I started receiving some tapes from Eriek some time in the mid 1990s I believe. It was apparent from the get go that he produced high quality releases with a lot of attention to detail. The tapes themselves sounded full and rich and although eclectic tended to run to dark ambient, especially on the later CDs.He also released the occasional vinyl edition.
a release from Dutch writer and singer ( of the band Trespassers W), Cor Gout and his solo CDR from 2001.
Although primarily an outlet for European projects, EE tapes also released work from the USA ( Big City Orch, Post Prandials, Viktimized Karcass), and Canada ( The Infant Cycle) . Many of the prominent European underground artists of the time had tapes and Cds on EE, including Deleted, De Fabriek, Messy, Maeror Tri, Brume, Dieter Muh and others. Covers from Muh , Brume , Bene Gesserit,and Maeror Tri
interview with Eriek Van Havere
How did you first hear about the underground, home recording music scene?
I’ve always been a greedy music lover and record collector for as long as I can remember, always searching for other music than what was offered in the charts….
Progrock, jazz, kraut, symphonic rock, but very much singer-songwriters too, you name it, anything with the right emotion for me!
I used to put my music on tape, to preserve the vinyl, so I was acquainted with tapes a very long time ago!
What bothered me a lot was the fact that all those artists were totally unreachable for contact, like they were some kind of idols, something I detest…..
One day I bought some tapes in a record shop in Ghent which changed my life forever, it was a kind of strange music with a very strong emotional approach: Human Flesh and Pseudo Code!
Luckily there was a contact address on the cover (“don’t hesitate to contact us, we need it”), it appeared to be Alain Neffe and the rest is history!
Other contacts followed very soon like Frans de Waard, Sandy Nys, Dirk Serries, A. Hulme (OYC/Final Image), Martin Bowes (Attrition), Gary Levermore (Third Mind Records) or Wolfgang Dorninger (die Ind), they were some of my earliest contacts.
What got you interested in starting an underground label?
A combination of things really. I was already involved in concerts through a record shop where I helped out (The Kitchen) and I was co-editor of a fanzine called Bla Bla, writing about the underground.
But concerts get forgotten soon and when you read about something, you don’t hear the sounds….
So inspired by the many active underground labels I knew, I decided to start my own label. The only format I could afford were tapes…..
Did you have a philosophy or a particular sound you were trying to advocate on EE Tapes? How did you decide on the artists for the first few tapes?
No particular philosophy except maybe promoting the artists whose sounds I liked?
As to compilations I’ve always worked by personal invitation. “Send me a dark imaginary soundtrack of your inner mind” I used for the long-running Notre-Dame series (13 volumes). Maybe this phrase set the tone for the darker electronic sound?
But I did rock releases too, like Viktimized Karcass, Na Und or Dull Schicksal.
Most full tapes came by invitation too as far as I can remember…..
Were you in touch with other people who ran labels at the time like: Alain Neffe, Rodolfo Protti, Matthias Lang…did you exchange ideas about the network with them?
Indeed I was! We used to trade a lot! Some other names involve Hahamandad (Amanda Man & Messy), Fool’s Paradise (Robin Chuter), Ladd-Frith (Brian Ladd & Julie Frith), Cause & Effect, Corrosive Tapes just to name a few.
My mail box was quite an addiction for me in those days, I loved receiving strange packets & mail!
Also the radioshow we had (‘Touchtone’ on Radio Progres) contributed a lot to that!
It seemed to me that the European scene was more intimate than the American movement. Was it simply because the countries are closer and easier to visit?
Probably, yeah! Moreover we did an annual network meeting over here with performances, label fairs & mail art exhibitions! Crazy days with little budget but lots of fun and energy!
It all took place in youth centre Clichee (which later changed its name to Kompas) in my hometown Sint-Niklaas (B). In Holland a similar happening was organised by Hahamandad in Terneuzen.
We’re both still in contact, be it not on a regular basis….
How about mail art? Did you ever participate in those type of projects?
I was in contact with mail artists, I integrated their work in the booklets that came with the comps.
But I never participated to any mail art project myself, I’m more of an audio person.
The mail art section was however very present at our network meetings, curated by the honorable Sztuka Fabryka (www.sztuka-fabryka.be )
Did you ever come to America? Were you in touch with people like Al Margolis, Carl Howard, das, or Zan Hoffman?
I’ve never been to the USA! I’m more of a mind traveller myself…..but I was surely in correspondence with each one of them! I did meet das & ninah pixie in Holland though, very nice people!
Did you have your own music project at the time?
Not at the time. I also never played an instrument, guess it’s not in my power…..
On your CD releases you spent a lot of time making high quality presentations with special oversize covers? Why go to all the expense?
Any release deserves a good presentation I think!
The fact that I chose for the 7” format has to do with my love for 7” vinyl records.
I’m currently releasing 7” vinyls in a series dedicated to the 80’s! I put out already The Misz and a selection of Insane groups (Subject, Human Dance, Bene Gesserit, M.A.L., Pseudo Code) from Belgium, and there’s a German project next: Nostalgie Eternelle. There’ll be a second volume of The Insanely Happy EP too! For those interested: pre-order, cause they’re gone in no time (250 copies)!
Besides ease and speed of communication, how has the internet affected what you do?
I believe it has a lot of advantages if you can pick out what suits you the best.
You can sell there or (re-)discover old contacts if you feel like it (most are still around!), or you can find what you’ve never found before, amazing sometimes: everything is to be found and is for sale nowadays!
Did you know I only have a personal computer at home since 2 years! Of course I worked with the computer before at work…..
Now this machine is almost indispensable, alas….a curse and a pleasure at the same time!
Do you think that there is a difference in the community spirit of yesterdays mail culture and today’s digital one?
No, don’t think so: only the tools have changed and make it much easier today!
Thanks Eriek, all the best, Don