Beginning more or less as an online forum for John Entox’s Skreem Magazine, (New Hampshire) stevvi, a resident of Essex suburbia, England, has built his brainchild website C8 into one of the finest resources on (self-described) “dark, sick music.” Passing up the tired pattern of websites which provide superficial glances into the mainstream of electronic music, C8 takes a deeper look into the edgier, more abrasive side of things by providing up-to-date information on current activity within the hardcore genres. In doing so, C8 offers hundreds of real-audio files by artists such as Somatic Responses and Stickhead, as well as an online home to several record labels, including the entire PCP collective.
To begin, give us a brief lowdown on yourself, how you became interested in the “dark, sick music,” as well as the history behind the creation of C8.
I’m just an average person with some above average friends who make some fine tunes. I guess that won’t do. Having worked in London in the “finance industry” for 17 odd years (I’m 35) I finally stopped banging my head against that brick wall and took up Web site design full time at the beginning of this year.
A little history? I found punk in ’77 and that was good for a couple of years until the dreaded “sell out” inevitably arrived. After that I kinda lost touch with friends involved in that scene and spent the next 10 or so years musically lost, working amongst arseholes and wondering what was missing in life (stop laughing!). In the early 90’s I hooked up with some of my brother’s friends and was exposed to groups like Ministry and Pantera. It was like that proverbial breath of fresh air… hard as fuck and pretty funny, a bit like punk. A while later, about ’93, one of the guys who organized the infamous VFM parties in London lent me a few tapes… Rotterdam Gabba and PCP. As soon as I heard that music I was hooked. The Gabba satisfied the hard, stupid, irreverent side of things and the PCP… that early PCP… it fed my mind and totally changed my life. Through knowing the people that put on VFM I got to meet the Praxis crew and various other dodgy lowlife… I dunno, I’ve always liked hard things and I’ve always had what school quaintly described as an “attitude problem”… I guess that’s me.
As for C8, I think it was in the summer of ’95 that I posted to alt.music.techno asking if anyone wanted to find out more about Praxis Records. I got a few replies, one being from John Entox (Skreem Magazine) and another from Isbeen, who works for an ISP and was the guy who did phuture.com. Anyway, Entox said he wanted to interview Christoph Fringeli (which still hasn’t been done!) and Isbeen and I got talking and became the greatest of friends. He gave me some server space and encouraged me to play around with computer Graphics, and then make some Web pages. During this time Entox and I had directed a constant barrage of abuse at each other via email and he’d sent me over a copy of The Skreem so it seemed a good idea to try to get his stuff on the Web, and so the digital Skreem was started. After about 6 months of purely doing The Skreem site I did an interview with a clothes designer here in London. Entox was a little… ermm… “anxious” about having a marginal “fashion” article in The Skreem so I decided to start my own thing for anything “hardcore,” not just music, and so Circuit 8 was born. It all kinda happened by accident.
One thing that has always struck me about C8 is how hours can be spent delving though its material without repetition or stagnation. Describe what kind of material (text and music) you have on the site at the moment, and how your focus may be bending toward specific styles of music and facets of hardcore…
I guess I should start with the music or labels side of C8. Right now the site is host to the homepages of PCP, Praxis, Loop, Somatic Responses, Ambush, Cross Fade Entertainment, Atmosfear, SubVersion, and Unearthly. A site for Zhark is “under construction” and if Christoph de Babalon gets his act together there’s space for his music outside of Cross Fade. Also, pages are planned for Adverse – a noise label in London run by Nomex. How am supposed to describe that lot? It’s impossible.
These people make music that (mostly) defies description because it is new, respects no pre-defined genres or easily placed labels. The music is about experimentation and exploration, to boldly go… I guess that as soon as you can pigeonhole a label’s style then it’s begun to get a little boring and predictable, IF newness is all you’re interested in. I’ve kind of given up doing record reviews because I spent ages thinking up ways of putting frequencies and pure emotion into words and, in the end, who really gives a fuck about my unintelligible ramblings when you can download most of the tracks from the site and hear them for yourself anyway. I guess that the C8 sound-bite of “Dark, sick music” covers it but I’m amazed at how many people misinterpret that. The music that C8 covers is neither dark or sick unless you have no imagination or sense of humour, or are so narrow-minded that there’s no point looking at the place anyway. Needless to say, all of the music on C8 is “hard”… and “hardness” comes from the heart, not from a distorted 909… especially at 250 BPM!!
