Dehumanization, industrialization, technological dystopia, anti-hero, fighting for survival, silicon, metal, rust, high tech, biomechanic, corporations, individuals disembodied, IA, corporations, cowboys, society of surveillance, information flow, cyberspace, Netrunner…
Welcome to the cyberpunk movement.
Concepts and representations of this science fiction genre are now well known. But what about the cyberpunk music? How music integrate the movement? Wich style? Characteristics?
Musicians apart, punk inside, at the margin, with a cyber spirit, they present their interpretations of the movement (sometimes without knowing or claim). The source, inspiration, instrument, is the machine and his ghost, imposing and dominant.
Music, tones, sounds, rhythms, resulting of machine circuits and urban environnement make us feel the themes and issues. Immersion hearing. The cyberpunk universe generate and taking shape in our head.
Meet one of their, Domagoj Kršić. From Croatia, he founded Mind Teardown with Ivan MYH residing in Ukraine.
The future? Come from your ears.
Domagoj, thank you very much for accepting this interview.
No, thank you for giving me this great opportunity to do an interview! I haven’t done much of them and the one I did was..well…not so great.
I would say my music is very cyberpunk, experimental and post-industrial.
That is to say that you’re an artist of cyberpunk?
Yes I am one of them that are aware of it.
What’s your view of the cyberpunk movement?
I think cyberpunk movement is very exciting and unique. There is a thin line between reality and fiction…and that’s what I love about it. I never fitted anywhere and when I discovered cyberpunk I thought “I’m home”.
Can you tell us more about your musical background?
Well, I started my first project “Cyborgs On Crack” somewhere in 2010. Before that, I always wanted to create my own music but I didn’t have the possibilities. I don’t know notes, or anything you actually learn at music schools so I do everything by ear. Computers help me make my ideas a reality.
Then on the summer of 2012 , with Ivan, I started Mind Teardown. I made music under various names but they were usually on release only. Also, 2010 is the year I discovered Industrial music and I gotta say it was a life changing experience.
The industrial style is common in cyberpunk music. It is transmusical, found in rock, punk, metal, electro, new wave … from Front 242 to NIN, through Skinny Puppy, Front Line Assembly, Ministry until Voivod to the extreme, Napalm Death.
Yeah, I personally think Industrial music IS cyberpunk. Many other electronic music genres are connected with cyberpunk, but to me this is the true sound of the future.
What are your musical influences?
Umm…My musical influences are Front Line Assembly, Severed Heads, Ministry, Front 242, Test Dept. and many others. Sometimes they aren’t musical. It can be a movie, the things happening in the world, things I experience, it all affects the sound of my music.
Cyborgs on Crack, is a solo project Mind Teardown is a group, what differentiates these two projects?
Cyborgs On Crack is more experimental rather than the “typical” sound of Mind Teardown. In COC (Cyborgs On Crack) you can hear other genres as well like a little bit of Industrial, a bit of Techno, a bit of Synth Pop and, I don’t plan too much how the release will sound, while in Mind Teardown it’s more “I’ll make it EBM, and I’m gonna use this sounds, this and that. Also, on COC there are less vocals and more music.
With Ivan on Mind Teardown, you are geographically distant. Do you work in a virtual reality space? How does your collaboration work?
An virtual reality space would be awesome but sadly we don’t have that kind of technology yet…Or do we? Anyway, it usually worked (he isn’t a part of MT no more because he has his own obligations and is no longer able to contribute to MT) like this, I make the music, upload the song I’ve created on SoundCloud, then he hears it, tells me if there’s anything he would change, writes the lyrics, records himself singing and then sends me the vocal files in a rar. I download them, edit them into a song, clean them up a bit, maybe add some effects and that’s it! He would sometimes send me vox for songs in a week and sometimes once a month, depending on his available time. Dry Lung Overdrive is the last release he contributed to, because like I said, he has his own obligations, he has a job and other things, you know? Like everyone else he needs to live, not just sing for this kid who creates music on his little laptop heh.
What are the themes you tackle? How do you choose them? What is the Mind Teardown message?
