1.Tell us a bit more about yourself... something like a personal view rather than just facts and dates.
I live in Ljubljana, Slovenia and I'm 25 years old. Music has been a big part of my life since childhood. As a kid I had guitar lessons and I learned playing the keyboard by myself. By the end of primary school, I already found myself enjoying harder kinds of music, especially metal, and it was only a matter of time until I'd discover similarly powerful, violent and ugly stuff can be made with synths and computers as well. Joining a band or starting one was more or less out of the question, partly because I was a pretty shy guy and partly because I preferred doing things by myself - to see how far my own skills and imagination can take me. When I got a computer with a sound card, this was finally possible and I started playing around with MIDI sequencers. They were terribly limited, but it was enough to convince me that, given the right equipment, I could make some music to be proud of. Then in 1996 I got a copy of Scream Tracker, which was exactly what I needed to make stuff more seriously. About the same time I heard my first few hardcore techno tapes, which impressed me very much and it soon became the main style that I produced. After about five years of tracking, I was already quite good at it, so I bought a DJ mixer and started practicing, in case I ever play at some party. Since last year, I was taking some kind of a break from making new tracks, but at the moment, things seem to be moving forward again, perhaps even more seriously than before.
2.When you were a little boy, what did you want to be?
I don't remember wanting to be anything when I grow up. Being a little boy was good enough.
2.1 Do you have other job besides being a Producer/DJ?
Right now, I'm finishing university study of computer science. After that, I'll be doing something else - I'll think about it when I'll have to.
2.2. What personal projects do you have beyond Hardcore?
If you're talking about music - I also play at parties called "Fatal Error", where we play old electronic music, computer game music, chiptunes, low-tech synthpop and electropunk, music made on C64, ZX Spectrum and other old computers (I inevitably play some hardcore tunes every time), and similar stuff. All of it works surprisingly well as party music, especially at full volume on a big sound system. These parties are just as "underground" as hardcore ones, and another advantage is that there are more of them - in last six months I already played there four times. I haven't yet made any songs in that style though.
3.Now you look back at your old tracker releases, what do you remember?
I really enjoyed making them. Whatever came to my mind, I did it, without caring about other people's opinions. I only made music when I felt like doing it, without forcing myself to release more frequently, more regularly, or fitting into a particular style. As a result, I'm proud of every track I did, even if it sounds dated or unoriginal today. Many trackers or ex-trackers tend to be ashamed their early productions later in their career, and they wish everybody would quietly forget about them. My releases were mostly released quietly and without massive advertisement among the scene, so I never had to feel sorry for flooding the scene with shitty tracks. If anyone ever admired any of my tunes, it's their fault completely.
3.1. Where and when did you start to release stuff online?
I started in 1998, which is when i got myself an internet connection. I put my first online releases on my own internet site, which was, and still is, at www.geocites.com/earblower (One of the very few pages which still contain tunes in their original module format).
3.2. In which online labels have you released music? And how did you get there?
I released a couple of guest tracks at SCP (Supreme Core Productions) because I really liked some of their stuff and I thought some of my tracks would fit there nicely. I also made a remix of a track by Hypersonik, which was available on their homepage. Right now, I'm for the first time a member of a group, which is Bioforce Productions.
4. How did you get into Bioforce?
I knew one of the members, 5th Raider, who suggested that I join, and I did.
4.1. What style do you usually produce? why?
Since the beginning, I've produced all kinds of hardcore, from sample-filled oldskool gabber to distorted, industrial speedcore. I rarely made two or more tracks in an identical style, because one was usually enough for me, and I don't want to get bored by always doing the same stuff. Around 2000/01, I took a short break from tracking, which would last until I could get some really fresh ideas. I started experimenting with a soft synth program called SynC Modular. I learned how to make some nice sounds with it, like bassdrums and other percussion, some crazy noise samples, weird string or organ like sounds... When I started tracking again, building my tracks around those wonderful sounds, it also affected my style, which became a lot more consistent - mostly 250-ish BPM industrial sounding hardcore with lots of distorted, digital sounding noises. In the beginning of 2003, a friend of mine said he was going to organize a party, where I'd play my music. That got me extra motivated - until February 2004, when the party finally happened (Yup. That's Slovenian hardcore scene for you), I tracked like never before. After that, I took some kind of a break, similar to the one described above - I would only get back to tracking when I'd get some interesting ideas worth the effort. I also considered other means of music production, like recording live instruments, or using MIDI and VST software. In the end I went straight back to tracking, using other software only for making samples and sometimes finalizing the audio mixdown.
