judgement reworks were not specially recorded for the album. The “TV Treated”-rework we had lying around in the Live-version that finally made it on the “Apollo” album. I liked the recording a lot, so it would have been a sin not doing something with it. “Schizofrenic Freddy” is there for the same reason. We had the new arrangement for the track also available. First it was intended to be an instrumental remix track. I added the vocals and the guitar and the rework was born. So why not use it when it’s good material!? It doesn’t have anything to do with how difficult, how easy or even not with nostalgia: it’s just about the quality of the recordings.
Q: I get the impression there’s a kind of chemistry between you and Glenn? What makes it working between you both and what do you like in your respective work & skills as musicians?
DDD: We are not working together since yesterday. We started working together in 2012 with a few tracks on the “Keylogger”-album. So this chemistry between us also grew over the years. When I first listened to Glenn’s music he reminded me to myself with his keyboard sounds… so that felt comfortable for me. It created comfort zone 1. Glenn is also specialized in computer programming to produce music: he is a wizard with these things. Much more then I am. Except for that, there are Glenn’s DJ qualities. I’ve always made/liked danceable music. He is a good rhythm programming partner: it created comfort zone 2 for me. And he is not afraid of guitars plus on double top, he has a very nice singing voice! And I, I am older then him so my background and influences in music go much further in the past. And this does it all ! 😉
Q: What’s the next step and further plans for Neon Electronics and are there eventually other projects in the pipeline?
DDD: We are playing 3 Live shows; 2 in Belgium and 1 in Holland at the end of September and we might release some remixes from the “Apollo”-album. We are still thinking about that. Furthermore I’ve finished 6 brand new recordings with Jean-Marie Aerts (ex-TC Matic and so much more) that will probably become released digitally by the end of the year on my label dancedelicd.com. So that’s what comes next!
September 26th: “De Casino” (St Niklaas, Belgium)
September 27th: ”Nijdrop” (Opwijk, Belgium)
September 28th: “De Nieuwe Nor” (Heerlen, Holland)
Since you’re here … … we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading Side-Line Magazine than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. Side-Line’s independent journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we want to push the artists we like and who are equally fighting to survive. If everyone who reads our reporting, who likes it, helps fund it, our future would be much more secure. For as little as 2 US$, you can support Side-Line Magazine – and it only takes a minute. Thank you. The donations are safely powered by Paypal.