Walker (left) and Jammin' Unit
Photo couresty of Resonance Magazine
Interview by Jason Gross (September 1998)I first heard about Air Liquide from a show that band member Dr. Walker did with Holger Czukay on a tour of the States last year. While Holger weaved around his array of electronic dissonances and noises, Walker provided a shifting soundscape of percussion and samples around him. This intriguing combo made an impressive document of the tour on the Clash CD (Tone Casualties).
It turns out that this was just the tip of the iceberg for Walker. Even without the connection to Holger, Walker and his partner Jammin' Unit have headed one of the most important electronica groups in the vibrant Cologne scene, Air Liquide. This also is only a small part of Walker's plans. As he details below, TV programs, films, clubs, radio programs are all in the works. This is your chance to get in the ground floor of Air Liquide before their plans for world domination take fruit. Supreme thanks to Thomas Ziegler, Mike Brown and Alain Stock for their help with this article.
NOTE: As you could probably tell, Walker typed up his own answers. I was thinking of cleaning it up and making it look 'proper' but I thought that his own style looked and felt authentic enough to stand as it is.
PSF: What were your sources of inspiration/heros before you started to make your own music?
heaven17, abc, eurhthymics, j.m.jarre, really old klaus schulze + tang.dream recs, public enemy, chic
PSF: What was the music scene like in Germany when you started?
oh, actually i started 18 years ago, when i was 14 years old. i got a roland jx3p synth from my parentz. i made them totally freak out - i was making phucked up noizez 4 2 years, almost non-stop!
then, after 2 years, the japanese synth-company "korg" hired me 2 program syntyhsounds 4 their latest synths, the dw8000, dvp-1 and the poly800 II. w/ 16 years i made me first record, a blue 7" w/ terrible italo-disco. everyone, including me, hated the record. then, later, i started 2 work 4 a recordcompany.
that was fun - i had 2 produce cheesee hiphouse records. we had a couple of hits in europe, but the company went bankrott - we never got any money from our recordsalez. so 1990 we dropped in the pure electronic experimental market.
did lotz of acid/techno/electro records 4 different labelz like force inc., rising high, power traxx, it rec., we also founded our own labelz like blue, structure, monotone, dj.ungle fever, propulsion 285...
PSF: How did you meet up with Jammin' Unit, the other half of Air Liquide?
we worked long time ago together in a studio in frankfurt. after the work was done and the studio-crew left the studio, we 2 were freaking on the studio-equipment 2 make totally strange electronic dubeee music. this started in 1990.
PSF: How do you organize your duo to make the music with one based in Koln, the other, in Berlin? Does everybody have his trick, his role, his part.
air liquide is a perfect team. when we r performing together, when we r jamming in the studio, we dont have 2 talk "oh, now letz drop off the beat, blabla..." we KNOW what the other is doing next. we r talking a lot on the phone, sending lotz of emailz. we discuss exactly how the next record should sound like - we meet every 3 - 4 months and then w e record 3-8 trax in 3, 4 dayz. in the studio we dont waste 2 much time.
PSF: You've said that you go by working with chance and surprises. Is there a danger to that?
no, because the cance + surprises r only 20 - 40% of our work. we almost never loose the basic idea behind our music.
PSF: How do you conceive and plan out your music? How has the technology of new samples/drum machines effected your work?
shure, new instruments chance the way how we work onstage/in the studio. new soundz do affect our music. but again: the basic idea will never be changed by a new toy. rite now we r working on our own machine, which will be ready in around one year. it will be a perfect groove-tool/weapon.
PSF: How do you prepare your studio work differently from live shows?
there is no big difference. lotz of records we did where recorded live. i m not 2 much into stopping our recording machines 2 try everything from the beginning (except of vocal-recording).
PSF: How did you meet up with Holger Czukay?
i meet him some years ago in cologne. he did a remix for the uk group emf, we did also a remix.
(ED NOTE: Walker also said that they met up with the guy who hired them to do the remixes backstage at a show. It turns out that he hadn't paid either of them for their work. Walker was pretty mad and starting slamming the guy against a wall until he got the point and paid them. Holger stood by, laughing hysterically the whole time.)
PSF: How was this different from your work with Air Liquide?
no, there is not a big difference. holger was more into strange noizez and soundscapez. jammin unit is also a lot into groovez and beatz and stuff. w/ jammin unit i have 2 fight a little more 2 find clear groovez, because we both work w/ drummachinez.
PSF: You founded a label "Monotone Tones". Could you about that and music there?
monotone is a really old hardcore electro/gabber label, which is defunct since a lot of yearz. the labelz i am involved in rite now r harvest (as a free a&r and free promoter), electro bunker cologne w/ all the liquid sky cologne (my electronic music bar) compilationz, xxc3 (weird electronic music), syncom productionz (phunk.eee phunk and rare instrumental hiphop vibez) and steuerflucht (madness).
PSF: Where you think techno is going?
i have no idea, but also: im not that interested in "techno". i dont listen 2 techno records. actually - i phuckin dont care where its going 2...
PSF: What music do you care about then?
phunk.eee stuff like en vogue, records from my friends, weird insane dark music, music that destroys my mind while itz movin chickz buttz.
PSF: Your thoughts on the music scene in Cologne?
thats quite simple - i think cologne has the best, most relaxed, friendliest, sexiest electronic music scene of the world. itz like a big electronic kindergarden where 20 - 60 years old kids play around w/ electronic toys, just 2 drive the grown-ups crazy as phuck.
PSF: What kind of things sustain you personally and artistically?
love, life, friends, drinks, weather, ocean, food, party...
PSF: What's the future of Walker and the Liquid crew?
phuture projectz from the liquid sky cologne posse and myself, dr/w:
- AKUTONE, an electronic magazine, printed & online
which will be @ the following address: http://www.wizoo.com
starting jan 1999
- LIQUID SKY COLOGNE WEBRADIO, a wwwebradio, which transmitts nonstop phunk.eee, phucked up noizez.
starting jan 1999, maybe earlier
will feature a chat-page also
- KLIMAZONE_N, a phuturistic club which will take place on the EXPO2000 4 six monthz. the club will be nonstop on air (radio).
the club will be in a synthetic jungle w/ living plantz!!!!! live projectionz from outer space w/ our own radio telescope, which a friend of mine bought!
- BATTERY PARK COLOGNE, 02. - 11.10.98
a big electronic music festival in cologne.
more than 50 live acts on 10 days in 6 different locationz.
- our own tv show 2 come soon.
- liquid sky niteflite. radioshows on diff. radio- stationz. really mental radioshows w/ our best guys. lotz of live music,. ...
- our new mega-project: REISSDORF FORCE featuring freddy fresh, nik frost (the singer from last sly&robbie album), the bionaut, m.flux, ....
- the new air liquide album: anybody home? which will be available soon.
PSF: What are some of your favorite LP's/CD's?
the last en vogue album, miss eliott album, beastie boyz... i'm more into phunk.eee black r'n'b and hiphop trax.
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