LWE Podcast 188: Redshape

PODCAST-188-1

When Delsin Records released the Shaped World EP by Redshape in the first quarter of 2006, there was nothing to indicate who the producer was or where they were from. The three tracks on the EP clearly had their roots in Detroit techno, and much speculation was made over who the masked figure might be as subsequent releases grew his fanbase. The steady stream of 12″s were all aimed solidly at the dance floor and were issued on labels like Styrax Leaves, Music Man and Redshape’s own imprint, Present. If live shows by the producer, all performed behind the red-gloss anonymity of his trademark mask, furthered his reputation, then his début album, The Dance Paradox in 2009 cemented it. By this time someone had outed the producer as one Sebastian Kramer, a German whose previous output dating back to the year 2000 had been of a much harder variety of techno. Keeping the mask in place, Kramer continued with his solid run of releases as Redshape, also turning in an impressive number of high quality remixes for artists like Martyn, Ripperton, Santiago Salazar, The Black Dog and more. His full-length follow up to The Dance Paradox was 2012’s Square, an album that revealed new sides of the producer and garnered critical acclaim. LWE got in touch with Kramer to talk about the two albums, his relationship with his Redshape identity and how his production methods have changed over the years. As long term fans we were very happy to be presented with a recording of one of the producer’s formidable live sets from 2013, kicking off 2014 in fine style.

Download LWE Podcast 188: Redshape (56:11)

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Your transition from Sebastian Kramer to Redshape was quite noticeable musically (as well as the new look). How long had you been formulating the idea and the music of Redshape before you started under that name?

Redshape: The first, let’s call them “red,” tracks I made around 1999/2000. They were meant to be the counterweight to the more dark and relentless techno I was doing that time. This stuff was heavily influenced by the output of Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins under their different monikers, but always in close relation to the German roots like Tangerine Dream. So the moment I felt I had had enough, or in other words, people seemed to stop caring, I decided to leave loop techno. I started working on “The Playground” during the last of the “techno techno” stuff I made and this became the first Redshape track, more or less. Even the name Redshape was hidden somewhere in that track (musically).

One of your first Redshape records came out on the Styrax label. Did you already know the people there or was that a label you particularly liked and wanted to release on?

I was already good friends with Thomas from Mojuba who released on Styrax that time. Actually he wanted “Pink Dust” for his Tokomak label. Steffen from Styrax (who heard the track in Thomas’ house) somehow won the battle. So, no I didn’t know Styrax, but from then on we became a close team. I was doing most of the mastering and also the complete design for Styrax (starting after my two releases). Also all the Millions Of Moments graphic stuff was done by me. So I still have a close relationship with them, even though I had to stop designing due to time reasons.

You’ve had some great releases out this year, particularly the Red Pack II release. What’s the common thread running through the two Red Pack releases?

They are almost kind of a “body reaction” to the stress I have making an album. Making an album almost makes me lose double the time it takes to create it. People around me especially can see that. So “Red Pack” stands for reconnecting to the world when I’ve been travelling in outer space.

Do you ever tailor your tracks to a particular label? Your 12″ you did for 3024 sounded more suited to them than perhaps a typical release you might do.

Yes I do; I also like tailoring my live shows to certain venues. It’s like being a guest in someone’s place: warm, friendly, invited. So I try to look good in that environment, as it always triggers a theme which this place is connected with. That gives me ideas for a musical conversation I would never have alone.

You released your first album in 2009. You had already been releasing for quite a while at this stage. Had you thought about doing an album before this?

I thought about doing an album quite early but some private problems slowed down everything a bit. When I finally started the production I was a bit overwhelmed, though. Expectations of people were high and I wasn’t sure how to proceed, so I decided to strip everything down, making an album without any “lead melody.” So I found the right feeling I needed for entering the subs and downs and holes to mask ambient works to pretend they are dance tracks.

Was it a challenge to start thinking in terms of a longer format having been so used to putting out singles and EPs?

Depends on what your goal for a full length is. For me, singles and EPs are somewhat of a screamer for attention on the floor. Tracks which compress a certain amount of emotional content to release it in a short amount of time. Albums don’t work like this for me; they need those quite leftfield moments to make a bigger picture or a longer story comprehensible. Achieving that is probably the hardest thing to do in music and I wouldn’t say I have succeeded yet.

As a follow up you released Square last year. Was that made in a similar way (in the same studio, over a similar length of time or time of the year etc.)?

Both albums were produced under similar conditions. On Dance Paradox I was working with a drummer (Ben Lauber) I have known for years. I gave him the finished tracks and he jammed over them, then I sampled and cut the recordings. Square I did alone; I bought some instruments and a quite good mic to record them in my studio. Both albums roughly took one year of production time.

And have your methods of production altered much from album to album?

In general my methods of production haven’t change much at all. I just got a (tiny little) better in playing instruments and hearing harmony. Technical knowledge has almost tripled though — not sure if this is a good thing. I try (and this gets harder) to keep a close connection to that inner fire which made me love music and want to create; that’s where all the voodoo of a good production lies.

Your civilian identity was revealed some years ago. Did you consider hanging up the mask after that or did you feel that the connotation of the mask was a strong enough image in people’s minds for them to associate that with your music more than who are or what you look like?

I wouldn’t say it was “revealed.” It was more like people who just can’t stand the idea of a person hiding in global connected times threw out my name, knowing that this will somehow pull Redshape out of that “silly marketing bubble” into the known and judge-able world. But times have really changed; the audience is different now and that is really a good thing. Aside from what I initially wanted to create with the mask, now the mask kind of developed to its very own thing. It is for sure a “love-hate” relationship I have with it; it competes for attention when I not always want it, or at least not in that way.

Do you have any plans to release anything else under the Palisade name?

I have music, not finished, but yes it is planned.

What can you tell us about the mix you’ve done for us?

It is a live recording of a set I did at one of the infamous Rebel Rebel parties in Rome. Something special was in the air that night. Maybe the combination of the nice people I met, the good food I had, and the amazingly supportive crowd in that big — but in some way super intimate — hangar the party took place in. I’d say, with some respect, this was my favourite set of 2013. Shouts to Italy for being such a good host this year!

And what can we expect from Redshape in 2014?

More, I would say.

Louis  on January 6, 2014 at 9:06 AM

Nice one, anyone know the name of the track at 33min?

Pedro Pereira  on January 6, 2014 at 9:57 AM

Sweet piece of INFO! Deep enough to feel the concept and the strength of the ideas!
i already saw REDSHAPE in Lisbon. It was amazing! Well, i already knew it. lol 😉
For me Redshape is not only the mask. Most of all is the ideas behind the mask!
Amazing live this one. You really can feel the power of the environment!
Keep shooting guys and Redshape!
Love from Lisbon,

watermill village  on January 6, 2014 at 2:14 PM

what a way to kick off 2014! this is already up there with the best podcasts i heard in 2013…thanks lwe and redshape…big ups!

stefan  on January 8, 2014 at 9:25 AM

15:55 ..

Navalverde  on January 9, 2014 at 2:14 AM

Is that voice from the beginning from System Shock 2 the computer game?

Mark  on January 20, 2014 at 2:45 AM

Great set, anyone know the track on 33 mins?

Curragh  on February 3, 2014 at 5:51 AM

@ Navalverde, I believe it is from SS2 yes. Amazing game, amazing set!

Comfy_Cozy  on February 12, 2014 at 3:57 PM

amazing set, best i heard in a long while

Trackbacks

Redshape – LWE Podcast 188 | The Hipodrome Of Music  on January 7, 2014 at 4:05 AM

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