Interview: Ian Pooley
Sunday, 1 January 1995Space Cowboy Does Disco - Ian Pooley's been making music for the better part of a decade and in many circles he¹s hailed as part of the new wave of house producers making music suited to the 21st century, alongside people like Daft Punk, Motorbass, Gene Farris, DJ Sneak, Green Velvet and local producers Pnau, Blimp, HMC and DJ Fodder. Along with literally dozens of twelve inches and remixes, he¹s released two albums and has popped over to these shores almost half a dozen times - with another visit coming up at Seven this Saturday.
Down the line from his hometown in Mainz, Germany, Ian Pooley comes across as a serious and measured individual; his sense of humour is equally detached - it seems to be a Germanic tendency - so you have to pinch yourself to remember that this is the guy with track titles to his credit as bizarre as Plunk 'n' Clang, Plunk 'n' Bang, Two Space Cowboys On A Bad Trip and Two Space Cowboys On A Trip To Texas.
And, afterall, Pooley always has been the child prodigy of Germany's underground techno scene. He says he was playing Kraftwerk's Autobahn on repeat at the age of six and churning out rave anthems at the age of fifteen; that he was just seventeen when he was invited by Achim Szepanski to join the then-fledgling Force Inc Music Works in Frankfurt in 1991. As a result he had the opportunity to work alongside the cream of Germany's underground producers - people like Mike Ink, Alec Empire, Thomas Heckmann, Martin Damm, Cem and Khan Oral, Roger Cobernuss and Ingmar 'Walker' Koch, who represent such notorious artistic liaisons as Love Inc, Jaguar, Drax, Age, Biochip C, Subsonic 808, Air Liquide, Ultrahigh, Jammin' Unit, G104, Bizz OD, 4E, Kerosene and DJ Ungle Fever respectively. "At Force Inc we're really lucky because we have some of the best producers to come out of Germany," he assesses. "They're all doing some great stuff, and it's definitely getting better here now - four years ago it used to be shit with that boring hard trance music; that was definitely not our sound!"
But there was more to Force Inc than just that streetwise mid Œ90s acid sound; this was a label that dabbled with reinterpretations of disco and house was before the French filtered house style kicked into gear. It was the Force Inc artists who pushed the perimeters of these reassessment of a sound formerly considered kitsch and cheesy, and in order to do so they brought on board such Chicago stalwarts as Gene Farris, DJ Sneak. Their presence is attributed with having help swung the directions of German propducers Richard Benson, DJ Tonka and Ian Pooley himself.
After recording with artistic collaborator Tonka under the guise of Space Cube for the early Force Inc releases, Ian Pooley established his own credentials as a solo artist and has gone on to produce music not just for Force Inc, but also Plink Plonk, Definitive, AFU and now Sony's V2 off-shoot. He's made semi-classic records like Chord Memory, Anschit, Rollerskater Disco and Sweet & Sour [as Ides] and he's remixed people like Daft Punk, Green Velvet, Sven Väth, Dave Angel, DJ Sneak, Hell and Funk D'Void.
His most recent album, released in late 1998, was titled Meridian and it was a far cry from his previous album The Times. In its own way it served to define a sound which is peculiar to Ian Pooley himself. "Yeah, I changed my sound for the album and brought in different influences so that it would create a new sound," he told me at the time. "I also wanted to try out some more down-beat stuff and to tell the truth I've just found out that I really like to listen to it too, so that's a new kind of experience for me!"
The influences brought to bear in the context of the album were quite different from the dancefloor material that shaped up The Times and Ian's various twelve-inch releases. "I'd started to buy a lot of different kinds of music - like Œ60s listening and electronic music and Brazilian jazz. They made some really cool records an Tags