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Interviews (EBM, Electro, Electronica) Interview: Want to know a little bit more about Goteki?
Interview: Goteki

Interview Date : 8th August 2011

Interviewer : Phill Bruce

Gokteki 1


One of the UK’s definitive bands Goteki have helped shaped the death electro genre to encompass their amazing sound.  Goteki recently decided to release their entire back catalogue free for download which is an amazing gift for their fans. I got chance to catch up with Tregenza from Goteki and here’s how it went...



Phill – Can you tell us a little bit of a background about yourself and where in this beautiful world you are from?


Tregenza - I’m a bit of a nomad, although I’m originally from a teeny village in Cornwall, UK called Mousehole. Since then I’ve lived in Cyprus, Dubai, then back to Bristol, then Oxford, now Nottingham. I’m proud to be Cornish, but Bristol is my spiritual home. I’m always happiest when I’m there.

Phill – So what is it about Bristol that makes it so amazing?


Tregenza – It’s hard to explain. It has a happy, calming influence like no other city I’ve been to. The people there have a great effortlessly cool style, and there’s some great bands and venues, but most of all it’s just that miasma of summer happiness that surrounds it!

Phill – At what point in your life did you decide to form your band and why?


Tregenza – It was never something I particularly dreamt about doing when I was a kid. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little but then the Challenger blew up and I changed my mind. I started playing around with basic versions of sequencers when I was about fifteen on my Mac, simple programs called trackers. After a few years dicking around on them, my spooky techy tracks started to form an identity and Sneaky Bat Machine was born, and that became the beginning of a long and treacherous musical journey J Now that I have my day job doing music and FX for video games, I have to find a balance in the amount of time I spend on my own music, but I work hard and fast so I still seem to get a lot written!

Goteki 2

Goteki are (Left to right) Ali-Star, Ross Tregenza and Clive 'Crash' Lewis

Phill – What sort of games do you write music for?


Tregenza –First person shooters for consoles mostly. So far, I’ve composed music or being a sound designer on Timesplitters 2 & 3, Star Wars Battlefront 3 ( don’t ask ), Haze, Rogue Warrior, Alien Versus Predator, and Crysis 2. I recently added a nice little easter egg to Crysis 2. If you get the second downloadable map pack, there’s a level called ‘Gorge’ or something like that (level names change a lot in production) Go to the garage and listen to the music from the tannoy, it’s a xylaphpne version of our song ‘Piranha Advancement’. Woo!

Phill – Writing music and FX for games, does this help provide any inspiration for music for Goteki?


Tregenza – It really has in a way I hadn’t anticipated. It’s become a big defining factor in our new sound. My delving into game design and film style scoring has given me two huge new palette of sound to play with. The result is electro-industrial music infused with a real nice sense of filmic drama, and a touch of video game cheekiness. I’m really happy with what’s happened.

Phill – Who besides yourself is in the band and what background are they from?


Tregenza - There’s been a load of line-up changes but the current two members are the longest serving and most hard-core. Crash is an old friend from Bristol who’s been hammering synths since the Sneaky Bat Machine days. These days he spends most of his time on his electro blog ‘electronicrumours.com’. The other band member is Ali, who I met on the Bristol goth/industrial scene. He started on synths but moved onto bass guitar as time went on. The lucky bastard joined the band within weeks of our first US festival headline slot! They work well as a duo as Crash is now purely into the pop side of electro whereas Ali likes the more goth/indie side, which kind of represents the two extremes of the genre. If I write a new track it’s interesting to see what they say. They rarely like the same ones!

Goteki 3

Mr Tregenza himself

Phill – How has Goteki’s music evolved from the days of Sneaky Bat Machine?


Tregenza – Since both bands are just me from a creative point of view, my projects have evolved as I’ve evolved. Sneaky Bat Machine, like me at the time, was youthful, silly, good fun but lacking any depth or detail. Not to diss my SBM work, I still enjoy it. I’m much more proud of my modern work though, it’s intricate and varied with much less obvious song structures. There’s still a darkly comic edge to a lot of it, but I like to think there’s more than just that.

Phill – Who’s idea was it to use the name Goteki?


Tregenza – I had an endless list of possible names back in the early 2000s. My first choices were very obviously space/sci-fi themed but I figured if I go for something to specifically sci-fi, I will have trapped myself into a limited theme just like I did with SBM. I was playing the game Wipeout obsessively at the time, so a Wipeout hovercar team name was futuristic but at the same time an empty canvas for me to do whatever I wanted with.

Phill – Were there any legal issues you had to overcome to use the name Goteki with it being linked to the game Wipeout?


Tregenza – No, when I remixed a track for TImepslitters 2, the developer’s Lawyers checked with Sony and they were fine with it. Jolly nice of them!

Phill – What did Ali’s move to bass add to the music?


