N O   P A R T   O F   I T
Far more important than baking bread is the urge to take dough -beating to the extreme - Otto Muehl

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Interview Series #28: Alain Neffe

The NO PART OF IT Interview series was a strain of questions sent to a number of different people between February and March 2019. Each entry was scheduled chronologically to be thrust upon the world on a monthly basis since then. Each individual is introduced informally as if they were being discussed at a bar.   

 Scheduled in March 2019
Alain Neffe has been active since the 70s, including his massively influential label Insane Music, and his various projects: I Scream, Pseudo Code, BeNe GeSSeRiT, Subject, and Human Flesh, to name a few.  His series Insane Music for Insane people was dominant within distribution circles from 1980s cassette culture, releasing compilations that featured precarious and precocious acts of an often home-recorded variety.  Some of the earliest entries by The Legendary Pink Dots, Colin Potter, Portion Control, Merzbow, Algebra Suicide, Maybe Mental, and many others appeared on these comps.  Currently the Belgian artist's work is regarded as pioneering and pivotal in some Minimal Wave circles, as well as the history of experimental music and noise at large, and has been continuously reissued for as long as I have been paying attention.  Another artist/label that I discovered while digging through original editions of these cassettes at WZRD, including the first I Scream tape from the 70s! 

 1.  What kinds of things have you been getting into lately?

1 Actually, i am mixing (and remixing) music by BeNe GeSSeRiT and HUMAN FLESH in order to build programs for some lps…. I recently mastered music from SUBJECT for an lp on MINIMAL WAVE and for BeNe GeSSeRiT (the vinyl reissue of “postcards from Arrakis” with some unreleased bonus tracks from the same period)

 2.  What you do, do you do it as an artist, or is it a hobby?  If you don't like that question, what do you have to say about true art (vs. "entertainment")?  

2 For most of my life, I had a “day job” to earn a living, and I made music after hours, but it was not at all a hobby, it was something necessary for my mental balance, my mental health ; a sort of free therapy , I guess (without the risk of being mentally disturbed by some shrink) ….”entertainment” is a word I never use….

3.  How would you describe what you do?

3 Emotional, out of fashion, honest and highly selfish

4.  How would you describe your creative progression over the years, in a brief synopsis?

4 Progression... well, I would talk about change …. In the 70 and 80 ‘s I had more contact with instruments, so I could handle them in a better way, spontaneously and fluently ; the fact that I ceased playing with real groups and stopped playing live changed my way of handling music : using a multitracks recorder made me stronger in arrangements and mixing ; actually, I am more and more attentive to details and sound frequencies ; I also often remix old tracks in order to get them better

 5.  How would you describe your philosophy?

5 no real philosophy , just some ways of being ,for example “protect yourself (and your beloved ones)” and “avoid losing time with toxic people”

6.  Do you believe in psychics, magic, ghosts, or gods?  If no, then maybe you'll share your favorite conspiracy theory (whether you believe it or not). 

6 no, no god, hopefully…. My conspiracy theory … well I strongly believe that , in mid and southern Europe ,our leaders are trying to make the population extremely stupid (reality shows, sport, radio and T.V.advertising etc ) in order to prevent us from thinking, so they can steal, cheat, lie without any reaction from the average citizen…I also believe that ancient Egyptians were Aliens

7.  What would you say was your most definitive experience?
7 When I was 13 , I discovered Science Fiction literature and never stopped …I have always been a fan of Philippe Curval and his extraordinary universe, full of strangeness, humor and cynicism…. A French label asked us (BeNe GeSSeRiT) to make a song about a Curval novel for a compilation + book ; I guess they were glad with the result because they asked us to make a concert in Nantes to launch the book ; so we prepared a special set about it …. When we arrived in Nantes, we met the author… I was quite impressed … In the conversation, I had an idea : since he was attempting to the whole festival, I asked him if he would read his novel with Nadine, while I would improvise some minimal music and mix… And he agreed, so we did it instead of the BG concert …. A great moment for me, playing with one of my (few) heroes !!!!

 8.  Do you have any side projects that I am not aware of? If not, what is something you'd like people to know about you, that you don't think anyone would ever ask?

8 In the 70’s I was playing bass (on synth) and wrote angry minimal lyrics for a punk band named SIC (incidentally, an lp has been released on BELGIAN WAFFLES last year)

 9.  Would you care to name any theoretical "desert island" records, or at least releases that you think are approaching your concept of "perfect"?  

9 “Mercator Projected” by EAST OF EDEN , “ The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn “ by PINK FLOYD “Fly” by YOKO ONO , “We’re Only In It For The Money “ by THE MOTHERS OF INVENTION, “The Musician” by JENNIFER TERRAN, any TORI AMOS live set (alone with her piano) “This Was” by JETHRO TULL, “Camembert Electrique “ by GONG, most of the NICO records and lots of others …

10.  What is the earliest childhood memory you can (or are willing to) recall?  

10 strange question …the way a surgeon put me to sleep before a throat operation, with chloroform ; it was frightening, but maybe it made me reluctant about of drugs and alcohol effects

11.  Are you able to appreciate other peoples' creative work regardless of their personal shortcomings or inherent flaws?  To what extent?  

11 I am rather artistically hard to please ; the work must be sincere, honest, without any compromise and well-conceived ; I always try to “feel” it and not to “understand” it ….but musically, I am unable to be tolerant with loud disco-techno-electro shit with ridiculously loud bass drums , and I cannot dig racist arrogant sexist rap or any other music or noise that insult my moral or intelligence

12.  Do you have any heroes or heroines?  Who are they?  Feel free to add anything that makes them stand out.  

12 Benazir Bhutto who was a beautiful young woman leading Pakhistan ; Frank Zappa who was a musical genius , Daevid Allen , Peter Hammill , Syd Barrett and Ian Anderson for what they brought to our culture ; Curzio Malaparte ; Philippe Curval and hundreds of Sci-Fi writers who made me read books ; all the unknown “working class heroes” who cure and protect us in our daily life

 13.  What would you like to have on your epitaph?  Or what is your favorite quote?  

13 memento mori