Updated: Aug 12, 2019
Orbiting somewhere between Clermont-Ferrand (France), Valencia (Spain), and the Red Planet, Electro imprint Radio Mars has made a name for itself since 2006, thanks to a handful of almighty releases featuring Franck Sarrio, The Observer, and Kaleidophone/Drillerkiller.
On command of this serious imprint, is Ither LaZer, an optimistic Electro freak with serious musical roots and eclectic tastes. With the release of Radio Mars 005 from French producer Deemphasis, we had a talk with him regarding his roots, the way he manages the label and his intentions with Radio Mars for the future.
CN6: First of all, and this is an unavoidable question on Electric Kingdom, could you please introduce yourself a little bit? As far as you remember, how did you get into Electronic Music?
Ither LaZer: I was born in France in Clermont-Ferrand, son of Spanish immigrants. I currently live in both countries, but I'm a citizen of the world.
I’m lucky to have a big brother who introduced me directly into Electronic Music since very young. Also I have a twin brother, and together we were doing gym at a good level and our hobby was dancing Breakdance at the age of 10. As they set up events, shows, and contests (as per famous 80's Hip Hop shows).
Where did you grow up exactly? Do you remember the first piece of Electro music you acquired? How did you hook up with Raves parties?
I grew up in a town called Clermont-Ferrand, located in central France. It has the particularity of being in the middle of the largest chain of volcanoes in Europe, it's a permanent risk hahaha.
I think the first Electro record that I bought was "Break Machine – Street Dance". I was 8 years old and I still own it.
It was in 1990, when I was in Valencia, Spain, that I discovered "La Musica Bacalao". Acid House, Techno, Electro, EBM, were well in sight at the time, it was a big slap! From that moment on, I was used to Raves...
Tell us a bit more about your electronic roots and main influences. Who are your masters in Electro music for instance (past and present)?
I think my electronic influences come from the music of the 80's, my best time. That was great!!! Like Depeche Mode, A-HA, The Cure, Gap Band, Midnight Stars, Eddy Grant, Patrick Cowley, Michael Jackson, Secret Service, Kraftwerk, Jean-Michel Jarre, Ultravox, John Foxx and many many more.
My masters in Electro music in the past are Kraftwerk, Riuichi Sakamoto, Midnight Stars, John Foxx, Rah Band, and about present there are many but I would say Drexciya, Dopplereffekt, Ultradyne, Luke Eargoggle, Solitary Dancer, Franck Sarrio, The Observer, GITM and Deemphasis.
Great references!!! Seems like Electro is a way of living for you, am I right?
I would rather say that I cannot live without music, it's sure!! Electro is part of it, but music in general, it all depends on my mood. It helps me move forward whether it’s in good times or bad.
Your mixes are well-known for merging many musical influences ranging from Funk to Italo Disco, passing through Industrial in a completely homogeneous and educative way. You often mix hard to play classics and hard to find records. In a way, your approach reminds me of I-F.
Where does this passion for eclecticism come from? When did you start mixing?
I’m surprised and glad you ask me that kind of question! I often answer this question without being asked.
In the mid-90's, there was a lot of Techno music in Raves parties. We bought DJ sets on CD such as "X mix" or "Mix up". I remember buying Ken Ishi’s "Mix-up", this mix immediately changed my vision of deejaying. This mix is not clean, it has many faults, but it has something, the selection is perfect and there is genius in the construction.
Later I-F went through there, he came to Clermont-Ferrand in '98/99. It was a consecration, at this time he was like an UFO on the electronic scene, we needed this! I was going back to my origins.
You are French, but your roots are in Spain. How did your city, country, and/or surroundings influence your musical choices?
Valencia in Spain...there is a culture for Electronic Music and especially for Electro and EBM. In the early 80's after the Franco dictatorship, the Spanish people took advantage of it and highlighted music and dance. A lot of clubs opened on Fridays and closed on Mondays. Did you hear about "La Ruta Del Bacalao"?
No I never heard about it...
You should look at it on the web! :) At that time, the deejays were impressive, they were mixing all styles of Electronic Music like New Wave, Nu-beat, Synth-pop, Electro, EBM, and House from Chicago, it was awesome!!!!
In Valencia, there are also very good stores like "Ultrasound".
(Check out Ither LaZer's direct mix @ Ultrasound ).
Of course I believe in extra-terrestrial lifeforms! Besides, I find it pretentious to not believe it...
Let's talk about the founding of Radio Mars. Back in 2006, what motivated you to launch your own label and to release music? How did it all come about?
