Sofia TK interviewed by oSSo Ezine - 13.6.12
Interview and photo by Francesco Coia
FC: Let's start from your geographical base. How do you think that Berlin as a city of arts has influenced you? If you weren't living in Berlin, would you still play the same style of music?
TK: Yes, no doubt about it. Living in Berlin is circumstantial for the project. I started this project in Valencia (Spain) together with Nelo Olmos - former drummer and current collaborator. Then, I moved to Berlin, where I met my new band mates. But before that, Nelo and me worked on this project for two years, in between the two cities, where I wrote most of our songs. Now, Graf Shrecks and Utku Tavil- new Berlin- based line-up- is certainly having a great impact on FFT's live sound, but we feel we are far from all that "cool" Berlin artist hype. The fact that we are living in Germany in the middle of this economic crisis is probably more conditioning and reflects more in our music, specially in the new staff we are working on more as a band. Europeans or not, at the end of the day, we are immigrants here.
Sofia TK and Graf Shrecks, Berlin 2012
FC: What has been the path to get to such particular music style? Is it a mix of different influences ?
TK: FFT Error's style is a mix of lots of influences and also the result of a process where technology has played a big role (FFT or Fast Fourier Transform is the name of an algorithm used for digital sound processing, by the way).
The project stems from one of the sets of experimental techno/ industrial I used to play as Tsunami Killcore (one laptop). I was invited to perform a set and decided to do something new. Tired of being tied to a computer screen onstage, I proposed Nelo to play drums and transform the project into something more rockish but still very electronic.
So we took two laptops, midi triggers for the drums -to make the electronics sound more organic- and a midi footcontroller to trigger samples and sequences while I played guitar. This, I tuned in a different way and made it baritone to drive more energy in the bass. Then, we started to experiment. I was eager to create a lot of noise different from that I was creating with the computer, but also to add the spontaneous energy and riffs inspired in the early punk- when it was rough and really rocked. It was that roughness, those right-out-of-the-amp feedbacks what I was missing in electronica.
Since Graf joined the band, we stopped using laptops. Everything that before was coming out of a laptop he now performs it live or it's programmed with proper hardware, sampler and synthesizers. This is definitely giving us even a more explosive sound. On the other hand, FFT's sound comes out as a crossing point between an electronic-industrial background and a punk-rock background. Critical influences have been the electronica of Pan Sonic, Prodigy, Stockhausen's crazy ideas about composition, the industrial rock of NIN and Ministry, digital hardcore, doom, stoner, techno-gabber, and indeed the live energy from the rave-scene. But, in essence, we are closer to L7, Nirvana, or The Stooges than anything else. Beyond music, the ideas and energy of Angela Davis, Susan George, Lydia Lunch and Kim Gordon are a great source of inspiration to me.
FC: Do you consider yourselves musicians or you prefer to see yourselves as artists?
TK: Well, you can think of FFT Error as a molotov cocktail smashing a window of the EU Parliament, that particular moment when you hear the sound. Or, think of an animal revolting against its own extinction, that particular moment when it dies...I like to see ourselves as warriors in a sonic mission...
FFT's sound is a mirror of disgust and discontentment of the current social, political and environmental scenario brought by lots of rotten neo-liberalist values we have to deal with everyday. Unless you have a great awareness, the hate, greed and fears embedded in those values eventually colonize your mind, driving you crazy and spilling through your personal relationships. FFT's lyrics reflect a lot about these concerns. There is a tacit violence going on...and we amplify it in a sonic form.
FC: Some music styles rely a lot in their image to communicate and reach better their audience. Does this work for you?
TK: FFT's sound is explicit and strong enough for everyone to get what we are on about. However, we can't deny a culture dominated by the image. The power of symbols and the energy they carry through is something we are aware and use. Our logotype is a mirrored F which resembles both the female genital system and a dagger, on top of an electronic circuit-> a 'black flag' symbolizing control over technology- on the skin of the already extinct tasmanian tiger -> animal energy screaming for animal rights.
FC: The aim of music is usually expressing emotions. Do you get emotional when you write your music or are you simply hard punk-rockers?
TK: Punk-rock is all about rebelliousness but there's also a lot of emotion, and opinion. Besides, there's a piece of my heart in every piece of FFT's music. If it weren't like that, I'd simply go for something else. I see my band mates playing with same passion. It would be a fake and a waste of time to do otherwise.
FC: Please, talk to us in a positive way about an artist that we wouldn't expect.
TK: I don't feel any respect for artists who despite their genius work behave as tyrants, lacking any sense of human empathy. Phil Spector is one of a many, known for his "wall of sound" as much as for being a total misogynist- specially towards the women artists he worked with, including his own wife.
Spector's "wall of sound" has been a great inspiration for me though. The depth of his "wall" is simply magic. I also love The Ramones' "End of The Century", which was the last album he produced. It's all been reference material when mixing FFT's "Revolution Planet Flesh", a well of ideas for me to re-create my own wall of sonic dirt. This influence is biggest in our track "Leaving Stockholm", which deals with the idea of not being able to escape from something that oppresses you. Yet, as a coping mechanism, you end up falling in love with that same thing that oppresses you- what's called Stockholm Syndrome. Even though this is a metaphor about being trapped in a social system, I like to think about it as a tribute payed to Ronnie from The Ronnettes and all the other female artists Spector abused or exploited: a big "Fuck u!" in his face. A big "Fuck u!" at the male-dominated music industry, in the 60's and nowadays.