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Interview with Artefakto - conducted by Kevin Congdon - 5/97

Kevin: Why the inclusion of guitars and the heavier direction from Des-Construccion to Tierra Electrica?

Artefakto: After Des-construccion was made we played in a lot of shows all over south California and Mexico, so in that time we felt that for a live set it was better to play more instruments on stage; so in those shows we included a couple of guitars, acoustic and electronic drums. So after we finished those performances, we went to our studio and when we started composing the songs for Tierra electrica we began to apply those experiences for the album.

Kevin: It seems the band progressed immensely in combining sounds and programming from your first album to Tierra. How did this come about?

Artefakto: We see it as an evolution, there has been a period of 2 or 3 years in between albums, like the songs in Des-construccion were done around 1991 and 1993 and the ones in Tierra around 1993 and 1995; we think maturity, experience and newer gear have a lot to do with the sound of each one. Interruptor (the one to be released) is the first one we recorded by ourselves, so there's this new challenge to confront and is quite exciting to see how far we can go in this field; as a matter of fact, the first songs we recorded don't sound as great as the last ones, so maybe if we have more time we will try to re-mix those. Like everything else, it is all about learning and polishing skills.

Kevin: What direction are hoping to take the new material in?

Artefakto: It is not like we are aiming towards one particular sound, we just do what comes naturally; when we are creating the songs we do not intend to keep it into one direction, we just let it flow. When we finish the tracks we select the songs that work best for Artefakto, while others remain for future projects. On the new album the tracks we did select, we noticed that we almost didn't use guitars and some tracks were much slower and melodic than the ones on Des-construccion and Tierra electrica; we think is going to be quite a different album, but electronics are our main sound.

Kevin: Do you work closely with other Mexican industrial artists? Is it a close community or do you all do your own things?

Artefakto: Well just with Bostich, but he is into this minimalistic trance electronica music. As far as bands in the so called industrial-Mexican-scene, almost everybody does their own thing; but we know LFDR, Deus Ex Machina and Hocico, and although geographically they're really far from us, once in a while we talk or help each other with a small thing. A band with whom we are working close right now is Sensoria, but they are from Bogota Colombia. They sent us a demo asking if we could do a remix of one of their tracks; we listened to the tape and we really liked the idea of what we could do with their work. So we did the remix and we sent them the mix back; and they really liked it, so they asked us if we could do the whole album, which we gladly said yes. We really hope they get signed to a label soon; they are really good, and also, their album will have a lot of hard work from us.

Kevin: What are your side projects? What style are they in? Do you hope to release material by them in the near future?

Artefakto: We don't have any names for any of them right now, but one of them we could just say is instrumental, electronic, melodic and sometimes with a dance feel to it; another one will be very close to this style but with more rhythm -- it will be a collaboration with Bostich. We are also beginning to work with more guitar oriented songs; maybe we will do it as Artefakto, but then again maybe not. So there are all this things we are doing; and yes, we plan to release them.

Kevin: How did you get the crisp drum programming on your last album? And was that a real organ used on the song 'Sol Negro'? What inspired you to include it?

Artefakto: After our first album we began spending more time on computer software, programming sounds and selecting effects for most of them. The primary basses and drums we created were done with vintage instruments (analog synths and drum machines) because they provide a fat sound that newer synths can't make. For example we have a kawai K5M (digital sound module) that alone sound's like shit! So we feed the output signal into an ARP ODYSSEY to play around with the filters and process the result with digital reverbs and delays and it sounds great!!! In Sol Negro it wasn't a real organ but it was a great sample of a Hammond on the emulator 3; we put it in there to bring another atmosphere to the song. Luis, the owner of the studio we recorded in, is great jamming on keyboards so we asked him if he could do something with this fat and groovy organ sound and that's what came out. We sometimes use sounds which could be out of context in the frame of a song, but when we hear the result it somehow mixes in great, although not all of the time.

Kevin: Have you played live? Do you plan on doing any tours in the US or West Coast soon? What kind of reaction have you received when you played live?

Artefakto: Yes but not as often as we want to. We plan to gig around California after the cd is released and maybe even further. So far it depends on where we play for the kind of performance we put on; that is because of the gear and video we take with us. So if it is nearby, [it] is gonna be a much better prepared show and it will be easier to be liked by the public; but we have been in places with just 2 synths and a guitar, and the reaction has been great. This has been happening in the last 3 years and we think this might be because we can adapt ourselves easily to a place; and we don't care if there's 20 or 600 people in front of us, we just do our thing. Like in the last shows we did at Mazatlan, there was a great vibe at this club called 808 cafe; it was full, and more than half of the people there didn't know us, but the reaction was better than in places that are supposed to know who we are.

Kevin: Why do you prefer to sing in your native language? Do you plan to continue doing most of lyrics in Spanish? Have you gotten any criticism or praise by keeping most of lyrics in Spanish?

Artefakto: We believe in transmitting emotions of our reality into our lyrics, and Spanish is part of ours; although in our new album there is only about 3 or 4 sung in Spanish. We haven't got any bad criticism for it, but in places like Spain they really like it when we do. We work the vocals as it sounds best for the song. Even if we begin to write almost everything in English in the future, we will always sing at least 2 songs in Spanish, because of what we already mentioned, and also because we owe this to the people that listen to us in places that don't understand a word of English.

Kevin: How did Sascha from KMFDM end up doing production work on first album? Did you learn anything from him? Were you happy with the results?

