A gloomy atmosphere of decay and social problems are often features of industrial cities, but these surroundings of despair and poverty can also serve as ground for blooming centres of creativity. Klen, originating from Rotterdam, gets inspired by these urban issues, so it is not surprising that after more than 20 years of experience as DJ and vinyl collector he has developed a preference for the more experimental and alternative side of Detroit techno/electro. The thirteenth FIBER podcast showcases this in a rhythm of organised chaos. Klen will also perform on 24th of March during the NIGHT programme of the second edition of FIBER Festival.
Growing up in the 80’s, Klen listened to all sorts of music “From electronic wave to early electro rap, from hiphop to early house and from industrial rock to jazz and funk. Early hiphop (MarleyMarl, Craig Gee, EPMD) was my first big love, but this changed drastically when I first heard the more jackin’ type sound of Chicago house in the local clubs in Rotterdam. This made me go to record stores to look for more dance orientated material, with beats that reminded me of the early rap and industrial wave sound that I loved so much. The first Detroit techno records followed shortly after and before I knew it, I was digging crates for records that had the NSC (Detroit mastering) logo in the run-out groove. The most influential artists back then and still are to me now are Underground Resistance, Drexciya, Cybotron/Juan Atkins, early Ectomorph/Flexitone, Anthony Shakir, DBX, Rob Hood and so on. Also the UK IDM (Autechre, AFX) and the techno from Berlin (Basic Channel) had a huge impact on me as a DJ in the mid 90’s”
Next to the creative side, Klen is also involved with the more business side of things. He has been working at Clone since 1997 and since 2000 he has been running labels such as Frustrated Funk, Frantic Flowers and Harbour City Sorrow. “I have seen things go full circle, but I prefer sticking to the classics. We have seen a lot of sub-genres come and go. Every sub-genre brings its originators, but most of the time you see that after the hype period people grab back to the classic templates of techno and house. Even technology seems to have the same cycles; after periods of experimentation of new technologies people seem to get tired of it and go back to simple templates and lo-fi solutions. Too many technical options seem to kill creativity. The hype/revival of proper Berlin techno is a good example of that. It’s all about functionality again.”
Educated as a technical drawer and designer, Klen particulary likes art and architecture that is very technical and abstract, such as creations by Lebbeus Woods and Amsterdam-based artist Delta.”I’m also a big fan of Japanese novels and movies from Taiyo Matsumoto, Katsuhiro Otomo, Hayao Miyazaki and the likes. Maybe ‘cause of their ideas of living in a future city. As a designer for multiple record labels I am also inspired by other designers in this scene, but most of all, my inspiration comes from the city and its people. I’m obsessed by the decay, pauperisation, destruction and renewal of the city and the people that have to cope with it. The negative always had a big influence on me. That’s why the themes of my music are often related to these subjects. What I love in art is closely related to this. A good combination of the abstract/geometric with decay and organized chaos”.
“If I need to visualise the sound of this podcast the destruction of Neo Tokyo in the graphic novel ‘Akira’
by Katsuhiro Otomo’s comes close. It fits to the struggle and decay of the city of Detroit (with its abandoned buildings) where most of the music I play is coming from.”
Klen / Lamanchanegra
Frustrated Funk / Harbour City Sorrow / Clone