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words Ali RaymondEllen Allien & Apparat: Do Not Break
I’ve been a committed follower of the orchestrated ambience that Apparat conjures since I heard ‘Do Not Break’ in the summer. Although he had already released two solid albums, Multifunktionsebene and Duplex, on his own label Shitkatapult, it wasn’t until ‘Do Not Break’ that I duly paid Attention. It was a part of a string of masterpieces that stemmed from Apparat’s collaborative partnership with muscian/producer Ellen Allien on Orchestra of Bubbles from 2006.
In its melancholic superstructure, Orchestra of Bubbles nurtured a partnership that complemented Apparat algorithmic aesthetic with Ellen Allien magnificent vocals and characteristic bass keynotes. It was also a unison that fed Apparat hunger to venture into more thoughtful and dreamy production landscapes, consciously drifting away from the dance-oriented background from which he came.
The subsequent year Apparat followed with his third album, Walls. A real marker in Apparat’s approach to beat production, the beautiful ‘Arcadia’ and ‘Not A Number’ stood out as instant achievements. Tightening his focus on the breathtaking and truly thought provoking sounds, both Things to Be Frickled and Moderat released consecutive years there after demonstrated how his style of ambient music has become one of the most recognizable and appreciated. You see, whatever the genre you favour his music will unfailingly stimulate a strong emotion.Apparrat: Not A Number
Now having completed his mix as part of the super cool DJ Kicks series and in light of his majestic career so far I thought it was about time Beatnik got to know the German instigator of sound that little better. So lets begin…
What first attracted you to ambient music compared to other kinds of electronic music?
After being a rave kid for quite some time I just got bored of techno at some point. I think I’ve always been interested in sound itself and it felt like there wasn’t much space for adventures if you make 4 to the floor music. I moved to Berlin 13 years ago and kinda switched from dj-ing to producing, sold my turntables and got an Atari and a sampler. I realized that only sitting in the studio and listening to repetitive beats isn’t really my thing.
What do you mean when you say you are more interested in designing sounds than beats?
Well, I think with every song you have the opportunity to open up an own little galaxy of sound. Make them all special but fit and harmonize with each other. That’s a challenge and I find it way more interesting than just building dance floor tools. But beats are also part of these sounds and there is also really interesting dance floor music out there so this statement isn’t 100% waterproof. I guess I was just talking about the general importance to put lots of effort into shaping interesting sounds.
What’s your biggest motivator?
I like playing shows and I love traveling. I basically want to finish this record to be able to start touring again!
Berlin has gained a name recently as the newest cool creative city. What does Berlin mean to you?
It’s still an awesome city to be creative – Liberal and cheap. But of course it’s also not the same as it was when I came here. Prenzlauerberg was the cool area back in the days, now its the biggest kindergarden of Germany, haha. I just talked to a friend from New York and she said it’s more or less the same with Williamsburg and it always has been like this in NY. But she also agreed that it seems like things are changing faster these days.
Have you see a change in electronic music within the city in recent years?
Well, of course there is something new every 2 or 3 years. The “French sound”, dubstep… I haven’t really been listening to much electronic music for quite a while but I have to say that I found some interesting things in the
post-dubstep world. Joy Orbison, Mount Kimbie … that’s good stuff and it made me rediscover electronic music.
What is your earliest memory in life?
Me on a little red bike on our street in my hometown learning how to ride a bike. I think I learned it pretty fast and I loved to bike until a friend had a faster one. I got mad at mine and didn’t use it anymore.
How did you get into making music?
My father was a musician too. He took me to gigs with him and I hung out in the rehearsal rooms. Went to music school and played drums when I was a kid… somehow music was always around.
One of our favourite songs is ‘Not A Number’ can you explain how you built that and also your thought process behind it.
It’s based on a concept I still like and also used on my new album. Lots of different short rhythmic patterns that slowly shift and vary – Some kind of Steve Reich idea. It used to be a short loop (like all of my songs are in the beginning) until I invited the two girls from Complex Accord to my studio and they got inspired by it and played these glissandi strings on top of it.
Apart from ‘Not A Number’ you often use instruments that give your music a child like tone and simplicity. Would you agree?
I definitely agree to the fact that simplicity is a good thing in music. It’s always a good idea to try to archive a certain emotion in the most simple way, or at least, it should sound simple. Easy and natural. A lot of the most amazing music sounds really simple to make. But believe me – I’m sure it wasn’t.
What’s your favourite instrument/device to work with and why?
I like all kinds of acoustic sound sources, more than synths or computers. I think the sound is more rich with all the little “unwanted noises” an acoustic instrument produces. I also like to get away from the computer screen as much as I can ha!
What alternative pop bands are you enjoying at the moment?
The last record I really liked was Efterklangs “Magic Chairs” or the Fennesz & Spaklehorse album is really nice.
What attracted you to get involved in the DJ Kicks series?
Of course it’s an honor to take part in the most important mix CD series in electronic music! It’s also nice that you have 100% artistic freedom. No one tells you what to do. In fact they even ask people who aren’t regular dj’s pretty often to get more interesting results. It was also a really good thing for me to do this year as I got stuck with my album and spent a lot of time being depressed on my couch, ha!
Well big respect for passing through sir, any last words?