They are mostly about the world today, the government and how they will screw everybody just to please their ass. But it isn’t all just “oh fuck you I hate you”. I also like to write songs about fiction. Future, Post apocalyptic, technology, these are some of them. Dry Lung Overdrive is half real , half fiction. My songs are more about dark future while Ivan’s are more about real things.
What are your steps for creating music?
I usually start with a 4/4 bass drum or a synth bass line, then I throw in more sounds like snare, hi hats, and other percussion. If it all kinda connects and feels really together then I add more synth sounds, samples. When it’s all done I listen it a few times ,maybe change something and then I export it from FL Studio. Usually I exported all sounds individually to 128 quality mp3 because I didn’t have much space on my laptop. Now I switched to Wav like everybody else. To be honest that’s the thing I hate doing heh, because FL Studio takes my whole sound driver and therefore I can’t play any other sound while FL Studio is opened. When it’s all exported then I open Music Maker and connect all the individual sound lines into one song. I change the volumes on some sounds and then mastering (gulp). I think I’m bad at mastering because the songs will not sound the same if you play them on sound systems.
Sometimes I play them on various devices to check does it sounds like on the laptop, and usually it’s like the snare is louder than it’s meant to be or the vocals are too quiet. There are times that I can spend more adjusting the volumes rather actually creating the song. But I think I’ll no longer do it myself, since I met a really nice guy who’s an musician also and he says he’ll do it for free!
The whole process of making a song can take from 2 hours to 4 hours. Sometimes I can make a really great and cathcy song in just a few hours or I can spend the whole day doing something that will end up being crap and unused.
Distortions, samples, synths, vocoder, noise from factories and machines, can you explain how you find or generate your sounds?
I use distortions on samples and vox but lately I’ve been using it everywhere because some sounds are too quiet and they need a little boost. With vocals it can be a problem, because even though I payed a lot of money for my mic you can still hear the background mic noise.
Analog synthesizers are my favorite. They are extremely easy to use once you understand which knob does what, they can sound so raw and powerful. Theres nothing like analog… The samples I get are mostly from the net. I download them from sites like Bad Movies.Org (lots, lots of b-movie samples) and Movie Wavs. Sometimes I watch a film and I hear a line that I think would be good for using I record it with a sound recorder.
For “factory” sounds I go in the basement with my laptop and a mic and record myself smashing various metallic things with a hammer. I also record kitchen stuff, blenders and a weedwhacker. Recording them is really fun because I always wonder how will it sound at the end. I mean, In one song I did as COC I made a weird sound that sounds like something you would do with a synth but it’s actually me coughing.
When I’m too lazy to go down in the basement to record them or I find the ones I recorded low quality sounding, I use Robota Drum Machine. That thing is perfect for Industrial! Why? Because you have a bunch of samples and you can change them completely in a second. For example, I load a snare sample then tone the pitch down and set the tube know to the maximum. Ending result is a really hard metallic sound. You can even make a hammer sound out of a single clap sample! It has many possibilities, but enough about that.
Sadly , I haven’t used vocoders too much but I love them! It’s because I either think the vox wouldn’t sound good with a vocoder or I forget to use it (damn). However, I will use it on the newest Mind Teardown album!
What hardware and software do you use?
I make music on my laptop with a little cheap keyboard by Medeli. It is low quality but the + is it has midi. On my laptop, I use FL Studio for creating music + various VST plugins, drum machine samples (bunch of them). My favorites are PolysixEX, Micromoon, Shortcircuit, MinimougeVA, and Prophanity. For recording some samples on my laptop (if I can’t download them) I use Moo0 Sound Recorder. For mastering I use Music Maker.
What is your relationship with technology? Do you have other high-tech activities (graphics, coding…)?
I use my laptop a lot and I keep in touch with what’s new in the techno world. Besides music, I also make artworks. I get an picture and “deconstruct” it. Set the contrast really high, decrease color depth, pixelize it and stretch it. In the end you get an very old school cyberpunk looking image. All the artworks for my releases I made. I also know a very little coding in Flash. Used to make a few games with it but they were crap heh.
In the glory days of coding demoscene party (80 90), South / Eastern countries coders were well known, talented and very creatives. Today, I feel it’s the same in the underground electro scene. Am I wrong? Can you tell us more?
