Reverse Records UK / Final Trauma Recordings
Interview with Ulex Xane (STREICHER)
BAND NAME: Streicher
BAND MEMBERS: Ulex Xane
GENRE: Power Electronics / Industrial / Noise
BAND WEBSITE: http://www.myspace.com/streicherlives
OTHER PROJECTS: (current)
# Whiterealm / White Werewolf
# Pigwhore Cunt
# Pimp-Aktion Slutgun
RRUK: Let’s start with your band name, what made you choose it for this project?
It is derived from the name of Julius Streicher. It fitted what I wanted to do perfectly and there was never a question of any other choice. It embodies many interests and issues, from philosophies of ideology, morality, history, subculture, image, perception, reality and simulacra, to the questions of censorship and freedom of speech. And bringing an Oi/skinhead attack to power electronics for the first time.
RRUK: How would you describe your sound and working process?
The term ‘Oi Noise’ has been coined (not by me) to describe the Streicher sound. It is basically a mix of power electronics and industrial with some harsh noise elements at times. My working process has always been the same; get it done in the most primitive and direct analog way without resorting to any digitalized or laptop shit.
RRUK: About the instruments and technology you use to produce the sound, do you constantly update them, or are old synths and the like still good for
The latter, definitely. Though old, some are not cheap; quite valuable these days in fact.
RRUK: With regards to electronic/experimental artists, which band did you discover first? How did you come across them?
I discovered Whitehouse in around 1982, an LP I bought from a local record shop down the other end of the street from the little flat I was living in, Greville Street, Prahran. I bought it without really knowing what it was, but the cover looked very obscure and intriguing. Blew me away when I played it. I later got in touch with William Bennett and bought all I could of their other material, and this contact set me on the course that was to define the arc of my life from that point on.
RRUK: Who or what influences you and your sound?
Aside from those early influences of Whitehouse, M.B., and the Broken Flag, Iphar and Aquilifer Sodality labels, I have in some ways been subtly influenced by everything from Heldon to Anton Bruckner, in musical terms, and with Streicher there have always been strong inspirations from the skinhead scene as well as art, politics and history in various forms.
RRUK: A lot of “noise” artists tend to release 30+ albums per year. (Online Myspace culture) What are your thoughts regarding this rushed approach?
It reflects the positing of noise as constantly available commodity, albeit a valueless commodity in financial terms as it’s being made freely available via downloads and so on. On the other hand, it can also be looked at as subverting that commodification, as it’s really not done for the express purpose of selling ‘product’. Either way, I am not opposed to it, there is a place for it, although I can understand that some people may feel it is indicative of the ease with which harsh noise can be digitally constructed these days, as well as the ease with which a site such as Myspace can be utilised to disseminate it.
I still remember the early days back in the 1980s, when this music was so underground, there was no internet, and how exciting it would be to get a new LP or tape in the mail. Now, with so much available and such instant access, that thrill has largely gone. There’s a degree of overload and saturation, common also to other genres as well, and you perhaps have to dig harder to uncover the real quality material. Having said that, I think that Myspace is a useful tool for artists to put their material out there and say fuck you to the music business and I personally support that. What I don’t support is the arbitrary censorship and political/ideological prejudice that the Myspace brains trust routinely engages in, but that’s another story.
RRUK: What is your opinion in particular of Power Electronics, Noise, and Japanoise, looking at their main artists like Merzbow, Masonna?
In purely sonic terms, as someone who has always tended more towards lower-end crunch, I have never been a huge fan of the Japanese tendency towards the high-pitched squealing and squeaking that is often found in their sound. That is a generalisation, I realise, and I must say I do quite like some of the Japanese work done over the years. However, when I visited Tokyo earlier this year it was specifically for Klaus Schulze concerts (he was touring there), not for anything in the noise scene, so I guess that reflects my general priorities there.
RRUK: Are you interested in serial killers? Do you think they are a typical product of 20th century society, and what is your opinion about in particular American “serial killer culture” ?
Serial killers have always been a staple theme within industrial/noise culture, since the earliest days, however much of a standard cliché it has become by now. Again, I think it’s part of the general attraction to thematic extremity and having the music reflect that. I’ve had a significant collection of books on serial killers since I was quite young, and it’s still an interest for me in the context of ethics and moral philosophy. However, I am much more interested in a subject like Tsutomu Miyazaki than I am in the more famous American cases. There are countless books on Gacy, Bundy, Dahmer, et al, but not one book on Miyazaki. The only real coverage he has is a few pages in Robert Ressler’s “I Have Lived In The Monster”(Ressler, by the way, coined the term ‘serial killer’).
