POL [Geneva]

Based in Geneva, POL is a producer, sound designer and curator who is surfing a wide palette of electronic music, messing up genres and constantly evolving his choice of tools and instruments. His career spans the last 30 odd years and is an interesting counter-point set against the evolution of electronic music in Geneva and Switzerland at large. Cities like Geneva, Lausanne, Basel and Zurich have cultivated local electronica and respective sub-cultures from time to time, yet remaining mostly obscure to outsiders, overshadowed by larger trends incoming from Germany, France and Holland. Local producers and native sounds have much to reveal, as a definition of the real spirit and uniqueness of any region and such is the case with Geneva. Usually known for international peace making and atomic science, Geneva has gradually emerged on the Swiss electronic music scene as a busy place in the last 15 odd years. There are hundreds of talented resident producers here today, yet does the city have an unique voice (sonic imprint) in electronic music? We ask POL a few questions to dwell further into his career as well as reflect upon Geneva and it's native culture of electronic music.


Has Geneva changed over the years, in terms of the electronic music culture?

The scene now is completely different... Very different from how it was in the 1990s. Now we see hundreds of electronic musicians and many labels that are working with so many genres and sub-genres. Geneva has always been a centre of many things important but sort of neutral too! The old places have shut down giving way to newer spaces, for the music to grow. Now 15 years later, the city is hosting one of the biggest and most coveted festival in the field of electronic music, the Electron Festival.


Tell us about how you started out and what was Geneva like?


I bought my first sampler in 1988. I did not have any formal music education yet i love reading user-manuals very thoroughly. I wanted to make music on the machine instantly... I recall that the 'scene' was already becoming very eclectic in Europe. People were 'tripping' on Musique Concrete to Acid House and even EBM. Like many others, i got attracted and influenced by darker and industrial shades of electronica : Be it Industrial-Techo or Synth-Pop or Kosmiche Musik or Japan Noise or even Minimal forms : I think the late 80s and early 90s everything was very nascent, spreading wildly but mostly undefined. Most of the early-pioneers were alive and kicking! In Geneva, one could find the new records and news about electronic music, yet very few people were actually involved in producing electronic music. The scene was open to many new cultural inputs and sonic disruptions for sure... It has become more structured over time.

You started out as a self-styled producer, yet branched out into many diverse roles : How?

My journey literally started from " the tunnels-of-techno gradually over time into the clubs of the planet ". I taught myself to use samplers, synthesizers and eventually built a studio ( called Black Bunker ) which gives me and my friends space to set up instruments, jam and record. I gradually moved into experimental and ambient sound which lead me to work with artists of diverse nature. In 2002, I threw himself into a different world co-writing the music of Water Lilly - an electro-techno stream with glamorous pop and cosmic ambiances. Sound-design is an integral part of my work which defines my production in studio, performances and outdoor installations. I started a record label called Helvet Underground which has notched 29 albums over the last decade. featuring various singers, producers and musicians from contrasting backgrounds. I feel lucky to have created such associations : with Ghostape : AEROFLOT (electro-pop) with Goodbye Ivan : CORE with Da Saz and Audio Pervert : SUNISIT (IDM) featuring Cesare Pizzi, founder and keyboard of the famous electro-punk Young Gods. Over the last 15 years, I have branched out with my music to countries like India, China, France and Japan... Kept myself busy with releasing music on my label which is connected to many similar labels in Switzerland and EU region, and constantly trying to build projects involving other artists. The Various Projects in my Bio





What is your interest with India all about?

Was quite an accident actually! Mimetic, a genius music producer from Geneva, asked me to substitute him at a workshop in Delhi. June 2013 I was in New Delhi, in a completely new world, full never-heard sounds, initiating a sound-production workshop with Gati Studio (Dance Agency). It was indeed a very crazy time for me plus the 47 degree heat wave! A collaboration with Rakesh Sukesh, Dancer and choreographer resulted in further collaboration and insight. The place, it's energy and the people excited me to no end and I promised to be back the next year. Upon my return in 2014 I met various electronic music producers and people involved in the 'left-field' sound of New Delhi..

Since 2014, you have created various projects in India? How did that happen?

Meeting Da-Saz (Born in Lausanne, now living in New Delhi) was a quixotic surprise. What are the odds? Rapidly my connections and understanding of India grew as I came to meet more musicians, producers, dancers and artists from diverse backgrounds. Commissioned by Pro-Helvetia, I have curated and built two installations at the Jantar Mantar (an equinoctial sundial, consisting of a gigantic triangular gnomon) in Jaipur Rajasthan and New Delhi. 2015, along-with Audio Pervert and Da-Saz, we set up studio in a tiny village outside Lausanne, called Botten. Titled CORE, a concept album based on prepared synthesis, we recorded over 5 days, which was edited and released as the first showcase of 'Indo-Swiss electronic music'. With Da-Saz, Audio Pervert and Mahadev Cometo, we formed the first Indo-Swiss Electronic Music Collective : To connect artists and map new routes for electronic musicians from both the nations. Consequently I worked with curators like Ish (Sound Reasons Compilation) and Hashback Hashish (Techno Producer/DJ) which were both very different in sound and practices. I feel India is a very diverse, potent and chaotic place ... now that I have gone from coast to coast and most of the big urban jungles. This year I was invited as faculty, to Synthfarm, which is India's most exciting place for synthesis and music production. Feel pride to say that the curators at Synthfarm have invited me again next year. I can’t wait to come back... And I love the food more than I can explain!

Tell us about the Axis Mundi Project?

During my 2nd visit to India, I created an audio-visual installation inspired by the astronomical observatory of Jaipur, the Jantar Mantar. The soundtrack of this project is out soon on Helvet Underground. 2015 saw me back in Jaipur with 4 dancers and a film-crew for the creation of Axis Mundi, a contemporary dance show. Envisioned as a short-film and performance  at the Jantar Mantar. I was very inspired by the historic architecture and the inter-play of lines and spaces dotted with various equinoctial sundials. We concluded Axis Mundi this year with a stellar performance in Geneva, January 2016.

Helvet Underground latest release : 

NINTENDARK ! Performance using classic Nintendo Video-Game Consoles.

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