I racked my brain trying to conjure up a cool, snappy headline to this interview I did with Cristian Vogel at the beginning of last year – but sometimes simplicity rides roughshod over excess and for once I cottoned on to that idea early. Hence the spartan title.
This was my third interview with the Chile-born British producer; the first two occasions were back in 1997 and 2000. That last one sticks in my mind not only because it was a cool chat – which it was, all about Rescate 137 and Chile – but straight afterward me and two mates went on to ‘contest’ a Monash University Battle of the Bands. We turned up with analogue gear, scared all the trad-rock people, took half the set time to plug in, finally switched on, and came last.
This time round was the first time we decided to do the interview by e-mail given the tyranny of distance (me in Japan and he in Spain) and lack of a promoter footing the bill of any international phone call. We also had clashing schedules, wayward time differences, family obligations, and other stuff unnecessary to go into here.
So… back to the issue at hand.
I’ve been a fan (to put it mildly) ever since, through innumerable albums like Absolute Time, All Music has Come to an End and Rescate 137, and his 12-inch Syncopate to Generate – along with two remixes of Cristian Vogel tracks (Jamie Lidell on ‘(Don’t) Take More’ and Tube Jerk doing ‘Whipaspank’) – have never parted company with my battered record-box.
Most recently I’ve been privy to his latest track ‘Black Box’, which will be coming out this month or next on the next Slidebar vinyl, alongside equally cool new stuff by Bill Youngman and Tobias Schmidt.
Instead of hassling Cristian out for yet another chat, here’re some choice insights from that earlier Q+A; just be aware that some things may have changed over the past 12 months:
On how he got started making music:
“Mostly through curiosity, and then a strong attraction to the control and synthesis of computer-generated sound.”
On motivation and longevity:
“It’s about 15 years now. There’ve been a whole lot of seismic changes… I caught the tail-end of a functioning music industry; perhaps dance music was the last real indie bloom. From 1996 onwards, it seems to have been a slow-motion implosion for the music business. I would never encourage anyone these days to get involved in it, unless they really understand the nature of the business side, and are confident with the level they want to working be at.”
Regarding software/gear he currently uses:
“For the past three years I’ve been programming real-time computer music using Kyma, as well as mastering in the high-end analogue domain.”
Essentials of the studio:
“My studio has developed into a highly-specialized environment, specifically for the way I work. So it works as a whole. I guess reliable and spike-free electricity is the most vital element.”
On current artists/labels grabbing attention:
“I don’t really follow techno much these days, and have never been comfortable championing anyone’s sound especially.”
Defining his own sound/style:
“I make sound objects that send abstract messages to each other.”
On current musical collaborations:
“I have a band and songwriting project called Night of the Brain. I sing and write lyrics, and play guitar. We made an album called Wear This World Out which is available on CD. I do live jacking techno jams with Ben Pest as The Black E – we recorded a great EP on Sleep Debt, SD005, called Found on The Floor of The Foundry. I am also collaborating at the moment on an electro-acoustic/acusmatic project with Pablo Palacio from Madrid, called Bird Palace.”
About the labels he runs:
“All labels are being sucked into the black hole. I hope to sell back-catalogue – I have a few crates of back-stock from Rise Robots Rise, Sleep Debt, Mosquito and Station 55 if any of your readers are interested!”
On current avenues of releasing his own music:
On the demise of CDs and vinyl releases:
“Yes, it’s very difficult to make a physical release payback. But it can be done, just takes a lot of consistent hard work in marketing and promotion. Personally, I buy much less music on CD/vinyl format than ever. I still buy some stuff on record, but never techno these days. I’m more interested in live, real-time generated music.”
On whether DJs really need to continue to use vinyl:
“Vinyl timbre is unique-sounding on loud systems. If you love that sound, you have to work hard to collect records.”
© Andrez Bergen