Wings Of Techno might just be the first unexpected gem of 2013. Six years in the making, the debut album from Bad Cop Bad Cop is a whistle-stop tour through leftfield tech-house, abrasive electro, early techno sounds and downtempo experimentation.
Incredibly accomplished in its execution and refreshingly broad in its range, it’s a breed of dance-music record that is rarely made anymore. That is, the sort of album that sounds at once so refreshing and innovative that it stops you in your tracks the first time you hear it.
Then again, perhaps that is hardly surprising when you consider who Bad Cop Bad Cop are. Comprised of long time techno experimenter Alex Cortex and Get Physical’s inimitable Lopazz (aka Stefan Eichinger), they’re a tag team who have earned their stripes in their own respective fields as well as together.
We caught up with the guys to chat about the debut album and to find out a bit more about the Bad Cop Bad Cop project.
You guys first meet each other in the nineties. Tell me how that initial meeting culminated in recording together as Bad Cop Bad Cop.
Alex Cortex: We meet in ’96. Stefan was in a band and I was a DJ, and we had the same [musical] homebase, the HD800 club in Mannheim. So, we had a similar musical background and vision of techno, shall we say. We’d both been producing music for a while when we met and so [working together] just happened naturally. We started working as a duo in ’99 or 2000, I think we invented the Bad Cop Bad Cop moniker around 2002.
When you decided to become Bad Cop Bad Cop did you have a specific concept or agenda?
Lopazz: We shared the same perception of the music industry at the time and had been a bit pissed off with the label situation in the past, so we [sometimes] acted like ‘bad cops’.
We shared the same perception of the music industry at the time and had been a bit pissed off with the label situation in the past, so we [sometimes] acted like ‘bad cops’...Alex Cortex: We’d both been in these same [unpleasant] situations with labels. So Bad Cop Bad Cop [was an appropriate name because we] are quite harsh sometimes when we’re doing business.
Lopazz: And of course, the whole Bad Cop Bad Cop thing is mean to be funny too, of course.
Alex Cortex: But, there is no musical concept to Bad Cop Bad Cop. We’d made music before we had the project name and we worked in the same way then.
Talking about the music, tell me how you record your stuff. Is it all recorded in the studio or do you email each other files?
Lopazz: Most of the tracks on the album were recorded live. Alex would have an idea for the sound and I would be the technical guy turning all the knobs, and we’d start jamming.
Alex Cortex: The situation has changed now because I have moved quite far away from where I lived before, which was close to Stefan’s home. So these days we don’t produce together as much as did before. Once in a while we met and jam, but previously we would jam day and night, for hours and hours.
Tell me about the album title ‘Wings Of Techno’…
… I’m guessing there’s a satirical edge to it?
Alex Cortex: Yes, on several levels. The conceptual level, that we invented later on, is that the album is a [culmination] of all the ideas and variations that we consider techno to be. It’s quite boring to have an album that is one track in various versions, which is what usually happens [with techno albums].
We need variation. We get bored really quickly, and we like all kinds of stuff and styles and whatever. But that idea came much later. The name actually first came because each of us played with a selection of machines set up on the left and the right of the studio and sometimes we’d suffer from certain delusions of grandeur and called them the ‘wings of techno’.
Lopazz: A better album cover would have been us in Bad Cop costumes on the actual Wings Of Techno [Laughs]
Alex Cortex: We’re full of this weird imagery.
There was talk of a debut album from you guys a few years back, did getting the record out take longer than you hoped?
Alex Cortex: Yes, it was delayed. Typical label schedule problems with the distributor.
Lopazz: Also, the market situation was changing and we never wanted to compromise and so it...
Alex Cortex: We always knew we wanted this album to sound like it does. We knew we wanted Pomelo to release it because when they heard the demo they instantly said ‘yes’ to it. There was no discussion about running order or dropping tracks. The record that is in the shops is exactly the same as the demo I sent to them.
I’m getting the impression that you guys don’t like compromise. Do you ever butt heads in the studio when you have different views?
