Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Arno and Simon. The music you create as Hot City Orchestra occupies a refreshingly, unique space in electronic music. In terms of your musical history growing up how did you arrive at this point?
Thanks a lot for your kind words and we’re really happy that you like our music. Our musical journey started in the early 90’s hay days of Drum’n’Bass and Jungle in Frankfurt am Main. We were both quite active in the scene around that time. Organizing Parties, starting a label (Art Of Rollin Records) . We even had a Tv Show called Rinse Out Tv where we would invite DJs to play. Our paths crossed quite early and since then we never really stopped making music together. Our latest release captures a more experimental side of things, while our previous releases have been more dancefloor oriented.
If this is now the more grown-up version of us? We don’t know, to be honest. But it felt to be the right time to do less club music and focus more on experimental stuff, interesting rhythms, and unique sounds. But the next Album might be 130 Bpm Techno. We really just do what we like.
Thinking about the inherent power of instrumentation and rhythm which you explore so readily do you feel they can convey more meaning without the use of words and melody, or are those things you would like to develop the use of in the future?
Part of our approach in making music is not to exclude anything. The selection of tracks on the album reflects around 2 years of making music together. Our next album might feature a singer, other musicians or singing dolphins. The selection on the album grew very organically and the concept was formed by the tracks that we felt needed to make at this certain time.
We always had and have a passion for minimal stuff and reduced melodies. Cheesy hooks, huge build ups and stuff like this was never our thing. An interesting or groovy Rhythm is always the foundation of our music.
Outside of music which writers, cinema, or Art inspires your day to day?
“Inspiration exists but it has to find you working” (Quote by Pablo Picasso)
Especially for this album, the dialogue with our machines, synthesizers and all the hardware in our new studio was a major inspiration. But daily life is a great and most needed inspiration as well for us. Arno’s wife and daughter, Simon’s love, are highly responsible for the outcome. Also, the interaction and the vibe that we both have in the studio is key. All that makes the difference for us. It’s not that we go to the museum, watch a film, or read a book and then get into something. It’s more a vibe, mood, and interactive kind of thing. The love of creating something (hopefully) special and unique. For Simon, there are especially four tracks inspired by a very special person to him. As you might have noticed, there are no lyrics or cheesy melodies. But For him these are nevertheless love songs that wouldn’t have been created without a special person in his life. Arnos’ daughter is the newest member to the family, and she inspires us every day. You can also hear her on one of the tracks.
Can you talk us through how you produced one of the tracks from the album from the where the initial idea came from, to how that was arranged as a piece of music and then produced? Any favourite software / hardware you always like to use to create or treat sounds with?
6 Tracks one Bottle: The track was recorded during a period of rearranging the studio. As it was Simon’s birthday, we still wanted to Jam a bit, so we grabbed a bunch of machines and got going. We each had three channels on the Boss-Km 60 Mixer. Simon had three channels of Modular. Arno took the other three channels for the Roland Tr-808 as well as the Emu- Proteus going through the microcosm fx pedal. On the send channel of the mixer, we routed the Sony V-77 Effect unit and started messing around. We recorded one take and decided to put it on the Album. Other tracks were much more constructed or thought about which again shows that we don´t have one approach when it comes to make music. We are just servants to the music and do what we feel is needed and also not needed.
What are your feelings on how club culture has been shaped by social media and how festivals have become the dominant force in dance music, rather than establishing residencies? Are these positive or not so positive things for the future?
Let’s cut this question. IIO is not about Club Culture and an answer here could fill a whole book.
What are your views on streaming and how artists are currently able to generate money from music?
Generating money from music sales has been difficult for independent artists for quite a while. Basically, the internet came a long and all of a sudden people think it´s normal that music is for free. Which has had a profound impact on the value of art for its consumers. Sure, you have a few nerds that go to the record shop and now it´s en vogue again to buy Bon Jovi on vinyl but if you ask any teenager how much they spend for music the answer will probably be zero. Of course, we miss those times where vinyl sales were stronger than they are now. Of course, it’s disappointing when we generate just a few Euros from thousands of Spotify plays. But hey: Music is now accessible to everyone in the world, who is interested in it. We have to deal with new habits in consuming music and try to make the best out of it. We really love the idea that everyone can consume as much good music as they want to. You’re not dependent on record stores or your budget. The accessibility of culture and music is at the same time inspiring but overwhelming. So, when people tell us to boycott Spotify it doesn´t really make sense. For us Spotify is promotion and a way that many people (including us) consume music. And we want to make sure that everybody who wants to listen to this weird music can do so as easy as possible.
Is it important for music to constantly strive to move forwards? What are your feelings on nostalgia and the re-edit culture?
To be honest: We personally don’t really feel a lot of the stuff that is hyped (in the clubs) right now. No patience just bangers and funny haircuts with Hawaiian Shirts. That being said many clubbers don’t understand what we’re doing at the moment or with this current release. We just want to make music that feels important to us and hope that more or at least some people will like it.
What is your favourite instrument? Do you own one? Who do you most admire with their ability to play it?
Simon: For me it’s not really an instrument that I could point out. It’s more what you do with it and how to become creative and unique with it and finding your own “voice”. Some examples for me are Steve Reich in writing Scores, Moodyman in redefining the Detroit Sound while still heavily relating to the history, Devin the Dude for still creating that old-school vibe over and over again and not getting boring with it and some more.
Arno: My favourite instrument in a classical meaning would be the voice as we all have it and there is not much that touches me more than a person singing from the heart. Piano would be second as it sounds nice to begin with compared to let´s say a violin. When it comes to synths and drum machines, I don´t care so much. I collected a lot during the years, but I could start from scratch again tomorrow and I don’t think it would make too much of a difference. Your ears are the most important instrument for any producer.