Interview – Needle Factory

Manchester duo Needle Factory have been causing a stir on the EBM scene with their combination of old school industrial, à la Skinny Puppy and Nitzer Ebb, with more contemporary electro and goth sounds. M3 caught up with the pair to talk about their new album, the perils of copyright and the difficulties of keeping a club night alive in today’s climate…

M3: First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Freddy: I’ve DJ’d on the industrial/electro scene for a number of years and finally decided no one was producing the music l wanted to hear. I taught myself music production with very basic equipment which I recently expanded to create Needle Fac†ory as it is today. I think of myself more of a song writer these days and the music must come from the words rather than the other way around. I find that a lot of the lyrics in Dance/EBM are a bit of an after-thought which I think is something worth changing.

Johna: I have been involved in the underground goth scene for about 15 years, I have always been interested in macarbe art and makeup. I have worked on the performance art circuit for a number of years and create a lot of art, be it with makeup, words or paint.

What inspired you to form Needle Fac†ory? What are your own musical backgrounds?
Freddy: Needle Fac†ory was the culmination of a few other projects and ideas I’d been working on. I started making music for computer games in the early nineties, for the Amiga mostly. I still use the same technology now but it has been developed to work on PC which makes things a lot easier. lf I had to point to a single band that inspired me more than any other I’d have to say Skinny Puppy but generally speaking it isn’t other bands or artists that made us start Needle Fac†ory. Sometimes you have to love and hate music in equal measure to create music. If you enjoy the process of making music you’re doing it wrong.

Johna: My musical inspiration is quite varied in that I have such a wide taste, I am influenced by the likes of early Madonna, The Cure, Placebo, Manic Street Preachers, Danny Elfman and also Marilyn Manson and I am also inspired by 90s metal and some more extreme death metal bands

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
Freddy: Personally l don’t know where the promoter/label set up is at right now and l don’t think anyone feels secure about the future. The music will always exist and people will always enjoy live music but the spiraling cost of tickets/booking fees is alienating a lot of people.

Johna: I think there is a lot of truth in this sentiment as I have noticed over the past few years the decline in good bands and I don’t think it’s because there is no talent anymore, it is most probably because not many can make enough money doing it for a living unless you get recognized by major labels.

Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
Freddy: You could say the same for a lot of stores and outlets regarding the impact of the WWW on retail. l’m not nostalgic about shopping. When l think about it now l don’t know how it went on so long with shops over charging. When you buy music physically you’re not buying music at all you’re buying an artifact of the music, simply a format that carries it.

Johna: Personally I think it is tragic, I used to absolutely love going through old record stores and finding something that I have been looking out for for years, its a real shame that you are so freely exposed to anything you want with the internet , it completely devalues the amount of work
and passion that goes in to the audio art.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg.Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Freddy: Sound Cloud is my main medium at the moment because of its simple layout and format. Anything that makes the ‘share’ option easy
is a winning formula and its like a community on there, you get to know people doing similar things. YouTube is another medium l like because we are a very visual band. l think making a video is just as important as the music in some cases.

Johna: Mp3 is the most convenient way of listing to music I will admit, but I much prefer getting out the CD and playing the album how it was originally meant to be heard.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
Freddy: For now l think it has, sadly. When l was writing our ‘Geotia’ album l didn’t want it to play like 10 tracks stuck together with no narrative. I wanted it to be something people could spend time getting to know. Inevitably those 10 tracks will be split and shared individually which will take a lot of  feeling away, l think. Some of my favorite albums only have two tracks, 30 mins each. Hard to image that happening now. Someone should defiantly revive that just as a protest.

Johna: I think that has been completely forgotten about for a lot of people, the culture we are living in at the moment is pretty fickle and always looking out for the next big thing, its a shame (unless Justin Bieber gets dropped, now that would be great haha!)

Recently, there seem to be a large number of bands offering their releases for free via sites like Bandcamp. What do you think of this distribution method, do you think it is a realistic solution to the problem of illegal downloading?
Freddy: I think Bandcamp offer a great service for small labels. It’s more or less instant, you upload the tracks and share the link. The downside with that of course is there will be 100’s of links sent in a day. Reminds me of the old Myspace a bit when they used to promote themselves with the line ‘reach 10 million fans a day’. What they should have said is ‘be ignored by 10 million people a day’. No one wants to be bombarded with links. Music is something you have to discover for yourself. Word of mouth is the only way really.

Johna: Not really, no, but it gets the attention of more people offering it for free, but then it also devalues it and so many people are offering free downloads these days its hard getting people to actually give you a chance and listen for more than a minute.

Do you think the digital age has rendered traditional concepts of copyright obsolete, or do you think they are still relevant?
Freddy: Copyright seems to me like the most childish idea imaginable. Who are all these little genius’s who think their work is so precious that no one should get it for free? If you’re good people will rip you off, if you’re mediocre you have nothing to worry about. It all comes down to money, sadly. If someone is trying to pass my work of as their own well that’s a shame for that person.

Johna: I dont think anybody cares about copyright anymore, they just download whatever they like whenever they like. It’s sad and as a musician and music lover I would much prefer to go back to the record store and buy the album I love, rather than download a load of stuff I will never get round to listening to.

What would you say are the main challenges facing an up-and-coming musician/band in today’s cultural climate?
Freddy: Main challenge for me is getting out there and playing our music. Its harder and harder for promoters to make a buck and a lot of people run at a loss. A lot of club nights have closed because of increasing costs.

Johna: Getting people to actually listen to you is the key, I guess a lot of people are more concerned about how a band looks rather than sounds these days so lucky we look pretty damn good and sound great too.

Finally, what does the future hold for Needle Fac†ory ?
Freddy: My future only extends to the next day and right now we are doing very well. Anyway, isn’t the world supposed to end this December? I fucking hope so. :)

Johna: World domination! Make way for the needles, we are going to infect you.

Needle Factory’s new album “Goetia” is due to be released on 31st October, on CD / Download through Unrepresented Music. For more information about the band, you can visit their website and Facebook page.

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About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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