Disco, dubstep, IDM, glitch, broken beat, hip hop, cut up and mixed into danceable electro/house/techno tracks is Little Nobody aka Andrez Bergen’s speciality. We all remember that first release on My Own Jupiter, ‘The Knock Off’, which first introduced many to this music fiend, and which has also become a modern day cult classic. Thanks to a mini statement a few weeks back, we can now look forward to Nicolas Lutz’ A&R skills combining a double LP of stranger than usual techno delicacies, from a 15 year catalogue of extremely hard to find works of yes, Little Nobody himself! Even more, it’s not only music that is his forte, but also visual mapping, label managing, coding, manga and crime fiction writing, which makes this all around creative dude perfect for an interview…. Read on “if you’re curious or can be bothered”, as Andrez would say…
You are from Australia but have been living in Japan for many years now. You also lived in London for a year. When was that, and how did you find it?
I lived in London in 1988… way back when I started uni, and ended up partying too hard to work or to study. I had a blast though – I saw Nitzer Ebb and Front 242 live at relatively small gigs, and they co-opted me from more ‘straight’ band orientated music.
From a scale of 1 to 10, how much do you love vegemite?
Ten! It’s mad on toast, with a lot of butter. I can’t live without it – seriously!
You make music, art and write literature… how do you manage to know so much about these different areas? It must come so naturally to you. What is your creative process?
Ha-Ha-Ha… I think a little bit of madness never goes astray. I love all these things as they interconnect but also satisfy different parts of your brain. Basically, I pick up with whichever outlet I feel like at the time. There’s never an overall game-plan – things come together (or don’t!) of their own volition.
“Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat” is a title given to one of your tracks, as well as the name of IF?’s sub label. It was also the title to your novel. What’s the story behind the tobacco stained mountain goat and would it be fair to say that fiction influences your music and vice versa?
It’s actually a throwaway line uttered by the great British actor George Sanders in a Bob Hope film called ‘That Certain Feeling’ (1956). I’ve never forgotten it, obviously! Funnily enough, he was referring to a dog, not a goat. And yes, definitely fiction – in particular film – has influenced my music, as I’m always sampling from films. As for music influencing my fiction, I guess the idea of “cutting up” and sampling is also present in my writing. I like to think that these two art forms complement one another.
Your love for Japanese culture is inherent in your art forms, in your written works and in your music. When did this love story begin and what attracted you to it?
I think I fell in love with Japan as a primary school kid, when I was watching this crazy samurai/ninja show called ‘The Samurai’ (strangely enough). I also loved ‘Kimba the White Lion’ and ‘You Only Live Twice’ – the James Bond film shot in Japan, my favourite 007 movie. And then I discovered manga and other films like ‘Ghost in the Shell’, the love just snowballed from there.
In a recent interview you mentioned that you are focusing on writing and being a dad 🙂 Correct me if I’m wrong but electronic music must still be a big part of your life? Do you still produce music?
Yep, I’m 90% focused on writing and trying to be a good parent, the other 10% is given to music and remixing. I’m not doing as much of that now as I’d like but it’s a good breather – for almost 20 years I was doing music non-stop!
This year you celebrated 20 years of IF? Records. Congratulations! What would you consider to be some of the label’s most pivotal moments?
Thanks! Hats off to Sebastian Bayne, who’s carried it for the past five. After 15 years I was exhausted but it’s been a fantastic ride. AS for pivotal moments, um… everything we’ve released? Plus the live gigs we did in Melbourne in the late 1990s, and the 20th anniversary party at Machine in Melbourne last August. That was crazy.
As well as being a DJ, producer and label owner, you’ve also edited your own music magazine, where you interviewed a whole range of artists such as Jeff Mills, Juan Atkins, Cristian Vogel and Si Begg. Can you give us one particularly memorable quote from an artist that you’ve interviewed?
I remember Luke Vibert telling me how he’d sampled a British politician, perhaps Tony Blair, and had made him say naughty things in his sets. Also, someone (I wish I could remember who) once told me a tale about how dorky Moby is in person.
You have a substantial catalogue of your own music which has been remixed by several artists- including yourself!- and also other international producers like Si Begg, who remixed your “We Call It Crack House”. You mention that he was one of your biggest influences. What makes you attracted to his music and what are for you his most important releases?
I have adored Si for years, and always will. It’s his cheek, cut-up aesthetic and the way in which he still pushes musical boundaries. He’s a lovely guy too. For me, my favourite releases of his would be the Noodles Discotheque records.
As for your visual work, you once said that you enjoy putting together random pieces of material to create your own story. Is this also true for your music?
Definitely. There’s nothing better – I don’t kick sand about and accidentally create something.
You use a lot of samples in your music. What have been some of the most interesting samples you’ve used?
God, there’s a good question. The ones from a sumo bout here in Japan stand out – the grunting of the wrestlers was hilarious. Otherwise, the riff I used of people on the telephone from the movie ‘Tetsuo, the Iron Man’ (1989).
Your “Sense & Senility” track was featured on My Own Jupiter’s first release, an album that showcases your previously released music. When and how did Nicolas Lutz first get in touch with you?
Nicolas contacted me out of the blue in September 2013 – I still have the email – and he wrote this: “I have a question for u. I’m getting mad searching from a record from IF? Records and I found your contact on the net. The thing is I can’t find that record nowhere and it’s really driving me mad. I would love to have this vinyl and want to know if u can sell me a copy in case u still have it?”
We chatted more after that – he’s a brilliant guy – he told me too that he’s dropped a lot of my tracks in his sets. We’ve since worked on releases together.
We are now eagerly waiting for the next release on My Own Jupiter, which will be a double LP showcasing various tracks that you have produced in the last 15 years under different monikers. The clip online only reveals one track from the release: “Suicidio”, initially released in 2008 via your If? Records. Can you think back and describe to us what your musical and perhaps personal life was like in or around that year?
Yeah, 2008 was a great year for me. Through a friend here in Japan, Devin Wine, I really got back into making music, and I switched my main software to Live. Digital releases gave us a whole new avenue to start putting out releases, especially experimental ones, without losing money. That was an insanely creative period for me.
You also mentioned that Suicidio happens to be one of your favourite tracks. Your back catalogue is seriously massive. Would you be able to tell us your top 5 releases that best represent your sound?
Ha-Ha-Ha… yikes! That’s a toughie too. OK, how’s this mixed bag:
Funk Gadget ‘Blah Blah’ EP (12”, Slidebar Recordings)
Little Nobody ‘The Knock Off’ EP (12”, My Own Jupiter)
Little Nobody ‘The Condimental Op’ EP (12”, IF? Records)
Conversational Dentures ‘Suicidio’ EP (digital, IF? Records)
Little Nobody feat. Robo*Brazileira ‘Robota’ EP (12″, IF? Records)
Can you give us any more clues about the upcoming LP on My Own Jupiter, like what monikers we can expect to see? Have all the tracks been previously released?
It’s definitely a cross-section of music that I’ve made since around 2002, some of it is unreleased and other stuff has been remastered – Nicolas did a brilliant job in that department. Some of the aliases that I have used have included Funk Gadget, Dick Drone, Conversational Dentures and Slam-Dunk Ninja but it’s all Little Nobody now.
Stylistically, it’s all over the place, just how I like my tea.
UPDATE: Now you can listen to the sound clips here!!
Text edited by Kaajal Shah