release by the German band Sabotage Q.C.Q.C. came in the December of 1992,
“Sabotape” (M&E 143), and it was a runaway winner of our Release Of The
Season with a 3 star Glue It In Yer Tapedeck rating. At the time, the
86.9% it scored on my review notes made it the highest rated M&E release to
date. It would only ever be beaten three times, out of
all the 457 M&E releases that followed it. At the front of this
intricately produced sound was the voice of an angel, I heard and I was
smitten. “You’re mine!” She sang on that first album, and I dropped to my
knees and cried “Take me now!” And hit my elbow on the coffee table in the
process. So I stared at her photo for a while. And the pain went away. Sigh.
It’s my pleasure now to interview that girl of my dreams, Isabelle Gernand.
But no fawning, I promised myself…
Isabelle Gernand, sigh. Were there
two men with her? I never noticed...
It would have been in the
summer of 1992 that you first made contact with us, really hard to believe
it was over 20 years ago. I recall being extremely impressed with the sheer
professionalism of the production and mixing. And okay, I admit it, I
totally fell in love with your voice, but I said no fawning. It occurs to me
now that I know nothing of your musical career before that
point, perhaps you could give us a brief history?
Thanks a lot for inviting me, I was really surprised (positively) to hear
from you. Oh boy, Mick, that has a simple reason: there was no musical
“career” before that date
I just started end of the 80ies in a rehearsal room which was stinky and
dark and really not nice to sing in, but we wanted to play together, so we
just started writing songs there and rehearsing them.
“Sabotape” was warmly received by the M&E faithful, reaching no.11 in our
chart, an impressive performance for a band from outside of our more usual
psychedelic/spacerock sphere. There was clearly something quite special
about Sabotage, as if being a superb multi-lingual European underground
teknoid plus band wasn’t enough; the imaginative use of sequencers
(especially at the lower frequency end of the spectrum), almost making them
‘dance’ in their own right, and the complete lack of fear and conformity
when it came to experimentation, “kind of like Giorgio Moroder on acid”, I
remember writing in one review. What are your memories of your early days in
the tape underground and how did your joining up with M&E affect things?
Thank you. We were big Pankow fans then, the band from Italy (they just did
a remix for our new album, so we really know them since a long time). They
took us with them on tour and told us they like us so much that they would
like to produce our first album in Florence. That was great for us. But on
tour we had nothing to sell and little money, so we made tapes to sell them
after the shows, so we could afford going on tour with them (we were not
paid anything) and that went really well. The underground scene helped us
spread the word about us and to sell enough so we wouldn’t starve to death,
so that was really extremely important for us!!
There was something about your vocal style that really got to me, that
ability to wail like Siouxsie one minute, then drift effortlessly to the
higher registers, almost angelic, the next. And there was something very
plaintive about it too, especially evident on “Slavery” (one of my favourite
songs of all time by anybody), a sadness, it would make all the hairs on the
back of my neck stand on end, we call it ‘goose bumps’ in English. That
wonderful voice, put together with the labyrinthine complexity of the music…
well, wow, it made dance music into a creative artform. I enjoyed many an
hour exploring every nuance through the most expensive headphones I could
afford. How much of an input did you have when it came to production and
what singers most influenced your vocal style?
"Slavery" - Sadly, Isabelle
escaped from my cellar when I was having tea.