Posts by Oliver Chesler

"Hello my name is Oliver and I'm going to tell you a story." I have been recording music since 1989 under the name The Horrorist. I have released over 60 singles and 4 full length albums. To hear my music please go to: thehorrorist.com

Front 242 at Irving Plaza

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Last night I went to see Front 242 at Irving Plaza in Manhattan. The last time I saw them live was May 6, 1989 at the Palladium. Considering that they are one of my favorite bands of all time it’s strange to me that I have only seen them twice… 25 years apart. When I saw them two and a half decades years ago they were young, skinny, all in black and extremely aggressive. They used Emulator Samplers, analog delay pedals and electronic drums. At that point every single song that they had released I adored with a passion. After Tyranny for You their sound changed and techno took over the landscape. I still worshiped what they had done but wasn’t very interested in their “newer” material. Even though I shunned the new stuff I in fact have probably listened to Front 242′s early music every week of my life since I first heard them.

The love affair started in 1987. At that point in my life I was the worlds biggest Depeche Mode fan. Black Celebration was on heavy rotation. I was in a car with my then girlfriend and she put in a cassette. It was Official Version. As she drove something happened to me. I couldn’t really process what I was hearing but I was being overtaken. I clenched my teeth and squeezed my fists. I never heard anything so dark, mysterious and complicated. I knew what I was hearing was important. Right away I went to record stores trying to finding a 242 release here or there. I remember walking on St. Mark’s Place and seeing a guy wearing the now iconic helicopter 242 shirt. I was fairly shy as a teenager but I went right up to the guy and stopped him. I said, “Oh my god you know about this too!”. Front by Front was released soon after. Reviewing all their work I saw their music vision grow from Geography into this military music machine. I started making my own music and in doing so realized the incredible amount of work that went into each 242 song. I was obsessed with Jean Luc’s mannerisms. They were pure electronic power. They were also my very own. My parents and “normal” friends couldn’t even come close to understanding Front 242 and that was exactly perfect.

I saw a few video clips of late 90s and early 2000s 242 live shows. I saw them gain a few pounds and wearing dayglow yellow. Richard 23 lost the mohawk, sunglasses and even ran for political office in Belgium. I craved an new “old style” 242 track badly. I probably had a dream or two where I even heard one. This concert at Irving Plaza wasn’t put together by a concert promoter in the traditional sense. A small group of DJs who have been keeping the EBM candle alive through the dark years got together to make this happen. They paid for this themselves. That fact and because the band has giving me a large part of the soundtrack for my life made me buy a ticket. So off to Irving Plaza I went. I honestly was expecting to be very disappointed.

I got a lump in my throat when I saw the sign over the Plaza’s entrance. “Front 242 Live”. I did the math. 25 years since I have seen them. You could almost see the Palladium (now a Trader Joe’s) from Irving Plaza. The line was around the block. I joked to my friends that they were asking for ID if people wanted to drink because clearly there was no one under the age of 30 on the line.

Cocksure was the opening band. I went to the Wax Trax popup store in Chicago this summer. Cocksure performed and really blew me away. They had that classic 80s Wax Trax sound. I told people leading up to this that they were going to possibly blow 242 away. They didn’t. Being an opening band is painful. On one hand who would say no to a trip to NYC and open for 242? On the other hand you get less than half the sound of the main act and no one is really there to see you. I still think they are a band to watch but just not last night.

The DJs who brought 242 to NYC played some music. I couldn’t see the DJ booth so I’m not sure who was on but it was a good mix of new and old stuff and a low enough volume that the audience could talk and make some predictions about what they were a few minutes away from seeing. Then a few seconds of quiet, cheers and Patrick Codenys took the stage. He played a minute of beatless music and then Jean Luc DeMeyer and Richard23 ran on stage. What happened next thrilled me. It was Front 242. Electronic Body Music. The two men moved in action just like they did 25 years ago. Massive strobes flashed shadows behind them making them look like giants. It was very clear they were excited to be there and we were in for something really good. Every classic they played blew me away. Surprisingly the newer songs I didn’t know were also great live. The highlight was No Shuffle. As the song played I felt like I was dreaming about how they would do the song far in the future. They crossed each other back and forth on stage without looking at each other. They each took turns as front man. Richard23 traded his small belt held analog delay pedal for some almost psychedelic sounding rack of lush delays. Funk Gaddafi was an experience like watching the “Sprach Zarathustra” time warp scene in Kubrick’s 2001. A funny moment happened during the song Welcome to Paradise when a young person said, “They are singing the samples how cool!”.

