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Interview: Brandt Brauer Frick

The Brandt Brauer Frick boys are back with their second album, ‘Mr Machine,’ but this time they have swapped the machines for people, now coming as an ten-piece Ensemble. Having been busy touring recently they are very much looking forward to a nice holiday. However, just before they pop off, Jan and Paul were kind enough to share a few words about the new album, the city of Glastonbury and how they like their music to sound like natural things, you know, like fur…

Planet Notion: So tell me how you all found each other because Jan, you and Daniel were already working together before Paul came along?

Paul Frick: Well actually it was still the Myspace era and I think I covered some of their music on a video on the internet. I really loved it and I wanted to buy a record, but I couldn’t find it so I wrote to them to ask where to get it. Then they came to Berlin and we decided to meet for a session in the studio, and it went well so we decided to record some more stuff.

PN: How does the new album compare to your first, because obviously you have reworked four tracks from You Make Me Real?

Jan Brauer: Well, that’s the big question! I think in the context of the first one, it’s pretty much a different thing. The first one was more like, well, we imagined people dancing in crowded places and this one is not that loud, there are lots of different, richer sounds.

PF: We actually reworked the pieces for the live performances before we decided to record them for album. By playing them live, they just transformed and we became aware that they had gone through a really good process. We were hearing them as something new so decided it would be worth it to record them again… and recycle ourselves after one album!

PN: So it wasn’t a conscious decision then?

PF: Oh no no no. It was more like we needed material to play concerts with our ten-piece ensemble so we made a few new things, but also reworked some that we thought would fit and a lot of interesting things happened because the different musicians brought in their own sound and focus. We encouraged them to play around because they obviously have a much better knowledge of their own instruments than we ever could. And it’s not just about the sound, often the structure of the pieces are different.

PN: How are you finding working as part of the ensemble? It’s quite a few more people than when it’s just the three of you.

JB: Yeah it’s pretty exciting, but it’s a completely different thing. When it’s the three of us, it’s just like buddies hanging around, you know… and when it’s the whole ensemble there’s quite a bit of pressure because there are ten people all waiting to do something, and we have to work with them and it’s always such a short amount of time that we have to practice together.

PF: It’s really good and I think we complement each other really well. With the ensemble there are just so many people, so there is a lot of adrenalin and the atmosphere is just crazy, but when it’s just us three, it’s more relaxed. And different because with the ensemble the music is all written down so there isn’t much room for being spontaneous so I think the three-piece has now become really improvised because we don’t always want to stick to what’s written down.

PN: What do you normally take as your starting point when composing a new piece?

PF: On tour we are together the whole time and we listen to a lot of music together, so we will be listening to something and somebody will say ‘oh imagine this with this’ and then in the studio we will play about with different things, see what works. Most of the time we just improvise.

PN: Your music is usually described as minimal techno, or acoustic techno, always very specifically and then there are the constant comparisons to the likes of Kraftwerk, do you like these comparisons/descriptions? Would you describe yourselves differently?

JB: The comparisons to Kraftwerk are not very descriptive, I think they have the opposite approach. They do cold, mechanical, machine music and we are the contrary. Of course we do the same kind of mechanical stuff, but it is about humans doing that and warm sounds. We want our music to breathe.

PF: We really want it to sound like the basic elements, wood, fur… [laughs]

JB: [laughing] yeah hair!

PF: … metal, the natural materials.

JB: Yeah we are definitely more the natural side of techno.

PN: You have just finished the summer festival rounds, was there a particular favourite?

PF: I think I maybe have three. It’s really difficult to remember them all, but we played at Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Festival in the South of France. It was a super cool stage, 10,000 people at the beach, a perfect sound system and as we were playing the sun was just coming down and the view was so amazing, just watching the whole beach. Also Glastonbury, I think.

JB: Yeah I don’t really see Glastonbury as a festival, more like a whole country [cue more laughing]. It’s practically a city! There are suburbs, a motorway around it…

PF: Another favourite was also Electric Picnic, it was a bit like a small Glastonbury and there we were really lucky because we closed the whole 3-day festival, so that was really cool.

Mr Machine is available 24th October.

-Laura Peebles



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