Set up in 1992 by three white and Eurasian middle-class nerd punks who had just moved into the squat zone of central The Hague from the suburban new towns of Zoetermeer and Alphen a/d Rijn (where Rude 66 also hails from).
Set up in 1992 by three white and Eurasian middle-class nerd punks who
had just moved into the squat zone of central The Hague from the
suburban newtowns of Zoetermeer and Alphen a/d Rijn (where Rude 66 also
hails from). Since no label was interested to release the music of Unit
Moebius, their (now legendary) 'acid planet' squat parties in The Hague,
with twelve hours of non-stop comatose acid-house music, no lights but
heavy strobes and a very freaked out audience (partially due to the
strong and pure LSD sold by one of the Unit Moebius members) of punks,
squatters, junkies and patients from two nearby psychiatric institutes,
made it possible to release Bunker 001 and 002.
The next two releases
were paid for with money made from selling LSD (silver surfers!). Soon
the fucked up standards for The Hague's hard, dark and crazy industrial
techno music were set and the acid scene exploded.
More freaks, more drugs, more artists, more music, so Bunker started
to release records by other musicians to support the local scene. Many
records, CD's, tapes, comics and videos followed. Despite the downfall
of Unit Moebius (a soap opera about drugs (speed!), women, money,
psychoses and depressions) in 1997, the decline of The Hague's acid
scene (more speed!, ketamin, heroin, crack, hospital admissions,
overdoses, suicides and other unnatural causes of death, mind fucking,
paranoia and all kinds of psychiatric ailments) and the financial
bankruptcy of the label in early 1998 (due to non-paying distributors).
Bunker records has risen from it's own ashes with the new 3000
series (as the last 'old' Bunker was 029) to bring you the latest La
Haia Bass/electro funk, Industrial planet rock, new wave techno-pop and
La Haia coca disco from The Hague's electronic freak scene. Can you
still dig it?
Labels such as Bunker and Viewlexx far from being 'new jacks' in the
'electro revival', never stopped making electro. I-F
(Ferenc) and the growing number of artists around his scene in The Hague
absorbed Cybotron, Planet Patrol, Pretty Tony, Adonis, Steve Poindexter
etc., etc. and refashioned it in an entirely distinctive way, even
during a period when electro had become the laughing stock of dance
music enthusiasts. And what elevates the Bunker stuff above its lesser
imitators is that none of the artists take themselves too seriously.
There's a great sense of humor in the artwork, project names, track
names, and their website. But, they make ripping
electro funk tracks.
There’s no good reason why the dark Flemish electro sound of Bunker,
Viewlexx and Creme Organization (from which DJ TLR hails) wasn’t used to
better effect as a gateway drug to techno in general and Detroit in
particular. As Northern Europeans, these people held long-standing
Eurovision Song Contest values of hooks, melodies and craft, embracing
their Italo side without irony (whether they were aware of it or not).
Proximity and affinity to the German sequencers - from Moroder to
Schulze - gave their motorik dreams a panoramic view. While the weather
(North Sea bullsh*t) and the landscape (urban Corbusier if we’re being
adventurous, Post-WWII Stalinist Gothic if we’re not) shadowed it in
bleak dystopian trappings. It’s perfect for any body who’s ever tried on
black nail-polish or lipstick anywhere in the world. So it fully makes
sense that the label Unit Moebius
set up 20 years ago - partially funded by their LSD-fueled ‘Acid
Planet’ squat parties in The Hague - would continue releasing music two
decades later. The formula remains perfect, timeless in the
representation of a specific moment, continuously roaming the
trans-Atlantic alleys of the mind.
It is no accident that Bunker Records happened in The Hague, known to
most only as home to Europol, the International Court of Justice, and
the Dutch parliament. The economic crisis of the 1970s had left the
seaside city battered and scarred, and by the end of the 1980s The Hague
had still not recovered.
"Its centre and wide surrounding area had become almost like
Detroit itself. Main shopping streets with half the stores closed, miles
and miles of empty blocks, burnt, broken down, dilapidated, windows
barred or shattered, and many heroin junkies, homeless people, and crazy
freaks walking around," recalls Guy Tavares, owner of Bunker Records and founding member of the label's creative nucleus, Unit Moebius, the hugely influential group responsible for much of the label's early output.
In the suburban punk scenes of neighbouring towns Alphen aan den Rijn
and Zoetermeer Tavares had met a guy called Jan Duivenvoorden, who owned
some basic music equipment and recorded industrial ambient under the
name of IMP Electronics For Defence. Tavares and Duivenvoorden moved to
The Hague at the start of the 1990s. Together they began to produce
music inspired by Chicago acid and Detroit techno, as well as organize
parties in some of The Hague's notorious squats.
At the same time, Tavares' squat parties were becoming more and more popular. "We expanded the acid parties I had done before in other places with cyberpunk concepts: comics (Ranx by Liberatore),
movies (Bladerunner, Akira), and literature (Burroughs, Gibson), resulting into 'Acid Planet'."
Acid Planet became a landmark party series, representing both the
'anything-goes' spirit of warehouse acid parties, as well as the dark
and twisted aspect of urban dystopia. Tavares describes Acid Planet as "12
hours nonstop heavy smoke and strobe flashing, no other lights. 300
people on LSD I was selling, punks, junkies, psychiatric patients
(freaking out on my f*in' acid!) and a few dodgy white trash hooligan
characters in a basement, and no other music but heavy acid house and
trax. Upstairs there was a cinema playing non-stop cyberpunk movies and
sketchy speedfreak weirdos doing invited and uninvited 'performances'."
Soon a 'scene' began to develop around the sound, with other people
setting up sound systems and recording raw and analogue 'The Hague
Bunker Records' primary source of inspiration however, the city of The
Hague itself, has changed drastically since the label's inception. The
city's centre has been completely remodelled, most of the squats evicted
and torn down to make room for shopping malls and skyscrapers by
architects like Rem Koolhaas, who Guy Tavares calls "our own Albert Speer, but much uglier in style".
During the late 1990s many bureaucratic institution of the UN, NATO and
EU moved to The Hague, further accelerating the processes of
modernization and gentrification. The Dutch government have even passed
new laws, effective from October on, which outlaw squatting across The
"I still can't believe how they cleaned up (and spoiled!) my dirty brown and miserable city for the brave new world",
remarks Guy Tavares. Yet Bunker Records will continue to represent the
dark side of The Hague for the foreseeable future - when asked what
keeps him going, Tavares says, "I'm extremely compulsive, I can't help it (but the doctor's medication does!) - there's no art to it, really!".
The Ghost That Walks: You had a real education discovering Bunker records in your hometown in The Hague when you first started. What did they teach you, and is there anything you learnt that you still carry with you even today?
Legowelt: Yeah basicly just to not give a fuck about what anyone thinks of you
or what you are doing, to not bow to any peer pressure…that pretty much
the whole “dance” music industry is just a facade of the dumbest and
stupidest people imaginable and that its pretty easy to exploit all that
TGTW: What would you say to artists or labels starting now, as it is so hard to become established. What have you learnt that you think could apply to people starting today in electronic music?
L: Just don’t give a fuck about anything and don’t expect anything I have no further advice