Techno Activate


Since the Summer of 2019 Techno Activate have been mapping, uncovering and researching the underground techno archive at MayDay Rooms.

As a mass popular movement that involved and united many subcultures, the rave scene gained political bite after John Major's introduction of the Criminal Justice Act (1993). The ephemera deposited at MayDay focuses on a period from 1993 and the Dead By Dawn/TechNet/Alien Underground assemblage centred on Brixton’s 121 Centre. Amongst the papers are zines from the period, flyers, news cuttings, correspondence and typescripts and drafts of TechNet writings.

Below we present a conversation between between Poppy Tibbetts, Louis Hill and Howard Slater, who deposited the archive at MayDay Rooms. The conversation took place in the afternoon of Friday 31st of January 2020 at Prufrock Cafe in London. The transcript is available below as a downloadable PDF, as an audio file and also in simple text.

Listen here:
MayDay Radio Notes · Techno Activate | Interview with Howard Slater

Recording starts:

LH: ‘Howard’s brought a map!’

PT: ‘Oh sick…. Oh cool!’

HS: ‘This map is from 2000 actually… When I gave a talk about it. Er, to some friends. Yeah, cos this won’t be in the archive., I don’t think anyway.’

PT: ‘This is like what we were trying to do — [to make a map] from stuff we found in the archive…’

HS: ‘[I suppose] the trouble is it might pre-empt what you’re trying to search for, well if you were trying to map out the connections from the Techno archive in MayDay Rooms, the connections would be London Psychogeographical Society, and Association of Autonomous Astronauts.

LH: ‘Right.’

HS: ‘So when I started doing TechNet , it was called, which was a ‘Flier’…’

LH: ‘Yes, Er…’

HS: ‘…which there might be some in the archive… And this was a re-print of some of them, I did it with a guy called Jason Skeet.’

LH: ‘OK.’

HS: ‘So TechNet itself from about ’93, ’92–3–4—5—6, ’96 , was me’self and Jason Skeet; Jason Skeet went on to become more involved with a Record Label, called Ambush, and; The Association of Autonomous Astronauts. So, Fabian Tompsett of the LPA, he was like, part of, a multiple named thing, like — Luther Blissett… But he revived the London Psychogeographical Association, which was a Situationist, failed Situationist Project, in 1957. So he… and in MayDay there’s maybe a full collection of newsletters that he put out. So ‘The Invisible College’, was kind of like a slogan particularly coming from the LPA and Jason Skeet. So Jason did a mag called Fatuous Times; so it’s all interwoven, it’s pre-internet day obviously, when it was all ‘Samizdat’ and printed stuff — So I still uphold ‘The Invisible College’. I still have a postcard of The Invisible College, and a little calling card Jason made — ‘Now you see Is Now You Don’t. The Invisible College .’

‘So it’s all part of this dynamic of disappearance, or invisibility, clandestinity, auto-didact culture, all these sorts of things; you know? We were never attached to any academic institution, at all, these were all purely, underground, if you would call it that or— endeavours, self-publishing basically.’

PT: ‘Yeah.’

LH: ‘Self-publishing, absolutely. One of the things we picked up on going through the archive was things like calling cards, business cards. So for instance, DJ business cards in one instance. I guess, was kind of new to us in the sense that…’

HS: ‘Right. I’d have to see those because some of those fliers I collected were naffs — naff stuff, just anything to do with the period. Anyway….’

LH: ‘No, I guess one of the things we were picking up on and sort of wanting to explore more was the ‘network-making’ aspect and how that existed; especially if it is outside of an academic context, what the… I guess what the sort of distribution of intellectual information, whether it be by flyering or pamphlets handed out at raves…’

HS: ‘ ‘Newsletters’. ‘

LH: ‘Newsletters. I guess also peoples’ interaction with the music being one that’s not ‘click and purchase’ but much more looking at printed media…’

HS: ‘Well yeah, I mean… Basically let’s say, how do we begin? It would be coming out of already underground, ‘Mail-Art’ -type, ‘distribute your fanzine’ to other people like-minded, which goes back to sort of Industrial Tape Culture…’ show more...


Image notes: All the ‘scans’ on this page (anything that is not a phone picture) are from the 56a Infoshop Railton Road archives, the rest are from the MayDay Rooms archives or Howard Slater’s personal archive.