Monday, 6 December 2010

TEA with Terence Fixmer

The French are known for their style and Terence's is as rugged as his good looks. Power plant kicks, turbo charged synths and magnetic bass lines make for the soundtrack of an post apocalyptic electrical storm headed by Mortal Kombat's Raiden.

With citied influences such as electricity, voltages, radiation and the great outdoors it's easy to see why his sound is the way it is. Electroclash, Electro, EBM, Industrial call it what you like as to Terence it's just techno.

2010 has seen Fixmer assemble a collection of remixes for David Carretta, Arnaud Rebotini, Echologist, Niederflur and Traversable Wormhole not to mention a few reworks on his own material. But most importantly it's seen the release of one of this years best electronic LP's Comedy Of Menace with part 2 soon forthcoming and all taking place on Speedy J's Electric Deluxe label.

With talk of a future release on his Planete Rouge label by an old school French acid house legend and an industrious 2010 behind him, TEA caught up with Monsieur Fixmer to talk semi clad dancing girls in the studio, swapping Belgian EBM tapes at school and enjoying tea when it's black.

French artists are famously known for their house music of the 90’s and more recently the French electro style that took the world by storm in the mid to late 00’s thanks to labels like Ed Banger and Institubes. Has any of this influenced you at all?

Those labels had no influence on me and I'd say that Ed Banger is not really my "cup of tea" as I don’t really feel linked to their sound. I find it strange to read that people define the music from Ed Banger as electro, for me electro is something totally different. My first electronic influences came from older classic EBM acts such as Front 242, Nitzer EBB, The Neon Judgement, Klinik and early techno from the 90‘s.

Not to be pigeon holed, Tiga’s Turbo imprint has released a foray of electro, disco and pop thanks to acts like Boys Noize, Proxy, Chromeo and Azari & III. Your Epsilon/Rotor release pushes Turbo to its further reaches of techno. Tell us how Epsilon came to Turbo.

Tiga and I have known each other for quite long time, we were both on Gigolo back in 2000 so we have a kind of old family tie together. Turbo is a open minded label with different sounds and artist profile's like Jori Hulkkonen to Sei A for example. I had some finished tracks and after exchanging some emails and talking about the last Hulkkonen album with Tiga I thought he might like them, I know Tiga loves his dark techno as well. So from there I just gave him the tracks and that was the starting point. Epsilon/Rotor is probably considered a pure techno release at Turbo, but the label is not limited to one style.

Different producers have different ways of creating moods within their studios. It’s been said that some have installed lights and smoke machines to simulate a club environment, while others seal of all windows in order to loose the sense of time. You mentioned in a interview with What People Play that whilst working on your track Last Heroes you were influenced by the coldness outside and being a prisoner within your studio. How important is your working environment and is their anything you do to effect it?

Of course, I think the environment around you can have some atmospheric repercussions while producing. If you are sad or happy I can imagine that your music would be different. Outside of the studio there is an atmosphere with certain sounds which I have drawn from but I also like to create and moods despite the whether outside. My favourite time for producing is during the fall and winter, but maybe this is just because that's when the sun isn't shining. I prefer being outside than in my studio. But I don’t put strobes or special lights in my studio, I don’t need this. Maybe I'll try to get some almost naked girls dancing around me when I compose just to see if the environment influences me, maybe i’ll end up doing Ibiza house music (laughs).

Tell us a bit about your track Phantoms. It's quite a contrast the rest of the album.

In a way Phantoms has a more dubby orientation, its more soft in it’s sound. It’s gives a relaxing pause while listening to the album. I think Drastik has a same vibes. Other tracks from the album have more tension and a darker orientation so after some suffocating tension you need a breather. I really enjoying making these deeper and dubbier tracks, it's nice 'warm up' music. You can hear that feeling in the remix I did for Echologist too.

You are constantly evolving your sound. Tell us a bit about your musical journey to the big room style we are hearing from you today.

I think years ago I was focusing my music mainly on the energy. I love to create synth sequences and get some banging synth bass lines. Giving full power to a dancefloor was my favourite thing. The tracks I did around 2000 are the good example of this, when you listen to Electrostatic or Body Pressure both have similar structures. They are all around 135 bpm, synth sequenced and really powerful. The groove is made from the synth bassline, then a break and after a break then a explosion. Now, 10 years later I still love to create club tracks but I focus more on the atmosphere and the tension, I prefer to explore the mind now. To lower the speed gives you more space and you can let the synth express itself better. But the important thing for me is to maintain a musical identity, to make music with character and without compromise.

What adjustments do you feel you have you made to your music as well as your equipment over the years?

When I listened to my first album Muscle Machine that I did in 2000 the sound I went for was fat with a lot of analogue feeling. Mixing this stuff was more difficult to do back then and of course I was younger and less experienced, but still mixing fully analogue equipment can be difficult. A lot of equipment on the side is needed to mix such as compressors, effects units and desks and all that. So after 10 years I’ve improved my skills and my sound quality has reached another level. Working with Nitzer ebb singer for Fixmermcarthy helped me to to improve my sound, it showed me another way of working and dealing with vocals.

