Adrian D. Rataj is an old school electro master and the prince of the
vocoder. Based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire in England, he became
known in the late 90s with a series of outstanding releases on Ed DMX's
well respected label Breakin' Records and has recently worked with the
labels FBI Records (available soon at Templeplate) and Dominance
Electricity. His newest ep, "Future Funk" on Dominance is out now
and the time has come for his first interview...
TPK: Pleas,e describe the musical journey you have taken so far. What are your biggest influences?
Mandroid - It would be around 1981
when I first started to appreciate music fully. I heard stuff on the
radio in the late 70s and early 80s that I thought sounded unusual yet
melodic. Kraftwerk's "The Model", Landscape's "Einstein A Go-Go" for
example. By 1983 I had become hooked on this sound. The Streetsounds
electro vinyls were regularly swapped between myself and schoolmates
around 1984/85 and I met a guy who worked in a computer shop (Lez, what
you up to now??), who was also a breakdancer. I was able to get hold of
mixtapes from him and that's how I got to find out about all the more
obscure hiphop electro available at the time. When I got a tape with
Egyptian Lover and Pretty Tony on it, I was blown away, I must have worn
it out fully. I got my first drum machine, a TR-606 and a couple of
Technics 1210s in 1989, then over the years I built up a collection of
classic 70s and 80s analogue synthesizers and a love for the TR-808 drum
machine. Some songs/artists that influenced me most were: Egyptian
Lover "Dance" and "Girls", Pretty Tony "Get Some", Jonzun Crew "Pac
Jam", Harold Faltermeyer "Axel F" and "Shootout", Paul Hardcastle
TPK: You were also a breakdancer, I heard. What got you to it and what were your best moves?
Mandroid - First off I got into
electro music, and then the natural progression was to start
breakdancing. I also like poppin' and robotix. My best moves were
power windmills and electric boogie. I was part of a breakdance crew in
Leeds in 1998, "Defcon 5". We had a regular spot at the Leeds
University Club - "The Faversham", we used to break there every weekend.
TPK: How did you get in contact with Ed DMX / Breakin' Records to release your first record?
Mandroid - I just
sent him a demo after getting hold of a copy of his first Breakin'
release "DMX Bass" in 1997. He called me up, said he liked the demo,
even though it was a bit raw. Later that year, he released the first
Mandroid 12" "Retrospect", including his remix of "Jammin' On My Old
Piano". He somehow even managed it to make the release become "Record Of
The Month" at the Virgin Megastore in London. Big thanks to him for
TPK: How would you describe the sound of your own productions today?
Mandroid - Future retro electro
funk. "New school Electro" is too much of a broad term, there are so
many subgenres and my style is just one of many styles of electronic
music available today.
TPK: On your
first album "Electro Freaks Rehab Clinic" there's a song called
"Analogue Addict". I hear a lot of beautiful analogue vintage sounds in
What synthesizers do you use and what do you think makes them superior to all the modern easy to get VST software synths?
Mandroid - The
main synthesizers I am using at the moment are the Prophet VS, Studio
Electronics SE1-X, OSCar, Pro One and Juno 106. I still prefer analogue
hardware to software synths. I still think the real time interaction is
better with hardware, no messing about with setting up midi controllers
to specific tasks or latency problems either. I've been using an Apple
Mac for drums and sequencing for the past few years, replacing the
trusted MPC2000. Maybe in the future I would go all software if a laptop
could run loads of real high quality synthesizers with a great control
interface and no latency or compatibility issues. For now I'm happy
with my hardware though.
TPK: "Driving In My Turbo Mini" is probably one of your most memorable songs.
Do you still drive the Mini? What's so special about those little cars?
Mandroid - Yes, I still go for blasts in the little
bugger. I like tuned minis because they corner excellently and have a
good power-weight ratio, so they accelerate real fast. I love it when
executive types pull alongside me in their big gas guzzlers looking down
on my little mini like it's a piece of shit, then it out-accelerates
them... must really piss 'em off. Power to the people! Support the
TPK: I notice a lot Science Fiction themes in your music. What are your favourite movies in this genre?
Mandroid - Some of my favourite films and TV series
include Star Wars (original trilogy), Blakes 7, Doctor Who (Tom Baker
era), Killer Klowns From Outer Space, Bladerunner, Terminator, Aliens,
Logan's Run, Silent Running, Mad Max 2, .I like most of the 70s/80s
TPK: On your newest release, "Future Funk" EP on the German
label Dominance Electricity, there's a song called "Population
Overdrive". The Lyrics go "Population Overdrive, only the strong will
survive. The Planets resource is running out, our evolution is in
doubt". In a way, this reminds me of the classic 70s sci-fi movie
"Soylent Green", about the fear of over-populated cities. What do you
think our world will look like in 100 years?
Mandroid - If we can't sort out all the religion
based problems we face, then it may look like a scene from Mad Max 2,
post nuclear apocalypse.Alternatively, if global warming keeps up and
populations keep growing dramatically then in the future we will have
less land area to live, with more people to occupy it. Governments will
restrict families to two children and food will be rationed because of
problems with farming the land and the population growth...
TPK: What about your own near musical future?
Mandroid - There's possibly a collaboration EP on FBI
Records with Remixes by Sbassship and Sblesplex.
I will probably change style a little after this EP and go more
synthesizer melody based like Jean-Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream,
Kraftwerk and like the older early eighties, late 70s style synth pop.
Definitely looking forward to that. I also really enjoyed the
previous Mandroid EP on FBI and your track "Machine Made" on the Global
Surveyor Album on Dominance. Anything else you would like to say?
Mandroid - "Special thanks to Ed DMX (Breakin
Records), Santino & Stjarna (Fundamental Bass Intelligence),
Matthias Weise (Dominance), Exzact and Mossadon for creating
the electro alliance / electro empire communities for all things
Thank you for this interview and good luck in the future.