(Adam Power/ Alien Hand 2013)
Photography by Michael Brennan
In the second of our EPR Q&A’s we asked the head of our Heavy Electronics division, the brilliant Dublin based producer and DJ Adam Power AKA Alien Hand to give us some of his time and answer some of our burning questions.
Established as a firm part of the EPR rosta, a key player on the underground music scene in Ireland and a bit of a top bloke to boot it’s great to hear Adam’s thought’s on where he’s come from and what the hell he’s going to do next.
Essential reading this. Enjoy.
Alien Hand Q&A
EPR – When Did it all Start?
It’s hard to say really. One of my earliest memories is of waking up before everyone and going downstairs to the sitting room, turning on the amp and putting on headphones to listen to a tape of Grandmaster Flash. I must have been about 3 or 4. I had no idea what he was on about but it sounded super cool!
My mother sang in a country rock band in the 80s and I would come along with her to some of her gigs. I remember being blown away by how powerful the sound was and how glamorous she looked on stage. My dad was a DJ on a local radio station too and I would spend an inordinate amount of time sifting through his huge record collection. So the seed was planted very early on.
EPR – What were your early influences when you started producing music?
I think my earliest influence would have been video game music. There was something special about those gnarly lo-fi sounds that really appealed to me. I would spend ages just sitting listening to the music. Some of it was just breathtaking. Like Castlevania, so tense and atmospheric, those were some seriously talented composers! That was when I started wondering about just HOW that amazing music was made.
I listened to a lot of old school house and rave music in my early teens, then became obsessed with grunge and then death metal and industrial. Then I heard Come To Daddy by Aphex Twin and it was the most insane, twisted tune with its impossibly complex drum programming and roaring synths. It had all the fury of metal but with the crazy futuristic sounds of jungle and electro. I heard that and said to myself, “I want to make music like THAT!”
EPR – How did you turn into Alien Hand? Were there any other formative projects you were involved in?
I played drums in various bands before I started messing around with computer music. I used to be constantly tapping on my desk at school and annoying my teachers. One of them told me I ought to take up the drums, maybe then I’d get all that nervous energy out of my system, so I did. It didn’t work of course, I just kept right on tapping!
I played in a few shite grunge/metal bands as teenagers are wont to do, then later on when I left school I played in a death metal band that was actually decent. I started making my first tunes around then. That band lasted maybe 2 years and then I played in a psychobilly band called the Mo7s for about 3 years. It was during that time that I got heavily into producing electronic stuffs and I was listening to way more jungle and breakcore and electro than rock or metal or whatever.
I kept hacking away at it, making the odd tape for my mates. I got the name from a documentary I’d seen about Alien Hand Syndrome, it just seemed to fit what I was doing. Then in 2005, I came across a thread on the C8 forum by a fellow called Solypsis, looking for submissions for the first Can Buy Me Love compilation. I really liked the idea of people from all these different countries throwing in an equal share to get the CDs made and distributed, DIY ethos and all that, so I thought yeah, why not? That was the beginning of my involvement with the Digital Vomit collective and the point at which I truly became the Alien Hand.
EPR – How would you describe your music and what do you need to hear when you’ve finished a track or a remix?
I generally avoid trying to describe it. I don’t stick with any one style. It’s music for dancing to, but also for listening to. Sometimes it’s hard, sometimes it’s soft, sometimes it’s angry, sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it’s creepy, sometimes it’s just silly. Sometimes it’s all of the above. The main thing for me is that it has to have atmosphere and emotional impact. If it doesn’t move me in some way, it’s not worth a wank.
EPR- Whatís the electronic scene like in Ireland and how long have you been a part of it?
The scene here is very small, it’s such a tiny country, but it’s pretty robust. There are a few small groups around running nights and parties and it just about manages to keep going. It’s a real ragtag bunch of scrappy underdogs kicking against the pricks, you know?
I’ve been sort of tangentially involved since about 2000, that’s when I started going to clubs and raves and realising that there was this whole other (way more fun) thing happening alongside the punk/metal scene. I started playing out around 2004 when I got my first laptop. There was a fairly strong breakcore scene developing here at the time and I made a lot of new friends. Good times.
EPR – Thing that excites us is there seems to be a really strong underground vibe to what you do and where you get to play. Are there any other people out there furrowing the same path and who do you rate?
