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Artist of the Week - 2008-03-09 - Bo Un
Bo Un
Artist of the Week - Bo Un
read the full interview here

Real Names
: Axel Berking, Jan Aumann
Artist Name: Bo Un
: Günther Rein, Werner Raus
Age of birth
: 1980
Nationality: German
: Cologne
: Aphex Twin, Mouse On Mars, The Chemical Brothers, C64, Amiga 500
Work / School
: Students at university of cologne
Producer since
: 1999
Favorite FOEM/EY Track
: Up Down Up Town
Favorite FOEM/EY Producer
: Mister Roy, Little Lazy, Taturas
Artist track apeared on
: FOEM/Eclectic Youth Vol. 16 Part 2 CD 03

Artist of the Week - Bo UnArtist of the Week - Bo UnArtist of the Week - Bo Un


FOEM/Dominik: Hello Axel, hello Jan. Hope you are fine today! It is really nice to meet you. Thank you guys for taking the time for this little interview. Let’s start right away with the first question: What does Bo Un mean?

Bo Un: Well, that's a difficult question right from the beginning. Mainly, the idea of the project’s name is not to reveal its origin. The intention was to take a completely arbitrary term. So everybody wants to know what it means, but no one will get an answer. This should reflect our own perception of our music that does not convey a distinct meaning and should evoke jolly associations.

FOEM/Dominik: In your interview on Köln Campus Radio you said that you both played in a band. What kind of music did you make before? And how did you come together?

Jan: Guess what, I started playing drums and after 2 years I had my first punk band. It was always a little bit difficult for me because I refused to play those punk-standard-rhythms. So we played one gig and afterwards I quitted. Then I became drummer in a hardcore band and played also in the jazz big band of our village. Finally, I came to a rock band together with Axel.

Axel: My musical career began as a guitar player in a heavy metal band that never finished a song and never left my pal's father's party room. It got better when I decided with Jan and some other guys to start a rock band.

Bo Un: The music we played was some normal rock stuff. Sometimes funky, sometimes heavy. We played several gigs together with the rock band while doing Bo Un stuff as well, before Axel quitted the rock band. About one year later, I quit as well. One of the reasons that for us Bo Un became more important. Because we knew each other before we started playing music together was - to say it corny - the basis for our friendship.

FOEM/Dominik: Many people in the electronic music scene seem to come from rock/acoustic music somehow. However, what was the reason to start producing some electronic sounds?

Bo Un: We both were totally keen on electronic sounds. One reason was maybe a live concert of Mouse On Mars on Viva 2 Overdrive which showed us a possibility of performing music with electronic sounds we did not know. So, at first, we began to play different music just in combination with electronic elements, but very quickly it turned out that computers and synths should be in the focus of our further work. We wanted to escape the poorness of sounds you're caught in more or less playing conventional music.

FOEM/Dominik: Hey, I can remember the Mouse On Mars concert! It was Great and Freaky!! Since then I am also a big Mouse On Mars fan. Speaking of other Artists and genres, tell me, what is your main musical influence?

Bo Un: Our interest for electronic arose at the time called big beat era. That's why bands like The Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy were our first strong influences. Soon our attention was attracted by more unconventional music like Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Mouse On Mars, Mr Oizo, Hextatic an so on. Of course we are also influenced by different music genres like Drum'n'Bass and a lot of different rock stuff. It might sound weird for producers of electronic music, but especially for Axel, bands like Cake and also Iron Maiden are very important. Additionally, Axel was driven by the sound experiences of those 80's computer game stuff form C64, Amiga 500 and Nintendo to create freaky beeps.

FOEM/Dominik: Oh yeah, I also love 8 bit styles!! I still find that some old 8 bit games soundtracks are the one of the very best tracks ever (for instance Armalyte).
You are creative not only in musical aspects. Your homepage looks very professional, one of the coolest musician-sites I've ever seen! Did you create it yourself? And does one of you (or both) study web-design or something like that?

Bo Un: First thing: you're a creep. No, just fooling around. Thanx. That's right, we did our homepage ourselves, but no one of us is studying anything like that. Since we're kind of computer nerds (in a positive sense) and grew up with those machines we also like to exploit other possibilities of being creative in electronic media. While Jan was in charge of the whole html thing and contents, it was Axel's business to deal with the cartoon design. He is an autodidact in this field of activity and is doing cartoons and computer graphics since childhood. This funny style with silly looking, tiny creatures is integral part of our conception of the bands image. We don't want Bo Un to be identified that much with our faces, but being represented by this variegated cartoon world that resembles our music. Axel also planned to release Bo Un cartoon stories on our homepage. In fact it's not clear when this will happen, because this task is very time consuming and it's difficult to realize it, while studying, taking part of projects and doing the things one has to do, if one doesn't like to starve.

FOEM/Dominik: A Bo Un cartoon woud be a nice idea, I like these funny creatures! But now, let's get back to music. You make some weird glitchy and breaky stuff. What equipment do you use for producing?

Bo Un: Mainly we use Ableton Live but not without a lot of plug-ins. As you can imagine we can not afford thousands of plug-ins so we have been searching the web for free plugs; there is for example destroyfx. Another important plug-in - this time for cash - is Reaktor 5. It is mainly been used for the newer stuff on "Artefakte". For us it is also important not only to use one program because then you are captured in one particular sound. For example we often used Reason from Propellerheads in former times. We also like to sample some real sounds and modulate them to a snare or some clicks.

An important idea of our work in progress is "presets suck". Axels first step when getting a new synth is to delete all presets. Fascinating, right? In this manner we manipulate every sound we lay our hands on.

