Lagowski Speaks

An AmbiEntrance Exclusive Interview

Andrew Lagowski:
"Ashita" Pre-Release Interview

(AmbiEntrance© - 1997)

Lagowski, S.E.T.I., Legion... all are the same man. Andrew Lagowski's various incarnations run a musical gamut from techno to ambient. Andrew has graciously become Link O'Rama's interview guinea pig. We appreciate his being such a good sport!
Andrew also supplied this image of himself for which we are thankful.

Link: I asked Andrew for some brief biographical info and relevant memories and he responded with...

Lagowski: Born: 22nd Feb. 64/Wolverhampton, England.
1964-69 Wolverhampton (recurring dreams of falling down stairs in slow motion).
1969-73 London (dark/scary houses. Pets, family).
1973-83 Ipswich (school problems/scary house/friends/family/music).
1983-present day London

Link: Is Andrew Lagowski your *real* birth name, or some cryptic, yet meaningful stage name I don't fathom?

Lagowski: Real name.

Link: Would you say the Bad Dreams and Scary Houses have affected your musical output, and how?

Lagowski: Haven't really affected it, as far as I know.......

Link: What were you early musical interests/influences? Do they still affect you today?

Lagowski: Punk and new wave. No real influence today, but I still enjoy lots of the music. I used to play the drums in a new wave-ish band. Copied the style of John Maher from the Buzzcocks and then Steve Morris, Joy Division.

Link: Anything interesting to tell about your first budding musical desires? How did you get into music?

Lagowski: First real musical equipment I owned was a reel to reel tape recorder that my father bought for me. Taught me how to manipulate sound and do all the tricks that Cabaret Voltaire used to do. My interest in New Wave moved into the area of Industrial and Electronic Avant Garde stuff. Big influences were Throbbing Gristle/Cabaret Voltaire/Nurse With Wound/Whitehouse/Joy Division.

Link: When did the programming/technician stuff come in?

Lagowski: My tape recorder and the above listening made me move into the electronics field. I sold my drums and many punk records and bought an amp/effects and used a friend's drum machine and some borrowed synths to make a huge noise. I was useless at programming and it took me ages to do anything near-decent. I spent a good few years just making abstract noises and doing gigs with friends to play these noises/recordings very loud in the local Ipswich Jazz cellar. People thought we were mental and we thought we were great. But really we were crap and loud. People were too drunk to be able to discern if anything sounded good or not. The tapes prove me correct.

Link: When did you first become involved in recording commercially and with what project?

Lagowski: First real commercial project was the set of three Lagowski 12" singles on the Chromium Industries label. Unfortunately, as with much of my material, the distribution was not set up for these, so no one knew they were out apart from a few people in London clubs, and those listening to Techno radio shows.

Link: What has been your family's reaction to your chosen profession through its development? Do they think you're strange? Do they listen to your work?

Lagowski: They like some of the peaceful stuff, such as that on 'Geometry of Night', but they haven't really heard that much of my other stuff.

My "real" job is digital video compression, so they think I'm an upright, decent person. Which, for the most part, I am ;->

Link: And the part that's not so upright and decent is doing what?

Lagowski: Mostly reading the Amok catalogues/books. I also have quite a few books on Serial Killers etc. which these days are just stored away. I generally read lots of P.K. Dick stuff now and the occasional J.G. Ballard. I'll leave the rest up to your imagination.

Link: You're quite involved with technology... is it this "inside" view or more of a looking out at others that shapes the ideas behind your newest release "Ashita"?

Lagowski: The ideas behind 'Ashita' are based on Nanotechnology and all that it entails. Really, as usual, I just wanted people to use my music as a starting point for discussion. Some times I get really sick of computers and video, other times I love machines. I guess my true passion is music machines (sequencers/drum boxes/synths etc.).

Link: To further elaborate on "Ashita"'s technological/futuristic concept for our readers, I offer the 'Ashita' press release...

"Artist: Lagowski | Title: Ashita | Label: Side Effects | Catalogue number: DFX 20 | Release date: TBA |

Subject/Concept:
The implications and future (Ashita:"Tomorrow" in Japanese) prospects of the science known as 'Nanotechnology' and specifically its effect on the human psychological condition.

In searching for a way to miniaturize science and its tools we will be encouraged to look ever further inward to discover the seed of Mind/Thought and the original encoding of our existence. Soon we will be able to eradicate psychological illnesses, and of course create new ones for "research purposes", simply by the careful insertion of a nanoprobe into the cranial vessel..; have cities built off-World for us by Self-replicating assemblers.........

Lagowski provides a slow zoom into his latest material in order that the listener might discover worlds within the sound which have previously lain unheard. Each micro-scape displays the textures of the infinite world. The electronics rendered in these recordings are such that no two listenings will be perceived in the same light."

Link: I'm anxious to hear Ashita. Can you tell me what to expect as listener?

Lagowski: I don't think the listener should expect anything more than slightly dark electronic atmospheres and rhythms. The listener doesn't have to LISTEN, more ABSORB the sounds/music as they develop throughout the album. A good bass system is recommended to get the full effect of the recordings. There are all of the Lagowski trademarks there, but you have to have heard other material to spot them. A lot of clues to my personal feelings etc. are contained in my titles/references, but I'm not trying to tell too much or give it all away.

