Renaissance Man Comes to Life

Words by: Polly Lavin
Posted: 13/10/11 11:16

Renaissance Man Comes to LifeIf the opening chimes of Finnish duo ‘Renaissance Man’ latest album are omni-present of a certain Pink Floyd’s ‘Money’ they tell me its mere coincidence. The duo who met whilst working at an architecture firm in 2007 launched their electronic music career in 2008 by way of 'Spraycan' (which sampled an aerosol can) on Switch's Dubsided. They followed this up by signing tracks to kitsch Parisian electro label Kitsune and Sound Pellegrino label.

A slew of remix requests from rock/electro noise acts such as Brodinski, Crystal Fighters, Delphic and Azari & III followed and Turbo Recordings release their forthcoming album The Renaissance Man Project. Filled with experimental sounds such as ticking clocks, ping-pong balls, fireworks and sitar samples, glitch and grime weaves through the soundscape of tracks such as ‘Urban Nomad.’ Whilst polished bass and organic drum sounds emanate in glossed resonance on tracks such as ‘Nikolai Kopelai’.

What were you listening to that influenced this albums development?
The album was written in a period of almost one year so there's a lot of different music influencing as you might be able to hear. In general our sound might owe a lot to people who also work very sample based like Matthew Herbert and Matmos etc but I think the album is as much influenced by early Warp tracks such as “Tricky Disco Fly Spray” from 1991 and the obvious Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, LFO, Madlib, etc

What’s your studio set-up then these days?
Our studio set up is super simple as we work so much with samples, but we never use the samples as they are, we like to process sounds a lot. Like for example the chords in Trance Central are made out of screaming kids etc for the first single we recorded this amazing instrument "hyalion" our friend Tuoma Toivonen got made for him it's a set of small pneumatic hammers that can be triggered with drum machine. We played some wine glasses etc for that track and on the Nikolai Kopeloi track we have a K-X-P featuring with two live drummers, live bass and some synths. We like to record all kinds of weird sounds and then craft stuff out of them, like the ping pong beat on Nonsensus. In general we are all about experimenting, trying to create something new and something that's our "own" since we don't see why this world would need anything that's heard before...

What principles do you both live your musical life by?
I think we both try to approach whatever we do with the same level of ambition and try to push the envelope always a little bit and move constantly on the border of the comfortable zone for ourselves that way it does not get boring. As person I find it very hard to settle and we learn new things as we move forward.

You are based in Berlin for the last 2 years now why the move? 
Helsinki/Finland is very small, there's like two clubs we can play so it was much easier to move here. We play 99% of our shows outside Finland anyway.

How is EDM in general in Finland?
The Finnish EDM is pretty vibrant, but mainly it's always been quite weird like Jimi Tenor or Pan Sonic or the latest stuff like Clouds on Deep Medi or the whole Skweee movement. But yes also some great house and techno like Jori Hulkonen or Kiki or Sasse and Luomo, Vladislav Delay etc

Your architects by training did your profession influence your music?
I think in the very beginning the influence was very strong. We approached stuff very conceptually as we would do in the office now it's bit more loose, but still we conceptualize stuff a lot, in other words, we talk a lot.What Do You Do When You Do What You Do

     Turbo 111  - What Do You Do When You Do What You Do EP by Renaissance Man

Are you also trained musicians?
Before we started writing (that we might have discussed a concept of a track before writing down a single beat or a chord together) I trained as a musician. Martti has more of a DJ/record collector background, I play (or at least used to play) violin and guitar but the biggest help from the training was the music theory part.

You seem to have done a lot more remixes on big electro acts why has there been more focus on this then your own productions? Was there a period that all these artists were coming to you for your glitch and grime sounds?
We've been always asked for a lot of remixes some for friends, some commissioned by labels and we like doing them. Anyway we're glad to get the album out so people can hear more our own independent productions. We had a long period without releasing any original material since we wanted to concentrate on the album. Our first releases were on labels that went pretty "electro" so we got a bit of that tag, even though our sets were never that much about that sound. ‘Dubsided’ and ‘Switch’ were a big influence but more the early stuff.

