Thursday, January 08, 2009


I was working on a 2-bar loop without any special aim or concept. Looking for new sounds (especially drum sounds), I had cut samples out of a DJ mix that I had made a few days before, and I used most of those stolen samples for the loop. As I tend to get bored quite fast when I use the same sounds over and over, I thought that this method might give me a surprise or some other type of creative impulse. Indeed it sounded kind of fresh and when I had a first (2-bar) result, my girlfriend (the artist and illustrator Danae Diaz) came home and I played it to her quite enthusiastically, explaining where I took each element from. Spontaneously she told me, I should make the track exactly like that, with a voice explaining the samples. I liked the idea a lot, and I tried to make the track ironically question its own method (and thus the sampling technique in general), yet still work on the dancefloor...

I used samples from Guillaume & The Coutu Dumonts, Soundstream, Antislash, Janis Joplin, Akufen, Curv, Grace (from my former project Konsens) and Matthias Engler (excellent percussionist and long-time interpreter of my pieces).

For the voice we immediately thought of our friend Crawford, who on the one hand has a lovely british accent, and on the other hand has a great sensibility and knowledge of dance music, being a passionate DJ who has introduced me into a lot of music that has become important to me. And the recording was pretty much what I wanted: warm, natural and unpretentious.

Later, when the track was finished, I realized the coincidence that I had not only stolen most of the sounds (-only the stolen ones are mentioned in the track-) but even the idea of my girlfriend...

But it somehow fitted together to transmit a statement for "composition“, in opposition to a merely functional and technical concept of dance music:

In fact, I am not quite ashamed of stealing sounds, as long as I manage to create a new context and "compose“ them in my own way. I am convinced that the difference between sampling and playing the piano (for instance) is merely gradual: The piano player benefits of an instrument developed through centuries, as well as its tuning and its ways of playing and combining pitches and rhythms. It is all about dealing with "foreign“ material that the artist has to transform into his own and play with.

What I try to say is, a composer always works with more or less given material, given by his society, his history, his sensibility and by all the music he has ever heard. Playing a standard chord on the piano or cutting it out of a track is not so far from each other from a creative point of view... Individuality and originality happen only partly through the origin of the material. To me the bigger part of it is the way of composing it, creating relationships and tensions between the elements. Which does not mean that the material should not have an inner logic with the way it is treated!

In case somebody understands my words as a statement for just any kind of sampling, I have to clearify: I am not justifying the stealing of ideas! I can only appreciate intelligent sampling that is not mere copying. A badly sampled track is just as bad as one that is badly invented, it is maybe even worse because the producer has been lazy... And I do not prefer sampling to playing and recording, I simply see it as a gradual difference: Sampling should be as inventive as working with ones own sound material! And it is also an illusion to think that every note one has played on an instrument or made with a synthesizer is purely "ones own“.

A lot of artists (and the critics even more) are obsessed with their uniqueness and individuality, which in most cases is simply ridiculous. This is a long-term consequence of the genius cult that emerged in 19th century and that still holds the strongest cliché of "the artist“ nowadays. I guess that truly original artists do not have to be afraid of explaining all their (conscious) "ingredients“, knowing that the construction and the tension of their work cannot be recreated following technical instructions.

Shakespeare (not quite a techno producer, but you will get what I mean...) based most of his plays on well known tales, and nevertheless few people would say that he lacked originality...That leads us to the saying, "better well stolen than badly invented“, which I kind of agree to. But I still prefer how Picasso put it, "Bad artists borrow, good artists steal.“

Now that I find myself polarizing for the right of sampling, I also think that I maybe would not dare to sample that directly if in contrary i hadn't done tracks that consist entirely of especially recorded instrumental sounds, like the two marimbaphone tracks on the same record (Kalk Pets 15), the saxophone slap track "Got The Blues“ (Kalk Pets 12) or the whole Brandt Brauer Frick acoustic techno project (coming out on Tartelet Records in 2009). Above all I believe in the necessity of a frequent change of methods and perspectives, technically and mentally, to keep the music fresh!

A quotation I once heard is coming to my mind, because it is a good closing for my thoughts. It describes the whole outside world as being "foreign“, something that we constantly have to open ourselves for. It is by Hugh of Saint Victor, a theologian of the 12th century, and, the way I remember it, it says (not literally): Lucky is the one who loves his homeland. Strong is the one who sees foreign land. Invincible is the one who contemplates the whole world as being something foreign.

So don't feel too much at home in what you do!


Blogger Joel Dubiner said...

Wonderful track! I love the narration of what we're hearing! Thank you!

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ok i think i love the track, but i'd like a dub version too ;) just so i could listen to it properly without the commentary...maybe that's not in the spirit of the thing though.

1:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much respect for this artist. His concepts holds true, thus demonstrated by the end result of his creations.

A brilliant, creative, and a fresh approach to understanding and appreciating music.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Quirky said...

i play this tune all the time, nice to hear some background

9:52 AM  
Blogger La Chips said...

this is absolutely incredible

6:09 AM  
Anonymous website said...

thanks, I'm sure that's the proper approach to this matter.

9:03 AM  
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