Sage: Let's start at the beginning, before the Machinery deal. Tell us about the earliest days of New MInd, your philosophies and ideas for making music.
Jonathan Sharp: Around late 1990/early 1991, I was messing around with some sequencer/sampler-based material, more to entertain myself than anything. The band I was in at this point had ground to a halt, so I decided to go ahead and do some industrial tracks on my own. I was fairly heavily into Puppy at the time, and I'd also cite Cronenberg as a BIG influence at this point. Anyway, this gradually evolved into New Mind when I did a 4 song demo in January 1991. There was no great philosophy behind it, other than that I made the music I wanted to , irrespective of whether it was viable for release. My philosophy remains the same, I make music first and foremost for myself. My tape vault is full of as yet unreleased material.
Sage: Specifically, can you tell us about the highly sought after "Body Politic" EP, compilation tracks like 'Incision,' and any other pre-"Fractured" material?
JS: "Body Politic," highly sought after???? Well, after I did thaft first demo, I circulated a few copies and was offered a deal by Sadisque, a sub-label of Vinyl Solution. I was going to do a second 12" and then an album for them, but it all collapsed when there was a change of A+R and I was dropped after one release. 'Incision'... Oh dear, that was my blatant sample-everything-in-sight track. Puppy, 242, GGFH, Bladerunner, etc., etc.. That's on a comp by Sentrax Recordidngs. They did offer me a deal at the time, but that fell through. They had more ideas than money. I also talked briefly with Kk Records, but the deal they offered... it was hilarious. My lawyer just laughed at it. I still keep a copy to show to people. I was just giving out material to compilations at this stage, to get the name around. So there was a track on The Empty Quarter CD/book package, and I gave 2 tracks to Dossier Records for a comp called "Dossier." And around this point, Machinery got in touch. I do own a big chunk of my back catalogue now, the 12", the comp tracks plus a LOT of unused deomos and unreleased material. At some point, when the time is right, I will re-release it.
Sage: How did the Machinery deal come about? How did things work while New Mind was there?
JS: I had pretty much recorded half of what eventually turned into "Fractured" by this point, and I mailed the tape around to various people, including Machinery. Jor called me and offered me a deal. It was that simple. I signed and completed the tracks, and "Fractured" was released in 1993. It was then that the problems started. What it came down to was that Jor had a very fixed idea about what New Mind was and how it should be presented. Unfortunately, this was a long way from what I was doing. The funniest moment came when I submitted some material for the second album (the tracks appeared on "Zero To The Bone" eventually). He sent me a fax saying I should stop making ambient disco music!!! That was the beginning of the end really. They became less and less supportive, and it was obvious that we neither wanted to work together, so they kindly let me go and wander off into obscurity for 2 years.
Sage: Then Cyber-Tec approached you, and along with that came a whole slew of new problems. The story is rather well-known, but to eliminate any speculation, please tell us all the details about New Mind, Bio-Tek, and Cyber-Tec Project with Cyber-Tec Records.
JS: My personal differences with these people are well documented and it serves no purpose to cover old ground yet again. The bottom line is : I was replaced in Cyber-Tec Project by Marc Heal. I told Cyber-Tec Records at the time that I would no longer be involved in this project if any other programmer was brought in. None of them had the courtesy to tell me I had been replaced. I found out when I was faxed the news page from New Life magazine announcing my replacement. My involvement with Cyber-Tec caused me a great deal of personal hassle, stress, money and sanity. I've also since discovered that for the 12 months or so following this debacle, I had somehow acquired a reputation for being difficult and impossible to work with. That's patently not true, and I think that people at Off Beat, Zoth Ommog, and all the other labels I now have deals with will vouch for my integrity and dedication to what I do. Now Off Beat has just licensed "Forge" to 21st Circuitry. I've heard very good things about Don [Blanchard, label owner], so I'm excited to be working with him.
Sage: Then you were talking with Out Of Line label, but ended up on Off Beat for New Mind, and Zoth Ommog for Bio-Tek. How did you end up there?
JS: Yes, I did offer "Zero To The Bone" to Out Of Line. It was a case of, "What's the fastest way to release this CD in Germany?"... and they said it would be quickest to license from FCR (Fifth Colvmn Records) rather than manufacture it themselves. That seemed okay. Then the whole FCR thing just became a nightmare. I couldn't get a contract, statements, or anything from them. I still haven't. It was pretty obvious I was onto a loser with FCR, so I mailed out some basic demos of "Forge." Stefan from Off Beat responded, we haggled a deal, and I'm now happily signed with Off Beat. At the same time, I'd re-acquired the rights to Bio-Tek and started mailing demos around. This coincided with the big re-vamp that Zoth Ommog was undergoing, and they offered me a deal, which I naturally snatched up. I'd been a Zoth fan for years and never expected to end up on the label. They had never had a a UK artist before, so I take that as a big compliment.
Sage: Why the separation?
JS: Well that's one of the lessons I learned from my involvement in Cyber-Tec. NEVER do more than one project per label. Or, don't put all your eggs in one basket!
Sage: Off Beat and Zoth have good reputations for being supportive and working closely with their bands. Are things going well?
JS: Yes. After all the label disasters I've had in the past, working with Off Beat and Zoth is a revelation. They stay in touch. They respond to messages and faxes. They set up interviews, get press to do promotion. They WANT to develop their artists. I'm very, very happy with the people I am now working with.
