Remy and myself were recently asked to do an interview with Ambient Visions about our collaboration on PrimiTiveS. We gladly accepted this of course. Remy and I both answered half the questions and it is all about how we met and how the album evolved. I think it is an interesting read. So if you are interested you can find the whole interview on this URL:
You can also find a copy here:
AV: How did the two of you first meet and what were some of the common elements of the music that you both created individually that hinted that maybe you could do something together?
Remy: Michel and I met each other at the E-Live electronic music festival, back in 2007. We soon found out that we shared a lot of the same musical interests, of which the music of Jean Michel Jarre was the most common. Hereafter we met at various other electronic music events, and also had some dinners together. In the meanwhile we became good friends, and at a certain point this lead to a music session in Michel’s Apollo Studio. We had no idea if and how things would work out, but most of the material with which we started in 2011 seemed very useable to work on for a potentional release.
Also because our individual musical styles as well as our production methods differ a lot, it was reason for both of us to try something together.
Within the months after our first session we visited each other’s studios several times to work on our tracks. One and a half year later
“PrimiTiveS” was accomplished and we actually surprised ourselves with the results of the many intensive days we spent on this project.
AV: What were some of the differences in your approaches to composing that the two of you had to overcome if you were going to create music together?
Michel: Remy is classically schooled and I can't even read notes. I have no musical background whatsoever and Remy studied at the conservatory. When we first started playing together, Remy was yelling out chord scheme names. I told him that I had no idea what he was talking about. I said just play and let me join in. I just have to get used to the chords and adapt my playing by hearing. That turned out to work just fine in the end.
AV: Remy, tell me about your process when it comes to writing and composing new material for one of your albums.
Remy: I use to record my musical ideas – which are for a large part based on improvisation – directly via synthesizers on my computer. I have certain structures and sounds in my mind which I am layering above the already recorded parts, to create a track which fits with the subject and/or feelings I have in mind. During the production process I add, edit and delete parts as much as needed, to get the result I want to achieve.
In most of the times, an album concludes a certain period (musically as well as emotionally). It is a compilation of tracks from this specific period, which I want to share with others. Actually the same goes for “PrimiTiveS”.
For my Great Church performance of last year, I also made use of acoustic instruments, for which it was necessary to write partitures. Which is a totally different approach compared with my straight-forward way of making music. In the end, feeling-wise it’s not much different.
AV: Michel, tell me about your process when it comes to writing and composing new material for one of your albums.
Michel: Usually on my solo projects I have a fixed theme and I try to make the whole album a story, sometimes even a complete journey. I travel on this journey in my mind and for every track I have a clear picture in my mind where I compose my music too. It is a very visually oriented process for me. The music just comes into my heard from the pictures. When collaborating it is completely different. It is more about the fun and the social aspect of playing and working together and you have to listen to each other and adapt to that.
AV: How did the two of you compromise when it came to working together and allowing both styles to work in harmony to create a sound that you both could be happy with?
Remy: During our collaboration we have tried to combine both our musical styles and different working methods as effective as possible. I think we allowed enough of each other’s input into the project, which actually never led to confrontations or unsatisfying situations.
In advance we didn’t have a specific sound in mind, but throughout the composition process we’ve managed to create a mix with which we are both happy. The tracks on “PrimiTiveS” vary a lot by means of dynamics and style, so it took some time and efforts to make things fit and sound the way we wanted. In the end we are very satisfied with the result.
AV: Tell me about the music that listeners will find on PrimiTiveS and how that music is different than what might have come out if it had been a solo project of one of you.
Michel: The first thing people that know my Synth.nl music will notice is that the tracks are a bit longer than they are used to, where Remy's fans will notice the opposite. The tracks are actually shorter for him than normal. So here we found a good compromise I guess. We not only found this compromise in the length of the tracks, but also in the style of music. My style is somewhere between Jean Michel Jarre, Vangelis and Kraftwerk where Remy's style is more between Jean Michel Jarre, Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream. Jarre is where we overlap a bit in influence I guess. I think that the music you hear is a bit of all of this mixed with our own styles that we developed over the years. Where my style is more melodic and sometimes even romantic, Remy's style is more experimental and quite orchestral. The outcome of the album for sure is a varied pallet of music we think.
AV: What kind of process did the two of you use during the composing and recording of PrimiTiveS so that both of your musical voices would be heard in the final product but it would still be a unique joint effort from the two of you?
Remy: We did a couple of studio sessions to play and produce together. In between these sessions we individually recorded additions in our own studios and exchanged tracks. Long live the internet!
After a couple of additions, we gathered in Michel’s studio, to work on the mixes.
Because we both work with different software – and also because of the many possibilities – we decided to work together in Michel’s studio for the main mixes.
We had several discussions about which parts to use (and which not to use) and for example the volume of the specific parts in the mix, to get the right balance of both our individual styles and our characteristic elements was discussed. In the end we agreed on most of the mixing aspects, which also lead to some surprising elements which we couldn’t have created on our own.
AV: Will the two of you be performing music from PrimiTiveS at the upcoming E Festival and for those of my readers who are not familiar with it, exactly what is the E Festival and why is it important?
Michel: Remy would like to perform the music we make on stage, but I don't play live at all. So that isn't likely going to happen. However Remy is free to use the music we made together in any concert he likes. Especially a live acoustic version of 'Frozen Cubes' would be very cool especially with a real choir and piano. The E-day festival where the album is released is organized twice a year by Groove Unlimited, one of the larger record labels in the EM scenes, and also the label that releases this album.
The festival is a place for fans to meet musicians and to discover and buy new music. I think that it is important not to lose the human factor involved in music. It is easy to get everything through the internet now but I think it is also nice to share experiences in real life as well with real people.
AV: Was the whole process enjoyable enough that the two of you will consider working together again in the future?
Remy: Besides having a lot of fun, I think we both had a very satisfying experience with this collaboration. We already have ideas for a next project. First we need to find time to start on this, as we both have a couple of other scheduled projects to accomplish.
We can’t say much about this at the moment, as we don’t have concrete ideas ourselves yet, but it will be related to another shared passion: (vintage) computer games, game consoles and computer music. To be continued...
AV: Is there anything else you’d like to share about the making of or the music that listeners will find on PrimiTiveS?
Michel: It was a lot of fun to create this album and Remy and I became even closer friends during the process. I think we complement each other very well both in skills and in musical taste. I just hope that people will have as much fun listening to the album as we did in creating it. I'm already looking forward to another project together with Remy.
AV: Thanks so much to the both of you for taking the time to answer my questions and give your fans a little insight into your latest joint effort called Primitives which is available now. I hope that it well received and that maybe the two of you might do a second collaborative effort someday.
(C) 2013 Ambient Visions