Sona Eact® interview

Patrick Stevens is a busy man. Thus far he has worked for serval industrial projects, including Sonar (also featuring Dirk Ivens) and Hynoskull. His projects are highly demanded on the dancefloors of dark clubs and still he thrieves to seek new musical expressions and pushes his danceable soundfiles always further. Yet one of his most technoid projects, Sona Eact® has come to an end. Patrick Stevens explains us why this project had to be terminated, where modern industrial is heading and what his future holds in store.

On your webpage (www.escape3.org) one can read that this is going to be the final Sona Eact Album. Is this true and if so, why do you stop making music with Sona Eact?

‘Yes, SONA EACT ® does not exist anymore as a project ever since late 2001. I started it in 1998 and I did three albums with it, let’s say like a trilogy. They fit together like a picture to me. I decided to stop music with SONA EACT ® in 2001 cause it reached his top to me. The first two albums, ‘hard industrial loop check’ and ‘engine works inc.’ were recorded like a normal studio album, I went into the studio and recorded it, this last album was made differently. It consists of tracks that were made especially for some liveshows or remix works and I adapted them into different versions for the ‘chrome injected car crash rhythm boxx’ album. The real reason for stopping SONA EACT® in 2001 was a bit double. I hate it to go further when some project has reached its goals, I don’t like to repeat myself over and over again, so that was the first reason. Also the fact that the goal was reached with the project. Since I’ve left the sonar-project, I started this SONA EACT® project purely out of pride and anger, The initial deal with sonar always was to be a sideproject of both of us, and that any would want to stop with it, it would be over. As you know this wasn’t the fact, I initially started SONA EACT® out of pure anger. That anger is over and what the fuck, I proved my skills with it and I am doing my own thing right now and that’s all very cool. I am doing lots of projects and I feel my music has progressed a lot during the last years. So I am fed up with anger-shit. If I look back on the three SONA EACT® albums, I am very very happy, it’s a great series of cd’s and I’m very proud of them ! Also the work of the pro-noize label contributed to the result.’

"Chrome injected car crash rhythm box" - an accident as a sound? Music like a car crash? Is there a theme which runs through the album? How do you decide how to name a song?

‘It sounded so cool to me. SONA EACT® is based upon the relation of man and machine. Mankind in control of electronic devices that act like mean machines… The fight between man and his machines… The chrome injected car crash rhythm box is an imaginary device that functions like a black box in an airplane, but it is mounted in a racing car… It directs the speed of the car and it will function until the car crash arrives. SONA EACT® has a relationship with speed as such. Speedy rhythms, extreme turns and spins, constant acceleration ! The tracks all give me a clear visual image. If I hear those tracks I hear what I see in my mind. It is all like a fast and wild movie, with lots of style. It’s also very closely related to the new urban lifestyle and its own slang-language… Often my titles remind of how hiphop artists call their tracks. That is no coincidence, but a pure choice. I am actually the same when it comes to the spirit, only my sound is different.’

"Disconnecting the machine", "Dumping the machine" - is composing music for you sometimes like a war against the machine? Human vs Computer?

‘Yes, I don’t care about music equipment as such. I am not a snob who wants to show off with the most expensive and fancy music equipment. It would be a shame too if I would have these very expensive machines, cause I treat them like shit. I hit them, if they don’t follow my orders, they only need to give me fast beats and loud samples. If they refuse that, I’m getting very angry at them and I will punish them by keeping going on with them. I have lots of drummachines that are hurt in a way, that have malfunctions and bad sounds. I don’t care. They need to be in the mix. That is what my sound is all about. It’s not about perfection or the best sound. I am not a technical equipment fetishist. I want that chaos mixed down to the bone. Don’t care if some cable fuzzes or makes interference. That is what I call being hardcore. That is what my music is all about. The tracks ‘disconnecting the machine’ and ‘dumping the machine (no more pressure)’ is really about the fact that I mentally stopped all the anger about sonar and SONA EACT®. I pointed myself out as the one who doesn’t accept being fucked around with and that’s clear right now. I know my skills as a producer of extreme electronic music ever since I started doing it way back in 1990 and that’s the most important for me. I never needed anyone to get me on any track as such when it comes to this.’

Did you trademark register Sona Eact? Or does the (r) stand for something else?

