Our latest artist interview features Orsen who has a new EP out this week on Replug Records.
1. How old are you, where are you living and how long have you been producing and Djing?
I’m 39 and although I’m originally from the UK, I live in the Upper Austrian countryside, it’s not a metropolis, but it’s a very beautiful, calming and creative place to live. I’ve been DJ’ing for over 20 years, but only seriously producing for about 6 years now.
2. Where do your musical roots lie, what are your first memories of electronic music and when did you know you wanted to pursue it seriously? Are there any particular productions or artists from the past that really made you think to yourself ‘this is what I want to do.”
I don’t come from a musical family, so there was never a major influence. I remember when I was a really young we had a couple of Jean Michel Jarre tapes I used to obsessively listen to before I went to sleep, I think this was my first realisation of electronic music, that or maybe breakdancing on a flattened cardboard box in the garden to some really old electro form the early 80’s. In my teens I remember having an old tape with Rhythim is Rhythim – Strings of Life, Marshall Jefferson – Move Your Body and stuff on as well and thinking this is amazing! I want more of this! Going to a lot of raves in the UK, in particular a club called the Eclipse in Coventry around 1991, when genres weren’t really evolved so far that youwould have Sasha, Grooverider, Carl Cox and loads of others playing in the same room left a lasting impression on me, and definitely influenced my eclectic view of electronic music. But it was probably that burst of progressive and trance in the mid and late nineties which really sucked me into thinking I want to produce properly at some point.
3. I was first introduced to your music under your Futuremass alias, what prompted the birth of Orsen and how do the monikers differ?
I think Futuremass was really my first attempt to try and experiment with slightly different sounds to my previous material which was all quite ballsy tech/trance edged stuff, but over the last year I noticed a natural path appearing towards deeper progressive oriented sounds, as opposed to the more percussive tech house which seemed to be where Futuremass was heading, so I decided it was a good time to set up Orsen which I work under most of the time now.
4. You have a new release out this week on Cid Inc’s Replug Records, itcontains three sonically impressive creations, tell us a bit about them and how did the release end up on Replug?
Thanks. Henri (Cid Inc.) has been mastering all of my material for a couple of years now and I have always been a fan of his work and Replug. It became clear some of my new tracks had a feel which might be suitable, he gave some great feedback after the mastering, so I asked if he might be interested in them for Replug and he snapped them up, which I am really pleased about, firstly because he is a really nice guy and very professional, but secondly because it’s a label I would have loved a release on for a while now.
5. How difficult was learning to produce for you in the beginning? Did you take any Audio Engineering programs or production courses to help you out or are you pretty much self taught? And did anyone give any advice early on that really helped?
I started messing around with an old Amiga and a program called Pro-tracker when I was young, sampling stuff and putting together tracks, so I had an interest very early on. A few years later I spent some time on and off working with other producers releasing tracks, I really soaked up how they were doing things, but when I moved to Austria I decided to take it seriously and set up a modest studio geared towards what I wanted to write. Getting going was the hard bit, but if you put the hours in, read up on everything possible and go online for tutorials and studio interviews it all jumps into place eventually. I had a couple of producer mates, most noted Andy Perring (Pulser) who were on hand when I got stuck with stuff, I think it’s really helpful to have someone you can drop a line to and ask how to do something, he was really helpful.
6. What parts of the production process do you find the most difficult and what comes easiest for you? When you do hit a creative block what helps you through it?
I’m okay with most things these days, but sometimes it’s the simple things like bass and kick combinations which still drive me mad and just getting out of “that” loop. But mostly it’s just trying to do that extra bit to sound as original as you can. I get creative blocks when I listen to other producers’ music I love in too much detail, you can learn from them, but it can stifle your own creativity at the same time. Sometimes just having a couple of days away from listening, going out with my field recorder and experimenting with sounds and sound design normally triggers ideas which become the fundamentals of new tracks.
7. You own and manage the ‘Optimized Recordings’ label, it’s been running for about three years now but was pretty quiet in 2014 with just one release, can we expect to hear something new from it soon? and how can artists get their demos to you? and what advice would have for someone hoping to get signed to the label?
