“My stu­dio is small, clear, straight­for­ward. I switch it on and play.” Frank Bretschnei­der

Future Music - - TALKING SHOP -

For 20 years Ber­lin-based mu­si­cian and vis­ual artist Frank Bretschnei­der has been a fig­ure­head of Europe’s ex­per­i­men­tal elec­tronic scene, both as a solo artist and co-founder of the lauded Raster-No­ton la­bel. As he re­turns with his new al­bum, Lu­nik – which blends mod­u­lar synth tex­tures with Krautrock-in­spired rhythms – FM found out more…

When did you start mak­ing mu­sic?

“The first thing I owned was a sec­ond­hand elec­tric gui­tar, but I ac­tu­ally used it as a sound source to feed a cou­ple of tape ma­chines. So I could al­ter the sound by speed or de­lay; or loop­ing tapes to sound more “elec­tronic”. My first “real” in­stru­ment was a Korg MS-20 synth. I al­ready had a wide range of in­flu­ences when I was start­ing to make mu­sic. But I was al­ways fas­ci­nated by the ex­per­i­men­tal and elec­tronic side of mu­sic. The ac­tual im­pulse to make mu­sic my­self came from artists like Throb­bing Gris­tle, Hol­ger Czukay, Lau­rie An­der­son.”

Tell us about your cur­rent setup

“It’s a sim­ple home stu­dio, since 17 years. It’s small, clear, straight­for­ward, ev­ery­thing is con­nected, I just switch it on and can play, record, work. I should get round to sound­proof­ing it.

“With the ex­cep­tion of my Nord Mod­u­lar Synth, I al­most ex­clu­sively used com­put­ers and soft­ware for a long while; more an act of com­pos­ing than play­ing. Over the past years I bought a bit of hard­ware again: an Elek­tron Oc­ta­track and a small Euro­rack mod­u­lar sys­tem. It’s more spon­ta­neous to work with hard­ware, to al­ter a se­quence in re­al­time, to turn a fil­ter knob or sud­denly change the speed of the track…”

What DAW do you use, and why?

“I mainly use Logic for com­pos­ing, ar­rang­ing, record­ing, edit­ing; ac­tu­ally since ver­sion 2 (Emagic No­ta­tor Logic, back then). It was sim­ply the best DAW at the time and still to­day I like the clar­ity, the pre­ci­sion, the feel, the free­dom to cus­tomise the whole lot, win­dow sets, short­cuts etc. It’s fully equipped with ba­si­cally ev­er­thing to record, com­pose and edit. It in­cludes some great plug­ins, like the De­lay De­signer, Space De­signer, ES2 synth, Sculp­ture. The en­vi­ron­ment of­fers by far the most so­phis­ti­cated MIDI func­tion­al­ity. And it’s con­stantly up­dated: just re­cently at NAMM, they re­leased the new Logic 10.4. To a lesser ex­tent I use Ableton Live as a kind of sketchbook, be­cause it’s sim­ple and quick. Of­ten as a ReWire slave within Logic.”

What’s the lat­est ad­di­tion to the stu­dio?

“It’s an Erica Oc­ta­source Euro­rack module. I was look­ing for a ver­sa­tile mod­u­la­tion source for my live rack. So it should be not too big, easy and fast to op­er­ate, syn­ca­ble, with enough ouputs. The Oc­ta­source meets that re­quire­ment. I think I found it on the web­page of Sch­nei­der­sladen, a video con­vinced me to buy it and I didn’t re­gret it. It’s ba­si­cally eight LFO’s with eight waves: ei­ther one dif­fer­ent on each out­put in multi mode, or the same wave shifted by 45 de­grees (via CV from 0 to 90 de­grees) in sin­gle mode. It has a wide range of func­tion­al­i­ties to morph, shift and freeze waves. It also has an FM syn­the­sis mode. From a sim­ple square wave up to the most so­phis­ti­cated and weird mod­u­la­tions, the Oc­ta­source de­liv­ers. With the three big knobs, the ac­cess to the main pa­ram­e­ters is su­per di­rect – great for live per­for­mances.”

When ap­proach­ing a new track or project, where do you start?

“It depends, some­times I just switch on my Euro­rack, try to find a patch what works and record it. Cut­ting and edit­ing af­ter­wards, if nec­es­sary, and stor­ing it to my ar­chive. For spe­cial projects, like re­cently with some works for mul­ti­chan­nel en­vi­ro­ments, I use the Nord Mod­u­lar. It’s some­how faster to cre­ate a patch and I can con­trol and au­to­mate all­most all of the pa­ram­e­ters via MIDI, partly from Logic, partly from the Oc­ta­track se­quencer. And some­times I just look through my ar­chive for some­thing worth to work on.

“Af­ter a cou­ple of years, I now have quite a lot of sketches, im­pro­vi­sa­tions, ses­sions, frag­ments – un­fin­ished stuff.”

What are you cur­rently work­ing on?

“We just re­leased a new al­bum Lu­nik. I’m just fin­ish­ing work on a mulitchan­nel/mul­tiscreen in­stal­la­tion called ISM Hex­adome, con­sist­ing of 49 speak­ers and six screens. The video part is cre­ated by Pierce War­necke and the open­ing will be in March in Ber­lin. I’m pre­par­ing for a con­cert at the Monom 4D sound sys­tem at Funkhaus, Ber­lin. I’ve been tasked with cu­rat­ing a 2xEP with some new artists for Raster-Me­dia (the for­mer Raster-No­ton la­bel). And I have a cou­ple of col­lab­o­ra­tion projects on­go­ing.”

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