Volte-Face is the production name of Casper Clark, the man behind BleeD, London’s go-to club night for experimental electronic music. Casper has also played an integral role in programming of London’s more intimate and experimental venues, such as The Lock Tavern in Camden, Amersham Arms in New Cross and The Waiting Room in Stoke Newington, which thanks to him Inverted Audio hosted events in during 2012 and 2013.
Casper also helps curate music for an array of music festivals including Field Day, Beacons in Yorkshire, Donau in Austria and Unsound in Poland, he also helms London’s experimental category for 22Tracks. Now in his second year operating as Volte-Face, it seems that 2014 has ultimately primed to produce a remix for Daniel Avery to be release on Erol Alkan’s imprint Phantasy Sound.
It seems that 2014 has been ‘the’ year in which everything that Casper has worked for has been worth it. This mix is a summation of Volte-Face’s musical scope and integrity, offering up a hour and a half of experimental techno or in his words “something quite loose and spontaneous, with the vast majority of the tracks new to me, regardless of whether they’re actually ‘new’ or not”. Volte-Face has more material scheduled for release in 2015.
Tell us about the mix you’ve recorded for IA – How was it made, track selection, atmosphere and overall theme of the mix?
I’ve been pretty prolific with mixes this year, but I always try to do them when I have a specific objective in mind. On this occasion, I really wanted to do something quite loose and spontaneous, with the vast majority of the tracks new to me, regardless of whether they’re actually ‘new’ or not. I think it’s a pretty good account of the way I like to DJ in a club, when the context permits. And for those that are interested in such meaningless factoids, it was recorded on two CDJ2000s in my man-cave.
Where’s home for you?
It’s tempting to say, “I’m a citizen of the world” or the like, but in fact I live in Clapton with my girlfriend and my cat, Rupaul.
What records did you listen to when you were in your mid teens (14 – 16 years old)? What was it about those artists / tracks / albums that you liked?
My prevailing musical memory of the time is that the muso kids at school were tiresomely opinionated and, in hindsight, probably very insecure. I was too busy being good at football and video games to know much about music. I am, however, quite an authority on the history of boy bands.
I was as keen on British indie as anybody else at the time, and my Dad discovered Ecstasy at 40, so there was also a lot of good electronic music in the house. Some of the deepest impressions were left by the likes of Leftfield, Orbital, Primal Scream, Fluke, William Orbit, The Beloved, and Italian piano house, “Ride On Time”, Stereo MCs et al.
Are you listening to music right now?
I’m actually listening to the mix for the third time, making sure I still like it. I think that every DJ should be their own favourite DJ, although inspiration should be found at every corner. I feel asleep to ‘Sonno’ by Alessandro Cortini. He’s probably my favourite man right now, something I never thought I’d say about a member of Nine Inch Nails.
Tell us about this Volte-Face project, it seems that 2014 has been priming you for a few releases in 2015.
I’ve been a professional promoter since 2006, only recently going completely freelance/opting out of society. It’s taken me this long to get around to making my own music, something I never thought I’d do if you’d asked me 5 years ago! At the moment, it feels like the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve started to hit upon a sound that I want to share with the world in the New Year.
Do you have a strategic plan with Volte-Face?
I’d be lying if I said no, but naked ambition is not an appealing trait. I just want to give something back to a scene that I have been involved with, and taken so much pleasure from for the majority of my adult life. ‘Making it’, for me, would be shedding any fear about what others may think, and try to learn more about the real person within.
You’ve worked a lot of music related jobs including curating festivals (Field Day / Unsound) and venue booker (The Waiting Room / Shacklewell Arms). For those who want to get into the same field, could you explain how you managed to get involved with this industry and what break through moments and lows you experienced whilst working them?
That’s right, I’ve been involved in the organisation and programming of Field Day since the start, and have a similar role with Beacons now, which is owned by my former boss. I don’t have an official role with Unsound, although I am one of a few people they can count on for input on their programme. I’m also a consultant for a fantastic, and rather avant-garde, festival in Austria named Donau.
Let’s not forget BleeD either, which has been my main focus of the last four years. That’s probably the achievement I’m most proud of, remaining solvent and invigorated in such a niche area of musical interest. I fell into the job very naturally, sharing my enthusiasm with people over the Internet who were doing something I identified with, and also contributing to a successful blog during the halcyon days of that scene. I never applied for a job as such; I was just in the right place (the internet) at the right time (2006).
You’re playing in London for Bloc on 6th December alongside Surgeon and Regis – Are you going to be playing live or DJing? Tell us more about what you’ve got planned for the night.
Hopefully I’ll never perform live. I always felt sorry for artists who were limited by their own material. It’s the thrill of DJing that encouraged me to make my own records. I’ll be playing from 5am at the event, so I’ll be doing my best to keep the right people around, and encourage the less committed to take themselves to bed.
Considering you’ve been hosting and booking most of London’s venues, what’s your opinion about the current state of clubbing in London? What needs to change and where do you see the future of clubbing?
That’s a good question. I’ve decided to promote a lot less in 2015, which feels like a relief at the minute. I still love hosting shows, particularly at Cafe OTO and Corsica Studios, but I feel like I’ve pretty much made my point for the time being. I’ve actually spent several months trying to get an exciting collaborative club night off the ground, to no avail, as all viable spaces seem to be falling off the radar. You can count the number of small, all-night venues with incredible sound on no hands, right now!
Promoters are squeezed on all sides, as are the venues, so a degree of pessimism is warranted. Having said that, I’ve organised and attended events that could only work so well in London, and I mean ONLY in London when I say that. There’s a lot to be envious about the clubbing conditions on the continent, but we still have the most open-minded pool of hedonistic music lovers going right here, in my opinion. I only hope something gives, and some exciting new spaces open in the not too distant future.
