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Interview with Dirk Ivens of Dive - conducted via FAX - 12/97

Jester: Why did you choose to make the new Dive album so much more accessible through the use of more upbeat club-friendly sounds?

Dirk: With every release I have done so far, I have tried to change the style because it wouldn't be interesting for me and for the fans to repeat myself musically. On "Snakedressed" you can hear influences from some of the music that is more popular today. I pick up interesting things and make them fit into the Dive sound. The good thing is that nobody will know how music will sound in the future, as it changes every few years and we have to grow with it.

Jester: How much did Ivan Iusco help out with the new album?

Dirk: Ivan had already been involved with "Concrete Jungle" and I think we are on the same level musically speaking. On some of the songs I explained to him what I wanted, and he created the core sound elements and put them into a coherent structure. Then I would polish them into finished tracks and add my vocals along with new sounds designed on new instruments that I purchased. For me, the hardest part has always been writing the lyrics. However, Dive is, and always will be, a solo project, although Ivan and I may collaborate on an EP for his label. At this point anything is possible.

Jester: How did you arrange the U.S. Licensing deal with COP International Records?

Dirk: I was looking for a US deal because fans wrote to me that my music was always difficult to find and was usually very expensive. Several offers came my way, but I wanted to work with a small label. I contacted COP International as their label catalogue is not that large and their bands are of a certain caliber. I originally met with COP when I performed in San Francisco with Battery. I saw that the people from the label were present at the entire show and they gave me the feeling that they cared about their bands. The future will tell how good the decision to work with COP will be resolved.

Jester: How did you first get involved with writing and composing music?

Dirk: I got into music from the inspiration of the Punk movement. I started off by playing guitar and singing vocals in a few bands. Then I discovered Suicide in 1978, and that band was the key to my interest in electronic music. Of course, at that time, there was very few Electro bands and all of the music sounded a great deal more original. It seems that back then people achieved more musically with less material, while today so many bands sound the same.

Jester: What were the circumstances around you forming Daft Records?

Dirk: Music means a lot to me and I always have been helping bands who needed advice or who wanted to play as a support act for my projects. Originally, I released a few compilations on Body Records in order to get some of these bands more well known, however, it was always a rather low budget affair. Three years ago I wanted to start a label again but with a more professional approach as well as doing it full time. Because I was into the scene for such a long time, I had a lot of contacts so it was easy to start the label as a full time business. Now I am working on making Daft Records carry a good name in the Electro-Industrial scene worldwide.

Jester: What is it like running both a record label as a business and trying to to release and promote your music as an artist?

Dirk: For me it means more freedom and control. The money I earn with Dive can be put back into the label. It also provides me with a great deal of free time to coordinate my live performances and the possibility to plan for future releases. In the past three years we have released around 24 CD's, so I feel that I have a very strong back catalogue and that many more good things will follow.

Jester: How did Sonar initially form?

Dirk: Sonar consists of myself and Patrick Stevens of Hypnoskull. He was originally just doing his own thing while trying to not copy from other bands. As it turned out, he was a much younger than me and didn't know a great deal about my previous projects. I decided that he was the perfect person to work with because I was always afraid to work with people who either looked up to me or wanted to work with me for all the wrong reasons. I can say that Patrick was a good choice to work with, we are very good friends and we have a lot of fun when we work together.

Jester: Why did you choose to work with more rhythmic noise with Sonar like some of the earlier Dive material? (i.e. Grinding Walls)

Dirk: When I play live with Dive, I mostly just use a backing tape and sing over it. Ultimately this means there is no room for improvisation. When I perform with Sonar, we play everything live. We play a lot of old school Industrial rhythms and see how people will react to the songs. Sonar tracks can last from four to seven minutes and that gives us a lot of freedom to improvise and try new ideas. I decided that I didn't want to use any vocals with Sonar because that would force us to use a song structure.

Jester: Are there any plans to collaborate with Eric Van Winterghem of Monolith?

Dirk: I have no plans to work with him for the moment, however, he is doing some remixes of Sonar material and is working on the next Monolith album. Eric has always been involved with Dive, Sonar and other Daft Records releases as we have done most of the mastering in his studio.

Jester: What does the future hold for Dive / Sonar?

Dirk: Right now I am performing a great deal with Dive. I just returned from a show in Sao Paulo, Brazil and a new release is planned for April 1998. Sonar just released a 7" for Comedy Records, a 10" for Ant-Zen, a 12" for Drag & Drop Records, and we just finished the recording of a second full length album that will be released on Gift Records in Japan. The plan is that Sonar and Dive will go on a second Japanese tour together in April with Esplendor Geometrico.

Jester: Do you have a day job outside of your music and record label?

Dirk: For the moment I am only working for Daft Records. It is a very low budget but I manage to make a living off of it together with the help of live performances. Besides, if you want to release a quality product then you will always have to commit to a full time job.

Jester: Are there any plans for Dive to tour in the U.S?

Dirk: Not really. I would like to go back but in a support role for another more well known act. It is useless for me to try and tour as myself because the conditions in the US are not conducive to my style of music. I really don't need a lot of support, but I will need something to be able to afford a tour like that. Right now I think that I will need to release more of my back catalogue in the US so that my music becomes more available in order for more people to desire to attend a live performance.

Jester: Who are some of the bands / artists that you listen to in your spare time?

Dirk: I like a lot of bands and a wide variety of different music. One of my favorite bands has always been Wire. They have always been able to integrate many different styles into their music. They play Pop, Electro, Experimental, and that is what I like in a band. Having said that, I still point out that I like World Music, Electro, Industrial, Pop, and New Wave. So there are far too many of my favorites to list here.

Jester: What is your favorite track off the new Dive album "Snakedressed" and why that track?

Dirk: "Snakedressed" as a whole is very special for me. The songs are about a serial killer and the political movements that occurred in Belgium a year ago. There is a common theme that runs through the whole album that fits very well with the final track order of the record. Therefore it is difficult to decided on a favorite, but I could say that 'Snakedressed', 'Wheeping in the Dark', and 'Sufferhead' are my current favorites.

Jester: Is there anything you would like to add that I have not covered?

Dirk: I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me for so many years and I hope that I can reach out to them when they see me perform live.

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