mark stewart interview
(September 1998)

Mark Stewart was a member of the seminal Pop Group, played godfather to the Bristol scene and currently instigates information terrorism through his releases on Mute with the Tackhead crew. His most recent album "Control Data", a heady brew of dark dub and industrial-strength vibes, was released almost 2 years ago so it was something of a surprise to find a 12" being lifted from it now. The disc, "Consumed: the remix wars", subjected a track from the LP to severe beatings by 3 of the harshest dance/noise producers around at the moment: Alec Empire, Nico and Johnny Violent radically reworking it into shapes that fit their own specialities (respectively digital hardcore, darkstep and gabba). We got a few words from Mark on the subject of the release.

It's been a couple of years since the "Control data" LP, so why release the remix wars now?
In the last year I've been working on loads of new beats and have really been inspired by, and working with, programmers and musicians from a number of specific genres, e.g. heavy duty anarcho hardcore gabba.

It seemed to me that the remixes were done with a lot of respect for the original, did you choose the remixers on the basis of mutual respect?
I personally chose the remixers from a real love of their work: Alec Empire (and the whole of the digital hardcore label) is very close to the spirit of why I'm involved in the music/information war in the first place. Ultraviolence, who I think is perhaps the best British gabba artist, has also been helping me with tracks for the new LP. Didg, who is Nico's right-hand man in The Program has also been giving me a hand.

Are you working on new material now? Do you think it will sound anything like these mixes?
I've been collaborating with Ultraviolence and Didg as I said above, also with Nico and Ed Rush, who together with people like John B have been really inspirational in the mutating darkcore secnce which I love. Another collaborator is Decoder---a brilliant darkartist.

These two specific scenes (gabba and darkcore) along with a deep-felt love of really rough speed garage, jungle, some Japanese noise stuff and obviously "bad" speed thrash metal like Fear Factory and Machine Head, have been the musical nutrients that have been in my life-support system lately.

I interviewed Asian Dub Foundation just after "Control data" was released. We talked about the LP and they were fans of yours, have you heard them? Do you like their music?
ADF are, again, close friends and I think they are one of the best live bands in Britain at the moment. Their campaigning is great---all power to them.

ADF had a pretty traditional take on the meaning of "dub", basically that it's a way of making music with the mixing desk being an instrument, but you've said before that dub is an attitude. Can you elaborate?
When I say that dub is an attitude, it's liek the old lyric: "truth is a feeling, but it's not a sound". I find dub's destruction of a structure a political as well as a musical statement. If you are trying to question things lyrically, you should also question musical orthodoxy.

The title, "Control data", is it an instruction or does it mean that the LP contains the data that will enable you to take control? Or something else?
You can either control data or the data controls you.

What is/has been you lyrical motivation? You often been described as serious and paranoid, to which you respond that a paranoid is someone who is well-informed. Is that your motivation, to inform?
To me, I am just commentating on things I see around me, to ignore these things, I would have to be an imbecile.

Interestingly, I was reading "1984" while I was listening back to your older albums and the music and book seemed to slot together beautifully, reflecting moods perfectly.

Talking of books, did the "Control data" book or CDI ever come out? Is it available on the internet at all?
It's a work in progress but I'm snowed under with music stuff at the moment.

Mark has promised us some text from his "Control data" book later in the year. Watch this space...

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