For almost 20 years German electronic music producer Ulrich Schnauss has created drum-driven electronica tracks, lately merging elements of indie songwriting into his music. He visits the Independent on Friday August 16.
Earlier this year Schnauss released his fourth album, A Long Way To Fall on Domino Records. On this new record, he returns to punchier rhythms while incorporating new textures and sounds from earlier sonic explorations. We caught up with the dance music veteran to ask him few questions about his experience in Berlin, trips to San Francisco and blueberry pancakes.
Can you describe what it is like growing up in the northern Germany town of Kiel?
While the landscape around Kiel is quite beautiful, the city itself is grey and grim. As a teenager I found it quite frustrating to live in a place that seemed so disconnected from everything that I was interested in, like music, arts and culture in general.
When and how did you decide to become a professional musician?
I don’t even think it was a very conscious decision in that sense. I just always knew that music is the only thing I could ever imagine doing. It’s always been like that.
What was the biggest personal change for you when you moved to Berlin?
Moving to Berlin was a mixed experience. It was good to live in a city that provided an environment in which I could learn a lot of things about trying to become a professional musician. However, at the same time I was disappointed about the narrow-minded attitude of the local scene.
It still has its advantages. It’s very cheap and if you’re into the right things (minimal techno for instance). It provides a good home base, but it certainly can’t compete with the diversity cities like London or New York are offering.
Where do you spend most of your time?
When I’m not touring I really enjoy spending time at home in my studio. I live in northeast London.
Do you enjoy traveling?
I enjoy traveling very much, but touring and traveling are two quite different experiences. Touring often doesn’t allow you to investigate a place and get an idea on what day-to-day life is like there, which is what I most enjoy about traveling.
Where did you travel last?
Istanbul, Turkey, just weeks before the protests started.
Have you ever visited San Francisco? What’s your fondest memory?
Yes, I’ve been to San Francisco a couple of times. My last trip was great. I stayed up all night with friends while on tour with Chapterhouse. I had to catch an early morning flight to Portland and we just randomly walked around town and found a great diner that was open 24 hours.
What’s your favorite thing about the U.S. that you can’t get in Germany?
Blueberry pancakes with maple syrup—it’s awesome.
Favorite record of 2013 so far?
Clarity’s Terminology EP on Nu Directions
What is the most accurate self-described of your music?
I like electronica. It’s a pretty open term that seems the least restrictive.
Why do you use a pseudonym? Is it just for different styles?
I’m not using that many pseudonyms anymore these days. But, indeed, for certain styles it just works better. Ulrich Schnauss didn’t sound like a good choice for labeling a drum and bass project, for instance.
Do you have a dream collaborator?
I try to avoid revealing such things in interviews. It seems to make the possibility of it happening less likely somehow.[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/99377632" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]
Do you enjoy playing at festivals? Is there one you haven’t yet played that you would like to?
I don’t know that much about festivals. My favorite festival experience so far has been playing an event called Glade, which is held near Oxford. It had a really good lineup and a nice crowd. It’s also fairly small, which seems to create a friendlier atmosphere.
Cocktail of choice?
Biggest achievement in the past twelve months?
I’m very happy about the second collaborative album I just finished with my friend Mark Peters. It’s called Tomorrow is Another Day and will get released in the fall.
Ulrich Schnauss performs at the Independent on August 16. More info.