Interview: Robag Wruhme

[Illustration credit to Alex Solmann]

I have no idea if Gabor Schablizki, more famously known by his moniker Robag Wruhme, likes the title of being an enigmatic musician. Generally being reserved and calculated with the responses he gives about his creative process, gear, inspiration, and life, I felt very lucky when I was able to tie down an interview with our small, niche publication, especially since sometimes he outright does not answer questions of important publications (like he did once in XLR8R). However, as you will see below, the perception of him, versus what he is actually like, is, predictably, a little skewed. As a matter of fact, he answered my questions with more enthusiasm, and outright honesty that you would get from a lot of musicians, going so far as to tell COscillator that he wishes the scene in general, “a restart”; something that some in an emotionally charged, sensitive, neurotransmitter deprived industry might consider shooting yourself in the foot. However, Gabor seems to not care if this opinion is controversial, expressing his opinions candidly, while being succinct. Maybe the brief nature of his responses come from that he answered all the English questions in German, and there is a discrepancy of translation, however, either which way, we feel very privileged to get this ephemeral composer to answer one, let alone 5 of our somewhat personal questions, before he unleashes his signature minimal techno (if you can even call it that) on The Black Box on 02/15/19 in the main room, supported by local Steven Dermody, and hosted by Below Radar.

I read that you don’t like traveling. Colorado is pretty far away from Germany, is it not? What keeps you coming back here time and time again, especially since you could play way more convenient places? 
Yeah the traveling is stressful, but it is a part of my work. I have to endure it even if I don’t like it. Furthermore, I have friends in Denver and after a 3 year absence, it is finally time to see them again.
 
I was watching an EB.tv car interview where you said people call you a “loner,” which I can relate to, being an introverted music producer myself. As a reserved person, what was the mechanism, mindset, or technique you used in order to put yourself out there in the beginning, especially in such an extroverted industry? 
After some initial difficulties, I have managed to flip a switch on weekends that makes me a different person. This person manages to withstand the night shift. During the week I am once again a completely different person.  I have structured myself within it.
 
I was reading that you have kids, and that you find a lot of happiness being with them. Do you think they share the same enthusiasm for music that you do?
Honestly, I hope not. Ok, they can develop interest in music, but this scene, like it is now, I don’t want to trust my kids into. I wish this scene a restart.

These next two questions come from Denver minimal/breaks/house producers Black/Tuesday.

 
I’ve read interviews where you discuss how your production is not grounded in ‘technical’ music theory or knowledge, but derives more from intuition – our production is similar in that way. Therefore, I would love to hear about your process for getting ready to produce. Do you wait for ‘a-ha’ moments going about your daily life? Or do you have a routine to get ready for studio time? I know it is very individualistic, but do you have any suggestions for producers who are trying to find their own process?
The most important thing is to have time. Nothing creative can thrive without time. In addition, rules are always the way in the cage of the monotony. Only boredom can come out out of that. The tip I can give is to take your time, to have an idea in the head, and to find the colors that you want to paint the picture with.
I have a lot of friends that are very talented producers and they don’t get the recognition that I think they deserve. What are some of your best tips to getting your music actually heard by label owners?
There are too many of them. There are many who overestimate themselves and think to be good because the equipment today does not cost anything anymore. This blocks the view and the way for those who really have it on it. Also I have been representing the idea for over over 25 years, not to spread your own music into too many labels. One to max. two labels must suffice. You need a home for your music. To find the appropriate one for yourself and your music, however, is a matter of luck.
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About the author: fckdsko is a music producer, and music writer based in Denver, CO. He just released a new track, “dusk,” on Fake News Records. fckdsko has recently received publicity from High On Music, HATE Lab, Como Las Grecas, Moskalus, and more. Proceeds from this release go to Mental Health Colorado. 

Interview: Recondite

Recondite, born Lorenz Brunner, is a Bavarian raised, Berlin based, acid techno producer, DJ, and label owner, with works out on Hotflush, Afterlife, Ghostly International, and a whose who of other prestigious imprints. As time has went on, he has moved more and more away from a traditional sound, into a style of his own design. This is no surprise since he considers Aftermath, Wu Tang, Metal Fingers, Edvard Munch, Arvo Parth, Gustav Mahler, Metallica, Dial Records, and Rammstein to be some of his main influences.

