The multifarious singer/performance artist/animator/Peaches-video-maker Angie Reed and disco-plus DJ/vocalist Eric D. Clark – longtime friends and cornerstones of the Berlin music scene since the 1990s – have launched “To love you”, what looks to be a year of collaborative performances, singles (the plan is one a month,on CD and vinyl) and internet shenanigans. They stopped by our office for a chat.
Let’s talk a little bit about your project together. Eric was telling us it’s not really going to be an album, per se. You’re just going to drop stuff out like Hansel and Gretel’s trail.
ERIC D. CLARK: That’s a really nice analogy. We like that.
Of course, then the trail disappears and somebody ends up cooking you for dinner.
EDC: You gotta go somewhere with it, right?
ANGIE REED: We all have thousands of projects on the go, so we thought it was a good idea to have these micro stories, bit by bit, and then in the end, we’d tie them together with nice audio plays, audio skits. These will make dramatic sense of the little pieces that have been put together.
Which ties into your background in performance art.
AR: I hate the name “performance art”. Unfortunately, there’s not a better term.
Everybody hates the name of whatever genre s/he’s working in.
AR: Everybody does, but we’re forced to use it and moan about it.
Eric has complained about “soul music as a term”.“Minimalism” – that’s a terrible name too.
AR: But where would life be without any complaints?
EDC: The music I’m listening to is dance music. It’s not necessarily any specific genre of dance music. I’m a classical pianist and I have always played dance music: mazurkas,polonaises, waltzes, various forms of marches – I’m talking about 8000 years of music. I’m not talking about the shit we do today. I’m not talking about plug and play.
How exactly does your collaboration work?
AR: I work with different characters. I think working with someone else is my next step.
It’s interesting, because there is a type of conflict in your approaches: Eric is an artist who’s more interested in soul music and I’d say that you are probably more of a satirist.
AR: But conflict is good – he’s taking me out of my niche.
EDC: And we never have conflict. You have to understand: I can give her anything to sing and she can sing it. It doesn’t have to be this, like, indie rock electroclash BS. It can be anything. You could give her an Evelyn “Champagne” King song and she could sing it. People have just never heard her do it, but she’s got the voice. You can hear it when she speaks, or at least I do.
AR: I think that, for example, the first record [2001’s Angie Reed Presents The Best of Barbara Brockhaus (Chicks on Speed Records), about the erotic adventures of an office worker] was a gag, you know, for me.
Were you taking yourself seriously as a recording artist at that time?
AR: No, I wasn’t. I had just quit playing bass with Stereo Total and I had this live show that came out of the art of performance, so in that sense, yeah – but I was working with Patrick Catani. I made the beats, played the instruments, but I didn’t know shit about recording. He did it, and put his magnificent touch on it – you know, the Catanian sound.
EDC: It’s a phat record, though.
AR: Yeah, but still it’s impossible to DJ that record. Satire and dance music rarely mix these days. I suppose you have Green Velvet…
AR: The second record [2005’s XYZ Frequency (Chicks on Speed Records)] rode the wave of electroclash, to my surprise, but I was lucky that it did. I didn’t make any money off of it, but it got me playing gigs. I thought that I’d be more cheeky because the first one was so hyped. So then I did this show with all the innuendo-text, the über-text, the under-text, the side-text – all these things are going on, and half of the people didn’t know a goddamn thing or even see what I was getting at. They just see some woman with red heels and they judge it.
Were you aware…
AR: …of the ways things worked in the electro world? Of course I was aware of it, man, of course. I’m not that stupid… It was satire and I was using different elements from different epochs and mixing them together. It was a juxtaposition of genre and messages and it was playing with a lot of different social identities. But there was a language barrier there: it was performed in mainly German-speaking areas, because that’s where the label was strongest. So you do a show on some stage where you can’t really do your show – you’re in Spain, Barcelona or someplace where everybody’s quite popped up on something and they just want to BOOM BOOM BOOM and they like your music because you’re hyped and that has nothing to do with you or what you’re doing. I don’t want to sound, like, “Boo hoo, I am the artist that nobody gets”, but…
AR: I’d rather talk about the album.
Are you also working on the music for this project, or is at all Eric?
AR: It’s open. He’s just been like a lightning bolt and I’m happy to let him. I don’t have to be controlling – let the man do his job. And if I wanna do something, I can always do my thing, or do solos.
EDC: She’s the tightest percussionist I’ve got and she can go for a long time. And it’s not about me: it’s about making this for her. I can write songs for myself that don’t sound anything like what I do for her in the same day. I think a good producer does exactly that: a good producer doesn’t make you sound like himself or herself. A good producer makes you sound the best you can sound.
Angie – as a satirist, would you consider yourself a moralist?
AR: Who wants to be called a moralist, sir?