|“Amsterdam Throwdown, King Street Showdown! is a transatlantic collaboration bewteen US rock icons Jon Spencer and Cristina Martiner (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Boss Hog) and Amsterdam-based DIY electronic artist Solex. Album preview and interview below:
What are you up to at the moment?
At the moment I’m trying to upgrade myself from iMovie to Final Cut Pro, both film-editing software. It’s not easy to switch from editing for dummies to the real thing.
Please could let us know more about your new album?
It’s a transatlantic thing. The idea of collaborating came after I did a dj-set supporting the Blues Explosion when they did a show in Amsterdam (I believe it was 2004). Not long after that Jon contacted me during his Cold Cut tour where he was one of their guests. He had 4 days off and decided to fly in from London to Amsterdam. Cristina flew in from New York to join in for those 4 days. Mike Ladd was also a guest on this Cold Cut tour so he also had 4 days off. Together with his friend Vijay Iyer he dropped by during one of those evenings for some recordings. Mike raps on two songs and Vijay, who is a jazz pianist, played Moog on two songs.
I used to have a second hand record shop in the Koningsstraat (King Street) in Amsterdam. In the basement of the shop I had my studio. I stopped the shop in 2004 and rebuild it into an apartment. The studio remained.
When Jon and Cristina flew in to start working on the record they stayed there. We recorded in the basement studio. I had about 12 sketches, Jon and Cristina improvised to those and I recorded it. We also started a few things from scratch (Dog Hit is one of them). After 4 days of non-stop recording all my hard disks were full. It took me about a year to edit songs with head and tail. I mailed those tracks to Jon & Cristina and they started to improvise & record on top of those tracks again in New York (NYC sessions were recorded by Ivan Julian (Richard Hell and the Voidoids) at NY Hed studios). They added lots of great extra layers and rerecorded some old parts. They mailed me these recordings and it took me a few more months to edit those.
All drums (samples & loops) had to be re-recorded to avoid copyright problems. The drums (Leon Klaasse) were recorded in an old monastery walking distance from King Street. In the old days it’s task was to straighten out women who led a promiscuous life (it’s located in the red light district).
You are releasing your new album in a difficult time for the records industry: how do you see its future?
Musicians will be forced to make a living through playing live a lot more. In time we all probably will end up the way musicians started: no tapes / no records / no cd’s / no radio, tv or internet…..if you want to hear music….GO TO A SHOW or START PRACTICING YOURSELF! (it will mean lot’s of great bootlegs though).
Do you think a label is still relevant in 2010? What do you expect from a label today?
If that label knows how to take advantage of all the possibilities internet provides….yes relevant. The band / musician and the label should deserve each other.
Internet has changed a lot of things in the music business: faster communication, new ways to monetize music, but also piracy. From your experience what are the pros and cons?
There are a lot of pros, some of them are:
With relatively little money you’re able to promote your music through the internet. It comes down to good ideas, not per se the budget. I love email! Fast and easy to keep track of old decisions / discussions. Email is also handy for people who know how to write English but have difficulty understanding / decipher thick accents (a thick Australian accent can be a pain). It makes it possible to work across continents…borders have gone…
Some good music will get lost just because the band or the label isn’t able promote their thing in an original way on the internet.
Neither a pro or a con:
Piracy has always been there… illegal downloading doesn’t imply someone won’t spend money on music anymore. They may spend it differently. I now choose to buy more vinyl…
How has internet and the new media changed your way of working as an artist? How do you use it on a day to day basis?
I used to sample from vinyl, cd, TV and radio. I now also sample from the internet: online radio, MySpace, soundbites, YouTube etc. All files that were recorded in NY were send to me through www.YouSendIt.
Without that website it would have taken me much more time to complete this album. Jon, Cristina and I have done some interviews through Skype….brilliant! YouTube is very inspiring. It made me want to edit film to music.
Is internet a big part of your marketing strategy for your new record? If yes, what is your basic online strategy?
Yes. Bronze Rat Records is releasing this record worldwide. I don’t have the impression Bronze Rat has a rigid / standard way of online promoting. I think they just try to stay sharp and fresh and hook up with all the new means as best as they can. Everyone has input and ideas, but that’s not a real strategy… it’s more like an ongoing online brainstorm between BronzeRat, Jon, Cristina and me.
Is it also important for you to use digital services (like sending an mp3 rather than sending an actual CD) to have a smaller impact on the ecology of the planet?
If it comes to making a record I don’t pay attention to whatever is good or bad for the planet. I ride my bike, use public transport, don’t let the water run while I brush my teeth, put out the heater + lights when I leave the house …. I’m afraid that’s about it.
You have generated some buzz in an emerging country, but have no way to monetize it. Would you give away your music for free to keep growing it?
As long as I can make a living with something else I like doing, I don’t have a problem with giving away music.
Would you like to be able to get all of the stats from your leaked tracks? Do you think that those stats (number of downloads/plays/leaks) are more relevant to check the popularity of an artist than record sales?
No, I don’t care. I think the number of downloads is more an indication of to which extent the music raised people’s curiosity, than of it’s popularity.
Do you think that giving away music for free (as free mp3 or streaming) could help you sell more physical or even digital releases?
Yes…and it appears to be true too.
Your records are available on physical and digital formats: do you think there’s still a place for both? Do you have an idea of the percentage of the physical toward the digital?
Of course…. my favorite combination: vinyl with a download code.
I’m afraid the digital sales will top the physical ones in the future (wild guess…maybe 80%-20% in 2015 ?) …too bad.
How do you keep in contact with your fans? Through your site, community sites…?
People contact me through:
Facebook (Solex Amsterdam)
What tools are you using the most online?
Email is #1 by far.
For sampling: You Tube & Myspace
Facebook is my homepage when I start Safari of Firefox….it’s top entertainment!”