Was there a lot of editing and processing after you recorded the audio?
No editing at all, actually. Not a single cut. On some parts I went back and added some effects while mixing, but I didn’t edit the tracks in any way. It’s actually even the first takes as well. Perhaps I fooled around a bit before recording but as soon as I pressed record, there was no turning back. The next time I might record more than one take of each song, but I think it’s charming that it’s sometimes a bit clumsy.
When I had about half an album, I started realising that this could in fact be interesting to people other than me and my friends. That made me think a bit and for a while I got a bit locked while spending time in the studio. Recording music for myself is one thing, but when you suddenly start thinking there’s an audience, it’s suddenly not that fun to have made ‘mistakes’ while recording.
There are some moments of the album that have lots of humming sounds in the recording. That’s because I had my audio cables too close to the electrical power supplies. That’s one of the things I didn’t mind while recording for my own enjoyment.
How difficult do you find it to avoid falling into the cliches of house, electro and techno when using iconic gear like the 202, 303 and 808?
It wasn’t difficult at all. The very first tracks I recorded were not techno or house in any way. After a while I might have broadened the concept a bit.
So far I’ve done three live sets as TM404 and I can tell you that it’s a bit hard to resist falling into old habits and playing techno when there’s a floor full of people staring at you. As soon as you add something resembling a 4/4 beat – like a back beat hi-hat – people start to whistle and scream.
My plan is not to turn TM404 into yet another main floor act or into DJ tool techno 12″s, though. This is about something else. I’ve got other projects where I’m most happy to play in front of an audience which is there to dance, drink and find someone to bring back home afterwards.
Is there a fear that the technology will become more important than the music itself?
Yes. It’s funny because again I did the TM404 recordings as a very geeky thing with no album or even release in mind. So when I uploaded those videos to YouTube I labelled the vids by naming them after what instruments I was using.
When there’s suddenly an album coming out, it perhaps spoils the fun of listening. You know what you’re going to hear. If you listen to a track called ‘303/303/303/606’ you’re gonna hear three TB-303s and a TR-606. Nothing else.
On the other hand, if you listen to something like The Beatles, you know you’ll hear two guitars, a set of drums, a bass and one or two people singing about love and/or freedom. I don’t think The Beatles would have named their songs ‘guitar/guitar/bass/drums/vocals’, though. Pity. They did quite good for themselves anyway…
Why do you think there’s been a resurgence of interest in recreating old-school approaches to music making?
I think it’s because it sometimes really is too easy and non-creative to make music using just a computer. There are sample packs that you can download that will make your productions sound like Burial, or if you prefer you can make music like Swedish House Mafia. In fact, the members of Swedish House Mafia use those sample packs themselves.
When you can buy recorded hooks, drum beats and basses it means anyone can sound like you. If you put together a unique set of musical instruments and effects, you’re bound to create something special. Of course it’s not all about the equipment, but when it comes to electronic music it really helps if you’ve at least programmed your loops yourself.
If you put together a unique set of musical instruments and effects, you're bound to create something special.
Perhaps it’s also due to the fact that a lot of people interested in producing electronic music have day jobs where they spend their time in front of a computer screen. If you stare into a laptop the whole day, you want to do something else when you get home. Twisting knobs and connecting cables to rusty old echo boxes is pure therapy.
TM404 is out now on Kontra-Musik. Find Andreas on Facebook.