I usually consider the turntables as a chord-instrument like a piano or guitar. That is the basic thing of Electric Barbarian: trying to use the turntables as a replacement of the chords. Only the best scratchers can do that and improvise with it.
Not heard of Electric Barbarian? Well, that state of ignorance will be changed irrevocably once you've read this interview. Especially if you've got the sense to follow up your newly awakened curiosity and check them out, for they are in concert (as they say) this month in the Low Countries. Incendiary talked to bass player and founder member Floris.
IN. The music you played at the Paradiso in January was incredibly spacious and all encompassing. What do you aim for in your music? How do you describe it?
F: I wouldn't know how to label my music.... There is a lot of improvising going on and I feel that all musicians play at their best when they are not totally bound by rules and notes. My aim is that people who listening to this music forget about different styles of music like Rock or Jazz or Hip Hop etc. Also the total concept of art is very interesting to me. Like the record "el" we released last year: There is the music, but also the artwork of the cover (a reproduction of the painting by Ignasi Sumoy), the linernotes (by writer Nanne Tepper) and a reproduction of a piece of poem by KAIN.
The audiences that Electric Barbarian plays for vary a lot. For example: Last year we've played the Lowlands Festival and this year we perform at the international opening of the BIM Huis, which is known to be a real jazz stage. It's not that we really play different in these places; just that we have an open mind about music.
IN. Obviously Kain adds a great deal to the performances. Is it right to say that you create a musical structure for him to perform in?
F: The concert at the Paradiso on January 28th was during the Rap and Poetry festival "Double Talk". Electric Barbarian is a quartet consisting of scratch, trumpet, bass and drums but since last year, we have frequently worked with KAIN (the poet). His poems are overwhelming with both political and sensitive lyrics. For this concert there was more space for his poems because of the structure of the festival. Every concert I treat like a unique one and make different sets and arrangements.
IN. Tell us about the band, your likes and dislikes, your ambitions, anything you like...
F: The band is at a good point now. We make our first international appearance at the Banlieues Bleues Festival in Paris on April 1st. On March 18th we´ll be doing a showcase on the international opening of the new BIM Huis for about a house full of journalists and programdirectors from all over the world and January next year there is a tour through Belgium.
A compilation-cd from Radio Netherlands Music, Conamus and Dutch Jazz Connection contains the openingstitel from "el" ("X-Cuse Me! featuring KAIN") and is send to about 5000 related radiostations, worldwide. I like the line-up of the band at this stage (we've had some changes with musicians in the past): KAIN (poetry) - Bart Maris (trumpet) - Grazzhoppa (turntables) - Harry Arling (drums). We are working on our second cd in this line-up and hope to finish it early next year.
IN. How do you write material? Who takes the lead in the band on this?
F: I write all the structures in the music of Electric Barbarian. There are some cues on stage but most of the time we don't need them. It's like this: I come up with a bassline, drum rhythm and a trumpet melody. Next I figure out with Grazz what kind of samples go with it. I usually consider the turntables as a chord-instrument like a piano or guitar. That is the basic thing of Electric Barbarian: trying to use the turntables as a replacement of the chords. Only the best scratchers can do that and improvise with it.
IN. When are you in Holland again? Plans for 2005?
F: We play live from March 18th - BIM Huis / Amsterdam
March 19th - Stromen Festival (de Waag) / Leiden
April 27th - AKI Festival / Enschede
April 29th - Paradox / Tilburg
IN. Why the name Electric Barbarian?
F: It's named after the opening of Emerson Lake and Palmer's "The Barbarian". This is a screaming electric bass with a lot of fuzz. After that they play an adaptation of Bela Bartók's "Allego Barbaro". I found it very suiting for the band because we also try to mix things with electric means.
Words: Richard Foster.