Interview with Aleksandra Koszewska
Biomechanical Structure, the debut album by Vocoderion was released by AXIS Records in July 2005. Previously a guitar player in rock bands, she eventually got interested in spacesynth after hearing 'The Challenge' by Laserdance. To date, she has performed live many times along with other artists. We had a chance to interview the woman behind Vocoderion, Aleksandra Koszewska.
Discography and Biography: Vocoderion
Hi Vocoderion, now when your debut album is finally released, it will be interesting to get to know who you are through this interview. Tell us about yourself. Are you studying or do you work? Hobbies?
I don't work yet, nowadays I study. It gives me a chance to spend most of my time for my hobbies, that are music and drawing (Yeah, yeah, exactly! That's me, who make those so called ghastly cyberpunk graphics :> just like this one, on the cover art of my album ;) heheh).
Tell us about your musical background. When did you start playing? Did you parents encourage you to play music? Have you taken any piano lessons? Do you play any other instruments besides the keyboard?
Practically I loved music since I was born and I dreamed about creating it. Even as a child, I experimented with sound edition on music cassettes (shifting teared-up tape, tightening knob with a finger, pitch up, pitch down of course, and listening why it is happening like that). I fulfilled my dreams comparatively not so long ago, creating a composition which I made all by myself and nobody else was involved in creating its final shape - that was the beginning of Vocoderion and the first album, Biomechanical Structure. Before that, I played an electric guitar in several rock bands. I can't say exactly when my experience with music has began, but for me it was always like this. Absolutely noone in my family forced me to play, I can say that I am self-taught person.
We haven't heard any vocoder material in your songs so far, so why did you choose the artistname Vocoderion? Did you choose that artistname because you like vocoder stuff or was it just because it sounded cool?
After that question, I can only say, that You didn't listen to my album very carefully, cause almost every track on BS has at least one vocoder effect, hehe :>
The name Vocoderion was made due to my internet nickname, which is Vocoder. I love vocoders and i love to use them & experiment with them.
Undoubtedly the name Vocoderion sounds cool for me, cause I like almost all words, that ends on “–ion” :D Heheh, that's a kind of a personal deviation :>
How did you get in contact with spacesynth music for the first time, and why do you like it?
I consciously listened to The Challenge in the year 2000 on the tape at my friend's for the first time. Funnily enough, he wasn't very keen on Space, but he said it was good when on high, because the music can take you out into space. As I was very interested in space then, and everywhere I could I drew little green aliens with a watering cans in a place of noses and little antennas instead of ears (actually I still do that), I began to investigate the genre, to look for the other LaserDance tracks, collect the CDs and ... I got to like it.
Spacesynth originated from italo disco. Do you listen to italo disco and what artists do you like?
Nowadays, these two genres have IMHO nothing in common.
SpaceSynth is not dance music (I'd rather say that, it gives us a chance to feel this extra terrestrial atmosphere, to transfer human to some distant worlds of the universe) and Italo Disco (like its name says) is made just for good fun on discoteque. I was a frequent guest on ItaloParties (or discoteques, with dance music of the 80s), and used to listen maybe few Italo tracks at home, but it was a really long time ago ;). I was also on a concert of Mike Mareen. It is a nice remembrance for me. If I had to choose one of those artists, of 80's dance who I still like, it would be probably Mike Mareen.
How much do you listen to new spacesynth music and how do you feel about that music compared to oldies such as Laserdance, Koto and Cyber People?
I don't percept it that way. Space for me is always Space – cosmic music about journeys to various beautifull and sometimes dark places in distant galaxies (that's why I like Discovery Trip album so much). Both in old space music and in new one you can find masterpieces and something shitty from time to time. I find both styles interesting and I listen to them one after another.
It is quite unusual with female musicians that compose electronic music. Do you get many fan mails? Why do you think that the majority of spacesynth fans are males?
It's quite hard to answer that question, personally I haven't met any other woman which composes or has an interest in such genre or space in general. It's also a rarity to find a woman who is interested in electronics, computing and (what follows) space exploration. Maybe there are some who made music in their home studios and we will never get known about it, because they don't like computing and don't publish their tracks on Internet. As for today, I'm the only one... and it's a nice feeling ;)
As for fan mails – it happens from time to time, but not very often.
You have made at least two live performances quite recently. What was played live and what was pre-recorded during those performances? What is your opinion about performing instrumental electronic music live? (ie. has the music sound different from the album to be interesting to listen live?)
I knew you would ask me about this!
My rule is to play mainly my own tracks at the gigs, sometimes I play some cover songs and also improvise a bit.
