A LONG JOURNEY INTO SOUND.
INTERVIEW WITH RENÉ BREITBARTH.
by Luca De Pasquale-Manuela Avino 2015
So let’s talk about a german musician and a producer, author of two albums under his name and of an infinite number of productions, remixes and much more. I’ve got to know the music of René Breitbarth in 2003, when his first album “Solar” was released. In 2004 followed the second work called “With a little luck” that became soon the most played record in the evening hours right in the store where I worked.
It sounded soft, sinous with such rounded grooves and deeply “ambient” at the same time. Both albums came out with the label that René had founded, that is to say, Treibstoff record. Later I continued to follow his productions which ensured to me, as more technical than instinctive listener, the need of an elegant and nocturnal sound which I prefered for my own aptitude. Probably I owe to René Breitbarth my growing imperative in the years that followed to go into tech house, minimal, deep house to my very great surprise.
As can be deduced from the interview that René has kindly granted to me, we introduce an artist who loves going down different roads, by opening and closing different cycles, so as to improve and motivate himself which is the way it should always be.
In relation to one of the questions that I proposed to him, I’d like to find him again as a composer for one of those movies that are in need of one beat to describe colours, passages, suggestions and also directions. And surely these are tasks that his music was always able to fulfill to the best of his abilities, over the years.
LDP: Well Rene, would you like to tell me how it all started?
RB: I started on a Commodore Amiga computer around 1989. Not too long after that i had access to a quite big analogue studio.
LDP: By listening to your works I’ve always thought that they were able to go beyond the usual definition of “electronic music”, because they are full of cross-references, quotes and different suggestions. Who were the artist have inspired you most?
RB: Thanks for the compliment. It´s so difficult to pick anybody out of so many musicians and genres. As it should be anynone with a big repertoire i´d say the Beatles if it´s for Rock, Daft Punk for electronic dance music. But I like so much, I also love 80s Pop music in general for instance, which hugely inspired me in terms of harmonies which then again come from all these artists from decades before.
LDP: In my opinion, you didn’t just create a smooth deep house but you were able to achieve something denser and sometimes even darker. You find that this sort of dream-like state could be one of your main trump cards?
RB: Maybe. I used harmonies and atmospheres in these Deep House tracks which brings the dreamy feeling.
LDP: In 1997 you founded Treibstoff Records, in 2008 was the turn of Deep Data Records (specialised in deep house), in 2011 you founded Deep Data Loops and then in 2013 has been the time of Cycle&Spots; the last two labels are mainly focused on sound and loops, an activity that seems to be a full-time commitment for you. In 2014 you chose to stop the production of house and techno tracks so as to dedicate yourself to sound, loops and sound design. Would you like to piece together your own path with respect to the establishment of your labels? How did you come up to your last choices?
RB: I started Deep Data Loops with “my sound” of Deep House, then I extended the spectrum with my experience in the production of Techno, Minimal, Tech House. But it developed to much more than that as you can nowadays get loops, sound patches and templates for Chill Out, Disco, Nu Disco, Pop, Hip Hop, Trap, Chiptune and World music from these two imprints. It lead to an improvement of my production skills. I would even say it liberated myself in terms of production, being able to more explore making music in other genres which i like as well.
LDP: Personally, I am mainly an enthusiast and a writer of rock music as well as heavy metal, but your music was always really exciting to me. That’s because in the vast reaches of electronic music I’ve always found your proposal innovative and very different from the other ones. It’s a sort of hypnotism where even the most sustained groove was enriched with fluid insertions by way of Fender Rhodes (three examples out of many are Let’s Ride, Go To and Strom) as well as with great emotional electronic shades. How did you develop your sound?
RB: That´s one of the best compliments i got because in my opinion the more musical genres you like the better it is and if i really could help with that, that´s great.
I didn’t actually develop a certain sound, I mostly produce automatically anyways. I subconsciously mix pieces together which i heard before in other tracks or songs.
LDP: Who are the artists whom you appreciate most with regard to electronic music? And generally speaking, what are you listening to in this period?
RB: I could mention Daft Punk here again in regards to electronic music as they perfectly covered this wide spectrum of styles in their music.
Honestly I´m listening to music less and less. I´m busy producing myself on a daily basis though. So i´m basically listening to my own music mostly. If i am listening to something recently, it´s rater non-electronic stuff.
LDP: Many people still find it difficult to draw a distinction between “electronic musician” and DJ, surely aside from the old-age debate about played vs sampled music. In your opinion is there a real need to make a proper distinction between musicians and DJ? I want to ask this to you because you’re both of them, then, who better to explain that than you?
RB: In my opinion a DJ isn´t as skillful as a musician although Stems nowadays let DJs go more into the creative direction. But let´s see how many DJs will use Stems to which degree in the end. I stopped Djing a few years ago btw. One of the reasons for that IS many people not being able to draw a distinction between musician and DJ nor between good and bad music from my point of view. I think there´s too much worshiping the Dj, especially compared to a band playing. In my opinion, roughly speaking, to be a DJ you basically just need to like music and have a personal taste in music and that goes for almost everybody.
LDP: What’s your view about the presumed death of records as physical medium? Do you agree with those people who complaint about the disproportionate use of mp3 as well as of liquid music or do you believe that we should accept catching up to the current situation and enjoying the music beyond how it can be proposed or promoted?
RB: I always embraced the progression of technology, surely it brings good and bad things but to “work” against it makes no sense for me.
LDP: Many of the tracks that you have recorded over the years are incredibly “cinematic”. I think to gems like “Widescreen”. I’d like to know if anyone has ever also asked you to compose soundtracks…
RB: That would be in fact something i´d like to do very much, moreover to compose a game soundtrack because it could be even dynamic. Noone asked me so far and the time factor holds me back to actively look out for projects of this kind. But i´ll always keep that thought in the back of my mind.
LDP: Aside from your music activity, what do you like and what do you love beyond music? And what are your plans for the immediate future?
RB: I love my family and we like to experience living in foreign countries. We´re going to continue to relocate a lot in the future i think, which is always inspiring and developing my musical activities, too. I´m generally not a person who plans much, more of a “go-with-the-flow guy”
LDP: Thank you so much, René!
RB: Thank you Luca!