4.1.1 People usually say your music is different and original. Why?
Really? From my own experience, people usually don't give a fuck about it :) Well, first reason - it's simply because I want it to be. Even when I sometimes liked some other artist's tune very, very much, and I wanted to make another one like that, I always ended up with something that was distinctively not by that artist. Perhaps I just can't fool myself into copying someone else. I also don't force my tunes to stick to a predetermined style - sometimes the track ends up totally different than originally intended, and it's fine with me. For me, making music is about stretching your limits and seeing how far you can get, regardless of the direction. Besides, there was the total lack of hardcore parties that I could attend, and until recently, I also rarely attended electronic music events in general. A great majority of my hardcore listening experience took place in my room (often even with headphones), while walking, in the car or bus, etc. So hardcore was primarily listening music for me, dancing came after that. Therefore I gave little concern to dancability, mixability, playability on large sound systems, and other properties of electronic tracks which make them kick ass on the dancefloor as part of a DJ set, while for home listening they can be a total bore.
4.2. Are you planning on making more mainstream styles of Hardcore?
I'm not planning anything. Besides, I already did some mainstream sounding hardcore in the past, which no one gave a particular shit about, let alone made me famous.
4.3. What material do you use to make your own music?
Lately, I've been trying to make all the key samples in my tracks myself, even if they sound worse then ripped ones. Unless I'm actually making a remix, I avoid sampling other music/movies/etc. just for cheap attention pull - I want my tracks to be as mine as possible. Several times, I also used guitar samples played by myself (now it's already been a while). In the past few years, I made lots of nice samples with SynC Modular, including weird distorted bassdrums that no drum machine could produce, and insane noise freakouts which would turn real equipment into dust. All those sounds are then made into a tune in Impulse Tracker, which I've been using for around eight years already, and it's most likely the best thing I could ever use for this kind of music. Everything that I miss in IT (like equalization or reverb) can still be done somewhere else after the tune is tracked.
4.4. What is your major inspiration?
I'm not inspired by nature, sci-fi movies, ancient mythology or stuff like that. Most of my tracks are simply inspired by other music that I like. Or maybe there is an interesting sound, riff, or rhythm loop that I build the song around. Usually I start making the song first, then I make up the title. Some tracks have been the result of extreme anger, disappointment, or depression, and after I made them, I felt much, much better. In most cases, though, there's no particular emotion (either negative or positive) involved in the tracking process, except the excitement of an explorer, or a scientist, who is just about to discover something big.
5. How is the scene like in Slovenia?
The hardcore scene is pretty small and there are on average only about three events per year. We also have a number of producers, like Kidnapper.220, Ruff.Ton.Ator, Fake Mutant, and Asure, who is probably the most known due to his breakcore releases at D-Trash. Other producers' styles range from 200 BPM industrial hardcore to straightforward distorted terror and brutal speedcore. At some parties, they've also performed as live acts. In the last couple of years, there has also been a series of events called "Beatz of Thunder", organized by Mr Madness, a DJ who goes for the more mainstream style of hardcore, though still a pretty distorted and industrial kind. zniæ Crew from Croatia came to play at our parties several times, and also contributed some tracks to a compilation CD, which featured various Slovenian and Croatian producers, and was put together in 2002 (good luck finding it!). World-famous DJ's like Trauma XP, Tense, Deadnoise and KTS also played here, and liked the response of the audience (however small it was) very much. There is presently no danger of commercialization of the scene - hardcore seems to already have lost its opportunity for a mainstream breakout years ago. Many of today's drum&bass or (hard) techno fans once listened to Thunderdome, Terrordrome or Fucking Hardcore CDs, but today hardcore is just a subject of nostalgic reflection for them, like getting drunk / high / laid for the first time, and apart from the compilations mentioned above, they don't know anything else, neither do they care much.
6. How did you get into Hardcore?
I got into hardcore in the year 1996 when I went to high school and I heard a tape my classmate was listening to during break. It was Thunderdome 1-5 Megamix and it was total insanity, full of power which pulled me inside and pushed me all the way through the mix without catching a breath. I had never heard anything like that, especially in the field of electronic music. I needed to find more stuff like this and I did.
7. Why the Earblower name?
Don't remember. It just came to my mind, and it stuck. (in case of doubt, it's not blowing like the wind does, it's blowing things up. Although hardcore people usually get it.)
