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Gaiden (& Front 242): "Arrogant" Bands like The Prodigy Prosper Stateside (Extended interview)

Author: Skruff
Monday, April 2, 2001
"Americans want to see the artist perform, they want the artist to talk to people," says Front 242's mainman Patrick Codenys. "Arrogant artists, like the Prodigy when they did 'Smack My Bitch Up', do well over there. It's the same with cinema; those guys that are in your face are the ones who are making it." 10 years after trying to crack America with seminal industrial/ experimental band Front 242, Patrick Codenys has teamed up with US techno-head Steve Stoll, to form 'side project' Gaiden. Cracking the States now though, is an irrelevant option for a project that both producers clearly view as an experiment. "The only way to push the envelope further is to infiltrate the music," says Patrick.

Mezz: Gaiden's described as being a 'side project' for both you and Steve Stoll, what does that entail-
Gaiden: "Steve made the first contact, because we shared publishers and he was also a Front 242 fan. He was interested to combine an old skool way of working with new material. He gave me some loops that he told me were the spirit of the songs, and told me to add my stuff on top. My musical education involved heavy dark industrial sounds and that was the purpose of Gaiden; to bring that heaviness into techno. Usually the heaviness is provided by factory sounds and very well assimilated sounds and we wanted to bring something different."

Mezz: Front 242's slogan in the 80s was "Determination, persistence, assimilation and infiltration", do you still subscribe to that philosophy-
Gaiden: "Definitely. There are always musical references that people have assimilated. Being a little technical, there's a package of Roland factory sounds (101s, 303s and 909s) that have been ruling electronic music, especially techno, for a long time because it's always the same sound. Finally people have assimilated it. I remember having loads of trouble in the 80s using a rhythm box with sound, because people hated it, whereas today it's almost common. Gaiden has some obvious formats or hi hats but they're always there to be a reference to please the ear, then you can also introduce more strange or disturbing sounds. Pure research never interests people, they run away from it, so you have to slowly enter the game then bring other stuff - it's the same for the music business."

Mezz: Back in 1991 you told NME; 'I think America is ready for electronic music', which many have repeated over the last 10 years, why do you think there's been such a difference between Europe and the States in appreciating such music-
Gaiden: "The States has a heavy tradition or rock & roll and country music and they stick with their genres. Loads of labels have spent fortunes predicting an electronic explosion but it never happens. The main difference is about playing live. Americans want to see the artist perform and they want the artist to talk to people. It's the same with cinema; those guys that are in your face are the ones who are making it.

Arrogant artists, like the Prodigy when they did 'Smack My Bitch Up', do well over there. This is just one reason, I also think there are strong cultural differences. There's always a strong challenge between England and Germany over the matter of who owns electronic music for instance. Both countries like it, but they're very different in their approach. That creates an interesting mix here in Europe, while in the States there's no similar challenge."

Mezz: Front 242 have always been highly experimental and presumably you've knowingly limited yourselves to niche markets, has it been easy to avoid compromises-
Gaiden: "We manage. If you bring a certain quality to people I believe they'll buy your records - not everybody but enough if you care about the people who'll buy your record. You might not be big, but you'll make enough money to do the next product. What's most important for me is to wake up in the morning, look at myself in the mirror and not be ashamed of what I'm doi