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Changing the face of techno - the Fokus and Fractured way

Author: michelle pirovich
Wednesday, 20 November 2002
Renaissance, rebirth, revival, however you choose to define it, the techno scene in Melbourne is back; fresh, exciting and more inspirational than ever before. After having taken an undeniable backseat over the last couple years a newfound sense of community and commitment has emerged, giving techno the lift it so desperately needed. Attitudes have changed, directions have become more focused, and although it may have you harkening back to the old days, don't expect things to go back to the way they were, its time to move on.

This Friday will see the crews from Fokus and Fractured come together once again for an onslaught of innovative techno and breaks. In an intimate but casual discussion, a group of Melbourne's media and techno aficionados got together to explore the ins and outs of the Melbourne scene, past present and future. Present were Mike Callander (Fokus productions), Kevin Karlberg (Forklift/War of the Worlds/Tune in Tokyo), Simon Slieker (Teriyaki,YeahFuckYeah), Simon Coyle (WetMusik/Agent Mad, Liquid Artist Management), and Simon Mark (Ishtar).

There is no disputing the fact that for years the very essence of Melbourne's music scene was techno. Enter the superclub, superstar DJs and NRG and suddenly Melbourne's techno scene was faced with the danger of being brushed aside for easy cheese and mass-market hype.

SC: There has been a very obvious shift in the techno scene in general. Techno was the main Melbourne sound throughout the nineties. In 98-99 came the Hardware events, which represented a form of techno rather than a niche techno sound, and they were getting 4-5,000 people per event. In 2000 a massive change in the market occurred with NRG, and what happened was that techno promoters became a lot more competitive against one another instead of banding together. Underhanded tactics were emerging and people chose to openly bag one another on forums. Punters are very discerning and passionate about their music and this rivalry strongly affected the partying vibe.

The techno scene was to remain fairly stagnant over the next two years, promoters struggled to get the numbers they wanted and club nights came and went. Like everything though, a reevaluation of the situation was in order, slowly changes were being made and finally techno was getting its shit back together.

MC: I guess I'm calling it 'The Renaissance of techno' a term I made up myself. Basically, what was really competitive is now more community minded and there is a lot of support and mutual respect out there.

SC: Some promoters chose to move into another scene, those who have decided to stick with techno are in it for the right reasons. You now find everyone schedules events together, moving tours around if necessary. We now have a very tight network on an Australian level and these changes in the network have also changed the vibe. It's back to simply going out to hear good tunes.

SS: One thing that has never happened before is that we all now pay to get in to each other's events/clubs, it keeps the wheels in motion and is exact proof of the change in attitude, and the respect we have for each others efforts.

Enthusiasts and connoisseurs of Melbourne techno alike know that Melbourne has a distinct techno sound and without wanting to pigeonhole it, how exactly do those who create the sounds define it.

MC: The best way to theorise techno and we do this a lot cos we're all wankers, is to say that there is a lot of texture, a lot of structure, its more innovative and generally better at putting influences together. Techno DJs play in a certain way that isn't evident in other styles, Carl Cox said 'Techno is whatever you want it to be, it is how its presented.'

MC: What is 'intelligent techno' actually came out of a discussion I had with Simon Digby, its thinking persons techno. It may not be geared for the dance floor but it's just as valuable. In the space of one bar you can ac
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