Engaging the Mind Machine
You may have wondered what happened to Jonathan Sharp. After his disappearance from the Cyber-Tec project, rumours began to surface. Jonathan is a hard man to put down. All along he has been working on his baby, New Mind, and numerous side projects. Now he's unleashed Hyperdex-1-Sect on us, the result of his work with Sevren Ni-Arb from X Marks The Pedwalk. When Side-Line talked to him we heard a sad tale of torment and frustration at the hands of various labels.
SL: Okay Jonathan. Tell us what happened with Cyber-Tec, everything!
JS: Well I'd known Paul Green who heads the label for years. He told me he was starting a label which would have loads of "cyber" bands. He asked if I would give him some tracks. I was reluctant to give him New Mind as I thought he had a lot of ideas that were unrealistic. I think Paul is a nice guy. He has the best of intentions, but hasn't the means to execute them. Things started to move, and I wrote some material under the name Bio-Tek for him. Originally this included 'Let Your Body Die'. In June '94 this was ready for release. Nothing happened. He kept putting the release date back. At the end of '94 he approached Jean Luc from Front 242 and asked if he'd put some vocals on some tracks. He said yes. Then he asked people to submit material. It ended up being two tracks from me and two from Ged Denton. It was a vague project that was to be a one-off. I think that Paul expected Jean Luc's presence to launch the label in Europe. At that time Jean Luc started to call shots saying "let's see what the response will be." At that point the whole thing blew out of proportion. Once the basic tracks were recorded the mixes were organized. Everyone was involved on goodwill. We talked about contracts, but nothing materialized. Paul couldn't afford the maxis and cds from seven bands. He went out to get license deals. He sent promo packs of all the bands to everyone. It took forever. 6 months later nothing had happened. Then the deal with SPV and Fifth Colvmn was sorted out. I think that SPV were only interested in Cyber-Tec Project, while Fifth Colvmn were also interested in New Mind. At this stage I was getting really frustrated with New Mind not happening. Then CTP went ballistic. Ged and I were to write a new album. In October of '95 we had 80% of the album roughed out. Then the arguments started. We had talked about the content of the contracts for 12 months. We never received any advances for CTP or any other band. Paul would never speak to my manager and wanted to speak to me. He said he wanted the label on a friendly basis not tied to the business side. This was fair enough, but in retrospect this was taken advantage of. 3 or 4 months after the release, there was no contract and still no money. I was working hard paying my own costs. I was concerned because I felt I could do nothing about this. I talked to Ged saying that we were doing all the work with no pay or support for other projects. We talked about the gigs we were going to do including mine with New Mind. We would not be allowed any other members, no crew, no manager. The budget was extreme. "Don't you think we look stupid," I asked Ged. He agreed but didn't want to do anything about it. We weren't allowed to do our own press. Paul had to answer all the questions. When the EP was put out that was the first time I had heard the remixes. I eventually talked to Paul saying that I had problems. The conversation became increasingly heated. CTP, the label and all the bands had become a blur. I said that I was going to take Bio-Tek and New Mind elsewhere. He said that he would give me the rights back. He hadn't released anything or signed anything and he had already sold the rights. I was angry about the possibility of Marc Heal getting involved. "If Marc Heal is in, I'm out," is what I said. I found out when reading New Life magazine that Marc Heal was in the band. No one told me. I was out unofficially. No one ever came back and said it. Ged wouldn't speak about it with me and Jean Luc was unsupportive. At this time I was more interested in New Mind and that I might lose the rights. Out of everyone, Fifth Colvmn were excellent. They were really supportive and they offered me a long term deal. Gero at SPV was very reasonable about it. He wouldn't have been able to release New Mind until the end of the year, so he sent me a closure statement giving me back the album. At this point I signed a contract for 'Let Your Body Die'. Royalty statements arrived one month late. I found out later that they were false. It wasn't a statement but an invoice charging me for unspecified things against what I was owed. I told Paul that I wanted my accountant to look at the books. Another statement arrived. All the figures were different, closer to what they should have been. I still have no statements of the number of units sold. When I think that 'Let Your Body Die' was written on a wet afternoon in 5 minutes, I cannot believe all this was worth the trouble I got into. As much as I have been ripped off, I know that Paul has been ripped off too in the process.
SL: That was hardly a good experience. Is that like what happened with Machinery?
JS: If I was to see ex-Machinery head Jor Muller again, I would hit him with Marc Heal. Jor was so unsupportive. I couldn't wait to get off the label. He was never there, and no one could make a decision. His perception of what New Mind was did not match mine. I asked why he was placing half page adverts when I got no press, to which he replied that my cd would sell on its own merits. Jor "decided" that New Mind was not a "live" band, so he wouldn't organize tours. I'm glad that's all behind me.
SL: So now onto the present. Hyperdex-1-Sect, what is that all about?
JS: It came from a conversation in a pub with a friend of mine. He had heard the original demo version of 'Let Your Body Die' and a lot of demo work I had written for the CTP album originally. It was material that I didn't want to waste. Strong, well-produced with good ideas. I wanted it to continue along the lines I had wanted. I wanted a continental European to do the vocals. Someone experienced with doing this kind of stuff. I approached Sevren from X Marks The Pedwalk with a package and he said "let's do it!" I signed the project to my friends label, MCT, and he got many high profile names to remix the first set of material which will be release as a maxi. We have remixes by cEvin Key, two by Front Line Assembly, two by Sheep on Drugs, two by X Marks the Pedwalk, and one by New Mind. Hyperdex-1-Sect is a statement of what I am capable of. I wanted to continue working on my ideas as CTP ran away.
SL: The sound of Hyperdex-1-Sect is highly accessible and very well produced. Do you want it to appeal to a wider audience?
JS: As far as I am concerned, Euro Industrial is in a rut. Both Andreas and I see beyond this. We want to move the sound on a bit. The last X Marks the Pedwalk stuff does that I think. The tracks like 'Les Amants' and 'Mind' are examples of what I mean.
SL: How have you managed to work with Andreas across two countries?
JS: I supplied basic tracks, DATs, disks with a list of details and the only request was that he should keep the song as similar as possible while fitting it to his vocals. We'd play stuff to each other over the phone and it all went forward like that.
SL: So what plans have you got for the next while?
JS: Lots. The first Hyperdex-1-Sect maxi will be released. The New Mind will be out. We'll follow the Hyperdex-1-Sect maxi with another maxi on the same UK label, MCT. I have a couple of side projects that I am negotiating with labels about and I hope to have some releases out soon.
SL: Tell us more about these side projects.
JS: The first is called Hexedene. It involves two other people, Ian Palmer and Katie Helsby. I have known them for a long time. I produced some demos and we talked about getting together to work together. Writing a couple of song turned into a larger project. We will release some compilation tracks and build up towards and album following some gigs in the UK. The sound is not necessarily industrial, more techno with guitars. It's music for the club and mind. Another project is Bio-Tek, which is signed to Zoth Ommog, which is just me. Lastly there is Gunhed, I have a compilation track on the UK CD "Hardware 1". This is the point where mixing and production collide head on. A fusion of high-speed beats and dark electro industrial.