Christian Prommer (Compost Records) Q&A

Your excellent new album: UberMood is your first solo album to date. Did you find it more challenging, and a longer process, relying on your own abilities?

ChristianPrommer_1_coloredThank you for the kind words about my album. Yes, It’s my first Solo album. I did the Drumlesson albums also by myself, but had a great band to work on the music back then. Now for this record I went for the whole project on my own. It’s a different process if you do it like that and it is challenging in a different way for sure. It’s all your own fault, no one else to rely on (or blame). It takes longer as well in my case, because every idea gets questioned more. As a musician and creative person I try to bypass the editing in my head when composing, relying more on the feeling of the moment.

It was a great experience for me to find this voice for ÜberMood. I wrote a lot of music in the past two years that led to this album. I still had some collaborations on different tracks with musicians and vocalists. So, luckily I wasn´t always alone.

Your first release on Compost was back in 1995. Can you describe how your relationship with the label happened and why it’s still so important to you now?

Yes, my first serious release was with Compost back in 1995. Michael, who runs Compost, trusted me back then and he still does in a great and supportive way. With this label, the music is always first and the most important. Especially in these times we are in now that is not always the case. There are so many ways for the music to surface and find the audience. Many cool labels are out there, but not so many with a life that long and such a solid structure. For this project, being my “first” solo effort, it just was so logical for me to do this with Compost. My home for a long time. Michael was all for it from the beginning and we had many listening sessions with all the Compost guys up until now. Music is a very personal thing for me. It has to feel right where you put your heart, right?

The album covers many moods and styles from Classical to House. Which artists inspired you in its creation?

ubSo many things inspired me for this record. I travel a lot with my projects to dj at clubs or play concerts. All these trips leave a great sound impression in my music brain. Music wise I listened to some classical piano concerts by Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli playing Debussy. I used that inspiration and borrowed a chord change for my tune: Aturo. I also revisited the minimal music master Steve Reich last summer, with his “orchestral techno”, as I call it.  I listened to some great Jazz records by Weather Report and Joe Zawinul, he is the master of synth atmospheres and sounds. I played some great concerts with jazz artists Bugge Wesseltoft and Joshua Redman that changed my mind quite a bit.  Club music, especially house music, has a big impact on my sound. I really love the Italian guys from the Life And Death label. Tale of Us, Mind Against. Frank Wiedemann and his AME project, Manu Le Tough and all the Innervisions talent. Detroit is always on my playlist. There is this great remix by Kenny Larkin for Fleur. I love that energy and musicality of that approach. What gets me in clubland is the freedom that the straight beat gives to the musicians. It all happens between the beats. Four Tet is also doing great things between jazz and techno.

Can you talk us through how you produced one of your favourite tracks on the album, and about any favourite pieces of studio equipment you used on it?

I used all analogue studios and synths for a long time and spend so much time on learning the science behind it and perfecting it. I wanted to do this album all in the box. With my laptop and travelling around to different places. Not even studios. I worked in kitchens, hotels, in the mountains, on an island in Italy. Studios in Vienna, London, Berlin and Munich.

For this record I only used my old and trusted Neumann valve microphone from the 50ies to record my drums, percussion and vocalists and my macbook with software of Ableton and Apple’s Logic. I think that equipment and gear is very important for the process, but also totally overrated. If the inspiration is right, all is good. I did a big production a year ago for a friend and many of the great moments have been recorded with our iphones and made it onto the record.

For the song Aturo. I usually start in Ableton Live with a little idea. I played this Debussy chord sequence on my piano and recorded that into Live. Only 16bars or so. Then I leave the piano and play with the recording in my computer and ad some sounds and effects to it.  When I have a great chord sequence or melody, I start to build a beat. The beat is very important to me, but rarely comes first.

I love to play and record a lot different shakers. I brought a very big and heavy one back from the island Reunion. It sounds amazing. On a normal track I have three to four different shaker tracks. When the beat is done I do the basline and add sounds to it. That all goes pretty fast. A few hours. Then it can take days and weeks for me to find the arrangement and sound of the song. I leave the song work on other things and come back to it. I always play it live or test it when I dj. Its always good to take the music to the place where it comes to life. The big challenge for me is to reduce. A song is done when you cannot take away anything anymore.

What is your favourite instrument (and why)?

DRUMS!!!! I love rhythms and all forms of making them. Even when I play piano, I feel like a drummer. I started to play drums at the age of 12. The excitement never left me. The beats define so much of how we listen to music and how its categorized. I have quite a few drums from the 40ies until now that inspire me a lot.  I just have been to Istanbul and watched cymbals being manufactured in the traditional way, like 200 years ago. And when you play them, they take you and lead the way to the music.

UberMood will stretch people’s imagination and expand their tastes with the scale of music involved. Do you think underground/ electronic music is in a more accepting place, more open to new possibilities in 2014?

Yes, for sure. electronic music is going in big cycles as well. We have been through some very formatted and safe times, sound and idea wise, and we head into more adventurous times right now. You hear more crazy and weird tunes right now than maybe two years ago. Dj play songs again and those that play loops do it in a very creative way. I took almost a year to complete ÃœberMood. You never know how it will hit somebody. But I feel that it’s a very good time for it.

How would you describe yourself as a DJ, which other artist’s do you enjoy playing at the moment?

I would describe my style as eclectic house dj. I play deep house music and l love the energy of techno and jazz. So, my sets are very energetic and all over music that I like. I like to think: when you dj, its like back in the days when you played your new found music to your friends.
I play tracks by Deetron, Four Tet, Koze, Tale of us, Mind Aginst, Christian Löffler, Jon Charnis, Markus Worgull, Tom Trago, Kink, Soulphriction, Keinemusik, Permanent Vacation, Musica Autonomica and much more.

Where can people get to hear you play live in the coming months? What are you most looking forward to in 2014?

I play in Munich in February, (Kong 1st of Feb) and then it’s off to Italy and Asia. I will be Dj’ing and playing live in Thailand, South Korea, China, Singapore and India. I will be at the Sonar Festival in June. I work on remixes for Classic, Room With A View, WHATIPLAY and a few more. There will be three ep’s on Compost records with remixes for my album, next is a great remix by Dinky on which she also sings, beautiful.  And I will release new tracks on some new and some established labels. Busy year so far.

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