Juno Reactor:- The World's Most Eclectic (ex)Trance Band
Thursday, 12 October 2000Former trance pioneers turned tribal fusionists Juno Reactor release their 5th album Shango shortly, which includes renewed contributions from Afro-jazzers Amampondo (Nelson Mandela's favourite band) and the guitar magic of Steve Stevens, former sidekick of 80s snarler Billy Idol. Juno mainman Ben Watkins spoke to mezzmusic this week, from his base in Brighton.
mezzmusic: What did you make of last year's trance explosion-
Juno Reactor:"The only thing I thought was funny about it was that the people who previously slagged trance off, ended up being the people who ended up cheerleading it. It's not the same music though, is it-"
mezz: I was a little surprised to see you collaborating with Billy Idol's rock god guitarist Steve Stevens, how did that come about-
Juno Reactor:"I produced some tracks for Traci Lord's album (ex LA porn star) then he got asked to produce some demos for her next album. I think she turned him on to Juno Reactor, we started talking and we arranged to meet when we were next in LA doing some gigs. He came down to a soundcheck, plugged in and played."
mezz: Is he still a rocker-
Juno Reactor:"Definitely (chuckling). It was really good fun seeing the combination of Amampondo and him, so he came over to London and we did the track. He was a stunning guitarist, I've never come across such a brilliant guitarist. That track is virtually live and that's what I like about the new album- a lot of it *isn't* based around repeated patterns, it's more based around ideas of musicality. The guitar plays a massive
role in that track."
mezz: How much relation is there between the Juno Reactor of 2000 compared to your original vision of the band from 1991-
Juno Reactor:"The original (psi-trance) scene we were in back then fuelled those first two albums and as we left that vibe and that scene started disintegrating, we carried on along our own path. I'm enjoying Juno now as much as the early days. We can appeal to a much greater range of audience now."
mezz: Have you ever considered taking up DJing-
Juno Reactor:"(laughing). No. I've got this thing about DJs, I'm not a big fan of the DJ culture. Without sounding cynical, bitter and twisted,... I think it's a load of bollocks (roaring with laughter). The majority of music is such a load of crap, it's all the same ideas repeated. I liked it in the early days because you could hear DJs developing ideas further, whereas all they do now is recycle things. All that 'I'll have a bit of French Kiss here' business - for Christ's sake!". This music has always been technologically driven, and there's some great music out there, but people don't hear it. A lot of the music is lowest common denominator stuff and that doesn't interest me at all."
mezz: Do you go out to parties still-
Juno Reactor:"Well I have to, don't I- Again, I admit I'm cynical but this is the difference between a DJ and a musician. A DJ hears a record and goes 'Yeah, this is great, it fits into my set, I can use this, this record's brilliant'. A musician is almost the opposite. You listen to a record almost surgically, thinking, 'I know what they're doing, nothing new', or, 'What can I nick out of this record- What idea can I use from it to make one my of records more interesting-' If there's nothing new or different between the records then you're left in a hole. I'm critical because I want to do something different and hear different tunes. That's why I do it, not for commercial reasons or trying to have a hit."
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