Tell us about
Cerstin 'Cessy' Strecker, the other part of Trans X, and how you met her
and decided to play music with her? Are you two still together today?
was the year and the beginning of your world great success with the song
Still today we can hear that song playing very often on radio stations as
original version and as remakes. We would like to know how you made this
song? What does it mean: living on video? ;-)
I was inspired to compose this song listening to French pop songs musically. Conceptually the idea came from the movie Tron, living inside a video game. I am at ease with new technologies. I studied Flash programming and website design. I believe the Internet will be as much of a change for society than television was in the 50s. I will change everything. We are in the dawn of the information society. It is only beginning.
The first version of LOV is actually the french version Vivre Sur Video. Odly, I was never invited in France at the time for tv shows or live performance and I had a french version of my hit song! It took a remake (the 2006 version by Pakito) and 25 years for LOV to hit number 1 in the charts in France. Living On Video was originally released as the B side to Vivre Sur Vidéo. The Italian company CGD released Vivre Sur Video as the A side and Digital World as the B side.
LOV started in the Netherlands and Germany. These countries were at the time very accepting of new music. Also Sweden. America started Blues music and R&B but E music was created more in Germany. This is also where the Beatles started.
You were especially
ultra popular in Germany. You even made a song for that market, 'Ich
Liebe Dich'. Tell us about that please?
I wrote Ich Liebe Dich thinking about a duo concept. I had planned to do the song with German artist Nena. But she was with CBS Sony music and I was with Polydor, so it never happened.
In the early 80s you were singing about videos, some others
were singing about computers, some about other new technolocigal things... It
seems that italo disco / high energy artists were full of inspirations and,
in a way, of predicting the future. What do you think about it? ;-)
Art always leads the way for social changes. In the 50s-60s we saw the birth of rock music and electric guitars. This was the time of Elvis Presley, Jimmy Hendrix, etc...
In the 80s, we saw the birth of Electronic Music. Rhythm machines and sequencers were made available to creators. This was the beginning of Dance music and New Wave. We saw the birth of arcades, video games and lo-fi sound samples. Artists of the moment used available instruments to create a new sounds. The 80s were particularly creative years for musicians. New musical instruments fuel creativity.
Many of us were and
still are impressive with your perfomances. Who were 'responsible' for the choreography?
I am in charge of everything in Trans-X. I never had the chance to find a manager like many succesfull groups, did not find yet a life partner either. I work from ideas and concepts and I enjoy collaborating with remixers and producers. The new show, LOV 25 years is a tribute to the song. A tribute to the artists who did there own version. But for the live show, I use 50% unreleased versions of the song and edited video from various videoclips of different artists doing the song, so the video does not match the original versions. Everything is resynchronized, except part of the Pakito version. I made a kind of collage. I sing some versions and Lali sings some other versions. It is very dynamic and sounds very current. In the show I also do Message On The Radio and Nitelife which is one of my favorite to do live.
Oh yes, in your opinion
what kind of music you were performing? How you would call that style, is it
High Energy or Canadian Disco? I am asking this because "many of the #1
records in North America were produced in Canada, and often licensed by USA
and European labels so many DJs started calling it Canadian Disco"*. I
think you could be the right person to answer this question?
I think Trans-X is Hi-NRG. LOV is one of the few Dance songs that crossed over in the charts. In the USA, it was played on dance, new wave & rock radio stations. In the 80s, Canada was playing and producing more european sounding music than the USA. New Dance music was usually played on the radio in Canada and Mexico before the USA. LOV charted in Canada and Mexico in 1984 but happened in the USA in 1986. The tastes in music were different in Canada and USA. Now, you dont have this difference so much, I suppose because Hip Hop was originally created in the USA.
Canadian Disco was mostly produced by Italians who live in Canada. Italians have a big musical tradition. Italian music is very sensual. It must be the influence of opera, cinematography (Fellini, etc...), and theater. I used to listen to groups like Banco Mutuo Soccorso who were a kind of Italian Genesis. I feel very close to Italian music and Italian design. It is very aesthetic and sometimes barroque. It is also close to French music (Alisée, Mylène Farmer). A French number one hit artist called Jeanne Mas teamed up with an Italian producer living in Paris for her music. Culturally and musically, France and Italy were always very close. (I was born in Paris, Place d'Italie)
'Living On Video' had been released for famous Canadian
High Energy label 'Unidisc'. Can you tell us something about your cooperation
I could have had a much better carreer. I was young, inexperienced and vulnerable to the industry's sharks. I dont have anything nice to say about record cies and now we see them struggeling. They will dissapear and I will not miss them. I was always kept in the dark about how big Trans-X really was. For instance a promoter asked the record cie if Trans-X would open live for the group The Police back in 1985. Only recently I found out. I was never told anything. Matra (Unidisc) were the typical record company that just wanted to sell plastic vinyl. They never did any artist developpement. I was unfortunate never to find a real manager. That was my Karma, I guess.