8. What do you think of Spanish Makina, UK Happycore and Hardstyle?
I haven't listened to any Spanish makina or hardstyle yet, so I can't say anything about it. As for happycore, it can be total shit, but that happens in all kinds of music. Some of it made me really, really happy when I heard it, which was quite surprising, considering all the thrashing it constantly receives. While we're at it, I think the word "happy" is a bit misused. A lot of so-called "happy" music is actually just silly, or at best funny, but NOT happy. Real happy music is deep, powerful stuff which makes your heart stop and your mind stand in admiration of the whole world, and itself. Someone should forget all the negative shit for a while and express what it's like to feel real good, proud, satisfied and optimistic.
9. What is your view on recent mainstream Hardcore productions?
Some are good, some are shit. If they're shit, I don't listen to them. As I said, the hardcore scene is really, really small here, so there is no such thing as mainstream hardcore - at least not in the sense that it's being shoved down the throats of non-fans by the media - so I have no reason for outright hatred. I do, however, sometimes miss the uplifting party atmosphere from older stuff (think old Chosen Few, Buzz Fuzz, or Speedfreak tracks). The distorted darkcore/industrial sound as I first heard on Thunderdome 2001 was a welcome idea for me, but I think it's already showing its limits in a way. Sometimes it sounds as if all the producers are using the exact same equipment. And please, make something fast for a change! Not 350 BPM, just so that I can actually dance to it.
10. I know there will be an upcoming vinyl release at an underground speedcore label... tell us more about it!
The release in question is Analphabetik Records 008, titled "Novissima Europa", which features artists from different European countries, including well known distortion terrorists Dashcraft and, interestingly enough, TWO Slovenian artists (Kidnapper.220 and me).
10.1 Are there any other releases on hold?
At the moment, Kidnapper.220 is collecting tracks for an international speedcore compilation, for which I contributed two tracks, one of which is actually brand new. The CD should be out in a couple of months.
11. What old tracker labels do you think made history? Would any deserved their music being released to big audiences?
Unfortunately, I missed lots of interesting stuff because I got internet access relatively late, but I still heard some really great music. Bassbomber (aka Finngabber) was the first real quality hardcore tracker I knew, and is probably the greatest single-tracker influence to my tracking. When it comes to labels, it was definitely UVR (Ultra Violent Records) which made the most impression on me, together with SCP, IDP, HTR, to name just a few - some trackers from that scene whose tunes I enjoyed were X-Cell 02, Sean Cooper (aka Psycho Mantis, High Priest of Noise, Dublin Terror Squad,...), Deadlock (aka Riotstarter, today known as Negative Network), Psykopath (aka Desiccator), Rotello, Duncan Spock, The Dark Orchestra (aka GabbaTerror) and Komprex. Some of these are still active today and are featured on vinyl records and CD compilations.
11.1 Why do you think the tracker scene was so good in 1997-2000 and then decayed? Was it the mp3 era? Or lazyness?
My opinion: In the beginning, tracking had two major advantages: First, a track could be made on an average PC computer without any other hardware. Second, due to their small file size the modules could be easily trasferred by internet in the days of slow dial-up connections. In those days, even 128 kbps MP3s were too big for some people to download regularly (at least for me. That was also why I missed so much stuff). But when downloading MP3s was no longer a problem, tracker modules faced direct competition from MP3s of "established" artists and compilations. As a result, downloading modules lost a lot of its appeal - especially when file sharing software emerged and, on top of that, trackers started releasing MP3's as well (the dreadful fear of sample rippers is another thing I never experienced personally). People became suddenly aware of how terribly crap most modules released online were (which was, of course, more or less true since the beginning) and dismissed the whole online label/group thing as cheap, talentless attention seekers (If you're that good, then why aren't you on vinyl?). Beside, computers became more and more powerful, allowing the use of musical software more complex than trackers. Back in the days, trackers didn't care about sound quality, mastering and stuff like that - creating and releasing something was enough of an accomplishment. Now everyone wants to sound like "professional" producers with mixing desks, FX units and analog synths, and if someone sticks to the old low-tech sound, they say "Come on, you can do better than that. There are all those wonderful plugins and shit, so use them, or you're nothing". This in my opinion discouraged a lot of potentially good artists who though they would never be good enough for the "experienced" members of the scene, who were bored with everything and apparently couldn't stand anyone having a good time. Since I knew the hardcore tracker scene, people were always furiously against something. First it was "Fuck Happy", then it was "Fuck Newstyle" and "Fuck Speedcore" (although they didn't actually say so about speedcore. They were all just "moving on" to something more complex). People made horribly bad music just to show how much they fucking hate some other style. That shit bored me to death. Is it really so hard to simply NOT listen to something you don't like? And if someone discovered that their music lost its edge, they simply declared the whole style dead, and everyone should stop doing it as well. There were, however, moments when I felt deep, strong enthusiasm in the tracking scene, and I miss it.
