Cisco Ferreira might not sound like a typically British name, but over the quarter of a century that he’s been producing techno music he has become as close to a London techno institution as imaginable. In fact, under the alias of The Advent (a project originally started with Colin McBean) Ferreira has become as synonymous with British techno as Derrick May is with the stuff from Detroit.
Although that’s not hugely surprising, when you consider that Ferreira’s career was instigated by a chance meeting with May in a London studio in the late 1980s.
Since that fateful introduction, Ferreira has continued to cultivate his early techno derived sound. In the 1990s he worked closely with Colin McBean (aka producer Mr G) experimentally combining house and techno aesthetics together, pioneering the tech-house sound that still dominate clubland today.
What’s more when The Advent project became the sole work of Ferreira in the late ‘90s, he was one of the first producers to actually take his studio gear on the radio and start performing ‘live’.
And now, after a period of relative quietness, he’s about to return to the techno and electro sounds that first enchanted him all those years ago, with the release of a new album out entitled Sonic Intervention.
Hi Cisco. I was wondering if we could talk about your days at Jack Trax records.
I left school in 1986 and went to study sound engineering, and I ended up in the right place at the right time. Jack Trax was in the same building [that I was studying in] and meeting people like Derrick May, Marshall Jefferson and Adonis for the first time made me realise I wanted to make the sort of music [they were making]. I didn’t realise how important that label was until much later, and I learnt a lot from them that I’m still applying today when I make music.
The foundations of [my music] are from listening to acid house & techno, & trying to do something different [with those sounds]. Techno is about creating something new. It’s not like house, which is very predictable & sticks to a formula...In what ways does that period still influence what you produce today?
The foundations of [my music] are from listening to acid house and techno, and trying to do something different [with those sounds]. Techno is about creating something new. It’s not like house, which is very predictable and sticks to a formula. Techno is all about taking risks in the studio. I’m not one of these new producers that [just] work with computers and don’t know anything about putting their hands on machines.
Has it been difficult to retain your interest in techno over such a long period?
The thing about techno is that it’s always reinventing itself. It’s one of the only kinds of music that seems to do that. As long as its evolving, and I’m part of the evolving machine, then it’s always going to be [interesting] and new.
So is your new album Sonic Intervention a further evolution of the techno sound?
The album for me is [a statement of] where I’ve come from, where I was and where I am now. I wanted to get all the styles that I’d been into up until now and put them in an album. It’s not a die-hard techno purist album or doing something new, that one I’m saving for next year.
The album has a vintage techno sound.
Yeah, exactly. I didn’t want to do something that people [associate] with techno now, although there are one or two stripped down, deeper grooves on the album.
You and Colin McBean pioneered the tech-house sound in the 1990s. Do you think your contributions have been overlooked?
In the past, yes. Me and Colin started merging house with techno way before it became the established genre of tech-house. When we first started to [make tech-house] techno was still quite fast and no techno people were on it at all. But the house heads caught onto it. So, we had people like Roger Sanchez coming to us and asking for remixes. But Colin and I were quite underground and militant, so we said no to all the requests.
Sonic Intervention is your first album since 2005. Why the long gap?
Many reasons. Distribution went down, I’m no longer working for certain clients and I [stopped] manufacturing my own vinyl a year ago, which I’d been doing since 2007. It had taken a lot of time [manufacturing] my own 12” singles.
The first track on the album, Present Voyage, is very cinematic sounding. Is this a direction you might like to go in one day?
Definitely, definitely. My influences stem from science fiction. Techno is technology, it’s attached to the future [in the same way as science-fiction]. You never know one day I might score something, like a documentary or a film.
How will the album transfer to your sets?
I’m not the sort of guy that will play all the tracks from an album in one set, but there are one or two tracks from the album I’ll definitely play. Some of the tracks have already been road-tested for a couple of years, as the album has been in the pipeline for a really long time.
Talking of performing, your show is quite stripped back. What do you think of producers like Richie Hawtin who have these huge conceptual performances?
I think it’s amazing. Someone like Richie is a perfect ambassador [for techno] and it shows what can be done. I was reading an interview with Vince Clarke recent and he said it was the Plastikman show that had inspired him to get in touch with Depeche Mode’s Martin Gore [to do the VCMG project]. That shows how wide its influence is.
When there was a mass exodus of techno producers to Berlin in the early ‘00s, were you tempted to move too?
No, because I’m from London and so I’m close enough to Europe. [Although] there is not really that much techno going on in London, compared to the late 1980s and early 1990s. But it’s not as bad as in the US, where the techno scene is very small and diluted now.
Do you think techno is under-represented in the UK?
After techno happened in the US it happened next in England, way before it spread to Europe. It had a good scene up until the late ‘90s. We had festivals like Tribal Gathering and Essential Festival supporting the sound and techno was fully represented.
But then [the festivals] started to turn their backs on techno. But once they started to expand the festivals they had no techno! Festivals like Creamfields and Global Gathering haven’t had a good techno line-up since the early ‘00s.
So as dance music in England became more commercial, the techno scene suffered?
Definitely, definitely. They’ve commercialised dance music and I don’t think it was meant to be like that! It was meant to be very specialist and personal, it was meant to be something that you were either into or you’re not into.
You remixed Tiga & Zombie Nation’s ZZT track Work earlier this year. Have you got close ties to the next generation of techno producers?
I’ve known Tiga since 1994 or 1995, when I played in Canada for the first time! I played at a club in Montreal called SONA and he was the resident, and we hung out. There’s actually two remixes that I did of the track Work. The remix that is out already is the one I did with Spiriakos, but there is also [an unreleased] industrial, really heavy duty remix.
Looking back over your 25 year career, what’s been your proudest moment?
One of my proudest moments was when I went independent having been signed to London Records and FFFR. It had been going pear-shaped [at the record labels], the people that we had known there had moved on and we were like ‘what are we going to do now?’ Becoming independent was such a good turning point, because it meant that we had full control of all the music [we were producing] again.
Apart from your album what else have you got in the pipeline?
I’ve got a couple of remixes coming out. Do you remember that classic Bang The Acid [by Damon Wild & Tim Taylor] on Synewave? Well, Tim Taylor and Damon Wild are getting back together and they’re going to re-release all the old classics and I’m going to be remixing that track.
Sonic Intervention will be released by H-Productions on September 24th 2012.
|The Advent Online|