Music & clubs

Interview: Axel Willner of The Field

He juggles more projects than Wowereit does parties: Axel Willner will be fighting zombies and minimalists for club transmediale, one guitar wash at a time.

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Lars Borges

Axel Willner juggles more projects than Wowereit does party invites, including James Larsson, Cordouan, Porte and the experimental electro supergroup Cologne Tape, but he’s best known for his gig as Kompakt’s pop-ambient space-techno mainstay The Field.

In 2008 he swapped his hometown of Stockholm for Berlin, and he’s putting in an appearance with a multi-member Field at this year’s club transmediale (CTM), at Maria on Friday, February 4. Check our calendar for other transmediale highlights, including avant-saxophone legend Peter Brötzmann, witch hausians Hype Williams, horrorites Zombie Zombie, and more.

Do you think something like CTM could work in Sweden?

I don’t know. Stockholm is so uptight: it is all about the hottest and hippest shit that just came out. If it’s not, people won’t come. Or they just stand around with their arms crossed.

Is playing CTM different from playing at a regular club event?

No, actually not. Nowadays I play with a band, so it is already a bit different from the regular club experience. It’s electronic, mixed with live drums, live bass. There are no laptops. Nothing. It was a bit weird in the beginning. Having a drum kit in a club, people were, like, “What is this doing here?” It looked more like a rock-venue. But I think nowadays genres are more bound together. People want to see something else.

But isn’t CTM primarily concerned with the possibilities of electronic art and music?

I dunno. I have only been to CTM once. I can’t remember when I was at Berghain the last time, or any other club. I think digitalization went too far. It is hard to follow what is going on – I am not the biggest computer-guy. When I started making music with The Field, I used a computer for the first time. Before that, I made music more traditionally, with guitars and so on. Now I am moving away from the computer again and getting more hardware, like synthesizers or drum machines. I think I would have found the electronic path anyhow.

So you are not entirely opposed…?

No. There are really cool things out there. I really like mixing newer techniques with older hardware. The whole minimal thing really got a bit boring: laptop DJing and so on. I think minimal is kind of over. People now get additional musicians for their gigs and I think that’s really good. Speaking of which, I will play another show as well – under another moniker I have not played under yet.

Another project besides The Field?

Yes, my current side project is Black Fog.

Black Fur? Black Fog.

Black Folks? Black Fog.

Black Fog?

Yes, my current side project is Black Fog. I do that together with those two other guys from The Field. We needed room for something else.

Black Fog is completely different from The Field – the latter is basically inspired by everyday life and has no agenda. Black Fog, on the other hand, is not really dance music. It is rather influenced by horror film music. Very synthetic, very John Carpenter-ish: Escape from New York and all of that. Suspiria is one of my favourites, Cannibal Holocaust… I like old ones.

The audience might devour you.

It is maybe a bit safer to stand behind a laptop. I dunno, I can also hide behind my band.

CTM & Melt! present Spectral Electrics with The Field, Gold Panda, Mit, Wu Lyf, Sick Girls and others | Club Maria, February 4

CMT presents Zombie Zombie, Black Fog, K-X-P | Festsaal Kreuzberg, February 5