11.2 Is there still a future for trackers?
Absolutely. Tracker songs have a unique sound. Bloody Fist Records made itself a big name thanks to the gritty, slightly distorted 8-bit amiga sound capabilities. And trackers have had 16-bit resolution, high sample rates, filters and plugin support for ages, so blaming tracking software for crappy tunes is downright stupid. Sure, trackers are hugely limited in some ways, but limitations force you to be creative with what you've got, as opposed to just adding things. It might not sound so "professional", but it will contain a lot more original ideas. Also, in my opinion people are hugely over-obsessed with sound quality. Come on, it's fucking hardcore we're talking about, so it's SUPPOSED to hurt a little. Otherwise, every asshole's gonna listen to it, and you're not gonna like it, right?
12. What is the greatest reward you get by making your music?
The greatest reward is listening to my music and knowing that I created something special, something that only I could do. It also lets me express ideas, thoughts and moods that I could never express with words or otherwise. If someone else likes my music, it also feels good.
13. What do you consider to be your greatest musical creation? And worse...
This is a really hard question. I can't answer it no matter how hard I try.
14. Have you ever sent demos that were rejected? What did people tell you?
I never sent any demos anywhere. Maybe some other time. When it comes to self-promotion, I seem to do myself more damage than good.
15. The best party you ever played? And the worse?
Well, I've only played hardcore at a party twice, and they were both good. First one was "Speedcore Inferno" in February 2004, featuring six Slovenian producers and DJs, plus zniæ Crew. I was the last guy who played, and I played a pre-constructed set of more recent tracks of mine (it was the first time I ever used CDJs, so I wanted full concentration for the technical side of the performance) in front of an almost empty club. Even the organizer left about an hour before I started, because he was pissed off due to poor attendance, and so did the DJ who was supposed to play after me. A few people, however, were dancing like crazy till the final blast of speedcore, and I should have bought each of them a beer, perhaps two. The other party took place in a club in some small town, and was a combined "Electro vs. Hardcore Techno" party, featuring the Fatal Error crew (I wasn't a member yet), Ruff.Ton.Ator, Asure and Kidnapper.220. I brought my CDs just in case, and was added to the lineup at the last moment. We played from two ordinary portable CD players plugged into a DJ mixer - there was no pitch control, no headphones, and a flashlight for reading the LCD's. Again, most people had gone by the time I started spinning, and at one moment I found myself alone in the whole fucking room, but I still had a great time, and I was really glad to hear some of my older works cranked up at proper volume.
16. Have you been active in the Slovenian scene? Colaborating/contacting with other Slovenian artists?
I know some other artists, but, apart from the upcoming compilation CD, I made no collaborations yet.
17. What is your favorite style of Hardcore? And outside of Hardcore?
Favourite styles would be old Nordcore style, Deathchant style, Speedcore (the label) style and Napalm style, plus some harder Industrial Strength material. I also like some older gabber tunes, like '97-ish Mokum, Ruffneck, Shockwave and similar stuff, especially with the speed turned up (at +25% it sounds really nice). I like DJ sets that mix different kinds of hardcore, both old and new tracks, or even include styles other than hardcore. Other electronic music I listen to includes stuff mentioned in question 2.2., harder styles of jungle/drum&bass, goa and psytrance, industrial, electro and ambient/chillout. Also, non-electronic music from metal and punk to just plain pop music, some of which is just too good to miss, plus everything in between, no matter how crazy. It's not my habit to dismiss whole styles of music just because some of it sucks. Most of the times I just don't have the time to listen because there's so much stuff out there.
18. Favourite Labels? And artists?
Martin Damm and the rest of Shockwave/Napalm/Speedcore crew, Marco Hartmann, Miro, Nasenbluten, BSE DJ Team, Delta 9, Hellfish & Producer, The Berzerker, ATR and many others.
19. Want to say leave some publicity here for your site/irc channel/whatever?
20. What are the plans future releases and musical career?
I never had plans about that. Things just happen.
21. Do you think big labels look out for producers in the tracker scene?
Really big, mainstream labels - I don't think so. Trackers of more underground styles like speedcore or breakcore are more likely to be released on a label - at least currently.
