(by Richard Noise, NME)
Possibly the most sought after New Beat artist, Jade is currently tussling with the
advances of a number of major record companies, all eager to create the new Piaf, Marlene
Dietrich or Madonna. Jade is no puppet though: "I don't want to be used -- I want to
do what I like. I don't want to become like Rick Astley or Kylie Minogue -- my producers
are not telling me what to do."
Quite so -- Jade has a lot of respect amongst her peers. Not only was she the first artist to release a New Beat album -- 'Jade's Dream' on Integrity -- she's also been involved in countless other projects. Moments Of Ecstacy, Lords Of Acid, Dirty Harry and Electric Shock all owe something to Jade.
"She's the queen of New Beat", waxes Maurice of Subway. Her background of strenuous touring, church singing, punk and jazz, alongside her involvement with the Indian-influenced Shakti sets her apart from the Beat pack.
"Although my record may be New Beat, it's still a little more than that. It has a structure to it; I still write lyrics, I find them important. Normally New Beat doesn't have soul in it -- what they are trying to say is we live in a technological century, so the music should be alike. I feel there's soul in my album."
It took Subway's Maurice Engelen almost a year to entice DJ Marc Grouls into a
recording studio. The result, In-D's 'Virgin In-D Skies', is one of the best slices of New
Beat available. He cites film music as a big influence ("because of the
atmosphere") and creates hardcore mood mosaics.
Success has been hard to take in: "It's very difficult for me to consider myself as an artist or a musician because I don't have the musical knowledge -- I only have a feeling to make people move and dance, the feeling I create as a DJ."
Marc notices a change in dancefloor attitude since the rise of New Beat. "The same amount of people are going to the clubs, but they're having a different kind of good time. They used to go and get drunk, maybe have a good fight -- that's gone. The tension is gone."
Marc is now in demand as a producer as well as a DJ; he's had faxes from Jellybean, remix offers from ffrr and Jive. He hopes this won't damage New Beat.
"I think New Beat is still in kid's shoes. We have to grow. I hope the media doesn't arrive too early -- we still have to learn a lot. This is the first time something like this has happened in Belgium. Hopefully New Beat has a longer life than punk because we can use influences from everywhere, recreate them around the beat. With Acid you need that sound; with New Beat you just need the beat -- you can do anything over it. An Eastern sound, an Indian sound, a British sound, an Italian sound...."
Jo Bogaert's musical path changed when he heard 16 Bit's hit 'Where Are You'. "It
was like a revolution to me" he recalls, "It made me free from conventional
ideas about dance music."
In May 1987 he released 'Hiroshima' under the name Nux Nemo, which became the first national New Beat Number One. Jo runs Clip Records and has worked on many projects by Acts Of Madmen, Kash In The East, Zerrocks and 4 For 4. He's even collaborated with Leicester 16-year-old Rock Smith on the New Egypt project.
Despite New Beat's chart success, Jo still thinks it is a minority. " 'Hiroshima' was a hit only through the discoteques. It still feels marginal despite the controversy."
Patrick de Meyer lives in the sleepy Belgian town of Den Der Monde, where he runs a
clothes shop with his wife. Up in the attic, however, is an array of equipment perfect for
the New Beat Creator -- Oberheims, Akais and Rolands are stacked all over the place.
Patrick released his first Turbo 99 track 'Amore Me Amore', a parody of Italian romance, with the help of a rich cousin. "We did it in a very drunk situation" he remembers.
The second releases, 'Don't Steal My Joy', reached Number Twelve, but after a couple of flops and line-up changes the name was slimmed to T-99 and the nucleus paired down to Patrick and collaborator Guy.
The first T-99 release, "Invisible Sensuality", displayed the strength of Patrick's classical training, whilst his 'Iuhaha' disc (as Tragic Error) rates as one of New Beat's biggest floor fillers.
"The art of being a good New Beat producer", according to Patrick, "is to find a hypnotising beat. Some people say New Beat is rubbish, but I'm working from nine to five in the studio and it's difficult to find something of interest, something that's hypnotising."
His influences range from Zappa to Stravinsky, Bartok to Front 242.
"I think that you can make New Beat with some culture in it, something that it's possible to listen to at home. New Beat has its qualities -- it simplifies all that busy universal dance music, condenses it into a very small area. It is simple but it has something to say."
This year alone the production trio of Morton Sherman Bellucci have produced over 30
New Beat 12-inchers. Names have varied from Fruit Of Life, Taste Of Sugar, Mission
Impossible to the Erotic Dissidents and an armful more, but all bear the undeniable MSB
stamp. Many have charted, just like the Stock, Aitken & Waterman set-up they initially
set out to ridicule.
"We think what they're doing is really dreadful, but we thought it was funny to make that link."
Their favorite projects are The Brothers, a Tackhead-influenced sound collage that scores with 'Brotherhmn', even if they can't spell, and the globally slanted releases on the World Today label. These cuts, from El Mori and Bulgarka, are "the most difficult ones", they say.
"They have a certain special atmosphere, sometimes gothic and huge, sometimes smooth and soft or oriental. It's difficult to create those atmospheres on a dance beat -- we don't want the beat to be prior to the atmosphere."
They've just released an album of Techno-related sounds, due here soon; production offers are rolling in. Their risque Erotic Dissidents show, which recently played to 12,000 people in Hassalt, can be seen regularly throughout Belgium.
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