Headscan

Headscan’s music is one of the more complicated offerings about, lacing different rhythms and grooves together into a brilliantly blended movement of sound. Their Pattern Recognition release out in late 2005 on ArtOfFact Records is sure to make a buzz in the industrial club scene for years to come, with pulsing tracks made just for moving floors by combining elements of trance, industrial and EBM into fast paced grooves. While many elements are riveted together for the songs, Headscan still manage to stray away from the “too much” mush that some industrial outfits will sound like and while complicated, Headscan music never goes over the progressive line where it loses its appeal with too many jagged edges.

How do you feel Headscan differentiates itself from the plethora of similar industrial artists there are?

Sometimes it feels like the musical and general influences that drive our project are a little more diverse then some similar industrial artists out there, many seem to only feed themselves from inside the scene and somewhat only achieve to copy an existing style without improving on it (like the various clones of Suicide Commando’s distorted snarling vocals). It is possibly because we’re older then most of the younger artists coming up in the scene, i.e. we’re both 31 and 40 years old respectively. We’re very curious individuals so we’ve been interested by diverse musical styles and over the years, not only the electro-industrial ones. What we’re hoping to achieve is to bring the experience of musical diversity back to a genre of music that we both really enjoy but that we believe needs revitalizing.

The Internet has become a major boon for self marketing and promotion. Does Headscan use the Internet often or more conventional means of marketing your music?

We try and use both means as much as we can. We’ve worked hard on our website to establish ourselves firmly on this new media landscape. The more conventional means of promotion are also favored with our labels Artoffact and Alfa-Matrix doing a great job on that side of things. Self promotion is a very time consuming activity and we’ve come to realize that we do not have that much time on hand so we usually prefer to focus on the creative aspect of our work.

Contrarily the Internet has been well known to also provide a means for illegally swapping files. What’s Headscan’s view on fans sharing your music via Kazaa and other peer to peer networks?

We don’t mind that much because the important thing for us is that the ideas we promote and the work that we do is itself made available as much as possible, we’re all about mimetic viral spread. Obviously, if fans expect to get more albums produced to the quality of our last one, but no one buys any of the actual records, then the labels will not invest themselves in producing or promoting a money loosing venture. Other means of distribution and compensation are being looked at as a way to deal with the changing aspects of the music business. We hope we’ll always be able to produce and distribute our work whatever the situation the music market is in.

With so many facets and angles to each of your songs, how do you begin going about the daunting task of creating a new one? Do lyrics come first, or a rhythm to which you anchor other melodies or…?

Pattern RecognitionThe music always comes first, it’s sometimes inspired by a concept and sometimes not, as it can evolve from an improvised jam session. The lyrics are usually written after part of the song is created and are inspired by the concept we decided would fit best the music we’ve chosen to work with.

There is no real method for creating our songs, if not a certain focus on experimenting with rhythm, synth basslines and melody. Short loops of music are made by Claude and sent to Christian to see what he thinks about the musical ideas. When one is inspiring to him, which is a good sign we might have a potential Headscan song on hand, he sends back versions with his vocal melodies ideas on top. If we’re both happy with the general direction these short excerpts show, we move on to construct the whole song. The song structure further evolves as we discuss it along the way, so that both music and vocals have a strong presence in the final production.

Your music tends to be extremely complicated with different facets, rhythms and melodies fused together. How many passes do you find yourself taking to create a single track to add more to the mix?

Our songs have many specific parts that all blend together to form our distinctive sound, the music is composed with all the layers in mind so it is never about adding stuff on top of more stuff until it gets interesting. Usually there’s a backbone to the song made up of the groove, the drums and the bass line, then there are layers of synths that bring the melodic dimension forward. There’s also the ambiance aspect of a song that is defined by soundscapes inspired by the concept of the song we’re creating. If one listens carefully to our music, one can separate every layer from each other as they are to be coherent in themselves. An illustration of this idea is a song entitled Metadata featured on the Dead Silver Sky EP. It is basically the soundscape section for the song Antenna Manifold featured on our last CD Pattern Recognition. We wanted to demonstrate with this song the potential of our layering process, peeling off some layers to show more of what is inscribed in the sound structure of our songs.

With so much complication, how do you avoid creating music that gets too busy that attempts to incorporate too many elements in a single track?

This factor was not taken into consideration while composing; it’s more at the mixing sessions that we were confronted to that problem. The idea of layering multiple elements of sounds was really appealing in regards to the concept that drove this project but it really became evident that it would be a nightmare at mixdown. Our sound engineer worked really hard to fix overlapping frequencies, we owe him much for his work. Lets just say that Pattern Recognition is a very interesting experiment but one that we’ll probably not reproduce on the next album. Having up to nine bass lines running side-by-side in the same song is not something we’ll try again soon, even if we feel the results are amazing.

How were you able to hook up with and release Pattern Recognition[1] on ArtOfFact Records and do you plan on releasing more CDs with this label?

We sent our demo CD single High-Orbit Pioneers to many labels in 2000 but there was only one who replied with much enthusiasm and that was Artoffact. The owner was really decided to have us join his newly formed label. To this day we’re very happy with our decision to join him and his roster of great artists. We just recently hooked up with Alfa-Matrix for an exclusive European deal, a move orchestrated by Yolk of Artoffact as a way to get more exposure for our work in the old country. Both labels have been doing an amazing job and we hope to produce more albums with these partners as we go along.

Do band members Claude or Christian have any other musical or creative projects besides Headscan?

We both have side projects, working with other artists or alone on different projects. Christian collaborates with local audio-visual artists making both visual and musical performances. He’s known has a VJ under the pseudo Gridspace. Claude is working on his musical side projects that include a double CD of ambient atmospheric music and also an electronic music project with a retro-futurist concept inspired in parts by the early Russian space program and the Steampunk aesthetic.

Does Headscan perform live often and how difficult a task is it to perform a pure electronic set live?

We’re quite at ease staying months in our studio working on minute details but the addiction of playing live is always there. We really enjoy playing in front of a live audience but it has become more difficult for us since we’ve had the enormous pleasure to play with giant video screens and surround sound. It’s more difficult because it is not usual in this scene to have access to that kind of audio-visual equipment. Most clubs don’t have the audio-visual material we need to present the project as we think it should be and it has been a challenge to constantly modify our show to fit with a specific location each time we play.

Are there any plans for another CD as of yet, production work going on? What’s coming from Headscan in 2006?

We’re already back in studio working on the re-release of our first album Shaper and Mechanist[2] that will include additional unreleased tracks from that album’s recording sessions. Then it’s back to work on another album. We’ve got a ton of new ideas that crept on us as we were finishing the latest CD. We already have a concept and a work title for this new project. We’re also looking at going to Europe for a series of events and our hope is that we can bring our multimedia show on tour as we intend it to be presented. We’d really appreciate to meet with the fans that have expressed their support and interest for our work over the years, something that we’re really grateful for.

[1] Pattern Recognition was reviewed in Legends #156.
[2] Shaper & Mechanist was reviewed in Legends #123.