Oliver Huntemann on why paranoia is only a state of mind

Words by: Polly Lavin
Posted: 2/11/11 9:05

Oliver Huntemann on why paranoia is only a state of mindHamburg. Situated on one of the top industrial river ports of the world the Elbe, second largest city in Germany, a mere 1.5hrs from Berlin and home to German trance and techno producer Oliver Huntemann who releases his fourth studio album ‘Paranoia’ on the Ideal Audio imprint.

Those in the community who refer to Huntemann as a ‘techno stalwart’ must have missed the impact of “Humate” and “Love Stimulation” when its velocity infused trance and BPMs etched a mark on the psyche of dance music in the 90s. Zoom forward to a career in the 00s peppered with collaborations with Dubfire and Stephan Bodzin and its clear why maestro Huntemann’s identity became aligned to techno.

Paranoia” his fourth studio album is tinged with a dark pessimistic edge and filled with caustic industrial aggression that shifts across genre boundaries whilst featuring guest vocalists such as Trentemoller’s cohort Ane Trolle on evocative soundscapes.

The production quality stands out, an intensity of sound and complex structures weave across the canvas and twist deep into the psyche of the mind. Minimal techno track ‘Magnet’ is sparse and clinical in presentation with an edge that paces with the prepared neatness of a busy pedestrian filled world.

Big room synth laden melodies emerge on “Tranquilizer” but ultimately the lift is in the polished luminosity of “The End”. It reminds the world may be suffering recessions and economic stress but there is always hope, always a community of union through music and always a need for big rave sounds.

The question now is if ‘The End’ is merely the future for Oliver Huntemann.

Poignant song titles that intersperse between darkness and light – why so? Is this reflective of your take on the world of present or other or reflective of emotions and feelings within?
This does not reflect my personal state of mind. Luckily enough I do not suffer paranoia states or am not bipolar. Just the idea behind the album is to tell a complete story and paranoia per se consists of many layers. There are the depressive states of mind but they are also always combined with moments of tranquility for example. So paranoia allows us to do a full circle of emotions.

It makes me sad that the vinyl sales are going down and down for example, but at the same time technology provides the music fans with other means for listening to music and gives them new ways to interact with the artists...A lot of work done with Dubfire can you tell me more about where you found that common ground to collaborate? What advice would you give about collaborating?
The collaboration with Dubfire came very spontaneously. It all started via MySpace commenting on each other’s tracks and then the idea came to try to work together on some new music. Dubfire is an extreme professional and funnily enough we work with the same setups in our studios. The only problem is that with our busy touring schedules, sometimes it is really hard to find time when both of us can have some studio time.

It only makes sense to work on a certain track together when both of us have the time to comment on each other’s progress. Collaborations are a highly personal decison. There is no recipe for a great career. Just if you think you can do something good with another artist, then go for it. And whether you work alone or with a co-producer, it is all up to the artist’s preference.

Started your label Ideal Audio in 2009, why? As a producer how do you feel about major label control and industry politics?
I just decided that it was time for a new platform where I could bring out my new tracks and sign artists that have an aspiring new sound. It was that simple of a decision. Concerning label control and industry politics everybody knows the music business has been changing a lot in the past years. But you just have to stay on top of the innovations and go along with the flow. You cannot stand still, our planet does not function this way and same applies to the music industry. It makes me sad that the vinyl sales are going down and down for example, but at the same time technology provides the music fans with other means for listening to music and gives them new ways to interact with the artists.

Germany, what’s happening in Hamburg?
The scene in Hamburg has also been developing quite a bit in the past years. We have great artists here such as the Diynamics crew around  Solomun, Stimming and H.O.S.H. as well as Tensnake and Remute, just to name a few. I love the city, that is why I live here and nowhere else. It has its own vibe. There are still some very nice venues such as the Baalsaal at the infamous Reeperbahn that offer great selection of DJs. That is why I also chose to host my Ideal Audio parties there. Wonderful venue, great audience, just perfect.

You mentioned in 2009 your thoughts about how the recession would affect your bookings – did your prognosis realise itself?
Luckily not really. There are certain regions that are now even less active than they used to be but others grew at the same time, my calendar is fine. Young people always want to have fun and go out to parties, so I do not think that the recession affected our techno scene so much.

However to become a professional artist you have to invest a lot of time, energy, money, everything. This is what separates the good artists from the average one. You cannot have music just as a hobby and expect to deliver great results... How do you feel about clubbing culture and the underground taking over mainstream nightlife all over the world? good or bad when the associations of the culture to same are largely drug related?
Oh, I really do not think that techno is taking over the mainstream nightlife all over the world. Some commercial electronic music genres have become more popular in the last years due to the popularity of certain artists, but techno is still a niche market. I like it this way, we do not have to have legions of fans. I always prefer to play to audiences that are really in the club, because they have an idea of what I am doing, not because they have heard that the the venue is very hip.

There are people that associate techno with drugs, but there is not much I can say about it. I cannot deny it that there are people who take drugs at techno parties but there are not more or less drugs in the electronic music scene than in other music, arts or culture scenes.

Your choices of soft synths reputedly give you a trademark sound – can you tell me what those soft synths are?
Mostly the internal stuff of Logic plus Arturia and the Albino.

