IF? Records is the eclectic brainchild of DJ and music journalist Andrez Bergen. Beginning in 1992 as an experimental
video outlet, IF? has gone on to explore the realms of sculpture and installation-based art, always with one eye firmly upon
progressive new directions and the fringe elements of the mainstream. It's this philosophy which has helped shape his sideline
project IF? Records and the live music events put on by IF? in conjunction with So!! Productions - most notably in relation
to the 'Zoetrope' live electro sessions this year.
Andrez started up the label at the beginning of 1995 and since then IF? has been responsible for the two 'Zeitgeist'
compilations of Melbourne-based techno and experimental electronic sounds, the 'Perception Camera' album by Guyver 3, and
EP's each by Soulenoid and Little Nobody. "I started IF? Records principally because I was receiving all these great demo
tapes from local artists for my show on PBS, and no-one here was putting them out. Rather than sitting around griping about
it, I thought I'd try and help them myself." He shrugs. "If we were making a decent profit or if I had a whole wad of spare
cash then I'd obviously be doing a lot more with the label because there are some fantastic producers coming through in Melbourne,
but you know how it is where finances are involved . . ."
Foremost in the IF? ideology has been the support of local talent, both through the label and the live gigs they put
on. To this extent IF? has helped to establish the careers of more recent Melbourne-based producers such as Soulenoid, Guyver
3, Blimp, Little Nobody, Honeysmack, Amnesia and TR-Storm as well as more established artists like Voiteck, Zen Paradox, Black
Lung and FSOM. What's in store for the label?
"Right now we're concentrating on the live techno events such as Zoetrope and our work with Club Filter, and that's
done through our new subsidiary which we call So!! Productions - it kind of has a good ring to it; it sounds a bit more affirmative
and decisive with two exclamation marks rather than just a humble question mark," Andrez reports with a facetious grin.
Other work is also afoot. "That's the big one - 'Z3'. Sounds enigmatic, doesn't it?" he quips. "Kind of like 'T2 -
Judgement Day' or 'ID4'. If we can do anything like the marketing and propaganda campaign those people mustered up, then we'll
sell a couple of hundred thousand copies before the CD's even pressed!" He pauses to savour the thought. "But unfortunately
our budget is about a millionth of what they had for those films - literally! - so I think our release will be a little more
"Anyway, 'Z3' is just the acronym for 'Zeitgeist 3'. We've been compiling it for a few months now, generally taking
our time and working to make it something special. There's got to be a sense of progression about it when compared with the
previous two compilations, and I think we're finding just that. I think it might surprise a few people - this time it's more
oriented towards a dancefloor scenario but it's still progressive and subversive in its own way. 'Z3' is an open drift-net
that takes in a range of influences, from nu-skool electro to techno, house and drum 'n' bass - Melbourne style."
Andrez goes on to note the producers who have been confirmed for this compilation. "People like Voiteck, Zen Paradox,
TR-Storm, Soulenoid, Honeysmack, Blimp and Little Nobody, as well as a few new artists."
Remixes by respected German producers Thomas P Heckmann (alias Drax) and Martin Damm (Biochip C & Subsonic 808)
graced the first two compilations - will this international injection take place on the third? "Well, we got a remix from
Cem Oral [aka Jammin' Unit and G104] from Pharma Records over in Berlin - it's a flanged-out, fucked-up interpretation of
the Krang track that appeared on 'Zeitgeist 2' and it's a treat!"
Every two months IF? puts on the Zoetrope gigs at the Punters Club in Fitzroy. What is so special about these events?
"The chance to see and hear regular performances by local up-and-coming artists - and all of it is completely improvised and
performed on the night rather than played straight off a DAT. This kind of event is something that's not really been supported
on a regular basis here in Melbourne, and it's something that we've fine-tuned over the past three years. We started off with
the Zeitsprung gigs a couple of years back and we put on a few large rave parties where the live acts out-numbered the DJs
- and those parties went off! So we know what we're doing. The Zoetrope sessions mean that we can experiment and shake things
up a bit, and the producers themselves are given free-range to do whatever they want on the spur of the moment. Sometimes
it's anarchic, but most of the time it works brilliantly. Shit, I mean I'm still not sick of these gigs after three years
There's another reason as Andrez relates: "More than anything else it gives these guys the opportunity to perform before
an audience, and in that way fine-tune their craft. We arranged the debut live gigs for Soulenoid, Blimp, Guyver 3, Tee-Art,
Little Nobody, Graham Mono and VC Faktor, and that's something we're happy about because they've all gone on with it. Hopefully
we can help other new artists as they come through."
