B(if)tek: taking the piss

B(if)tek: taking the piss out of the world of corporate greed and associated media speak.

They love weirdness, kookiness, most things kitsch and of course their array of analogue boxes that provide them with the striking bleeps and harmonies used to create the B(if)tek sound. Nicole Skletys and Kate Crawford are the CEOs and founders of the B(if)tek Corporation. Now a Melbourne based operation, they are dedicated to electronic music at its very finest.

Originally part of the much respected Australian electronic arts collective Clan Analogue, B(if)tek achieved commercial success and recognition earlier this year with their feature release “2020” on Murmur, a local label under Sony Music Australia. 2020’s success was undeniable, as it managed to retain an underground and independent sentiment whilst providing substance for a wider audience – especially with tracks like “We Think You’re Dishy” and a new take on Cliff Richard’s “Wired for Sound” with Julee Cruise (of Twin Peaks fame) on vocals. Heading deeper into the CD “Sound and Space” captures the two elements deep in the hearts of Skeltys and Crawford – two self-professed space girls who love sounds.

So why then have B(if)tek chosen to corporatise themselves if they are not interested in the woos of commercial success? Skeltys ensures me that “The B(if)tek Corporation represents more than just the band. The music that people go to see live is B(if)tek, it will always be B(if)tek. B(if)tek Corporation indicates that there is more going on behind the scenes. It indicates that there are a whole lot of other activities that we engage, such as we write film soundtracks, we write scripts, we’re running our own B(if)tek awards – it’s more than just a band and at the same time we’re trying to undercut that whole idea that corporations are these big faceless evil organisations. ”

Taking a look at their websites www.biftek.com and especially www.biftekked.com this parody and piss-taking cut on corporatism is obvious. The latter features an archive of articles with splendid titles such as “B(if)tek to upstage big-name UK DJ type”, “B(if)tek Corporation invests to ‘speed up’ evolution” and “We’re going to Paris to sleep with models – B(if)tek”.

And they have indeed just returned from Paris – although they left the models alone and instead concentrated on producing an ambient piece of music as a part of a show in the Paris Fashion Week. Paris was one of few stops along the way of a mini-Euro/US tour for B(if)tek also visiting London, New York, Cologne, Amsterdam and Rotterdam. “It was great. We played some very intimate weirdo club gigs and met up with some artists we’ve been working with over there.” “They all think we’re the crazy Australian girls!” they both giggle. “But one of the things we get really fired up about whenever we go to Europe is just a real need to do more of a push to get Australian artists and Australian electroninca recognised because it really is very fresh and very exciting.”

Whilst Europe is obviously a mecca-homeland for electronic music and inspiration, Crawford and Skeltys don’t dare overlook the poignant electronic scene that Japan has to offer. “Japan is kind of like a spiritual home for us. We’re planning a tour there in early 2001 with Julee Cruise – that’s going to be lots of fun. Basically I think we tend to be a bit too Euro-centric and there’s just so much amazing stuff happening in Japan – it’s really mad in the way that we are mad that’s why we really want to go there. We tend to collect a lot of obscure Japanese music and electro compilations and really experimental electronic stuff – it’s just so huge over there. It’s very very strange and so different from what people are used to listening to here because it’s not banging it’s not ambient, it’s this beautiful kind of left-field space.” To try and foil the lack of touring electro artists from Japan and Europe B(if)tek hope to one day merge some cutting edge artists together in an Australian tour.

B(if)tek are now a Melbourne-based operation since Crawford’s move from Sydney. Their frequent flyer mileage however won’t suffer too badly as the two jet off again this week to Canberra and Brisbane. The move to Melbourne can only make an already strong partnership concrete and increase the work and creativity they put into their many projects.

The B(if)tek 2000 Awards, one of their latest projects, are “growing even as we speak” Skeltys says enthusiastically. “There aren’t too many awards or much recognition for artists who want to take risks, who aren’t really concerned about commercial definitions of success, who have a social conscience – so we thought why don’t we do something about that? We have a bit of a media profile, we have a bit of money from our gigs so why don’t we give something back to the electronic underground from which we are firmly situated.” Now called the W.I.N.K.S. – Wired Innovative Naughty Kids – the awards so far cover the categories: 1) Unsigned electronic act that is most deserving of having bucket loads of money shoved at them by a record company. 2) Best video clip put together on a budget of $5000 or less. 3) Best bit of electronic art put together by a gal. 4) Best home-made device, software or machine modification for making wicked electronic sounds.

Not at all satisfied with being passive in a movement they love so much, B(if)tek’s involvement and enthusiasm with Australia’s electronic arts scene will help ensure it’s strength and continued growth.

Make sure you don’t miss B(if)tek at Revolver on Friday 8th.
For more information and entries to the B(if)tek Awards www.biftek.com