I had a great time. Was it as good as seeing them the first time? Of course not. In 89 they were pure, angry and the technology was raw. It was also something completely new. Even the New York Times covered them back then. But one thing is clear in both shows. In 1989 they had something to prove and they did so. In 2014 they had something to prove again and they did it again. They are still Front 242 and I am still in love.

“FRONT 242 < > !!First NYC concert in almost 10 YEARS!!” – Krieg Koncerts/MediaDent/Defcon/Qxts/Nobody?/Dr. Avi/EMP

For more info: front242.com

The Horrorist Live in London 2014 Full Show Report

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I recently performed a live show in London. It was the first show of a tour in Europe which would take me to Stockholm, a week in Berlin and end in Stuttgart. The event took place at Electrowerkz which also hosts Slimelight. I performed at Slimelight before so I knew the venue would be perfect. I should mention I also one performed at one of the Drop the Bomb events in London too. At that show I notoriously hooked the wrong piece of equipment to a transformer and almost burned the place down.

After a few hours sleep and soundcheck I took a taxi to another event for a book release. The book “Some Wear Leather Some Wear Lace” is an essay and photo book on Post Punk and Goth. It has a photo of me in it (page 46) so I spent a few hours listening to UK goth DJs, drinking wine and well showing everyone who would bare me blabbing on page 46! I made it back to Electrowerkz an hour before my show and paced backstage for a bit. I think you can ask anyone who performs that the hour before getting on stage is the worst. Everything almost always goes perfectly but until you get in front of people and scream the first lyric your mind imagines everything going wrong.

With a good amount of smoke and proper lighting I did my thing. I performed some new songs I am testing for my next album. One song in particular is really working. It’s a track I am collaborating on with a guy named Daniel Olarte. He’s from Bogota but is living in NYC. He’s worked David Carretta and is a name to watch. The other DJs of the night (Jerome Hill, Chris Redmond, Tom E C, etc…) were playing some hard acid and some nice old Disintegrator tracks (thanks for that guys!). After the show I was kindly handed two ecstacy pills. I knew I had to leave for Sweden early the next morning and I would never do such things anyway ;)… so I handed them off to a friend and got the hell out of there in one piece. Chris (DJ Manga) and Tom Chamberlain were great hosts so a big thank you to them for being patient while I put the tour together and making this happen. Thanks to 303 PHOTO for most of these great shots. To see the full photo set: click here

“44 City and Elektrofied are proud to present The Horrorist! Making a very rare, exclusive appearance in the UK, Oliver Chesler will fly over from New York to headline a night of Techno and Electro spread over two rooms in Electrowerkz, London.” – Elektrofied

For more info: facebook.com/events/1452944798292460

photo credit: 303 PHOTO

Wednesday Night Blitzlicht Berlin

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If you’re in Berlin tomorrow night (Wednesday, Sept 17) be absolutely sure to come to the 1820 Club! I am throwing an event called EBM BLITZLICHT you don’t want to miss. Petra Flurr, Denard Henry (Sonic Architecht), DJ Death B, DJ Andi and myself (The Horrorist) will all be doing DJ Sets. Rosa-Luxemburg-Strasse 39-41 Berlin (U2 Rosa-Luxemburg Platz). Join us!!

“A NIGHT OF OLD SCHOOL EBM, NEW BEAT, INDUSTRIAL & SYNTHPUNK!!”

