Surgeon has been dominating the techno scene since 1994. From remixing the likes of Dave Clarke, Thom Yorke & Shed being recently dubbed as ‘arguably the finest techno DJ in the world’, we caught up with Surgeon to chat about his collaborations.
Ahead of Surgeon’s headline show in Index this Friday with Subject, we take a look at our interview with the legendary techno producer from last year.
Q: I heard just over a week ago Lady Starlight and yourself played a killer set at the launch event of ‘ONYX’ at Space Ibiza. Could you tell us about how you and Lady Starlight first came acquainted, how much your relationship has grown since and have you any upcoming collaborations that are in the works?
A: My wife and I went to the Lady Gaga concert in Birmingham in 2014 and I was very surprised to hear one of her support acts, Lady Starlight playing a ‘real’ techno live set.
She made a real point to tell the slightly confused audience that she was playing techno live using hardware. Then she said, “I’m happy to be playing in Birmingham tonight as one of my techno heroes, Surgeon is from here.”
To say I was surprised is a massive understatement! We got to meet after her set, she was just as surprised that I was actually there and we got on really well and stayed in contact. We realised that we shared many, many core ideas on music, art and performance. She’s like the techno sister that I was separated from at birth with.
Q: When you first started playing gigs with her were either of you afraid people wouldn’t take onto as well as they did?
A: Never. It was so much fun that it had to be right. Fear as a motivating force for artistic decisions always leads to the wrong choice. I live by that.
Q: How much has your style of music evolved since your debut EP on Downward Records which seemed to cause a wave of excitement through the scene at the time?
A: I think I actually have the worst perspective on my own music in terms of defining style. Style, genre or any category don’t really mean a lot to me so I don’t really focus on that.
For sure I’ve explored different avenues, but it’s really about whatever is turning me on at the time.
Q: Obviously playing a set in a club is much different to playing a set at a festival, but as a long term techno artist can you explain the different approaches you take to certain gigs?
A: There are many elements that are the same in every gig I’ve done in the 24 years I’ve been performing techno. And yet no one gig is the same as any other. That’s the paradox that I love and keeps me going out there.
Q: As one of the leaders at the scene for having a modular synth implicated into your sets, could you explain a bit how you first got introduced into modular synthesis, did you instantly fall in love with the idea around it?
A: I felt quite stuck with the process of making music with a computer and I really needed to change my methods to freshen up my creative process.
That was a couple of years ago and Blawan was already deep into modular, so he really gave me some good advice on where to start with it. It’s a lot of fun to perform with and I really like the way that I’m not restricted by someone else’s idea of how I should made or perform music.
Q: You’ve been part of some of techno’s strongest alias’s like British Murder Boys and Trade, how do you know when you meet someone like Blawan or Regis that you can play so well together?
A: It’s probably because I thought they were hot and that we’d look good together. Sexual tension is the driving force behind all good musical collaborations.
Q: Could you give me a quick run down of your live set and how you play live?
A: I don’t put out that easily. You’ll have to at least buy me dinner first.
Q: Lastly having such high credibility from artists around the world, one of the best remix CV’s in the business, could you give me your 5 favourite/most influential tracks of all time?
Coil – Dark River
Suicide – Che
Terry Riley – Anthem of the Trinity
Alice Coltrane – Galaxy In Satchidananda
The Small Faces – Tin Soldier