Don’t let the consonant-laden name trip you up, Paul Brtschitch (like “bridge-itch”) has too much to offer. The Berlin-based producer has been on the scene since 1996, both as a collaborator (André Galluzzi was his most frequent production partner) and solo, crafting knotty, floor-tested techno for Frisbee, Music Man Records, Ongaku, Leena Music and Ostgut Ton (in fact, his “Twirl/Under” was the label’s second ever single). These days, though, he’s concentrating on his own label, Rootknox, having just release his fifth album, Me, Myself and Live and its attendant singles. As you’ll read below, the focus of Mr. Brtschitch’s album is how his music works when being performed live without the aid of computers. In kind, our 28th exclusive podcast highlights a propulsive live performance from one of techno’s more underrated artists.
LWE Podcast 28: Paul Brtschitsch (60:27)
01. Paul Brtschitsch, “Intro”
02. Paul Brtschitsch, “Shadows” [*]
03. Paul Brtschitsch, “Morgan Organ” [*]
04. Paul Brtschitsch, “Rotel” [*]
05. Paul Brtschitsch, “Diamant Flute” [Rootknox]
06. Paul Brtschitsch, “Morane” [Rootknox]
07. Paul Brtschitsch, “Blue Shadow” [*]
08. Paul Brtschitsch, “Touse” [Rootknox]
09. Paul Brtschitsch, “Bell Fever” [*]
10. Paul Brtschitsch, “Doriana” [Rootknox]
11. Paul Brtschitsch, “Wizards and Rabbits” [Rootknox]
* denotes unreleased track
What was the concept behind the new album? Did you have live performance in mind when writing it?
Paul Brtschitsch: The concept behind the album was to bring together all facets which surround me as a musician. One of these facets is the “live” aspect. Me stands for the creative Paul: this might be me in projects with other people, the same as me in projects with various styles. Myself is the facet of me and my personal sounds as an techno artist doing his fifth personal techno longplayer. And to come back to your question, Live is describing the live aspect of the album. I had played and tested many sequences or even complete tracks in my live sets before I started producing the album.
You’ve been producing for more than a decade now. What’s changed the most about your production process/set up/approach to making music? What do you think has changed most about the world of techno around you?
In my early days my tracks where based on MIDI sequencing and were recorded finally on DATs. No audio editing at all. I had to do the final mix before starting a new track. It was hard to rebuild a mix again and there wasn’t the possibility to do any edits or cuts in audio. There are pros and cons about that. Working with audio files gives you the opportunity to do it much tighter, while working exclusivly with MIKI often caused problems with the timing. On the other hand, working only with audio in my opinion made the music sounding more static, the organic feeling is gone a bit these days. For example the same 16 step sequence on a Atari sounds much better in my ears than on my Mac with Logic Pro. I try to combine both today: MIDI sequencing and audio-based work together.
What’s changed most in the world of techno is the fact that everybody is able to make music now. In my early days you needed to have some money to do it. That means only people who took it seriously or had some talent were able to built up a studio and release music. Now the “Ableton Generation” has changed it all. I guess that probably 80% percent of all clubbing people are jamming around with programs like that. The bad thing is that too many of this “jam sessions” are released. Unfortunately, most of these releases sound similar to that kind of mini-studio costs. So the value of electronic music decreases rapidly. But even that is a good thing, because everybody has the opportunity to show his talent without being excluded by the damn money thing! You see, I’m divided in my opinion on that issue.
Who are a few of your favorite DJs past and present and why? What about artists who do live PAs?
My first favourite DJ was Sven Väth. He is the reason why I started doing this kind of music. His aura and his mission for his sound were simply stunning those days. At this time we had the chance to hear many of the big names in Frankfurt from today. Carl Cox played an amazing set 1995 in the XS club for around 150 people — he wasn’t that famous that time. Laurent Garnier influenced me those days, as well as DJ sets in a small club by people like Dan Bell, Ata & Heiko MSO, and of course André Galluzzi! He knew how to let a crowd freak out completely through a set of 10 hours. He was also influenced by the way Sven created his sets those days: with ambien, nicely developing beginning tracks, peak time music and going down to the end until people danced and screamed to ambient music. I will never forget that! The DJs worked a bit more with the music in those days. Many records did not have the same effect if you heard them separately, standing alone outside the DJ set. That means the DJ created something new with several records he possessed. He made a complete new track, a journey through music, which was up to 12 hours long or even more. That is something I really miss in these days. You often hear the same records played by different DJs, but they sound nearly the same. I had some great gigs with Anja Schneider, where she played fantastic sets.
I know you spent a few years away from making dance floor oriented music. Do you still like producing in that style or have plans to make more?
Yes, I still like it, but I do not see the platform here in Germany to present this kind of music live, which is an important aspect to me. I noticed it totally makes sense to slow down a bit sometimes and to get some perspective. At the moment I’m totally fulfilled by my Britschmalro project with my friend Rodgau and Malte singing, and of course co-producing with Anja Schneider.
Your tracks manage to be both quite heady and very physical at once. When you’re producing, how do you know when you’ve found the right balance between the two?
The key for this is to play live. You feel immediately when a track starts to be overloaded. In the studio this might be a problem, because you are not feeling the power of the elements. What can I say, for some people my tracks are probably already too heady. My approach is to have a good beat fundamentals, which works out as transportation for the ambient elements I create above.
You’ve made a lot of records in collaboration with other producers, especially André Galluzzi. What do you like most about collaborating on tracks? What do you like least?
I like creating something new with someone together, the ups and downs you going through. Sometimes it is hard to do decide by yourself. It is good to be guided by somebody else through the jungle of sounds and possibilities to choose the right ingredients. It is good to have four ears instead of two. But this only works if you have the same taste; if not a music session can get frustrating. I like it least if your musician partner is not able to make decisions.
Speaking of Galluzzi, it’s been a few years since you’ve released a record with him. Are there any more planned?
No, not at the moment.
You’ve also worked with Anja Schneider on most of her recent releases dating back to “Loop De Mer.” I’m curious how being her co-producer worked and the division of tasks?
“Loop De Mer” was made in half a day. It was a good guided session by her. I went through sounds, played elements while she decided what she wanted to make out of it. I always remember the short discussions between us about which direction to go.
Your newest label, Rootknox, started by releasing its music only digitally. Why did you choose to go this route? Do you have much attachment to releasing on vinyl?
We are starting right now with the vinyl series. There will be three EPs in a row, each with three tracks from the album featuring one remix. The first EP includes a remix by Kollektiv Turmstrasse. But that’s what is behind the Rootknox philosophy. This tree is meant to grow. We’ve started with digital releases and are now able to do physical releases. I’m not a big fan of this digital only philosophy, so I’m happy to get this vinyl thing started.
What else can we expect from you in 2009 and beyond?
We are trying to get this Britschmalro project started and making it ready to present live. We’ve just finished our second studio session and I’m looking forward releasing the follow up to “Grow” soon.
LWE Podcast 28: Paul Brtschitsch (60:27)