Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Brueder Selke (Sebastian and Daniel) and Eric. Zero Crossing is formed by a production from each of you. How did that idea for a joint collaboration come about?
BS: Hey there, nice to e-meet you. Well, to be honest we do not exactly remember how this journey started. But we are more than happy about this close encounter with Eric and his music – there is a very special quality to it. A few months ago we did a collaboration with the duo Constant Presence made from songsmith Peter Broderick and Daniel O’Sullivan. It was an intense experience to evolve two 11 minutes drones inspired by the meditative wisdom â€œNothing Specialâ€œ by Zen master ShunryÅ« Suzuki. We still carried these thoughts with us when we created the first fragments for Eric to let him build his steady floating synths around it. We soon felt in love with his Bladerunner aesthetics. When we met with Eric to talk about the project we were also introduced to his nice family and we noticed their direct and personal access to music and life in general. For us this was an essential element to make all this happen.
EM: I’m also not really clear on how this happened! We admired each other’s music, I went to go see them play as CEEYS, and was really impressed with the show, afterwards we spoke and I think that was when the seed was planted. We took our time with all of this, the whole process had a very natural, human pace, which I really appreciated.
Can each of you talk us through how you produced the music you created for the release? Is there a single piece of equipment (software or hardware) which you couldn’t live without in the recording process?
BS: Readers might know our recent album HAUSMUSIK. It is formally a double LP focussing just on our main instruments; the cello and the piano. But our full setup includes some other, almost forgotten devices from the former Communist-era Eastern hemisphere: tape echos, organic string machines, rhythm boxes, some weird custom stuffâ€¦
In contrast to our acoustic full length, our long dream was to contribute our ambient Kocmoc to a pure electronic track. So we recorded some spherical noises straight into 4 restored preamps made by former East German broadcasting company RFZ. And then we let Eric answer with his voices.
EM: I’ve been enjoying this aesthetic idea of a piece of music where nothing happens. How can I make nothing happen for 7 minutes and have it be interesting to listen to? So that was sort of my personal approach, which by pure coincidence, syncs up with this Zen thing Sebastian and Daniel have been dealing with. So in hindsight, it’s the biggest factor as to why Zero Crossing sounds the way it does. None of us knew this about one another going into it, so it’s really quite beautiful. It was effortless, creating this music with the brothers.
Recording process wise, I work really heavily with the laptop. I gather sounds from everywhere, and am writing and recording something new on a daily basis. This is more important than any gear or software, because over time I have developed my own library, my own system of sounds, melodies, ideas, which are ready and waiting for me.
Eric: Flower Myth is a relatively new label. How would you describe its ethos, where does the name originate from and how have you found the experience of running it? How do you see record labels existing in the future in light of streaming etc?
I really just dove into Flower Myth. It’s named after a Paul Klee painting. It means something different to each person, it is like a little poem. Initially I was using the label as a platform to release my own music, but in the process realized that for me, this was quite narrow-minded. Who wants to listen to someone talking to themselves? And if that’s what I’m doing why bother with having a label and all that it implies? So now I am focused on creating a conversation between artists over time. This resulted in the muzine Acoustic Jaguar, whose second issue will be out Spring 2021, and is also leading to collaborations with various artists, recently with Shipibo vocalist Rawa, and now with Brueder Selke.
Running a label like mine is tricky, it’s teaching me to be organized, it needs attention, it’s like a little living being. If I’m not putting energy into it no one else will. Using it to share the work of other artists who I respect and enjoy, it gives the label a sense of purpose for me, a focus, which I truly value.
The streaming question is a tricky one, for example, the Bruder Selke release is streaming on all platforms, but Latigi D. Icaro, my release with Rawa, is only available on Bandcamp. This may seem inconsistent, but it has to do with the respective goals of the releases. In the case of the Rawa collaboration, the goal was to raise money for him and the indigenous Shipibo community in the Peruvian rainforests. So to raise this money, it’s available exclusively on a platform which motivates listeners to invest in the music, in the story, and the people who make it.
In the case of the current Brueder Selke release, we are going for maximum reach, maximum listenership; sales are a secondary consideration. So it’s natural to make it available in all shops and on all platforms, and let the listener approach it how they choose.
I am enjoying the experiment, trying and seeing what works. My heart is telling me to stop using the streaming services, and exclusively use a service like Bandcamp. However before I make such a strong choice, I want to be sure of the decision. So right now we are in the experimental phase.
Brueder Selke: People will also know you as Sebastian and Daniel aka CEEYS. Where did your love of music come from and does being brothers add to the musical bond of how you play together?