At Zoetrope 3 this Thursday night the artists performing live are Blimp, Soulenoid, Tee-Art and Little Nobody. "Blimp
has really progressed in leaps and bounds since he sent us a demo tape for 'Zeitgeist 2' early last year," advises Andrez,
"particularly in relation to his live work, which is a fusion of funky house and minimalist techno. Soulenoid of course is
one of the original crew at IF? and he always pulls something special out of the hat - though who knows if it'll be Detroit-influenced
techno in the mold of Robert Hood or abstract drum 'n' bass more related to Squarepusher . . .? That's the surprise of the
moment. This will also be Tee-Art's debut live gig. He's been making music for about four years and he's part of Voiteck's
Clicke posse, so expect something along the lines of electro with hip hop beats. As for Little Nobody, you tell me!"
The Zoetrope sessions are a vital cog in the IF? itinerary. "It's not about making money - surprise, surprise - because
to tell the truth we've actually lost money at a lot of the events we put on. It's also not just about the music. It's the
event as a whole interactive environment, complete with its own energy and vibe - that's why we've dubbed Zoetrope 3 'IF?
Goes Wild'. We've got the sound engineers alongside visual installations by Vulvarts and Zenith, and again the working philosophy
here is to be inventive, subversive and basically over-the-top."
Andrez has run his own radio show called 'Cyberdada' on local station PBS FM over the past three years and he also
DJs at various places - more recently including the Zoetrope gigs, Club Filter, Teriyaki Anarki Saki, TransAtlantic, The Big
Bang Theory, Belfast 3, The Advent, Where The Wild Things Are and the Global Village Shut-Down Party. "God, please don't ask
me what I play!" he mutters as he rolls his eyes. "That's what I always hassle other people about and now I know why it's
a tough one! .. . . well, I guess I play anything from minimal flanged-out techno to progressive house and on into stuff like
the dark jungle inclinations of people like Ed Rush and Dillinja - anything with a sense of a groove, even if it's a fucked
up one. I mix it all up in one very big melting pot and just hope that it all comes together nice and safely. Sometimes it
does. The thing is that I love the music that I play and I love the chance to get other people to hear those tracks - either
on the airwaves or the dancefloor."
Given his work with the label, the radio show and the print media, what overseas directions does Andrez see as the
most relevant and inspiring? "Hmmm . . . I'd say it has more to do with particular people than particular styles. It's always
changing but right now I'd have to say people right across the board like Jeff Mills, Neil Landstrumm, Fumiya Tanaka, Jammin'
Unit, Daft Punk, Luke Slater, I:Cube, Basement Jaxx, Coldcut and Ian Pooley under his Ides moniker on AFU. The Advent and
Surgeon are doing some interesting things. Drum 'n' bass wise I'm always looking out for new material by Ed Rush, DJ SS, Dillinja,
Optical, Luke Vibert, Amon Tobin and Squarepusher . . . So you're looking at labels such as Pharma, No U-Turn, Axis and Purpose
Maker, Tresor, Force Inc, Peacefrog, Prototype, Ninja Tune, Versatile, Rephlex, Dirty House, Thomas Heckmann's AFU and Trope
imprints . . . I've probably left somebody important out, but what can you do?"
As a final note what epitaph would best capture the spirit of what Andrez and his IF? and So!! accomplices are trying
to achieve? "Most of all it's about supporting Melbourne artists. There's a renaissance happening right now, right here in
this city, and if we can help to nurture, encourage and promote the new people coming through then we're happy. There's that
word again - 'if'. I'd like to make it a definite case of 'so'. That'd be cool."