Bleep, February 2012.
'Ghosts' seems to come with a whole creative aesthetic, from the artwork to the sound particles, what experiences have you drawn on to create this album?
I very much like the idea of a record as being more than just a random collection of tracks. When I work on music, I get inspiration from very different sources, and I try to make it all come together to form a bigger structure. In the case of Ghosts there is the story fragment, and then there are the photos
I took in Australia, and of course the music. I continuously make music, write little stories and take photos. Sometimes things just come together and start making sense. This happened to me when I started working on Ghosts. The cover photo was pretty obvious to me once I finished a rough sketch of the first track, and then the rest just happened. I like to create atmospheres and spaces. So once the overall tone was set, the direction became quite clear.
With the current culture of music consumption encouraging a short attention span, your album seems to instead require and encourage the long player format.
What is it that you want your audience to experience?
Do you know the movie 'Stalker' by Andrej Tarkowski? You watch it and it is quite odd and disturbing in its slowness. It demands focus and at the same time it is totally 'ambient'. The big WOW! moment comes later, after you left the movie theater. You suddenly realize that this was very amazing and spiritual. Ideally my music works in a similar way. Not sure if I achieved it so far, but that's the goal.
How does this then transfer into a live show?
Unlike all Monolake live shows in the past
, this one here is really aimed towards bringing the sound and the mood of this specific album on stage. In the past the live shows were slowly growing and changing, independent of record releases. This one is different. I spent a lot of time in preparations and in thinking about a good strategy here. It was clear to me, that I want to present it in surround, because I want it to be as immersive as possible. It was also clear that I want to find a way to transfer all the work I made in the studio on stage in a way that allows me to improvise. I need to have fun during a concert
, too, and simply pressing play and dance behind the laptop is not an option.
And also very important is the visual component. I am working with a brilliant artist and programmer, Tarik Barri, and I pushed him hard to develop a quite unique and special visual counterpart for the music. 'The Monolake Ghosts in Surround Tour' is a big effort in reaching a different level, show wise. I am quite happy how the preparations work out so far, but the first concert has yet to come. Let's hope it works the way I intend it to work. It is certainly not the usual club food, there are some challenging moments in it, including a track in the middle of the set that has no beats at all and lots of tracks with different tempos and groove. I definitely want to play this in clubs, at prime time. Going to a concert also in a club must be an experience that is at least in parts surprising and different from what a normal DJ set would deliver.
The ability to microscopically record sound and manipulate it is still relatively new to music, how has technology changed your creative process?
I work much faster than ever, and it takes all much longer. Faster because I can make tons of edits in no time, and it takes longer since no technology answers the most important question in creating art: why do we do what we do? The more options one has, the more difficult it can get to make the right decisions. One always needs to step back and try to find a distant perspective to the own work. It became very easy to get lost in detail.
Are you evolving with the technology or are you creating it to evolve with you?
(Does the music feed the technology or does the technology feed the music?)
It is a feedback loop. However, after being involved in the creation of tools
throughout my artistic career, I focus more on mastering the tools I already know, instead of exploring new ones. We are at a turning point, where the complexity of the tools becomes the main limitation for creation. I do not need more technology, I need more time to understand the potential of what is already right in front of me.
Your work within Ableton and your work as a professor shows your interest in facilitating information. How important is this dialogue, does it also feed back in to your own work?
I love teaching students, because they always ask questions I cannot answer. This forces me to learn and to rethink my own points of view all the time. If you want to be a good teacher, first of all you need to be curious and open. Talking with students is an occupation I tremendously enjoy for this reason. It keeps me mentally alive.
How would you define the difference between your work as Robert Henke and Monolake?
Monolake is the 'big' music project of mine, which has an ongoing theme and is somehow circulating around the edges of club culture. Robert Henke is me as an artist, and this implies releasing music that does not fit under the Monolake umbrella, or creating audiovisual installations
or taking photos or what ever i feel like doing as an artist.
What is your role within Imbalance Computer music?
is that one man show record label of mine: I make coffee for myself, I write invoices, I define release schedules and get more grey hairs when my releases are leaked before they are even in the shops.
What are the reasons in having your own label to release your own music?
It just happened and now I am just used to the fact that I have total control over every detail. I do not want to give this freedom away anymore. Might not be very wise, economically, but I am a bit stubborn.
What other labels or musicians are you inspired by?
The list is nearly endless and changes every week. The most recent answer is : Anstam live. I recently enjoyed a set by him tremendously. In general I listen to everything from 20th century composers to academic computer music to dubstep, techno, electronica, drones, traditional music from all over the world,...
Are there any musicians or artists that you would like to collaborate with?
Currently I have so many ideas about want I to explore by myself in the near future, that there is no time for any other option. But in general I would enjoy challenging combinations. So, instead of working with another electronic music producer, I'd rather work with an architect or a painter.
How do you see 2012 unfolding with your work and live show?
I hope the album and the concerts
will be well received. I worked very hard on it all, and it would be nice to get some recognition for it. But as far as I can tell today, things look good. And there are a few amazing artistic possibilities
for 2012 / 2013 on the horizon, which I do not want to talk about at this time.