Michael Schrader set up Tension Control in 2016. The German project directly moved towards EBM paths reminding some pioneers in the genre. A first album “Im Rhythmus Der Maschinen” got released in 2017 on Brandsatz Records. And a second opus “Fortschritt Durch Technik” saw the daylight by the end of 2019. The retro-EBM format got a very positive response among the German EBM lovers. Tension Control can be the best introduced by one of the album titles: “Make EBM Great Again”!
(Courtesy by Inferno Sound Diaries)
Q: You’re a rather active artist, involved with different EBM projects. Tell us a bit more about your music background and your input in all the projects/bands?
Michael: Tension Control is my main project. I set up Tension Control in 2016 and it were also my very first steps in producing music. I’ve bought all the stuff including my first synthesizer and started from zero to figure out how it works. This is why you can hear a strong development between the first and the second album.
I have defined the pitch for Tension Control very tightly for myself. No revolutionary innovations when it comes to content or composing. Typical scene subjects and also critical- or reflecting views on current themes with simple danceable synth sequences with analog sound generators. My intention is to keep the old-school EBM alive.
The restrictions do not apply for my new project Michael Matters. The sound is influenced by modern techno music and the instrumental and thematic corridor is open here. The typical non-complex old-school EBM sequences are the connecting element. The first previews will be released in the next weeks and the album will be probably finished until the end of 2020.
Q: You started from zero, but how did you get the idea to set up Tension Control and what’s the main focus when it comes to sound and song composition?
Michael: Since I was listening to electronic music in the early 90s, I had a clear preference how a synth should sound like. A lot of commercial techno music had interesting sequences, but covered with a lot of useless rubbish. During the same period I discovered dark-electronic music, which according to me left the goofiness behind, at least mostly. Aggressive energy was added and from this moment I got infected. But it took many years to make the decision to leave my own footprints in this scene. Let’s see how it sounds when I try to arrange structures by leaving away what distracts me from the important components. I can say that’s not as easy as you might think, but now, with “Fortschritt Durch Technik” I’m getting closer to the matter!
Q: Over now to “Fortschritt Durch Technik”. What have been the main sources of inspiration and eventually criteria and references when it comes to production?
Michael: The second album ‘accomplished itself’ without a concrete concept. For me it was a ‘Fortschritt’ -a ‘progress’, getting better in working out the sequences as they sound in my mind. Meanwhile I think, a never ending development. How deeper as I get into it, how more demanding I become… While doing that with a second synthesizer now, I processed the things which got be told and what was happening around me. The unimaginable luck I had, was to get on stage with my heroes, DAF! Can you imagine the feeling to get on a stage as singer the second time in your life with the chance to present your own art as support for one of your all time idols? Everything in 2018 and 2019 went in a breathtaking speed for me; I had to process what was happening musically.
Q: And your music reminds me to DAF. The song “DAF Ist Ewig” definitely sounds as an ode to this EBM pioneer so I can imagine you must have been –like many others of us, particularly shocked by the sudden loss of Gabi Delgado. What can you say about this song and the tragic loss of the DAF leader?
Michael: As I just told you, I had the chance to meet Robert Görl and Gabi Delgado in person. Robert’s unique style on the drums has given a direct impulse for this song to me. I put some simple synth sequences on top of it and diversified them in a DAF-untypical way, but wrote a text which is condensed to the minimum in best manner of Gabi.
In my perception, he was very balanced and an introverted, quiet man. But on stage he was totally different, like getting mad and showing his feelings. It’s unforgettable! Yes, I am deeply shocked by this sudden loss. It was much too early in his life. I am almost thankful for all the moments of joy while listening to Robert’s an Gabi’s music, to experience their concerts and for all the inspiration that DAF has given to my art.
Q: Another interesting song and according to me, one of the best from the album is “Brexit! Implosion Initialised”! Is it something like a political song? What did you want to express here and what have been the other lyrical themes on the album?
Michael: Many thanks, I’m very glad to hear that! Unfortunately it’s not common to deal with political issues in the EBM scene. But what kind of idiotic attitude is that please? Most people have an opinion. Let’s discuss the arguments and even if they are incompatible it’s a chance to improve our tolerance for ambiguity. “Brexit!” is a song from the first album. This first version paints a picture of Great Britain’s self chosen suicide by leaving the EU. Everything arranged around the core message ‘cause of death suicide – the sun shines on a dying might’. The second version -“Brexit! Implosion Initialised” also puts speech recordings from nearly the same actors around exactly the same core message. But now with a completely different result. It is the EU that is committing suicide by acting like this against its member states.
All lyrics on this album are about love, hate, war, EBM itself or social criticism. In detail or in whole. Everything that has moved me during the last 2 years.
Q: You’re signed on Brandsatz Records, which appears to me as a small label devoted to electro-punk & EBM. Can you introduce the label and do you feel being part of a so-called EBM community?
Michael: Brandsatz Records indeed is a small label, run by a good friend of mine. For Michael Matters I’m looking for a label dealing with more contemporary electronic music. All this organizational tasks around making music annoy me and steal my time and creativity.
Yes, of course I feel being a part of the EBM community! It’s a very familiar scene where you know each other. I’m just worried that younger generations seem to find it hard to access to this kind of music. But life is like this, perhaps the less adapted young people will develop their own electronic punk one day.