TF Archives

Zen Paradox

Author: Ben Shepherd
Sunday, January 1, 1995
"Hearing electronic music in the early 80's, I just became really obsessed with buying records, with synthesisers of them, and eventually I decided to buy one of them," says Zen Paradox aka Mr. Suspicious aka Mutanogenic Mind and also goes under the alias of Steve Law, under whom which I spoke with through the wonderful medium of telecommunication at the late night timeslot of 11:45. No, I wasn't watching Breakers, and nor was Steve, we were discussing the various elements of the Melbourne dance scene. Syntax flowed and here is a rundown.

"I got a little realistic mic synth when I was back in high school and pretty much started from there, and that was back in 1983, so it has been a very gradual process from then up until now." They say from small things big things grow, and for Steve this has been the truth, and he has released on various Australian and overseas labels including If-, PsyHarmonics, MDS, Psy Harmonics and Nova Zembla. He has been able to play around the world, and has enjoyed a favourable position amongst Australian artists and punters alike, he is seen as a sort of mentor amongst the local crew. "I always was serious (about music) in the sense that when I got my first keyboard that was all I really wanted to do. I've only been able to do it full time for the last six years, it was always a very passionate thing for me, and I always hoped that eventually that would be what I could do career wise. Its also something that I really love, and its very much a unique part of me."

Whilst many have come or gone, Steve in his various forms has continued valiantly, making music of different styles, that traverses in different directions, always explores different genres. He has experimented with vocalists, and last years gigs with Mai Linh (spelling incorrect I'm sure) were a different yet thoroughly enjoyable experience. Just recently he has played a more toned down electronic set, experimenting the boundaries of concocting a more natural sound from his instruments to provide more of a composition than a hard edged, bangin' techno set. Natural really, this is a guy who can appreciate all styles of music, not just those under the banner of "electronic", Stereolab, Spiritualized, Tortoise and Radiohead are three bands Steve thinks are "amazing."

"There wasn't happening that much around Australia when I started. I didn't know many people who were into it, and its really been incredible what has happened to it since techno came along in the beginning of the 90's. Everyone knows the style of electronic music, compared to when I started it was a weird sort of thing." Could Steve foresee that in the late 90's we would be listening to electronic music through all sorts of mediums, radio, tv, ads, through the internet, etc etc. "I could see that was the ultimate way that music would have to go eventually, compared to back then to what is happening in 1998 I am surprised to see that there is still so much guitar music still around. Some of that stuff is OK, and I still think there is some kinds of progressive music around. And with technology as well, it has taken a long time to catch up, because all the synth designers were interested in doing was making machines that could replicated real instrument sounds. I took quite a while after techno got going that the designers started making interesting sound instead of copying acoustic sounds. There was a while there that there was really boring instruments being made. But now there are some really creative sounds around which is what I guess is what music is all about." Instead of making music with instruments designed to emulate traditional sounds (the 303 is a bass station, the 909 is a drum machine---), now there is the chance for people to make electronic compositions with specialist instruments.

With the big 4 mentioned above (Tortoise, Stereolab, Spiritualized, Radiohead) taking music into another level, away from the crunching<