Oh for sure. It’s underground by necessity because the audience for it is so tiny. The !Kaboogie lads have been running nights for 7 years and put out a few releases, along with the Alphabet Set, Ghetto Quietly and Poster Fish Promotions. It tends to move from one dingy venue to another quite frequently, since most places won’t touch us. There’s a very pervasive mentality of “electronic music equals drugs equals trouble” so the venues generally tend to be the shittiest ones that are desperate to get people in the door.
There are a good few artists putting out some quality stuff. Lakker are deadly, lush glitchy electronica, thay’ve been at it for years, Eomac’s (one half of Lakker) solo stuff is pretty awesome too. Herv is another veteran, he’s done some amazing deconstructed/reconstructed rave/jungle type stuff. Meljoann does some great wonky R&B mutant pop music. LionFX produces epic electro/synth pop/ghetto tech stuff. And Automatic Tasty makes beautiful acid house with his formidable array of analogue synths and drum machines. All excellent artists making really great, unique music. There are plenty more, but that’s just off the top of my head.
EPR – There seems to be a real party scene over there similar to the sadly missed one’s over here. Is the free party and rave scene still alive over in Ireland?
Not as such, there’d be the odd rave in the woods or in some warehouse in an industrial estate on the outskirts of town, but they usually get shut down by the authorities. Again, it’s a tiny country! It tends to be more BYOB events and small festivals because that way it’s legit. The nature of the scene is such that everyone kind of pitches in, everyone knows everyone so it’s all about covering costs, sharing resources and supporting each other. I’m more than happy to pay in to a Poster Fish gig because it means there’ll be more of them in the future.
EPR – Your recent collaboration with The Encrypter was ACE. How did you begin working with one another and any plans to do more?
Thanks! I first met Dave about 5 years ago when I was invited to play at a night down in Waterford by the Untz! crew. This was in the days of Myspace and I was surprised and delighted to find a whole crew of hardcore nutters just a few hours drive away. It was a belter of a night and we kept in touch afterwards. I mastered a few tunes for him and we played a few gigs together. We’d been talking about a collaboration for ages but only got round to it recently. No solid plans for more yet, but yeah, we’ll be working together again for sure.
EPR – Outside of your music and production work you work as part of the A4 art collective. What’s your involvement and do paths cross with your music?
I’ve been friends with the A4 Sounds heads for years. They ran interactive exhibitions where all the art was in black and white and they’d provide markers for people to colour things in, loads of fun! One of their events was a fake shop with fake cartons of milk and tins of beans and the like, all with black and white graphics for people to colour in. I made some wonky muzak for it, it’s very silly. Gradually I became more closely involved and now I’m on the committee of directors.
The essential ethos behind A4 Sounds is collaboration between different types of artists and providing a space to facilitate that, with a workshop, studio space, darkroom, screen printing facilities, music studio and so forth. It’s non-profit and we do things like circuit-bending workshops and art classes for kids so it’s not just a bunch of hipsters slapping each others’ backs, we actually engage with the local community and get people involved.
Just last month we had to move everything out of our building into storage because it was sold to a developer who plans to gut the place and build apartments, so right now we’re scoping out a new building. The place we’re looking at now is much bigger and will have enough room that we can run exhibitions and events to bring in revenue without the hassle of finding a venue for it. There’s a whole load of red tape to wade through, but, fingers crossed, it will be worth it.
EPR – What out there is inspiring you at the moment?
Inspiration is everywhere, all the time! Just listening to the sounds of the city, random noises falling into strange rhythms and little snatches of conversation as people pass by, it’s all a rich swirling maelstrom of sounds! Music-wise, I’ve been listening to a lot of UK stuff lately, bass/garage/wobble/whatever. Mutant Bass and Coin-Operated records are two of the labels that spring to mind. I’ll always have a soft spot for old school rave, my first love! There are some amazing artists at the moment like Rrritalin and Kanji Kinetic that are reinventing the rave sound, with bigger, fuller, more defined sounds, really banging stuff! It’s great.
EPR – So…What are you working on next?
I’ve got an EP in the pipeline, should be finished in the next couple of months, taking cues from the aforementioned wobbly rave fiends with lots of bass and breaks. Also on the horizon is a collaborative hardcore project with my friends Raw Gash and Septar Boomstick, called El Scorchio, which should be a lot of fun. Oh, and of course there’s another Shankfist remix on the way too. Keep your ears peeled!
(EPR) Thanks to Adam for his time and be sure to listen to his latest set vs The Encrypter here:
And preview>play>BUY his debut for EPR ‘All is Not Lost’ Here
HEAVY ELECTRONICS FROM TWO OF IRELANDS FINEST AS THEY GO HEAD 2 HEAD @ PRESSURE.