Link: Not only do you record as Andrew Lagowski, but also as Legion, S.E.T.I., Terror Against Terror... what's with all the different projects? Could you compare/contrast their output? Is their input different as well?

Lagowski: The initial separation came about when I was asked to do a different kind of music than that which I was doing at the time. e.g. I was in the middle of doing "club dance tracks" for 12" release when I sent one of my long ambient experiments to a friend in Germany. He decided that he wanted to release it, so I thought I'd better find a new name to separate the projects and give them their own identity. Hence Legion was born.

S.E.T.I. started in 1992 when I was asked to do a white label 12" anonymously. I chose the name because of my ever-present interest in NASA projects and the Universe and all it contains. Again, the music was harder than my Lagowski club stuff and certainly was not ambient by any means.

These days the distinction between the Lagowski and S.E.T.I. projects is slightly blurred as they both have similar rhythmic content. However, the Lagowski material is darker whereas the S.E.T.I. music is, I would say, more listenable to the average music buyer.

I can see a time when all three of my projects, Lagowski, Legion and S.E.T.I. will become simply Lagowski. Ending up as it had started.

Link: Do you have a "favorite" project or release, and why?

Lagowski: My favourites are the S.E.T.I. 'Knowledge' release on Ash International because of the atmospheres (I think I managed to get across exactly the mood I was trying to achieve), Lagowski 'Prismatic' (took me a long time to construct my all-time favourite track 'Transition') and 'Ashita' (very pleased with the atmospheres and rhythms contained therein).

Link: S.E.T.I. stands for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence... do you pronounce it like "settee" or spell it aloud like S-E-T-I?

Lagowski: I just say "setti". People always reply with "settee?".

Link: Is your S.E.T.I. work based on personal beliefs of alien life, or was it just a cool, spacey name?

Lagowski: I wanted people to be aware that S.E.T.I. as an organisation existed. Just to trigger an interest in it, really.

Link: Speaking of space missions, what sort of soundtrack would you put to the events on the Mir spacestation?

Lagowski: I think something like NON (Boyd Rice) would go down well on MIR as it sounds like the whole project's falling apart whilst hurtling 'round the globe at so many thousand miles per hour!

Link: How/when did you become involved with Brian (Lustmord) Williams?

Lagowski: I was a big fan of SPK and my interest took me to Brian's place and also to Europe in 1987 where I saw SPK and Chris'n'Cosey at four European venues. Some time after, Brian asked if I would help to record 'Heresy'. We had an interesting time, so we worked on The Terror Against Terror project later too.

Link: What was your input on Heresy? Is there anything in particular you can point to and say, "There, that's me." Or were you more behind-the-scenes?

Lagowski: I prepared a lot of the effects together with Brian and basically did what he required (e.g. "pitch this down", "add delay to this", "bring this up in the mix" etc). I did quite a bit of sampling from his sources too, and supplied the initial recording facilities. He usually turned up at my place with DATs of sounds to be sampled and we would sample loads of stuff and then go about constructing tracks according to his notes. He would map out the tracks in a kind of diagrammatical form, which is the best way to work if you're doing ambient stuff. Strict rules are out of the window.

Link: Was Heresy really recorded in crypts, mines and catacombs?

Lagowski: Brian's source DATs were recorded at various deep locations around Europe, some volcanic activity was captured further afield.

Link: Have you utilized such unusual recording locations and/or source material in your solo works?

Lagowski: Most of my unusual sounds were on the first Legion CD 'False Dawn'. I used the sounds of a schizophrenic patient cackling etc. I used to work at a major London hospital as an audio/visual technician where many sounds/sights were at hand for the budding dark musician.

Link: Do you have any other upcoming projects/releases you'd like to mention while you're here?

Lagowski: Might be worth mentioning the next S.E.T.I. album for incoming! in Germany which will be called 'Sentient'. Still working on tracks and will probably not be finished for a couple of months, so I guess it won't be realistically out until the New Year :(

Link: Any advice to offer to those interested in creating their own ambient sounds?

Lagowski: Just take time to create sounds that *you* like and that fit within your own frame of reference. Don't worry about what is "trendy" or "current". You probably won't get anywhere, but at least you'll be true to yourself!!

Link: Current life info? Significant other, family, pets?

Lagowski: My life in the last ten years has had a big effect on my musical "themes", so to speak, but I'd rather not mention how or why and would prefer to let people listen to the music and take what they can from it.

Link: Andrew, I can't thank you enough for your time/energy/input.

Lagowski: I should thank you, as it's you who have done me the favour!

Link: I'll be reviewing "Ashita" ASAP; I'll try not to let my warm, fuzzy feelings of gratefulness interfere with my critical ear.

Lagowski: O.K. hope you like it! I can send you a copy of S.E.T.I. 'Knowledge' if you need one........

Link: I'd love that, especially since it came so highly recommended from the source! Please keep us posted here at the AmbiEntrance when you're up to something new.

Lagowski: Will do, thanks again ;->

For further information, visit Andrew's own Lagowski website!

This interview posted September 14, 1997

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