Artist to Artist: Star-Kid and False Flag
For decades the Netherlands have continued to fly the flag for the machine funk rhythms and 808 kicks we term electro. More specifically, The Hague has continuously been a hub for producers and DJs moving in this musical sphere, as well as being the home of Bunker Records, Intergalactic FM and its station, Onderwereld.
Production duo Star-Kid, made up of Einfachfunk and Strakkah met in the late 90s at Blauwe Aanslag, a well-known squat in the city, where they would go on to throw their own Martian Arts parties in the basement. They began producing together around the turn of the millennium, which resulted in a debut on CellTec Records in 2006 with their aptly named New World Disorder EP, followed by releases for The Hoax City, Panzerkreuz Records and Bunker Records.
Recently they contributed a track to local label False Flag’s Holland Electro compilation, which rallied electro pioneers and newer talents for 17 tracks that reflect the quintessential Dutch underground sound. Following the release we got both parties to quiz each other on studio gear, the early clubbing days in the city and adapting to the “new normal”…
False Flag: Hey Ivo! How are you doing these days?
Star-Kid: I’m doing great. Last few months were a bit hectic with the daytime job but I found my way through it.
False Flag: First I thought Star-kid was only you but I found out on the interwebs that Star-kid is/was actually a duo. Is that still the case during the Corona outbreak?
Star-Kid: Star-kid can be anyone. We never stopped working together, so technically we’re still a duo. The other artist involved is Strakkah who is still an important part in our live gigs. We use the mixer as an “instrument”. We have a lot of guitar pedals and other effects and Strakkah takes care of that.
Strakkah comes from a socialist background; he lived in Nicaragua during the Sandinist revolution in the mid 80s. He has been through a lot of traumatic stuff and I know this is mainly the reason why he is having episodes of depression.
False Flag: The first release from Star-kid was ‘A New World Disorder’ on Celltec Records. Did you expect something big to happen?
Star-Kid: It was already a big mess in 2006… 😛 We didn’t really expect things but witnessed crazy stuff happening. I think it was meant as a cynical comment.
Star-Kid: But I’m also curious what you think of this title, “new world disorder”. Maybe in the context of what’s happening right now?
Flase Flag: Well, it’s shaken up the world in a way that the established order could come under great pressure. This pandemic will also probably lead to an economic crisis. The world order will have to suffer from that, because their system is then disrupted. Maybe, just maybe that can lead to a new world disorder. But I think that needs more tumult, because the current world order has its roots deep in the ground all over the world.
False Flag: How did you experience the last few months?
Star-Kid: I have friends working at ICU and the last few months were terrible for them. So many people died or lost loved ones by an invisible enemy. I’m a trained social psychiatric nurse and I work as a case manager. I see that these times of social distancing are not making a big difference to the people who are already very solitary.
On the positive side: in The Hague there are a lot of initiatives in the communities like free meal delivery to our elder citizens. This crisis makes people pretty social towards each other, as long as they are not in the cue for the supermarket.
I think a lot of us suffer from this new world disorder. All of a sudden there is a virus and everything becomes very insecure and we have to reinvent ourselves. We’ve become aware of our false sense of security and we realise what is really important.
Sometimes old structures have to be completely destroyed in order to make room for new ones to grow and flourish.
Star-Kid: What do you think about this time, guys?
False Flag: Yeah it is crazy. On the one hand it’s all really sad and frustrating. Like you said, a lot of stuff suddenly becomes very insecure, but when the whole world is turned upside down like this there becomes room for a hard reset. Everything was going so fast, and probably a lot of people did have the same routine for a long time, for years even. It could be good to slow everything down and re-think stuff, which is normally logical. I also have the feeling that it’s good for nature. Way less cars are driving around through the country, less airplanes etc. It looks like nature enjoys this.
False Flag: In the old days, when De Blauwe Aanslag (a notorious squat in The Hague) was still there, you organized parties in the basement, right? Unfortunately I never went to De Blauwe Aanslag – I was still too young. How were the parties there? Could you go there for a good party every week?
