Due to the recent removal of my own artist page on Wikipedia which has existed for over a decade and is now linked ONLY to the Nymphomatriarch page against my wishes... it is time for me to set the record straight.
In the time before burgeoning social media platforms, artists usually relied on two major channels to disseminate their works to their intended audience. The dichotomy of underground music and mainstream fare stayed repellent to each other as both were charged with the same amount of intent, no matter the diverging message. Rarely, mass media would find one unknown to the majority of their public to champion and then to exploit. Knowing this, I spent the beginnings of my music career in the darker quadrants, preferring the anonymity to the pressures of what I had seen surrounding my friend´s more public careers. Music managers, preconceived posturing, and necessary involvement with unsavory alliances were never part of my scheme when I co-founded Zhark Recordings at age nineteen.
For those of you who are not familiar with my history in the world of Electronic Music, it all kicked of in Detroit´s abandoned warehouse parties in the early 90´s. Legendary, the parties remain almost mythic and have had a lasting impact on electronic music globally to this day. Being a regular fixture in the party scene was never a problem as a young girl, until I actually wanted to stop partying and learn how to use the synths most of my friends were using to program their tracks. At the time many of my friends were hunting out and collecting old analogue synths which were found for extremely low prices around the city, installing them in make shift studios and banging out beats. I never seemed to grasp why they wouldn´t include any of the women in their sessions. Not one to take things so personally, I set out to teach myself through reading about basics of synthesis, gear mags, and the occasional invite to join in. As with anything, if you have a passion and desire to do something - it just takes a concentrated effort to make it happen.
After releasing my first 12" in New York city, 1996, I made my way to Berlin on invitation of Alec Empire. Being offered a place to stay with Atari Teenage Riot´s Hanin Elias, I headed over both excited and even a bit intimidated, thinking that she must have so much experience in the studio with her having such a strong "riot-grrrl" role in the band. As this article is not meant to serve as a memoir, I will skip dwelling on the details of my experiences in this new environment except to say I had my first insights into the truths which lie behind the projected image many larger bands are coerced into portraying. Turned off by what I saw in terms of ATR´s management and internal conflicts, I continued to work on my own sound and study of programming - happy to have my own label to release on. Never one to be told how to live my life or even caring to make music which people actually enjoyed, I stayed true to creating dissonant pieces which were focused on leaving the listener uneasy at best.
Disharmonic and rife with Occult underpinnings, the work of Throbbing Gristle and their connected cohorts remain just as influential today as it was to me back in the early days of my electronic experiments. Presenting art and music to challenge instead of comfort always seemed to me to be the natural way to express myself. The industrial landscape in which I was reared was mirrored in my dusky compositions. Venturing further into my solo project as HECATE, I found myself naturally drawn to continue the work of my predecessors - formatting unsettling sounds up against a backdrop of twisted sexuality and occult art. In 2001, after several EPs my first full length LP entitled "The Magick of Female Ejaculation" was released and quickly put on the list of "pornographic" art by the German government which was confiscated from the distribution warehouse upon release.
By 2001 I had already had many communications with Nymphomatriarch´s Aaron Funk, and in fact had released him on Zhark the previous year. He first contacted me back in 1998 when I was studying in Vancouver BC, having heard I was working on new music in Canada at the time. Being based in Winnipeg, he sent me a demo for Zhark under the pseudonym Venetian Snares which I had to turn down as it was not anything I would release. Lacking any dark overtones his sound seemed more suiting to some of my other friends record labels. This demo would finally surface the year later on Low Res Records after I failed to shop it to both Ambush and Praxis, with both owners telling me to tell him to work a little harder and send a new demo then. In 2000, based back in Berlin once again, he finally succeeded in harnessing the attributes I needed from all of my artists, a dark menacing atmosphere and broken break beats. His "Salt" EP was very well received by not only the underground, but this time the owner of Ant-Zen/Hymen records who strangely enough only heard of his work because many people were asking if it was his own, being that his own artist name is S.ALT.
Directly after having found Aaron´s work through hearing his first European release on my label, Stefan Alt contacted him to make a new release on Hymen records, further widening his audience through the more Industrial channels. At the same time, I started working with Stefan Alt, as his interest in Zhark´s sound profile started to push him to release more break influenced releases. We scheduled plans to release a 7" of my own on Mirex, when I could find the time to record some material for him as I was already in the middle of three other solo releases. Breakcore at this time took on a life of it´s own and I subsequently found myself in the middle of it even though my work was conceptually rooted in more Industrial and Occult territories. Both Aaron and I were very busy releasing on multiple labels at this point, which led to me organizing his first ever European tour which I naturally joined in on. The workload I took on organizing several international artists and running another sublabel strictly dedicated to women in electronic music known as The Homewrecker Foundation never seemed like a job which is obviously why I was able to take on so much and always deliver a quality product while enjoying myself.
