Baby Ford

by Stuart Barr

"Are you really gonna put me in this?", asks Peter Ford, staring at Issue One of Convulsion. The question is not unreasonable, we've not previously been noted for our dance coverage, preferring the more hard-core end of the musical spectrum. But we've expanded our horizons, implemented a fascistic regime of non-musical fascism and plunged neck deep into previously uncharted waters (well, for us anyway). Thus I find myself seated in Rhythm Kings' plush London offices, talking to the affable Peter Ford about his last album BFord9.

"I wanted to go in and do the whole thing, rather than putting out a few singles first", explains Peter, "I just started with nothing and finished with, . . .Whatever turned out, mutant babies appeared", he laughs.

BFord9, is an album of extremes, building from mellow grooves, to the frenetic Fetish, a real heads down neck brace crowd pleaser. I wondered how pleased Peter was with the record himself. "It is difficult to say. If you ever create anything, you never know if it's turned out the way you intended it to. I'd a pretty good idea of what I wanted it to sound like to begin with, but then it develops and matures into whatever course it wants to take; it seemed to take on it's own life.

"It ends with Fetish because that's the last one we did. It sort of resolves it quite well, because it started off quite mellow and then it built up to being sort of. . .", he smiles ruefully, then burst out, "sort of woooargh!". He laughs again, "I think that's what it sounds like, Fetish sounds like you're about to pull the plug."

Dance and Industrial seem to be coming closer together again, with groups like KMFDM and the Thrill Kill Kult. "But they're based in Rock", Peter corrects, "I think its quite dangerous for people who make dance music to venture out into that, which is something that appeals to me. When it works you get a pat on the back, but when it doesn't you've got it completely wrong. It's just a question of trying it until something works."

There certainly seems to be a growing crossover among the fans of indie and dance. The Shamen, for all their faults have been instrumental in bringing indie fans to dance. "I think that's a good thing, people are definitely crossing over. There's a snobbery - although it's getting less and less - between people who like indie music, and people who like dance. The next year is going to be interesting for house music."

The old music terminology is becoming more and more redundant these days. "I like that, I like people not being able to label things, it's more personal, the person who buys the record has got their own understanding of what the artist is trying to do. That's important because artists have got to try and establish themselves and their music, as opposed to `you make dance music, so you must do this', That's bullshit!, it should be broken.

"In America, they've been raving about the album, but they don't understand it really. They can't because they're slow to catch on. I went over there on tour with Erasure, they'd never heard of House music, yet it was born in America.

"Disco Sucks! That's the attitude in America, but disco is the roots of house, ten, fifteen years later people are beginning to take disco seriously. It's really funny.

"Record companies market bands for America because there is so much money to be made, and that's not what it's about. It's about changing peoples ideas and attitudes towards the music. As long as I don't have to compromise, at all. I don't mind going to America. In the past I've had to listen to industry people, and it's been a mistake. Now it's `here's the record, here's the sleeve, put it out if you want'. Waxtrax wanted to put out the album, but Fire had first option on it, and suddenly they were interested again, it's really weird.

"It's quite interesting, because they're looking at Britain as a kind of spark for the whole thing. They see techno music as rave music and they see it in the charts over here, they're getting really excited. Which is a good thing, and a bad thing, because they expect you to be like, rave beats and two dancers as opposed to presenting something that's going in a slightly, well. . . actually, very different direction. Which is interpreting your ideas about songs and imagery in a musical genre, which is techno. Which is what I've always been interested in, which is why I've always tried to add my own personal touch.

"Hard core has planted it's roots, just like Acid planted it's roots. Detroit Techno was never understood by the main stream British public. It keeps going underground, and this year it's going to go underground again, and then it's going to emerge in a different form. Maybe a bit more of an intellectual form, rather than lots of people making white labels which is going to kill hard core.

"I don't mind if it keeps sticking it's head up in a commercial form, it's like a milestone which is when there's going to be a problem, because then nobody's interested in releasing any new records. As long as there's commercial success for big artists who don't mind being milked. It keeps the whole thing alive, and it keeps things moving. There's always going to be a commercial side, whether you get involved is up to you.

Top of the Pops, has become a disco show, and the charts are being swamped with low budget rave tunes. Dance music is certainly very visible at the moment, but is this stuff really an asset to the cause? "Top of the Pops is a showcase isn't it," says Peter, "A showcase for dodgy groups. That's the music business milking rave music, it's only to be expected. At least people are taking it seriously, if only because there's money in it."

Have you got any reactions on the new stuff back from the clubs "Yeah. I've seen DJ response sheets, whatever they mean, y'know `pumping tune', `Fords done better', `Fords back on Form'", he laughs, "What the fuck are they on about? Do they like it or what?

The response has been pretty good, I think. Doesn't mean anything though, it's if people can understand what you are trying to do, that's the important thing. If it works on the dance floor great, but it doesn't mean anything really, that's not really what I'm trying to do. I want it to work on the dance floor but I also want it to work on other levels too. I like to put ideas into it, rather that just have it be a five minute boogie.

"The root of what I'm trying to say with this is electronics is the basics for house. Disco is electronic machines. The interesting thing about House, Techno, whatever you want to call it, is that it's a cross fertilisation of a very black feeling in music for me. I've always been interested in a lot of early acid tracks Jack your body, a lot of stuff out of Detroit, Chicago made by black American musicians but, influenced by European groups. The way that they use machines is fascinating to me because it's never been done before, the whole point of Techno and House is that it's never been done, but people haven't realised this combination is a fascinating one. Its also relevant to the way we live our lives, it's about integration, and black and white understanding each others cultures.

"I hate people slagging off rave music and Techno, saying you can't listen to it at home, that's a load of crap. Get into stuff like D-Jacks from Endhoven, and Carl Craig in Detroit and you tell me that you can't listen to this at home. It just means you're ignorant and you've not really looked."

What separates the good stuff from the bad then? "It's just an attitude, that goes world wide as well people in Detroit, Carl Craig, Derrik May, understand that it's an attitude."

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