You were behind Humate Love Stimulation quite a big track how do you feel about the anonymity of the producer disappearing? Is there really enough room in the field for all the DJs and the producers?
Technology has helped many people embrace music. There is so much software that just give everybody the opportunity to produce music. There is nothing bad about having so many artists out there. However to become a professional artist you have to invest a lot of time, energy, money, everything. This is what separates the good artists from the average one. You cannot have music just as a hobby and expect to deliver great results. It is a full time job – Monday to Sunday!

What’s your thoughts on how the structure of the song and BPM’s have changed since those heady days of 90’s production. Your BPMs have certainly slowed since humate?
In the 90s everything was new and we were experimenting  with bassdrums, sounds and tempo. It was very different. All DJs at that time were playing stuff from Azuli House to Eye Q Trance and Underground Resistance Techno in one night.

Everything  needed to be tried out. I personally came to the point where I started liking slower but still intense tracks more than getting fast. Things can be more groovy when tracks are slower. I can get very dark and deep without losing the connection to house and techno at the same time.

The state of trance? The state of techno? Your thoughts on same.You seem to straddle between the two genres why?
The two genres are really different from each other and address different audiences that most of the time do not really mix. I do not really think that I am stuck between the two. I was in trance many years ago, I liked it and was happy with my tracks then. But music evolves and so does my music taste, so I have been in techno for the last 10 years or so and I feel very comfortable with this.

The Reactable is a new electronic musical instrument with a simple & intuitive design, which enables musicians to experiment with sound, change its structure, control its parameters & be creative in a direct, refreshing & unseen way...You talk about maintaining a low profile and staying out of the spotlight in the past – why so are you a very private person? Did all the visibility affect the credibility?
I am just the type of person who does not like to flaunt it. I represent myself with my music and my performances, the rest should not really concern anybody. Music’s visibility is another thing. As you mentioned there are so many artists nowadays, so it is important to be in the spotlight when it comes to your product.

Unfortunately without the proper promo even strong releases can remain unnoticed. Visibility however does not really negate the quality of your product. Ok, sure there are releases out there that do not necessarily deserve the attention they get, but after all we are all part of a business matrix and everybody is trying to make the most out of what they have.

Just looking at reactable live can you tell me a bit more about this concept, what its function is and how you work with it?
The Reactable is a new electronic musical instrument with a simple and intuitive design, which enables musicians to experiment with sound, change its structure, control its parameters and be creative in a direct, refreshing and unseen way. It uses a tabletop tangible interface, which allows the performers to control the system by manipulating tangible objects with their fingers.

The instrument is based on a translucent and luminous round table and by putting these pucks on the Reactable surface, by turning them and connecting them to each other, performers can combine different elements like synthesizers, effects, sample loops or control elements in order to create a unique and flexible composition. These pucks represent the building blocks of electronic music, each one having a different functionality in sound generation, sample playing or in effect processing.

On the other side it's a bit like DJ-ing. I do the whole arrangement and mash-ups with the Reactable. I can combine my loops, effects and filters like I want in a different way. The attraction is, of course, the visual aspect of the Reactable. That's why we transfer live videos on screens.

Whilst you were developing the product did you go through a process of IP protection and patent protection?
I’ve never been involved in developing the Reactable. I just got in touch with the developers last year when I thought about doing live performances as a way to present my Paranoia album. They showed me how it works and now I only help them with tips and reports from issues which happen during my practices and performances. As far as I know the instrument, the design and the brand of the Reactable are already protected in most relevant countries.

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Ideal Audio will release Paranoia on November 2nd, 2011 Artist: Oliver Huntemann
Title: Paranoia LP

Label: Ideal Audio
Release Date: 2nd November 2011

Tracklist

01. Only The Paranoid Survive
02. Rotten
03. Delirium
04. In Times Of Trouble
05. Dark Passenger
06. Phantom
07. They Are (Not) After You
08. Hope (feat. Robert Owens)
09. Magnet
10. Tranquillizer
11. Wahnfried (feat. Ane Trolle)
12. The End

Paranoia Bonus DVD

01.Only The Paranoid Survive (Directed & produced by Xenbel, Hamburg)
02.Rotten (Director/Editor/D.O.P.: Seb Rekorder, Brussels)
03.In Times Of Trouble (Directed & produced by Hannah Hlavacek, Nürnberg)
04.Dark Passenger (Directed by Manuel Nogueira & Luisa Bernardes, Sao Paulo)
05.Hope (feat. Robert Owens) (Directed & produced by Xenbel, Hamburg)
06.Wahnfried (feat. Ane Trolle) (Idea & directing: Boris Nikolov, Sofia)
07.Magnet (Filmed, directed & produced by Sebastian Radlmeier, Berlin)
08.Tranquilizer (Directed & produced by Michael Krenzin, Berlin)
09.They Are (Not) After You (Directed & produced by Katharine Müller, Kiel)
10.Delirium (Directed & produced by Jaime Armengol, London)
11.The End (Directed & produced by Wildmotion, Berlin)
12.Decks And The City (Directed & produced by Blink and Remove, Munich)
13.NYC (Keep On Playin’) (Created by James Laudicina & Sina Taherkhani, New York)
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