One thing the rather one-sided media gets right about Nyphomatriarch´s conception was that all sounds were synthesized from the minidisk recordings Aaron and I made on our "Re-Programming Tour". Living it up on the road included all the elements you would imagine to find, in this case our public seems focused on the "sex and drugs" aspect, naturally, as the media has a way of playing this up in its process of exploitation. One thing I have noticed... not one report or news outlet ever covered was how the actual record, which remains as some type of ground breaking production due to the concept, came into being. Somehow, in the biased world of sexist mass media, glossed over journalism and online "electronica" forums generally frequented by men many details which refer to my part in this project have been either completely deleted or falsified based upon personal shortcomings in dealing with intelligent women. At this point of writing, I can now finally take a breath and laugh to myself as I do know how this debacle which proceeds to haunt my life actually found its way into the world.
Believe it or not, my first contact with Industrial Ambient producer Lustmord took place only two hours before the historic terrorist attack of September 11th. Popping up on my chat window in my Berlin flat, he shared with me how he had heard of my music and we took it from there. Naturally, I was extremely excited that he would know of my work as I have always been a huge fan of his collaborators from SPK and his own solo ambient albums. We planned on making a collab project that would start first, due to our distance, with me remixing his albums. The concept I came up with based upon the minimalistic approach he took to his sound was to remix the entirety of each individual album into one individual track. Having mentioned it to Stefan Alt, who I was in close contact with at that time, he offered to release it as soon as I could have the finished material to him. Knowing that the audience both Hymen and Ant-Zen catered to held Lustmord in very high esteem and had an open mind in so far as break based music was going at that time, I happily agreed to the terms while I finished off my first 7" for his sublabel under the name Raquel de Grimstone. Upon hearing the finished tracks, both Stefan and Lustmord were so enthusiastic we all decided to go one step further and work towards getting me to Los Angeles to record a full length collab in his studio there.
At the still rather young age of 25 and having been given my first ever advance of 3,000eu, I set about on my travels to Los Angeles giddy with the promise of recording a full length with one of my longtime influences there. Needless to say, this collaboration fell apart in the length of 48 hours. Due to there being none of the equipment promised to record with, namely a good Mac running a current version of Cubase, and the subsequent complete meltdown of his computer system (naturally attributed to "bad vibes") within that short space of time - I quickly realized I would not be able to be comfortable working in this environment. Being based in the valley with no car of his own and his wife always at working outside of the house plus the rule that nothing could be recorded (if it was even possible at that point) after midnight - I had to arrange some other plan to get out of that situation. Having left my own computer behind in Berlin we had no way of recording in any case. Surely I was extremely unhappy to have to miss our plans to record with Cosey Fanni Tutti and Monte Cazzaza, more of my ultimate influences, but the whole thing seemed totally unworkable as our arguments increased. Being so young and alone in such a strange situation so far away from home, I turned to my friends who organized parties in LA where I was booked to play later that month. Making a late night call to Stefan Alt, I laid out the bad news and told him I would come up with a new plan.
Within three days of landing in Los Angeles with a ten week plan of staying there to record and play shows up and down the coast, I quickly found myself pulling what some friends were referring to as a "Sex Pistols" move. After talking to Aaron from Lustmord´s house in the valley, explaining how uncomfortable I felt there, we conceived a plan so I could get out of there and we could see each other as I was already on that side of the world. The easiest way we could work out would be to tell the owner of Ant-Zen that his money on my advance was not totally wasted, as we were set to make a release out of the recordings we made on tour, even though it was originally only a "tour joke". As it was common knowledge we were sexually involved on the tour, Stefan jumped at the chance and agreed to send me even more money for the recording as well as pay my flights up to Winnipeg. Everything seemed to be sorted and make sense even though the gravity of what we were to set out upon had not even begun to sink in. On my third day in LA, I quickly moved into a Dj Baseck´s art loft in Hollywood, happy to have somehow rearranged a promising new release with one of my best friends and still be able to play my gigs on the West Coast with a safe place to stay.
As mentioned above, this piece remains far from a being an autobiographical work. The impetus to even delve back into this subject, lays primarily in the fact that since programming and finishing up this rather new website, my wikipedia artist page has been removed. Even with several of my friends and fans writing to them, they refuse to put it up and remain steadfast in only linking it the Nymphomatriarch release, siting my page for having lacking "sources" whilst the page I am now linked to has not one. Not only is the page which represents Nymphomatriarch filled with one-sided media clippings concentrating on rehashed promo texts, it also has no information about me as an artist which I find rather unsettling. From the succinct text I have already penned, you can see the release had more to do with my own life than with Venetian Snares. No matter, this is once again just another example of how disproportionate and slanted the media treats independent and forward thinking women. This tale has many facets, not all negative, as I still stand by my releases and remain proud of the immense release history I have been responsible for over the past twenty years. Moving on with what sounds like fiction, with over a decade between now and this release, let me present you with the conclusion to how this debacle unfolded as it hit the public.
