LWE Podcast 78: Tin Man

If the prospect of a new Tin Man record sets the butterflies in your stomach aflutter, then 2011 has been an extremely busy year for your belly. Though a permanent fixture in discerning record bags, one of techno’s most distinctive voices has been only a fleeting presence in record shops and a virtual nonentity on the club circuit. This ultimate drifter, however, seems to be settling into some kind of limelight. Kicking off the year strong with the heavy-hitter “Nonneo” for Absurd’s Acid Test series, Tin Man shows no interest in letting up, with at least two more albums and tantalizing remixes slated for release. In advance of his appearance at The Bunker Unsound Edition in Brooklyn on April 9th, LWE checked in with the man behind the mask, Johannes Auvinen, to find out what the heck we did to deserve this sudden bounty, why he won’t be settling into a multi-release deal anytime soon, and what sounds and places inform his inimitable body of work. He also contributed LWE’s 78th podcast, a mix of his own tracks that provides a jaw-dropping preview of his forthcoming material.

LWE Podcast 78: Tin Man (69:28)

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01. Tin Man, “Untitled sketches” [white*]
02. Tin Man, “Electric Blue” [Salon Records*]
03. Tin Man, “Untitled sketches” [white*]
04. Tin Man, “Rocker Ravers” [Salon Records*]
05. Tin Man, “Untitled sketches” [white*]
06. Tin Man, “Invisible Man” [Salon Records*]
07. Tin Man, “Untitled sketches” [white*]
08. Tin Man, “Perfume” [Salon Records*]
* denotes tracks which, as of the time of publishing, are unreleased

You’re not really known for being prolific, but you’ve had a pretty busy release schedule so far this year. Did you just have a hefty backlog of music, or did you make a conscious decision to step up your game?

Johannes Auvinen: A bit of both. I write musical sketches all the time. Those sketches eventually fall into groups that become albums. So, at any given moment I have an overview of what the next few records will be. Last year I decided to hurry things up and I am now aiming at producing two solid albums a year. Having more experience, and especially more experience working with limited resources, means I can work harder-faster-better-stronger.

You haven’t been terribly loyal to any one record label recently (even though your sleeve design has stayed for the most part pretty consistent). Is there a reason you’ve been releasing music through so many outlets? Might your label Global A make a comeback at some point?

By no master plan, I find myself at the moment enjoying another side of “the underground.” Not enjoying being part of a social scene, but rather enjoying being able to produce works through boutique labels run by individuals who have a vision and participate in the productions on a fundamental level. I find it great to work with these people on such focused terms. I hope in the future to work with even more boutique labels in different cities. I will continue only to release my own project through Global A on rare occasion.

Aside from your vocals, a heavy debt to acid has long characterized your sound. When did you first hear acid? And did hearing it make you want to produce?

Probably the first impressive acid tune for me was Planet Soul’s “Set You Free.” At some point I ended up with Phuture’s “Acid Tracks” which is, for me, still the most definitive and first acid track. Well, it stuck on me, and from there I dug into the history. Inspired, I saved up some cash for a 303, and started making jams. The release Acid Acid was essentially a thank you letter to acid music. I have continued always with some acid in my music because I feel fundamentally connected to the acid bass flow.

You don’t live there anymore, but Los Angeles, where you grew up, figures heavily into your lyrics. What does L.A. mean to you? Is Tin Man inseparable in your mind from that city?

Having been gone four years, L.A. seems a lifetime away. And, honestly said, I was happy to leave. I just could not find my life there. That said, of course I feel it is still a part of me. I am still all of Steinbeck’s and Carver’s and West’s and Fante’s worst characters, and I am still a space case with a dream hoping to make it big in Hollywood.

As dark and pessimistic as some of the music is, Tin Man has always felt like a very particular kind of pop music to me. Is Tin Man techno? Can techno make for great pop music?

Tin Man is techno imagining a world where techno is pop. I think the world of pop and techno are exclusive. Techno at its core is rooted in a dystopian vision of a broken society. I think from there it represents the disaster of the human endeavor thus far, and then imagines possible futures. Pop music normalizes. Its perfect crystalline structure seems to echo a world in motion and gently pushes you along your way, always whispering “continue…continue” softly in your ear. I think pop can, and will, quote techno, but for techno to be pop the whole society would have to be pretty disillusioned. I remember my Mom getting excited about the potential popularity of the Wasteland record as she thought it reflected perfectly the fallout of the financial crisis. It was not so popular.

Talk to me about Rashad Becker, the Duplates & Mastering cutting engineer and your longtime musical collaborator. How did you guys first start making music together, and are you continuing to work closely with him on your productions?

Rashad helped me record and mix Cool Wave and Wasteland. I will likely work with him again soon.

Your tracks for the Absurd’s Acid Test series, “Nonneo” and “Accumulated Acid,” feel like a real departure from your recent work. How did that material come together? And how did you hook up with Donato Dozzy for the “Nonneo” remix?