It is. Many, many underground bands work very hard and love what they do. All over the world, there is bunch of them If you look really deep. But unfortunately in my country there are almost no industrial bands! There is a small group of them who are relatively unknown.
In my town, NOT A SINGLE ONE! There are either Punk, Hard Rock or Turbofolk bands. The turbofolk ones are trash redneck music, and the rock ones just do damn cover songs. They are all trying to be like the only band from my town that actually got an record deal. It is getting boring and repetitive. Hopefully, if everything works with my new vocalist, we will start doing Mind Teardown live shows soon. I wonder how the faces of the people will look like…
Can you share some good sources to discover this music?
I recommend Discogs, various blogspots, forums and sites like that. If you’re getting into the music, go to Wikipedia, they mention classic bands that are a good start.
Outside of music world, what are your inspirations? Favorites cyberpunk or SF works?
I don’t read much books (but will more soon) and the only cyberpunk book I’ve read is “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheeps?“. I even did it for school! Man, was I surprised when I found it in the school library.
Following, I try to express what reminds me of some of your pieces, can you react?
You confronts us with an heavy industrial, black and biomechanics world. We travel in industrial wasteland haunted by the rhythms of chains machines or electronic circuits. These environments are found in films like Stalker, Avalon, Alien3…
And that is how I think of it…an soundtrack for the low life-high tech world.
Your music seems to me as opposed to a kind of electronic music: very clear, musical and arranged (like Daft Punk who also fit cyberpunk universe).
Besides, we can make the parallel. The opposition in cyberpunk social organisations. A strong polarization between rich class, dominant standardized, living in heavenly places and other hand an aimless class, no future, marginalized, exploited, (sur)viving in shallows.
Cyberpunk movement had its heyday in the 80s. many your sound also seem come directly from this era. For example Minced Thoughts sounds with an air that would not have denied the group Yello.
Yeah, many of the bands that influence my sound are from the 80’s and I always want to make my music sound dirty and “outdated” because I feel that today everything is so over polished and clean. There isn’t a certain feel to it.
Many of your songs are ‘Metal Percussion‘ style, feature of Chu Ishikawa. The shadow of Tetsuo the Iron Man invade Rapid Eye Movement album (Reality Shock, Chemical Tormentor…) and tracks like Machine Messiah, Wreckage, The Body Hammer, Mobilized…
Yes they are influenced by that film. There is a song called “Metal Man” I did as COC and if you hear it you will think it is in the movie heh. It sounds like you’re inside a machine.
Evoking Tetsuo, I also think the Akira Soundtrack, another cyberpunk masterpiece, that accompanies MindVision first seconds, Hunger or Begin Self Destruction.
Steel Flesh, Hit That Perfect Beat, possess a video games beat with some samples that sound [chitpune] music. Do you have links with the electro chiptunes world?
Nope, I don’t make chiptune music but will try to make it when I have more time.
P.S.- Hit that perfect beat is a song by “Bronski Beat” I remixed.
Some voices, intonations like Plastic Seagull make me think Max Headroom serie, with some kind of irony and detachment in lyrics.
Didn’t had actually had Max Headroom in mind while I was making it , but yeah it is weird. That is Cyborgs On Crack, experimental and weird. The songs on Drinking Air With Eyes have lyrics that are actually thoughts of me but with a good dose of weird.
The song Concrete Shoes is actually about a guy who is in fear that everybody is looking at him and judging him and at the end he collapses. I actually at one time felt like that ,but without the collapsing part. The track you mentioned has a sample from one of the few books I read, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull“. It’s a recording of an audiobook version.
Is Event Horizon, a tribute to B-movie SF / Horror?
Correct! When I finished that song It reminded me of that movie so I named it like that.
Wreckage and TV Gods are pure wonder, tell us more about them. Including where the 00:34 Wreckage sound come from?
TV Gods is my favorite song on that EP. It has a nice fat MinimougeVA bassline with a lot of reverb and a bunch of samples from televangelist shows. That’s why It got that name. The sound at 1:13 is a sample of some show where they performed exorcism on the audience and they all rolled on the ground and had seizures. Then they close up to some woman who was screaming her brains out. It’s just ridiculous. The “damnation no donation no salvation” sample is from the game Grand Theft Auto 2.
