Jack Dangers talks about Meat Beat Manifesto remixes, DVD and more

Meat Beat Manifesto interview

Nearly 15 years after its original release, Meat Beat Manifesto’s classic “Storm The Studio” album has been given the full remix treatment. “Storm the Studio R.M.X.S” features mixes from such artists as Scanner, DJ Spooky, Merzbow, and M.B.M vs. D.H.S (a collaboration between Meat Beat’s Jack Dangers and his Tino Corp. Records partner Ben Stokes.) We recently got Jack on the phone to talk about the remix disc, an upcoming DVD release, and other topics.

Were the “Storm The Studio” remixes done specifically for this release, or are they mixes that have been done over the years?

It’s remixes which were done specifically for this release, over a period of about a year. We knew we were going to re-issue the original album, which is 15 years old. That was the main reason for doing it now. Otherwise we’d have to wait another 5 years!

Did you approach the remixers, or did they come to you?

It was bit of both. Some were people who I’ve met along the way. Some of them were mixes from people who just did them off their own back, like the 8 Frozen Modules mix.

Were any particularly surprising in terms of the way they turned out?

Yea, actually that one – the 8 Frozen Modules mix. That took me by surprise. It was one of my favorites.

In what ways did that surprise you?

Just the way he was tweaking things. I actually got in touch with him, to ask what he was doing! Because it sounded like something I’d never done before. I was just interested in what programs he was using, because I knew he had a very minimal laptop set-up. What he managed to get out of that was pretty impressive.

Can you tell me about the upcoming release based on “RUOK”?

It’s a dub record that will be out in January. It’s in surround sound, 5.1; it’s a DVD with 12 tracks and 12 videos. There’s a couple of tracks from the last album [RUOK]. It was going to be a complete reworking of the last record, but I went down different avenues and it’s more or less a new record with a couple tracks from the last album in new dub versions. Whenever I start out doing something, it usually ends up being something completely different.

Since there’s been many Meat Beat Manifesto remixes, and you’re a remixer yourself – does the concept of the remix have any impact on the initial creation of a track? Since the recording/release of a song does not mean it has to be completely finished with?

Not really. I’m working on a song at the moment , actually for a film about Moog. So I’ve got my mini moog out and I’ve been doing track after track of different lines. And then sort of going back to see which ones work together, but finding out that none of them work because they’re all in different tunings. Because there’s all different tracks lying around, I could definitely see them being formed into something else later. But as far as is this going, I’m muting all of those and just starting all over again in an old school way of playing a bass line and then adding something else to it and then something else. Because I’ve done that, and other ways of working like muting tracks purposely just to un-mute them later to see how the sound clash is going to be. There’s always the possibility of a track from something I’m working on to end up being used later on, just because there’s so many bits and pieces laying around.

What are your thoughts on software-based musical tools?

It’s made certain things a lot easier, because there’s a market for it. Like something that will chop up a beat and put it into little sections so that you can change the tempo didn’t exist until like ’94 with Recycle. I was always waiting for that. So it’s sort of come up to date. I think things are becoming more minimal, smaller. I think people want to have a studio and a bank of synths and samplers all on one laptop. But I think with that you’re cutting too many corners, especially with the hands on aspect of it. So there’s pros and cons … it’s made things slightly easier, but that’s made it easier for other people [laughs].

You said that you’d been waiting for something like Recycle. Is there anything you’d like to see that doesn’t exist yet?

Hmm… Yea there’s always something that can make things easier or more smooth. Or more difficult! But I can’t think of anything off the top of my head. I’ve got the tools I need. I’m not feeling like I’m missing something.

What I don’t like about it that some of these programs are so easy to get … you can download cracked versions of them, and not even buy them. You’ve back to that free mentality with the internet. I don’t think it’s very original when everyone is using the same programs. That’s why I feel that a lot of the stuff around is the moment sounds very similar, even if it’s ‘intelligent dance music’ or whatever you want to call it. ‘Glitch core.’ It’s like there’s one idea, and then it all sounds the same until the next idea. You’ve got to look beyond all that, and sd what’s basically in your soul. Just let it go.”

What made you start up Tinocorp? How has it been going?

I would have loved to have had my own label right at the beginning. But I didn’t know anything about the music industry in that way. So it’s all about artistic control. With labels, because they’re running a business, they’re salesmen. They have to sell these units or else they don’t get paid and the rent and the mortgage don’t get paid. So if you can step out of that and have a label, it’s a completely different ball game. It’s a very grassroots thing. We do everything.

Since you have your own label, why are some of the releases on Lakeshore Records?

Just for practical reasons, like distribution. We could have licensed the remixes to them as well, but we’re trying to build up our own label as well. It’s pretty hard at the moment, the music industry is pretty tough right now. It’s suffering.

What are you thoughts on file sharing?

I can actually tell you that I’ve never downloaded one mp3 off the internet at all. 0. Numero zero. It’s a difficult one … the more people who do it, the less people will be making music. Because they won’t be able to make a living from it. For business, the music industry would just be in an even worse state. You’d get even more trash run down your throught in the commercial way. It’s bad, if that’s how you make your living. You can’t give it away for free. It’s even hurting me, at my level. It’s not a good state of affairs. If it goes on much longer, I’ll have to pack in a get a job [laughs]. It sucks! But Cds are too expensive anyway … something needs to be addressed.

What do you think of the legal sale of songs as files?

To me, if you just want 1000 songs on a iPod, its very anonymous. I prefer to have the actual thing in my hand. But the way it’s going, in the commercial way that the market and industry revolves around, I’m sure they’ll just be doing mp3’s in 5 years and not even bothering with Cds anymore. But for someone like me, I don’t think it’s going to change straight away.

I think it’s a good idea, but I don’t know who would actually be artistically satisfied. It’s a cheapening; very anonymous and the people who make a living doing graphic design and artwork for record covers are out of a job. I don’t know … I’m sure it exists and is a great model for distribution, but I’m sure you’re always going to have the physical thing with the artworks that you can go out and buy. It’s like a book … have a book or just printing the pages out on your printer.

Have you been working on any other project s recently?

Well, the DVD took a lot of time. It’s like doing 3 albums. You have to do the stereo version, and the surround version, and the stereo CD version. It was a lot of work, and is the main thing I’ve been doing since the last CD came out.

There aren’t many people doing things like that right now.

No, but they will. It’s pretty obvious. You’ve got 6 speakers to chose from, rather than your normal 2. Even with stereo … it came out in 48 but it really wasn’t until the mid 60’s that it was often used. These formats always come out of the film industry or the television industry and filter down. It takes a few years. But if you can just pop in a DVD and have a surround mix of something, especially a dub record … I think it’s screaming for it. Other people will be doing for, for sure. The my knowledge, there’s only been one release so far. It’s a music release in surround sound; there’s no visuals. That’s “Dark Side Of The Moon,” which has the audio in 96k but no visuals. We didn’t want that, we wanted visuals.

What are the visuals like?

The guy who’s my partner in Tinocorp, Ben Stokes did them. He’s done a lot of videos for people, like Public Enemy and Meat Beat, everyone. He’s a video director. We teamed up 5 years ago to start the label. There’s always been a very heavy visual element with the shows we do. We use a lot of video sampling. We wanted to incorporate that into a visual extravaganza. We like to think that it’s just as much visually based as it is audio. The videos vary from complicated on some tracks to simple. You can either have them on or not.

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