Psytrance Goa Ambient Interviews

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Ian Ion Interview ( The Overlords, Koxbox, Sri Hari, ConAmore, ...) - January 2007 [English]

Ian Ion interview, wrote on a plane back from Mexico, january 2007. Read the story of the danish guy involved in such crazy projects as Koxbox, SaikoPod, The Overlords and much more. Learn how Ian Ion pushes electronic music's limts since 20 years....



1- First, where do you come from, where did you grew up, what was your first contact with music back in your teenage years ?

I was born and raised in Copenhagen, Denmark by Danish/Italian parents and grew up listening to progressive rock music. Raised by alternative minded parents, I was introduced to underground culture as a young boy (I still don't know if showing me Easy Rider at the age of eight was such a great idea!). From an early age, I was interested in music and started playing guitar at the age of ten. In my teens the synthesiser took over and I was listening to Disco, Punk and New Wave alike. Bands like Simple Minds and Frankie G.T.H. were favourites, as were the early Talking Heads stuff.

2- If I’m not wrong, your first band was “Russia Heat” What kind of music were you playing and how people reacted with this kind of sound ?

By the time I did my first record with Russia Heat, I'd already played in several New Wave bands. (There was even a couple of Hardcore gigs as a bass player in "Cuntz Ablaze"!). In 1985, when I we did the first 12", there was a whole new wave of electronic dance music coming out of the UK which was the main inspiration for "Tell Me Your Name". The fantastic B-side "Erotic Pink", shows more inspiration from Simple Minds.

Tell Me Your Name, with it's high energy beat and very international sound became an instant dance hit in Denmark and became a best selling 12" at the time, only second to "Blue Monday"

3– Did you travel during the 80’s ? Have you been in India and especially in Goa ?

I didn't do much of anything other than music in most of the 80's. I was a real studio hermit and only came out of my cave if there was some interesting band playing. However, a girlfriend opened my eyes in '88, when she suggested that there was a life on the other side with like-minded people in a place in India called Goa. With great disbelief, I came to the small, former Portuguese colony only to find that Front 242 did sound a lot better played under palm trees than in the dark clubs of central Europe that I was familiar with.

4- The overlords is now a legend of the electronic and psychedelic music. Tell us more about this band ? In 1991 you created the very first Goa Trance track “ Sundown” : did you realised you were creating a new music style ? What happened in your brain at this moment ???


The electronic scene at the time was incredibly exciting and almost every major release was ground-breaking. I could go on for hours about those days that in so many ways created the foundation of the electronic music scene today. However, let me keep it short and just say that in 1991 there were no such thing as psychedelic trance. Trance was a music style created around the famous Dorian Grey and Omen clubs in Frankfurt. With "Sundown", The Overlords created one of the anthems of this scene and we enjoyed tremendous success not only in Continental Europe and Ibiza (UK was still into acid house) but also in Goa, partly because of my peddling early promo DATs to DJs there.


The Sundown-remixes still stands as one of the most ambitious projects I've even done. The CD took three months at ten hours a day to produce and was a result of a collaboration with eminent Danish producer Kenneth Bager, to whom I owe much respect. His talent is still much alive in his Music For Dreams label. While we all were very happy with the end result (My own favourite track from those sessions is "Alphabeat"), it wasn't until much later that we realised that we'd created a classic. I still get many warm smiles from old-clubbers-turned-parents when I meet them.


5- Then Koxbox/Psychopod/Saikopod? How did you met Frank’e and Peter Candy ? How were you working? What was your concept ? What inspires you ? Tell us about psychedelism and music…koxbox was maybe the most psychedelic band since the Hippie years…tell us about the spiritual side of music.


In the 90's, The Overlords grew to become a major project for everyone involved. When we signed with BMG/Habana Worldwide in 1993, we weren't prepared for the big league games and a feeling of loosing touch with the base caused us to split in 1995. At the time I'd already worked with Frank and Peter a little bit who'd sharing a studio with us since '91. As avid pot-smokers they had a totally different approach to music based on getting stoned and sitting for hours painting notes on the computer screen. I was very attracted to their outlandish approach and helped them turn it into something bigger.


The first two Koxbox albums is a testament to the success of this collaboration. But while the three of us all shared an interest in far-out music, there has hardly ever been a band of more different personalities. And those differences caused Peter to leave in '97.


At that time Frank'e and I had already been working alone on Psychopod so we decided to continue Koxbox as a duo as well. Shortly after we started working on a new album "The Great Unknown", which came at a time when many people had proclaimed the death of psytrance. T.G.U. went on to become the best selling Koxbox album and in the following years Frank'e and I spent a lot of time touring the globe.

During the Koxbox years, I saw the psytrance scene becoming alarmingly formulated and decided to leave the band in 2003 to pursue a greater variety of musical styles. However, Frank'e and I got together for a couple of months in Ibiza last year to do a some tracks for the new Koxbox album.


6- During the same time you were working your ambient/ethno project : Sri Hari.Tell us more. And Some months ago a Sri Hari track was released on a compilation… some others will come ?


Sri Hari was a charity project I did back the mid-90's based on the concept of using Indian music and philosophy together with electronic beats. It was huge at the time and sold hundreds of thousand copies. After the second CD, the project was discontinued as we'd said and done pretty much everything within the format.




7- In 2006, you released a new house project. What about ConAmore ?


ConAmore is the fruit of a collaboration between my Australian wife, Monica, my old buddy Steen T (whom I've know since the Sundown days) and originally just envisioned as a fresh outlet for frisky ideas. But the recent chart success and inclusion on Cream Anthems 2007, has spurred us to record some more stuff for 2007.



8- Any future projects ?

Where to stop? In my 20+ years music career, I've always been attracted to the variety of electronic music. While my name is mainly associated with trance, I like almost any kind of music, provided it has grit and originality. I also enjoy laid back stuff while mulling around my flat and this all comes together in my life at the moment where I'm doing a lot of music for film and TV. I've written the music for the Danish DR-2 national TV news and a host of other pieces for DR-1, DR-2 and Channel 4. I've just completed a film score for the movie "Rich Kids" and I can see myself following that road while still making great stuff for clubbers around the globe.

9- Where are you based now ?what kind of music are you listening now ?

My new studio is in the Frederiksberg area of Copenhagen. But I'm currently sitting on a plane from Mexico City to New York listening to new prog/electro house for my DJ set.

10- What do you think about electronic music nowadays ? And about the Psychedelic trance scene ?


I think electronic music is nowadays absolutely amazing. Today's computer technology completely removes all kinds of boundaries between genres and everything lives together at once. The only problem is to cipher through it all. Every week there are thousands of new releases and while most of it probably should've stayed on the producers' hard drives, there still so much fantastic stuff. The psytrance scene is slowly coming out of it's bubble and realising that many of these new sounds are fresh, mind boggling and in many ways more psychedelic than 145 boom-boom-boom.

We live in a world where we're surrounded by information and surreal experiences. Much of what was avant-garde and underground before has now been assimilated into mainstream culture. Teenage kids in rural areas are now taking more drugs than their big city cousins. There's been an unprecedented democratisation of information through the internet and other new technologies. All of this is having a tremendous impact on music. What the future holds remains to be seen but there's no doubt that it's not going to be any less psychedelic as we slowly open our minds to a bigger picture.

Visit Ian Ion's myspace

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