Alec Empire began his career as an agitator and noise maker in late ‘80s West Berlin. Following the fall of the Wall in 1989, a young Empire looked to the rebellious sounds of techno, acid house and punk to inform a new project: Atari Teenage Riot. The trio debuted in 1992 as part of Germany’s rave community but soon became known, and sometimes despised, for the speed, noise and political stance of its self-styled digital hardcore sound. In 1994, Empire founded the Digital Hardcore label as a home for his and ATR’s brand of punk-meets-dance music. By the time ATR split up in 2000 both the group and its founder had become household names beyond their humble beginnings with fans from Trent Reznor to DJ Q-Bert via Keiji Haino.
In this lecture as part of the Red Bull Music Academy Bass Camp Berlin 2017, Alec Empire recalled the chaos and inspiration of Berlin’s reunification years, techno’s transformation and the need for music to remain political.