Upon informing our fans over the "IDM" message boards that I had arrived in the destitute city of Winnipeg to get to work over the next weeks on this new release, word quickly leaked that our new offering would be based on the sounds of our European tryst. Not only would we be sampling some moans to place over the common Amen break which surely had been done before. We confirmed and set upon crafting every single drum hit, choir, bass jab, etc out of these rather twisted field recordings. The process at times was grueling, of course others were pure magick in themselves. We both took turns sequencing and synthesizing, sometimes with time constraints to make it more interesting. Until I came down pretty ill and had to visit the hospital, subsequently finishing up the last part of my stay wasted on Morphine, we worked diligently until I had to hit the road and go back to California to play my shows. By this time, people were begging for clips and more info, Stefan Alt was being inundated with press questions and quite naturally most armchair producers cracked their jokes about us having sex. All in all the entire LP actually took almost a year to be completed based around following breakup of Aaron and I (for reasons quite outside of this albums domain) and at one point almost never saw the light of day. We finally agreed to just release it as Hymen had invested so much into it, and we had both moved on to other things.
I will never forget the week my phone in Switzerland started ringing off the hook. Granted, the week before "our" interview in Playboy magazine, which not very surprisingly contained no quotes from myself had hit the press. With the first call from a US based friend asking me why Jay Leno was making jokes which contained my full name, and talking about "what would she ever do with a solo career" I hung up the phone quickly, finishing my joint in my Swiss music studio thinking... "this must be a joke". After the fifth call that week from overseas friends I quickly realized it wasn´t, and had made the rounds into other stand-up comedians monologues also in London. Next thing I knew, I had television shows in the UK inviting me on to parade me as some type of new found sex novelty. Knowing this could only end in more one sided, sexist exploitation I made my stance clear with few "fuck off and die" responses and got back to recording and releasing as usual. Surely it was still pretty funny to have people pick up their London TV guide and have to read about my sex life, and being awarded a British honour of being the years best new sound instrument but after waiting almost 9 months the music press were set to slate it, no matter what they were offered. Back in my twenties, I had an irrational temper when it came to being in magazine shops and finding my friends being mentioned in them as the journalists always seemed to regurgitate the same stock text and this time it was really no different.
Six months later I received an email from a colleague of mine with the subject line "Congratulations". As I had absolutely no idea what he was referring to, he replied with sending me a link to the coveted ARS Electronica 2003 Awards website. It appeared that Aaron and I had won an honorary award for our LP, however upon further inspection there was absolutely no mention of me as it was listed as "NYMPHOMATRIARCH - AARON FUNK". Thats it. No word from Aaron. No word from Hymen. No word from the supposedly well established Austrian foundation. In fact, I would have never known, unless my friend who was based in Austria had seen it. As soon as I contacted them I was told "oh, well now we will have to change the book we are about to publish and by the way, we are releasing one of your songs on the forthcoming CD". Although they slowly fixed the website to reflect my contribution and "had to fix" the almost published book to include me, I still do not even know which song of ours they put on the CD - and only in 2009 when I was in Linz to perform for the European City of Culture did I even get a copy of the book after making it known how badly they treated me and what I thought of their organization. It is despicable enough to not be given the credit as a co-producer and co-writer of an LP I had just as much to do with as my male counterpart, but to be once again exploited and treated as badly as the mainstream press by an upstanding intellectual foundation still works to make my blood boil.
It is unfortunate that now at this juncture, fourteen years after the fact, I have to return to the somewhat traumatic results of this album only because Wikipedia refuses to restore my artist page for unknown reasons. In the time since the Nymphomatriarch release, I continued to have many solo releases and collaborations while touring the entire globe with my work as HECATE and also went on to very notable work as a lyricist and stage performer for Austria´s most internationally know Metal band, BELPHEGOR, with whom I have worked for 10 years and on five LPS. It is a shame and also a disservice to treat one of the rare and invaluable women in Extreme Music (of any genre) like this. I urge readers of this article to forward it on to Wikipedia and/or supplement the site with information either found here or on other sites to rectify this situation. Share and Repost! Surely, if this can happen to me, it can happen to you or one of your friends. Do not let the system of #fakenews and sexist music journalists decide what you are worth.