Wreckage is the song that really set the sound for Dry Lung Overdrive. Before that, I made like a bunch of songs that seemed boring. Originally this album was going to be Synth Pop kinda like Depeche Mode. But I changed my mind. Back to Wreckage…That day I was messing around with guitar samples and added more and more distortion and then I got the idea of using the delay vst. It had one praticular effect called “Tin Roof” which when you add it gives the sound a steel/metallic sound. The result was better than I expected. The machine like guitar sounds. At 00:34 there is an guitar sample and an printer sound. I’ve found it on some wav site and recorded it. Sounds like a robotic arm moving.
Synth passages and softer rhythm sounds like compositions of John Carpenter, as Whisper.
Whisper is one of the best songs I made. I love it. It just started as a simple bassline and grew into a mystic track. Ivan’s vocals fit perfect!
Attention Thermal Resolution, Who is Justin Bieber are very close to dance, which links your music had with rave / club electro?
There are times when I need rest from pounding drums and hard basslines, so I make more “normal” music. I was planning to release an new COC album called “Creation Of The Techno Machine” but at the end I felt it didn’t overtopped Drinking Air With Eyes so it wasn’t released. But I’m thinking about releaseing an 5 track EP with some songs. I really like 90’s Rave music and I always wanted to make a few songs. Thermal Resolution is another remix. It’s a remix of the song from the game “Tempest 2000“.
Yeah, I started to make some ambient tracks. They are mostly made to tone down the pace of the album. I don’t want all songs to be hard bass and fast. I like listening ambient music while sleeping. It is atmospheric and more effective then. When I was going to sleep I decided to listen Freedom Taken and it really felt like I was in some future post-apocalyptic warfare. Antrax Junkie is made completely in the Robota VST, and was originally called “Nice Smooth Song”.
I don’t bash my head about that too much. You can play my songs where you want, share them, whatever. Even use them in your videos (as long as you credit the artist). But just don’t sell them! They are meant to be free!
You just posted a new track, Utopia, will you keep this publication speed? What are your futurs plans?
Utopia is a really good song. It’s an example of that “make a cathcy song in just a few hours”. It is also available on some free download compilations like “Apocalypse Don’t Come…We Are Still Stomping Vol III - V.0.2“. Along with Utopia , Whisper V2 will be available on the “Radio Body Music” compilation(s). It will be released on the 21.06.2013…and If the folks at Body Music decide, one of my songs will be on the 2 LP version of the compilation.
For the future, I am right now working on the demo for my newest project called “Mechkopf” which will be sent to various small cassette labels. It will be more Synth Poppy in contrast to my other works, but I’ll still try to keep it Industrial. Also, I am working on the new Mind Teardown album which will be more EBM and will be completely cyberpunk. It will also feature an flash .exe file which will have like a mini program that will have information about the project, song samples, images, links and other great stuff.
Do you have an official website? What is the best way, the best method to follow your releases?
I have an SoundCloud profile but you won’t be able to find all the songs there, since I upload my music mostly via file hosts in rars. I also have an YouTube channel where you can find those download links on videos. If some album isn’t there, I’ll upload the video with the link soon. Let’s not forget Facebook. This is the official Mind Teardown page where you can get all the news about the project. There is also a page for Cyborgs On Crack. If you still can’t find MT releases go to Crime:Scene Records, you can get them all there. COC album Drinking Air With Eyes is also there.
The human mind is it a fundamental resource? (See Mind Teardown - Begin Self Destruction EP back cover.)
It is, It means that behind all those machines there is always a human mind who created it.
Domagoj, thank you again for your music. Each piece is a pure listening pleasure, sensations, originality and diversity. A must listening for all cyberpunk fans.
Thank you for your kind words, and again thanks for the great opportunity of doing this interview! The past is now, the future is cyberpunk! Take care…
There is a Fucking good news: -C-y-B-e-R-p-U-n-K—I-s—N-0-T—D-e-A-d-!-
DOMAGOJ — CYBORG ON CRACK — MIND TEARDOWN