Natural Born Sucker
Hailing from Montreal, Natural Born Sucker are the first crew from “Da Great White Nort” to release a record on Drop Bass Network (The Fix EP, DBN 054). Their hypnotic rhythms have numbed the minds of audiences in Eastern Canada and their appearance at the past Even Furthur has exposed the midwest to their peculiar strain of electronic attack. Their unique, twisted sound blends noise and techno with an unearthly something. I think there’s been contact with a superior life form at some point… maybe a pact with Satan or information exchanges with the aliens… nothing I can prove, however. In any case that’s something that we never got around to talking about… maybe next time. Until then, content yourselves with a trip over the border and into the world of Natural Born Sucker and Daria Blax.
How long have you been producing music, and how long have the two of you been working together?
Yves: I’ve been producing techno with Daria’s great help since the beginning of the 90’s. Before that, industrial music and even before that, I remember jazz stuff on bass with crazy drummers. There is more to it but let’s stick to the stuff that’s happening now. We had releases on different record labels: Source Records, Labworks, Harthouse, Braintist… that one released the “Junkyard” 12″ last year. A remix was done by Rob Acid, who’s a great guy by the way…
Daria: And a wonderful artist!
Yves: …and one almost done by Alec Empire, but since he was getting so busy at that time, that was about when he started touring a lot with ATR I believe, he couldn’t do it so the people at Braintist Records decided to re-release the 12″ with the original version on one side and the Rob Acid remix on the other side. It’s out now under my real name: Yves Sauriol. Finally there’s the release on Drop Bass Network. All those labels are from Germany except of course Drop Bass, which is based in da great midwest as everybody knows. That’s a bit closer to home actually so we can get more easily involved in the North American scene.
Your sound isn’t really all that similar to much else that Drop Bass has released, but it does fit in. Who are some of your influences and who do you see as your contemporaries?
Yves: We were into the German sound quite a bit at the beginning. Not long after that we got into the North American sound also. Never a lot into the UK stuff except these days with all the new hard labels coming out…
Daria: Actually, we also listened to a lot of US techno with some of it coming from German labels ie. Underground Resistance on Tresor Records. We started listening to techno when we heard them (UR) and Plus 8 material. Particularly interested in raw music, we rapidly moved on to the German big sounds as well.
Yves: There are some nice things coming from Australia too. I go pretty much by the track so it doesn’t really matter where or who it’s from. Sometimes I groove along to some great stuff and I don’t even know who’s playing. That’s in part because a lot of music we have was transferred on tape by Daria or myself so we can play it anywhere in the house and I don’t even look at the artist’s name or labels. It’s the feel of it that’s important to me. So when I finally look at names a lot of the time it’s the same artists that come back to haunt me. Now for some reason I’m starting to pay more attention to who’s doing what. A lot of artists I like had releases on Drop Bass at one point. Maybe that’s how our music sort of fits in with Drop Bass.
Daria: I don’t care either who makes the track. If it’s good, it could be the shittiest, smelliest, absurdest producer… hey, it could be the so unpopular Alec Empire or even Paul Elstak… I don’t give a diametral damn. It should all be on white label as a friend of mine always says. Some people would have a wild time deciding who to pick for heroes [laughs]. I find there are quite a few releases who stand out on their own on Drop Bass… as it happens on most labels with a sense of adventure.
Yves: Alec Empire’s hard break beatish stuff for sure always grabs me by the bottom of my pants. Mostly his dirty harsh jungle stuff although I’m not into drum & bass or jungle that much. In that kind of stuff I like what Panacea does.
Daria: Oh yea, this guy has great sound… large slaps in da face… nice.
Yves: Martin Damm’s acidic & electro stuff because he does it his own way like nobody else but I still like his harder things too, lately speedcore got me going.
Daria: “They’re all full of shit!” [laughs]
Yves: Those two French sisters are totally awesome… they really impress me.
Daria: You’re talking about the Michelson sisters: No Name and Auto Psy. No Name has succeeded in translating a nightmare I had several times during my childhood into an actual track, she’s not aware of it of course. The first time I heard it, it put me in a state of shock as I re-lived the whole uncomfortable experience of that dream.
Speaking of the Michelson sisters, a lot of French artists are getting attention from the global hardcore community, and it seems like quite a few of them are using some really odd rhythms in their tracks. In the live performances that I’ve caught you’re doing something similar… It’s not 4/4 and it’s not really a breakbeat- I was just wondering if you think that the natural rhythm of one’s maternal language affects the way you might structure a drum pattern.
Yves: This is an interesting concept. It could affect the way someone might write music cause when people speak they use a certain rhythm and a certain pitch modulation, but language is only one of many parameters that define a certain general culture. There’s also the influence that everyone has from other artists. The place you live geographically, if you were in contact a lot or not with other artists in your area and abroad, which brings us back to an earlier question, oops, we’re going in a circle. This is a question that might require a much more elaborate answer than a few lines to answer. You’re opening a door to a deep subject. I’d be interested to understand what could make those similarities happen and would be curious to see what those artists would have to say about it. I don’t think I have a clear answer to that one though.
Daria: Deep question indeed! I don’t know what to say because I’m not an authority on the subject but I took phonetics at Uni for a while and according to what I learned there… all that we do and all that we are can be determined by the way we speak. Just don’t ask me to explain it. So there you go!
OK… I’ll leave the rhythm riddle to be solved another time… What about the use of feedback, distortion and just plain chaos that slips into your material?
Yves: Noise, I’m getting back into noise when writing new tracks and it’s great because we use to listen to a lot of industrial and noise stuff like SPK, Throbbing Gristle, Whitehouse, Hanatarash etc. and it’s done right now with a different twist by new artists.
