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B(if)Tek

Author: Andrez
Sunday, 1 January 1995
Nicole Skeltys and Kate Crawford together comprise techno outfit B(if)tek, a duo who have achieved impressive inroads in recent times with their album 'Sub-Vocal Theme Park' and now a track on the new 'Trance Pacific Express' compilation - which sets them aside such Australian luminaries as FSOM, Voiteck, Steve Law, Boo Boo & Mace, Severed Heads and Viridian.

Apart from the obvious factor that B(if)tek are an anomaly in contemporary underground techno - both members are female - they've also demonstrated a penchance for high production values and imaginative programming that sets their music apart from many of their peers.

As a result over the past couple of years B(if)tek have garnered for themselves an enviable reputation up north, no more so than in Sydney's and Brisbane's underground circuit. "I'm a bit surprised about Brisbane," says Nicole, "but Sydney was really the place we've worked in over the last few years. I think much of that success came about because we had really good coverage of our album 'Sub-Vocal Theme Park', through major media outlets like the Sydney Morning Herald and Rolling Stone; we also had a couple of live-to-airs on JJJ including New Year's Eve, when they did a big profile on us. We also appeared on Recovery . . ." Here Nicole makes choking sounds, but then recovers herself and laughs out loud. "We'll hook up with anybody who'll give us coverage!"

'Sub-Vocal Theme Park' was B(if)tek's debut album and it was this release that really lifted the duo's profile both here in Australia as well as overseas. "It got us a lot of exposure and through that a few things came about," agrees Nicole. "Eventually we licensed the album for its European release through Nephilim in Germany. I guess we were in the right place at the right time, but I should blow my own horn here because it was a pretty good album! Since then we've been hearing how well it's done - apparently one of the guys from Black Dog listed one of the tracks as one his Top 10 favourites, and it was listed in a US DJ's Top 10."

Strange, then, that the B(if)tek phenomenon is not all that well known down here in Melbourne. Accordingly the duo's success can instead be measured not just by the success of their album, but by their recent contributions, not only for 'Trance Pacific Express'. "MDS are putting out this thing called 'Elements'; it's a compilation but there are only a handful of Australian acts on it, including us - the rest are people like Orbital, Red Snapper, Autechre and Andrea Parker. They're using it as a bit of a sampler of the best of electronica, so we're pretty chuffed to get on that."

These days residing in Melbourne, Nicole also moonlights under her more recent production incarnation known as Artificial - but rather than pursuing a strictly saccharinely approach, Artificial's soundscape is a very real and inventive one as Nicole explains. "I've been concentrating on a couple of different genres - one I call electro-lounge; another is elevator-acid." She openly laughs at the implications. "I've been obsessed with muzak for quite some time; I love it and there are an enormous amount of possibilities that you can do with it - or at least I find there are. I'm also trying to do slightly quirky funky stuff, which I call detective funk, and the inspirations here have been from cop shows and spy movies and things like that."

Artificial's output has already started to attract its own kudos. As well as a track on the new 'Zeitgeist 3' compilation through local label If- Records, international interest has begun to generate. "I'll be releasing some vinyl through New York label Oxygen in October," advises Nicole. "They've already released people like Small Fish With Spine, Mantronix, Coldcut and FSOL . . ."

Despite her experiences performing live in Sydney and Canberra, nerves are something Nicole knows all about as she prepares for a series of gigs this month. "I'm looking forward to playing at the Prince Of Wa

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