Friday, March 16, 2012

TRUE1235 - Patrick Siech & Gustav Söllscher Interview

This week Truesoul released The Watch Receiver EP by Patrick Siech & Gustav Söllscher. An exploration into the deeper realms of techno that unearths a variety of  hypnotic soundscapes and drawn out arrangements exemplified by the deep space elasticity of Carrier Wave; the haunting, glitchy grooves of 14MHz; Siech’s own Number Nine cut with its cavernous sounding delayed chords; and the rolling, mystical deepness of Flogiston. Drumcode caught up with the Swedish duo to dig a little deeper into the roots of their collaboration; find out what makes Malmö the cultural hotbed of Sweden; and learn more about the special bond that exists between the two former mailmen turned self-confessed synthesizer geeks. We were also treated to a demonstration on the computer language of multi-frequency shift keying (whatever that is...) and the guys even threw in a lesson in 18th Century 'bad science' for free! If you have not heard the tracks yet you can check out samples on the Truesoul Soundcloud.

Patrick, you have released on Drumcode previously but I read in your biography that you have been making music with Gustav for quite some time. How did it all begin?

Patrick:
We met by accident when we were working as mailmen in a small city called Lund, next to Malmö in the South of Sweden and I guess it was a bit like love at first sight!
 
Gustav:
Well it would have been love at first sight if you had been a girl…
 
Patrick:
It was really strange actually. We noticed we had been living these parallel lives in a small city, we had the same interests, knew the same people and were doing the same things but we did not meet until we were both 21. In fact we were discussing, we might have met without knowing it when we did our military service but we are not sure.  

Gustav:
It is true. We are from the same place, we are the same age and we have existed in the same little city but just never met each other. Or maybe we did and we just weren’t interested.

So what sparked that initial conversation in the post office? Was one of you listening to music and the other heard it? What was the icebreaker?
 

Gustav:
I think we were sorting letters before we went on our rounds and we started talking about synthesizers and we pretty much didn’t shut up after that. 
 
Patrick: 
Yeah, you actually tried to sell me a Korg Polysix… 

Gustav:
And I did sell you a Korg Polysix!

Patrick:
So that’s pretty much how it started…
 
The mind boggles as to how a conversation just starts up about synthesizes? 

Gustav:
If you are interested in synthesizers you find a way to sneak it in. 

Patrick:
And we did… all the time. No one else at work was interested in synthesizers so I guess you just connect really fast when you meet someone who is interested.
 
How did things progress from there? What made you make the leap from being friends to getting in the studio? 

Gustav:
We didn’t really have a studio in those days. I lived in a small apartment and Patrick lived at home with his parents so we started making music in Patrick’s room. We collected a few machines and just started experimenting. 

Patrick:
Yeah, hanging out in the studio is pretty much what we have done from the beginning and it is still the only way we know how to hang out. Music just comes out of us getting together.  

Gustav:
We have no other way of interacting with each other. When we hangout music appears! 

Patrick:
We are really very socially incompetent guys except when we are with our synthesizers!
 
Well it seems to be productive way of working… is it a partnership where you both think in a similar way and that is why you can get your ideas down? Or is it the case that one of you compliments the other and that is why the magic happens? 
Siech & Söllscher live, circa 2006.

Gustav:
I think we are pretty much alike but both of us are very open-minded. If one of us gets an idea the other catches on to it pretty quick. 

Patrick:
Yeah, we almost never say ‘this is not working’. If one of us doesn’t really like something we tend to evolve it rather than scrapping it down.  
Gustav: 
We are very much a collaboration in that sense but we don’t always work together or we split the time so one of us is working the machines while the other does something else.   

So how long after meeting in 2002 did you get to a point where you were finishing tracks and looking to release them? 

Gustav: 
Around 2005/2006 we started putting together our live set. We never really thought about putting records out. We only finished tracks so we could play our music at parties.
 
I guess you were already quite active then within the local clubbing community. Was either of you DJ’ing at that point? 

Patrick:
Well I would say we were our local clubbing community! It was only us who hosted parties in our city. It had been like this for a few years with no electronic music parties. 

Gustav:
There really was a void. The nightlife in Lund was very dry. If you weren’t enrolled in the university then you had nowhere to go. And then we started hosting techno parties in a living room but this ended with 400 people showing up and the place almost collapsing.  

Patrick:
So we had to find a new place that don’t collapse if 400 people show up
 
That sounds like a really impressive achievement. What sort of period of time did this happen?
  
Patrick:
We had three parties in the living room over 3 or 4 months then we moved on to a local venue that was actually a university venue.  

Gustav:
Living room raving, Malmö, style...
And then that club took off really fast because we had built a base with the lounge parties. We had 500 or 600 visitors every night.
 
That is quite something for such a small town…
 
Gustav:
Yeah! We were happy…

Patrick: 
We were also very surprised. The town didn’t have an electronic music scene at all so we didn’t know how people were going to react to what we were introducing them too but we didn’t see it as a gamble because it was all just for fun.
 
