Robin Rimbaud / Scanner – “I also collected a host of reel-to-reel players, video editors and projectors. Don’t worry I don’t invite friends round to show them my holiday slides though”


Those metal stylish shelves are amazing, I think you’ll get some message after this post from people that will ask “where did you buy them?” The one with castors is somehow mysterious, as I see a sort of grey curtain behind it… and bricks on the wall on the upper left. What’s behind that? Why do you bring around those gorgeous boxes of Lustmord, Pierre Henry, Tomahawk, King Crimson and so…?

Amusingly they are far from exotic and unusual, having been bought at popular Swedish furniture shop IKEA! I live in a former textile factory in the UK and the grey curtain covers one of the entrances, so the entire case can be wheeled out if necessary for a special delivery or access! It’s clever really 😀 As to the box sets of artists – I’ve been been an obsessive listener and collector and want to hear everything from an artist, so once I’m interested I need to hear and acquire everything! The sets reflect the music I’ve grown up with and continue to listen to today. The Vinyl on Demand label produced some extraordinary boxsets of rare industrial and experimental music from a host of artists and I treated myself over the years!

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Ah! Funny, Ikea stuff… I don’t remember to have seen these red ones in any other ‘records room’ I’ve visited, not even in the Ikea stores. I’ll check them out one day… Anyway: yes, I’ve noticed the huge gorgeous boxes you have, including the SPK ones… are these including the infamous video for “Despair”? I’ve recently met Piero Bielli of ADN Records that saw it in the ’80s and confirmed me that is really for a strong stomach. I never had the courage to check it out, in spite of the love I have for that band (“Leichenschrei” is a masterpiece for me). What’s your favourite ‘thing’ from Graeme Revell production? As you, he did many different things, from burning skulls on stage to Hollywood blockbuster’s OSTs…

No videos included in the SPK but perhaps that’s a good thing 🙂 I have indeed seen most of these films. I remember treasuring the VHS tapes of them when they came out, drawn by the idea of viewing the unseeable! I agree about “Leichenschrei” too, an utter classic. I have most of their releases on vinyl, LPs and 7” singles. A favourite from his productions? Difficult to say really. Outside of SPK I remember loving “The Insect Musicians” (1986) when it first came out and often return to that, especially drawn in by the exotic soundscapes he produced on this.

I’m obviously not surprised to see a lot of classical, contemporary or concrete music (Stockhausen, Messiaen, Bartòk…) but, well, it’s somehow funny to see those names not far from ACDC. Do you like them so much? Do you have – as many – a hard rock/metal background in your musical youth?

Like many people my tastes are eclectic. Besides the AC/DC you will find sets of Hafler Trio recordings for example. From popular to extremely esoteric. In fact I attended the last ever London concert with Bon Scott, the former singer of AC/DC in 1980, as I went with my older brother. Curiously over the years I’ve returned to their extremely bluesy and funky music and even appeared on a Dutch TV documentary talking about the band and performing several cover versions of their songs! Ah, the absurdity indeed!

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Scanner doing AC/DC covers for the Dutch TV? This is new to me! You collaborated with industrial-related artists such as GX Juppiter-Larsen/The Haters… and on the other hand you worked on the music of Wayne McGregor’s theatre show for “Kirikou et Karaba”. It’s true that “like many people” your tastes are eclectic, but I’m not sure it’s so common to have such a wide range of productions! You think you changed in time, you have a double/multiple nature (as – again – many people or musician) or you just like to try as many creative experiences as possible? Anyway, I peeked in your shelves to find some African music record but I failed… are they hidden or Youssou N’Dour and Ali Farka Touré are not really your cup of tea?

Yes my productions are so incredibly varied. At one point I’m designing sounds for Cisco telephones that will be heard in every office around the globe, at another collaborating with an orchestra on a new project. I’m truly fortunate to have these opportunities of course. I love collaborations and the learning process involved in every single aspect. For example at the moment I’m working in a remote Scottish village, running recording workshops with children aged 11-13, whilst interviewing elderly fishermen about their memories of being at sea, all leading towards a new installation opening in late June in Fife.

You searched for hidden African music? Well you’d find all manner of releases in my shelves. I never shared the photo of my CD shelving which holds several thousand releases, covering all manner of styles too. You’ve only seen the vinyl! Having said that the vinyl holds everything from Organum to Queen, from Thin Lizzy to Cabaret Voltaire. Yes, completely and utterly eclectic! The same with my large book collection, DVDs and film choices 😀 I’m not embarrassed by any of it as it’s all a reflection of who I am, or even was at a certain point in time.

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Oh God, so you also have CDs? Funny, as Taylor Dupree, that I’m interviewing in parallel with you, just made the opposite: he sent me only pictures of his CDs!
In fact, I was asking myself if you were an LP lover only… plus the boxes. About them, I saw quite a lot of another classic band, rather far from SPK: King Crimson. They also have changed their styles many times, and it was funny to me when I met here Paul Lemos of Controlled Bleeding. He’s a big fan of Fripp & Co., but he has been was very straight declaring that:

“I don’t like “Discipline”, “Three of A Perfect Pair” and “Beat”.
King Crimson died for me with the great Wetton, Bruford, Fripp line up. I dislike Adrian Belew in this band. For me, he and Tony Levin were sterile players, best as studio back up players. Belew was great on Talking Heads “Remain in Light”, but as a singer/frontman, I could not stand him!”

What’s your opinion on that?

How amusing that Taylor only sent images of CDs. Ah, yes King Crimson, an eternal favourite of mine. A band I began listening to at school and continue to listen to today. Interesting opinion that Paul Lemos has, but actually what has always appealed to me about King Crimson was this sense of a band in constant creative flux, whose most accessible albums such as “Beat” and “Discipline” continue to feature in live sets to this day. There’s not a single album of theirs that I dislike. They each offer a picture of a band at a particular moment in time. Even their raw live album “Earthbound” is an amazing capturing of a band literally on fire!

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I like asking about other stuff I see in the pictures… so it seems that you have a lovely slide projector, right? Are you using it for an artistic purpose I suppose…

I do indeed have a gorgeous slide projector and a host of other film equipment in the basement. A lot of it I bought from a local farmer whose father had died. I collected a host of reel-to-reel players, video editors, projectors, and so on for a bargain £20. Don’t worry I don’t invite friends round to show them my holiday slides though, ha ha!!

British artist Scanner has released albums ranging from ambient electronic music through to touring the music of Joy Division with a full orchestra. His diverse body of work includes soundtracks for film, dance, radio, and site-specific multimedia installations over the last twenty-six years. He has collaborated with Bryan Ferry, Laurie Anderson, The Royal Ballet and Carsten Nicolai. His work Salles des Departs (2003) is permanently installed in a working morgue in Paris.

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