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Counter-culturalists need little introduction to Alec Empire. With his label Digital Hardcore and band Atari Teenage Riot, the prolific German producer has played a huge part in politicizing rave culture and creating the soundtrack for the black blocs of the 1990s, all while building an impressive solo career.
Born Alexander Wilke-Steinhof, Empire grew up in the shadow of the Berlin wall in West Berlin. He played guitar as a child, was politically engaged, and listened to punk from an early age. He formed his first band, Die Kinder, at 12. At 16 he began experimenting with electronics, and after reunification began frequenting parties in East Berlin.
Early in his career he produced dance tracks for DJs under the pseudonym LX Empire and DJed regularly, leading to releases on Force Inc. and Mille Plateaux, including 1995's groundbreaking work Low on Ice (The Icelandic Sessions). While working with Atari Teenage Riot his solo output continued under a raft of pseudonyms including Jaguar (techno), DJ Mowgly (drum and bass), and Nintendo Teenage Robots (chiptune) with releases on a whole host of labels, including Gran Royal, !Hype, Analog Records USA, and Riot Beats. He has remixed the likes of Rammstein, Mogwai, Thurston Moore, and Most Precious Blood, and supported Nine Inch Nails and Throbbing Gristle.
Always the driving force behind Digital Hardcore Recordings (DHR) founded together with Peter Lawton, Empire also created the Geist label and, post-Atari Teenage Riot, set up another new imprint, Eat Your Heart Out. Credited as a key contributor to the digital hardcore sound, a forerunner to breakcore, throughout his career, Empire has released over a hundred albums, EPs, and singles, and sold over a million records. His most recent project, set for release on Geist, is Low on Ice / The Complete Icelandic Sessions, which compiles 175 minutes of previously unpublished material from his 1995 album and will be presented live at CTM Festival's 16th edition, with visuals supplied by Zan Lyons.