From The Start

16 September 2014 | 1:39 pm | Helen Stringer

“It’s a good question: What is electronic music?"

Well before electronic artists started employing compound nouns more prolifically than German lexicographers, electronic music was both slightly less well known, and slightly more cohesive. Back in the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s, moreover, it required that people actually leave their homes to experience it.

Long-term Brisbane electronic music champion, Dennis Remmer, co-owner of Transmission Communications (Trans:Com), maker of anthology BNE, has long been pushing the River City scene as a punter, a label owner and a former occasional musician.

"It’s a good question: What is electronic music?"


“We were thoughtful of the relationship between record labels and their cities – to document that and to establish a history of that challenging genre and art form in the city,” he says on the BNE book project. “This is the 20th anniversary of the start of our record label. We thought that’s a good way to celebrate. Yes we want to celebrate ourselves, but we were also standing on the shoulders of people who came before us and those who have come since.” Remmer explains that they decided to look at the overall history: from 1979-2014.  

Remmer has also spent the past few decades researching Brisbane’s robust independent electronic music scene. The wealth of information and music meant that BNE quickly gathered momentum.

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“Brisbane was certainly behind Sydney and Melbourne; there was more alternative-punk and rock. So certainly, to some extent electronic music flew below the radar. Particularly in the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era. In hindsight [electronic music] was the true alternative… whereas now we’re fundamentally different city, but back then it was all extremely challenging.”

Remmer first came to Brisbane in the late ‘80s and spent his formative introduction “knee-deep in acid-house”. “What’s happening on BNE is really a true time capsule.”

Asked what he thinks of today’s electronic scene Remmer says, “It’s a good question: What is electronic music? If we look on the compilation there’s a lot of fashion around certain genres – dubstep and all of that – but you can’t pigeonhole that. If I think about the contributors to the book and those earliest periods, this was part of [the] Joh Bjelke Petersen [era] – weird times. The fact that anybody could do anything is amazing. What’s interesting is to get the DNA of that material and to see [it] right now. When we play the earliest material to the Gen Y people doing stuff right now, they can see the connection.”

Of the changes, Remmer says, “People tend to label, to do things themselves without a need of anything collectivistic, [but] the most fundamental thing that’s changed is technology… that’s a positive thing, except the ultimate generalisation of people claiming whatever two terms have been thrown together to make a new genre. So I’m slightly annoyed by that.”