When I was a member of a guitar band, we used to play everything live, each member of the group was responsible for particular instrumental part. Now, when I compose myself, I have to use backing tracks which are prerecorded. Human being is not an octopus, you cannot play the whole track live with only two hands. That's why I choose melodic lines which I am going to play live while gigging. Those lines are muted from the backing track and I play them live, by hand. That's how it is done in electronic music live gigs, an artist plays live only the main melody and some FX sounds. However, no matter how one tries to make every gig to be a live performance which differs from what can be heard on the CD, there are still be some people who complain... I suppose, those complaining people wouldn't have been satisfied even if the gig would be made by Michiel Van Der Kuy ;)
You performed live together with another spacesynth artist, Tomasz Gillert aka Spaceraider. What kind of experience was it? What kind of songs did you play, was it yours or his songs, or did you compose them together?
We were mainly improvising. I have great memories of that concert, it was a lot of fun. It's possible that in the future we will do it again. Spaceraider is a great mate for playing music together.
It seems like many spacesynth fans are from Poland. What do you think is the reason for the popularity of music in this genre in Poland?
I have no idea of the reason of big popularity of space music in Poland. What I know, is that even if that genre would be unknown in Poland I'd still listen to it myself.
On the pictures that are taken from your live performances you are just using a Yamaha Keyboard, but in your songs it is possible to hear that you have used more equipment than that. Tell us about what you have used to record the album Biomechanical Structure?
Heheh! My famous PSR? It's just a masterkeyboard. I use it to play on gigs, cause I like the sounds of it and they blend nicely into prerecorded backing tracks. On Biomechanical Structure album I used exactly one single sample from this keyboard (in the future I am going to use more of them). I did everything using soundfonts, some software synths and good old samples using Fruity Loops.
Many of your tracks are slow and moody. Have you always been into the so called "dark side" of this genre?
Oh yes, dark side is something that Vocoderion likes best :>
What musical influences do you think your music have?
I am using my own ideas while making music and I try to put them into tracks while staying inside the genre's convention.
Your album cover design differs from standard spacesynth covers quite a bit. Why did you choose this particular approach?
Oh yes, you might say: “what's going on in this girl's head ?!” :) But it was a very good reason why I've decided to make a cyborg of me. As I said before, I love to draw some cyberpunk pictures. This cover artwork reflects the real me and what turns me on. I love all those cables and wires, I use to repair somebody's computer or work with soldering iron from time to time (if I only could, I would solder some cables to my own hand, just like on that pictures, hehe). The cover artwork looks mainly like I imagined it to be.
On the pictures from your live performances it is possible to see that many of the other musicians from Axis are present. Do you have some contact with those musicians besides the live performances?
Of course ! I know many Axis musicians. Some of them are even my very good friends.
Before you started to compose spacesynth music you played guitar in a couple of rockbands. Tell us about that period (what kind of music did you play? Did you record any album? Live performances? Publicity?).
Yes, that's true, I've been playing in several bands (it was mainly one band which has changed its crew for several times, so we can say that there were several bands). We didn't record any album, it was mainly playing for pleasure, although we played on a festival once and we achieved the first prize. We played various stuff, whatever came to our minds – from rock ballads to heavy metal.
Do you still play guitar or are you focusing 100% on electronic music now? Is it possible that we will hear some guitar in some of your spacesynth songs in the future?
Now I mainly compose electronic music, but I still use to play guitar from time to time, not so much as before, but I try to play it when I have a time.
Heheh, guitar and space, do you think it might work? ;) I'd rather put some guitar samples into T-1000 tracks. There is one, called “Out Of Place”, which contains some guitar ingredients. Those are actually my own samples... ;]
You are involved in two projects at the moment, Vocoderion and T-1000, where T-1000 a bit different from the music that you have made under the name Vocoderion. Tell us about T-1000. Are you planning to release an album also for the T-1000 project. Are you going to play material from both projects when you are performing live next time?
I have no plans for a concert right now, but who knows, I might play some T-1000 track as a bonus on Vocoderion live gig. As for a T-1000 album, it will come true if I will have such possibility. Material is being created slowly till I will have several electronic tracks, then we will see.
Samurai and VM-Rexor have already made two musicvideos. Do you have any plans of making a video? If so, do you have some ideas about how that video would be? (live performance perhaps)
Not tellin' ! :> surprise ! :>
Right now there are two record labels specialized in spacesynth, AXIS Records and Hypersound Productions. How do you see the future of this music style? Do you think there will be more labels?
Well... I percept the future of space genre as far from being bright when I see how Hyps fans tend to argue with AXIS people. My reflection:
Whoever new would come to the genre and try to save it by releasing some records, would have to think twice by looking on how some people on forum tends to treat the others.
The music which should unite us all – space fans, was divided in a funny way to various camps, depending of the country of release and artist nationality. It is as funny as it is sad.
Even if a third person will come up and take the risk to release space music (Geez! May the Force be with him!), he should take into account that it will not be all nice and easy for him. If he will succeed, I will personally greet him for being bold, psychically strong and patient.
Anything else that you want to say to the scene?
ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS
USE THEM TOGETHER,
USE THEM IN PEACE !
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to perform this interview with you. We hope that your new album will be a big success and that we will hear some new music from you in a near future.
So do I. ;]