Talk Show Host: 043: ded.pixel

One thing I’ve been conscious of in recent times – and I mused over on Into the Pit: 203 – is that the local, as in British, industrial scene doesn’t perhaps get as much coverage as it should. Part of that is the lack of outlets to do so. This site is far from the only online resource that covers the scene in the UK, but the somewhat fractured and small nature of it nowadays also means that it is hard to keep up.

That said, there are signs of life and revival again right now, and in the year that Infest Festival turns twenty – long, perhaps, the most prominent champion of the scene in this country – is going to survey the scene as it stands in the UK right now. This will manifest itself in reviews, live reviews and general comment, and also in the form of a number of interviews with up-and-coming acts in the scene.

These may be new bands to me and you, the reader, they may be bands you are already familiar with and wondering why it has taken so long for to get round to covering them. There may also be bands that you think I should be covering – and if there are particular acts you have in mind, get in touch either on the Facebook page, or via e-mail.

I’m starting with a Manchester act, who by their own admission are rather on the fringes of what we call industrial. Manchester, though, is a good place to start, and I’ve got a number of other artists from the region that I’m hoping to cover across the year – as the scene appears, at least from here in London, to be thriving right now, with a wide range of styles and influences manifesting themselves into an intriguing collection of music. So, let’s get on with talking to Rhys of ded.pixel. How are things in the world of ded.pixel?

Rhys: Things are rather good right now, we’re in rehearsals for our upcoming show in March supporting Covenant and Empathy Test. You’ve previously been associated with the wider industrial “scene” in the North, in the main. Was there anything in particular that made you want to branch out beyond that remit?

Rhys: I’ve always been keen on sound exploration, back in the [implant] club night days there was a collective of us who would explore music well beyond the standard club fayre. We grew to understand there was a strong distinction between what is “scene” and what is industrial. I mean you can write music for the scene and not be industrial, so writing music that is industrial but doesn’t limit itself to scenes is in my mind just as possible, a simple glance at music coming from techno, post-rock and the avant-garde right now is a fair indication of this. ded.pixel, to put no finer point on it, are very much prog-influenced electronics. Prog is sometimes a dirty, sneering word nowadays. Have you always been listening to it, or was it a more recent discovery?

Rhys: It’s a mixed bag to be honest, prog was there arguably at the very start of synthesizers making a name for themselves in music. I think in some circles it may be considered a dirty word but I’ve never felt it to be a negative with us, in fact I’m somewhat getting used to the “progdustrial” moniker. The funniest thing is I only discovered Pink Floyd a couple of years back, admittedly stuff like Tangerine Dream, Jarre and Mike Oldfield have been much longer love affairs. A lot more of my influences stemmed from post-rock and IDM which I’d dare say are the modern relatives of Prog Rock. However, Chris and Ashleigh certainly come from prog backgrounds. You’ve written in the past about your fear of being pigeonholed (something that happens quite a bit in the industrial scene, and this site is probably as guilty as any other!). Have you found that to be the case with ded.pixel?

Rhys: I enjoy there being an unclassifiable quality to what we do, our fusion of styles is constantly fluid not out of a fear of being pigeonholed but out of a desire to create a broad body of work. Some people will get what we do, some will not and that’s fine. In fact, the number of people who’ve complimented us on not being what they expected in a good way has bolstered us to keep pushing. Does any pigeonholing affect how you are getting booked or promoted as a live act?

Rhys: The beauty in working with grassroots promoters is the sheer breadth of artists that fall under the banner. We do still occasionally work within the industrial scene but only if it’s a show I think we’ll add something to. The problem with pigeonholing to a scene, especially one such as the UK industrial scene is the lack of opportunity presented. Compared to other countries (with notable exceptions) UK acts are something of a red-haired stepchild, significantly marginalized and thrown local supports and mostly token opening slots at festivals. Homegrown talent is very much at risk of upping sticks and fucking off, we have acts up and down the country that are doing great things anywhere but the scene. Pretty Addicted are playing Rebellion Festival, Biomechanimal are currently aiming for Bloodstock through the m2tm shows, last year we played not only sparkle festival (making us potentially the first band related to the scene to reach out to the trans community) but we also an event at Liverpool Pride. Working the grassroots in the last two years has given us several festival slots to great acclaim, I dare say there will be more like that in the immediate future. We are very much an act that keeps things on our terms so we can keep a sense of creative freedom. How’s the electronic music scene in Manchester these days? There seems to be a lot going on, and from my limited exposure to it from afar in London, there’s a pretty wide spread of styles (and different to here, too).

Rhys: Manchester is, and hopefully will be for some considerable time, a hotbed of musical talent, tonnes of small labels and a constant roster of interesting shows all over the place. Electronic music has never been more thriving, especially the more esoteric end of things, there’s a throbbing undercurrent of industrial-inspired music cropping up everywhere in the city. What music is getting you going right now – any other new(er) artists you want to shout out?

Rhys: Lots of stuff right now is exiting me, from local acts like liines, Val/kyrie and tangerinecat to some exceptional London talent in Teeth of the Sea and Black Futures. I’m generally loving all this stuff that like us sits on the periphery of industrial, challenging the mind and approaching social and political anger. It feels like we’ve been in a long winter of drugs, sex and violence tropes and this stuff is a massive antidote to the industrial take on idiocracy. Finally, what’s coming in 2018 for ded.pixel?

Rhys: We’re currently writing the last few tracks for our next release distantcollapseofawesterngiant and its lead single to the wolves, which will be released later this year on analoguetrash.

Form.Follows.Function is out now. ded.pixel support Covenant in Manchester on 09-March.

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