COscillator got in touch with Brunner, and asked him some questions before the show about his creative influences and how he approaches music before he returns to Denver, to Club Vinyl, on January, 12th 2019, where he will be playing one of his signature live sets.

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Photo: Chris Flaco

COscillator: What is your favorite, or least favorite, idiosyncrasy between the techno scene in the United States, and Germany (besides the time the clubs close)?

Brunner: In the end, if a night works (good sound, vibe, crowd, dj, live act, mood, atmosphere of the room…) in the best case you don’t realize where you are. It doesn’t matter if it’s in Berlin or Denver. The scene for underground electronic music might be bigger in Europe right now – but that might change someday who knows. If a club works, it’s dependent on some recipes. Like, for example, a little scene that knows a bit about the subculture of a city, where its [followers] go to a venue regularly to listen to guests but also, very importantly, to residents as well.

What track of yours, while making it, do you think you put the most work into?

The ones that weren’t as well received as maybe expected were most of the time the ones that needed the most amount of work.

I was reading an XLR8R interview with you back in 2015 where you described that you don’t plan your tracks, and it mainly comes from scratch and loop building. Do you find you still use this process, or has it become more structured as you’ve matured?

No, still the same. I played around with different ways of initiating a project but none other than letting it flow without intention really worked for me.

In that same interview I read that you feel comfortable in composing aspects of orchestral music. Is there a composer or composers you listen to that you think influence that aspect of your sound?

Maybe more recent stuff like Olafur Arnalds. Maybe Philip Glass or a bit soundtrack stuff like Hans Zimmer or Alan Silvestri.

This question comes from a Denver melodic techno producer, who just got their first record deal, Movesayer:

Are there any productions techniques you’ve found lately that have added an interesting new element to your tracks? Perhaps automating a parameter you hadn’t thought of before, or creating an effects chain in a way that you hadn’t done previously.

Maybe I accidentally use some moves that could be described a technique while I work on music, but to be honest in the best case i don’t realize it. Not while i do it nor later when it’s done. I have a very unformularic mind i guess… I used to be a complete failure in math. I think awarely coming from A + B to get to C is not my thing [laughs].

About the author: fckdsko is a music producer, and music writer based in Denver, CO. He just released a new track, “dusk,” on Fake News Records. fckdsko has recently received publicity from High On Music, HATE Lab, Como Las Grecas, Moskalus, and more. Proceeds from this release go to Mental Health Colorado. 

Interview: Rodriguez Jr.

Rodriguez Jr, alias of Olivier Mateu, is known worldwide as a man who obsessively hones his craft from a myriad of inspirations. Not content with the restraints of a deck, he uses a simple, yet effective live setup, with a drum machine, a mixer to control effects and loops, and a MIDI keyboard routed through Ableton, which he can improvise on. However, this simplicity exists because it’s practical, not because Mateu isn’t adventurous. Familiar with a breadth of production equipment, Mateu is known for spending an inordinate amount of time in his studio, which is packed to the gills with contemporary and vintage gear alike; gear that due to its age and technological restrictions, creates, as Mateu likes to call them, “Interesting accidents.” I got in touch with Mateu before his show in Mexico to talk about vintage gear, production advice, and his conceptual take on music, before he plays at Club Vinyl in Denver on News Years Eve.

COscillator: I know you have an affinity for analog gear, however what are your thoughts on the “cult of analog” that die-hard analog people subscribe to, where nothing will ever be as good? What are your thoughts on vinyl?

Mateu: I’m not an extremist in the analog religion, but it is definitely more fun for me to manipulate the hardware and create interesting accidents. I began producing music in the 90’s, when the only way to produce music was with hardware, so it’s basically a part of my workflow. Today I try to implement both technologies, one feeds the other and visa versa. Same goes for vinyl. I definitely prefer the ritual of laying down a vinyl but in the end, it’s all about the content.

Do you plan on doing anything else while you are in Colorado since it’s at the end of your tour? Perhaps skiing, or partaking in our world famous plants?