Correct me if I am wrong but I got the impression from your biog that your early material was quite experimental? 

Patrick: 
Yeah, very experimental.

Gustav: 
I think we were one of the first acts to get back into the acid sound again. 

Patrick: 
We were getting back in to acid in 2004/2005 and then like a year after that it got really quite big but of course it is dying down again now.

I think that makes it even more impressive then that such an experimental sound was attracting such big crowds.
 

Gustav: 
Well, it is, but if people have nothing then they dance to something!
 
So what made you make acid? Where are your roots there? What influences pushed you in that direction?

Gustav:
We just got interested in the machines that make acid. It is a very simple sound to make as all you need is one synthesizer and a drum machine and you can make acid.
 

Patrick:
We were always pretty fascinated by the party vibe of the Chicago house guys like Tyree Cooper and those guys who were always very non-caring in their attitude towards party music. It is not at all introverted but has a lot of charm. 

Gustav:
It is not as technical as other music. You don’t care as much over the technical production. It is more about the energy in the production. Its very simple and you can make the funkiest music ever.

I guess being forced to accept the limitations of your equipment or the style with which you are working is all part of the creative process?
 

Gustav: 
There is nothing more creative than the limitations of the synthesizer. If you are working in the computer you can do everything with little effort. With a modular synthesizer it is very easy to achieve nothing, even with a lot of effort.
 
"Open Filters..."
You mentioned the Chicago sound but you also mention in your biography that your sets came out sounding like Punk?
 
Patrick: 
Yeah, it was very, very raw and experimental at times

Gustav: 
Open filters! 

Patrick: 
Yeah, very little thought about production values and I guess at times it sounded like crap but we didn’t care because it was all about the energy in the party. 

Gustav:
Yeah, we tried to convey as much energy as possible because the most boring thing we experienced was artists who looked like they were sending an email on stage.

When I have spoken to Patrick in the past about Malmö and the difference in the vibe in the south of Sweden compared to up north in Stockholm. Is there anything of this in your choice of more alternative style?
 


Patrick:
I think it is like this. In Malmö is it impossible to make money from hosting clubs and doing parties. In Stockholm you can make money. But here there is no money to be made which makes the scene a lot more alive in my opinion. The people who are hosting clubs and making music in Malmö
are people who can put up with doing a lot of work for very little reward. I think when people start making money from hosting parties then a little bit of the reason you stared doing it dies. So down here it is a lot about the vibe and the energy, which has led to a very good underground scene.  

Gustav: 
I would say that Malmö is the most vibrant cultural city in Sweden.  

Patrick: 
I agree. Firstly, you have so many immigrants here, which some say is a bad example of cultural exchange. But I differ because I think there is so much mixing up of different cultures and arts and interests in the city plus it is also very cheap to live here so a lot of people move her to be able to perform their arts
 
So what sort of place is Malmö?

Gustav:
It is an old working class town that historically has survived on its shipyard - a big port and industrial area. But nowadays it is all salesmen and brokers. All the warehouses have been converted to offices and apartments and the city has been transformed.  

Patrick:
The inner city is still very industrial and raw when you compare it to Stockholm and Gothenburg.
 
It is quite clear why your sound developed in the way it did but when did this period come to and end or is it still going on? 

Gustav:
The DJing , making music together and hosting clubs we were doing to at least 2010.  

Patrick:
I still make music on my own and DJ but we don’t host any clubs anymore 

Gustav:
Yeah. Because I cut my hair and got a real job!
 
So Gustav grew up and Patrick didn’t?  

Patrick:
No… I did not. I got an education but not a real job. 

Gustav:
But we didn’t grow apart which is the important thing
 
So how did this EP for Truesoul come about? What brought you together to make these tracks? 
 
Gustav: 
It wasn’t anything that happened, this has been a process that has been on going. Every time we see each other make music.  

Patrick:
This EP is pretty much the product of our friendship.  

Gustav:
Yeah, this is what out friendship sounds like
 
Talking about how you make music, are you still very much using hardware or have you compromised at all with the computer? 

Patrick: 
It is both. We have used hardware where we have been able to use hardware since the beginning. We could never afford a 100% analogue rig so we learned to integrate the compute into our work, but you can always hear a lot of hardware in our music.
 
The impression I have had from the listening to the EP is that all the tracks are very hardware sounding. You can hear it in the arrangement and progression. They sound very “live”.  

Gustav:
We try to arrange our music that way by setting up a few loops and then playing around with them and get creative. 

Patrick:
The arrangement is pretty much press play and record and then we do it in one take and do some editing afterward but the original arrangement is almost always live.
 
So what happened with the Flogiston track (it is 14 minutes long)? Did Gustav's phone ring half way through and you forgot to turn the machines off?  

Patrick:  
Ha! We were having a nice productive day in our old studio and we jut shut down all the lights and played this live as its supposed to sound and it came out that long. It was so deep and suggestive but it wasn’t planned like that. 

