Having awarded their massive debut longplayer Sprouted & Formed my Album of the Year 2013 and with the mighty Phace displaying his insane remix of Photone Recruits on Hospital’s recent 18th birthday compilation, I finally managed to snatch a piece of their precious time and inquire what it is like to be the fabulous Rawtekk.
Apart from you joining the MethLab roster and after a somewhat tumultuous summer and fall it’s gotten a little quiet around Rawtekk in the past weeks. What have you been up to?
Stefan: We’ve been working on a new version of Snowflakes that will appear on our remix EP Sprouted And Reformed (Med School) soon. Among some commercial jobs, we’ve composed many sounds and beats for Steinberg (Groove Agent and Cubase) and developed new ideas for new tracks.
Half a year has passed since the release of your seminal debut album Sprouted and Formed. Now it might be a little early to ask, but anyway: are you still happy with it? What would you do differently now?
Stefan: Yes, we’re really happy. During the long Rawtekk break we maybe should have taken care of our social networking platforms more as this was put on the back burner but fortunately Med School helped us an awful lot.
Despite my prayers, there has not been a European tour (-or at least a visit to Vienna-) accompanying Sprouted & Formed. Any chance for that in the near future?
Christine: Yes, hopefully. We very much regret that!
Stefan: An album release tour would have also been great, but we didn’t have a professional booking agency at that time. We’re now very happy to be with MethLab and look forward to future bookings.
I understand you’ve been performing the album ‘live’. How do you do that, to what extent is it really a live show?
Christine: We currently use a laptop running Ableton Live, an RME audio interface, an iPad as a controler, sometimes a small keyboard to play some melodies, a microphone for the singing and an in-ear monitoring system. We always try to find a way to perform live as much as possible without a loss of sound quality. Of the many voices we recorded I can only sing one live. At times we have quite some eerie effects on my voice, and I have sung a lot of harmonies. But it’s technically impossible to perform this completely live unless we engage a choir.
Stefan: We would like to perform all our tracks with live instruments and more musicians. Until then the setup always varies a little since we always change something. I prepare the most impactful pieces on Ableton upfront – so we can fire them off at the right moment.
Do you think the classical DJ culture will need to adapt a more ‘live’-approach in order to stay interesting? Or do you see yourself in that respect more as a band than a producer collective?
Stefan: We see ourselves between a producer collective and a band. We have always focused on producing, composing and performing as a live act. When in 2003 I started to play as Rawtekk I always performed my own productions and was generally received as a live act. It’s cool to see that it’s a growing trend for many producers to perform this way: Neosignsal, Noisia, Feed Me and many others. We really like classic DJing with vinyl! I myself can’t do it – I tried it once and then decided to leave well alone.
Christine: I really hope that vinyl stays with us. The sound is warm and it’s a great product to hold in your hands: but we have nothing against DJ programs and remix tools – they’re also very cool also. We believe if someone has the feeling for the music then either vinyl or purely digital software will be fine.
Now I can assure you we’ve all been (and still are) thoroughly impressed by the album, not only from the pieces themselves but also from the more technical point of its immense production quality. Could you give us some insights into your creative process? How does a Rawtekk tune usually come together, who handles what when how and why?
Stefan: Christine or I start any idea and give it to the other one who then adds something to it. It’s always a little different depending on the song and style. If we like an idea immediately, we still try every option to tap the full potential – even though we may finally decide to go back to the first idea. Sometimes we’ve developed so many sounds for just one track that we could create a whole album out of it.
Christine: Stefan is the best sound designer and producer I know. As soon as the idea of a song is born he composes and works on a big sound and perfect groove while I record, compose and work on lines, sounds and voices.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Christine: We try to open up and listen. It varies from urban, industrial to grounded and earthy sounds. Everything is inspiration. We combine these inspirations with our personal perspective on life and empathy.
Stefan: It’s about allowing the initial noises and moods we capture to grow naturally and develop their own life force through sensitive selection and fine-tuning.
And what are the last tunes that you listened to?
Christine: Right now we are only working on new material and won’t listen to any other tunes except the ones we create.
There are two developments within current dnb that I find rather fascinating: First the apparent longing of producers to musically overcome the narrow borders of the genre by reaching out to different tempos, sounds, etc. Now beginning with your Angst remix (and likely even before) you’ve thoroughly started to transcend that limitation it seems – where do you see yourself venturing in the future? And where do you see dnb go in general?
Stefan: We love music in all its facets and have never liked limitations. That’s why I like to be experimental in music. I have loads of electronica type tracks that are still waiting to be released.
Christine: If I am restricted I’m less creative, but it’s important to know the standards of a genre: I think that now’s the time to start to play around with those.
Stefan: Some people we know call it the fuck genre movement – we are just happy that listeners are becoming more open to different variations within a genre.
The other development is the ongoing emergence of what I call the consciousness frontier in dnb; that is the rise of criticism within the music, which is predominantly led by German artists such as yourself or Neosignal, and thankfully spreading. Do you think music needs to be implicitly critical, or say: needs to have a meaning beyond its beat? Do you think music can change the world in one way or another?
Stefan: When I started to go to parties, dnb was a liberation for me. If at that time political aspects would have been added to this music, I would have been able to free myself even more. The energy, madness and ecstasy this genre exposes is pure therapy. For many years I’ve created music with a deep, dark and still sensitive approach, but yet for some people it was probably too hard to consume. :) My deepest wish and urge is to touch listeners and maybe change the way people perceive the world.
Christine: For us both, our music has always been complex. We never did it for superficial pleasure, except when we were asked to do it. Composing that kind of music exclusively would probably bore us to death in the long run. In times of repression, triviality and force we believe that it is our duty to at least change the world of that single person who is changed by our music at that special moment when music overfloods the body. We feel it’s like a conversation between that person and us and we hope to reflect their own passion or to raise new impulses in that person.
Regarding the lyrics A Magnanimous Kind’s Will is probably the most political and most straight forward song. It works without metaphors, because being poetic would be inappropriate in this context. It is intended as a wake-up call and reveals our belief in the free will and compassion of man.
Conclusively, do you think the world can still be saved?
Stefan: Resignation is no option for us and maybe yes, but in the end probably the insects will win.
Christine: I think before that time we should raise our consciousness and show reverence for life, because we have the ability to do that.
So, coming back to something a little less serious: what’s next on the Rawtekk schedule?
A new remix EP including some remixes from great artists and a new album.
And finally the weird final question: what’s your favourite colour?
Stefan & Christine: At present some kind of pinkish lilac. :)
Well, thank you for the interview, and all the best!
Thank you for this profound interview!
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