Digital Orgasm doesn’t care about being underground.
At the helm of this strangely unique dance music project, Maurice Engelen (a.k.a. Praga Khan) and Nikki Van Lierop (a.k.a. Jade) want their music on the radio and they’re not afraid to admit it.
If anything, this is what differentiates this Belgium outfit from most techno bands circulating around the underground today.
They feel it’s time for dance music to take over radio waves and look at their commercialism as part of a natural and much needed progression for techno music.
Now signed to Def American’s new White Label, their debut, it, might just bring techno music right where they want it.
While the duo was busy hitting the New York club scene, SIN Magazine had the chance to chat with Jade about the current situation of dance music here and around the world, and what exactly Digital Orgasm is looking for.
SIN: How do you guys like the New York club scene maybe as compared to the scene in Belgium?
JADE: it’s good. It’s alive. I like how people get really dressed up to go out. It’s all about the way people look at life. They look at life in a much more positive way.
There are lots of transvestites and they look gorgeous and all glamorous. While in Belgium everybody just goes out for the music, while here everybody just wants to be seen really. That’s what I caught. It’s really cool, it’s fun, but it’s hard to make comparisons.
SIN: Why did you add vocals to your sound?
JADE: We did it because we had song writing capabilities. We wanted to take this a step further by adding something kids can sing along to, and also for us, it’s much more enjoyable.
SIN: What do you do to stay ahead?
JADE: You can hop on a trend or try not to sound like the others, that’s the main thing. It’s hard sometimes, but somehow we always manage. We can find the best analog synthesizer systems around, but Praga just bought something that used to belong to Kraftwerk, a big ARP 260.
All digital sounds you can get now days sound too clean, but we want a rough sound from the old, old machines. That’s what makes it a bit different from the others I think.
SIN: What else?
JADE: The look. We’ve got a strong look. Sometimes if you go see a rave act or a dance act, you’ll see two guys miming on the keyboards, pretending to play the keyboards and then maybe a dopey girl dancing around a bit.
That’s not what we like to do because if that was the case we rather just stay at home and sell the records, but we like to do things properly. We just did a show in Japan and we didn’t know that we were that popular over there. There were 12,000 people there for us and I was amazed.
SIN: What are the goals for this band?
JADE: What would make me happy in the U.S.A. is that people would get educated on this kind of music, parents I mean. They’re the ones that are going, “turn that noise of!” But it was the same with rock and roll. You had parents saying “…oh, it’s the devil’s music, don’t look at Elvis, he’s shaking his you know what!”.
But people grew over that and rock and roll became a good thing. Now with house music and dance music, we have to educate the kids from then who are the parents now. It’s up to the radio guys, but also to the dance music makers. DJ’s in underground clubs will not do vocal oriented dance music. Kids also have to know who makes what songs so you have to show your face.
SIN: Does techno music ever give you a headache?
JADE: Sometimes, yeah. Yeah, sure, there are some records that will give people headaches. At one time the thing was heavy distortion on the bass drum and maybe just a bleep, a very sharp bleep on top of that.
It’s very, very loud. Producers wanted to be the loudest and the fastest, it was like a competition. We weren’t into that. That’s something I couldn’t spend two hours in a disco with.
SIN: I usually stay away from this one, but where did that name, Digital Orgasm, come from?
JADE: It’s because of what’s coming out of Praga’s machines. He’s got these old analog machines and you have to plug cables into them. There are no keyboards there and it makes a different noise every time. Sometimes it sounds quite human, it screams and it howls. It’s really quite amazing. That’s why we said this machine is having an orgasm, a digital orgasm.
SIN: Is your music sexually stimulated?
JADE: I feel so, yeah. Because the sounds grab you by the throat and hit you in the stomach. Of course that doesn’t sound too sexual.
SIN: Maybe to some people.
JADE: Oh, of course.
SIN: Have you ever had an orgasm?
JADE: Sure, plenty. I have them on stage all the time.
This interview originally appeared in Sin Magazine.