One of the things I’ve learned from listening to, and recording, electronic music is that there are RULES. These ’10 Commandments’ must be adhered to if you’re going to be taken seriously in the genre……and these things are taken VERY seriously!
1. Your name will be without emotion or meaning. An artist’s moniker is all important; it’s a statement of intent to your listener…or not, in the case of electronica. Preferably your artist name will be without any meaning to the average listener at all; it will involve sheer nonsense (a made-up word such as, say, ‘Autechre‘), or the ultimate in geekery (involving the name of a piece of equipment, like ‘Aphex Twin‘), or, even better, it will involve numbers (‘Prefuse 73‘). By doing this, you are saying, “Listen to me, my music is technological, it does not stir your emotions, in fact, it is cold and harsh. It does not follow conventions and is difficult to understand.” It can also be read as meaning, “My music is a puzzle. To me, as much as it is to you….in fact, I just recorded a sequence of random noises, fed it through a ring modulator and then got confused…”
You may, of course, use your own name….but only if you have a middle initial to give you extra kudos (Richard H Kirk).
2. You will worship at the alter of…..Stockhausen, Steve Reich, Throbbing Gristle and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
3. You will like dance music, but your own music will involve just ambient noise….or odd time signatures, or incredibly fast tempos (200bpm+).
4. You will have remixed left-field indie bands. However, you will also render their songs unrecognisable/unlistenable as a means of cultural terrorism.
5. You will hardly ever sing……however, you may do occasionally, but only through heavy effects, such as a harmoniser, a vocoder or a pitch-shifter; producing a sound which is either comical, or incredibly sinister (Squarepusher’s “Red Hot Car” for instance).
6. You will also be involved in the visual arts, such as video, painting or digital art. You are a counter-culture renaissance man remember.
7. You will not, on any account, conduct interviews.
8. You will, as much as possible, remain anonymous. The electronica artist rarely has their picture taken….unless they have an agenda…….Aphex Twin’s Richard James, for instance, superimposes his face onto every character in his videos and photos, utilising the “leery grin” (TM). This is inevitably sinister, but is also an expression of the ultimate in narcissism.
9. You will almost certainly be male…….like most of your fan-base. Its the gadgetry, y’see. (Incidentally…….if you are female, you may have been male in a previous existence……70s electronic pioneer Wendy Carlos was previously a man – Walter – until his operation).
10. Ultimately, you will renounce state of the art electronic wizardry and revert to good old guitars. Squarepusher, LFO and Boards of Canada did it, so can you.