In the same year of
'Living On Video', in 1983, you made other great songs 'Message
On The Radio' and '3-D
Dance'. We would like to know more details about them please?
I think the other tracks have not aged as LOV did. I love doing Nitelife in the live show. I was more into pop songs at the time. My taste leans more towards dance music and techno now.
So many songs you made
in the 80s. Can you say perhaps which one is your dearest? 'Living On Video'?!
LOV is my best track. The album that was released in 1984 was composed, recorded and mixed in 2 weeks. Polydor wanted to release an album because they make more money on LP than Maxi singles. I think it would have been better to release another Maxi single before the album. I am not too pleased myself with this first album. It was rushed and I did not have time to experiment long enough. (Artists are never happy whith their own work) But this is my personal point of view.
In Canada there were
also one great artist, it's 'Lime'. Have you met them and perhaps had a cooperation
or you wished to have it?
I know Denis Lepage of Lime. We met a few times in the studio. He produced some tracks for Trans-X . They were never released. Lime was the first successful artist of the label. Actually Denis Lepage started the label with Lime's Your Love. He later gave up his shares in the business. Unidisc before Lime was just a music store that was involved in import export. Denis Lepage is a very skillfull keyboard player. He did play jazz organ with a band for a while.
I guess you were listening
Italo Disco music and German Italo (some call it as Euro Disco), since you have
been often in Europe and Germany. What do you think about those music styles?It's
a bit different from yours.... Do you have your favorite artists from those
I love Euro Dance. I dont have any favorite. There are some songs I like very much but I always was into my own style. Great groups and producers emerged from Holland and Belgium (Michael Bow- Love and Emotions). Milk Inc has great songs, great producing and a very good vocalist. Kim Wilde has very good tracks. I used to have a crush on her.
But I went back to composing New Age music for some years, I released Gregorian Waves, Ishtar and Renaissance. Albums in which I sing in Latin and old medieval french. I guess I was burnt out by greedy people around me and went into a reclusive state for a number of years.
Can you tell us what
are you doing today and about your World Tour? In which countries you are performing
so I guess some readers of this interview could attend any of your concerts?!
I presented the Trans-X live show in various parts of the world. Mainely large cities like Los Angeles and Moscow. Sweden also is very into Electronic Music. I love Sweden. The Living On Video 25 years show is not easy to sell. It is a concept. A tribute to 25 years of a song. Nobody does that. So there are clubs who dont want the show because they want only 80s retro music. The other more current clubs think I am a retro act or hire only DJs. Hip Hop has somewhat taken a lot of the market that Euro Dance used to have. But Electronic Dance Music will never die.
25 years past since
you first started to play 'Living On Video' and became successfull. Could you
express your thoughts in short about the meaning ot these 25 years for you?
I see much more clearly now where to go with Trans-X than I did 25 years ago. But the music industry is changing rapidly. Then again, I am amazed how popular 80s music is, especially in Russia. I just came back from a live appearance in Moscow and the venue was packed with 30 000 people for the Disco 80s festival. I am now also involved in Internet projects. The main one is LivingOnVideo.tv. I cannot talk about this too much because I am negociating with business partners. This project is very dear to me.
What is next for you, after World Tour? New songs perhaps....
What I am looking for is to collaborate with producers of current Dance and Techno music. Techno music is one of the most powerfull style of music. It is made for dancing and will bring you to a trance. It is the style I get into these days. Techno is the logical step from Hi Nrg.
Do you have any message
for your fans?
I am in contact with fans regularly on the internet. I find that it is part of my job to respond to enquiries etc... I think the era of the untouchable Rock Star has ended.
Thank you very much
for your time and for this interview.
You are very welcomed
*from the www.italo-disco.net
© Zeljko Vujkovic - November 2007