one small seed in conjunction with Olmeca Editión Black Tequila present a new edition to one small seed magazine: The Elektronic Dialogues; offering our readers an intimate showcase of the diversity in our local and international electronic music scene. In Issue 24 – our latest issue in stores now! – we brings you Blush n Bass and Felix Laband, and to follow is the full interview with Felix Laband.
1977 was the year that electronic music pioneers Kraftwerk released Trans-Europe Express. And the year that Felix Laband was born. Like his German counterparts, the Kwa-Zulu Natal-born electronic producer/artist employs a distinctive sound that fuels his X Generation. Bringing in classical music, jazz and old TV recordings, his hauntingly nostalgic soundscape is a minimalist mish-mash laced with themes of politics, pornography and pop culture. Laband takes a break from working on his new album deaf safari after a six-year hiatus and shares some fuel with one small seed.
Who is DJ Snakehips? Are you still playing gigs as Felix?
DJ Snakehips is just an opportunity for me to play anything I want instead of my own material. I am really into all sorts of music, especially crazy band music from the ‘50s and ‘60s and the music I grew up on: the dark stuff from the ‘80s. I also love kwaito and jazz and ‘60s French big beat and modern classical music. And all the Talking Heads-era music. I don’t just listen to electronic music.
Tell me about your new work.
It’s an honest attempt to try and capture the world we live in and expose it in all its beauty and flaws. In my previous work, I tried to create a world that was very far from reality. I wanted to create a space wherein the listener could disappear and find a piece of their own imagination. I didn’t want to dictate the listener’s experience. I wanted to be the LSD and they could have their own trip. But with this album, I wanted to express my feelings about things as I am generally very disturbed by contemporary society and need to comment now.
Describe your sound and style.
My sound is a mix of electronics and raw natural sounds with lots of juxtaposed samples that I’ve been recording over the years. Politicians, preachers, talk show hosts, porn stars. This album returns to some more traditional ‘80s style verse and chorus arrangements. My love of kwaito and local house is also a strong influence and this album will feature vocals for the first time. There’s some beautiful music and some in-your-face reality that may not please everybody.
How do you represent politics in your music and visuals?
For the last six years, I’ve been keeping a visual diary of my experiences in South Africa. The mass media today has eaten our souls and left us a blind, frivolous generation. We are spoonfed all these crap ‘reality’ shows and vulgar celebrities… and we swallow. Americans seem completely hoodwinked about the evil things they do, like invading countries for oil, and South Africans praise corrupt politicians who lead them Pied Piper-style to their own destruction. Pornography is a huge part of our society and two mouse clicks away, but is never spoken of. This new media bill is the beginning of the End, but all we care about is Paris Hilton. My art helps me to express all the things I want to comment on that my music can’t express. I will soon start working very closely with the two different media.
How has the ‘Scene’ changed over the last ten years?
I think the scene today is about to get very exciting because everybody is able to produce music now and there are so many kids doing so. The competition will be fierce and the truly talented will win the battle. Hopefully people will stop putting up with shit.
What is success to you?
A couple of things. Firstly, it is about being able to live comfortably doing what I love, being able to travel and meet other artists that inspire me. And secondly, it’s about leaving behind music that has the power to change people’s lives, help them identify who they are and inspire them to be creative with integrity and passion.
How’s it been getting back into music after your break?
That break was very important to me as everything exploded when I was quite young and it has given me the opportunity to really think about who I am and what it is that I want to do creatively. I started reading more and that has inspired me on a more political level. But I have also found that the older I get, the more critical I am of my work and it has been really hard for me to finish deaf safari. But playing again has definitely helped with my confidence as the reception has generally been great so far.
What are your plans?
I’m playing quite a lot in the near future. Just watch the press. After I release the album, I plan to tour Europe for a while. I would also love to work with Professor or L’vovo Derrango.
What was it like to come from a small town in Kwa-Zulu Natal and achieve local and international recognition in the electro music industry?
I always knew that this would be my life, so it has felt very natural.
‘Click HERE for a preview of the latest issue of one small seed, Issue 24 “Listen to my Colour and Look at my Sound”
Artwork: Felix La Band