sound selections  
random noise generation - techno poetry

For over 15 years the brothers Lenny and Lawrence Burden, better known as Random Noise Generation, have been studying the effects of interfaces between man and electricity. The main object of their quest was: What can humans possibly do with machines? But from the depths of the data streams it echoed back: What does the machine do with humans? I asked Lawrence Burden about the diversity and richness of Random Noise Generation's second full length album Reign - and was surprised by pure techno poetry flowing back from the other end of the data line.

I know you've been working on "Reign" for a really long time. Is this one of the reasons for this album being so varied and rich (from electrofunk to slamming techno to hiphop)?

Well, we wanted to make this album a true expression of what we as artist are influenced by. Kind of going back to the way we first started producing electronic music and adapting Anthony Shakir's favorite words "a good track is a good track, no matter what style it is". We just wanted to make good tracks no matter what genre or form they came in and focusing on what sounded and felt good to us.

RNG is such a long-living project. Looking back on all those years, how is it for you to see it evolve musically into different flavours or styles?

For us it's not so much an evolution as much is it is a "going back to basics" musically. We've always produced various styles of music, although the public might not be as familiar with some of them. The productions continued with the desire to someday include them on a complete album, but we had to wait to when we felt our fans were ready for the progression.

Now the music is by far not as "random" as it used to be in the beginnings, right? But is the concept of sampling still that important for RNG?

As with any musical artist that walks the face of this earth, your sound progresses as you become more skilled at your art. We do very much indeed use samples as in the beginning , although we've become craftier with how and what we chose to sample and how we play the samples. So I would say that sampling is still very much indeed important to RNG's sound.

You used to have your studios on the Eight Mile Road in Detroit Eminem made famous all over the world with his movie. How does your music reflect your daily life in Detroit?

It's funny you mention Eminem, Eight Mile and our studio. Our label, 430 West Records derived its name from our first studio at 430 west Eight Mile road as some may know, and Eminem's movie made the street famous. But very few knew that a couple of years later Eminem recorded his album at that very studio which bares our name (we had since moved to a new location). So that first 430 West studio now shares a Techno and Hip-Hop heritage. I think our music is a true mirror image of our life here in Detroit city. There's growth going on in this city, but at the same time there are a few who really don't want to see things change too much. I think our music represents that internal struggle of keeping harmony between past, present and future. You want to grow and progress as an artist, but at the same time you don't want to move too fast losing those who've journeyed with you.

Raphael Merriweathers Jr. from UR told me in an interview that for him music is like an escape, a happy place where he can go to, something that keeps him sane. What do you think about that? (Because on your album there's this track "A Better Tomorrow"...)

I would have to agree with his statements to a point. We've always seen music as an escape as artists and as listeners of music, but where you end up isn't always the happiest place. I definitely agree with it keeping you sane. Although, sometimes I tend to wonder if there's an insanity in how we are "driven" to create music (past girlfriends will gladly attest to this).

Hiphop and techno are getting closer again (e.g. Missy Elliott sampling Cybotron, the HipNoTech Label in Detroit, or producers like Dabrye). There are obvious hiphop-influences on "Reign", so are you interested in this kind of stuff?

I am and have always been interested in these two styles of music. More than anything, both styles represent my heritage. The early techno sounds represented the art of the inner city through sound as its canvas. And early hiphop was the pain and distress that had developed and taken root in our inner city communities. Hiphop still very much influences us as techno artist.

Where do you get your inspiration from? From the soul of the machines...?

When we open our door everyday that inspiration is cast upon us, and as we walk the streets we feel the pulse from the city. As we look around we see the signs, and as we listen we hear the sounds that drive us back to the "soul of the machines".

You're all working together as a family on writing and producing the music as well as on the business side. Can this family spirit be heard in your music?

You know, I've always wondered that myself. I guess that would possibly be a question that would be easier for me to ask than for me to answer.



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last updated: 2009.08.26, 10:29