‘Yes. SONA EACT® is a registered trademark. The ® is like a funny double element in the name. It can be placed wherever you want to place it, if you know what I mean. Mean. But yes, it’s a lifetime registration of a trademark. So whenever I want I could make like clothing or fashion or even cars under that name, cause I own the full rights on it. That probably is a funny thing. Maybe I’ll make some things in about ten years with that name, who knows ? It also fits my concept of what I believe electronic music is. It’s merely a product nowadays. If I see all these cd’s that come out every month, I’m pretty sure they’re all products. I consider myself being a producer instead of a musician too. I produce tracks, like in a factory. I am not a real artist, just the commander of some machines. But in the end, you can as a listener decide whether to approach the product as a product as such or as an artistic creation. It’s all in the picture, isn’t it ?’

Where do you see the industrial scene today? Has it lost a lot of its energy or do you think this genre is still innovative?

‘As you maybe know, I am very very critical when it comes to this point. I have very controversial opinions about the industrial scene as it is nowadays. I believe there are certain bands who came from the industrial backgrounds and scenes who are really doing all the efforts to get the genre in a different gear right now. But for each band who does so, there are like ten projects who just copy all the shit that is done before and create bad copys of the originals. Industrial music died several years ago I guess and it is a fact that even in more mainstream oriented music scenes there are some projects who are much more interesting than lots of the industrial projects out there. I try to expand the style of industrial electronic music by blending it with some musical styles I think are very interesting, like very hard straightforward techno or even jungle and drum’n bass. Industrial music scenes are today like a retro-thing. Like in the eighties, there was this ‘sixties’ music revival. I feel like now, in the zero’s, there is theis eighties revival. The Electroclash thing for example, which is funny though, sometimes even better than the originals from the eighties. But when it comes to industrial I think the typical elements and characteristics of the style are not developing anymore. I think it’s a shame. Those bands I like are all flirting with exciting other styles and are all injecting harshness into it. I’m not interested at all in hearing bands that sound like cabaret Voltaire or throbbing gristle or clock dva right now. They suck. They are no more but a silly retro thing. Industrial is a ‘lawless’ style. It was purely experimental, and I think we all need to experiment with new styles and sounds to get it to another level.’

What are your feelings towards MP3 and file sharing? Wasn't one of the major ideas of the industrial movement to distribute information and thus also art and music for free?

‘yes it was. And honestly said, I don’t have any problems with MP3 ore file sharing or the copying of cd’s. I have very high standards towards the labels I work with when it comes to covers and artworks. I want a release to be something very special. The cover nowadays is as important as your music that’s on the cd. It makes people want to have the cd. And if some want to have your music but don’t have the money to buy it, or just don’t want to buy it, it’s cool to me if they copy it. I don’t understand all these so-called underground artists in the electro/ebm and industrial scenes that are against copying of cd’s and MP3’s. They are so full of shit. The came from a purely independent background and they act now like if they are some kind of Metallica or shit. They talk nonsense from their stupid record companies and don’t know what it’s all about. Okay, the record business needs to think over how they will manage to get music sold in the future, but as independent artists we should not care about that. If I won’t sell any records in the future, I will still make music, give it for free or whatever… Cause I don’t care. I’m a survivor. Music first for me.’

What will you be doing next? Hypnoskull? Tunnel?

‘I am now recording a record together with Mathis Mootz as m² vs hypnoskull. Mootz is one of the greatest German producers of electronic music I know. You probably know him from his works as Panacea. There will be a release on an American label of one of my new projects I am in, called ULTRAstatals! It is very hard industrial breakcore stuff. Americans love that shit, and me too. I am recording the new hypnoskull album right now. It will be entitled ‘Dark Skies Over planet e.’ and will be released next year on ant-zen offcourse. I am doing some production work for various projects and some remix stuff. We have done some great sessions with tunnel, which will be out soon too… There is this new project called SLIDING ELEMENTS ® which will be a hard industrial project with various guest musicians, and in a way baring the SONA EACT® legacy, but not really when it comes to the sound… It will be something new. I also plan to work on a new <cybernetic:fuckheadz> records together with Raoul Roucka… But that will probably take another while since we both are pretty busy. Lots of things to do so, as you see.’

This interview was conducted by Martin Kreischer. Photo by Cindy Ratka.