RSS feed RSS Twitter Twitter Facebook Facebook 15 Questions 15 Questions

Interview with Joke Lanz / Sudden Infant

img  Tobias Fischer

GX Jupitter-Larsen's liner notes claim that your father's suicide has given you something profound to take with you in your life journey. What was that?
I started to think a lot about the whole act of suicide. Why does somebody come to a point of no return?! Why did my father kill himself? How desperate must someone be to shoot a bullet in his head? I came to my personal conclusion, that life and society can cause such negative energies onto a person, that everything becomes worthless. I decided not to take part in this game and to give a shit about rules and regulations given by society and moral aspects. Never loose yourself in pressure in order to produce results. This new view on my life led me to the Punk movement and its ideologies. But even though Punk was fresh, honest and direct, at the time I still kept my mind open for all sorts of critical and alternative life-forms. I tried to create my own world.

The title of "My Life's a Gunshot" openly references the suicide and is also dedicated to your father ...

The title "My Life's a Gunshot" is not necessarily only related to the suicide of my father. If you look at our existence in a bigger picture, we humans are nothing compared to the history of evolution. One single life is like a gunshot! Bang! Pow! And your life is over! On the other hand, I can still hear the sound of that gunshot in my ear. It was a turning point in my life. My dad was always there, he was naturally a part of my life and suddenly from one second to another he wasn't here anymore. He was gone! Physically. But he's still with me in a spiritual way. I can feel his presence.

Would it be amateur psychology to conclude that your involvement in Hardcore in your early years as a musician was a direct consequence of that dramatic childhood event and growing up without a father?

No, that's actually correct! But not only my involvement in Punk and Hardcore was the consequence, also my search for new forms of living and how to bring up a child.

How do you look back on these years before starting to work under the Sudden Infant moniker?

It was a very intense and exciting time. I learned to bite the bullet! It gave me a lot of self-confidence and hope to change things in my little world. It was also my first experience in travelling across Europe and playing in squats and Punk-clubs. I perceived the meaning of improvisation and  spontaneity.

The liner notes mention that "Noise has been the means of your own rebirth", suggesting that your solo career was a break with your Hardcore past. What was it that you saw and heard in Noise that made it such a life-changing proposition?

Noise became an open source for me. Much more open than Punk ever was. Sudden Infant started with body art and performances in the early years. Music was not the most important part. And it still is a combination of all senses in an abstract and psychological way. When I first heard "Frankie Teardrop" (a song by electropunk duo Suicide tokafi) it completely shook all my braincells and my blood circulation. This was more than music!

Through listening to "My Life's a Gunshot", I was under the impression that you were influenced by a different idea of Noise than most of your colleagues ...

In the early years of Harsh-Noise everybody wanted to be louder and more extreme than some Japanese or American Noise artists. This is simply a stupid attitude! This is not a sports competition, is it? My idea of Noise is not just captured in the classical sense of Experimental Noise music. For me Noise is vitality, it is the pure essence of life and it comes from deep inside, from an intuitive life-system. I work with these very rough and basic emotional fragments and I put them into a soundframe which is rather defined by my intuition than my logical intelligence.

From that approach, how did you arrive at your version of "Industrial Musique Concrete".

I was always interested in breaking up concepts and styles. I grew up with Punk & Hardcore music (Ramones, Germs, Sex Pistols, Damned, Black Flag, Dead Kennedys), then New Wave (Devo, Cramps, Gun Club, Blondie, Fad Gadget, Killing Joke) and early Industrial (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Einstürzende Neubauten, Factrix). I loved the destructive power of Whitehouse and the dadaist cut-up sounds of Nurse with Wound. But I never just wanted to copy something or follow one direction. Probably all these little bits and pieces of music and ideas collided with my own world. I never thought about a genre name for my music.

You were fascinated by using minimal equipment for a maximum effect. What was s the appeal of that approach?

My main instrument for my live shows is my body. Not only as a soundproducing tool, also as an energetic living sculpture. Look at the fantastic Belgium/French singer Jacques Brel: His bodylanguage and facial expressions during his songs are so incredibly powerful and emotional. He totally lives his performance in every aspect. It goes under the skin! That's exactly what I try to do. I don't want to get distracted by too much equipment. That's why I mainly use one contact and one vocal microphone alongside of some prerecorded samples and loops. The rest is my body and the story of my physical appearance.

Jupitter-Larsen observed an "uneasy truce with the stage" at the early stages of Sudden Infant ...
The whole stage experience process is like a tree. You need to go through some stormy and scary times until your roots are strong enough to stand upright and face the wind without any fear. I had to go through different phases in order to find my destination. Sudden Infant was naked and vulnerable in the early years. It's very important to use and show your faults and defects without any shame or fear. Then nothing can happen anymore!

One of the more striking features of Sudden Infant is your ongoing collaboration with your son ...
The birth of my son Céleste was the beginning of the whole Sudden Infant project. Therefore it was inevitable to collaborate with him and to explore once again the incredible world of children. This uncontrollable and surrealistic energy of a child's fantasy became one of the main motives in the Sudden Infant universe. We did all sorts of playful musical and actionist experiments: On the streets, collecting sounds and trash, recording our voices over and over, playing around with all sorts of instruments (drums, guitars, organs), making drawings to the sounds and sounds to the scrawlings etc. Unfortunately these times are over. Céleste is 21 now and he lives in Switzerland. Every now and then he comes up to Berlin or I visit him in Zurich and then we prefer to drink a beer together, talk about our lives and have some fun.