Artefakto: Well we asked him and 2 or 3 months after KMFDM first toured in the U.S.; he called us and asked us if we could go to Chicago to do it, which of course we did. It was great; we learned lots of things from him, because we had never been in a studio like that before, and with people who really knew about this kind of music. So everything was new for us, including the cut and paste technique he did (literally) with the tapes. We were amazed, because the finished work was really far better than we imagined. We also had the luck to see and meet the people and music of the Wax Trax era before they went to TVT and before Jim Nash passed away (he was really nice to us); so it was all of this together that made more than just the recording a good result. It was a great experience.

Kevin:Any more Mexican compilations coming up?

Artefakto: Yes, there is one out there called "Musica folk anti-pop" compiled by our friends of "La funcion de Repulsa" from Tamaulipas, and is about the Mexican underground scene; Opcion Sonica is doing the distribution. Also Opcion has compiled one that's supposed to be called "Electro Mexican Terrorist," and that will include most of the bands working in a similar vein of music; we already heard an advance tape of it and is very interesting. There was a time when in all of Mexico there were just 2 or 3 bands out there, and now they have to eliminate some bands for space in a 15 track cd. Something good is going on in this country.

Kevin: What kind of reaction have you gotten from people in the US and Europe? Are you well-known in Mexico?

Artefakto: With the first album "Des-construccion" came out, there were reviews in fanzines from Europe and the U.S. that went, "I didn't know Mexicans were so at ease with electronics." Some people were really amazed where we came from, others simply liked the production for what it was; and almost all of the time it was in a very positive way. When Tierra came out it was even better in terms of reviews, but we were having such a bad time for the distribution (unlike Des-construccion), that some people that already knew us and had our first cd didn't have Tierra. In Mexico we have a strong following, but if you're not on a multinational label like Ariola or Sony, you are really unknown. Being independent in this country is to say you are literally underground. But somehow we have managed to built a circuit around the 4 principal cities in Mexico for touring and getting radio time; and a place at a time we are expanding into other cities, so you see it is not so bad for us

Kevin: How did your recent show in Las Vegas go?

Artefakto: Well, it was in this little pub that had a very shitty P.A., and although it was a small crowd and things didn't sound like they were supposed to sound, we had a really good time. We made new friends that told us we have a really strong following in Peru, and that's great! {It is always nice to play in places we haven't been before. You encounter a new city and it is like a missionary mission; you try to convert new people into your religion, even if sometimes it means exposing your life. Well, that's a little exaggerated, but you get the idea.

Kevin: Has the Mexican "industrial" scene gotten bigger over the past few years? Has it gained more recognition world-wide?

Artefakto: Yes it has, specially in terms of new bands. In Mexico city there's this whole new generation of people beginning to work in this kind of music. And the concert scene is really good; you can hear all these bands live, and once in a while bands from other parts of the world. But as far as clubs and radio goes, things are really bad. We think that Deus ex Machina and us have made some kind of fuss outside of Mexico, but we don't think of it as world wide recognition. We just see it as the beginning of something that will lead to Mexico becoming another place in the international scene, with the help of more releases and new bands and more than 2 bands having success outside this country.

Kevin: What kind of visuals do you include in your live shows?

Artefakto: Mainly computer animation. We really need more time to work on this, or better yet another computer. The way we do it, is we generate animation on our PC of our logo or things related to us or the songs and make loops of them; then we edit everything and put it on tape. We are hoping with new software to begin to use the visuals in the form of a video-sampler where you can trigger the images live by pressing a key of a synth; for a live situation it will be really good for us.

Kevin: Do you think you have any advantages living so close to the U.S. and especially L.A.? they reside in Tijuana

Artefakto: Yes and no. Yes because it is easier and cheaper to get hold of equipment than anywhere in the world, and also because we have come to know personally lots of bands and contacts when they came to play some concerts in San Diego and Los Angeles (that's how we met KMFDM, DIVE, etc.); and of course the night clubs. And no, because living near L.A. hasn't done anything noteworthy for us. We hope that will change when we begin to perform around California this year.

Kevin: Is Opcion Sonica the only "industrial" label in Mexico? Any plans to start your own?

Artefakto: Yes they are, but they have been working with Spanish-rock bands lately, and we think that has totally put them out of focus. We know they want more money to continue doing this, but we think that is not the way. We hope they don't end up like the great Canadian label of the 80's, Nettwerk, where they used to have all this bunch of great electronic acts, and now in the 90's they have only 2 or 3 and a bunch of pop and rock bands. We have thought about our own label, but we are not financially capable of doing this right now; we first have to consolidate Artefakto and to help us do this we are looking for other labels.

Kevin: Are you heavily inspired by Clock DVA? What other inspiration do you draw from? (musical and non-musical)

Artefakto: No, not really, but we really admire the perfectionism of their electronics; the same goes for Lassigue Bendthaus, and of course Kraftwerk. We really get inspired by the electronic sound, specifically from the analog synths. Other inspiration comes from early electronic music and new electronica, some rock, some classical music, the energy from bands like KMFDM and Young Gods, the brutal sound of people like DIVE, a bit of literature, films, television, our nation's problems and our own personal problems and points of views.

Kevin: Do you enjoy doing the instrumentals on your albums? What leads to the decision of making a song and instrumental or a track with vocals?

Artefakto: Yes we do; we are hoping to release an instrumental only album with lots of tracks that didn't make it into our albums. You see, the way we work, is we first do all the music then we put the vocals on top of that. We think that there are some songs that really don't need anything to be said; they can carry you through all these different moods and passages. And if we forced the vocals into them, it could easily ruin the atmosphere or the progression of the sequence.

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