I canít really remember on which weird paths I first came across the Austrian label Fettkakao but once I began checking out their back catalogue and stumbled upon Vortex Rex I was really impressed. Things as potentially hip as this usually only happen in New York or maybe London and not in Vienna. Both, the ep and the lp, really got me. And because I think that far too many people know by far too little things about Vortex Rex I decided to drop Ilias Dahimene, the head behind this project, a line and ask him some questions.
Letís start with some basic information. Who or what is Vortex Rex?
Vortex Rex started out as a thing I did on my own and then got more people involved: first I played live with Rudi who plays with The Hidden Cameras now and writes all songs for and plays in Go Die Big City and Anna, Toxic a great Hip Hop producer from Vienna helped me recording my stuff and now I play with two awesome people called Ella and Bernhard. Everyone I played and recorded with is a great individual. I think I got very lucky to work exclusively with genuine and talented people. And they're fun to hang out with.
What are your influences both musically and not musically?
I really love Bands/Artists like Guns N Roses, Nirvana, Bob Dylan, !!!, James Chance, Aaliyah and many more...I'm pretty much surrounded by music all the time because I love it very much. My girlfriend got me into Italo Disco lately. I listen to everything.
Of course there are influences besides music too. I've been skateboarding for the last 12 years. I love swimming and water. I'm learning how to ride horses now. I like to learn new things. Of course your daily life corresponds with your music. Thatís just natural I guess.
In the media there is a lot of talk about a thing called New Weird America. Do you think that there is something similar in the old world like New Weird Europe or something? And would you consider yourself part of it?
I try not to think too much about journalistic aspects of music and genres and scenes. Of course there are different styles of music. I think that music is a big way of communication. Musicians are always responding. Since there are individuals there has to be individual music. But I don't believe in the myth of originality of music. Originality and music don't fit together. It seems to me that aspects like originality are also journalistic and commercial categories but a lot of people apply those categories in the way how they judge music. I think you can't do that. It doesn't feel right. I think it is stupid.
What do lo-fi and d.i.y. mean to you? Are these things important for you or are they just means to an end?
Well of course the lo fi thing is an aesthetical/artistical choice which I don't think we will continue to carry on our next album, because it wouldn't fit the new songs. I'm looking forward to record our new album. I want it to be very warm. There should be more warm music.
I think that d.i.y. seems like an empty phrase because in every creation someone had to make an effort to get things done. I think it's OK that people connect this phrase to a lifestyle and many people owe a lot to this lifestyle. Sometimes it can be pretty narrow minded though but that's probably just normal and even though it can be pretty annoying it's still ok until it gets too dogmatic. That goes with every lifestyle of course.
Do you think that Vienna as a city and its mood have influenced your music? Or would Vortex Rex sound the same if you lived in Berlin or Paris or Los Angeles? How much Vienna is in Vortex Rex?
Quite a bit. I grew up on the countryside most of the time and we also moved a lot so i got to know many places. And I'm travelling a lot. I think geographical aspects are found in every music, i can't explain why but it seems logical. American Culture obviously has a big effect on European culture but also vice versa. I think I can't answer your question directly but of course the last years in Vienna kind of formed me and of course it can be found in the music of Vortex Rex. But there are other aspects too I think.
But living in Vienna is really good right now. Many people are doing their own thing. I don't think that there were ever so many good musicians, artists and places to party as nowadays.
Austria is still some kind of terra incognita in the music world apart from Falco maybe. However there is lotís of interesting music to be discovered in the alpine republic. Why do you think is it that bands and artists from Austria donít get so much attention in other countries unlike e.g. those from Sweden or Britain?
I think most of the bands and musicians in Austria are kind of lazy. When you grow up in Austria you grow up in a very secure and wealthy environment and making music often means to give this up. Also compared to Britain and Germany it is a rather small country so...you can do the math.
You seem to be closely connected to Fettkakao. Is it just your label or is there more? Whatís the story behind this connection?
Fettkakao is a friends label. He's called Andi and he's great. I also run a label which is called Seayou. I also want to publish books. I guess. And movies. But I'm too broke.
A few weeks ago I had a private dj battle with a friend and he played a song by EAV (Erste Allgemeine Verunsicherung) and we found both that this band is very much underrated because most people regard them as a funny carnival band or something without noticing their social criticism? As you are, like them, from Austria what do you think about this band?
I listened to them a lot when I was a kid but I don't know too much about them. But they have some really good songs. I like "300 PS". They definitely worked with social topics and I think they did it quite well as far as I can remember. There was some good music and art going on in Austria in the late 70ies and early 80ies but it hasn't really affected me. Maybe in a few years...
What are your plans for the future?
Try to avoid trouble.
Thank you for the interview. Feel free to add shoutouts, props, whatever!
Thank you too! Thanks for giving me the opportunity of taking time out to think about Vortex Rex even if it's weird and even if it feels not right it's been fun!
Vortex Rex got two records out on Fettkakao and a remix ep on Seayou.