Kolapse Interview VI: Ritxi Ostáriz

This is the sixth installment in a series of interviews with the Kolapse remixers. Cedric Theys, who already contributed an interview with Lärmheim to the project, talks to graphic designer Ritxi Ostáriz.

How did Kola’s artwork come about? Was it based on the music or did it exist before the music?

It was made originally for the album. In that time I worked mainly in black and white and with geometric shapes. I was starting to get bored with my own style. It was so great that Tobias asked me for something with an “ethnic or tropical” feel (I don’t know if these were the actual terms) [Edit Tobias: I think “tropical” was indeed a word I used.]. So, probably for the first time, I decided to try something more organic, fewer angles and circles.

What techniques did you use? Is it more of a digital creation or does it come from drawing or photography?

It combines both. I won’t reveal the whole recipe of the artboard but I can say it all started with the photography of a pineapple. I think it’s the first time I reveal this secret!

You have a very unique style for album artwork. Where do you get your inspiration from?

I honestly don’t think I have a specific style, though I have been said that many times. If you take a look at my whole portfolio of designs, you will find very different approaches. It would be hard for me to talk about where I get my inspiration from as there is no one single way of working. Every project has its own methodology.

You’ve worked extensively with Markus Reuter and with the Iapetus family. Are there other record labels and/or artists you work with a lot too?

Markus has been a key figure in my design career and he has trusted me and my skills many times. He is for sure the client I have worked on the most projects with. But there is also Vegard Tveitan ‘Ihsahn’ and Heidi Solberg Tveitan, from Mnemosyne Productions, who have commissioned me for many of their projects. In fact, they were my first client in the music scene. I am so proud and grateful for having had the chance to work for them.

What other design and creative work do you do?

Music design has only been one of my specializations. I have also worked as a motion graphic artist and as editorial designer for books and magazines. In the last five years I have worked full time for the brand consulting firm Saffron Consultants and I am currently a Senior Visual Designer at Fjord, a Service Design consulting company.

What are some of the things you are focusing on right now that you’ve never done before?

Good question! I am currently directing, writing and recording a weekly radio podcast about Anthropology, Ethnography and the History of Human Beliefs. I am having a lot of fun and having the chance to meet and interview a lot of great scholars, writers, journalists…

Download Kolapse for free, make sure to browse Ritxi’s online portfolio at ritxiostariz.com, and sign up for the a100ql newsletter where I share news, thoughts, essays and materials related to the blog once or twice per month.

Kolapse Interview III: Lärmheim

This is the third in a series of interviews with the Kolapse remixers. Cedric Theys, founder of Austin-based Mad Ducks Records,  interviews Swiss musician Henri de Saussure aka Lärmheim.

How do you know Tobias and what attracted you in doing a remix for Kolapse?

I met Tobias during my studies in Bern (CH) for a Bachelor’s Degree in Music and Media Arts, around 2012-2013. At the time, he was giving lectures and classes about generative composition and its integration with Max MSP. I was open to do a remix for him, as it challenged me with music originating from compositionnal methods far from most of what I’d done until that point. I tried to create some kind of drama with the track, while staying somewhat faithful to the original material.

What drew you to specifically remix Maniok?

To be honest, I’m not sure I remember – we had a choice of several tracks, and this one inspired me the most I guess!

Do you have any specific technique/approach that you used to remix Maniok? Is it something you use or have used for your own music?

I strive to create music revolving around a narrative, a development – would it be harmonically, rhythmically, sonically… or all of the above. When I listen to instrumental music, it is essential for me to hear it go from point A to point B, whatever they may be. It could sound very old-fashioned, but I still refer to a classical approach: introduction, development, resolution. It also helps me to define what should happen with the material I end up with, and to vaguely structure a piece.

Sonically, I amplified the rhythmic elements to give them a clear punch, I tried to give the material some soundstage and space, which would be occasionnally filled with effects, delays etc. The «identity» or aesthetic direction of the sounds is also very important to me; by carefully using saturation, filtering, modulation effects among others, I want to give the track some relatable attitude, if it makes sense!

How would you present music like Kola live if you had the opportunity? Is it a sensible idea to even try to do that?

We could decide to get stems of different tracks, and play some material live over them with synths/fx/controlers, or create new parts over existing tracks, split their material and combine it in unusual ways… Or have acoustic instruments reproduce and/or improvise over it. It could be fun!

What are you up to in your own musical world?

I’ll start a Master’s Degree in Event Management in 2017, which means I won’t be doing too much musically creative stuff. But in my free time, and without any kind of pressure, I’m working on ambient music. It is a radical departure from what I’ve done until now – I used to produce very demanding, distorted and aggressive electronic music. My wish is to make music to listen to while commuting, traveling, wherever. I traveled through Iceland last summer with some of my family, and you spend most of your time driving across immense, unaltered landscapes. I thought, «what kind of music would people be fine listening to while having this experience?». What I’m working on at the moment is also inspired by driving at night and urban landscapes. Hope that makes sense.

[Further reading: Tobias’ in-depth interview with Henri on Lärmheim’s debut album, Cent Soleils.]

Download Kolapse for freeplay and purchase Lärmheim’s music on Bandcamp and sign up for the a100ql newsletter where I share news, thoughts, essays and materials related to the blog once or twice per month.