Where do you like to hang out in London? Best cafe, best bar, best record shop, best restaurant, best park, best market etc?
I’m not a creature of habit, but I’d happily go on record to recommend The Adam & Eve in Homerton, Kristina Records in Dalston, Needo Grill in Whitechapel and a new spot on Denmark Street named The Smoking Goat for Thai BBQ and cocktails. I also love lurking on Walthamstow Marshes in the summer.
Tell us about the production side of Volte-Face, are you dabbling with machines or software? Which pieces of gear are essential to you and the most overrated?
I prefer to keep this side of things relatively mysterious, although there’s certainly a combination of software and hardware. I own some analogue synths, but I’m a long way from mastering the use of them. That’s part of the fun, for me.
Erol Alkan recently remixed your first track. How did that come about?
Well, my first release is a remix for Daniel Avery on Erol’s Phantasy label. It’s actually part of a compilation, with various artists producing the entirety of Daniel’s ‘Drone Logic’ LP. It’s going to turn a few heads when the roll call is announced; it’s definitely a real departure for the label! If all goes to plan, a 12” will come out in January, with my remix alongside two of my favourite artists.
Erol was one of my earliest DJ influences, and he continues to be inspirational and an artist and as a man who really knows what he is about. Having the opportunity to mix the track in his wonderful studio really took the sound to another level. It’s potentially the most euphoric track I’ll ever make, but I think it strikes a decent balance between colourful, wild abandon, and a tougher, more introspective core.
How’s BleeD going?
As mentioned before, I won’t be promoting a great deal of events under that name next year, although it will pop up from time to time. I’m hosting a gig by Prostitutes in February, and will continue the amazing Before My Eyes residency where Demdike Stare and Raime play whatever they feel like at The Waiting Room.
No doubt I’ll work together with Plex again, and I do still hold some hope that an amazing venue will rear its head for the aforementioned collaborative party. It really couldn’t have gone any better in the last 4 years. You’d struggle to make a living out of such an endeavour, but I’m constantly surprised and excited by the artists, and combinations thereof, that I’ve been lucky enough to host.
What’s the biggest misconception about the night?
Possibly that it’s all doom and gloom. Granted, some of our most high-profile nights have been with the likes of Blackest Ever Black and Hospital Productions, but I think that says more about the tendencies of experimental music than anything about my personal taste.
I try to present challenging or adventurous music in a challenging or adventurous way, which can lead to darker hues more often than not. This doesn’t necessarily translate into my own productions or DJing, although I’m very comfortable operating within the melancholy.
Do you collect anything other than records?
I’m not one for gathering possessions, possibly as a response to my art deco collecting Dad. The house I grew up in was filled with so many aesthetically pleasing items, that it actually verged on oppressive. The last thing I amassed in any great quantity was computer games, but that stopped in my late teens. I do spend an inordinate amount of money on clothes though, that’s my main vice.
What record labels are top for you?
As far as the music I make goes, I would probably identify most with the likes of Ostgut Ton, Dystopian, Time To Express, Ilian Tape and with massive due respect to Kompakt, although these days it’s more as a state of mind, than a label I buy a great deal of records from.
I also take great joy in the output of labels such as PAN, Spectrum Spools, RVNG, Public Information, Where To Now, Hessle Audio, Clone, Delsin, Houndstooth, Opal Tapes, Editions Mego, Broft, Creme, Bunker, Diagonal, Lobster Thermin, Tresor, Vlek, Bepotel, Kontra Musik, Minimal Wave, Nation, Morphine. I could go on…
Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
I do my best to remain debt-free, but Dover Street Market would be my go-to place for a splurge!
Finally what’s next for Volte-Face?
I’m about to order a curry. And you can expect to see a debut EP in a few months time, hopefully followed by a collaboration that I’m currently working on.
Volte-Face plays alongside Surgeon and Regis at Bloc London on 6th December, order tickets here.
1. Signer – Light Fails Me (Carpark Records)
2. The Persuader – A Hymn To Him (Concrete)
3. Sleeparchive – Bleep03 (Sleeparchive)
4. In Aeternam Vale – Ultrabase (Minimal Wave)
5. Byetone – Opal (Raster-Noton)
6. Svreca – Sleepless (Semantica)
7. M-A-E – 6652 (DJ Spider Remix) (EDEC)
8. Liquid Sky – Imprecis (Filtered Visions)
9. Peter Van Hoesen – Three Circles (Curle)
10. Quince, Benny Rodrigues – 7up (Smallville)
11. Fanon Flowers – Vultures Circling Pt 1 (Planet Rhythm)
12. Kondens – Ruddock Rave (Norman Nodge Remix) (Kontra Musik)
13. ø – Insectoid (Token)
14. Shifted – Pulse Incomplete (Bed Of Nails)
15. Peder Mannerfelt – White Noise/Pink Ladies (Stockholm LTD)
16. Sawf – Skotos (Henning Bear Remix) (M_Rec)
17. Developer – 1975A (Reeko Remix) (Polegroup)
18. Marco Zenker – Splifer (Ilian Tape)
19. Octave One – Love And Hate (Luke Slater Remix) (430 West)
20. Lewis Fautzi – Blocker (Figure)
21. Volte-Face – The Power Of Christ Compels You (Demo)
22. Phil Moffa – Dreams About Ditching A Body (Plan B Recordings)
23. Wishmountain – Radio (Evolution)
24. Stanislav Tolkachev – Like A Cat’s Shadow (M_Rec Grey)
25. Alessandro Cortini – Variabile (Hospital Productions)
26. Svreca – Trance (Semantica)
Discover more about Volte-Face on Inverted Audio.Volte-FaceExperimentalTechno