Yumé Records mainstay neinzer has slowly been creeping into the forefront of the scene via support from important tastemakers like Gilles Peterson, Ben UFO and – most notably – Nic Tasker, who described neinzer’s record ‘The Beacon‘ as the “the best track I’ve heard this year” in his Guardian feature. Employing a unique stripped back style, his tracks cover ground from lo-fi to minimal while retaining a certain melodic charm, and his subtle style of production has been the reason discerning diggers have been keeping a keen eye out for any forthcoming material. His records are a shining example of how less is more, carving out a quiet niche in a genre which so often finds itself recycling ideas without inspiration.
Mixes are hard to come by for neinzer, for he diligently crafts each one – we didn’t miss the “v3” written into the file name he sent over! As such, we’re pleased to present an hour selection, which covers some forthcoming bits from himself and Yumé, as well as Efdemin, Leif, Ploy and Airhead. We also caught up with him about life in Berlin, how ‘The Beacon’ came about and some experiences with 4D design.
The Beacon is out now on Yumé – buy it from Juno.
First, our usual icebreaker…what’s your first musical memory?
Really enjoying ‘Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley in my parents’ kitchen.
When did you start producing dance music? Are you a hardware fan or do you work ‘in the box’?
I started producing when I was about 15. I was working with Sony acid – all those loops! I still have all the productions I ever did on my hard drive, I’m listening back to the ones from 2005 right now, and they are hilarious!! I don’t own any hardware, however I often look to real-world acoustic sounds to add depth and richness to my productions. Some day, when I have the money, I’ll definitely look into hardware, especially modular synthesis.
Which producers have inspired your sound most over the years?
To name only three: Efdemin, Call super, Rhythm & Sound.
Why did you decide to move to Berlin, and has the move changed your tastes and approach as a DJ and producer?
I moved for a multitude of reasons: I had always lived in London and wanted to live elsewhere; I was attracted to the creative scene here; I knew it was cheaper and much easier to live; and, finally, there was a love interest too (of course).
If my approach has changed, it’s difficult to say, as I’ve been here three and a half years now, and any changes are likely to have taken place over a long time. But, if I have to guess, I think I’ve probably become a bit more homogenised. There is so much 4×4 dance music in Berlin, it’s hard to avoid, and I think it gets quite boring. I try to be aware of that and balance my listening, either through the nights that I go to, or my home listening.
How did you get your break with Yumé, and what does the label mean to you having been one of its most pre-eminent artist?
Michael Yume approached me and said he was going to branch out of 92 points (a label him and his friends were running at the time). He wanted to start something more house-oriented (to generalise). I’d been sending him tunes for a while and he eventually picked out ‘And Again’ as something he thought he could release. I’m very happy I did! I’m also lucky they want to release so much of my music, even though I feel my output on Yumé doesn’t fully represent the full spectrum of what I produce. But this will change soon, as I have more releases on other labels coming out soon.
‘Beacon’ has made quite an impact this year. Could you talk us through how the track came together, through inspirations and actually making it?
I wrote the track first, before the spoken-word vocals. It happened the same way most of my tracks do, by sitting down in my studio (bedroom) and just playing around until I find a groove/idea that I like. I’m sure at some subconscious level my current mood affects what I’m likely to be drawn to, but I don’t remember specifically what that was at the time I wrote ‘The Beacon’.
A noteworthy production technique I used in ‘The Beacon’ is that the flashing chord stabs on the track are actually triggered by rain samples I recorded outside my window, which are then sent through a resonator (referencing the acoustic sounds as inspiration sources I mentioned earlier). I’ll talk about the vocals in the next question.
The B-side to The Beacon, ‘The Fear’, had more of a concept to it while I was writing it. I was questioning myself a lot around that time, trying to be honest with myself about what I wanted from life. The monologue at the start is me just spewing my thoughts out on that topic.
One of the most striking aspects of ‘Beacon’ was the choice of sample, how do you dig for samples when making tracks?
If you mean the voice sample, it’s not actually a sample. It’s me speaking! I was simply listening to the track and writing lyrics about the scene I imagined whilst listening to the track. It is essentially me flying through an open desert plane at a hundred miles-per-hour!
All your tracks are extremely atmospheric, have you ever made music for film or theatre? Is this something you might explore in the future?
Yes, for about a year overlapping 2015/2016, I was writing a lot of music for dance productions and other commission work. It was a really enlightening experience. I discovered how respectfully you need to compose, in order to give space for other elements of the performance (it also makes your job easier to a degree – you are not the only one creating interest in the performance). I still have all the music for these commissions, and have often thought about finalising it all and releasing it as a “dance theatre” album or something of that ilk.
