Let’s start with the Art as the cover is the very first thing to grab your attention. Designed by Lyon-based street artist, Brusk the incendiary nature of the image matches the driven rhythms occupying Cook Strummer’s excellent selection inside. What sets this compilation aside is the exciting diversity of the music along with the different moods and atmospheres realised. Vocals are touched upon, heavy drums explored and futuristic synthesizers expanded all in the course of this explosive journey that never loses sight of the dancefloor, or for that matter the emotional thought process underlying it.
Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Cook Strummer. What struck me about the music you have released to date is just how varied it has been starting with Memories back in 2014 and more recently this year’s club fuelled, Atmosphere. How important is being musically diverse for you as an artist?
Thanks for having me, Sixty ! About the variety of styles I released so far, my music journey has been quite a ride. I started more than 20 years ago, playing rock’n roll with bands and touring. I moved to Berlin 10 years ago, that’s when my music changed, and slowly switched from live recorded productions/sets (with a band), to analog live sets, and finally to a hybrid setup.
Musical diversity in my case is a synonym of adaptation. Adapting to a momentum, a time frame, in order to reinvent myself. I have respect for everyone out there who has the guts to express its individuality, no matter what type of music. That’s my current mindset. Respect, assimilate, adapt.
Do you feel that modern electronic music can lack the power of voice and words to convey meaning, given that they are so often not used in favour of instrumentals? Tell us about the process of how you write words for music – do you have a particular microphone you use to record vocals?
Modern electronic music is so vast ! Business techno tracks often include just a couple of words, while house music is sometimes built around meaningful vocals. I personally come from Rock music, singing and writing songs represent the core of my musical journey. When I start a new track, very early in the process, I spontaneously drop words / sentences and most of the time these are final, defining the main story line. Each song I write is inter-connected with the others, like a big puzzle. But I have been writing songs since I’m 14 years old, and the topics I approach (spirituality, self-development, clubbing, etc.) are part of an ongoing lifetime’s work. I record most of my vocals at home with a Rode NT2-A.
Your forthcoming selection for Get Physical’s, Berlin Gets Physical series begins with For Berlin. Can you talk us through how this track was created (or another one from the album) including any favourite hardware / software you like to use?
‘For Berlin’ is a track I’ve made to pay my respect to the city I’ve been living in for 10 years. It’s about partying, being in a club with friends and not being able to leave. ‘Last round’ refers to the ‘last drink’ before leaving, leading automatically to another dance, then another drink. And in Berlin, the clubs usually stay open for days, so it can be an endless circle if the party is good 🙂
I produce mainly with VSTs and Ableton these days, except for the basslines (I record my Fender Rascal bass), guitars (Fender Stratocaster) and vocals (Rode NT2-A)
What is the story behind the stunning cover artwork?
Glad you like the cover ! This collection will come digitally but also as two different vinyl versions – one will be available publicly, the other is a special edition. The artwork has been produced in collaboration with the Belgian gallery, Mazel Galerie. The cover art for it was designed by Lyon-based street artist Brusk and the original will be auctioned by the same gallery in Brussels.
Do you think Dance/ electronic music is in a healthy place creatively? What effect do you think nostalgia has on the creative process?
I think there’s never been SO MUCH music out there. I find it amazing. The way we can find music instantly, look back, trace the evolution of micro genres… So many references, it became like a huge melting pot. My recent releases are representative of this momentum, digging in many references, creating something new, with a hint of nostalgia for cold wave / post punk. Nostalgia to my point of view is analogic reasoning, being self conscious about references that shaped personal musical backgrounds, and embracing these.
What are the origins of OBSOLET? How was it set-up and what is the philosophy behind it?
OBSOLET is a crew and record label from Berlin, composed of Max Joni, SoKool, Mukkimiau, Dan Buri, Marvin Jam, Modshape and myself. Nothing is OSBOLET, everything is.
When did you first start playing guitar and who influenced you? Which guitar is your favourite to play?
I started playing guitar when I was 13 years old. Before that, I played piano from 6 years old till 12, classical and Jazz. My parents told me that if I keep up till I become 12 years old, I can choose my instrument. I used to be obsessed with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain, the songwriting and the atmosphere they managed to create. I also was influenced quite early by The Clash, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Joy Division, Black Sabbath, Motor Head…
The Telecaster was my first fancy guitar, I played it for 10 years, then I switched to the Stratocaster due to its sound versatility.
Cook Strummer – Berlin Gets Physical – Get Physical Music is released September 23