Marking its 40th anniversary, keyboard ace Matthew Bourne (The Leaf Label), Franck Vigroux on electronics and installation artist Antoine Schmitt explore Kraftwerk’s seminal 1975 album Radio-Activity as a live performance experience, for the first time ever.
Following their own personal paths through this incredible work, Bourne, Vigroux and Schmitt will turn Radio-Activity inside out, radically re-working this ground breaking album in their own inimitable way.
A bank of analogue and digital instruments provide the mothership from which this Anglo-French union travels through what still sounds utterly contemporary. Intensifying the experience, Antoine Schmitt creates striking live video, transporting the audience into the stratosphere of Kraftwerk’s futuristic sound world.
The trio is set to play at the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre in March, we caught up with Matthew Bourne recently and had a chat about Grace Jones, collecting vintage analogue kit and Phil Collins, here's how we got on....
Please can you explain who you are and what you do?
Matthew Bourne - improvising pianist/analogue keyboard enthusiast/composer/wannabe farmer/dry stone waller.
Is ‘Radioland’ a temporary meeting of minds for the Radio-Activity tour or have you played together as a trio for some time?
Franck and I met in 2006/2007, made a duo album together (call me madame (good news from wonderland) (DAC 5002)), and have worked together in this format over the years and also with Bruno Chevillon and Michel Blanc as part of Franck's project, CAMERA, in 2011-2012. It's the first time I've worked with Antoine - although he and Franck have worked together in projects such as TEMPEST.
You have a range of analogue and digital equipment at your disposal to generate the sounds that you do, how long has it taken to amass this equipment and which was the hardest piece to find?
I began buying various things about 12 years ago - purchasing a Korg MS-10 from college tutor Graham Hearn. It's still one of the most trusted and reliable synths I own today. I have the use of a Minimoog - which has been (very generously) on loan to me for a long while, a Roland Space Echo Re 201 (I've owned this for over fifteen years and is my most prized and loved piece of analogue equipment!). I was also lucky to acquire a Memorymoog eight years ago, then had it modified by Rudi Linhard - turning it into a Lintronics Advanced Memorymoog (LAMM). Oh, and a broken push-button stylophone...
The tour sees you ‘exploring’ Kraftwerk’s seminal album from 40 years ago, quite a task you have ahead of yourselves, how have you approached it?
Franck and I met up initially to see if/how we could recreate the material as close as we could to the original, then, a few months later when Antoine joined us, we decided to abandon a 'reconstructive' approach and bring instead our own individual take(s) on technology to bear on the original music - using a bare minimum of original material with which to base our own explorations.
What was the last track you heard that you literally couldn’t get out of your head?
Susudio - Phil Colins
What is your favourite Saturday night and Sunday morning record?
David Francis - Sound of Strings/Laura Nyro - New York Tendaberry
Please name your favourite act/artist that you have discovered during 2014?
Dam Funk - Toeachizown
Radio-Activity is 40 years old in 2015, are you planning similar treatment for later Kraftwerk albums? If so, which ones interest you the most?
Not sure, have to see how this one turns out first...
If you could live play alongside anyone in the world, who would it be and why them?
Grace Jones - peerless.
If you could ask any member of Kraftwerk any question, who and what would it be?
All of them: "Do any of you still have the Vako Orchestron?"
Who’s idea was it to do the Radio-Activity project?
Initially, Franck - although we kind of reached the decision to do it proper after Antoine came on board.
Have you ever seen Kraftwerk live? If yes, what did you think?
What was the last book you read?
2666 by Roberto Bolaño/The Coming of the Third Reich by Richard Evans.
Kraftwerk were so ahead of their time in the 70’s, who do you think will be looked back upon in 40 years time and referred to as a ‘musical pioneer’?
Aside from the tour in 2015, are you planning any other live dates or festival appearances?
Hopefully a solo tour of a new solo synthesizer album for The Leaf Label later in the year.
We'd like to thank Matthew for sparing his time to chat to us, we look forward to catching their performance at the Exeter Phoenix Arts Centre on March 22nd as part of their 'Vibraphonic Festival'.
Tickets available HERE