The mix you recorded last year for Mavrik was recorded using Ableton and a Push controller. Is this your usual approach to playing club sets?
That was actually a Live set. I’ve stopped doing Live sets for now, because I found I wasn’t able to create the performance that I wanted, so I switched to DJing. Because I started as a producer, the live set was (I thought) a more natural place for me to start performing, however I eventually realised that trying to do what I do in the studio, on stage, is impossible. I felt that, ultimately, I would need to start again from scratch and write pieces which are designed to be played live. I would also get frustrated with Ableton and Push (even though Ableton did a great job with the Push controller), because it wasn’t easy enough to use. I felt like I needed more hardware in order to make the process easier. At that point I thought learning to DJ would probably be easier and more fun, but it’s definitely not as easy as I thought it would be – it’s really fun though! One day I will definitely go back to doing live sets.
As for the mix you did for us, could you tell a bit about it?
I spent a lot of time on the mix. This is maybe the 4th fully planned mix that I’ve put together. However, I’m still wondering how effective this sort of mix is, because there’s value in improvising and simply listening to your body and desires as you’re playing records. If I plan it methodically, it becomes a representation of theory, rather than of practise. On top of this, I’ve done like a gazzillion takes on it, so I sort of stop listening and feeling the music, which again, makes it hard for me to know if it’s “good”.
I recorded it at home using Serato. I had a few of the tracks on vinyl, but I digitized them to speed up the mixing process. Some of the tracks are actually rips from Soundcloud, but I thought, considering it’s only going to be reproduced at that quality anyway, it doesn’t matter.
There are two new tracks by me on there, which I’m very excited about. One called ‘Weiblich’ (which was written at the end of 2014 and is only seeing the light of day this winter. It’s coming out on a new sub-label of a label that has been doing well the past two years), and another called Nabi (which I wrote only last month and is coming out on a label that I have a lot of respect for).
Regarding the start of the mix, I was thinking about how I could start at a lower point than the single tone of the Lucie Vitkova track. I thought “I could simply have silence at the start of the mix”, but then, thinking about the medium of the mix (an internet distributed podcast), people will probably not realise the mix has started or think something’s not working. So I decided to literally just announce it, which makes it clear to the listener. It’s also kind of funny, I think.
You recently played on a 4D soundsystem in Budapest. Is sound design something which you have played around with before?
I have played with sound design in some of my productions (which have never been published), and I think there’s always an element of sound design / engineering when producing.
I was very lucky to be invited by SVS Records to take part in a workshop they were organising on the 4D sound system. During the workshop, I did something very different to what I would normally do. It was basically a synthesised jungle of animal sounds. Crickets, birds and frogs where the inspiration, and there were always sounds which ended up sounding like an alien mixture of two of the creatures.
I wanted to create a piece specifically for the 4D sound system. I didn’t want to try and map something old on to it – because I felt that method of working wouldn’t be giving the system the opportunity it deserves! Ultimately, I discovered that smaller, very dry, singular sounds were the easiest to locate in the space, so my piece ended up being composed of these sorts of sounds. Sadly the only place to properly experience this piece is on the 4D sound system itself, a stereo reproduction just isn’t the same.
What artists, if any, would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I think working with Minor Science would be pretty cool – he has a very sensitive ear (two of them even!).
As for more concrete plans, what do the next few months hold for you?
Well I have two more releases planned for this year. Both fairly big labels, so I’m very excited about that. Apart from that, continue to gig as much as I can (I would like to shout out to TSA-Artists. I just signed to them and had a my first gig in London last weekend at Corsica Studios – also thanks to promoters Coastal Haze). I’ll continue to write more music as much as possible too. I sometimes think, maybe it’s time to start writing an album, but who knows…
∞there is no track name at the start of this tracklist∞
Lucie Vítková – Growing Up [Unknown] Efdemin – Parallaxis (The Borderline State Remix) [Dial] Stimming – Marble Run [Diynamic music] Edward – Let’s Go [Giegling] Roger Gerressen – Put That Record On [Sudden Drop] Traumprinz – Changes (Neinzer edit) [Traumprinz] Neinzer – Weiblich [Forthcoming] Airhead – Kazzt [Different Circles] Leif – Moment Beat [Galdoors] Literon – Freak Funktion [Clone Basement Series] Neinzer – Nabi [Forthcoming] CO/R – Gudrun [Hinge Finger] Ploy – Iron Lungs [Timedance] Tomutonttu – Katukissan Puhe [Leaving Records] Kilchhofer – Tau [Marrionette] Yotam Avni – Rusha [Stroboscopic Artefacts] Farben – So Much Love [Klang Elektronik] Hi & Saberhägen – WC122 [forthcoming Yumé Records]