Radio Mars was born after the dissolution of our Crew "Twin". Twin organized parties and did a vinyl release "Electro_chok - Discover The Reality". This period lasted 7 years, from 1999 to 2006. Boris (SYROB) had a very underground music shop (with a lot of Electro records). It was our meeting point, where everyone met (DJ's, producers and organizers). We exchanged a lot, and each brought his knowledge. Artists from all over the world have come such as Steffi, Dexter, Ultradyne, Luke Eargoggle, Alden Tyrell, I-F, The Hacker, Dj Hell and many more...
The last party that we made was with Ultradyne and Luke Eargoggle at the same time in 2006.
I would like to point out that we also have our own world-renowned producers who have signed on to nice labels like Franck Sarrio (Bunker Records), Eedio (Bpitch Control), SYD (Viewlexx), Nancy Fortune (Viewlexx) and Electro_chok.
What’s the inspiration and philosophy behind Radio Mars? Is there a certain spectrum you want to stay within perhaps? What styles can a listener expect to find?
Radio Mars is dedicated to Electronic Music and obsessed by Electro music. First of all, I want to talk to the artists and get involved with them. Most of the artists of Radio Mars, I know them personally, we are mostly friends. I want unstructured music and unknown artists. The label is mainly Electro, but if an artist offers me Disco or Techno in the future, I wouldn’t say no! I don’t want to have to manage a sub-label to make another style, I like to be surprised.
Right! So we can expect new musical horizons and explorations in the future?
Anything is possible! I like all styles of music, I have no boundaries. If I like the music, I would have no problems with releasing it on vinyl. To be honest, it bothers me to listen to one style of music on a Dj set.
Why the name Radio Mars? Do you believe in extra-terrestrial lifeforms? Beings from outerspace with hostile intentions perhaps?
The name of the label "Radio Mars" does not come from me. It comes from the title of this record "The Maggotronics - Radio Mars". I'm lucky to have this record. The first time that I read this title, I was immediately hung up, I'm a fan!!!
My big brother introduced me as a kid to astronomy. We had a telescope and we looked at the moon and the stars. Of course I believe in extra-terrestrial lifeforms! Besides, I find it pretentious to not believe it. I’m an optimist and I believe in good things, but unfortunately the only hostile thing I see is the human being...And to be honest, I’m ashamed to be a part of it.
From 2008, you put the label on stand-by, but returned in 2017 stronger than ever with The Observer’s almighty “Ovidrians Eyes” EP. What happened during that period of time?
We were in the middle of a vinyl crisis and the digital appeared. I had some problems with the distributors and it was not the time to release a record, but I was super motivated!!! I kept buying records and following the news in the meantime.
Let’s talk about the artists you signed. How do you select them on Radio Mars? How did you meet them?
The first release on Radio Mars is Electro_Chok, two kids (Kaleidophone and Drillerkiller) that I met at the vinyl store "Twelve Inch". They were 14 years old. We took care of their musical cultures, they were ahead for their age and with their project "Electro_Chock", they played in all the major festivals in France such as "Le Printemps de Bourges", "Nordic Impact" or "Les Nuits Sonores".
The second release is "Franck Sarrio - Robotic Invasion". I knew Frank like the other artists at the vinyl store "Twelve Inch". At the time, he didn’t make music until he published several records on the Bunker Records label, and later his release "Secret Desire" on his own label "FSS" bomb!
For the remixes, we had "Ultradyne" and "Luke Eargoggle". Dennis came to Clermont Ferrand 3 times with his mutant live, I strongly advise!! And he is a very beautiful person!! And to finish, Luke Eargoggle came for our last party (his live is the essence of Electro music) and they did not hesitate to remix the track "Robotic invasion". These two guys deserve all the respect and especially more recognition!!! I never understood why they never had the success they deserve!!
The 3rd release is "The Observer - Ovidrians Eyes EP". The Observer is Kaleidophone, one of the members of Electro_Chok.
The 4th release is "Franck Sarrio - Army of Robots". He hides somewhere in the mountains ;)
Could you please introduce Radio Mars' brand new release from Deemphasis? What would you say about the EP?
I also met Stephane (Deemphasis) at the store "Twelve Inch". He is very close with another producer from Clermont-Ferrand, “Offset”. Deemphasis is a specialist in his Electro style!!
Lots of melodies, robotic voices and an acid atmosphere. He has his own label "Ukonx Recordings", he's very motivated, it's a sure value!! hahaha :)
This release is particular, it represents the very essence of the Electro style: minimal beats, robotic voices, melody and destructive groove.