We have been making music together for more than two decades now. After Sebastianâ€˜s first trip to sports and ice-skating at an early age, he went to the local music school and decided to learn the cello. Impressed by Sebastian’s first trials and errors, Daniel soon followed with the piano. Since then we trained on our instruments simultaneously, but almost by accident discovered the joy of playing together through the paper thin walls from our Plattenbau, a panel construction building where we grew up. This is how we developed our first tracks and choose CEEYS as an alias to release some reworks from our favourite artists, but kept playing under the radar. After 4 albums that focus on our childhood in the former Communist-era GDR, with HAUSMUSIK we worked to reach the present. The limitations and restrictions in our childhood helped us to learn improvising with the daily lack of material, and since the crisis showed up we felt the need for another mutation. Our performance with Eric is a first walk under a new sigil, our real name: Brueder Selke, and we soon will have even more exciting news for you. For now let us enjoy this liquid trip with Ericâ€¦
Eric: Listening to Part 1 of Connecting Home is an involving, immersive experience. Can you explain how you went about recording it? And about the charities you have chosen to donate too from the profits generated? Any plans for Part 2?
This album came about as a result of weekly live streams I performed on Facebook during the first spring lockdown. I felt, along with many other musicians and creative people, the need to do something, and so I set myself up, and played improvised concerts once a week for twelve weeks. And I mean totally improvised, nothing planned, empty mind before the first note is played. It wound up being a beautiful experience, the pressure of performance and the unknown, connecting with friends and family, all of it was very special. The album itself is the raw recordings from the live streams, nothing was multi tracked or edited, so what you hear is what I played. Part 1 was taken from concerts 1-6, so there is plenty of material for the second part.
During this time there was something like 800 people a day dying in my hometown of NYC. It’s an unimaginable number. My heart was breaking. I wanted to help as best I could, and decided to donate all the proceeds from sales to the Food Bank of NYC, a wonderful charitable organization that provides meals and even more to NYC’s most needy.
The next charity I’ve chosen to donate to is local to Berlin, The International Womans Space. They work with migrant/refugee women, fighting against patriarchy, sexism, racism, and violence. To raise money for them I must put together a Part 2! I’d like to think of music as timeless, but after a month or two people move on to the next release. Even as a label you have to promote new releases and let the old ones go! To really do the IWS justice I will do a proper release of a Part 2 in the New Year, with proper promo, and really get it moving.
Sebastian and Daniel: You curate the Q3Ambientfest. Can you tell us more about the event and your current plans for the festival as a result of Covid-19?
BS: Our carefully curated boutique happening is another result of a radical change in our life. After living in East Berlin for nearly 20 years we had the chance to move to Potsdam. Sebastian already worked as sub-principal cello at Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg when Daniel got a job at the local state music school. But this improvement felt not only the right moment to establish our new Klingenthal Studio but the best time to found a platform for contemporary music. We are always looking to create physical stages here and there to share ideas with like-minded music lovers. It is still our deep hope and wish to keep that flag flying despite all dark surroundings in 2020. There will be light and we will be ready to re invite our friends to the beautiful town of Potsdam and its diverse architecture – one more aspect to link with the music.
To all of you: Outside of music, who are your most important influences in terms of artists, writers, painters etc?
BS: Oh, we revere movies, and we really love when our music gets connected to them. As Brueder Selke we will partner with more video artists. The filmmaking from the 1980s has the strongest influence on our work. From legendary sci-fi movies to epic anthologies, we think in that decade the art of making a durable piece of visual art, all by brain and hand, reached its peak point before the technology in form of computer simulations seemed to overcome this craft. That’s why the foundations of our live set are the instruments and its true sounds. We use the computer only in the final process of editing.
EM: I am a voracious reader. Right now I’m re-reading The Language of Saxophones by Kamau DaÃ¡ood. Actually I just keep going through it over and over, it’s a book of poetry that has affected me on a very deep level. In addition to this I’m also reading The Soundscape by Murray R. Schafer, The Philosopher and the Monk by Jean-Francois Revel and Matthieu Ricard, Man and His Symbols by Carl G Jung, and Paul Klee’s Diaries (which I feel a little guilty about, they are his diaries after all).
I’m very deeply into the work of artist/healer Emma Kunz, the films of Fellini, Godard and Jodorowsky. I also love James Bond movies, it’s sort of like eating a big bowl of mac and cheese.
(Sebastian and Daniel): Hausmusik is a brilliant, timeless sounding album. Do you feel that playing an instrument live captures something that producing music electronically cannot? How would you describe the process of writing music together, is a piece created from a single idea/ note, or something you may have heard outside, watched or listened to?
BS: Thank you – it feels good to see our music translate well in that way. We think that it should not make a huge difference if you play an acoustic instrument or if you produce a track straight ITB. Everybody is free in the decision what to use and when and how. Today you are able to produce a 3D adventure animation or you can make it a silent movie. The technology is diverse as we are all individuals. There seems to be a natural dynamic that finally will bring us even closer together with this growing electronic universe, and there are a lot of great useful tools we can’t do without – but even with that hybrid philosophy in mind, we will need the stories that make our life.
And finally. What are you all most looking forward to in 2021?
BS: We started planning some shows to share with our friends but you fine readers should also check our new page or sign to our newsletter for exciting upcoming news. Please drop us a line if you want to partner with us. And we promise: there will be even a second waltz with Eric Maltz. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
EM: It’s always difficult to answer a question about the future, I’m very content with where I’m at right now. I have a full length album that I just completed, so if anything I am looking forward to putting that out next year. And as Brueder Selke just said, I’m hopeful we can put another release together in the coming year.
Sebastian, Daniel & Eric