As for the texts… they are extracts from The Skreem, Datacide, Break/Flow, Fallout, Irritant and whatever I feel I need to say. There are interviews with many and various producers from around the world and articles covering a wide range of subjects. It is difficult not to slip into using clichés like “alternative,” and the most despised, “underground,” as these words are now so debased that they have no meaning, so what can I say? This is purely the way I see things, but there is a war for freedom being fought by every sane person on this planet against those in control and the content of C8 reflects that. Even that sounds cheesy as fuck, but C8 isn’t just about the usual cry of “I just wanna party” or other MTV youth culture crap, it’s about undermining or rebuilding the foundations of the way we think and act… revolution. It’s about educating people as to the way the world truly goes round, about power, control, and, more importantly, how to hold on to and regain freedom. It hopefully gives people an insight into others’ cultures and mindsets. It seems that the Western youth of today are both apathetic and naïve when it comes to politics and this is reflected in the music. In the UK our New Labour government spouts meaningless, condescending, pseudo-trendy jargon that has no substance and no resemblance to truth, but it’s packaged in a smiling, glossy way and folks fall for it. I guess that you have the same thing with Clinton. For me, the “Rave” culture and the music it makes mirrors this total lack of political awareness and seemingly has a total lack of concern about changing the situation. As I write this, Clinton’s sucking the cocks of the Chinese leaders in order to make a few bucks for good ol’ caring USA [and getting burned for getting his own cock sucked -Ed.], CCTV watches our every outdoors move, police are using CS gas on anyone they like and your average raver is only worrying about where he’s gonna find his next pill.
Now all that sounds too serious to be true and makes it seem as though I have to be on the verge of suicide which isn’t exactly the point of C8. I guess that one of the main things about it all is that you have to laugh at everything, see the stupidity of the world and find it fucking funny… although I don’t seem to be getting that across very well right now.
Does that make any kind of sense at all?
You ask about how my “focus may be bending toward specific styles of music and facets of hardcore…” Simply, it isn’t. The whole thing about sound and music is that there are no rules. Any sound, absolutely any sound at all, is valid to be used for pleasure in any way. OK, I have a love of the harsher, harder, darker, more disturbing, surprising, broken, fucked up things in life. I talk of “new” all the time but doesn’t mean I don’t sit down and listen to a little Black Sabbath, old Mover or whatever every now and then. I defy anyone not to enjoy a little nostalgia or sentimentality as they get older, as the things they are into build up history.
(Regarding C8’s focus on hardcore, in terms of Gabber) There’s so little there to hold interest, producers just keep making it a little faster and a little more distorted or do nothing at all with it and expect me to like it. It’s 99.9% unimaginative, recycled, boring, talentless shit. If Gabba producers really think that a “Fuck” sample and a 909 is “hardcore” they are beneath contempt… but I guess they’re just making money out of the growing Gabba audience which is fair enough. If people like that kind of thing and want to spend their money on it then that’s up to them and I can’t put down anyone for supplying that market and making a living out of it.
I still really do like a fair amount of 4/4 but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find the good stuff and, more importantly, still be interested in it. Most of it is pure party music which is great if you want to get up and go mental, and that is still an important part of the music I like. I hope I’m always into something that exists for pure, stupid fun otherwise I’d become the most miserable fukka on the planet.
If there is a direction that I seem to be taking then it’s obviously towards the more broken side of things… Praxis, Somatics, Ambush… but I also like a lot of the slower, more atmospheric stuff such as the Zhark CD, a London label called Void, V/Vm, Uncivilised World, Atmosfear, some of Widerstand… there’s so many good labels producing brilliant tunes. If that is a direction to my musical taste please don’t hold me to it because by next week, someone, somewhere may produce a record that doesn’t fit in with the plan and I’ll be off… but that’s what this music is all about.
PCP is a term that often comes about when discussing the music, as well as material, that is presented in C8. I think it’d be interesting to see how PCP relates to everything that you are trying to do with C8. Seeing your site is non-commercial, there must be some good reasons behind your obvious dedication to some of your specific hardcore techno affiliations…
Without PCP, C8 would never be the site it is today. By being in the right place at the right time and through the interview with Stickhead, PCP agreed to let me handle their Web presence on C8. I think this must have given C8 a fair amount of publicity, as slowly other labels started asking for pages on the site and it gave me the confidence, the credibility, to approach producers and labels and so C8 grew. C8 owes a lot to PCP but that’s not why I’m still proud to do their pages…
Commercialism… that old chestnut just never goes away. OK. C8 is non-commercial in the sense that I refuse to make money out of it (cue the cute ideological rant), but the people who make the records have to make money to carry on making more of the records that I love. In that respect I assume that Praxis, PCP, Ambush… the whole damn lot of them are the same. C8 is purely there to help them do that, to sell more records and to publicize ideas. To me, that is one definition of commercialism.
As mentioned, I’m a Web site designer by profession. Now I would love to solely do C8 (when I get the time…) but I’m not so stupid to believe that I could make a living out of the place so I design sites for anyone and everyone who’s willing to pay me, be they a cheese House record label or an international corporation. This just about earns me the money that allows me to indulge in my passion for the music and ideas that C8 is about. Does that mean I’ve “sold out” or whatever? I don’t think so, and I don’t see why producers and musicians should be treated differently. If a musician makes intro tunes for children’s TV or an obviously popular tune to pay for the pressing of his/her next bastard release then that’s fine, it’s no different from what most of us have to do. Is it OK for a producer to work in office or a factory all day and make cool music at night? If so, why isn’t it OK for a producer to work all day at popular music and make cool music at night? There seems to be some bizarre teenage idealism about music and what goes with it. I don’t know of any producer in the world who doesn’t want to sell more records- which, by definition, means they want to be more commercially successful. The problems only start when people forget about what’s in their hearts and go balls out for the bucks…
Naturally if anyone wants to employ me for Web site design then I’d be very interested…. email is email@example.com . Shit, I’ve just sold out again! Anyway…
Some of the recent PCP releases may not be the most innovative, phuture trax about and the Dutch style Gabba is total shit, but most of the obvious slower 4/4 releases are good party trax with that PCP attitude, that brilliant, massive PCP production… that pure PCP quality of sound. As I’ve already said, there’s more to the music I like than some pseudo-intellectual, beard scratching lecture on the form of sound and the way it interacts with our brains… sometimes you’ve just got to get up and dance.
