Music & Interview
Arthur Robert, a young talent based in Amsterdam
hi Arthur. nice to have you for this small interview with also includes an exclusive mix. I am not sure how I discovered your music the first time but I know I was impressed by your output presented on your Soundcloud profile. Later we worked together on the promotion of your first EP “Flut”, out on your own imprint Reduktion. After that I was surprised and proud/happy to see one of your tracks on Marcel Fengler’s compilation “IMF010”. So let’s start with the very beginning. Your youth. Where was you born? Where and how did you grow up? What kind of music did you enjoy first eg being a teenager?
Hi, I was born in Vienna, Austria to Romanian parents. My father fled the communist Regime installed there and initially wanted to go to either US, Australia or Canada but ended up staying in Austria.
I grew up going to a French international school with a very diverse background and being surrounded by many different nationalities, backgrounds and cultures. I think I must have been listening to mostly everything in my life. I had phases of rap/hip hop, when I was young I even like some pop music, crappy electro house and tech house even for a short amount of time and drum and bass/jungle, dubstep so mostly everything. While still in school I already remember sitting hours in front of my very own first computer I got when I was 15 and downloading rap and drum and bass to show my friends at parties. It was mostly the beats and rhythms that really stuck with me. Soon later I discovered DJ’ing and I was immediately obsessed with the idea of being able to mix two pieces of music together and make one. The fact that it was “technological” also made it even more interesting and exciting since I was always into futuristic, technology based stuff.Whether it was video games, movies about the future, some weird tech or anything innovative. I lived in Vienna until I was 19 and left to study interior architecture in Montreal and had a small hiatus musically speaking.
When I moved to Amsterdam after 3 years in 2011 I slowly but surely got back into DJ’ing and eventually also tried out producing a little but with very little success since I found it quite challenging at first.
I did have some piano lessons when I was younger but did not like it as I would have preferred to play the drums.
(Arthur Robert Promo Pic 1)
How looks your daily life? What is your profession (or what do you study)? Any spare time activities or hobbies beside music? We usually communicate in German. What’s the reason for your very fluent German?
For about 4 and half years now my daily life revolves in some way or another around music, especially music production. After I have met my now girlfriend in 2013, she and my best friend encouraged me to start taking up production seriously as they saw something in me I did not see myself. I was mostly still messing around Ableton and not really doing anything but they kept insisting I should do this properly. That was around end 2013 and in April 2014 my girlfriend and I moved to to a really nice apartment where we built a studio.. That year I got my first real setup with a modular, a drum computer and some speakers. The studio was setup in the garden shed which has now been fully rebuilt into a really nice music studio. Lots has changed in the meantime.
I usually wake up, do my house hold chores and other personal hygiene matter then usually go into the studio and work on my musical patterns, modular experiments and just general study into the foray of sound creating through technological means. Next to producing music Im also giving private lessons in music production since I love explaining what I do to other people (and myself especially!) which is a nice addition to my weekly routines. I learned most of what I know through the internet, trying out my modules, reading manuals and trial and error. I secretly always wished someone with all the knowledge would come and explain it to me but it became clear that I had to become that person in a way. Like being my own mentor so to speak. My other activities next to music are video games, watching sci-fi movies/shows with my girlfriend and cooking. But it’s mostly just music. I have realized that it was the red thread in my life, always passing through one way or another. I speak 5 languages fluently and therefore music is just another language.
(stream of the 3 track EP “Frontal” on Soundcloud)
I mentioned your tracks on SC and the first vinyl on your own label Reduktion. When did you decide to set up a label? How did you do it? What are your experiences?
My best friend and the graphic designer for my label Reduktion came up with the name for the label at a rave party in Rotterdam whilst Ben Klock was playing. We were all having fun and my friend was so impressed with the minimal nature of the sound yet the maximum effect it had on us. The name reflects my mindset about this very well and he captured that in this moment. After we did the first release it was nice to get some attention but the vinyl unfortunately does not sell extremely well since I have barely done any promotion myself except through your channel which was already very helpful. I know that I will sell all copies eventually one day. Im not in a hurry. There will be definitely a second release and probably more but I first have to be a little better know in order to release it in a manner in which it sells a bit better with little promotion. Im not necessarily interested in doing promo work and I rather wait for the right time and then do it. But it will happen for sure. The first release was a bit of a try out. It was a bit expensive and I made some mistakes but for the next one I will do things a lot better. I think 2020 seems realistic in terms of another release on Reduktion.
