Ulrich Schnauss

Ulrich Schnauss

by Jason

First, I guess I would like to start off with asking how you got into music.  When did you know you wanted to do it for a living and why the sort of music that you have pursued?

I’ve always been making music – as far as I can remember back. It wasn’t really a decision to try to make a living out of it – I simply knew that I wouldn’t be able to do anything else anyway and so there wasn’t much choice. I did try a couple of styles within the electronic genre throughout the years and kind of stuck with electronica because it’s giving you the biggest amount of freedom to do what you want to do – at least it’s not like techno, house etc where the djs are dictating what’s allowed and what’s not. To go for the electronic option wasn’t really a choice once again – if I would have been able to find other musicians in a place as remote as Kiel I probably would have preferred to play in a band…

It has been since 2003 that a proper Schnauss release has come out.  When do you see another hitting the market?  Will it also be released in the US?  Are you going to re-release any of your older discs and vinyl here in the states?

I’m still working on a third album – I’m hoping to get it finished throughout summer. not sure when it’ll be released – that’s not necessarily my individual decision anyway – I’ll start looking for a new European label sooner or later.  Domino will release the record in the us – as far as I know they’re also planning to re-issue Far Away Trains.

How do you go about writing your own music?  What is the recording and mixing process like?

Usually I just improvise on the piano and sooner or later an idea for a song will turn up – once it’s a bit more developed I sit down in the studio and start working on the arrangement.

You have done re-mixes for some fabulous artists: Depeche Mode, Mojave 3, Rachel Goswell, among many others.  How do you get hooked up with an artist for a remix?  How do you approach remixing an artist’s work and do you work closely with that artist in the process?

It depends – in case of the dm-remix that was a pure industry-thing (management, record label etc) – in contrast to that the Longview mixes I’ve done were the result of personal contacts – I went up to the band after a gig they played in Birmingham and asked if they’d have a listen to my cd.  I generally try to treat the original song with as much respect as possible when remixing other people’s work – I’m not a great fan of the “fat bass drum underneath, cutting up the vocal line”-type of remix; my mixes are probably more like alternative arrangements rather than proper remixes.

You are coming to the states to do a tour with M83.  What is your live show like?  Is it just you and synths and computers or a dj set up or do you bring other musicians to fill out your live set?

At the moment it’s still just me running backing tracks from the laptop and playing keyboards on top – this will definitely change in the future – I’ll keep things focused on electronic instrumentation but the live element needs to be enhanced.

A Strangely Isolated Place is a brilliant piece of work.  How do you feel about it now that you have had some distance from it?  Is there anything you would change?  How did the writing process for that disc in particular work itself out?

I have a lot of distance to that album indeed – I don´t really listen to my stuff once a song is finished. If I would have to record it today everything would definitely sound quite different, but I’m not ashamed about the way it is – which is a good thing.  isolated place was a very personal record – much influenced by a couple of very difficult situations I went through while recording it.

For the tech heads out there, what sort of equipment do you use?  This could be live, recording, whatever.

I’m using a lot of hardware instruments, so-called vintage synths like the oberheim ob8, sci prophet vs or octave plateau´s voyetra8.  Effects-wise i equally rely on hard- and software stuff – ensoniq dp4, roland srv330 as well as cycling74 pluggo or ni reaktor4.

What artists would you say are influences on your work?  Are there any painters, writers, or sculptures that have impacted your musical canvas?

Generally I’d say that the biggest influence on my music is personal stuff that has happened throughout the last 27 years – i don’t consider my music to be very intellectual or abstract but as an emotional, escapist attempt at self-therapy. Still I’d say that listening to the music of people like Andrew Sheriff/Chapterhouse, Edgar Froese/Tangerine dream or Kevin Shields/MBV has changed my life (and my music) a lot and therefore significantly influenced my music too. Other artists whose work I admire would include Salinger, Dali or RW Fassbinder.

Who are you listening to now?  What artists do you just enjoy listening to?

Here’s a fairly random list of stuff that´s in my cd box at the moment

*experimental aircraft: love for the last time
*keren ann: nolita
*emiliana torrini: fishermans woman
*alog: miniatures
*curve mp3-compilation (website-only)
*field mice re-issues
*engineers: folly
*air formation: 57 octaves below
*televise: outside out

Any other comments?

It was good to see Dresden burning and Dresden will burn again!

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