For more info: facebook.com/events/764871263569278

Yaz Only You Patches

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As a huge Yaz fan I have always wanted a Sequential Circuits Pro-One. The wonderful Noyzelab blog has posted some scans showing the patches that made up one of my favorite songs Only You. Looking from a window above It’s like a story of love…

“Five sets of panel layouts for the SCI Pro One synth by Vince Clarke, for the track Only You by Yazoo. Scanned from my copy of music technology magazine One.. Two.. Testing Issue No1 1982.” – noyzelab

To see the scans in full resolution: noyzelab.blogspot.com/2014/09/how-vince-clarke-made-yazoos-only-you

Happy 909 Day

Oliver Chesler and John Selway

Today is September 9 so it’s 9/09 day! Here I am on the left in the early 1990s inside the base of the Brooklyn Bridge playing live using my Roland TR-909. To the right of me is John Selway. Interestingly I bought the machine in Yonkers and when I got to the apartment there were gold records on the wall. My 909 was once owned by one of Chaka Khan’s producers. Never mind my hair just don’t look closely at my pupils! And yes my hand is on the tempo knob.

“The Roland TR-909 Rhythm Composer is a partially analog, partially sample-based, drum machine introduced by the Japanese Roland Corporation in 1984. The brainchild of Tadao Kikumoto, the engineer behind the Roland TB-303, it features a 16-step step sequencer and a drum kit that aimed for realism and cost-effectiveness. It is fully programmable, and like its predecessor, the TR-808, it can store entire songs with multiple sections, as opposed to simply storing patterns. It was the first MIDI-equipped drum machine. Around 10,000 units were produced.” – Wikipedia

For more info: wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_TR-909

Gotharman’s Musical Instruments

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If you want to sound authentically very early electronic music but still buy something new Denmark’s Gotharman’s Musical Instruments is a great place to start. The video above could easily be Throbbing Gristle. I’ve been looking through the website to try and figure out exactly whats going on in the video. I am very tempted to create my own small side set up of this stuff. I noticed he has a Eurorack module too. If anyone uses some of this stuff or know more let me know what you think of it I am very curious!

“Gotharman’s Little deFormer combines a granular effects processor with special effects like TimeStretcher, StepGranulator and PitchShaper and more usual effects like Reverb, delay, distortion, compressor, filters and bit manipulation, with some special parameters, with a 100 minutes sampler, a synth and a step sequencer. A MIDI Note Randomizer is also included.” – Perfect City

For more info: gotharman.dk

PRESS: Partysan EBM BLITZLICHT

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German magazine Partysan has mentioned the upcoming EBM DJ night I am throwing in Berlin, Germany with Petra Flurr, Denard Henry Aka Sonic Architect, Dj Death B. And Dj Andi called EBM BLITZLICHT! If you’re in Berlin that Wednesday you must come and hang out!

“A NIGHT OF OLD SCHOOL EBM, NEW BEAT, INDUSTRIAL & SYNTHPUNK!!”

For more info: facebook.com/events/764871263569278

Korg Gadget gets Ableton Export

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I think we all hoped to have full featured comfortable sequencers on our iPads. That reality as not quite happened (yet). As a sound source that goes into a desktop DAW the iPad is amazing. One of the best music apps to come out is Korg’s Gadget. An update this week brings export to Ableton Live. I’ve actually made a few small sketches on Gadget I really liked so today I will update and give this a try.

“KORG has collaborated with Ableton to offer a new music production workflow that lets you move seamlessly from mobile to desktop. KORG Gadget can export your project in an Ableton Live format, via iTunes or Dropbox. The phrases of each track and scene you create are internally converted into audio files. You can then use Live’s powerful Session and Arrangement workflows to edit and and refine your ideas, perform or record new parts, arrange your ideas, and mix your song. If you don’t already have Ableton Live, sign up in app to receive Ableton Live Lite for free.” – korg.com

For more info: korg.com/korg_gadget_for_ipad

Korg Volca Sample

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Korg is really making products I like these days. There is a new Volca and it’s a sampler. It’s called the Volca Sample. Being an old Akai S950 guy I love that they made the new box white! It has a eleven parameter motion sequencer, reverb per part, analog eq, active step and jump functions, reverse and the very important sync jack in the back. It holds 100 samples but actually doesn’t sample on it’s own. You need iOS to load in new samples. That said since I use iOS devices I am happy but I can see this as an issue for some. Price TBA.