Daria: Yeah, well I wish they would stop… it’s giving me headaches [laughs]. I didn’t like Hanatarash all THAT much… I listened to Hanatarash 2 a lot and it was cool but that’s about it. I never heard any of their other releases except the occasional track on compilations. I liked some Merzbow, Dissecting Table, or other more extremist Japs like GeroGeriGeGeGe. TG were more of a musical phenomenon than an actual role model for me at the time. They were the first noise artists we ever heard and we bought their records because they were special and we understood the concept much more than because we really tripped on the noise itself I think. I remember putting on their record “Berlin” every time I wanted to clear my apartment of all the dead bodies lying around before I went to bed… Worked every time. Oh but I did enjoy “20 Jazz Funk Greats” a lot and probably still would if I still had it, that one wasn’t noise. Maybe if I’d seen them live I’d have thought differently about their noise… who knows… Maybe I should have a listen again today now that I’ve heard much worse [laughs]. Their influence is undeniable nonetheless. I preferred what they did later on as Coil, Chris & Cosey and PTV. Before that I used to listen to punk bands. My favorites were Exploited, GBH, Anti Pasti, Dead Kennedys, Wire, Killing Joke, Disorder, Black Flag… whatever… my mohawk was so fuckin high I could hardly reach the tips with my hands. Oh I could name names for hours: Whitehouse, NWW, Death In June, Nocturnal Emissions, Zoviet France, SPK, Esplendor Geometrico, P16 D4, Dive, Anti Group, Hafler Trio, Cluster, Moebius, Einstuerzende Neubauten, Joy Division… as you can see, not all noise or harsh. This is a fraction of the influences we come from.
Yves: It always amazes me to see how things evolve all the time and you can be sure that when you think it’s not going anywhere anymore some crazy fool will come along and turn everything upside down and add some propellant to a stagnant scene. That goes for all kinds of art forms too.
Do you feel that being in Montreal and being away from the big spotlights that seem to shine on southern Ontario and the west coast has held you back, or do you think it’s something that’s allowed you to develop without as much outside interference?
Yves: It did both actually. By now it’s pretty obvious to us that if we’re still around doing it it’s because we really can’t live without it and not because we’re hanging to some sort of cheap fame. I know today that I’ll never stop making music even though it’s only for myself for fun. It’ll always be part of my life. So not having any big spotlight on us never stopped us but sometime I do wish we were more known all around only to be able to travel the world more- playing music and getting to meet all the nice crackpots crawling the surface of the planet. Our releases did help us to focus our energy though. It’s also nice to have people release our stuff- they did it for perfect strangers without a big name. It’s flattering cause it means that they liked the music and didn’t do it only because they wanted to use a known name to boost their catalog sales.
Daria: That says a lot.
Yves: And yes, not having too much interference helps us to get our sound together. I think that not getting into the spotlight right away has a good filtering effect on everybody and all the fuckin’ opportunists who are not doing it out of passion get filtered out. I don’t think someone who only wants to be a “star” or wants recognition at any price will go on forever without, at some point, making a silly mistake or a cheap move and showing his true color. Even the “big mouth” who rides on pretension will have to deliver at some point and really show what he’s got. I’m not talking about levels of quality or whatever here because that’s subjective, I’m saying that I can certainly dig something a bit shaky or trashy if it’s totally passionate. I believe that if you’re really passionate about it and that you keep at it long enough you’ll reach a decent level of coherence… whatever that means. At the same time it doesn’t mean that you have to go out and perform, it starts in yourself for yourself first, the rest is a question of priorities.
Daria: Yeah, whatever… I’m totally incoherent… have been for years… Steady Incoherence is my middle name.
Do you feel that you’re part of a wave of Montreal artists coming forward? There’s been recognition of Montreal’s trance community for some time, but is there a sense that other hardcore producers and DJs are worthy of international recognition?
Yves: Well, one thing I know, there are a few DJs that are coming along real well and if they keep going they’ll get there. As far as producers go, I’m not aware too much of what’s going on but there must be some of them simmering somewhere in dark corners I’m sure. There’s “Paratonerf” who has a live set together on the hard acid side. The only thing I wish is that if the ball keeps rolling and the hard scene here in town starts to really happen, the egos won’t get blown out of proportions. That’d be totally stupid.
Daria: You’re too late for that… it’s already infested the main water system, air vents and junkfood joints all over the area. Thank God we’re safe in the Bunker!
Yves: There’s already some frictions, nothing serious so far, hope it won’t get worse. People have to understand that the bigger the hardcore scene gets, if it does, the more everybody have to keep their head close to their shoulder and well hooked to their neck.
Daria: I know quite a few people who can’t get in through a regular doorway any longer …not large enough for their head. It’s sad because this happens a lot and then I really don’t feel like giving any compliments anymore… even when it’s justified. If I do, I’ll have to hire a demolition crew and have all the city’s doorways enlarged at least by half.
Yves: Traveling around and going abroad to other parties can help to compare and learn. Most of the people that did accomplish something that I’ve met didn’t have anything to prove to anybody and were real nice and cool. From what I’ve heard, there seems to be more people into harder stuff here in Montreal than in some other Canadian city’s so lets not screw up that luck by being assholes. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in the rest of Canada so of course I can’t really be sure of anything about the scene in other cities.
Daria: I suppose it never hurt anyone to check what goes on outside one’s own little town. As far as Montreal being hardcore… I think it’s a cliques town more than anything. It seems like the cool thing is to be underground, dark and exclusive. Many DJ’s I know won’t play a record if it can easily be bought by everyone in the record shop. What do they think, that they are the only one owning the records they already have? Maybe it would be a good idea for many of them to actually try and develop a personal style instead of constantly trying to emulate the last hard DJ who came to town. In other words: I’m not impressed. Bleh!