More than music, the Netz sound project has been producing since 1992. Based in Germany and marketed on this side of the Atlantic by ArtOfFact Records, Netz has embarked on a tour to promote their Werk(1) series of releases - they're newest. Given a chance via ArtOfFact, I was able to have a Q&A with this group of electronic artists.
1. Where did the three of you meet and how did this lead to the project Netz?
In 1992, when we were nearly finished with school, we listened to the same music and decided to start our own project. We meaning Thomas and Felix. Later we told Angelo about it and he was interested in singing and writing lyrics, and completed NETZ.
2. Thomas, chances are you've been asked this a multitude of times, but I must. Any relation to Bill Leeb of FLA?
Yes! Bill is the uncle of Thomas! Okay, their family names are the same, but that's it. Being related to Bill would indeed be a great thing because he is a great musician. By the way: you are the first one to ask this question!
3. How did the partnership with Temple Music occur and how did you also find your current label Artoffact?
That´s a long story. Temple-Music is a production studio for music and multi media in Freiburg (Germany). When we decided to produce our first CD Auf Ewig we went to our local music store and asked one of the employees if he knew a studio. the name of this guy is Uwe and he told us about the Temple Studio. Uwe is a sound-maniac. He later was involved in all our productions as you can see in the booklets.
Flatline was interested in Auf Ewig and in producing werk01 which they released in 1999. Somewhat later Flatline was asked by the Canadian label Artoffact if they could license it for North America. When Artoffact released werk01 in America they contacted us and asked if we were interested in releasing our next CD on their label. They must have known that we were about to leave Flatline. Some weeks ago we released werk02 on ArtOfFact Records. We are very happy with this Canadian label and we can assure you, there's more to come!
4. You say that Netz is a philosophy and style of being. How would you explain this further?
NETZ is a phantasy: a phantasy about the world we want to live in. You might have discovered that most of our lyrics describe the everyday life in a straight and realistic way. We are not a future or past project; our aim is to be timeless. At the moment of living the everyday live and being NETZ, we are in our own perfect world. This happens for example when we are at our studio. Imagine a cellar-room with black walls and a black floor, somewhere in Germany. This room has no windows; we are not online there, no radio and no television. And only few people know where this room is. We don't have to talk to anyone when we are there and we don't get any information about what's happening in this world, so, in a way, we don't exist when we are there.
5. What type of musical influences do the three of you claim?
All the music that we know, and that's quite a lot of music in a lot of styles and genres. To give you some examples: Angelo likes Depeche Mode very much, Thomas is a Leatherstrip fan and Felix likes Clock DVA. But we don't want to sound like any of these bands. Their music inspires us, that's it. Listening to our music you might discover that we found our own style: electronic power pop.
6. What type of fusion do you attempt in your live appearances with sound and multimedia, slide projections, etc.?
Live performances are the best way to show people our style of being. Nothing is better than being on stage! Everything comes together: we and the audience and music and pictures and reality and phantasy. That's a perfect fusion! NETZ considers itself to be an art project. That means that it's not only our aim to produce music, but any kind of art. And it's even better when we are able to combine different things like sounds with pictures with fragrances with... anything.
7. How did the Montreal and Toronto appearances go?
This is the moment to say thanks to Artoffact, Headscan and so many others for organizing these wonderful happenings! We had very much fun and got to know many very nice people. The appearances together with the Canadian project Headscan were great. We were surprised how enthusiastic the Canadians are and had some of the best shows ever!
8. You state that due to financial limitations you can't realize all of the projects that you'd like to do just yet. What would you like to do if you have the resources you needed?
Concerning our live appearances, we'd love to improve our slide-show! The idea is to synchronize four or six slide-projectors to the music and be able to cross-fade the slides. We´d like to do a breaking glass performance.
9. When not making music, what are the three of you listening to?
We love electro and darkwave, but there also is no limitation to any other kind of music or to the sounds and noises that we hear all day long. We like Wumpscut, In Strict Confidence, Dreadful Shadows, Das Ich, Kraftwerk, Die Form, Skinny Puppy, Jean Michel Jarre, Laurie Anderson, SPK, Lassigue Bendthaus and Anthony Rother to name a few.
10. Having multiple on-the-side things going on is very popular today. Do the three of you have any other side projects besides Netz?
No. Okay there are some songs around which are not NETZ. But NETZ already takes most of our time and it wouldn't be easy to run a second project with the same quality. From time to time we produce songs for other people like the German Brit-pop project Muskeltiere. And sometimes we do remixes. You will find our version of In Strict Confidence´s Industrial Love on the American version of werk01.
11. Which of you is the Frank Herbert fan? How did the Dune single come about from werk01 and how exactly do you manage to pack an entire novel into the time you did? Dune is an amazing tribute to the novel and a great track from the start.
Angelo is our specialist in fantasy and science-fiction. He read the book and saw the movie. Dune is to the science-fiction genre what the Lord of the Rings is to the fantasy genre, and Dune is one of the very first lyrics Angelo wrote for NETZ.
12. Werk02, just released, is a lot different than werk01 in many ways. For one thing, you tend towards a more ambient style with werk02, while werk01 was somewhat faster and more upbeat. How'd this come about? Was it planned or is this just the way it played itself out as you recorded the album?
We didn't want to produce a second werk01 and there were many things that influenced us while producing werk02. For example: the theme of werk02 is different to the "men-machine" theme on werk01. We decided to do a CD about "time" and when we chose the songs for werk02, it turned out that most of them were darker and had a stronger atmosphere. So this was the direction we had to go.
13. How does Netz create their music? Is there a certain lyrics-melody-rhythm flow, is it all different for each track, or do you build off of other things like a catchy rhythm and just see what happens?
It simply happens. This is the reason why all our songs are different. There's only one thing that all our songs have in common: an idea.
14. Which part or role does each of you perform during the recording process? How about during a live performance?
We are happy to be three people. NETZ is a democracy that works. Everyone can do everything, and if two of us decide what to do, it's being done. That's no problem because usually the three of us decide the same way. Playing live there are some roles: Thomas plays additional melodies and influences the sounds, Angelo sings and Felix is busy with slides and voice-modulation.
15. How much of the recording/creation process is a planned thing and how much tends towards a jamming come-what-may sort of creationism?
Everything is planned! We are not jamming but, let's say, testing a lot. It's a process to realize music. It depends on moods, on technical equipment or other things. The plan changes every day, and the longer we work on a song, the closer we come to an "ideal" result.
16. The Internet and entities such as MP3.com and Riffage.com have seemed to be a boon for independent and near-independent artists today. The promotions available with the Web are amazing. Do you take advantage of this or do you still tend to enjoy paper-based or more conventional forms of promotion?
We like every kind of promotion. It seems that in Germany and Europe paper-based promotion still works better and in America, for example, the Internet is much more important. We use both.
17. How could fans get in touch with you, and what method of contact do you prefer?
The easiest and best way to contact us is visiting our homepage at www.netz01.de. If you are willing to reach all of us, simply e-mail to: email@example.com.
Thanks for this interview!
This is electronic power pop. NETZ.
(1) Werk01 was reviewed in Legends #118, January 2002.