Lets talk gadgets. Your an analogue junkie, tell us a bit about your hardware.

Like many techno producers who started in the 90‘s we were freaks when it came to music equipment. I remember when you heard a cool track, their would be all these discussions about the synth in the track, which synth made that sound? What effect? Which brand? We could talk hours on end. Nowadays a lot of new producers use plug in’s and probably don’t even remember the name of the one they use. It's modernity which gives less time on understanding the technical side leaving more time for creativity, which is good thing. At the moment I am still using some hardware, like the classic Korg MS-20,ATC-1, Protone, MS-404, Evolver, Nord Modular, Future Retro, Tetra and MAQ 16/3 Doepfer. I know them well so I can work fast. I mainly use plug ins for effects. To me the warmness of an a old vintage synth is still unique and a pleasure to listen to and the feeling of touching knobs is still great, but of course there are really good plug ins and when you use them well you can do amazing things. Whether you are digital or analogue it is not so important anymore, what is important is the treatment source and the creativity you inject into the sound manipulation. I am still working a lot with Cubase and I use Ableton but only for live purposes. I recently discovered Numerology, another midi sequencer which works in the same vein as a modular sequencer and this looks cool.

Techno is somewhat of a mainstay in terms of genres. Is this somewhere you see yourself staying for a while?

I think my heart has been always for techno, tracks for the dancefloor with the use of raw sounds. People in 2000 defined my music as kind of techno/ebm because of the sound I use, but for me it was just techno. Now you can hear many people using ebm & industrial sounds in techno, but its just call it techno.

I noticed you used Australian band Severed Heads Bless This House in your Electric Deluxe podcast. Severed Heads have had quite the influence on producers of your generation. How important was the band to you?

Yes the podcast I did last year for Electric Deluxe is a mix showing some of the electronic influences I had growing up so of course I had to include Severed Heads. When I was teenager hearing Front 242 for the first time I had a “coup de foudre” with them and knew from here that music focused around electronic sounds was for me. In 85/86 there was no techno. New beat and EBM was a big movement in Belgium coming out of Belgium. I lived near the Belgian border so we all had tapes of Belgian bands like A Split Second, Absolute Body Control, à;GRUMH and Snowy Red at school. We spent a lot of time trying to complete our collection of tracks by exchanging tapes so naturally many other electronic bands outside of Belgium like Severed Heads, Daf, Liaisons Dangereuses got involved. To me all those bands are responsible for my first love affair with the electronic sound and they were my first lesson in electronic education. I did a mix compilation in 2003 for Music Man called Aktion Mekanik which is very similar to the tapes we all had as teenagers.

Tell us a bit about your relationship with Speedy J and Electric Deluxe.

Its great to work with Speedy J. He is a great artist and is really open minded to explore new soundscapes for his label. Jochem has been in techno since the beginning of techno. We both share the same passion for techno and we both know how much of our lives are spent doing it so it’s a relation between passionate artists for electronic music. It’s always a good feeling to work with a legend too. Electric Deluxe is a great platform and family to be a part of, nothing about hype but only about music.

Can we expect anymore from Planete Rouge?

I have Planete Rouge on stand bye due to some contract matters. I then created From Jupiter for a few releases. Planete Rouge is not a label that releases a lots of tracks but it is the one closest to my heart so I will restart it. I always try to release tracks with special vibes, my goal is never the sales but the art. I plan a new release for around february 2011 and the artist concearned is a very old friend. He has been silent for more than 10 years and will be bringing everyone a new track! I suggest you listen to Asteroid on Novamute.

And fixmermcarthy?

fixmermcarthy is still alive. At the moment Douglas is busy with Nitzer Ebb, he is touring their last album. Over the last 4 years we played so much so it’s good to have a break where I can focus on my own music, this gives me time to express myself solo. We do though have another album in mind, hopefully for around 2011/12...we'll see

Whats next for Terence Fixmer?

I’ve done some remixes for Traversable Wormhole , Niederflur, Sian, Detroit Grand Pubahs and Sei A. There is also Comedy of Menace part 2 with 2 tracks coming from the album including some remixes from Brendon Moeller, Speedy J and Niederflur. I'm also working on a new 12” and have some collaboration tracks done as well, so a bit is going on.

What is your favourite tea?

I don’t have a favourite brand but if I have it I like it black.

Check out the Aktion Mekanik compilation here

Terence Fixmer's Electric Deluxe Podcast here

Turbo Records here & Epsilon/Rotor here

And for you curious EBM cats here are some links to the bands Terence mentioned.

Severed Heads

Front 242

Nitzer EBB

The Neon Judgement


A Split Second

Absolute Body Control

Liaisons Dangereuses

Snowy Red



  1. Hey dude, nice interview, it's great to hear the old EBM groups being championed, they'll always have a place in my heart :)

  2. Must not overlook that he mentioned DAF (Deutsch Amerikanische Feeundschaft) as well. Possibly the most important and earliest of all the groups mentioned. Really, respect to Terence for championing this stuff. It's what I consider to be the roots of all the dark, rough, heavy Techno that is so beloved nowadays.

  3. asteroid reference is emmanuel top??

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