“The volca sample is a sample sequencer that lets you edit and sequence up to 100 sample sounds in real time for powerful live performances. It’s a powerful addition to any existing volca setup, or simply on its own. The new volca lets you recapture the excitement of the first generation of samplers, in which any sound — vocals, spoken words, ambient sound, or glitches — becomes material for your creations!” – korg.com

For more info: korg.com/us/products/dj/volca_sample

The Horrorist Live at the Freakshow Festival Full Show Report

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FREAKSHOW 2014 – Zapping Live Report from David Basso on Vimeo.

When I get booked to perform at an event I’ve never played before I obviously don’t know what to expect. After accepting a booking in Gigors, France called the Freakshow Festival I was initially confused. You see the event which takes place basically in the woods about two hours away from Lyon is essentially a “rock concert”. What I mean is all the bands that performed this year used well drums and/or guitars. I was wondering if they meant to book the “Horrors” instead. But after a trip to their website I noticed they posted some of my videos so they clearly knew what they were doing.

The journey from NY to the venue is a long one. There are no direct flights and no airport that lands that deep in the woods. So to remind you that playing a show while an honor is not all fun listen to this. One hour traffic to JFK Airport from Williamsburg, Brooklyn. This is a 15 mile drive by the way but traffic is insane. At JFK even with Sky Priority Gold status the wait through check-in and security is another hour. Wait another hour before the flight to Paris takes off. Seven hours in the air. I have missed so many connections and have had luggage not make it on time at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport that you have to take a minimum two hour layover. In fact it costs more to take a long layover so that proves everyone knows that airport has issues. So two hour layover there. The flight from Paris to Lyon is an hour and a half. Add thirty more minutes to get my luggage and then a two hour drive to the venue at Gigors. That’s fourteen and a half hours traveling and I have to do the same thing back. Keep in mind I left Friday and returned Sunday. I’m not complaining but it does amaze me. In fact, it is always worth the trip!

The area around the festival is beautiful. Mountains, valleys, farms and a few stone homes are all in view. There are no hotels so I was staying at of the promoters house. While the house looked like it had been there for a century it was perfectly kept. Inside the old walls held modern appliances, and stone and wood flooring. There was a gorgeous deck you could sit out and look down at the valley. I could have spent a month just there. At the venue there was a team setting up two large tents, making food and having a good time already. I got some rest and returned at darkness and the place was alive. The way it worked was a band would play in one tent then when done another band would start in the other. There was also a large middle area with a strange tall light sculpture. DJs and one man bands played there when neither of the large tents were making noise. There was a backstage area on a hill with a private bar. The parking lot was filled with campers. There were tents around the hills too.

While I like all music including stuff using guitars, bass and drums when I do listen to that stuff is usually Leonard Cohen, Willie Nelson and it’s usually slow sad songs. So to see a ton of bands really “rocking out” I guess you could say when interesting for me. Let me say I enjoyed every band a lot. In fact I was really surprised how great every act was. I think the people who chose the bands are real music lovers and chose carefully because I definitely got the idea I was among some of the best modern day bands. There was one band who stood out to me called Black Bug. They really blew me away. It was a drummer and synth. They reminded me of the first time I saw Nitzer Ebb at the Ritz in Manhattan. Pure loud loud synth arpeggiating to a military drummer and very strong lead vocals. I was not expecting to see something so great so yes I was blown away. While I was watching I was very pleased to know that after the show I would have a chance to meet them and I did exactly that. They are based in Bordeaux and the lead singer is from Sweden. In talking with them they didn’t seem to think they fit in the EBM/Industrial world at all and listening to their recorded music I do agree somewhat. However, live… oh boy they are so “it”. I encouraged them to try and get that sound as their recorded sound. Nevertheless I was thrilled to find myself a fan of something new to me.

I performed last on the first night. I played a few new songs and the show went about an hour. After my show I had a nice evening and full day to just relax and meet people. All the organizers were stellar. The Freakshow crew are a friendly and very fun group who put on an amazing event. I don’t have a lot of photos from my show but the video above has a short clip and it’s worth watching the entire thing to get a feel of the weekend. There are multiple photos sets you can take a look it. My own personal set: click here. The official Freakshow blog set: click here and photographer RA²’s set: click here.

“Please leave your dogs and hippies at home.” – freakshow-festival.com

For more info: freakshow-festival.com

photo credit: François Guyon