“The electronic music scene never stops evolving…”
Renato Moyssén is the brains behind Artefaktor, a Mexico-based radio station whose focus is primarily on electronic and 80s music. The station features a variety of hosts such as the legendary Rusty Egan, alongside presenters such as Mat Mckenzie (who has been with Renato since the beginning), Johnny Normal, Bridget Gray, Stuart Calder and Colin Spencer. As a result, it’s built up a large following on social media and has become one of the most popular hubs for fans of everything from synth-pop to electronica.
Outside of the broadcasts, Artefaktor has also been making waves in the world of live events. This resulted in the Artefaktor Live 3 event held in London earlier this year, which featured acts such as Empathy Test, Vogon Poetry, Cult With No Name, Nature Of Wires, Roxi Drive, Morgan King and more.
Now Renato is set to stage Artefaktor Live 4, an ambitious endeavour which will be staged in 3 cities around the world, including London, Berlin and Copenhagen. Among the acts scheduled to take part are Deutsche Bank, Huguenot, Psyche, Fragrance., Cult With No Name, Nature of Wires, Vogon Poetry, Static Shore, The Rude Awakening and e-bit among others.
The Electricity Club sat down with Renato to discuss the challenges that these events bring, as well as what the future holds for Artefaktor.
How did you first develop an interest in electronic music and what sort of electronic music scene exists in Mexico?
Hi Paul, before I answer to this, I have to apologize publicly that I didn’t recall your magazine was the real and original one.
Now, to answer your question, since I was 15 years old, I have been very interested in disco music (but with electronic influences) like Gino Soccio, and Giorgio Moroder. Even the song ‘Jump’ from the project The Ring has these kinds of sounds. In 1974, thanks to my brother, I discovered the Kraftwerk Autobahn album. I found the ‘Autobahn’ track very interesting, but on side B there are gems like ‘Kometenmelodie 1 & 2’. A bit later, I discovered Ultravox with John Foxx. Then later, with Midge Ure, Visage, Landscape, OMD, Telex, and Classix Nouveaux. I also liked the very first records from Duran Duran, Tears For Fears and Spandau Ballet. Those are all significant musical groups to me.
In Mexico, the electronic music scene has been developing since the 80s with bands like Size, Casino Shangai, and Old Fashion. More recently, there are some noteworthy bands such as Nortec, Dimitri Berzerk, Nórdika and especially with Syntax Xtructure. So the Mexican scene remains quite dynamic.
Which bands or artists have had the biggest impact on your interests in electronic music?
Last November, Midge Ure came to Mexico. It was the first time that I had seen him live. Right in the middle of the concert, I realised that Ultravox, OMD, Depeche Mode, Kraftwerk and Yello have formed the musical soundtrack of my life. In addition, Adam And The Ants and Dead Or Alive impacted me very deeply since I saw them on video in the early 80s when MTV wasn’t a bad joke.
Artefaktor Live 3 (see TEC review previously), which took place earlier this year, was a large scale event with its own challenges. What lessons did you learn from running that event?
Artefaktor Live 3 was a formidable undertaking for me because I planned everything on my own. Of course, I had lots of people supporting me including 15 bands (impossible to mention all of them here), but I did the event without interference from meddling partners. I took my own decisions and assumed my own risks.
Technically, it was difficult. I knew that we were running behind schedule, but in the end we were able to listen to our headliners, Empathy Test’s, full set thanks to Electrowerkz. Fortunately, all the bands involved, the audience and me were very satisfied in the end.
Every Artefaktor event is very stressful for me because I don’t want to miss or mess up any details. Finally, I should apologize to all the people with whom I didn’t have the chance to chat or even greet at AL3.
How do you choose which acts to perform at these events?
Well, that depends on several factors such as popularity, sound quality, musical consistency. We also looked for bands who could easily do a 20-30 minutes set regardless of whether they were new or not. Lastly, it didn’t matter too if they had performed at a previous Artefaktor event or not.
For example, during the year, when I have the chance to participate on the chat threads for the Facebook or Twitter feeds for our Artefaktor shows, I can instantly see people’s reactions. I specifically look at the “likes” to an artist pic, art cover or song in real time. Most importantly, I can gain valuable insight into what is happening in the moment.
For Artefaktor Live 4 you’ve obviously aimed for something much more ambitious, with events staged across 3 countries. What were the biggest challenges involved in organising this?
It’s a very big challenge but thankfully, since I have very good friends supporting these events, the burden of organizing and promoting these events has lessened. I’m running London and Copenhagen on my own. However, I had to get some extra last minute help from some REAL friends for Artefaktor 4 Copenhagen. This was because my Danish concert partner pulled out at the last moment. That was very unprofessional and in the end, I was left to straighten out the mess. I had never been to Copenhagen, but I had some important contacts in the musical scene there. Regarding Berlin, I have gotten invaluable help from Anika Tornow and Siegmar Mischer from e-bit. They have really been a BIG help since the beginning on everything related to the Berlin event.
Obviously the music industry has changed dramatically over the past few decades. What are your thoughts on the current electronic music industry?
It’s a good question. I really can’t see why some of these amazing bands aren’t getting the public recognition they deserve outside of Artefaktor as well as the significant airplay they have received on several electronic music radio stations. On the other hand, I have seen few outstanding bands crossing musical boundaries like Tiny Magnetic Pets, NINA, Shelter, Empathy Test and Tenek. They’ve gone on tour and opened for big names like OMD and Midge Ure, among others.
At the moment, we are talking about just few relatively bands, but I hope their work in support of the big names in electronic music will serve to highlight and promote all the bands that we play on Artefaktor Radio. I would also invite any new bands who want airplay and promotion to get on Artefaktor and increase their opportunities to build a global audience. Our internet radio station has penetrated new markets with electronic music all over the world. Finally, I hope the next time you and I can have a chat about some of the bands that I’m so excited to host at Artefaktor Live 4 including for example: Nature Of Wires, Fragance., and Huguenot among so many other talented bands!
What’s in the future for both Artefaktor Radio and Artefaktor Live?
To keep building our audience on the radio and developing even bigger and better Artefaktor Live events. This hard work is not only my creative dream. It’s the brainchild of our incredible sacrifice of our Artefaktor DJs. They truly spend hours and hours listening to new and old music. They are selecting, recording and curating the best and different music for their shows. That’s why I really want to thank each of them for the tireless work they do all the year! Fortunately, we have been steadily growing our operation. Artefaktor has now 22 shows and 20 professional DJs on air and almost 10,000 followers on Facebook! We never get tired of seeking new challenges to improve and provide quality programming for our audience. Our principal mission is to support independent and non-signed artists. We are always looking for new and exciting music to play. The electronic music scene never stops evolving, and Artefaktor Radio is uniquely positioned to branch out wherever our creative path takes us.
Thank you Paul for having me on this brilliant magazine.
Artefaktor Live 4 takes place in London, Copenhagen and Cologne 2020. Full details: https://artefaktorradio.com/event/artefaktor-live-4-london-berlin-copenhagen/