Louder Than War Interview: We talk to the people behind a fascinating new documentary about industrial music
Currently in post production and due to be released properly late 2014 “Industrial Soundtrack For The Urban Decay” has all the hallmarks of another fascinating documentary about music. The film traces the origins of Industrial music, of a group of musicians who “…rejected major labels, mass media and mainstream culture to invent a culture of their own.” It features contributions from a “who’s who” of important industrial bands, such as Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, NON, SPK, Test Dept, Clock DVA, and it promises to be a great watch. Louder Than War sat down with the makers of the film, Amélie Ravalec & Travis Collins to find out more about it.
“It basically showed how agressive noise elements can become part of popular culture” … Graeme Revell of SPK.
First though the trailer:
Louder Than War: What was it that made you decide to produce a documentary on this subject?
Amélie Ravelac: There have been some good documentaries made about the current industrial scene and documentaries about specific artists or bands, however I’m yet to see a detailed documentary about the industrial movement. This is why I decided to make this film.
Travis Collins: I met Amelie at her Berlin screening of Paris / Berlin: 20 Years Of Underground Techno and we both shared a passion for bands like Cabaret Voltaire, In The Nursery and Throbbing Gristle. I never considered working on a film, but after meeting Amelie and seeing the great film she directed and produced herself, we decided to start working on this project together.
Could you give a little information on yourself, background, education and other work?
Amélie Ravelac: I directed and edited my first film over three years. I started by interviewing some of my favorite DJ’s, producers and labels from the techno scene, and then realised it had the potential to become a film. I spent two years editing and learning the process of documentary filmmaking. Paris / Berlin: 20 Years of Underground Techno was released in 2012. The documentary was well received worldwide and I was lucky enough to get screenings in Europe, USA, Asia and Australia.
I co-founded a public utility foundation in 2011, Fondation Sonore, hosting events in Brussels, Belgium focusing on industrial techno and experimental music. We also turned it into a record label two years ago and are about to release the soundtrack to Paris / Berlin in a few weeks. I also work as a freelance video editor and colorist.
Travis Collins: As a child I would use my lunch money to buy cassette singles and built an elaborate sound system of amplifiers and speakers to play my favourite music. After school, I started working in a record store, studied business and I learnt how to DJ. It was Stephen Mallinder from Cabaret Voltaire who inspired me to get on the radio. Mal, who was living in Perth at the time, invited me onto his radio program. Mal passed the show onto me and I continued to host the program from 2003 to 2012. During this time I was studying radio and international politics at university while working in an art house cinema. Making this film has tied in all of my passions, I owe Amelie for that.
Was there a highlight for you whilst making the film? And who was your favourite interviewee?
Amélie Ravelac: It was great to meet all the artists. I had a very good time in the North of England, meeting Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti and seeing their amazing studio with Chris’s extensive collection of modular synths. Sheffield and Manchester are places I’ve always wanted to visit too. While in Sheffield, we interviewed In The Nursery and Hula who were very friendly and welcoming.
Travis Collins: Coming from one of the most isolated cities in the world, traveling Germany, UK, France and Belgium to make this film was a real eye opener. I’d spent my whole life reading about the cultural movements of these countries so it was a life changing experience to finally visit these places. My favourite place to visit was just outside Normandy in France, a small village where Sordide Sentimental founder Jean Pierre Turmel is based. He was such a host, cooking me and Amelie a traditional French lunch and giving us a tour of the city.
Could you tell me more about the process of documentary making? What has the funding process been like? How long does this sort of project take from inception to release?
Amélie Ravelac: I was thinking about directing a documentary about industrial music for a few years. A couple of months after releasing Paris / Berlin, I decided to start a new film and that was it. Travis and I talked it through for a couple of days and then I contacted all the artists asking for interviews. Two weeks later we started shooting! It took us about six months to record all the interviews. After that I started editing, which takes a while as I have about 30 hours of footage.. We financed it with the profit I made from my previous documentary and a few friends that have been generous enough to help. Paris / Berlin took me 3 years to complete but I’m hoping to be finished within 2 years for this one.
Travis Collins: I am now focussing on finding an audience for this film, We are so happy for the support we have received since releasing the trailer, there have already been many screening requests. We have applied for so much funding already but will have to wait and see. Funding would really help speed up the process and cover our expenses for making the film, but regardless, we are happy that we have an audience and that the film will be released later this year.
Do you have a dream project you would like to realize in the future? And are there any upcoming projects in the pipeline for you?
Amélie Ravelac: After releasing this documentary I’d like to start working on a feature film.
Travis Collins: I’m working with Amelie on a dream project of mine, a pitch for a science TV program for kids. I have a huge passion for science and science fiction. I’m great with kids, I have three nieces, they have a thirst for knowledge and I love how they question everything.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Amélie Ravelac: Everyone I interviewed in my films have had a big influence on me. Coil is my all time favourite band, I only wish I had met them. I’m also into 80s post-punk and synthwave, dark ambient music like Arcana and the label Cold Meat Industry, cinematic composers Clint Mansell or Angelo Badalamenti, hip-hop like Dalek or Ramadan records. I also read a lot of books so that’s a big influence. I love British and Scottish writers especially– John Burnside, Irvine Welsh, Jonathon Coe… American writers too, Hubert Selby, William Burroughs… I collect art books on many different subjects too, industrial architecture, DADA, obscure fanzines, early russian films, surrealist painters…
Travis Collins: As a child, Bowie and chart music were big influences. Andrew Weatherall has also been a big influence over the years, introducing me to bands like Throbbing Gristle, Suicide and Silver Apples. Working in a record store and reading a lot of music history books, I have a diverse record collection and dj many genres of music. I learnt a lot about industrial music through Amelie and in making this film. I used to spend my time breaking new music on my radio program, but now I am more excited to go back an explore the influences.
Why is documentary important, why should we make documentaries?
Amélie Ravelac: I think documentaries are one of the best ways to record the past and archive it for the future. Otherwise a time will come where those things will be long forgotten. They’re also a good way to look back into a cultural movement and draw links between common influences.
Travis Collins: I worked in a cinema for 10 years. I love films, and documentaries have always inspired me. Industrial music fans would love this film to be a ‘Industrial Culture Handbook’ on the big screen and so would we but after working on this film and hearing about the process for Amelie’s first film Paris:Berlin, I now realise that documentaries are not just about documenting history or a cultural movement, its also a personal journey capturing a snapshot the music that inspires us.
To find out how you can support this film go here: How will you support the film?
All words by Philip Allen. More writing by Philip for Louder Than War can be found in his author’s archive.