Yeah, I set it up initially as a creative space to release my own material and some Futuremass releases, then the last release was my first Orsen EP last year. I spent a lot of time trying to focus on different sounds and finding a bit more of an identity with Orsen last year, so the label was quiet, but I am expecting to start moving it forward again in the second half of 2015 on a small scale, but definitely opening it up to more artists who I like. Demos / Soundcloud links can always be fired through to info(at)optimizedrecordings.com
8. What’s a normal day like for you? Do you have a job outside of electronic music? And what do you like to do when you’re not working on music?
I moved from full-time career work to a part-time office job so I can write and produce for at least a couple of days a week, I am not sure how I would have the time otherwise at the moment. Studio days are simple, I get up super early, feed the cats, feed myself, drink some tea, drink some more tea whilst answering emails and crack on until I my ears are a bit numb, stop, then repeat the process. I am quite strict and organised with my time on studio days, this is important to actually get things finished. Outside of that, i’m a big food fan, so I cook all the time, mostly Vegan food of late after making a decision to cut out meat and dairy, and I ride a road bike a lot in summer, this is great for clearing the head! (sorry, not that rock and roll)
9. Apart from electronic music what other genres do you listen to and who are your favourite artists outside of electronic? and do these genres or artists have a direct effort on your own productions?
When I get the time I listen to all sorts. I’m a massive Radiohead fan, I love artists like Jon Hopkins and particularly Ólafur Arnalds (Kiasmos) of late, actually all them Icelandic artists are amazing, Sigur Rós, Björk? I think I need a studio there, there must be something in the water haha. I really like East India Youth, he’s awesome! And Snow Ghosts as well at the moment, all quite immersive, emotive listening and all have an electronic element still I think. So I probably take some influence from everyone I listen to, even if it’s not sonically, I think anything and everything can have some form of influence if you look close enough, even if it is just a feeling, an attitude or an ambience.
10. What are you currently working on? and what can we expect to see from you over the remainder of 2015?
I’m in a really good place both creatively and productively at the moment, and i’ve already got another three or four tracks written, so I am expecting some more releases in the coming months and year, hopefully on some labels I really like, we’ll have to see.
11. What was the first and last physical (CD, Vinyl, Cassette etc) piece of music you bought?
I can’t remember the exact first, it was probably something terrible from the 80’s like Europe? Last was a Bonobo album I think, I am just about to order the new Björk album, that sounds incredible.
12. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise people?
I’m quite an uneventful creature so not a lot to surprise you with, but I do experience Chromesthesia with music and natural sounds – Most sounds emit a sense of colour to me, sometimes shapes, because of this, sounds in projects must have the aligning colour, or I can’t work haha. Bit weird?
13. Which producers in your opinion get consistently overlooked?
I am sure there are hundreds of amazing producers getting overlooked for various reasons, I don’t dig too much to see where people are on the visibility scale, but the good music always rises to the top eventually.
14. Which producers consistently inspire you? And where else does your inspiration come from?
Not just because I have a release coming up on his label, but I have loved Henri’s (Cid Inc’s) productions for a few years now, they have their own energy and place and are always expertly mixed (and mastered of course) as does Guy J, King Unique, Robert Babicz, Henry Saiz, Alex Niggemann, the list can go on and on … I like producers who surprise me, releasing an electronica or ambient piece along with normal dance floor oriented tracks, or a mammoth 11 minute journey track. It sets them in their own space I think, less conformist and more about the art of producing and creativity as opposed to purely the commercialism of it. I find that inspiring.
15. There are countless producers out there trying to find their way and create their own unique sound, what advice do you have for them?
You have to work at it, learn your craft and your processes and find what works best for you, it can take a while, I am only just finding my place where what I am writing I am quite happy with. Learning the fundamentals of sound design, recording found sounds / field recordings, creating your own sounds and textures adds your own individual stamp I think. If there is one thing which is key – it’s experimentation, just try different things, build unconventional effects chains and try running synths, audio, anything through them, it’s the results of this sort of process which normally triggers an idea for a new track or two in me.
16. If the final DJ/live set of your career was next week what would your last track be?
That’s a tricky one! Probably something like Rhythim is Rhythim – Strings of Life or the Paul van Dyk remix of Binary Finary, which sounds mental fast to me these days, but it’s still the bomb!
‘Look Twice’ is out now on Replug Records, you can purchase the release: here