Interview in Souvlaki On-line e-zine

Not only is he the body behind NEW MIND, Hexedene and CyberTec, but Jonathan Sharp is in talking mode, and he has fantastic new album DeepNet to discuss...

"Well I concentrate on one project at a time. If I have an album to do I write it then move onto the next one. Keeps life interesting that way. It's not like I write something and then say :"Hmm, do I call this New Mind or something else". I have different approaches to writing for different projects. But New Mind is really my go anywhere creative vehicle.. so I'll spend a hell of a lot longer writing for this than anything else."

Far from being a distraction, having numerous projects on the go proves invigorating to the prolific cybermeister. Each project is distinctive - CyberTec was the experimental bleepy idea shared with Front 242's Jean-Luc de Meyer and Cubanate's Marc Heal. Hexedene is the dance act featuring many of the stars of the underground industrial scene, including Kate from Streem and Alexys from Inertia. Different still is the jungle-metal of New Mind, who have gravitated away from their formula industrial beginnings to become part of the new wave of industrial experimentalists, incorporating drum and bass into the guitars-n-grrr techno of the cyberpunk sound.
One of the distinctive elements of new album DeepNet is the use of film samples, eschewing the usual "Hellraiser" clips in favour of the newer quotes from "The Craft" and "Natural Born Killers". So, how does Jonathan choose his samples?

"I used to trawl through hours of stuff, but then I am a film geek anyway. These days it's more of a time factor.. or rather the lack of available time. So I have a tapedeck patched permanently into the VCR/satellite/LD player. I record hours of stuff onto cassettes and go back for the most usable things.."

The other distinctive element of DeepNet is the way it contrasts with the last thing we heard by Jonathan, namely Hexedene: the lack of female lead vocals. Hexedene is full of lovely-larynxed ladies...

"Uhhh, this would relate to my choice of female vocalists would it ?? heh. I want to assure everyone that it's totally motivated by their musical ability and nothing else.....Joking aside, I work with people that can add something to my music. I've been working with Alexys B, on some Hexedene and I knew from the point I heard her first JONBENeT demo that she had a great voice. I'm also planning on working with Daemon Cadman, ex-Waiting For God singer.. I really liked what she did on their 2 albums... Chase put us in touch and the rest is hopefully history. There's a couple other singers I'm hoping to work witha s well, similar thing.. I like what they do and think they would suit my music.The other "guests" on the New Mind album ?? well Reza's [Inertia] a friend so thats an obvious choice... and I asked Jason from SMP to freestyle over 'We Can Be Together'.. to give it a more hip-hop edge.. you know if you're gonna do hip-hop then at least get an American voice on the track..."

Phew! Working with so many illustrious people must leave you running out of suitable

"Well I've worked with some interesting people, J-L De Meyer, Sevren Ni-Arb, scored remixes from BIG names like cEvin Key [Download, Skinny Puppy] and Empirion... got some cool mixes from people whose music I totally respect... If I wanted to work with anyone it wouldn't be anyone from the industrial field as such...."

The drum and bass thing seems really big in industrial music these days, what with C-Tec, NIN and Pitchshifter all using it. DeepNet certainly shows an influence. What do you thing that the next big "element" in the melting pot that is industrial will be?

"Who knows ? What's big in mainstream dance ? Speed garage, how about speed garage industrial? I thought the last Massive Attack album was pretty dark... that kind of spooked out trip hop could be an interesting avenue ???"

Hmmmn, bizarre. Still at least it might prove an antidote to the increasing feeling that the industrial scene is getting that little bit too formulaic?

"I'd agree. I'd say that there are maybe between 5 and 10 people/bands in this whole scene world-wide that are doing anything creative, interesting and forward looking. And there's maybe another 10 or so people/bands that are doing a very formulaic thing and keeping it entertaining. everything else .. I frankly can't be bothered with anymore. The whole world wide scene is so small anyway... I can talk to someone in the USA who knows someone else's movements in Germany... it's so cliquey.. So yeah, I'm in agreement with you."

Musical developments aren't the only big change on the horizon. As the internet (on which we are conducting this very interview) becomes more widely used, is it likely to render record and publishing companies obsolete? Why buy a record when you can download it off the Net? Pretty soon, the old system of getting a deal could be a thing of the past. Or could it? How likely is this to happen and how would it affect you if it did?

"Well we'd all be screwed financially if it did. We all rely on sales royalties and mechanical royalties and advances for money. There's no possible way to regulate this kind of thing on the internet is there?* How would we all make any money ?I mean I'm all for the freedom and anarchy of information, but that doesn't pay for new samplers does it ? If there was a way to make sure that you had to pay for a piece of music over the Net and there was an easy and safe way to regulate this, then yes it could probably open industrial music up to a much larger audience."

Are you one of those cybergeeks who secretly fantasises about being able to upload your consciousness onto the Net?

"No. I mean, I'm the biggest fan of cyberpunk literature..but that idea doesn't do anything for me at all. Sorry."

In all, how do you feel about "DeepNet"?

"Well mixed emotions on the whole thing right now. I spent way to long chasing my tail again. This album took 18 months from writing the first track to mixing the last one. It's been very stressfull at times, it's also been a lot of fun. I think it's the best album I've done so far and getting the completed CD's through.. that makes it all worthwhile.The real high points though were the contacts and friendships that I've made during the course of this last year and half. It's only just been released so I'm waiting for the fun to start when the reviews come in. It's not an easy album by any means... and certainly not a "mainstream" industrial release... so I'm just waiting to see some puzzled reviews..."

And finally, do androids dream of electric sheep?

"Pass. I'm sorry. Philip K Dick is not my man. Now John Brunner however.... lets say that some of the formulative ideas for the concept of DeepNet came out of his "Stand On Zanzibar" novel and some other radical 60's and 70's science fiction. "