Alex Cortex: We don’t really clash in the sense that we have artistic visions that aren’t combinable. Stefan has a specific sound for his solo work as Lopazz and he knows to leave it aside [when we’re recording together] because I’m not that fond of all aspects of it. It’s too high-end, too glam for me. And, my solo stuff is usually a little too lo-fi or introverted for him. So we both veer away from what we usually do and when we do clash it is in a creative way. A lot of the time we aren’t talking anyway, but listening and jamming.
You guys have performed live in the past at venues such as Berghain and fabric. How do the live shows work?
Lopazz: The fabric show was mass destruction. When I arranged the gig at fabric, I checked if they knew what we did but when we turned up it was a big surprise to them that we had live vocals and that Alex sang [laughs]. It was amazing, one of my favourite shows of all times. People were expecting a Lopazz set but we started with 90bpm and Alex singing [in the style of] a death metal band, people loved it. Some girl even wrote to Alex after the gig, she loved it so much.
And will there be a Bad Cop Bad Cop tour before the year is out?
Alex Cortex: It’s difficult. We would love to play, but right now Stefan and I are 2,000 km apart and it’s not that easy to test out a set-up. [Also] what we do live is maybe not that accepted generally. The fabric show was a lucky accident, we’ve had situations where the audience haven’t been ready for what we do.
Lopazz: I’ve played at fabric and Berghain many time as Lopazz, but our sets as Bad Cop Bad Cop were really fucking amazing.
Is the Bad Cop Bad Cop project something that will be on-going?
Alex Cortex: We’ve already recorded some more material, although the [post recording] process is very long as we like to tweak the tracks until they are exactly how we want them. Hopefully we’ll have a new album at some point, although the next album will be very different. [After-all] Wings Of Techno took six years to make.
We have all these different retro movements, which are a simple way to not be inventive. You download some ready-made loops & samples from a website & you make some loopy club sounds that is tool enough to be used.
That is what most of techno has come to. And I don’t want to subscribe to that...
A few years ago there were some rumblings that you might be retiring, Alex.
Alex Cortex: There was lots of rubbish on the net [about that]. I wrote a confidential email to a journalist and mentioned that I would be going on hiatus for an indefinite time because I was really busy with other things and had become a father. And, at that point I was also very disillusioned with the whole scene. It had gotten so stale. It was at the point when record sales were dropping enormously, and I was pissed off and I said I was going to take a break for a while and the scene exaggerates everything and made up that I was retiring forever.
Finally, the last track on the album Retro Futurist is a biting satire of the dance-music industry. Are you guys optimistic about where dance-music is headed?
Alex Cortex: I’m not so optimistic. I don’t think it’s going down the drain, but I find it a bit repetitive. We have all these different retro movements, which are a simple way to not be inventive. You download some ready-made loops and samples from a website and you make some loopy club sounds that is tool enough to be used. That is what most of techno has come to. And I don’t want to subscribe to that.
Lopazz: I think music is fashion and fashion is business, so we all follow certain rules. Of course, there’s always some slots for some real underground producers who are just doing what they feel but most of the producers on the market are following something and want to have the big hit.
Alex Cortex: We are reaching a situation where if you do something a little bit [outside the rules] you don’t get gigs. And as we know, gigs are how artists make their living now. In the ‘90s, people who weren’t DJs bought vinyl because they liked it and [it created a market for] stuff that wasn’t club-orientated. It’s so hard to sell something like that now. I know this from all the rejections [I receive] from the labels of my more ambient or way-off demos I send. There are so few label that dare to bring out interesting music.
Lopazz: Why should a label release stuff when they know they won’t make any money on it? The market is so tough, that’s the problem.
Alex Cortex: I should have started my own label ten years ago, back then you could maximise sales on vinyl. I’m a vinyl lover, I don’t want to just release music on MP3. To me MP3 is still a format that you listen to, put it somewhere and forget about it. I use it, but I’m not convinced by it. And I don’t want to do a label that is 90% digital sales and where releasing vinyl actually costs the label money.
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