Your track “Schwäche” was featured on IMF010, a large compilation on Marcel Fengler’s label IMF. How did that happen? Was the track already finished or did you produce it on request? Did you meet Marcel in persona (if you did tell us something about it)?
I contacted Marcel (as all other DJ’s/Label owners) through Facebook hoping to get some of my stuff heard. I admittedly did not send music to many artists since Im only interested in sending it to people I feel I could have a connection with. That does not mean I don’t want my music played by anyone or everyone. It’s more of a personal thing. He responded nicely and loved this track instantly. It took 3 years to realize it but Marcel kept his promise. It was a very nice moment when it finally happened and felt almost surreal. Marcel invited me to play in Vienna at a renowned night club called “Grelle Forelle” to celebrate his IMF 10 compilation tour and he invited artists to join him along the way. I played my first really professional gig in front a very supportive crowd right before Marcel that night which was exhilarating. The crowd loved it and the promoters and Marcel said it was very professional and well done. It was a defining moment after almost 4 years of non stop producing in my studio. A sort of culminating moment.
(snippet of the track “Schwäche”, released on Index Marcel Fengler)
Let’s talk about your way to produce. What is your inspiration? How do you start with a new track? How do you carry on producing a track til it is finalized?
I produce using a mix of hardware and software. The main focus are my Elektron machines for drums/percussion, my prophet 6 polyphonic synthesizer, modular synth which has been ever changing since I first got it and various other mono synths I have been using lately. Ableton live 10 is used for processing my sound with professional plugins and recording my sessions. All is done live and recorded along the way via the master output. Mixing is done on the machines themselves and inside Ableton. I prepare patterns and patches on the modular and other machines and when something is interesting I press record and then just see what happens. It is a rather intuitive process that depends on the moment. I can make 5 good recordings in one 6 hour session and I can end up with nothing good for one week. Its all a matter of searching for the right combination of elements which at times can be very elusive especially if you do not want to end up repeating yourself too much. Tracks can start from anything like a synth sound, a chord, a modular patch etc. I love designing drums and percussion sounds with synthesis on my computer, then recording those sounds and putting them into samplers for further mangling/processing. Best way is to start with something simple. It yields the best and most rewarding results in my opinion.
(Arthur Robert Logo)
What are your influences? Who serves as example for you (producer, DJ, artist in general)?
My influences are definitely science fiction, video games, movies and movie soundtracks, the technology which I use daily to create my music, be it the laptop and plugins/ableton etc or the hardware especially my modular synth. The sheer possibilities of sonic exploration is incredible and promises to keep you interested and preoccupied for a lifetime. As for artistic influences I can definitely name old school hip hop such as nas, gangstarr, krs one, wutang clan, mos def, dead prez, trip hop with tricky, massive attack, Kruder & Dorfmeister, Portishead and so forth. Jungle music and drum and bass was a turning point for me and introduced me to going out and experiencing the power of sound systems. In Techno, the Sandwell district collective, Shed and the older Ostgut ton sound has had a huge impact on what I produce to this day. It has inspired a feeling of nostalgia within me for events/moments which I have personally never experienced but been able to feel through the music. Magical.
(full stream of “Hochwasser” from “Die Flut”, out on Reduktion)
Which equipment do you have at home and use for the production? What’s your favourite gear?
My equipment consists of a modular synth that now acts as a drum/percussion and mono synth with multiple oscillators and filters namely wavetable, and FM (Buchla)
I use two Elektron mainstays: Octatrack and Analog Rytm plus the Analog Heat processor for some overdrive /saturation. I own two semi modular mono synths: MS20 Desktop module and Oberheim SEM pro.
Furthermore there is a Sequential prophet 6 polyphonic synth that runs through a strymon Big Sky Reverb pedal, a really good 808 clone/replica called the 8raw8, a Syncussion clone called the SY-1M and last but not least my recently acquired powerful MacBook Pro 2018. I don’t have any favorite gear since all tools have their advantages and disadvantages, but if there was one thing for me to chose it would be either the computer or the octatrack. They are by far the most complete systems to make complete music on them.
