Berlin is a city rich in political past. It is a city that has seen itself having to rebuild itself time and time again. The energy that was behind each successful (or not as it were), regroup was entirely created by the people that inhabited this land which was inititally established in a swamp. So, it goes without warrant that the people whom are natives here are indeed powerful in their ideals and their political motivations. Never before have I personally seen so many protests or rallies in the vicinity of one city as I have since I moved to Berlin. One such of those true blooded Berliners is Alec Empire. Along with his band, Atari Teenage Riot, Alec rose from the rubble in 1992 of what was then the reunified Germany to show the world their German roots and their political extremist ideals of anarchy, anti-nazism, and anti-fascist ideals - all whilst helping to point the international music ear towards the once ignored underground on the German hardcore scene. These hardcore motherfuckers were not going to take no for an answer and wanted the world to know just what they had been through to get to the stage.
As Atari Teenage Riot disbanded, Alec Empire continued to thrive in his own musical sphere and moved on to work with the likes of everyone from Bjork to today's musical shakers such as Patrick Wolf. With all of this said and done - it was without no question of a doubt that for the first piece I would write in this section would be an interview with Alec - an artiste who in my opinion embodies the Berlin music scene and makes everything he touches BANGBANG. Check out the first in a series of my interview sequence in both English and German, with Alec below that I conducted with fellow Berliner, Eva Maria, and be sure to visit Alec's website to check out where you can catch him on his latest tour (including a date on November 17th in London with Patrick Wolf) and listen to his latest musical offering, Shivers.
BB: Introduce yourself to a new Berliner that has never heard of you before. First of all, I am a musician that was actually born in Berlin. Everybody moved here and everybody came to be a part of what we created. BB: How do you feel about people coming to Berlin that don't speak German? I think that it's good. I think that language is a living thing and the more people that move here that don't speak German, the better. Then the city can truly become international. BB: How do you feel about bands coming here to get the 'Berlin vibe' into their music? I am always surprised when I listen to these records and in my opinion they could have been made anywhere but it's good that they were inspired by the city. I always look at the city in a different way to most. BB: Why Berlin? What keeps you here? I think there is an atmosphere here in Berlin for me that makes me write more music and to think about music in a different way. When I was in London I felt like people were sheep. I think the British have to be very careful now because I think they are going to destroy the respect that people have for them as British music makers. People in the UK don't seem to realise that they have a certain responsibility in the way they dictate what is popular and in this world now - that's not enough. People are compromising on the quality and that's why I wanted to move away from there. BB: Any specific advice for artistes that are coming to be a part of the Berlin scene? Yeah - be careful! I think what many artistes don't realise that they have to be careful here. When you grow up in a place like Detroit and you always have this dream of getting out to go to somewhere like New York. I think Berlin is the kind of place that if you end up here, you can get stuck here forever - like it's not the beginning of a road, it's the end. For many artistes, when they come here, time goes out the window. Things are much slower, and if you don't have the right energy and you don't have a goal then you can get lost. There is also no real network here - you are not safe. In the London music scene for instance you can maybe meet the right people or work with the right band and make some simple electro pop but here, people don't really help each other out as much. I don't understand why but they don't seem to. Berlin is very easy going but with obviously much less money - so maybe that's why that is. BB: How do you feel that the international music scene views artistes? They take me way too seriously. With Berlin, there is a myth. Some of it is true but other stuff is just the imagination of the press. I always like to see Berlin as a blank canvas.