QA : Das Ding


1 – In 1982, you released H.S.T.A (Highly Sophisticated Technological Achievement). We liked its futuristic approach, it reminded us of the work of some futurists artists who considered industrial life as a source of beauty. Do you share the same beliefs?

It was certainly an influence, but not specific. More of an overall sense of futurism, and science-fiction in general. The title HSTA was just a reflection on how strange and unlikely it actually was, on reflection, to have such sophisticated and intricate means of producing sounds at my disposal.

2- We liked the duality between the futuristic and urban sounds. It’s interesting to see how the car sounds along with the different synth lines create this impression of being simultaneously in space and in a city. Is the notion of future still a major influence in your work?

Yes, it is. I like the naive notions of technological progress as being clean and innocent. (When in reality it is not, of course. An icon of this notion is the child-like mindset of an AI or cyborg, just before he kills everybody in the room because it is the logical thing to do. From Frankenstein to Terminator, notions of technological progress are fraught with hope and fear. Or take cellphones and computer- technology: very liberating, but the dark side is global conflict over resources and exploitation of workers in China, etcetera.)

3 – For the release of this track, you also took care of its visual identityWe liked its strong graphic design sense.  When you released this track on your label “Tear Apart Tapes”, you were studying graphic design. Do you think that your design studies informed in a way your music? If yes, is it still the case?

I guess so. Or maybe I just approach music and graphics with the same sensibilities.

4 – For the reissue of H.S.T.A on Minimal Wave, did you take care of the visual identity as well?

No, I did not. However I trusted Veronica’s judgement in this. She designed the sleeve. The two drawings on the inner sleeves are by me. The photograph on the cover is by a friend of hers, Dima Belush.

5 – “Take me away” presents an hypnotizing synth pattern. We liked how you incorporated the nonchalant vocal, how it is slowly fading into the synth-trosphere. Do you often use your voice as a compositional element?

Not consciously, it is just the uneasiness with my own voice, the uncertain vocals, which by now are a trademark of ‘minimal wave’.

6 – The release “Sequencer” blew our mind. The release consists of four sequences, in which you are exploring the richness that a modular synthesizer can offer. Which modular synthesizers did you use for this material?

I used mostly DIY gear, some kits, most of it built at home. My own adaptation of the baby-10 sequencer, which it highlights, of course. Michael Barton’s Analog Drums, an MFB seq-01 drum sequencer, a Coron drum synth, Falafular’s 808 clones. But also a Casio SK-01 sampler with a mellotron sample through a Polivoks filter, which sounds awesome, a Roland MC-202 and a TR606 for clocking.

7 – “Sequence 2” is one of our favorites, it showcases some very interesting dub sounds generated by using the Falafular 808-clones. Was this project made entirely of analog gear?

See above. Apart from the Casio it is all analog, yes. The tape is supposed to be out on vinyl by the end of the summer.

8 – Generally, when exploring synths, do you set up limitations or just let the machines guide you through?

A bit of both, I guess. I like to work within limits, but once going, you never know what complicated interactions might occur

9 – We noticed that you are always opening new ways of understanding electronics and use experimentation as a major part of your creative process. For instance, just recently you shared “prototype” your last experiment in which you used DIY gear. We liked its deconstructive approach and industrial/techno feel. Do you think that now because of this profusion of tools, working with limitations is necessary?

It is not necessary per se, but I like to work from simple set-ups, pure sounds. For this set-up I was trying to go back to the basics, the simplest circuits available. Kind of going back to Kraftwerk in the beginning, trying to figure out how to liberate a snare-drum from a bossa-nova preset. It is also about learning. There is a strange kind of satisfaction to be experienced from building your own snare drum and using it, as opposed to buying the latest brand-name box and plugging it in.

10 – In “intermission” you combined the sounds of a bass drum that you built and the sound of a bird singing in your garden. It’s interesting to see how the bird brings some optimism in a way some beauty to this mechanical age/environment. Was this confrontation intentional?

It was a happy accident.

11 – We also felt that this track was an attempt to remember the past. Do you agree?

As I said above, I was channeling Ralph and Florian, haha. So yes.

12 – Any plans for the future? What are you currently experimenting with?

I want to write a collection of complete songs now, with lyrics and structure. I like to set concrete goals.