People around me were surprised because it seems to be a more classic release. I don’t ask myself those kinds of questions. I immediately liked and proposed a remix by "The Observer". I find this record super sexy, mesmerizing and with a lot of soul...You will love it, I am sure of it!
Ahahah, you know me pretty well :) Great release with two great producers on command, Deemphasis and The Observer for sure.
I may be wrong but I see you as a vinyl junkie & a record collector. Which record is the most priceless to you? And, if you had to choose one EP or LP to bring on a desert island, which one would it be and why?
The most priceless vinyl for me is "UR – The Final Frontier". Always in my bag!
And without hesitation, I would choose "Depeche Mode – Construction Time Again".
This album is giving me hope!!! Listen to "The Landscape Is Changing" and you’ll understand, the end is epic...And for me, there’s something about Dopplereffekt.
Where do you dig for your records (physical stores, Bandcamp, others)? What are your criterions to consider a track as a good piece to play?
I use all the available tools, Bandcamp, internet stores, physical stores, flea market etc... Sometimes I buy directly from the artist. If I like the music, I’ll use any means to get that record!
Also, I don’t have any particular criteria. I’m simple, but I like complicated things, a real paradox! It has to be melodic with a certain groove, and often, mental-see hypnotic. Sometimes Industrial or sometimes funky or dark, depending on my mood. I don’t like it when it’s too dancefloor.
Lots of new artists are emerging. How do you judge the current Electro scene? How do you judge the state of electronic music today in general? How do you see its evolution?
There's a revival for Electro music, there has never been so much good music...many artists and labels of quality, and from any horizon. I find it really good.
It's difficult to give an opinion on such a vast subject. Currently everyone can flourish. In general, I avoid everything that attracts from the world, be it an artist, a track, a festival or a party...Wherever you go, you won’t find me!
Currently in France, there's a club that holds the road and it's in Clermont-Ferrand. The club is called 101 (ONE O ONE). Everyone wants to go to 101, everyone wants to play 101!!! Probably one of the best places where smart people come dancing and not show off. All the weeks, there is crazy programming that you can’t find anywhere else. I say all the weeks!!!
I know this place pretty well because it's run by long-time friends such as Boris (resident DJ), Christophe Vonwill (the boss), the young motivated Felix (public relations and organizers) and the technician and nice DJ who is part of Radio Mars as well, CyrilLyric.
Also there are associations with young people such as "Beat Me For A Beat", "Turn A Side" and "Les Enfants Du Neo" who organize parties with very goods artists. They are young, have taste and make themselves happy first, and that is what I appreciate the most!! They are unifying, curious and always in a good mood, not jealous or competitive, all together, and I think that’s what allows everyone to move forward.
I can also make the parallel with Valencia in Spain. Several places offer artists of quality such as Agora, La Carbonera, Residencia or Killing Time that mainly offer Electronic Music with an informed public.
Valencia has the advantage of having experienced long-time activists and ultra-underground labels such as GH Record (Avencio), Fill-Lex Records (Alex), HC (David Verdeguer), Subsist or BFE and I forget!
I’ll give you 2 examples: I’ve seen Umberto 3 times, Martial Canterel, and also ADJ and Umwelt in the same evening...completely crazy!!
Of an optimistic nature, I think that music progresses. Everything depends on what you are looking for and I want to say that the best is yet to come…
What are your thoughts on the so-called “Digital Revolution”? Does it feel as if it has opened doors, or perhaps closed on some which should have always been left open?
Haha a subject that angers and divides! I never downloaded anything, the music I buy it in vinyl.
For my part, I don’t see any revolution on this medium except to get lost in this format. Everything that is virtual doesn’t exist... I don’t think that’s an advantage in the future other than disposable music, that’s what I think...
What about MP3? How did you adapt to digital? Can we still oppose digital to vinyl?
The MP3 is a virtual medium that blends into the mass, too much music kills the music! There’s a way to get lost and miss a lot of good music.
People don’t talk about music, they talk about sound, and to me that means everything!
For the moment, I’ve never done digital on the Radio Mars releases. Anyway, others do it for me by ripping the records and giving the files... it’s something that kills me!!
For the next release the artist Deemphasis will sell the digital ones and I could tell you then if it brings anything. I don’t know, everyone is defending their cause.
I’ve never tried, and right now I’m not attracted to it. These are two different and opposing approaches but we can also do both and why not do it in the future.