Star-Kid: We did our parties there around 98 to 2001. They were called “Space innovators” and were held once every month. There were some really good events at de Blauwe, varying from dub reggae to hardcore (punk) concerts and everything in between.
False Flag: I saw your party series over there was called Martian Arts. How many parties did you do?
Star-Kid: Martian Arts was the name of our “sound system”. We played acid techno and electro and were quite a success.
Soundsystem culture was really a thing in The Hague back then, for instance B.A.F. sound system with guys like Martijn Kipkillah (Antilounge, INDEx) and Moosz were also busy doing stuff around then. We all supported each other. This created a good musical environment.
False Flag: I found your Martian Arts site on the interwebs. I had quite a lot of fun surfing the site. It’s filled with nice stuff from 10-15 years ago. I also found your equipment list from that time! You had some classics like the Korg MS-10 and Roland SH-101, and the TB-303, and some other things like a Roland MKS-30, plus some gear I don’t know like the Ensoniq ASR-X. Do you still have and use gear from that period?
Star-Kid: Yes, the Ms-10 and Sh-101 were mine. The 303 was from a friend who left it at our studio for quite some time. I’ve had my hands on a shitload of gear but never owned really high end stuff back then. My philosophy on making music is very much leaning towards the DIY/ punk attitude. I use affordable, often underappreciated stuff and I love the quirks and limits that they usually have.
You have to imagine that you could still buy these now legendary machines for a good price in the mid nineties. The Ensoniq Asr-x is a good example of this. It was considered as “the poor man’s MPC”. It has a useless sequencer but great AD/DA converters, great digital filters and great DSP2 effects. And does some great 8 bit sampling. I love to use it for my drum tracks.
False Flag: What does your current setup look like?
Star-Kid: My Star-kid set up is: Roland Alpha Juno, Yamaha DX-21, Roland Sh01a (Replaced the old 101), Moog Minitaur, Novation Bass Station (mk1), X0XB0X (Modded, with rare parts), Korg MS 2000 (2x :Rack and Keys which I use to double polyphony), Roland Tr-707, Korg Volca Kick, Ensoniq Asr-x, Korg ESX and a shitload of effect pedals like EHX Big Muff and some Boss stuff.
For live gigs: Behringer Rd-8, Roland Tr-707, Roland TR-8, X0XB0X, Behringer Td-3, Roland Sh-01a.
So like I said before: nothing fancy – mainly very affordable stuff. There is a lot of other stuff in the studio.
False Flag: On the Holland Electro compilation, the title of your track is ‘SysEx’. That’s short for System Exclusive. Did you make the track with a synth that you have to program with SysEx messages, such as a Oberheim Matrix-1000?
Star-Kid: You can do a lot of fun stuff with Sysex. It is basically a way to send and receive data like parameter changes to a specified machine in a ten digit string of code within the MIDI protocol. We all use SysEx when we use software controllers to program hardware synths (that do not respond to Controller Changes). In this track I used the Roland Alpha Juno for the pad. I used SysEx to automate the Filter resonance.
False Flag: How does the programming via SysEx work? Is that something like midi cc messages? I know it only from sending data to synths, like samples or an update.
Star-Kid: There are many great uses of SysEx and it was pretty much al we had back in the days. It has some uses like program controller changes but the difference is that SysEx is a way to receive and send information. CC’s can only receive. With SysEx you can do system bulk dumps from your old synths to a computer. This way you can save your patches.
False Flag: Where does the name Star-kid come from?
Star-Kid: Back around 2000 I read an article by dr.Boylan about star children and star seeds. I was very intrigued by his theories and found this very inspiring. I want to ask you to do this little questionnaire: I suspect you of being star-kid / star seed too ;-).
False Flag: Wow yeah that site is indeed really interesting. I did the questionnaire and I had 12 points. The site told me I had to contact Dr Boylan. Maybe I will find out more about the Star-kid phenomen.
Buy Holland Electro.