Ulrich Schnauss

Ulrich Schnauss

by Jason

I am very excited about your new release Goodbye.  In 2001 you released Far Away Trains Passing By and in 2004 you released Strangely Isolated Place.  Now, you are coming out with your third full-length.  Can you tell us how you have seen your own music progress over the last seven years?

The basic idea for these three albums has been pretty much the same right from the start: I wanted to try to merge songwriting in an indie tradition with electronic instrumentation –Far Away Trains nowadays just sounds like a rough sketch to me, only hesitantly hinting at what I wanted to do.  Isolated Place seems much more advanced although I do think it’s too repetitive in places and was also suffering from some technical limitations (I still didn’t have a computer that was capable of recording audio back then – only an Atari which I used for sequencing).  Goodbye in my opinion manages to erase the previous album’s inadequacies and is probably going to be the last album I’ll be releasing using this particular formula.

Since 2000, technology has advanced very quickly in terms of recording equipment and computer software, etc.  How has technology helped you achieve your goals in recording your own music?  How has it affected your approach to remixes?

For music that’s so much relying on the idea of layering a large amount of tracks the technological development has been vitally essential – a song like “stars” on the new record which at some point has about 80 tracks playing simultaneously would simply have been unaffordable (especially in a home studio situation) a couple of years ago.

In terms of remixing it has changed things in a way because a lot of the previously very time-intensive studio tasks (editing etc) can be solved very quickly there’s more time for creative aspects and more time to work with a wider range of people.

On the Quicksand Memory EP, you allowed Robin Guthrie to mix some of your older songs.  What was it like working with Guthrie and do you think you might collaborate with him on future projects?

I wouldn’t say I “allowed” him to do it as that would indicate that there was the possibility of not “allowing” it – I felt incredibly flattered by the fact that he was up for doing it and think both mixes sound amazing. I definitely hope that there’ll be an opportunity to work together again but there’s nothing planned at the moment.

Medusa is an incredible song.  Is it an indication of Goodbye as a whole?  How does the EP track differ from the track on the album?

The edit is missing about two minutes that have mainly been taken off the ending – there´s an ambient outro on the album version which i think is quite important to give the song a more “complete” feel.

Medusa is a very personal song – a couple of years ago (while starting to work on “goodbye”) I decided to do something about depressions I was struggling with. Medication gave me some strength and security for a while which allowed me to deal with emotions I would have otherwise ignored – I think that’s reflected in the song.

In terms of playing live, do you plan on a tour to support Goodbye?  If so, will you be touring both Europe and North America?

Yes, looks like there will be a North American tour in autumn and some UK gigs afterwards. currently trying to work out a more improvisation based live set up.

Were there certain events, artists, or experiences that influenced the tunes on Goodbye?  How do you go about translating those events into sounds?

I think everything you do musically is influenced by personal experiences, the music you hear and a million other things. I try not to be too calculated or analytical about songwriting – usually I just start improvising on the piano – sooner or later your stomach feeling’s gonna tell you whether you’ve been playing things that are worth trying to turn into a song or not.

You seem to be a huge music fan yourself.  If you could collaborate with any artist in the world today, who would you want to work with?

To mention these things in an interview is probably going to make it a lot less likely to happen…

If you could tell someone to go and buy 10 cds, which ones would you recommend they buy?  These could be any 10 you feel someone ought to have in their music collection.

01) tangerine dream: force majeur – my all-time favourite album: a perfect symbiosis of electronic and rock elements

02) chapterhouse: “in my arms” (“pearl” ep as well as recent “whirlpool” reissue) – after a thousand listens this song still kills me – andrew sherriff is my alltime favourite songwriter.

03) my bloody valentine: loveless- a very obvious but nevertheless essential choice: totally changed the sound of music – forever.

04) mahogany: dream of modern day – if there was any justice people would recognize this as our generation’s “loveless” – in 1999 (!) this provided the blueprint for a lot the shoegazing-inspired stuff that’s happening today (including my music)

05) slowdive: souvlaki – proof that “shoegazing” was about atmospheres and soundscapes just as much as great songs

06) cocteau twins: heaven or las vegas – the perfect pop record?

07) shades of rhythm: sweet sensation – perfectly captures the escapist euphoria of the early rave scene

08) pink floyd: wish you were here – i think floyd are very underrated if they’re seen as just a rock band – a lot of even very recent styles & genres would sound fundamentally different without their pioneering use of effects

09) biosphere: substrata – in my opinion the best electronic album of the 90s

10) cosa rosa: kein zufall – a perfect combination: reinhold heil’s sublime production & sound design and rosa precht’s breathtakingly beautiful harmony vocals

I know that Goodbye is a fresh release for you, but do you have plans to release any other music in the near future?  Any remix projects in the future?  Anymore singles from Goodbye?

An edit of “stars” might be released at some point this summer, there’s also plans for another ep throughout autumn,  most recent remix projects include Dragons (ex-Levitation, Dark Star), High Violets, Madrid and Televise (ex-Slowdive).

What discs are in your rotation right now?

There´s a lot of American bands out there that I’m really into – Mahogany, Airiel (had the pleasure of guesting on their debut album which is out now), Elika, Auburn Lull, Soundpool, lovesliescrushing, Asobi Seksu, Fleeting Joys, Meeting Places, Landing, Daysleepers, Francis7 – the list is endless…

What I love about these bands is that in difference to a lot of European stuff they seem to be less conservative, less interested in replicating something that’s already been done and instead doing something new and interesting with these influences.

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