After the gig in Colorado, I’m taking a short week to drive through the west coast, Vegas and California and see some of the cinematic landscapes and roadside diners that inspire me so much. I have very good friends in the Rockies, and would love to hang out but it’s definitely too cold for me at this time of the year. I don’t ski or partake in plant activities, so I prefer to come back later when it’s warmer.

I read that you enjoy albums that have a cinematic theme, such as concept albums by Pink Floyd and Tangerine Dream. Which album of yours would you consider to be the most conceptual?

I am still trying to make that concept album since the beginning of my career, using some of the same ingredients as the above mentioned, it’s a sort of musical compass for me. Some of these ingredients which I use often and return in many of my productions are things like the insinuation of the passing of time, the evocation of the ocean, childhood nostalgia, contrasts and dualities in life, it’s as if it were always the same stage with a different setting.

This question comes from Andy Immerman, who is opening for you at Club Vinyl. What are you top pieces of analog gear?

The sacred trilogy in the studio for me is often composed of ; Roland Jupiter 6, Roland SH101, and the Moog Voyager, or the Moog Sub37.

What is your best piece of advice for people who want to start performing as a DJ/producer?  

Just try to be yourself and make what you love to hear instead of copying trends, it might sound like a cliché but it’s not as easy as it sounds to find out who you really are.

About the author: fckdsko is a music producer, and music writer based in Denver, CO. He migrated from the east coast 8 years ago when he found out that Colorado had cheap weed, and jam bands. He still likes cheap weed, and just released a new track, “dusk,” on Fake News Records. Proceeds from this release go to Mental Health Colorado.

Review: Chris Liebing @ Beta Nightclub 12/16/2018

“A vegan comes to Denver” sounds like the start to a good joke, however, if there was one thing we learned from December 16th’s performance in the main room at Beta, is that Chris Liebing is no punchline, and doesn’t let his lack of delicious animal protein hinder the meatyness of his tracks. No sir, Chris Liebing expresses his carnivorous instinct through sound.

I arrived at Beta around 9PM on an obtusely warm December Sunday night, and immediately upon entering the preface of Beta’s entrance, was exposed to the dark, seductive sounds of 120- 130 BPM techno, a surreal experience for anyone who is used to the times that you normally hear techno at. This was not Chris dropping this ice though. It instead was Fiat Luxx, a local. I must say, I find myself sometimes underwhelmed with opening techno DJs — in all cities, not specifically Denver — since it seems like they are not trying to step on the toe’s of the headliner, and thus play a boring set. However, this was not the case here. It was so legit, as a matter of fact, that I took a video, which came out in pretty excellent quality for a phone recording, due to Beta’s well calibrated sound. And if you have read any of my reviews in the past, you  know that I appreciate a good phone recording since it is, in my opinion, a great representation of the balance of levels within the room. Usually, if I think the sound is crisp in a room, I can take out my LG G5, press record, and after the show be pretty confident that the quality will turn out respectably, allowing for the minutiae of a composition to translate itself onto a set of speakers or headphones. I’m not saying that it’s going to sound good or anything, but it certainly is listenable. However, if the sound in a room is poorly calibrated — which is very apparent while at the venue — and I take a cell recording, it is always filled with an excess amount noise and other malicious sonic artifacts. Needless to say, Beta’s sound was legitimate, and so was Fiat Luxx’s track selection.

One thing I am going to say that I like, against the opinion of many, is when transitioning into the next act, the previous DJ just ends their set, which is what Fiat Luxx did. Not only does it create a clear distinction between who is on stage, it allows for a moment that the crowd can give respect to the DJ who just performed, which is something that I too often don’t see due to the club culture of seamless transitions. Also, it allows the next performer to truly express who they are as an artist, rather than improvising off what the previous person did. Sometimes that is cool, however, I have to say, every truly great set I have ever seen (besides Max Cooper) has not had a transition, and this night was no exception. This night was truly great.

