Twenty-four-year-old Oliver Lieb truly represents the future of electronic music. Under the name SpiceLab, the German musician has created “Lost In Spice,” a collection of long, instrumental electronic tracks that don’t really fit into an existing genre. The songs have definite elements of ambient, but there is also heavier, more industrial-like sonic experimentation. Most importantly, it’s an album that can be enjoyed outside of the club setting.
Lieb first got involved with music when he bought a bass guitar at age 15 and started experimenting with jazz, funk and soul. Soon, he became tired of both the instrument and styles of music he was working with and moved on.
“I sold that equipment and started making electronic music,” says Lieb. “I like being able to play complete songs and wanted to get a record contract.”
When asked if there were any particular bands who influenced him to get into experimental music, he says that he was “very much into Pink Floyd stuff.”
Lieb’s first release was 1989’s “System” (Abfahrt/ZYX), which was recorded under the name Force Legato. In 1992, he teamed up with DJ Jorg as Psilocybin and put out three releases. Later that year, Lieb signed to Harthouse and put out the “SpiceLab” EP.
Originally, Lieb wanted to call the project Space Lab. He didn’t think he could legally get use of that name, so he looked to a favorite movie (“Dune”) and changed it.
SpiceLab’s debut album, “Lost In Spice,” came out in Germany last year and just got a US release in February.
Usually, Lieb just starts composing tracks and later decides which of his many projects it will be used for. But in recording “Lost In Spice,” he was making a conscious effort to create a collection of electronic tracks that people could listen to at home. Having a strong sense of direction allowed him to make the LP in only nine days.
“I made up my mind long before I started, because I wanted to have the idea of what I will do,” he says. “Then the rest, getting sounds and putting the songs together, doesn’t take that long.”
Like many electronic musicians, Lieb strongly favors the older equipment. His particular favorites are the Juno 106 and Pearl Syncussion. For the live shows, Lieb will sample most of his old gear, then use the Juno, samplers, sequencer and a master keyboard for the performance. Lieb does not use DATs, and he looks down upon those who do.
“They shouldn’t play live, ” he says. “First, they shouldn’t bother playing live, second they shouldn’t put up that type of faking. The people don’t know and they think they’re a good live band, but all the songs are the same as the records.”
Lieb will re-work his tracks so there is room for live keyboards, and then he will also work at the Juno to vary the sounds. He says that his live sets sound a lot like his maxi-singles, but there is always room for the human element.
Though SpiceLab is currently his main project, Lieb will continue to record under different names. He may not have time to continue all of his musical endeavors, but being able to do other styles on the side is important to Lieb as an artist.
Lieb has done many shows in Germany, Norway, Austria and England, and has done a few dates in the US. In the future, he hopes to do a full-scale US tour.
The musician has several projects coming up in the next few months. Ambush, his more tribal project, has a new LP coming out in April. Lieb will also be working on some EBM, with a new German writer adding vocals.