(Arthur Robert Promo Pic 2)
You live in the Netherlands which has a rich scene e.g. ADE. Could you please give us a little insight of the scene? What do you like/hate about it? What are your favourite clubs? Any other young talents we should have an eye on?
The scene is very strong here in the Netherlands. Unfortunately Im less of a socializer and therefore little involved in the scene here at the moment. I spend most of my time producing and practicing my live set. The time will come when I will be more involved I’m sure about it but for now my priorities lie otherwise. My all time favorite club in the Netherlands used to be Trouw which is gone now. I don’t really go out anymore because I spend most of my time in my studio or with my girlfriend, When I get an invitation from a nice Dj such as DVS1 which I have a good relationship with then I go out and listen but otherwise I prefer to hone my skills. Some younger talents I have faith in are Utrecht based friends Shoal and Vela Uniform as well as my lazy full of excuses good friend Joris aka Deauwd. Last but not least there is another friend I make music with called Ard, going by the name of Ghetto House drum machine or Vamos Tados. Very very talented and attentive to detail.
(video of “Self”)
On the 15th of September you performed together with Vela Uniform as AR&VU. How did you prepare the set? What equipment did you use? Which parts did you do, which Vela Uniform?
My set in Utrecht at WAS together with Vela Uniform was a very healthy and nice experience. We played right before Karenn (which are a veteran live act in the scene) which was quite nerve wrecking as we had an extensive array of machines with us and there is always the possibility of something going wrong and of course the dreading feeling of performing well and to not disappoint, Especially if you get such a good time slot. We had very good feedback and even Karenn told us afterwards that they really liked it. We used mostly my equipment and the modular synth of Vela uniform which provided a solid base of sounds throughout the whole set. There will be a recording of it posted by WAS on December 20th 2018. Most of the work was done by me in terms of mixing, drums and processing through my usual live set with Vela Uniform’s added Modular synth. We practiced extensively during the weeks before just jamming and trying to find a way to communicate with each other. A very interesting and challenging project/exercise.
(Soundcheck for the live set at WAS)
So this is already the last question. Please tell us what you have planned for the near future. Second release on Reduktion? Signing to another label? Any interesting gigs?
For the near future I have been in talks with Zak Khutoretsky aka DVS1 for a possible release on his label Mistress. He is a main figure in supporting my music and I have been sending him stuff regularly for about 4 years. He was in fact the first person I have ever given music to back when I still needed much more practice and time. He replied humbly and told me that I needed to get back to work but that I should continue sending him music. I had been sending tons of music and there was sometimes he would download stuff. In Aprill 2018 he played a string of gigs in Berghain, Printworks, Amsterdam DGTL where he was playing tracks of mine in every set to some very good reactions apparently with one track standing out in particular he said. He ended playing it as a closing track in Berghain and got lots of messages requesting to ID my track. That was another turning point in which I got a sort of confirmation that it was going the right direction. We then met at Shelter in Amsterdam shortly after and discussed future plans for a release. I don’t know exactly when it will be released or if its 100% still sure but my guess is if it will happen then it will be sometime in 2019.
As for other projects I am in the process of perfecting my live set and will be recording lots of new music in 2019 with the newer setup I have recently finished building. The last 3 months were a bit of a restart and the new year will consist in putting in a lot of work to get some new material out. I am also involved in scoring the sound for a arthouse science fiction movie made by friends in Berlin which is very exciting since I always dreamt of delving into movie sound and using sound design as a means to interpret images. I find the world of techno, sound design and movie scoring, especially science fiction to be quite intertwined and therefore feel a very strong connection throughout this process. I will gradually show some bits of work here and there and generally keep uploading my tracks and experiments to Soundcloud. Always more to come.
Arthur Robert’s EP “Flut” on Reduktion
compilation “IMF10” w/ Arthur Robert track on Index Marcel Fengler
Tracklist of Exclusive Mix:
01. Arthur Robert – Offering
02. Arthur Robert – Ankunft
03. Arthur Robert – Yearning
04. Arthur Robert – Cloak
05. Arthur Robert – Temperament
06. Arthur Robert – Frontal
07. Arthur Robert – Confidential
08. Arthur Robert – Prelude to war
09. Arthur Robert – Cataract
10. Arthur Robert – Forthcoming
11. Arthur Robert – Sovereign
12. Arthur Robert – Lost
13. Arthur Robert – The Aftermath
Arthur Robert’s own label Reduktion