Tregenza – Moving Ali to bass was part of my reaction against dull as pigshit ebm bands standing behind two synths pretending to play them. There’s little joy in watching 3 dudes with flattops and flack jackets mime to their track on iTunes. I brought in a guitarist and moved Ali to real bass (he was already playing synth bass lines before, so he knew the parts). It the band a nice organic feel, but in the end, I slowly moved back to lead synth instead of lead guitar, and that’s where we’ve found our balance live.

Phill – Do you thing the alternative scene has changed through Sneak Bat Machine and Goteki, if so how?


Tregenza – Well depressingly, no, not massively, and Sneaky Bat Machine was 11 years ago! There’s still a ridiculous stream of conservatism running through the scene. For a subculture full of crazy looking people, there’s really not a lot of radical thinking in musical terms. Industrial and ebm bands mostly seem to just listen to other industrial and ebm bands. SO you have a musical version of the in breeding that gets you rednecks like in Deliverance. Branch out! There’s almost no music without some merit if you have a mind open enough actually listen. I’m proud that Goteki’s music has been informed by blues, country, r’n’b, hiphop, dubstep, new wave, and motown. Get listening!

Phill – What are your musical influences?


Tregenza – My enduring main influence is Bowie. Not just as a singer, songwriter but also just the fact he changes his style based on whatever excites him at the time, and he’s remorseless in his manic veering from genre to genre. I love it!


Other than that, I take a lot of the giant masters of various genres – The Beatles, Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash, Georgio Moroder, Creedence, Pantera, Kraftwerk, Duran Duran, The Supremes, The Small Faces. From modern industrial & electro I’d say Nine Inch Nails, Justice, The presets, The Black Ghosts, Covenant, and IAMX. While I still love the international scene surrounding ebm/industrial music, there’s not a lot of music around I rate these days. Combichrist have established a great niche, VNV are still doing their thing with a lot of style, but on the whole it’s a scene that desperately needs some new talent. And for people to stop doing that stupid fucking growly voice. There’s nothing more undignified than a 40 yr old man growling and rasping, singing about wires and dystopian futures with some goth girl he knows standing behind a synth looking confused.

Goteki 4

Tregenza with his excellent photographic style

Phill – Kraftwerk were one of the pioneers of the electro scene, do you feel that they have an influence of the electro music of today ie like Cybergoth, EBM, Industrial, etc?


Tregenza – I think they always will do. Their legacy I think is the use of crazy technology to make the friendliest pop. It’s great to take crazy synths and reign them in, to make something beautiful.

Phill – Is there any band on today’s scene that really catches your ear?


Tregenza – Again, not really, we’re dearly in need of fresh blood. In the UK, Method Cell have managed to bring back some of the style and fun. For out and out balls to the wall insane electro, I love the band Coloured from Oxford (look them up, or listen to the remixes they did for us). We really need some people to step the game up though. There was a highpoint for ebm/futurepop etc in about 2002-2004, and that’s a long ass time ago now.

Phill – Where do you see your band in five years and what are your hopes for the future?


All I really want is to be able to get my music to the people that want to hear it. I’ll always make music, as it’s an essential part of me and I feel really weird and at odds if I haven’t worked on music for a while. I’m currently looking into our options as we move forward into this weird time for music. It’s hard to see where things are going, but important to keep up. I doubt we’ll worry too much about physical discs in the future, and probably just release them as more of a collectable item with loads of extras, for the hardcore fans.


On the whole I’ve also shifted the bands focus to our online presence. I’m more concerned with developing our aesthetic and overall concept as an online entity. We recently released our first music video (search Youtube for Goteki Shuriken) and that was a great experience. Expect more videos, vignettes, studio recitals, and other random media over the coming years! I’ve also started a podcast radio show called Death Electro Social Club (available on iTunes) which is great fun and another great avenue to get our band in people’s brains!


In terms of aesthetic and subject matter, I’m delighted that I have no clue what I’ll be doing in 5 years! I certainly didn’t know five years ago I’d be here now with a big mop of crazy hair and a beard, singing songs about sex and death in Mexico J

Phill – You have your entire back catalogue free for people to download, what made you decide to do this?


Tregenza – There were a few reasons that started to add up and make me want to change the way we do things. First of all, I don’t care about the money, I want people to enjoy my music, so what better way to get it out there than to give it away! I’m sure at least 50% of people will be downloading our stuff illegally anyway, so I can at least make sure they have the proper versions of songs, in high quality format!


For people that still want physical content, we’re gonna make any physical released a real event now. We’ll have box sets, limited artwork, and all the extras we can think of. This means if you just want the songs, you can have them for free. If you want an awesome collectible album, then that’s available for you too. I think it’s a great model that shows some respect to all different kinds of fans.

Take a listen to Goteki:



Phill – Where do the ideas for Goteki’s songs come from?