So how do you feel about being pigeon-holed in a genre that some believe has passed its 'hype' mark? I mean there is a lot of shit electro out there now isn't there?
There is a lot of shit music in general hah and the most disgusting stuff out there for me right now is the plastic sounding Beatport top-10 tech house with "perfect" dance floor breakdowns and sounds and white noise build-ups. For me that stuff is decreasing the value of music for the music fans. Anyways, as Stefan Goldman said in some interview it's pretty easy to standout by doing something unique.

You use the term project? What else are you up to then?
Martti for example just finished a book for Sternberg Press and I've been also working on another musical project title Millennium. Martti’s book is called Solution Finland: The Welfare Game its part of this series of books titled Solutions.

You seem to be very focused on experimenting with sound in a scientific like fashion? Why so?
In general we are all about experimenting, trying to create something new and something that's our "own" since we don't see why this world would need anything that's heard before.

We are very anti retro in our productions, we play a lot of old tracks in our sets, but very few new tracks that sound like old tracks. Like I believe it's responsible to bring something new to this world only if the world really needs it and doesn’t already have it I think the fact that music is so easy to produce and release has affected the quality of music on average, but I still think there will always be outstanding music.

Renaissance ManYou seem somewhat ethical though I noticed in some interviews you talk about DJ miles etc?
Yeah well I think it's the worst job to be ethical about air miles though, but in general let's say that we are very interested about subject such as global warming etc, well yeah actually I just learned that air traffic is still quite minimal in the share of the whole yearly CO2.

Mainly it's from agriculture etc I think there's a lot of ethical questions in the air, but I also have a strong belief in science: so I try to remain optimistic.

Polly; CO2 in agriculture is the methane from cows what can we do make people stop eating steak? Remove them from the food chain or innovate?

What are your thoughts on Ibiza?
I've never been to Ibiza, so I don't know how close to reality my idea about it really is. I'd like to see it, although I'm pretty sure it's not necessarily for me. I never really enjoyed myself that much in beach resorts, as a kid yes but not as "grown up" but the clubs would be interesting to see. My idea is beaches and mega club packed with British party tourist.

Turbo CD 032 – Renaissance Man – The Renaissance Man Project will be released October 31st, 2011.In terms of your understanding as to what Ibiza is about  as an artist do you bypass the island in terms of its musical credibility yeah so how important do you think music is to the party or is the party always able to happen if the music is not good? 
Good question, I guess the music or at least the names on the line ups is still the thing that drags people in the clubs but I guess party has to be also about the people, not about the music only.

Say Jeff Mills is the headline act at We Love what do you think is wrong with this?
I don't think there's anything wrong with it. I think it's cool that there are big clubs that do big line-ups

And the same artists are playing Ibiza several times during summer why do you think you have not been asked?
Well we have been asked. But so far we decided to decline and wait for the offers that our agent thinks are good.

So where have you opted for instead of Ibiza?
I don't remember maybe not even anything else. It might have been just a too low offer or a venue our agent thought would not have been ideal for us. We don't play the most straight forward party music so we try to play in places that are used to that.

In general we play the main European cities, and then we've went few times to Australia and Asia and also to Canada etc but mainly we are in Germany, France, Belgium, UK. We have not made any strong decision to not to go to some place, it all depends on the offer.

What do you think from an EDM band perspective Ibiza needs to do to get those bands to play here?
Well I think we'll come when the right places ask, also we are preparing an audiovisual live show that we want to do at festivals and other bigger events next spring and summer. That will work much better in special festivals where I don’t think DJ-ing is that interesting.

Do you think younger music consumers are interested in Ibiza anymore?
It’s hard to say. for example Berlin, it seems that some people still go there every summer, but also I feel that places like Croatia etc are getting more attention, but yeah Ibiza is definitely on my list of places I wanna see. It’s still a pretty essential part of the story of electronic music.

Has Ibiza’s identity has gone all pear shaped?
Yeah I guess it gets so heavily associated now to the Swedish House Mafia & David Guetta scene.

I'm wondering why all the cutting edge EDM bands are not coming here?
I think that's part of the reason the association or then it also could be that the clubs don’t go for the more leftfield stuff

The worst clubs you have played?
Well we had some nightmare experiences that we don’t want to happen again. Like some bottle service clubs in Shanghai haha a rooftop club with a shark tank. You had to spend minimum 5000 to get a table. It was a nightmare mainly we still have had pretty good luck, good places, exciting events

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Turbo CD 032 – Renaissance Man – The Renaissance Man Project will be released October 31st, 2011.

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