Americans always seem to think they are the centre of the universe, so any second-rate serial murderer gets massive coverage in the media, whilst much more interesting and extreme cases from other countries barely get a look in. Like Miyazaki, or even the ongoing ‘femicides’ in Ciudad Juárez. There’s this degree of arrogance that if it doesn’t involve Americans then it doesn’t really count. It’s the same in general terms; a couple of thousand humans die in 9/11 and you’d think that armageddon was around the corner (an ex-girlfriend of mine who was living in upstate New York when 9/11 happened actually felt this was so much the case that she had a complete mental breakdown over it; ridiculous). The wailing and gnashing of teeth still hasn’t abated. But when many thousands more die in other parts of the globe, through war, terrorism, genocide or natural disasters, and it’s not involving Americans, it’s like ho-hum, what a shame, “have a nice day!”.
RRUK: If you could perform live anywhere in the world where would it be?
London, circa 1983, gigging with Produktion, Whitehouse, Kleistwahr etc, or with Sir Oswald Mosley at the British Union of Fascists rally at Earl’s Court in 1939 (the largest indoor event in the world at the time) if you can rent me a time machine! Failing that, I’d say Germany, in the deep basement bomb shelter I’ve visited in Nuremberg, or, number one, the Obergruppenführersaal and vault (which has specially designed acoustics and illumination) of Wewelsburg Castle, the SS-kult site, which I also spent an amazing time at in 1996. I also went to the Zeppelin Tribune at Nuremberg where the huge rallies were held and that would be an impressive locale for a live Streicher rally. I stood on the steps there and imagined addressing the multitude with a severe storm of Streicher power electronics, ha ha. But there’s not a lot left of the original architecture, and the interior has been turned into the usual boo-hooing reparational exhibit of sackcloth and ashes.
With regards to other sound projects the sound projects, is there any country in particular that inspire you more than others?
As far as industrial/noise music projects go, no, I don’t tend to think in national terms these days. Maybe different countries go through different periods creatively within a scene or subculture. Which reminds me, there’s always been a strong underground Black Metal presence from Nordic countries such as Norway, Sweden and nowadays especially Finland, but can anyone explain why that other Scandinavian nation, Denmark, has never seemed to have as much impact in Black Metal? They produce some great speedway riders, but Black Metal and Pagan warriors seem comparatively thin on the ground there for some unknown reason.
RRUK: Do you listen to different types of music? A secret Elvis collection perhaps?!
Fuck Elvis with a steamhammer, but yes, I have a very broad taste in music and a massive LP/CD/tape/78s collection, including serious classical, opera, Berlin-school/French electronics & Krautrock/prog, skinhead Oi & RAC, free jazz & improv, black metal & death/grind. I have been an inveterate record collector since my teens and show no signs of letting up. Music is the food of the gods to me, I can’t
live without it.
And I’m kind of old-school about it; I will occasionally download something to check it out, but I much prefer the physicality of playing and enjoying a real LP record. There is a time-honoured ritual involved in the process, which still has the power to subvert this plug-and-play world we are now stuck with. Removing the album carefully from the shelf, warming up the Valvemark tube amps and setting pre-amp level (I’m an audiophile and appreciate top sound quality), cleaning the vinyl surface and stylus, cueing up the turntable and settling down in a comfortable couch with a cold beer (or perhaps a nice Verdelho or my favourite Dubonnet aperitif, depending on the weather and what I’m listening to), to peruse the cover and liner notes as the music begins to magically issue forth from my magnificent Hornshoppe speakers! That’s really listening to music, not sitting at a computer screen clicking a download file or playing crappy mp3’s on an iPod.
Maybe I’m showing my age and generation here, but I don’t care; you’ll never convince me that these are in any way advances on LP or even CD technology. Sure, maybe in portability and ‘convenience’, but if you’re not lazy then only the sound should matter, ultimately, so get off your arse and play a record! Even the new lossless file servers which the audiophile magazines are starting to cover leave me cold. I’m not interested. Same as I don’t give two shits about multi-channel surround sound and all that home-theatre crap. It’s overblown gimmickry, not natural or absolute sound in any respect. Stereo (and even mono) is where it’s at for me.
So Elvis can stay out of my house, but I do confess to a periodic weakness for early blues and country/old timey music from the 1920s-40s, and have occasionally been known to indulge in the recordings of British and German singers and radio/music hall artists of the period. However, my major interest in recordings of that era (and even earlier) has always been classical conductors, instrumentalists and singers, especially Wagnerian heldentenors.
RRUK: What first, chicken or the egg?
I eat both, not in any particular order.
RRUK: Thanks for your time, Ulex. Great interview!
Interview: Keith Mitchell [+FTR+ / RRUK]
2010 /2014 Reverse Records UK / Final Trauma Recordings