Trying to get a clear picture of every project that Sebastian
Meissner is behind could be a difficult road and perhaps the
best way to approach his music would be to look at each moniker
or alias as a separate set of work.
From his home in Frankfurt, Meissner's music and working names
have been morphing and adapting quickly, as his influences and production
methods are always changing. Just as any personality does, Meissner
seems to have his serious and fun moments and they come to light
in the various sides of his music. One of his most highly publicized
albums was Jerusalem that he recorded for Mille Plateaux
a couple of years ago. Sound sources of the traditional Jewish and
Arab music are combined into his own work, taking on a highly controversial
issue and merging conflicting sides of the region yet keeping each
side divided on separate sides of the album by a long silent space.
This rare occurence of socially conscious electronic music has recently
been re-worked on "Walking In Jerusalem," it which Meissner
invited other artists (Electric Birds, Andreas Tilliander,
Dub Taylor, Tim Hecker, Ran_Slavin, Mikael
Stavostrand, and others) to rework his material around the theme
of an unrestricted walk where their are no divisions between the
Jewish and Arab worlds and the sounds that Meissner recorded in
Jerusalem co-exist without separations.
Another and seemingly opposite side of Meissner (at least in theory)
is his Bizz_Circuits project. On his recent Deluxe records
release, The Very Best Of... Meissner kicks his feet up a
bit and digs through his record shelves and yanks source material
from his favorites and then deconstructs and reworks individual
sounds into completely new work. Despite the fact that each track
title comes from a pop song, the end results sounds nothing expected.
Bizz_Circuits sounds more like what may exist in that secret place
between the groove of the gritty records in which the crackles,
test tones, and secret heavy metal messages try to keep hidden from
These are only a couple of the projects Sebastian Meissner is involved
in. He has an arsenal of other projects in the works. There are
Quicktime videos on each of Random_Inc. and Bizz_Circuits
albums, he's working with collaborators and even spent time working
for Force Inc/Mille Plateaux as a web designer and distribution
coordinator and wants to begin new work on installations.
Could you tell me a little bit about how you made your way
into electronic music production and give me a bit of a musical
background on yourself....
My first electronic music productions, which moved my ass and my
spirit were by Shut Up and Dance and Ragga Twins -
the beginning of the new school in hip hop and the Berlin-Detroit
connection and through that early breakbeat sound I discovered tracks
by Alec Empire on Force Inc/Mille Plateaux which were all
very exciting to me...everything was fresh and new.
I started my own sound adventures after buying my first PC in 1994.
I was using some crappy standard software for Microsoft Windows
3.11 and was sampling digital feedbacks and other technical abnormalities,
but also my favorite records. Together with my former soulmate Ekkehard
"Ekki" Ehlers and somehow by accident we crossed paths
with Achims Szepanskis and together we have started working
on our first album La Via A Noir as Autopoieses.
You work under a ton of different names. Give me a run down
of your different names and why you have so many separate projects.
So far AUTOPOIESES, RANDOM INDUSTRIES, RANDOM_INC, BIZZ_CIRCUITS
and kLIMEK are the names I've used. I am getting easily bored with
one sound or method of work so I am trying to move along with my
stuff. As I move along I am changing project names and since I don't
have an attitude of an artist (as a whole), but see myself as a
split-personality in my approaches to my music projects. Time is
moving by and I change myself and I am listening to new music styles
and trying to introduce new sounds into my work. The same goes for
my methods of work. You always learn something new but if I ever
should return to the frameworks of my old projects, I wouldn't hesitate
to use old names.
Why not work under the same name?
It doesn't make sense to me to use my family name or a single name
for everything. I couldn't say that I have something like my own
unique sound that all my projects have in common. The purposes and
backgrounds for each project is different so separation is necessary.
It was a huge fascination for me to see the anonymous nature of
the early techno scene with the black and white sleeved vinyl -without
any kind of an information -coming from nowhere -the sound was the
only vehicle of information and associations. I am using names as
toys. Why should one name (even my own family name) represents my
different approaches? It's just me , myself and I.
I'm very interested in the Jerusalem album that you recorded
as Random_Inc as well as the remix version, Walking In Jerusalem.
I understand you were trying to combine Arab and Jewish influences
together? I'd really like to know more about your work on the album
and what inspired you.
Jerusalem is for me a place which is totally torn apart and so
are my emotions about the land of Israel/Palestine and trying to
understand this conflict. I have started to work on Jerusalem
- Tales Outside The Framework Of Orthodoxy. Each part of the
CD symbolizes all those various ethno-cultural sides of Jerusalem,
which are divided (and summarized) in Judaism and Islam. While trying
to look inside them, I have found out that those two sides are not
only fighting against each other, but also against themselves. On
the CD I have divided the worlds of Jews and Arabs, separating them
by an acoustic wall and a mine field of silence and for me it was
like an attempt to separate those two fighting parties.
