Kolapse Interview I: Mathon

This is the first in a series of interviews with the Kolapse remixers. Juan Dahmen, composer, drummer and multiinstrumentalist from Spain, interviews Pete Leuenberger of Swiss electronic music collective, Mathon.

Juan: I read that there are three steady members: Thomas Augustiny, Roger Stucki and you, Pete Leuenberger, with different collaborators each time you reunite in Mathon. Was that the approach used for this remix?

Pete: The approach was not the normal working process we usually do when working on new music in a collaboration. After we got in contact with Tobias, we decided that Roger Stucki should take the lead on this remix, so Tobias sent the original audio files to Roger. Roger started to work with the files and did some sketches.

Did you consider Reber the collaborator this time, or did you count on someone else as well?

In this case Tobias was the collaborator, but as I mentioned, we normally do not work this way. But remixes are a different situation that creating new music from scratch.

Why did you choose to remix this piece, Piñata, and not others?

It fitted most. Roger and me received Tobias tracks individually and listened to them autonomously, and we both made a selection. We compared our notes and saw we both favoured Piñata.

How did you use the original material? Was there a clear goal from the beginning or is the remix a result of different experiments?

It’s a result of a series of experiments Roger did with cutting and rearranging the individual Piñata tracks, and adding new sounds and textures. At the end we didn’t wanted to go far away from the original. We wanted that the listener finds a connection to the original piece, so we stayed true the original definition by Eduardo Navas of remixing as creating a “the point of entry”.

Do you have specific roles in the band (rhythm, pads, fx) or do you choose as you feel?

Usually there are roles in a band or a collective. At the beginning of Mathon it was unclear and we did not want to get into predefined roles for each of us – but through the years we did, as a consequence of the collaboration and of the skills everyone has. Roger is the arranger, he has a feeling of where and how sounds needs to be placed. He reduces the stuff I arrange, cause I layer too much and it gets fat and sticky and he slicks it down, reduces it to the max. Thomas is more the special effects man – noises, field recordings are his favorites and he is good in getting out and catching sounds.  He finds a way to add them to our tracks in a manner similar to Lustmord. Mostly very dark and hidden. I think that is one of the special ingredients in Mathon. As for me, I’m more into generating soundscapes and other sound design.

How do you get such great pieces together? Is this done live with all members at the same time (and later editing) or is everyone adding something each round?

When we work together on our own music, we jam. Normally one of us brings a idea and explains a little where it comes from, the story behind it. Then we try and jam. We record the jams and listen to them later. Then we change instruments or sounds if we are not happy with something, and start to make a small arrangement. Then we perform this version again and record the tracks. Later home in the studio we do the fine tuning and mixing.

Do you give each other specific instructions or do things happen naturally?

It depends, we are all not very good atreceiving instructions or orders ;-). But sometimes it fits.

When working on a piece, what do you spend most of your time on?

Definitely the fine tuning. It can take us months to get to the finished version.

Download Kolapse for freelisten to Mathon’s music at the Everest Records website and sign up for the a100ql newsletter where I share news, thoughts, essays and materials related to the blog once or twice per month.

Limited Supply: Responses to CE #6

Back in February I posted Composition Exercise #6:

Compose a drum track with exactly

40 kick drum hits

30 snare hits and

100 hi hat hits.

A few musicians have since shared their tracks with me and gave their permission to publish them here!

First up is Juan Dahmen from Spain. Juan says:

“I just tried your exercise three times with different approaches:

1. Doing the math and arranging three different tracks:
5 bars with 10 kicks (in total) repeated 3 times
4 bars with 6 snares (in total) repeated 5 times
4 bars with 20 hi hats (in total) repeated 5 times

Every 4 bars, snare and hi hats repeat the pattern, but the kick don’t, so it feels less repetitive. I added some velocity changes as to feel a little more alive. Everything was written, nothing played live.

2. Improvising free with [Ableton] Push trying to play more hi hats than kicks and more kicks than snares. I did it but, evidently, not perfect, so I had to add a few here and remove a few there. As a first take on that, I felt the restrictions occupied to much of my thoughts […].

3. Improvising but with a groove in mind and, again, trying to play more hats than anything. Here, in order to groove I played way more kicks than allowed and had to remove them later, resulting sometimes in an ungroovy groove. Snares were surpassed by around 3 and hats were short by 8, which I corrected too.”

Find Juan’s music at juandahmen.wordpress.com

Next is Kaspar Torn from Estonia, whose files were named “Limited Supply”, giving this post its title.

Kaspar’s music can be heard at kaspartorn.eu.

Cha Blasco, a musician from Spain but now living in Sweden, has applied the exercise to different drum sounds and sent in these tracks:

Find more of Cha’s work at chablasco.com.

Finally, Ernesto Medina from Argentina has shared the following recordings. He notes:

“I’ve tried to write three different forms over the same hi hat division but not thinking of a very specific structure. Of course, respecting some logic on the executions (meaning that it’s actually kind of playable) and also the possibility of making a long loop with it. I always try to not to think of well known patterns to find new stuff.”

Listen to Ernesto’s music at ernestomedina.com.ar and laorillera.com.

Great to hear all these submissions and the different approaches that can be taken in working with it. It always suprises me anew how these kinds of restrictions – of which you can of course create infinite variations – can be put to creative use. So come up with your own rules or work with one of my other exercises, and let me know what you come up with.

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