22. What was the first Hardcore CD you owned? What did you feel when you first heard it?
It was Terrordrome VII. It surprised me a bit because the tunes were a lot different from the ones from Thunderdome compilations. However I soon got used to it, and I enjoyed the diversity of the compilation - from dark, smooth Nordcore tunes to scary, earsplitting speedcore, plus some weird styles I never heard anywhere else. I used to listen to all of it, and knew all of the songs by heart. It's still one of my favourite hardcore compilations.
23. Do you collect Thunderdome or any Hardcore series whatsoever?
I don't collect any of them, although I have a bunch of Terrordromes, Fucking Hardcores and Thunderdomes.
24. What is your favourite Thunderdome in musical terms?
Thunderdome 1-5 Megamix!!! I also liked many tracks from VII, XVII, and 2001 (the black one).
25. What is your favourite Thunderdome Cover?
XVI and XVII (I think).
26. What do you think of the actual "state of the art"? And the emerging substyle/trends in Gabber?
I like styles being mixed, or influenced by each other, also becauses it increases the chances of inventing something new. Even if hardcore as we know it disappears, there will still be other styles containing some of its spirit (like hard techno, industrial, breakcore). Actually, in my opinion people are terribly unaware of the diversity of styles identified as hardcore, or gabber, or whatever. In fact, hardcore has already become TOO broad for some people to be appreciated as a whole - there's almost NO similarity between styles like happy hardcore, speedcore, or doomcore, and their fans, as well as producers, have significantly different approaches to music. On the other hand, people outside the hardcore scene still seem to think it's all the same banging shit with no room for diversity whatsoever. Unless, of course, they think it's all the same banging shit with no room for diversity whatsoever, plus it died ten years ago and now everyone moved to something more serious, where they can be creative, original, and complex.
27.What do you feel about the current proximity between Hardcore and Industrial/Power Noise?
I think it's a great idea, but it's easy for artists to all sound the same. Some more variety in sounds would be more than welcome (see question 9). By the way, have you noticed there are substyles of hardcore bordering on almost every musical genre? Drum&bass, hard techno, trance, rap, metal, punk, you name it. There's even symphonic, or ambiental hardcore (please don't laugh). Maybe it could also be viewed the other way - that there is no individual genre called "hardcore", just hardcorized subgenres of other kinds of music. Or both.
27.1. Do you consider Speedcore and Noisecore, once almost exclusive to a "elite" of underground maniacs, is now much closer to the "main" scene?
Definitely not! It's still music for an elite of underground maniacs because it's simply too fucking extreme by its very definition. It's like with death or black metal - no matter how catchy the melodies and how well-crafted the composition, as soon as they hear the screaming vocals, people will turn away. You can't make speedcore commercial without making it NOT speedcore anymore.
28. What is the Future of Hardcore 4 you?
More parties, more interesting and original music. Good ideas from old hardcore mixed with new ones, and every now and then some surprising new discovery.
29. Do you predict a more commercial era or the return to the underground?
Actually, I don't really care. Huge commercialization is even good for the underground in a way, because it forces them to get off their ass and be more productive and creative - to show the world there's more to hardcore than mainstream junk. Besides, real hardcore will never be as commercial as most other electronic styles, not to mention non-electronic - some people will NEVER be able to handle dirty electronic beats, even if you pay them. And if it DOES get commercial... that means we all get rich! And that's not bad either :)
30. If you met a genie and could have a wish relead to the Gabber scene, what would it be?
Make the scene bigger, so I could go to at least one hardcore party per month. The genie should do it a few years back in time, so right now I'd already be a well-known producer with at least six vinyl releases and ten compilation appearances, and my girlfriend would be really proud of me.
31. Did you know a Portuguese scene existed before my contact (or visiting www.thunderdome.web.pt)?
No. But if a scene (however small) can exist here, why not anywhere else?
32. What do you think of www.thunderdome.web.pt? What is your favourite part of this site? What would add to it? And change?
The site is really good, except for the occasionally horrible automatic translations. My favourite parts are the interviews, which are already in English, being re-translated into English, as if they were Portuguese - the results are pretty weird in a strange, machine-trying-to-act-human kind of way. :)
33. Any message to the hardcore/gabber community in general and to the Portuguese in particular?
Don't ever be afraid of extreme music. Music never hurt anyone. The more aggression goes into music, the less is projected into the outside world. Just turn up the volume, bang your head, scream along, perhaps even make some music of your own - all that's left of your hatred will be a self-satisfied grin on your face and a feeling that no one can bring you down.
34. Would you ever consider playing in Lisbon? - a long way from Slovenia!
I considered it already! Some day I'll do it!
Blaz V. (13.06.2005)