André Schmechta’s music carreer began in 1987, when aged 18 he formed Scarecrow with a school friend of his. The band which quickly became X-Marks The Pedwalk, released half a dozen albums and as many singles of EBM music before suddenly stopping all musical activities in the mid-90s. André then made a change in his carreer and started working in a complete different area, drifting away from this electronic industrial scene he brought so much to, and leaving the music industry with no will to return. Until his unexpected return with his band in 2010, then with the creation of his own music label two years ago, and today with the second album of his solo instrumental project SN-A. Now both a business owner and a well-known artist, handling an increasing number of projects, André managed to dedicate some time in his very busy schedule to answer our questions.
André, your second solo record has just been release under your SN-A moniker which is short for Sevren Ni-Arb. The First Time I read it I couldn't make any sense of it, until I gave it a try backwards: Brain Nerves. How long have you been using it and where does that come from?
When we decided to change our band name formerly “Scarecrow” to X-Marks The Pedwalk in 1988, we decided also to create pseudonyms, simply because of the exceptional and strange sounding of the band’s name. So I started my career as Sevren Ni-Arb which as you pointed out, is backwards for Brain Nerves.
« From my point of view, the electronic / industrial scene was just a bad copy of itself. The same things were released again and again, simply boring without any creative breakouts for years. »
Between 1995 and 2010 you stayed pretty silent with no records being released. Can you tell us what made your musical activities in stand by mode back then?
From the beginning I kept searching for new challenges with every release and every project. Remember U-TEK, A-Head, Ringtailed Snorter, Hyperdex-1-sect for instance. Beside my electro/industrial projects and my work as a producer or engineer for other electronic industrial bands I also produced and released some techno / dance and trance music in the early 90s. But after that long time in this business I simply lost both my motivation and my energy. And during that time, from my point of view, the electronic / industrial scene was just a bad copy of itself. The same things were released again and again, simply boring without any creative breakouts for years.
And what made you want to record again in 2010, which led to the release of X Marks the Pedwalk's "Inner Zone Journey" ?
Well, today I´m business owner, share-holder and managing partner of two companies. I built up an advertising agency group with offices in Berlin and Münster and also an online publishing company with award winning online magazines about literature. I have a wonderful family with two children aged 17 and 15 now. So you can imagine that a lot of important things in a man´s life changed after I quit music production. There was no plan to comeback for a very long time. But in 2006/2007, the first ideas came up and I started to build a little new studio in my house just to see what happens, with first usage of new software and plugins and so on. But that was an effective trigger and so I expanded the studio and started working on a new album and there it was, X-Marks The Pedwalk was back.
You also went ahead with the creation of your own music label called Meshwork music in 2016. Was it something that you'd dreamt of for quite some time ?
Well, I thought about it a long time ago. After my massive comeback in 2009 I´ve released three albums, one single and a Live-DVD with X-Marks The Pedwalk and I also started my new project SN-A. So this was simply a next step to keep my motivation and energy on a high level.
Is “Distance” a record that you've been working on for a long time?
I´ve started with the first ideas in 2015, but after some time there were also plans for a new X-Marks The Pedwalk album which became “Secrets”. So I took a break and continued in 2017 with the final production period of “Distance”.
Tell us what you had in mind when you first thought about "Distance" and when working on the whole process of making it happen, if you approached it in a different way that you did for “Transmissions”.
Even if the first SN-A album “Transmissions” and “Distance” belong together in content, "Distance" is more like an album in story mode. It is designed as a history and prologue to "Transmissions". Basically "Transmissions" contains individual sound messages received from space and time. I have deliberately taken coded track titles, but all have a specific reference with numbers from my life. While "Distance" tells the story of a departure, a journey into outer space, a journey that arises from an inner urge, also with threats and obstacles. At the end of the journey we are far away from the starting point, the place of origin, also mentally. This furthest point marks the song "Checkpoint 9.7" where the traveler has not yet arrived at a specific destination: what about his feelings, his thoughts? Lost in a journey with no return? However, he now sends messages, and these are the sound messages from "Transmissions". It is also a kind of a mental journey which develops chronologically with each track, even if we only stop at individual times and locations.
"Awakening", the first track on the album, has a brutal ending, as if the traveler had gone. Is it what this is suggesting?
Imagine a person, sleeping and dreaming. The dream evolves to an anxious nightmare. But the dream changes and becomes more harmonically, and the person opens their eyes and is awake and this is the end of the song: welcome to the start of the story of distance.
I like the "Stimulation" track a lot: how did that track occur, can you remember anything particular when writing and recording it?
Basically, during the sound design processes I usually create different sequences or beats that I later don´t use in any song. The drum loop of “Stimulation” is such a beat. During the production of “Distance” I´ve listened to this beat again and I knew that it could be part of the album. There is so much energy and drive in this beat, it´s a real stimulation for your brain and body.
There are those two “Checkpoint 4.2” and “Checkpoint 9.7” tracks on the album which have a different feel. What is their signification?
Even if the journey develops chronologically with each track, the listener jumps into different moments, situations and locations of this journey and I wanted to split the journey. “Checkpoint 4.2” is the first split point; we have been on the way for a while, but now the mood and atmosphere change. It is kind of thought-provoking. And as mentioned before “Checkpoint 9.7” means that we are really far away from the starting point. But there is still no destination, if there have ever been one. The sound has this specific menacing atmosphere: you feel lost and unsafe.
The record ends with "Re-Awake". The track leaves you thinking that something irreversible has happened during the journey.
With the final track on the album "Re-Awake" I wanted to raise several questions: did the trip really take place? Or was it just a dream? Has the traveler returned? What about the journey, the thoughts or feelings of the listener?
« Basically I´m looking for advanced electronic music. As said before, I don´t want to release the copy of a copy. »
"Distance" is only the 4th reference of the label within almost 3 years. Do you handle everything yourself or does the label gives preference to quality rather than quantity ?
Sure, with the start of Meshwork music it was clear that the band roster would focus on my projects first. Keep in mind that I have to handle this beside my main businesses which I mentioned before. Basically I´m looking for advanced electronic music. As said before, I don´t want to release the copy of a copy, if you know what I mean. Quality instead of quantity is the simple motto. No basics but music for electronic music enthusiasts. I get a lot of promos, but they often don´t fit to the idea of Meshwork music. With all our releases I promise a stunning journey with remarkable sound experiences from ambient soundscapes to modern electronic sounds. The mission is also to push the boundaries of electronic music to a new level.
The very first release on Meshwork was Signal-Bruit's first album in 2016, then your own X Marks the Pedwalk's "Secrets" and Ferrochrome's first effort last year. And now there is "Distance". Can you remember what made you decide to bring Signal-Bruit and Ferrochrome into the roster ?
I received a promo by “Member U-0176”, who’s the mastermind of Signal~Bruit. I was so fascinated by both the sound design and the conceptual work of “Planisphère(s)“ and I thought « this is pure electronic music art ! ». So it was clear that this would be the perfect first release of Meshwork music ! Also, I know Dirk Krause of Ferrochrome as a former band member of Armageddon Dildos. I produced and engineered some of their albums and singles in the past and also did live engineering for,them. But when I quit music production, we lost contact. Last year I´ve listened to some tracks that Ferrochrome released on Soundcloud, which is finest electronic music with an exceptional and remarkable voice. When I realized that they were searching for a label I knew that they would find their new home on Meshwork music.
Are there any artists that you'd love to sign onto your Meshwork music label ?
No, there is no specific artist in my mind. I am open for every new and every well-known artist.