Recorded live at their set a couple of week ago. Parts of the set have already been broadcast in Ireland but here is your first chance to download the whole shebang.
Nice to see the Shankfist rework in there.
Be careful… this is Heavy, FAST and utterly BRILLIANT.
Broadcast - Found Scalded, Found Drowned Dub Elements - Rude Awakening The Outside Agency & Sei2ure - Undermind Detest - Blasteroid The Cyberdemon - Meguiddo Tirans form Terroville - I Bow 2 No Man Lenny Dee - The Dreamer (Promo Remix) Negative A & Lowroller - The Fallen Amen Andrews - 1,000,001 Style Shankfist Wreckage Technique - Church & State (Alien Hand remix) Eye-D - Mission Statement N-Vitral - Kling Klong Konflict - Messiah DJ Hazard - Machete I:Gor - Total Confusion Re-Style Ft. Catscan - League Of Shadows DJ Scud & I-Sound - Next One Dead Chevron - Power Of Eternia Axe Gabba Murda Mob - Blood Language Hellfish - Crack Wars (Toilet Wars Reboil) Karl Marx Stadt - Ode To The Fate Of Mankind Deathcut - You're A Frenchcore Sucker The Prophet & Delirium - We Love 2 Party Alien Hand - The Z Word Thanks a million to all the fiends that came and gave it socks! Rave on. AH/TE 2013
PLEASE NOTE: The live sound was recorded from inside the main bass bin.
SHANKFIST WRECKAGE TECHNIQUE are about musical evolution. Not a simple expression of egos but a fluid musical collaboration. It’s a project that has dipped into many musical pots, boasting members from the rich cultural heritages of cities and towns such as New York, Denver, Krakow, Berlin, Dublin, London, Sheffield, Manchester and Macclesfield.
October 21st sees the launch of the discography summarising COLLECTIVE, the aptly named assemblage of the best of the SHANKFIST WRECKAGE TECHNIQUE remixes and collaborations to date.
Bursting with an array of genre smashing remixes that reinterpret each song in a radically different style it slips between the cracks of genres. There are sounds to suit every palette from industrial dubsteppers, melodic drum ‘n’ bassheads, turntablist funksters, dissonant electronicists and old skool ravers – everything except piano driven anthemic rockers.
The collaborations with artisan bass-smiths Dynasty/3Bears particularly have been heavily supported by those buccaneers of the South London airwaves Redline & Feedback on FLEX FM. Even gaining an airing on legitimate airwaves via the Huw Stephen’s show on Radio 1
Their debut single was THE WILF DADDY, a laid back slab of instrumental hip-hop, a dirty little ditty that channelled Roy Budd via Dr Dre.
This was followed by PREACHER a slab of dirty phunk with a spooky piano, rude bassline, a filthy break and a positively obscene string section.
Church & State saw SHANKFIST WRECKAGE TECHNIQUE hook up with New York rapper LOGAN P. MCCOY to deliver a more ominous soundscape, a post-apocalyptic soundclash of melody and dissonance with densely lyrical wordplay.
The recent fourth single FIRST REJECTION continued the r-evolution. Keen to avoid any 80’s soap opera related confusion, regular collaborators Dynasty mutated into 3BEARS, uttering their nascent subsonic growl on the lively lead single remix.
• Jack Thadeus Demolsky (Doubtlex), Poland
• Paul Locker (Meep), UK
• Paul Hibbert (DJ Bert) ,UK
• Alex Common, UK
• Fury, Sneak and Epik (Dynasty), UK
• Joe Milnes, Phil Miller Staples, Fraser Trought (3Bears), UK
• James Miller (Solypsis), USA
• Steve Bock (Neon Sewer), UK
• Paul Dobson (Blue Amberol), UK
• Logan P McCoy, US
• Gareth Finney (Sharp Tools), UK
• Paul Harris (Gilt Runts), UK
• Eike Hill (Zak235), Germany
(Frazer Cooke/ Shankfist Wreckage Technique 2013)
In readiness for the release of the new Shankfist Wreckage Technique album ‘Collective’ (Monday 21st October) we track down and catch up the elusive producer and SWT mainstay Frazer Cooke for a Q&A session.
Writing, producing and recording as Shankfist for over 10 years. He joined EPR in 2010 and since we’ve had the pleasure of working across all 4 of his collaborative releases: The Wilf Daddy, Preacher, Church & State and First Rejection.
Uncompromising, individual and someone who stylistically you just can’t pin down it was great to get some time with the head of our London based breaks division.