Being my first time seeing Chris, I didn’t know what to expect. I have not always been impressed by big name techno artists, so I don’t let people’s reputation cloud my expectations anymore. Yet, Chris Liebing showed why he is so revered within the scene. The guy knows how to play a techno set that stays fresh, and interesting the entire time, with unpredictable transitions, mixing flourishes, and a gambit of influences within the genre. Additionally, Chris’ selections had just enough melody in his techno to keep things “musical,” so to speak, while at the same time, not getting so melodic that die hard techno fans would complain.

For me, the highlight of the night came around halfway through his set, when he dropped the ANNA remix of one of my personal top tracks of the year, Singularity by Jon Hopkins.

Singularity, in its original rendition is hardly techno. If anything it’s like slow burning psychedelic riddim with distorted synths that just suck the air out of a room. ANNA, on the other hand figured out how to turn this gradually building wall of suspense into a legitimate techno banger, while retaining the tension and release that was intended within the track. As a result, this song contained what was perhaps the only sustained pause in the entire night, and boy did it deliver, which was followed by the loudest group chear of ecstasy I heard the entire night.

 

After that moment, the genre defying techno continued, with continuous surprises throughout the rest of the night. While the show was supposed to end at midnight, Chris was informed, that if the vibe was right, then they could continue until 2AM. While I didn’t make it until 2 due to responsibilities the next day, I did stay until 1, which is about the time that most techno shows get their first person walking into the club.

All around great show. Top form, Mahesh Presents/Beta. What a great way to send Beta off with a major headliner.

Review: Derrick Carter at the Black Box 12/01/2018

I think a slight, yet significant, modification to the lyrics of the enigmatic My House by Rhythm Control does the best job explaining exactly what transpired at The Black Box December 1st, 2018, where Supernova, and Seifhaus hosted the Chicago house music legend Derrick Carter for a night of classic four to the floor mayhem, supported by local  Foreign Roots. crew Groove_Werk, Mr. Frick, and EERIE. Brett Starr was also in support.

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Photo courtesy of Mido Noufal and Seifhaus 

“And, you see, no one man owns house because house music is a universal language, spoken and understood by all.

You see, house is a feeling that no one can understand really unless you’re deep into the vibe of house.

House is an uncontrollable desire to jack your body.

And, as I told you before, this is our house and our house music.

And in every house, you understand, there is a keeper.

And, in this house, the keeper is Derrick.

Now some of you who might wonder,

‘Who is Derrick, and what is it that Derrick does?’

Derrick is the one who gives you the power to jack your body!

Derrick is the one who gives you the power to do the snake.

Derrick is the one who gives you the key to the wiggly worm.

Derrick is the one who learns you how to walk your body.

Derrick is the one that can bring nations and nations of Derricks together under one house.

You may be black, you may be white; you may be Jew or Gentile. It don’t make a difference in our house.

And this is fresh!”

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Foreign Roots. Photo courtesy of Seifhaus, and Mido Noufal

Review: Satori (live) and Ramona Wouters

At the behest of the promoter, Below Radar, I was asked to not reveal the name of the venue that this event took place at, since the meta of this place is to remain invisible; a hidden temple to Dionysian pleasures, and ritual, where it invites its de facto followers to participate only if they know to seek it out. Nobody is excluded, you just have to know. And it was in this place that the forces of Ramona Wouters of Belgium and Satori of The Netherlands, wound us to their command, among an uncannily snowy evening on November 11th in Denver.

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First, to explain the scenario here. When we think of the archetypes of dance, it is usually conceived as taking place in a dark club, with LEDs, a disco ball, Red Bull signs, and questionable pleather seating defining the atmosphere. And that’s not far off. Most clubs do that to some extent. However, this location, which reveals itself behind architecture that is somewhere between a Tuscan Villa and a terracotta tomb, is hardly that. Instead of roped off areas and easy clean upholstery, the space is entirely open, with Persian and Chat Noir inspired decor. Tasteful crimson and purple lights illuminated the area, which was surrounded by 4 separate stacks of speakers, allowing for an immersive experience. Aerial silks hung delicately from the ceilings, fastened tastefully to the wall behind it, adjacent to pod shaped, geometrically lathed lanterns that spot the walls every few feet; while weaving through the gyrating masses, wait staff who dressed as though they just stepped out of a cabaret, adorned samples of homemade novelties such as chocolate covered marshmallows. Needless to say this wasn’t your typical party, especially since this was on a Sunday. So unless you have a sweet pocket full of daddy cash, or you’re a waiter, you probably had to work the next day. Normally, Mondays after raves doesn’t bode well for dance music enthusiasts, however this went from 4 until 10PM, which allows anyone to get an okay amount of rest before resuming life outside this palace of revelry.

