Thursday, January 03, 2008
Here's an interview I conducted with Veronica Vasicka, founder of Minimal Wave. An edited version appears in this month's Pop Manifesto.
First off, what is the purpose of Minimal Wave?
Minimal Wave is a NYC based record label and web project, founded in 2005. The type of music we focus on is previously unreleased 80s electronic, minimal, synth, and wave from all over the world. The purpose of the label is bring the old material back to life via limited edition vinyl pressings (300-1000) and artful packaging.
What motivated you to set it up?
I launched the label during the summer of 2005, after coming to the realization that there is an entire world of music out there that is yet to be discovered. Since I had been doing the "Minimal-Electronik +" radio show on East Village Radio, I was constantly on the look out for 'new' old material. I made contact with artists, and as a result received loads of great material, much of which had never been released. Immediately, I thought "this needs to get out there".
Describe the sounds and subgenres you’re focused on.
The sounds include synthesizer and drum machine sounds from the machines which were manufactured in the 1970s and early 80's such as: the legendary Roland Tr-808 drum machine, the Roland Cr-78 the Korg MS-20, the Juno 60, the Arp 2600, and the Korg Mono/Poly. Often referred to as "the sounds of the future", these sounds were used in Sci Fi and Futuristic films of the 60's and 70's. The first 'wave' of Minimal Wave was recorded between 1979 to 1985, and includes obscure new wave, old electro, synthpunk, technopop, minimal synth (which is a more stripped down new wave), minimal electronic, and coldwave (which was the post-punk scene which emerged in France in the early 80s). I would say that the best material was recorded around 1981.
Who influenced these artists?
These artists were influenced by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Henry, Robert Moog, Can, Faust, Tangerine Dream, Bowie, Kraftwerk, Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze, and later on Daniel Miller, the Human League, OMD, John Foxx and Depeche Mode. In regards to the 1960's, Delia Darbyshire was a pioneer in paving the way for these musicians. In 1963, she wrote the theme for "Dr Who" along with Ron Grainer, and created synthesizer sounds by splicing magnetic tape together, without even using a synthesizer.
What are your most prized releases and why?
My most prized releases are probably MW001 Oppenheimer Analysis, and MW003 V/A The Lost Tapes. Oppenheimer because the release inspired them to re-form, and even play live again. They have been recording new material, and are releasing on various German labels. They have been doing really well, and make a great live act. The Oppenheimer Analysis release also reached the European DJ culture, which was never expected.
Have you managed to connect with a lot of the original artists through what you’re doing?
Yes of course! I even traveled to some of the artist’s homes in Europe and got to know them very well. The response has been excellent. Many artists are surprised by the renewed interest in their music. I think they get quite inspired when they hear that someone in NYC knows about their band from 1982! It's also great to play some of these songs out, and see people dance. It's proof that the spirit of the music lives on.