Writer - Helen S on 17/10/11
Andy Vaz is one of the true pioneers of real 'miminal techno'. His work across his Background, A Touch of Class and, most recently, Yore labels have seen him span the globe musically bridging the gaps from Detroit, to Perth, Toronto to his hometown of Düsseldorf. With his Straight Vacationing LP out next week, Helen S caught up with Andy.
Hello Andy, how and where are you right now? I’m doing extraordinary great. With the album off my chest and out soon and all the fantastic feedback about it and a big album tour ahead – after I will first go Straight Vacationing in India for a month, before the tour – things couldn’t be any better.
You've been officially involved in the scene since 1997, what were you doing musically speaking before then? I got into Hip Hip (New York stuff) with the age of 12 and then get heavily into (Detroit-) Techno when I was around 15/16. I strongly got sucked in by the minimal sideof things. Minimal Nation, Säkhö and alikes and last but not least Terrence Dixon’s `95 release on Utensil Records, called Minimalism. I started the Background label then in `97 to actively build a platform for an international diverse sound of minimal techno on the 50 releases the label had until it stopped to then start my latest label to date: Yore Recordings.
What first inspired you to work with dance music- was it a real decision to do so or did it just happen naturally for you?It just came naturally after i got so heavily addicted to collecting records back in the day. I felt I wanted to contribute to the scene actively and so I did with first starting Background (for Minimal Techno), then A Touch Of Class for minimal house, then my own 12” series for my own experimental electronic free jazz-influenced conceptual musical excursions on my very own Sound Variation.
You started Background in 1997, who was the first artist/release on your roster and how did that come about? The first release was Terrence Dixons follow up to his previously mentioned EP, with his Bionic Man EP. Quite radical reduced Detroit Techno. Just up my alley at that time and a perfect start for the label.
When 'minimal' became a popular genre, how did things change for you? It got turned into something cheesy and weak and the name Minimal was taken for something that had nothing to do with what i knew as Minimal Techno before. The result was a new form of empty hearted, soulless and meaningless music that just didn’t interest me. It just got weak when it got taken out of its original context and has been transformed into something else.
What's the difference between Yore, the label you began in 2007, and Background? Background was more on the minimal side of things, but also more into modern production techniques, like when the whole laptop producing era started but also it was a home for experimental minimal music, soundscapy stuff and listening electronica – all at once and without boundaries. Yore definitely is more on the soulful, timeless, old school house tip. The message clearly is deep and soulful – straight up house music.
It's been said that much of your influence where your own compositions are concerned come from free jazz - why is that and what's your relationship with the genre? That is true. I tend to think I have quite an open ear and I always liked music that was challenging, especially back when I was in the Sound Variation, early Background phase. Sun Ra, Pharoah Sanders, Art Ensemble of Chicago and that kind of stuff. For me at that time something like, lets say Robert Hood and Sun-Ra went together quite well and took turns on my home-turntables at that time. So, with that in mind, it sure had an impact on my own production, which of course as far as Sound Variation was concerned, turned out to be pretty dis-harmonic, challenging experimental-edged sounding. Like a mixture between minimal electronic 4/4 based music and Free-Jazz.
What other artists do you admire who use jazz in their productions? Madlib
What's the plan for the next couple of years? Keep on doing it !
And finally, where are you most looking forward to playing over the next few months? Japan, like always. Playing in Japan always has been the most enjoyable for me. Great soundsystems, very musically interested crowd. A place where you can play music for heads!
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