As and with Christ Initials, Joel Cotterell (in Berlin, from so-called Australia) is making techno and performance soundscapes. The project is driven by the tensions between grimness and play, between alienating industry and the sociality of the dancefloor, and between strict rhythm and indulgent melody. Affinities for the miasma of black metal and Sisters of Mercy–style drama are inflected with criticality, camp and class consciousness with the goal of helping bodies to move and passions to flare.
Christ Initials is part of the Amplify Berlin creative development program for emerging musicians at ACUD MACHT NEU and will be mentored by Phase Fatale during November 2020.
1: Another world is possible.
2: We are all we need.
3: You never regret a swim.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
At the core it’s a wish to build moments of exhilarating presence. That wish has sources everywhere, including the time the KLF burned a pile of money, dancefloor flashbacks, overheard rhythms.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I spent a lot of my teenage years playing heavy/black metal and trying to become a shredder in the guitar-magazine tradition of Steve Vai. Too much nerdy technicality soured that idea. Atmospherics, politics and dancing had become more important to me, and after a few abortive cracks at making Red & Anarchist Black Metal through my 20s, I started to explore electronics.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Judas Priest – British Steel
Nitzer Ebb – That Total Age
Darkthrone – A Blaze in the Northern Sky
The Sisters of Mercy – First and Last and Always
Arseny Avraamov – Symphony of Factory Sirens
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Talking about Berlin and oneself, radical infrastructure, tragedy great and small.
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
In less plaguelike circumstances, it’s near the muscle/bear corner of the main floor, but a little bit further in to the centre so the sound is more balanced. Now, ugly parks.
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
Much more Muay Thai, slightly better writing. Perish the thought, though.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
I bought Undertow by Bridget Chappell the other day. It’s a data-driven, critical-historical sonic portrait of the Birrarung River and Narrm bay (in what most know as Melbourne). Really gorgeous and thoughtful work!
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
Radical organizations in need of aerobic noise accompaniment, fashion houses that want models to stomp down catwalks. Rob Halford.
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Two come to mind. First, I remember being entranced by the MYTHOLOGICAL OCCULT cacophony of ABSU in Brisbane some years ago. Really the embodiment of ferocity and mysticism, but with this knowing-but-not-acknowledging sense of camp that I cannot and will not resist. As if holding a different truth in each hand and using volume to keep them balanced. Later events have problematized that memory, but there is still something to it. Second, Nitzer Ebb at Berghain for very obvious reasons.
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
Technology is a serious source of creative pleasure and productivity for me. I’m very easily hypnotized by hardware, I follow gear releases, and I think often about how I’d like to use this or that
pedal or synth, etc. With that said, I’m wary of gear fetishism and the gross need to continually acquire and never make anything. I can also have a fairly vulgar melodic sensibility (no value judgment), and that leads me to use technology as the medium of exploration and not its object.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
My sister and I are in different worlds (and hemispheres), but very supportive of one another.
Photo © Lili Helena Duchow