The Empire is back!

DJ Alec Empire performs at DXO on 20 September, first time in Singapore since ATR split 

Jasmine Koo
Oops! Writer
A Singapore Polytechnic publication for students by students
Supported by the Department of Language and Communication, Singapore Polytechnic

DJ Alec Empire, the experimental German artist will showcase his finest works in a 3-hour set at the Alternation party at DXO on 20th September. He last played here at Zouk in 1996. Empire was just on tour with NINE INCH NAILS right before coming to Singapore.

The founder of Digital Hardcore Records and Atari Teenage Riot (ATR), Empire is probably known as the most controversial electronic artist in the world.

His works span different genres of music, though he is more well-known for digital hardcore, a term coined by Empire himself to describe the sound made by ATR. Digital hardcore fuses elements of punk and electronica characterized with Empire’s trademark, spoken/shouted English vocals.

Oops! did a phone interview with Alec Empire in Germany, where he just finished a great show in Munich on 6th Sept at 3am, German time.

Q: For your upcoming performance in Singapore, how do you feel about being in a city that is more known for being straight-laced and her adherence to strict rules and fines?

Empire: The last time I played in Singapore was 1996. When I played, there were rules and I don’t go too crazy. I played in so many parts of the world, and what I do is, I just play with it. 

Q: What you feel about the Singapore Music Scene?

Empire: What I know is only a fractional. All I heard about them were through emails and the Internet. Singapore music has always, in my opinion, (been more) American techno.

What I realized was that people in Asia do not realize that sound takes a very different perspective in my view. However, I hope that the people I meet will help in the creation of my music. 

Q. In trying to reach out to more people, how do you plan to stay true to your musical ideals and not compromise what you believe in without being seen as a negative influence in more ‘traditional societies’ that are not as forward thinking?

Empire: I see myself as a musician, I create how I feel about the world, and I don’t really look down on people. I think it is appropriate for certain freedom and space for criticism.

At some points, things will change and move forward and it is just a matter of time. I feel really relaxed and I have to make criticism to help them realize.

To stay true to my musical ideals, it takes self determination, not to live up to other traditional rules that was made by people who are not even our generation. It is every generation’s job to judge what is suitable for them.  

Q3. You once mentioned in an interview (to Gothtronic in 2005) that your ‘perfect society’ should be one ‘unlike the American dream, of being a capitalist’, how do you think your idea stands in this world now where the chase for materialism is seen as being a need and not a want?

Empire: I think it’s a complex question. That point, a lot of people question me. Think about the effects of globalization. The profits are being made by a very small minority of the world and many people don’t see the profit going back to the majority. There is already a radical change in the way the system works now. However, unemployment is getting higher in Germany and there is an increase in social problems. It is a complex issue but personally, I feel that things have to change to a totally different direction. Injustice cannot go on. Many companies make money, costing people’s life in the 3rd world countries.  

Some people in the world have 30 cars, but then, there are some who cannot even afford to bring their children to the doctors’ when they are sick. 

Q4. What do you think of the current music scene and is any there music talents now that you think have managed to stay true to their music and yet are able to reach the masses?

Empire: Music industry is very reflective and it reflects the society. The problem is with downloads. In my discussion with other musicians, independent labels are always innovators. They kept building new stuff and new bands before commercialization. The independent scene keeps coming up with new ideas. However, this kind of evolution slowed down so much. UK and England have very conservative music coming up. If you look at myspace, you can discover very interesting music.

The music industry now is something risky, seems like watching a movie again and again. 

Q5. On a lighter note, what are your plans while in Singapore, besides enjoying some shopping perhaps?

Empire: I want to see how the city has changed in the last ten years. I think it’ll be very interesting to see the place, it feels to me that I’ll remember the place. 10 years makes a big difference.

Q6. Finally, something you want to say to the youths in Singapore…..

Empire: COME TO THE CLUB ON THAT NIGHT. Who knows when is the next time. Anything can happen when we are on the space together. We can create a very special night with very intense music. It is like almost an experience. So come down to DXO on 20th Sep ’07. 

For more information about Alec Empire, visit
For ticketing information, visit


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