Cihan Kaan is a Brooklyn native who in the early ninety’s made a ton of underground electronic music under the name 8Bit. In fact as he will tell you he’s the original 8bit. Last week I was chatting with Cihan and he mentioned he recently performed live in the online game Second Life. When he told me he made money I knew I had to interview him for Wire to the Ear.
You grew up in Brooklyn saw the rise of techno take place just blocks away from your house with Frankie Bones, Groove Records and the Storm Raves. Tell us in brief your interaction with the “scene” as it was called! Who were some of your friends and what were you guys all doing?
Yea, everyone lived within a two mile radius of each other, Sheepshead Bay/Canarsie/Marine Park/Avenue U. Lenny Dee of Industrial Strength Records had barbeques at his mom’s place (now a russian health insurance fraud clinic) with all the acts on his label so I was there as much as I could be without being invited, hehehe. Frankie and Adam were over on the west end of Avenue U and I had street beef with the west end Avenue U Boys (AUB) so I couldn’t really stretch over there too much without threat of escalating my beef (in a nutshell, my best friends brother was Avenue U East Side crew leader who was missing so ppl thought I had some connection to that). Heather Heart was making the Under One Sky zine and lived the closest to me and on any day you would see her wandering Neck Road with a tb-303, hunched over walking home. Thats a clear image for me because I was a drugstore delivery boy and I would see Heather all the time walking around with some vintage acid toy. Most of my crew was the “younger” lot of rave kids, so although I was one of the first promoters of Storm Rave I was primarily converting skaters and punks to the new rave scene of the time. There was never a full acceptance into the older generation of techno ppl, most of the kids I brought in were still wide-eyed about techno and there was a sense that this optimism made you less of a hardcore head. I don’t think that was true. After the Storm we all became NASA elite and I remember Moby performing every week. One night me and Moby talked about my new demo I was pimping around on Cassette (the OHMZ cassete) and he wanted to meet after his show, but that night my bag of tapes got stolen so the transfer never happened. Later in the night I was depressed in the chillout room and Ernie (a kid who ran around with an Ernie doll on his neck) found the bag, but it was too late. Around that time I hooked up with Super Mario who was starting a hardcore label with Joey Jupiter of Atomic Babies and put out my first 8Bit record Tweeked, which he took privilege to completely cut apart to make DJ Friendly. That record actually is mostly all that red box you gave me along with the Oberheim you also gave me. The 707 I bought from the buy-n-sell for $50, and the Amiga I used for samples obviously was left over from before the scene. After Tweeked came out (it was a white 7″), Curious George and Deitrich Shoenemann from Prototype 909, hooked me up with job at Moby’s old label Instinct and I packed his records in boxes all summer. I hope that answers your question, I’m really flying over lots of details and probably forgetting lots of people along the way.
Tell us a few of the most memorable events (dare I say Raves?) or nightclubs from back then.
The Storm Rave in ’93 the warehouse in Shaolin was like the Thunderdome scene in Mad Max; burning cars, people dancing on rusty metal barrels. It’s a root memory I have I always mine from when I’m making a track. Frankie screaming into the mic that we were future. Never seen party like that since. Also, remember we had no style back than, so for the most part it was a diverse set of kids (not yet called ravers) all gathered listening to this new future music. It wasn’t a poseur thing at all — in all these academic papers on the rave scene I read about, people seem to forget that techno really emerged as a movement, not a style. It was Dinkins’ New York when you were still allowed to break in to places and bring in Speakers and equipment. Storm raves were always great parties but other events that stood out were the outlaw parties thrown around the neighborhood, the Gerritsen Beach swamp parties were nuts, not only could i ride my bike to the party, but everyone would be there and the music was insane, all in a swamp marsh. I tried to recreate that in the scene in “Refuse to Fight” when the crew is staring into the fire, the video I directed for Frankie. Seems like parties were all over back than, under the highway, under the bridge, whereever we had access to a dark spot with concrete around.
Darker memories come later when I was too hopped up on psycedelics particularly at NASA, one night I lost my mind and the beats sounded like machinations from Hell and I thought the dancefloor was a shark infested pool. I actually leapt into my boy Evan’s chest trying to get some of his positive “E” vibes. Of course that didnt work and I quickly fell into a fear and loathing type of head and pulled a blade out on the guards who were trying to quell me (I was trying to jump into Dante’s chest, Scotto’s chest, etc). They threw me out and all i remember from there is walking around in the winter on the west side of manhattan with my clothes ripped off.
Since this interview is for a music tech blog let’s talk gear. Compare how you made music in 1994 to 2007. What was your computer set up then vs. now? Continue reading 8bit interview. Music from Brooklyn and Second Life.