EPR: When did it all start?
FC: That’s difficult to answer. I think around 2004, I’d got bored of doing solo stuff and wanted to musically evolve through a collaborative process but not necessarily in a band, I wanted to work with a rotating cast of contributors. I penned some nascent sounds as Shankfist Wreckage Technique around 2004 before shelving it for 7 years. Only in 2011 with the formation of EPR did Shankfist grow from its embryonic promise.
EPR: What were your early influences when you started producing music?
FC: The Bomb Squad and Meat Beat Manifesto pretty much define my style but I take inspiration from anywhere and everywhere.
EPR: Going way back, pre collaborations, pre EPR, how did you begin writing for Shankfist?
FC: Along with EPR head Gareth Finney, I was part of the seminal techno duo AFL, known primarily for their guerrilla marketing tactics and the campaign that resulted in a visit from the Cheshire Constabulary. Following that I became Kingbullit and knocked out the odd breakbeat based tune for a number of years before I got bored of my own company and started to seek human companionship again.
EPR: With the state of the record industry the way it is what drives you to start and complete projects?
FC: I just want to hear music that I like.
EPR: What influences directly affected the sound of Shankfist in the early stages?
FC: Early on I was trying to channel cinematic influences by making brooding filmic soundscapes with hip-hop beats. I think some of that desire still remains.
EPR: Where do you pitch Shankfist releases? Is it more about the creative process of working up to a release or is it delivery of a track you think will do well?
FC: I never think the tracks will do well so it’s all about the process. I kind of lose interest once they’ve been launched into the wide world.
EPR: Your EPR Surgery has been the most widely listened too except you don’t see yourself as a DJ? Why?
FC: I haven’t got a working record player.
EPR: With your mixes… What do you enjoy more? The sequencing, getting the best tunes into a mix tape or do you secretly want the hands in the air superstar deejaydom?
FC: It’s always a very selfish process of just getting a load of songs together that I like and trying to mash them together into a mix. I was briefly that guy in the booth taking requests from chubby girls wasted on MD20/20 to play “more dance music, you know like the Timewarp?”
Never. Ever. Again.
EPR: You have adopted a ‘rework’ style when it comes to remixes. Where did that idea come from and isn’t it difficult to control how you want to format a release or how it will sound cohesive when you give other producers so much free reign?
FC: I’ve always been interested in remixes that have taken an idea and worked into something entirely new; related to the original but utterly different. The great thing about sampling in the early days was when samples were removed from the context of their original songs and fused with others to create brilliant new soundscapes. Then came mid 90’s hip-hop where they’d just take an insipid AOR song and rap over the top of it; killing originality and innovation with their massive sacks of filthy cash.
I don’t worry about it being cohesive. Should I be worrying about it?
EPR: How does Shankfist move forward? Is it musically, film, literary? How or what influences what you do next?
FC: It’s a rudderless ship in a vast ocean, who knows what shores we will find ourselves upon?
EPR: What out there is inspiring you at the moment?
FC: Very little. Ways of accessing new music are so wide and disparate that we’re at the mercy of record pluggers and music moguls who simply tell us what we like and play it on every TV show, advert, in-store radio station until we concede. I’ve taken solace in the past, I’m contemplating an 80’s inspired album, I’ve got one song called ‘Love Gynaecologist’, I’m looking for collaborators.
EPR: So… What are you working on next?
FC: I’m currently working with DJ Bert and Logan P. McCoy on a track that I put together with guitarist Alex Common. It’s a hip-hop monster, taking Shostakovich by the way of Dr Dre and Pixies. It’s sure to be the next cruelly ignored underground classic.
RELEASED ON MONDAY (21/10/13)
Shankfist Wreckage Technique present ‘Collective’
A huge collaborative project collating the entire Shankfist catalogue of EPR releases from the last 3 years.
Featuring all the Shankfist collaborators: Solypsis, Dynasty/ 3Bears, Alien Hand, Doubtlex and more. The album spans a collection of tracks and recordings produced in the UK, Germany, Poland, Ireland and the USA.
The album will be available in two versions.
ITUNES/ SPOTIFY/ AMAZON will feature the sequenced version of ‘Collective’ by Shankfist mainstay Frazer Cooke.
BANDCAMP will offer the entire 21 track catalogue at the special price of £5.99 as a high quality digital download.
Artwork is courtesy of the brilliant Toby Whitebread at New Analog.
CHECK BACK FOR MORE INFORMATION on MONDAY
TO GET YOU IN THE MOOD>>>