What would you say are the roles of yourself and your son in the performances? It very much sounds as though it were a process of give and take in which both sides are learning something ...
Absolutely correct! On one hand I never wanted to grow up and was happy to dip in to Céleste's world and the world of his companions. Together with my own friends we created some wild age-overlapping games and sound-performances. Everybody learned from each other.

The two events of your father's death and you son's birth were obvious points of direction. Did compiling the material perhaps provide you with interesting insights about more subtle personal lines of development in your work which you perhaps were not aware of before?
Going back in time, listening to my early compositions and rare sound material was of course a trip into forgotten and hidden emotions and feelings. Some of the memories came up very strongly and I had and still have to look at them in a new light. The chance meeting of old energies with new realities is highly explosive and leads into metaphysical fields of your inner life.

Many men express the wish to be able to give birth to a child. Considering the prominent child-heme of sudden infant, it might be interesting to ask whether you feel the same way?
I never felt this urge. Nature made the roles clear. But I think as a man and father it's absolutely possible to give birth in a mental way. To accompany the whole process, your wife's pregnancy, to listen and feel your unborn child and finally to witness birth is the biggest experience in a man's existence.

By Tobias Fischer

"My Life's a Gunshot", a 4LP Retrospective of Joke Lanz's work as Sudden Infant is out on Hrönir.

Joke Lanz / Sudden Infant Discography:

Broken Glass (Schimpfluch)    1989
Sudden Infant (Schimpfluch)    1989
1989-1991 (Schimpfluch) 1991
Radiorgasm (Schimpfluch) 1991
Like A Virgin (Drahtfunk-Products)    1992
Sperm + Egg (Tadpole) 1992
1992 (Artware Production) 1993
Interzone 3 (SSS Productions) 1993
Deceit (Deadline Recordings) 1994
Solothurn (Pure) 1994
Split (Soja-Sauce Bolognese) 1994
Can - Zone / C'Mon Ketchup (Soja-Sauce Bolognese) 1995
Holko (G.R.O.S.S.) 1995
Luv / Yaminda (Soja-Sauce Bolognese)    1995
Prozession 000092/er (Self Abuse Records) 1995
Recycled (RRRecords) 1996
Latex-Lady (Soja-Sauce Bolognese) 1997
Play Stalker (eM 13n) 1998
Species (Solipsism) 1998
Turntable Abuse E.P. (Adverse) 1998
Bandenkrieg (SSSM) 1999
Finals 990217 (Cut-Up-Construction Rec) 1999
Mon Enfant (Soja-Sauce Bolognese) 1999
Quick & Bright / Gelbgrün (Soja-Sauce Bolognese) 1999
Rare Noise (Tochnit Aleph) 1999
Sounds From The Sidewalk (Soja-Sauce Bolognese) 1999
Where's Happy? (Spite) 1999
Hölle (Like A/An Everflowing Stream, Pain Art) 2000
Punk As Fuck!! Live!!!! (Tochnit Aleph) 2000
Sidewalk Social Scientist (Tochnit Aleph) 2000
Split (MSBR Records) 2000
Zwei (Mongo Club Production) 2000
Catholic Boys In Heavy Leather (Manufracture) 2002
Deutsche Amerikanische Freundsongs (Statutory Tape) 2002
Live In Basel (RRRecords) 2002
Molli (Like An Everflowing Stream) 2002
Sudden Infant's Turntable Cookbook (Gameboy Records) 2002
Ear Wash (SSSM) 2003
Live In Vienna (Klanggalerie) 2003
Philanthropic Phalanges (Recordings For The Summer) 2003
Sudden Infant Remixes Guilty Connector / Guilty Connector Remixes Sudden Infant (Gender-Less Kibbutz) 2003
Anarchy In The UK (Tochnit Aleph) 2004
Look Left (Entr'acte) 2004
Invocation Of The Aural Slave Gods (Blossoming Noise) 2005
SICV (Audiobot) 2005
WC-D (Entr'acte) 2005
Skipping Misanthrope (Radical Matters)    2006
Berlin Paris Taipei (Tochnit Aleph) 2007
Blood Test Blood (Twisted Knister) 2007
Dark Sperm (Teenage Whore Tapes) 2007
Oslo Oscillation Orgy (Entr'acte) 2007
Schimpfluch-Commune Int. (Nihilist) 2007
Split (absurd) 2007
Sudden Infant DVD (Freak Animal Records) 2007
Three Puppets EP (Needlesoup) 2007
Psychotic Einzelkind (Blossoming Noise) 2008
The Joke Lanz Album (RRRecords) 2008
Theater Of Syndromes (Nihilist) 2008
Twilight Sleep (Soja-Sauce Bolognese) 2008
Berlin Problem Child (Psych.KG) 2009
Demon Trap / Aural Guerilla (iDEAL Recordings) 2009
Geheimnis (Recordings For The Summer) 2009
Parental Guidance (Soja-Sauce Bolognese) 2009
Sketchbook N°9 ([ tanzprocesz ]) 2009
Under My Bed (Harbinger Sound) 2009
My Life's A Gunshot - Retrospective 1989-2009 (Hrönir) 2010
West Coast Tour 2010 (Terminal) 2010

Joke Lanz / Sudden Infant

Related articles

15 Questions to Philip Sulidae
Symphonic composers regularly look down ...
15 Questions to Terre Thaemlitz
Terre Thaemlitz is not naive. ...
15 Questions to Mountains
Even when Brendon Anderegg and ...
Interview with Robert Ashley
The offer to interview Robert ...
15 Questions to Budhaditya Chattopadhyay
To many listeners and composers ...
Interview with Birchville Cat Motel
“Aren’t ALL descriptive words for ...

Partner sites