With other forms of techno "down under" taking a noticeable back seat to the sound of Detroit, it's with excited ears and open arms that Surgeon's antipodal other Australia, prepares for Jacobin terror and British Murder....on the dance floor.
Off the back of his hailed Fabric 53 mix TEA caught up with the Counterbalance and Dynamic Tension doc to discuss some of Japan's best kept secrets, numerology, that dubstep thing and Taiwanese Oolong tea.
Your latest release Compliance Momentum featured the track 'The Crawling Frog Is Torn and Smiles’. Can you tell us a bit about the title and how it found its way to one of your tracks?
It's a literal English translation of the title of an obscure Japanese fetish movie. I love the way that Japanese directly translated into English can become strangely poetic and slightly wonky.
You were last in Australia over 10 years ago. Can you tell us a bit about your experiences when you were here last?
I remember being treated like a criminal by the Customs staff when I entered the country, to a degree that I've never experienced before or since. Once in the country, I found everyone to be very warm and friendly. I'm looking forward to returning at the end of October.
Your Frequency 7 collaboration with Ben Sims is primarily a live/DJ show. Can we expect any Frequency 7 productions in the near future?
If there are any Frequency 7 productions, they will occur quite naturally; nothing will be forced. That's the way the whole project works.
Earlier this year you played a 7-hour set with Ben Sims as Frequency 7 for Unit in Tokyo. How was it and are extended sets something you enjoy?
It was the 7th birthday of the party we were playing at, on May 7th, and of course we're called Frequency 7 so we decided to play for 7 hours. 7777 = numerologists' dream (or nightmare). It was very hard work, mainly because we were both suffering really badly from jetlag at the time. I felt like a empty shell at the end of it. I've done 6-7 hour sets before and they can work, but only in very specific situations and only when I set the tone and pace from the beginning of the evening. In a typical setting I can make a good connection and communicate everything I want to in a 2-hour set.
Your affiliation with Japan has been well-documented since first you first visited in 1996. You speak the language and with regular gigs and holidays you must have the inside word on some of Japan's secret eats and escapes, care to share any of your favorites with us?
My favourite ramen shop is 'Santoka Ramen' located at Gojo bldg 1F, 3-13-7, Shibuya, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo. Great sushi can be found at Sushizanmai at several Tokyo locations, but the one at Tsukiji fish market is best. For the outdoors, Yokokan Garden, Fukui is very peaceful. There is some great mountain hiking at both Mount Eniwa near Lake Toya, Hokkaido and Mount Nantai near Lake Chuzenji. Nikko Hoshino Yado (Ryokan/Onsen ) Traditional Inn is a great place to visit too.
In 2007 you mixed ‘This Is For You Shits’ as well as this year's Fabric 53 mix. The mix CD is somewhat a dying trend. Can you tell us a bit about your approach and process of finding and putting tracks together for mixes such as these?
They were very different projects, each with a very different personality. Each had a range of emotions and sensations that I wanted to communicate to the listener. I just followed that and the mixes came out the way they did. Very natural.
Industrial, new wave & post punk music seems to play a strong role in the development of music in the techno-ed cities of Detroit, Berlin and Birmingham. British bands such as Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire and Depeche Mode are often cited as influences among many techno producers. How important do you think these styles of music have played on producers such as yourself?
Yes, they are a part of it, but just as much as, say, a book about composing music with tape recorders that I read at school.
After moving to Birmingham and starting up 'House of God' you went to playing parties across the UK and further. What was the transition like from playing your own city, to other cities, to the international touring schedule you have today?
Up until 1994 I played regularly in and around Birmingham and occasionally in other parts of the UK. After the release of my first record that all changed, and I was being asked to play in Munich and Berlin then Tokyo and New York. It really was quite a shock as I'd not travelled much before then. I still find it bizarre that I travel so much to play music. It's wonderful to be able to connect with people all over the world in such a deep way.
Tell us a bit about your current sets at House of God. How important are they to you, and do you prepare for these differently than other shows?
Nothing is ever set in stone before any of my sets. I always attempt to connect to the vibe of the people I'm playing too and go wherever that takes us. My sets at HOG often have a few more oddball selections and often reference older music I've played there over the last 18 years.
You were a resident a Berlin's Tresor between 1997 and 1999. This was an amazing and different time to the Berlin of today. Has being a resident at a club like Tresor during the late 90's influenced and defined you as an artist?
I learned so much as a DJ during my residency at Tresor, I find it impossible to put into words. After House Of God, it was my second DJ apprenticeship. In terms of my productions, I was very fortunate to have Christoph from Dubplates & Mastering who cuts all my music come to Tresor every time I played there to check out how the music he cut sounded and come up with new ways to make it sound even heavier.
Location permitting, techno played amongst a dubstep crowd can receive a mixed reaction. It is common today to see techno producers dabbling in dubstep productions, but even more so incorporating it within their DJ sets. Has this become more prevalent for you being British?
Some people need to get their heads out of their arses and clean out their ears! Whenever I hear music that excites me, I want to share that with other people, simple as that.
Whose productions have you been feeling of late?
Oneohtrix Point Never, Emeralds, La Monte Young
What's next for Counterbalance and Dynamic Tension?
I am currently recording new material, possibly for a more "expanded" release than a 12". Both labels will continue to release at their glacial rate.
It's always nice to ask an Englishman what his favourite blend of tea is. Whats yours?
Taiwanese Nai Xiang - Oolong tea with a wonderfully milky fragrance.
Surgeon will be playing 3 dates in Aus
Brisbane - White Rhino - 21st Oct
Melbourne - The Likes Of You - 22nd Oct
Sydney - Void Sound - 23rd Oct
Book some time at Nikko Hoshino Yado here