Happy and careless 8-bit Nintendo sounds and ever-evolving and intricate compositions. When Introvert operates his machines, these contrasting types of expressions are welded together with ease. The uniqueness of the music gives the impression of listening to something deeply personal.
Why do you think the chip sound is so compelling?
I guess mostly because of the nostalgia of the sound. I mean I think that it is something that most people from my generation grew up hearing on almost a daily basis. It’s almost like this minuscule part of our childhood that we can all relate to. Chiptune music to me is just so much fun and those familiar sounds can be made fresh again with modern machines like the Octatrack. I just use the Octatrack MIDI sequencer and my Wayfar MidiNES and go at it.
I also love that even people that I know, who don’t really care for what I do musically, can’t help but smile when they hear chiptune music. They seem to understand my excitement when they hear that 8-bit grit. It just tickles parts of your brain like a familiar scent from the past. It takes me back to a place when we were all kids and when life was more simple, fun and laidback.
Some of your songs, like »Chicago Dreaming«, are very complex. What is your approach when creating such intricate pieces?
Well, when composing some of the more complex track I do, I usually don’t have that much of an idea of a finished product and I really don’t have a set technique for composing. But what I have found with myself is that I’m usually most productive if I just focus on only one thing at a time. Whether it’s beats, synths, Eurorack or just noises for backgrounds, concentrating on just one small piece, rather than the whole picture at once, is really important to me.
I usually take just a Monomachine or a Machinedrum or my Octatrack into a room, away from all of my other gear, so I can just focus on that one machine. That way I can get as lost in that single element as possible. I will usually do that with several machines and then when I can get a large chunk of time to zone out and experiment, I bring all of my machines together and start to layer sounds.
I have an Allen and Heath ZED 22FX so I can run everything all at once and sort of let things build themselves. I currently only use Ableton Live 8 when recording. No other software, no plugins and almost no post edits or software effects. I try to just get things as tight and as formulated as possible before I go into Ableton.
Needless to say the copy and paste features in all of my Elektron boxes get used an insane amount. If a groove really connects with me I will make 10 or 20 different copies and variations of that same groove with different swells, retrigs and lengths. This helps me to have as many variations as possible of a single thought.
Once I have done that, it is possible for me to apply my favorite Elektron trick. It is implemented in the Machinedrum and as far as I know, nothing else out there lets you do this. The trick is the Control All feature. When I found this trick my musical life changed for the better. What I do is I will have one straight groove running on one of my machines (usually my Octatrack or my MK1 SPS-1 chaining tons of patterns together). On my UW I just freak out with another groove by holding function and turning a knob so it will turn that knob consistently for every sound across your entire machine. But the cool thing is that it does not map the same for every machine. So if you are using internal machines or ROM machines parameters will be mapped differently, causing crazy cool things to happen! And when you are done “freaking out”, just hold your function key and press the classic button and the saved kit will be reloaded. WOW! Ok, now run that through your Octatrack Echo Freeze delay and your electronic life will be changed.
Which aspects of song writing do you find the most rewarding? And which do you find the most tedious?
For me I honestly think the most tedious and stressful part of the writing process is the recording phase. And it’s not really recording per se, it’s finding the time to really be able to sit down and fully immerse myself in my machines. I think I have the tendency to over think things and that can be really impairing when it comes to completing things.
But I find the most rewarding part of making music is getting positive words and feedback from people I don’t even know, or people that I really respect (like you wonderful people at Elektron or the guys at Trash_Audio). When I get nods from fellow synth geeks or professionals out there in the world, it really makes me happy in a way I can’t really explain. I don’t get to play out very often but it always makes me feel great when there are music geeks that I have never met who are personally effected and inspired by my music and says how much they enjoy my noises. So I guess what I find the most rewarding is people connecting with and enjoying my musical thoughts on a personal level.
Does acquiring new gear change your approach to producing music?
Oh, without a doubt! I think new gear always sparks excitement and confusion, which forces you to work out of your comfort zone. Every piece of gear inspires a unique spark of creativity that, I believe, can be attributed to the creators of the product and their personal background as musicians. That said, I usually just use new gear to create samples and sample banks for my Octatrack and Machinedrum. So while new things can severely change my approach to my creative process, new gear also helps me find new love and inspiration in current familiar machines like my Octatrack and UW. I recently have really been getting into Eurorack and there is a whole world of possibilities and noises out there that I never could have even imagined of. I have created tons and tons of personalized oneshot drum sounds, drones and swells and dumped them into my Octatrack to be mangled. This works great, because by using the Octatrack, and especially the chromatic function, an unfamiliar instrument can become familiar.
I also play Monomachine, Octatrack and guitar with a full, instrumental, band called Karass and I absolutely love to use my Elektron machines in that context. They are so flexible and enable us to keep things 100% live. While I would love to be able to take my Analogue Solutions Vostok or my Metasonix boxes with me to every practice and gig, I rather keep them safe at home. With the Octatrack we can still have access to all of those noises in a live environment and even expand on those thoughts in a really fun and LIVE way.