Last but not least we should mention our only hardware synthesizer: Korg Electribe A (bass synth). It is not famous or something but does a good job not only by syncing our laptops.

FOEM/Dominik: Hehe, presets suck indeed ;) Mostly they show less than a half of the sounds that a machine can create…  Anyway, that was your studio working setup. What equipment do you use in your live acts?

Bo Un: We have changed our live performance technique gig by gig. But right now it seems that the Behringer BCF 2000 and BCR 2000 gonna make it also for the future. Then there are joysticks and gamepads which are implemented seamless in Live via JunXion from Steim. Furthermore, the Korg is always on board and gives the midi sync signal and plays of course some tunes. For some special effects we have a cheap theremin: "Space Trip Passport (for pain relief)" which clangs through our performance sometimes.

FOEM/Dominik: You already played several live acts in different cities. What was your best live experience?

Bo Un: Definitely a gig in Berlin with the Hasenland community ( It was a big party with four floors and a special electronica stage. Although we played gigs in front of a bigger crowd, it was a nice experience. Great vibes, great location. There, we got to meet Loom and Vertical 67 who fit with our sound just perfect. It became a really funny and diversified night in big b where we sweat a lot.

FOEM/Dominik: The albums on your homepage are really great. However, you are distributing your sound mainly on your homepage (except of the new FOEM-compilation ;)). Did you ever sent demos to labels? If yes, what was the reaction?

Bo Un: To be straight forward: the reaction was none. We have send some CDs for example to Sonig, Kompakt, Karaoke Kalk and so on, but never got any reaction. No, wait, Kompakt told us that we should have a straight minimal sound and then we can possibly get on their label. Of course this was no option for us because we do not make music someone wants us to do. Besides, I think there is really good minimal stuff out there, but it is quite too much. We have to admit that most of our tries, date back several years. For us it became important in the first place to develop an efficient way of live performing. We simply don't want to be that kind of laptop artists who push the play button and read their emails to look busy. Otherwise we don't want to work like djs mixing prepared tracks. So besides producing new songs, we spend a lot of time searching for and experimenting with the right software and equipment.

FOEM/Dominik: Whehehehe, true, there are some live acts that play completely prepared sets (and have to read their e-mails :D). Even some of the better-known artists… Besides tuning your live performance, do you also work on a new album?

Bo Un: Yes, we do. Our next album "Artefakte" should be finished soon and will contain songs like "Urlaub mit Platon" (Holidays with Platon), "Erkenntis in Tüten" (Cognition in Bags) and some of those songs you may already know from myspace. One novelty on the album will be a remix from another artist. We are about to remix the song "Yps Rave" by Loom which can be heard on VUF Compilation 2007 (

FOEM/Dominik: You have almost always such funny titles like "Holidays with Plato", "Cognition in Bags" or "Bremsbeatz". Is there always a story behind such titles?

Bo Un: Sometimes there is, sometimes not. In some cases in the beginning there is an utterance or a situation when something arouses our interest we'd like to find a musical analogy for. In other cases we are too quick and suddenly there's music without a name. Then we prefer to choose a name by random or by disposal. If we don't have any idea for a new name we like to harken back to our collection of funny expressions, sometimes just combinations of funny phonems. This may appear unambitious to some people, but it perfectly fits in the bands crucial idea of arbitrariness. E.g. to attach names randomly to music is enough to render a sufficient connection, so that in this way it becomes the recipients task to associate the term with sound. The first two names you took for example ("Urlaub mit Platon"/"Holidays with Plato" and "Erkenntnis in Tüten"/"Cognition in Bags") belong to those expressions which were mentioned as part of subordinate clauses and simply attracted our attention by reason that they appear kind of humorous detached from their contexts.

"Bremsbeats" which means breakbeats in the sense of slow-down-beats or retard-beats is not a typical choice for us insofar as it just describes the sound of the track itself. We think that it is last but not least funny in a way, because it also displays the absurdity of the German translation of the term "breakbeats" which gets a completely different connotation.

FOEM/Dominik: Hehe, I’m looking forward to future random titles :)
But for now, enough talking about business. What are you doing in your spare time except chopping up sounds??

Jan: Additionally to Bo Un, I play in an indie-rock band "Linby" with whom I’ll take a Sweden tour in March. We hope to do a club tour also with Bo Un in the future. At last I do some nice jobs. For example, I teach drums and give private lessons for pupils in mathematics.

Axel: At the moment I am about to join a rock band as guitar player after some years of abstinence from "hand made" music. But probably that's also a way of chopping up sounds. So my non-musical activities consist of doing some sports, reading Plato, meeting friends, drinking beer etc. Normal stuff. And of course, drawing cartoons.

FOEM/Dominik: And what's one thing you're a fan of that people might not expect?

Bo Un: Louis de Funès.

FOEM/Dominik: Hey, not many peepz like Luis der Funès (dunno why, perhaps because he's that choleric)! I've been loving him as long as I can remember.
Oh, the time is passing very fast… so let me come to the last (but not least) question: How did you come to FOEM?

Bo Un: We got in contact with cosmono who is also from Cologne and a good friend of the female singer of my (Jan) indie-rock band Lingby ( He made it on your last compilation, no. 15 and mentioned that you guys are so cute. So we decided to sign up and the rest you should know.

FOEM/Dominik: Oh yeah, we definitely know! It is always cool to welcome new artists here ;)

Well, thanks for the interview, guys! We wish you much fun on your gigs and much luck on further releases!! Have a nice evening, see you soon!

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