Now I do seem to single out Gabba as the prime example of music I don’t respect much, so before I get a load of shit, I better put things into perspective. Up until late ’95 Gabba was pretty cool and exciting but, to me, Gabba is now no better or worse than Bon Jovi, Techno, The Spice Girls, Brit Pop or whatever. It’s just another genre of music aimed at a market and I assume that market is 13 – 20 year-olds and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that… just as The Spice Girls give the pre-teens something tangible, Gabba gives the harder minded “youths” something they can relate to as well. This is GOOD. Do people really expect to put on a Praxis tune and have a 6 year old kid get into it? Of course not, that’s why The Spice Girls exist and that’s why I think they’re brilliant, kids must have music they enjoy too. Hopefully those kids will develop as they get older, going through and beyond Techno, Gabba , Drum and Bass, Noise to whatever the future holds in store. What I do find bizarre is supposedly mature people claiming that Gabba is some ultimate “hardcore”. It isn’t, it’s just basic teenage posturing based on very little substance, like all teenage posturing. “Hardcore,” for me, has substance and thought behind it. It’s a way of thinking. The recent revolution that led to the ousting of the Indonesian President, now that was true hardcore. Saying fuck a few times over the sound of a 909 seems pretty pathetic in comparison… get the point?
While I seem to be slagging off stuff, there is one thing that I despise the most in any kind of music… the word “intelligent.” How ridiculously pretentious can people get? “Intelligent D & B” and “Intelligent Dance Music” …the very words make me sick. Anyone who professes to be into that must have their heads so far up their own arses that they’ve forgotten what this music is supposed to be about. At least the folks into run of the mill Jeff Mills realize it’s just cheap, regurgitated beat music (don’t they?) and appreciate it for what it is… a bit of mindless fun to dance to. I dunno, when people try to intellectualize, when they believe they can intellectualize, simple DANCE music then you kinda think they must be of limited intelligence themselves. It’s a bit like the sad fukkas who read deep things into a Waltz… it’s just something to move to.
Okay, now that you’ve given your own perspective on music, and the ideologies that underlie it, we can use that as a backdrop on your own musical endeavors. So you produce tracks? I recall some talk about you spinning records. Is this true? Aside from that, one thing I’ve wondered about since first stumbling upon http://c8.com is where the name “circuit 8” (c8) derived from… can you shed some light?
I have all these ideas in my head about what music I’d like to make but I don’t have the time or the skill to make it. I get up at 7.00am for work and get home at 7.00pm, totally shattered, 5 days a week. In the spare time that I have I do C8, trying to improve the place and my skills. I like to redesign the site at least once every 6 months to keep it fresh and, hopefully, interesting. This leaves virtually no time to live a life, let alone learn about all that’s involved in making good music. If I did make tunes I couldn’t just load up Fasttracker and throw some samples at it for an hour or 2 and be proud of the end product, I’d have to give it my all. I would be very interested in collaborating with someone (anyone!!) to make some tunes but getting together, even with folks in London, sometimes seems impossible… especially as I’m a simple country boy.
I kinda spin records but recently it seems I haven’t even found the time to do that (I got married at the beginning of June). I’m very much a novice DJ (and pretty shit) although I’ve played out a couple of times. Yeah… as a DJ I’m very, very average and to get better takes practice and practice takes time etc. etc. Having said that, I only got decks because the labels involved in C8 give me their vinyl (yes, I am very, very lucky) and I thought I should at least try to play the tunes as intended. I have no burning desire to be famous but if anyone needs a dodgy English guy to laugh at for a while I’ll always be available…
The name Circuit 8 came from that late old acid head, Timothy Leary. He wrote something called the ‘8 Circuits of Consciousness’ or something like that, where each circuit was a higher level (naturally the later levels could be obtained by various chemicals). Anyway, the 8th Circuit was the ultimate, the one where you could travel the universe, meet and communicate with alien beings, that kinda thing… all with your mind. So, with a smile, I named the site. The place is actually called just C8 now, but changing the name as listed on Web search engines seems to be beyond the people in control.
If you’ve made it this far and haven’t yet plugged the URL into your browser, be sure to check out http://c8.com. The site has recently been completely revamped (compatible with version 4 browsers) and is now looking better than ever. He’s completely open to sharing any info on C8, as well as the labels and music presented within.