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I arrived for the last hour or so of Ramona Wouters, who DJ’d 100 to 115 BPM, tribal influenced house music; where swinging, synthetic upright bass tones and hi hats shuffled the crowd into a limber groove. As the rhythm rolled, the refracted lights from the disco ball danced miniature spotlights onto the backdrop of a projected fireplace that psychologically warmed the venue on a decisively cold, dark night. Psychedelic, ethnic chants reverberated off the angles of the venue, while the crowd moved well in sync with the affairs happening before their senses.


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After some time of this, Satori took the stage, not to do a DJ set, but to rather perform his material live. Using a combination of hardware and software synthesis, keyboards, drum machines, and samplers, ran through Ableton, Satori was able to construct and deconstruct his tracks, and others, into new versions of themselves, allowing a lot to chance and improv. Besides being a one man auteur, the aspect that impressed me the most about Satori was the breadth of his genres that fit among the signature downtempo cadence of his house inspired sets. There was aspects swing music, middle eastern influenced riffs, dub, big band, and a health dose of rock music to create an accessible, unpretentious, worldly concoction of dance music; merging the past with the present, and in a way, his and our own future.

Needless to say, this was a unique, fun party, that really sold me on the idea of day parties, since it’s an untapped time filled with souls who don’t necessarily want to go to bed at 6AM, as well as people who do, yet want to start partying at 4 instead, which in the eyes of our Lord Bacchus, I assume is favorable.

 

Featured Show: Halloween Hoopty Hoopla – A MS Benefit

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Speaker system for the event is retrofitted into the sides of a car, which is also a ball pit.

On October 27th, at the Pedal Hopper Denver garage behind Mile High Spirits, there will be a party. Not any ol’ party, but rather one that actually does some good, as you sizzle your brain cells to music and fun.

Multiple Sclerosis is a condition that, according to the National Institute of Health, disrupts communication between the brain and the body, where in some cases, it can cause partial to full paralysis. On top of these lovely effects, it is unfortunately one of those maladies that has baffled researchers since its discovery. This confusion results in many people not getting a proper diagnosis, as mysterious symptoms such as muscle weakness, and vision loss impede their ability to live a productive life. And this can go on for years, before a doctor says, “Hey, you have MS,” news that literally nobody is excited to hear. However, with it affecting 2.3 million people globally, it’s not a common condition, and therefore hasn’t received as much support as other diseases in figuring out how to identify, treat, manage, and hopefully cure it.

It was after local DJ Tri-Tip, the moniker of Scott Koen, and Luke Stone, musician and part-owner of Pedal Hopper Denver learned about the diagnosis of their dear friend Carrie, that they decided to throw a benefit concert out of the Pedal Hopper garage.

Koen says, “This year Luke and I talked about throwing an end-of-season party.  In brainstorming, the idea of making it a benefit came up. We quickly closed in on trying to help one of our best friends [Carrie] who goes above and beyond to help other people in need constantly. A lot of dates weren’t working until we landed on 10/27 and were like let’s make it a costume party. It was a perfect storm of excuses to get everyone together to have a blast and be productive (and generous?) at the same time.”

Talent for this show includes Tri-Tip, spinning an eclectic mix of disco, house, and funk, Movesayer of Melodic Deep, Amsterdam, with his brand of melodic techno, Eric Lake of the label THNK TNK, who’s been topping the Indie Dance/Nu-Disco BeatPort charts with his new EP, Burning Up, and finally the band Cosmopolitics, playing a set of decade-spanning throwback covers, and funk.

 

$20 is the suggested door donation, where $5 is for unlimited alcohol until it runs out, while the other $15 goes to the National MS Society. There is also a raffle with prizes provided by local businesses and a costume contest.

RSVP:

https://www.facebook.com/events/2172716576321254/

An advisory of Colorado underground electronic music

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