Interview by DJ Kibosh (Side-Line #35, April/May/June 2001)

Better to Reign in Hell Than Serve in Heaven

After an amazing 10 years in the dark music game, Jonathan Sharp puts out some of the most seethingly wicked EBM with his current project, Bio-Tek.  A mixture of vicious occult twists and turns amid pounding bass and heavenly keyboards.  With the advent of his new album soon to be released, and the European issue of “Punishment for Decadence” soon out to sweep the rest of the EBM world by force, I found it irresistible to converse with this mastermind of the mix and what he has in store for the world.

SL: You as a musician right now have so much variety on your plate (New Mind, Bio-Tek, Hexedene, Gunhed, Psionic, Hyperdex-1-Sect, Lashtal, Tryophex 14, Zodiac and Takshaka).  What is your major motivation and why so many projects to cover this inspiration?

JS: I have to say a lot of those projects have fallen by the wayside and my efforts are concentrated in a rather more focused manner these days.  In the past I had so many fragmented ideas I needed to get out; now things are a little more focused, or maybe I should say I’ve become more disciplined.

SL: Your sense of humour really abounds amid the seething undertones of your work with Bio-Tek, firstly with the Pure Morning cover on “Punishment…”, and now with your send-up of VNV, ‘Vengeance Not Victory’. It seemed you did more here to mimic the style and then morph it into a Bio-Tek song.  Loved it!  But why?

JS: You’re honestly one of the few people to see the underlying humour!!  EBM tends to have a real humour bypass, while I have a pretty black sense of humour.  In regards to the ‘Vengeance Not Victory’ track, it is a play on the whole VNV things.  In fact, I see the whole Bio-Tek project as the complete antithesis to what VNV stands for.  This all comes from a conversation I had with Ronan sometime back when he told me VNV stood against all the negativity and what he called “death culture” that is a big part of the whole EBM/industrial movement.  Well, frankly, that’s the whole driving force behind Bio-Tek; releasing an album with a title like “Darkness My Name Is” ought to illustrate that!  The world “occult” in its truest meaning is: that which is hidden.  That’s everything that    Bio-Tek celebrates, the darkest, the hidden, even the forbidden part of the human psyche.  So basically everything about the ‘VNV’ track is a complete inversion of what VNV Nation is all about…  “better to reign in hell that serve in heaven” as the quote goes.

SL: So am I to take it that, through this whole difference in philosophy that you and Ronan still speak?  That is to say, this isn’t some blatant deep-seeded hatred, but a gentle jab in the ribs?  Or just the opposite?

JS: No, it’s not some vindictive swipe at Ronan at all.  I’ll be interested though to see what sort of response this track gets when the album is released.

SL: So what’s the schedule for this project taking you?  So you see this taking precedent, especially after the new licensing of “Punishment…” overseas, and the new album release pending?

JS: In terms of release and also in terms of work it’s pretty much my main concern right now.  Particularly as the next album is scheduled for a joint USA/Europe release later this year.  I still have some writing and recording to complete for this.  I’m delighted though to have a European license again for the project; it’s really the home of EBM I guess.  But I do have other releases on schedule for this year; there will be another New Mind album, a kind of retrospective of unreleased and new tracks.  Also the Takshaka album is nearing completion too,  but that’s become extremely experimental, and I see it appealing more to the IDM crowd than my usual audience.

SL: I’ve heard some of the mixes for the new Bio-Tek.  Do you intend to take this album in a different direction and how?

JS: I think it’s just the inevitable natural progression you make as an artist.  The EBM-oriented tracks are much more developed; there’s also more emphasis on being club-friendly, based on the fact I’ve been doing some DJing myself.  And the orchestral side is also more pronounced, mainly because I’ve become stronger at arranging, I think.  There’s also going to be a cover version included too, but it’s a radical take on an old 80’s metal track!