Origins of Dada Pogrom
by Ken Balys
The original name of Dada Pogrom was Pogrom Dada. It was chosen randomly by my friend Charley Clarke and me while at Bishop's University in 1989. I was a student of computer science and the technical director of the local radio station, CJMQ, with a radio show called "Banana Obscuri". Charley was also a university student and CJMQ DJ.
We were drinking Cuvée Du Marché and blaring Front 242's Geography in the kitchen of my flat at 9A Littleforks, Lennoxville and were trying to come up with a name for a new electronic music project. I had had the same project, Inverted Triangle, then for seven years and wanted to do something new. Modern equipment had come into my hands and this made a different sound possible. It was an Akai 12 bit digital sampler coupled with editing and sequencing powers of an Atari ST computer. This opened up another world of tone. A new name had to be chosen for this project. The 80's were nearly over and our world was changing; the Berlin wall had just fallen.
After enough wine we decided that the name of the new project would be composed of two random words as all good projects have two word names. Each of us would choose one. Once chosen, the choice was irrevocable. At first we tried tossing a dictionary in the air hoping it would land on a single word. This did not work as it was a paperback and would close itself after hitting the floor. There was also more than one word on each page so there would be no way to know which one the gods had chosen. Obviously more wine was needed to solve this problem; we had more.
We decided to fan the pages of the dictionary and jab a fork into it. The fork would decide. Charley went first and he forked the word Pogrom. I was next and struck the word Dada. So there was our new name; Pogrom Dada.
Another DJ and friend, Fraser Cochrane aka DJ Fresh, joined us later and we told him the new name. He thought we said "Program Data". He said that "Data Program" made more sense. This was good advice. The order of the words was switched and the name Dada Pogrom was cast in stone. The concept behind the sound I was after came from a number of influences. I was interested in discrete mathematics and encryption and had just finished a design for an eight opcode 1 bit slice MISC microprocessor that could be stacked infinitely. I had achieved the fourth grade with the Royal Conservatory in piano and surrounded myself with music. I founded a punk band [Buster Hyman] in Ottawa and a synth band. As a performing artist I had plenty of teenaged experience both with electronic music and with various orchestras and jazz bands in and around Ottawa. A single from my earlier synth project found its way onto CKCU in Ottawa [Inverted Triangle - Dying in your Sleep, 1986]. All of these seemingly disparate elements somehow fit together into a complex molecule of identity.
I furiously wrote and recorded music under the new moniker and within a short time had Dada Pogrom's first cassette release, Desire, completed. The sound was agressive and driving with more than a little influence from the Industrial and Acidhouse music scenes. I took what I liked from those genres and added a layer of encoding to accents and various other facets of the music. DJ Fresh would often sit in on the sessions and say yes or no to this or that element. He insisted that the music be dance worthy.
DJ Fresh's reasons soon became clear. He was the resident DJ at Bishop's University's "The Pub" then the largest club in southern Québec drawing in the entire student body, kids from Sherbrooke and some from as wide as Montréal and Boston. He rotated Dada Pogrom nightly. I used my influence at CJMQ to push Dada Pogrom onto the airwaves. Another CJMQ DJ, Tod Schertzer, organized the first Dada Pogrom performance. It was every electronic musician's dream gig; mainlining the Fine Art Department's experimental art opening at Bandeen Hall.
The next cassette release, Paranoia, came next (early 1990) and the future seemed bright. A music video was made [see below] as well as plans to release vinyl and hit the cities. Reality, it seems, is not without a sense of humour and this became clear as she reacquainted herself with me. I was at university to become a scientist and not an artist. The Natural Sciences faculty at Bishop's University maintain a rigid standard of academics amongst its student body. I had totally fucked up scholastically and was thrown out. The next year I found myself in the sorriest place on earth, New Guinea, as an airborne systems specialist [PK-VKY] on a mid-altitude photogrammetric survey in the prelude to the first Iraq war.
Dada Pogrom had to wait in the background as eventually I graduated and next spent years as an embedded software engineer. At last, in the year 2000, I was able to release Dada Pogrom from stasis.