[ there's no place like home ]
by Mark Teppo

I've been a fan of Nicolas Chevreux's work for a few years, first as an invaluable source of news and information about records in which I've had a passing interest, and, more recently, in the music which his label, Ad Noiseam, has been releasing. Based in Germany, Nicolas found the Internet as an outlet for playlists of his radio show, Totentanz, and then as an opportunity to spread the love about music which he liked. His webzine, Recycle Your Ears, is more than just a review site, it also contains a wealth of news and a lively forum where Nicolas and the friends which he has made over the years gather to talk about music, politics, art, literature, and the like. Running through all of this is one thread: Nicolas loves music. Maybe, I have to admit, more than I do.

As a label, Ad Noiseam has been releasing records since 2001. The initial compilation, Krach Test, was a three CD-R set encompassing a large expanse of the rhythmic noise, power electronics, harsh ambient, and glitch ambient genres. Since Krach Test, Nicolas has been releasing work that fulfills one simple criteria: it is something that he likes. Whether it be dark ambient, glitch minimalism, electro-acoustic guitar work, rhythmic noise, breakcore, or experimental soundscapes, Nicolas strives to release music which will aurally stimulate your ears. And, frankly, he has succeeded admirably. Each one of his releases has been distinct from the others and, while you can certainly try to pigeonhole the sound of Ad Noiseam, Nicolas will -- sooner than later -- surprise you.

And isn't that what we want from our music anyway?

I caught up with Nicolas shortly before the opening show of the recent Tarmvred and Iszoloscope Do America tour. While Tarmvred ran through a sound check, Nicolas proceeded to set up the Ad Noiseam merchandise booth, all the while chatting amiably with me and the staff of the club. There was a very real sense of community around the booth that night as people came and visited Nicolas. I don't know if he has ever been to Seattle before, but you wouldn't have known that from the number of people who came to visit. As Iszoloscope and then Tarmvred shredded the sound system with their powerful rhythmic noise sets, Nicolas sat haloed in the red light of the booth, smiling and nodding. The very picture of a man doing what he loves.

[ nicolas chevreux - ad noiseam ]
photo by mark teppo

It's your second anniversary this week, isn't it?

Nicolas Chevreux: Almost. Our second birthday is the 18th of April, actually, and we'll be playing Dallas that day. Krach Test -- the first record on Ad Noiseam -- came out on April 18th, 2001.

You've done 24 records in two years. What emotion comes to mind when I say that statistic? Elation? Exhaustion? Surprise? When Krach Test came out, did you think that you would have 24 releases on your label in two years?

Nicolas: No, no. When I worked on Krach Test, I didn't even have in mind the idea of creating a label. I thought it was going to be just a one shot project. I had no idea how to do it. I had no idea how successful it was going to be or if it would be a total failure. The idea of creating a whole label came when I saw how much people were enjoying the first compilation and that I enjoyed working on it. How did I come to release 24 CDs in two years? Well, there was so much good music to listen to.

How did the compilation come about? I was looking at it today and for a one shot "gosh, this'll be fun to do" project, you certainly have all the major players in these genres represented. How did you approach everyone?

Nicolas: I had been doing this webzine, Recycle Your Ears, for a couple of years and, through that, I had been approached by bands who were already confirmed acts who I had come to know in person or through the good demos which I had received. I didn't have a label at the time, but I wanted to help them. I wanted to point people towards them, to make people listen to them.

So, I was pretty bored one day and thought, "Why not do a CD compilation?" I could take a few tracks from these demos and ask my other friends and musicians from these other projects for contributions. I would do a small CD-R release and I only wanted to call it the Recycle Your Ears Compilation at that point. And then I think I sat down and wrote a list of all the projects I wanted to approach and I ended up with 30 or 40 names.

This is why it became a three-CD set: everybody said yes. I was really surprised. I thought a lot of bands would have said that they didn't have the time or weren't interested, but everyone was very nice to work with. I think there was one project who said that they didn't have the time to work on a compilation track. Yeah, everything went very, very smoothly; everyone was very nice to work with.

[ krach test - ad noiseam first release
[ give a listen! ] Needle Sharing
"Porno Dub" MP3

It seems that the Tarmvred record has done very well. How much of a surprise was it that you got that record and no one else did?

Nicolas: It was a huge surprise. [Smiles] What's interesting about the Subfusc album is that -- obviously through the contacts that I had and the kind of music that it is -- it was initially recognized as a rhythmic noise record, similar to Ant-Zen and Hands -- bands like Winterkalte, Converter, Imminent Starvation -- and, while it isn't a "famous" CD, for a year or so it has been breaking into other scenes. People who are into drum 'n' bass, who are into breakcore, into noise, are checking it out. I think Tarmvred was pigeonholed at first as being a pure rhythmic noise act like Converter, and now I get e-mail's from people who have never heard of Converter and who are into Subfusc. In Berlin, there is still a strong DHR -- Digital Hardcore -- scene and fans of Alec Empire, who have never heard of Winterkalte or Converter, are buying Subfusc and liking it.

Have you heard from anyone else in the industry: "Damn, I wish I had gotten that record."

Nicolas: It has happened. At first, we wanted to do 100 copies on CD-R. But it was so good and both fans and other bands and labels wrote to me that it was a very solid album and, even so, people are still buying it and discovering it two years later.

Subfusc has been repressed several times already. We did a 3-inch CD-R of Tarmvred called Onomatopoeic that was repressed. The Panacea, Tarmvred, and Needle Sharing release has been repressed already as well. I hate it when I want to buy a CD and it is sold out, so I don't want that to happen to other people.

[ tarmvred - onomatopoeic EP ]

Jonas Johannson (Tarmvred): I would imagine that if you sold out of Subfusc again, that you wouldn't re-press it, would you?

Nicolas: Probably not immediately because distributors would still have copies of it. The day that nobody has any copies and people still want to buy it, I would re-press it.

As a label, Ad Noiseam really has this mysterious quality to it, this sense of "what is Nicolas going to release next?" Even looking at the display which you've laid out for the merchandise booth, you can see there is a design aesthetic which matches each release as an individual unit and isn't so concerned with stamping out a branded product. Is picking each release simply a matter of "gosh, I like this" or is there a greater scheme at work?

Nicolas: I listen to a lot of music and I have pretty wide tastes. I'm not a musician -- I don't write music -- and releasing an album is a lot of work for me. But I don't want to work on something that I don't like. The only criteria for me to release a CD on Ad Noiseam is whether I like the record or not. Whether I really like it or not. That's why the releases have been so different. I don't even know what I'm going to release next. I might release a hip-hop CD or a metal CD.

Jonas: By looking at the discography of Ad Noiseam, you can see your own taste, in a way. They're always coming in blocks. Like "here's three ambient CDs."

Nicolas: Yeah, which shows that I'm listening to more ambient music at that time. Yeah, that's true. I've got shifting tastes, too. I want to have fun working on the label and I don't want to pigeonhole bands into genres. That's why there is no sub-label. There is just Ad Noiseam. There is no sub-label dedicated to hard rhythm. There is no sub-label dedicated to ambient music. I would like people to enjoy the music and to trust me, in a way. It's slightly pretentious, but I want them to trust that I will release something that will have a certain quality.

That's why you have something like Subfusc with the hard, distorted beats and then, down the road, you have the Magwheels which is full of guitars and is very calm. I have no idea what I'm going to release next, well, I know what I'm going to release next, but I cannot honestly tell you what I am going to release next year. There are some bands who have approached me and I've approached a few, but we'll just have to see.

[ magwheels - evebuildingbomb ]
[ give a listen! ] "For the Sunrise" MP3

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