Absurd asked for some acid. I sent something like 15 tracks, but they were only keen on having “long melodic acid lines.” Eventually, I wrote the new pieces that are the record. I was happy with the result, as I feel it represents a stylistic contribution to the history of acid. I am now working on a whole album for Absurd with long melodic Tin Man acid lines. Yes, the acid is back. Absurd made the Donato connection. I loved his approach, and I contributed a remix to his upcoming Acid Test 12″.

Speaking of Donato Dozzy, that remix felt like such a brilliant meeting of the minds. Are there any other producers or artists you’re dying to work with?

Pan Sonic, Yasutaka Nakata, Aphex Twin, Benny Blanco/Dr. Luke, Brian-Michael Cox, Chilly Gonzales, Paddy McAloon, Christian Vogel, and Patrick Pulsinger.

Your new album, Perfume, is a veritable love letter to the piano, an instrument that I don’t believe has figured so prominently in your sound before. Did you set out to write a piano record, or was it just the right sound for these tracks?

Writing Perfume was a departure from my usual studio noodlings. Usually, I start with sound design, and this time I started working out all the songs at the piano. So I was sitting and really composing the harmonies, melodies, and structure in the way that you tend to do with a piano. Later I built all the synths around, but much of the piano stayed because it has that certain special charm.

Is Vienna still home base for you? How’s life there?

Yes, Vienna is home. I have to say it is pretty good here, there is plenty this compact and particular city offers. I have just finishing a record now called Vienna Blue. It’s a more classical and romantic record, for which I recorded a trio of violin, clarinet, and cello. There you can find some thoughts on the subject.

You’ll be in New York for the Unsound Festival in April. What do you have in the works as far as shows in the near future?

I do not tour around too much, but I will play a warehouse party with the Absurd crew in L.A. April 16th. And I will play in Vancouver April 22nd.

What’s in store for you as 2011 continues? Will the latter part of 2011 be as busy as the first?

It should remain busy with albums and remix work. The Vienna Blue album is next. Then comes the Absurd Acid album. I also have a collaboration project called Love & Affection, and we have a summer album seeking label. And there is more simmering on the back-burner. On the mix I gave are some sketches that showcase some of the moodier things in store.

petesrdic  on March 21, 2011 at 12:55 AM

Well, whatever you did to win this golden bounty, hip hip hooray and we all win ! This is nice, very nice.
320 goodness to boot.
Thanks Tin Man and LWE.

Blaktony  on March 21, 2011 at 11:58 AM

Whateva Tin Man is doin’, i like it….nice music; well chilled.

Joseph Hallam  on March 21, 2011 at 5:09 PM

One of the most interesting producers on the scene. This mix is indeed jaw dropping. Thanks!

eric  on March 22, 2011 at 9:40 AM

this is honestly one of the best mixes i’ve ever heard. i can’t stop listening. it’s almost an album in itself? incredible.

Andrew Ryce  on March 23, 2011 at 6:26 PM

Absolutely amazing sounds.

134340  on March 24, 2011 at 2:03 AM

Looking forward to his Unsound performance next month.

Dor Levi  on March 24, 2011 at 3:01 AM

one of the best things lately for sure!


Oliver Linley  on April 8, 2011 at 3:53 AM

cracking stuff. nice to not hear a typical ‘mix’ for a change (not that i have a problem with them).

nice twilight grooves

Leslie  on July 4, 2011 at 3:14 PM

In sounds from way outside, the milky way’s echos of silence ,with the pins that DROP and make loud noises. Tinman has the biggest heart …
Love the vibe!

TheBedlam  on March 5, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Could somebody help me with the link to download, please?

littlewhiteearbuds  on March 5, 2012 at 4:22 PM

@TheBedlam, it’s the big hyperlinked text below the intro paragraph.


Mixes I’m digging | Stink-Finger  on March 23, 2011 at 4:10 AM

[…] Kicking off in house territories, little white earbuds has an interesting interview and mix from Tin Man. I’d heard a little of Tin Man’s stuff, being aware of him from the start of Tama Sumo’s Panorama Bar Cd from a few years back. He has an interesting production style, and this is an enjoyable wee mix. Check it out. Tin Man-LWE78 […]

ON FIRE: Tin Man « GRAN MOSTACHO  on March 23, 2011 at 6:02 AM

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Tin Man’s Perfume | Les On Music  on March 27, 2011 at 4:40 PM

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LWE Podcast 78: Tin Man is archived this week | Little White Earbuds  on March 4, 2012 at 11:03 PM

[…] sketches beside melodic, danceable acid lines to create a relaxed and spacey vibe. Be sure to add it to your collection before it’s archived this Friday, March 9th. » Lauren Cox | March 4th, 2012 Tags: […]

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