Sage: Are you happy with the way the albums turned out? They are both very different and very diverse in themselves. Do you care to elaborate on them?
JS: I'm delighted that you think they are both differnet because that 's totally my aim. Bio-Tek is not New Mind part two. It's a different project with different musical aims and ideas. I see Bio-Tek as very straight European EBM with classical overtones, and it allows me to betray my enthusiasm for trashy horror movies. New Mind I consider to be my total freedom project. It ranges over a wide range of electronic genres in the space of one CD. My opinion on the two albums: "Forge" is the New Mind CD I am most happy with. Technically and musically I think it's the best. "A God Ignored Is A Demon Born" ... well I have to confess my judgment on this is coloured by the fact I just completed the second Bio-Tek and it's a much, much stronger release than the first one. What can I say? Vocals aside, you should really consider New Mind and Bio-Tek to be done by two different people.
Sage: How did you hook up with Sevren Ni-Arb for the Hyperdex-1-Sect project? I hear that the collaboration was a complete sucess, evern though you two have never actually met. Judging by "Metachrome," I'd say that it couldn't have been better! It's a departure for you though. Can you give us some insight on the process of Hyperdex-1-Sect?
JS: The initial contact was set up by Pete from the MCT label. I already had the basic material. All the tracks were writen as my contribution to the Cyber-Tec album. I have the demos of Jean Luc DeMeyer doing vocals on tracks like 'Mind.' I sent the instrumental material to Sevren in its component parts, and he reconstructued it in his own unique style. I had orginally intended to get over to TGIF (Sevren's studio) and work with him, but it just never happened. We couldn't get our schedules to meet, and things were going so well anyway. It amuses me to no-end that it's now possible to make an album with a musician in another country without ever meeting face to face! So I wrote the tracks, he re-built them, then I remixed 2 of the tracks.
Sage: The release of "Metachrome" was delayed for a very long time, and did not have the planned remixes by cEvin Key, FLA, and Sheep On Drugs. Why is that?
JS: I can't offer you an explanation. The decisions over what was included was not mine to make. I understand that the US version of the EP will have a different track list to the European release, and presumably some of these mixes will appear on this.
Sage: Is the licensing to SPV/Synthetic Symphony posing any conflict with Cyber-Tec?
JS: Again, I couldn't possiby comment on that topic, but it does appeal to my sense of humour! Hint: Say the word Hyperdex-1-Sect really fast a few times, and I think you'll find it rhymes with Cyberrrr....
Sage: What can you say at this point about the new Bio-Tek stuff ("Darkness My Name Is" and "Steel On Skin"), or anything else on the way?
JS: Well I'm currently pretty pleased with new Bio-Tek CD. It're really hard/controlled EBM, I think!! And I think you'll find it's much different than "Forge." I also have to say that the packaging is really great... it's a multi-page fold-out booklet of fetish/s&m imagery... really nice. It's due out in Europe in the coming months. "Steel On Skin" isthe current projected remix maxi, due later this year. I can't confirm any names yet, but let's just ay that some of the Zoth and Side-Line people will be participating. It'll also have a couplke of new tracks not on "Darkness My Name Is." As Bio-Tek develops, I think you'll find it has it's own style/ambience/presentation. Unfortunately, doemstic USA release is running nearly 12 months behind, so Cleopatra are releasing "A God Ignored..." in June, I think, so don't expect to see to see "Darkness..." or "Steel..." domestically in the USA until next year. Hyperdex-1-Sect ... well the contract is for a second MCD, but I've so many other more pressing projects that this has taken a temporary back seat. New Mind... right now it looks like "Forge" has been picked up by 21st Circuitry for the USA. I'm already working on new material. I'm just writing to see waht come out at the moment. The next confirmed release is an Off Beat O-File around November this year, and then the fourth New Mind CD early next year... it just might be a double! A Remix War would be nice as well.
Sage: You have some other projects in the works, like Hexedene, Gunhed, and LAShTAL, as well as your recent remix projects. Can you tell us about them, and other things you're working on?
JS: Hexedene is right now taking up my time. I can confirm htat an album is in progress, thought both Katie and Ian have now left the project to pursue their own band. USA release will be through Re-Constriction, and for Europe it's going to be Side-Line Records. The current plan is to deliver each label with a different version of the same album!! Gunhed is on hold right now, lack of time. LAShTAL ... one track appeared on an FCR comp. I do have an album's worth of this experimental/ambience material in the vault, but no suitable avenue for release. Interested parties: feel free to contact me. I'm always working on music. I've been experimenting with some intelligent techno and also drum'n'bass, but no releases as of yet. I'm really just experimenting. I also seem to have a cartload of remixing coming my way. I've just completed a remix for Kalte Farben and I've been doing some bits and pieces for Re-Constriction... can't confirm anything yet, just wait and see!
Sage: With all your different projects, are you now able to explore all fo the sonic dimensinsthat yoiu want, or will we see more collaborations and divergence from New Mind?
JS: Divergence... yes, definitely. The next New Mind is going pull the rug out from under people's feet, I hope. I want to see just how far I can push the "industrial" tag. I hope that you can hear the development and diversification in each New Mind album. It's going to continue to develop and progress. Collaborations ... yes, it's nice to get out of the solo work ethic oncie in a while to do somehting different. I've been talking/threatening to do a joint project with Ronan H. (VNV Nation), but it's not gone beyond talking for the last 12 months (if you know Ronan or myself... Boy, can we talk!!! ;>)