“If you get a good jam ses­sion go­ing, you’re nor­mally al­most done!” Thomas Fehlmann|

Future Music - - TALKING SHOP -

Both solo and along­side Alex Pater­son in The Orb, Ger­man pro­ducer Thomas Fehlmann has spent the past few decades prov­ing him­self to be a re­lent­less ex­per­i­menter and sonic ad­ven­turer. This month he re­turns to es­teemed la­bel Kom­pakt for his sev­enth solo al­bum, Los

La­gos. FM caught up with him to talk stu­dio cre­ativ­ity…

When did you start mak­ing mu­sic?

“I bought my first synth in Fe­bru­ary 1979 – a Korg MS-20 – and plugged it into my reel to reel tapema­chine. That was just medium sized fun, but a month later I met Con­rad Sch­nit­zler and he in­tro­duced me to the con­cept of hav­ing a cho­rus echo in­serted. Other main in­flu­ences at the time, both mu­si­cal and con­cep­tual were Brian Eno and Robert Fripp.”

Tell us about your stu­dio/setup

“I’ve been de­vel­op­ing my home stu­dio since the be­gin­ning of MIDI in the ’80s first run­ning it with a Yamaha QX5-se­quencer, then Com­modore/Stein­berg, then Atari/C-lab, then Mac/Logic and fi­nally with Able­ton Live. The room is sound­proofed since many years and I would not want to go any­where else.”

What DAW do you use, and why?

“A Ham­mer­fall RME Fireface 8 track sys­tem. Why? Stefan Betke had it for sale, he said it was good. I like it be­cause it’s just run since its first in­stal­la­tion with­out any trou­ble. For live I use a Fo­cus­rite Firewire de­vice that’s not on sale any­more. It has six ins and four outs. A few years ago on tour in Ox­ford my trusty EDIROL started to play up and the lo­cal mu­sic­store helped me out with the Fo­cus­rite. No com­plaints.”

What one piece of gear in your stu­dio could you not do with­out, and why?

“If we’re talk­ing synths that would be the Korg MS-20 com­bined with the SQ-10 se­quencer. I’d be OK with work­ing just with these and Able­ton Live if I needed to.”

What’s the lat­est ad­di­tion to your stu­dio lineup?

“It’s the Even­tide Space stomp­box, a bril­liant piece of gear: cuts trough loud and clear and easy to han­dle. I used it first just for live but now it has its place on the con­sole next to the mas­ter­fader. Might have to get a sec­ond one ac­tu­ally.”

What dream bit of gear would you love to have in your stu­dio?

“I could do with a plugin for Able­ton Live that would clear sam­ples for you. Or al­ter­na­tively giv­ing you a warn­ing if the sam­ple use is ‘dan­ger­ous’. That would be re­ally help­ful. Sorry, but you asked…”

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

“A jam ses­sion would be the route but where do you start the jam ses­sion? If you get a good jam go­ing you’re nor­mally al­most done! It would be a se­quence created with the Korgs and then cut it up or si­lence a few notes, fill up the gaps with beats or noises and get a good flow go­ing.”

What are you cur­rently work­ing on? Any new projects we should know about?

“I’ve just fin­ished the sound­track for a his­tory doc­u­men­tary on the Weimar Repub­lic, about the tur­bu­lent political and so­cial times 100 years ago. It’s called 1929The

YearBaby­lon. I’ve tried to bring the feel of the golden ’20s to­gether with a con­tem­po­rary touch us­ing lots of hissy sam­ples as a main thread. In some places it was just badly-looped hiss and then build­ing a vibe with some over­dubs when melodies or rhythms started to peek out…”

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