Gustav: 
And we weren’t planning on anyone liking it either…
 
Its great to hear about tracks like that which come together so naturally because it is so easy to be formulaic.  It sounds like a lot of fun to make? 

Patrick:
Yeah it is. When I focus on my own projects I tend to care much more about production quality than when I make music with Gustav. We are trying to keep it raw and simple and just record it so what comes out is what goes in. 

Gustav:
Music comes from a love of the machine, it is not inspiration, it is just the sound of loving the machine!
 
You mentioned to me when we signed the tracks that Carrier Wave and 14MHZ were inspired by you listening to high frequency radio transmissions. How did you ever come up with the idea? 

Gustav:
Well that is my fault. In my professional work as a radio and satellite communications engineer I listen to a lot of high frequency radio and if you have made music all your life you start to hear things in the noises. Like the strange melodies that data transmissions make and the phenomena that appear when thunder storms hit the atmosphere.
 
So can you tell the difference in different types of communication? Does a phone call sound different to an Internet connection? Is your ear that well tuned to it? 

Gustav:
Oh yeah, I can hear the different sounds in different types of modulation protocol for data transmission. You can easily hear the difference between a PSK31 and an FSK signal!
 

This is fascinating... what else can you tell us about the language of computers?

Gustav:
Well, I am not exactly fluent in the language of computers but it is possible to make your laptop speak to another laptop via a process called Shift-Keying which uses different frequencies to send messages. It is probably easier for us to demonstrate rather than explain...  



Amazing... thanks! Once you have heard these melodies in the frequencies, take me through the creative process of bringing these sounds into your tracks? 

Gustav:
Its all comes down to the sound. When you have demodulated your signals you can hear the sounds and record the sounds and then start playing around with it and cutting it up or isolating different waveforms and loading them into the sampler.
 
Can you give me an example from one of the tracks where there is an obvious use? 

Gustav:
Well 14MHZ is actually named after the amateur radio frequency band. You can hear some noises in the background and these are from the radio frequencies that we found. They are like background sounds to create an eerie effect 

Patrick:
On Carrier Wave we recorded some French guys speaking over the radio and we messed about with these sounds and modulated the hell out of them so you cant hear them speaking but the sounds are there. I think there are some samples in Number Nine too.
 
So why is the EP called The Watch Receiver? 


Patrick: 
Well we had all these radio communication tracks so Gustav came up with something. 

Gustav:
A Watch Receiver is a piece of equipment that just watches the universe for signals. It’s like the feeling I get when I make music. We are very open-minded when we make our music and try to be inspired by what happens rather than predetermined ideas.  

Patrick:
The name tries to illustrate the soundscape of the EP, which is basically noise floors made up of lots of information and different signals. Like a landscape of sound that you can listen to when you tune into radio waves
 
And I also wanted to ask about Flogiston. What does that mean? 

Gustav:
Back in the 18th Century when man did not understand the concept of fire, they thought that fire consisted on a material called Phlogiston. We thought was so silly and the word got stuck in our head and we used it on the name of the song. 

Patrick:
We were inspired by the mystical vibe of the 18th Century science because no one was sure of what they were doing. Many people thought of scientists as magicians and this fitted the vibe of the track so the name stuck.
 
It seems you have taken inspiration for this record from a really broad range of things. I wanted to ask you both about what music you listen to away form the studio and if that has the same range as you show on this EP? 

Patrick:
Yeah it does. I probably listen to more electronic music than Gustav but I try to listen to everything and be inspired by as much as possible.  

Gustav:
Same for me. I rarely listen to techno but I listen to a lot of electronic music as well as punk and synth rock.
 
You mention that you don’t listen to much techno. Are you just a studio guy now and removed from other aspects of the scene? 

Gustav:
I don’t play out in the clubs anymore but if someone is visiting Malmö who I appreciate I will go and see them but I do really miss performing live.   

Patrick:
We have been taking a look at the old live set and extracting it from our old laptops and we could do something with it.
 
Do you have a recording of the old live set? 

Patrick: 
Not sure… maybe somewhere in the archive.  

Gustav: 
I’m pretty sure I have it on the hard drive from the old live computer but there is a small clip of us on the internet somewhere.  

Patrick: 
Oh yeah, that’s of our Depeche Mode – Personal Jesus remake which was our crowd pleasing moment in the middle of the set
 
So now the release is done and about to be released how do you think it has come out? 

Gustav:
I am very happy with the artwork and our tracks but I am not sure it will be everybody’s cup of tea! 

Patrick: 
It was not produced to be anyone’s cup of tea but our own so I’m really happy Adam wanted to sign it for Truesoul. I really hope people appreciate it for what it is and get into the vibe that we did when we made it.
 
Will there be more material to come? 

Gustav:
There is a constant but slow stream of music coming from us but if anyone will like them I don’t know. 

Patrick: 
Yeah, we will always make music together so lets see what happens.

Great, well it has been really interesting to learn all about you guys. Thank you for the lesson on multi-frequency keying and congratulations on a really interesting EP!


4 comments:


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