Tregenza – Usually an album will begin with a loose concept. Santa Muerte for example just started with kind of an image of sand and neon, strippers, murder and muscle cars. That evolved into an album full of songs about sex, death and a sense of travelling with no destination. SO that’s kinda what happens – I’ll get a theme, then song names start popping into my head and I start trying to flush them out. Oddly, I can’t write music unless I know what the song’s going to be called. I’m sure a lot of people do things in completely the opposite way around.

Phill – How did you get into doing the Podcast Death Electro Social Club and has this helped getting Goteki’s music to the masses?


Tregenza – Well it’s all new and exciting at the moment but I think it’s a nice new way to express ourselves and give a bit of life to the ‘death electro’ subgenre I’m pushing. I’ll be having guest co-hosts from various other bands for each episode, so it should be good fun. The debut episodes with Crash & Ali from Goteki in were drunken, silly and awesome.

Phill –Is there any place or venue you would like to play at and why?


Tregenza - I’d really love to play in Moscow. We’ve always had great support from our Russian fans, and almost played there many times, but things always go wrong. One day, be patient Russian Goteki troopers, we’ll get to you! Other than that, we’d really love to get back to America. Every gig we’ve played has been amazing and most of our fans are from the US, so I really need to get us back over the ocean!

Phill – Where has been your most favourite gig you have played and what made it special?


Tregenza – Wow, that’s tricky. SO many years of great times, great places, great people. The A38 battleship in Budapest was pretty amazing. Other than that, I guess some of the grander ones like the bigger festivals we’ve played have been amazing. Actually one of my favourite gigs ever was in Montreal. The promoter went AWOL but the people looking after us took us to Montreal anyway to see if the gig was still on. Turns out he’d paid for the venue and staff and then disappeared. We decided to play anyway and played to the other UK band with us and the management team in a 500 capacity venue, then got drunk with some awesome Montreal folk downstairs. Good night!

Phill – Where do you think in this world has the biggest Goteki fan base?


Tregenza – Probably Hungary! Not sure how or why that happened, but those awesome Hungarian folk love a bit of Goteki. We love them too! According to the various states I collect from websites and sales, about 60% of our fan base is from the US, but it’s tricky to gauge cos it’s such a big place. I really need to do more focused pushes on specific cities I think, to get the word out.

Phill – The alternative scene in the UK seems to have slowed a little, do you feel that it may pick back up having great talented bands like Goteki?


Tregenza - Haha, that’s very kind of you! I hope so though. We were kind of out of the scene for a few years trying some other projects so hopefully we’ll come back and cross pollinate a bit like some electro-bees!

Phill – Without giving too much away is there any instrument or program you wouldn’t be without and why?


Tregenza - There’s not one tool ( other than my sequencer Cubase ) that I’ve used all through the history of Goteki, but a few years ago I realized there’s a kind of balance you need to achieve. I always need one powerful virtual analog style synth for aggressive lead lines, arpeggios etc, then I need a really convincing suite of traditional instrument emulators – primarily a really good piano, violin, cello etc. And of course something to emulate commodore sounds!


Currently, I’m a huge fan of Native Instruments stuff for synths etc, Eastwest play for traditional stuff, and Sony Oxford’s amazing mastering tools, that are basically a great big ‘make it better’ button!

Phill – Working with games what is your favourite game of all time?


Tregenza – I love the Grand Theft Auto games the most I think. Their balances of comedy, tragedy, action and mood is unparalleled. Companies like Rock Star are doing a great job breaking down the very reasonable stereotypes about shitty video game writing and characterization, which is still rife.

Phill – Over the many years what do you think was the greatest innovation in gaming?


Tregenza – Maybe Metal Gear Solid’s re-invention of the shooter bringing stealth and cover fire into play. The creator Hideo Kojima said he got the idea form the bunkers in Space Invaders, which the player can use to hide from the invader’s fire. I’d never thought of it that way, but Space Invaders does indeed have stealth, covering fire and deformable scenery! I think space invaders are fresh on my mind cos I just had another 5 hours of them tattooed onto my left arm J

Phill – What’s your favourite cartoon?


Tregenza – Roger Ramjet.

Phill – What’s your true inspiration for living life?


Tregenza – I think it’s the never ending stream of happy times you can have if you try to be a good person, enjoy yourself and don’t be afraid to try new things!

Phill – If you could have any pet real or fictitious what would it be?


Tregenza – Aha! Awesome question because in fact I’m getting a new pet in 10 days. He’s an African pygmy hedgehog we’re gonna called Henry Higgins. Type ‘hedgehog’ and ‘bath’ into Google and tell me you don’t want one!

Phill – Thank you for giving Grave Concerns this interview, is there anything you would like to add?


Tregenza – Just a big thank you to Grave Concerns for taking such an interested. Go and visit www.goteki.co.uk for free downloads of our entire back catalogue and the chance to buy or listen to our new album ‘Santa Muerte’. Also, we’re playing two UK gigs with KMFDM later in the year, we’ll be pulling out all the stops for those so be there


Phill - Good luck with the new album Santa Muerte, thanks again.




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