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robert hood - stronger than techno
interview

On the occasion of the release of two new albums, I interviewed Robert Hood in the summer of 2003 via email. There was quite some trouble in getting his answers to my questions though, because first his wife and manager Eunice, who also does his correspondence, slammed her finger in the car door and had difficulties typing, then a severe storm hit the area around their home in Detroit. The Hood family had to spend five days without electricity. But after that, Eunice's finger was much better and I finally got Robert's answers. Enjoy and see also my reviews of Robert Hood's recent albums Wire To Wire (Peacefrog) and Molecule (Logistic).


Your new album "Wire To Wire" is really diverse. It varies from minimal arrangements to funky techno to very melodic house. What were your main intentions? What was your approach?

My main aim was to show how diverse I can be creatively. It was important for me to prove that I am not just about the minimalist which I'm known for. Although, this is not the first time I've done an album like this. I try not to force whatever it is I'm trying to achieve.

Do you get inspiration from serial music or other so called new music? Especially the first few tracks on "Wire To Wire" let me think into that direction.

I'm not sure what serial music means but, I have to say that I get more inspiration from music created in the 70's and 80's. The attitude and the groove were as important as the experimental, intellectual side of creativity, without being so obvious.

On your last Monobox-Album "Molecule" you describe this vision of nanomachines building a whole city. So you still seem to be very interested in and enthusiastic about the power and possibilities of new technologies. Is there a similar background for "Wire To Wire"?

I'm always excited about technological advancements and what it means to mankind. At the same time I look at the plus and minus potential of future technology. For "Wire To Wire" I focused on more of what the mind can do. From the brain vessel to the speaker wire, human arteries to circuit boards.

Is it true that you're not using any software at all to produce your music? Don't you see a little bit of an opposition to the technologically oriented and futuristic ideology of techno in that?

I read somewhere that technology should NEVER over shadow the humanistic dimension of creating art. I believe that theory whole heartedly. I'm not in any way against technology, I just believe more in the human touch, and what the mind can do. When the technology for Internet access first arrived, people were saying those who don't use it were afraid of the future. I think that those who jump on every techno-gadget are the ones who are truly insecure of the future. They are afraid of being left behind. The question is do you have the strength not to lean on technology to create music? Even though techno is technology oriented, I think we've gotten to the point where we should use technology in entertainment to make us think of other things. When a child sees a computer-generated animation, his or her mind is focused on the story not the technology.

You're considered to be the father of minimal techno. Did you follow the hype of minimalism that happened in Europe and that involved a lot of german lables, too? What do you think about the music and this fashion of sounding minimal? How has minimalism and minimal techno changed since your "Minimal Nation"-album from 1994?

When I first thought about the label M-Plant and minimal sound it was so obvious to me that futurism a minimalism would coincide with each other. Look at how architecture has evolved, furniture and interior design, appliances and clothing design, flat screen television. Not just for the sake of design but for how functional the product is for day to day living. Simplicity has and is becoming more prominent in the world and by techno being the most futuristic expression of music, it was only a matter of time that it reflected that progression.

I know this might be old stories to you, but how was your separation from UR? How is your relationship to these people today?

You're right this is OLD, it's been 10 years since leaving UR and this will be the last time I address this issue. It was SIMPLY time to move on. It was a choice I had to make, and looking back in retropect, God had another plan for me and I needed to have room to grow. I couldn't look myself or my family in the eye and call myself a Man if I continued to be disrespected or allowed others to be disrespectful to myself or family. I needed to stand up for what I believed in. All are in my prayers.

You used to rap back then for UR or on your early productions, right? Did you ever think of integrating lyrics in your music again?

Yes, but I don't care to speak much on it right now.

Hiphop and techno currently get closer and closer again. Do you follow that kind of stuff? There can be heard some hiphop-influences on "wire to wire" and as far as i know you like to play hiphop or r'n'b-tracks in your dj-sets, too.

Back in the mid to late 80's there was a sound called Techno-Hop. It didn't last long but it was a very energetic style of hybrid hiphop. I felt it was just a matter of time before hiphop and techno got together and now you can hear it in artists like Missy Elliott and Massive Attack.

The DEMF / Movement sure has had an impact on the way techno is looked at and received in the United States. What do you think about the festival? Does it have an integrative power for the Detroit artists themselves?

I think it's going to take more than an annual festival to give techno a greater impact on the United States. People still think techno originated in Europe, so it's harder for people to relate to something that they don't see or feel as their experience. Detroit techno started out as a movement similar to that of Hip Hop, but some Detroit artists chose to write off Detroit as a city filled with nothing but drug-pushers and hookers (niggas and bitches). Detroit is much more and greater than this. We have to stop putting down HOME, believe it or not: Detroiters can fill this.
Hiphop and reggae artists like DMX and Buju Banton have stayed true to their movement and continue to identify themselves with the struggle of their people, I'm not suggesting that we should eat, sleep and shit the struggle, but we must not forget. Some Detroit artists have said that Black Folks simply don't understand techno. That is a lie, perhaps it's the artist that doesn't understand. Detroit embraced Kraftwerk, Devo, Tom Tom Club, Thomas Dolby, the B-52's as well as techno and house. If we like the music, we'll tell you we like it and if we don't we'll let you know. Much like my wife Eunice who loves all types of music, but if she's not feeling it, she's simply not feeling it and on the other hand if she's loving it she's loving it, totally and there's NO pretending. Detroiters don't pretend to like something, to make it SEEM as if they understand.
 
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last updated: 2009.08.26, 12:29