Jerusalem is a place inside of me, which reflects my split feelings
and thoughts. They don't work on a black & white level, but
have multiple shapes and stages and are all connected between each
other, sometimes contradicting one self and sometimes floating smoothly
into each other. So are my motives of interests for Jerusalem
since they come from different corners of my soul and of the world.
Jerusalem is a good exercise to learn something about human being
in general (how conflicts are debated, how they are battled and
how can they be solved), but about oneself, too.
Do politics play an important role in your musical or personal
life? Are you trying to simply represent both sides of the Arab
and Jewish struggle musically or is there other issues you're trying
Of course they do. You can't be non-political person in this society.
Even by rejecting involvement in (common) political action is political.
Politics are about taking sides and expressing one's positions and
decisions. All of those "little" everyday choices...they
make you a political person.
I understand you visited Israel. Can you tell me what your experience
was like and how their response been to your music?
It was extremely exciting for me to go and play there that's for
sure. I didn't know what to expect there and somehow I was feeling
bit ashamed to go there and present my little CD project, a project
about madness by which the people living there are surrounded everyday,
especially in Jerusalem. I received a ton of press and I have met
some very dear people, who I will describe now as friends like Ran
Slavin, a multimedia artists from Tel Aviv and Eran Sachs,
an artist and activist from Jerusalem. My contact to people during
my visit was sadly limited to Jewish-Israelis only and which I have
interpreted as a sign of how deep the separation inside the society
is, even in the art scene. Contact with Arabs is not a matter-of-course.
It was a very intense time for me in the middle of war and at the
same time the 1st occupation of Arafat's headquarters had started.
In the inlay for Walking In Jerusalem, each track features
an excerpt from different writers, could you tell me a little about
Well, the idea of this extensive quotes in Walking In Jerusalem
started on the first CD (there you have those short quotes only).
Sound can tell some stories, but some other stories can be told
only by words. The quotes are underlining the aspect of the multiple
faces of Jerusalem which can't be simply divided in Jews and Arabs.
I am working with the theme of a walk through the city - no such
walk is likely to happen in reality in a Jerusalem where citizens
hardly ever leave their residential areas -but diverse neighborhoods
are touched, visited, crossed andafter a short stay
left again. Every track works with a particular quarter and the
order of the tracks no longer distinguishes between the underlying
Jewish and Arab sound sources...it reflects my own position...the
perspective of a visitor...hopefully not of a tourist
Around the same time I received Walking In Jersusalem,
I also received your Best Of Bizz_Circuits album which is
a whole different vibe from Random_Inc. You seem to be sampling
from you favorite records yet reworking them into something very
new and abstract...is this more of a pop record for you?
Yes, on The Very Best of... I am sampling but that's what
i am doing all the time! I don't care about an accurate quotation,
because my working process isn't that way, too. When I like a part
of track, a sound, a beat or whatever, i just take it, rework it,
maybe use it or maybe not and put it back in my folders and maybe
come back to this folder after years or maybe not. So after a time
(since I am not labelling the samples) I have no clue where a sound
originally is coming from. Pop? well, so let it be pop (or better,
rock). Nearly every electronic musician these days is trying to
find his own definition of pop-music...that's ok...but all those
people are talking about something else...which is good, too...but
at the end it's only summarized by: "ah, so you doing pop-music"...like
we had a strict formula for pop-music. I like pop music.
I understand you even sampled Metallica and have a very Metal
inspired font. I don't hear a metal influence at all but has it
made an impact at all?
Metal music is part of my music history/background (either the
very early Black Sabbath, or grind-core metal of the late
80's) so, it's also part of Bizz_Circuits. Yes, I have sampled Metallica
a long time ago and it might be that part of this sample are found
somewhere on the CD. Bizz Circuits is not about recognizing my favorites
samples but if you do recognize, than have fun with it. Bizz_Circuits
is about electronic music is metal = rock'n'roll.
Judging by the extra video tracks you include on your album,
visuals seem to play an important role in your music...
Yes, I do care a lot about visuals. I would do much more of these
things on my own, if i only had the time to.
Could you give me your thoughts on the current music scene in
Electronic music in Frankfurt? Don't ask me about it... I'm am
an autistic person. There is me and Random_Inc, Bizz_Circuits are
coming from Frankfurt and of course Klimek. I heard even rumors
that Autopoieses are from Frankfurt....
What do you have in the works?
Right now I am working on my new Klimek tracks as well as some
installation works with my Israeli friends Ran and Eran. I am planing
to start my own label with some friends of mine, Disc On Demand.
Everything will be sold online only and everything has to be produced
at home. It will be sort of a response to the idea of the DOGMA-movies
and I am working also on my photographic works.