Apparat – I’m Still A Producer

With his new album The Devil’s Walk out this week, Ian Maleney talks to Sascha Ring aka Apparat about singing in English, Percy Bysshe Shelley and the problem with three day hangovers.

With his new album The Devil’s Walk out this week, Ian Maleney talks to Sascha Ring aka Apparat about singing in English, Percy Bysshe Shelley and the problem with three day hangovers.

Few artists have embodied the internationally progressive, unifying force of techno over the past decade to the extent of Sascha Ring, better known as Apparat. Never truly content to follow too closely in the footsteps of his peers in the techno-mecca of Berlin, the 33-year old has moved his sound somewhere else entirely since his beginnings as DJ in the German city’s super-clubs. Being part of the revered Shitkatapult label crew did him no harm in the dance-floor cred department but his beat sensibilities have long since expanded into an ultra-hi resolution version of electronic music at its most blissful. Wherever Ring’s head is at these days, it certainly doesn’t sound like Berlin in any familiar sense. The Devil’s Walk, his newest album, is the ultimate expression of this kind of no-borders approach to music. The lines between acoustic and electronic are constantly blurred, language is as malleable as any other element and the aim is always to be just that little bit more expressive, open and in touch.

When describing the shift in his sound over the past decade, Ring makes it seem the most natural thing in the world to have ended up where he is now. “I’ve been making electronic music my whole life basically and then I slowly drifted away from electronic sounds. Like even eight years ago when I made my second album I already wanted to make noises and put guitars and saxophones and everything in there!”

This maximalist tendency is in full effect on The Devil’s Walk. “This idea got stronger and stronger over the years and for this record I changed the concept totally. Where before it was always an electronic made record and I put some acoustic instruments in there, for this record, of course it was done on a computer but basically the computer was just one more instrument. It had a certain job for a few sounds, a few noises, field recordings and stuff, and of course I was trying to do stuff very well in the background but it was just supposed to be a part of everything and it should blend very well with the rest. Also, we didn’t do much quantization, we didn’t make everything perfect. If we recorded something and there was little fuck-up in there, sometimes we even kept that just to make it a little more interesting and not so perfectly produced.”

The album was recorded in the idyllic surroundings of Sayulita, Mexico. It’s hard to imagine a place more opposite to the Teutonic capital, it surely must have had quite an effect on how the record was made? “It was definitely important but I don’t really think the special location made a big difference. I think it was just the fact we went to an exotic place where I didn’t even have a cell-phone and there was no distraction. We only made music for about four hours a day, but those four hours were really efficient. Normally when I go to the studio I have about three efficient hours and the rest of the time I’m just looking at a screen and listening to a loop. Very often I’d get tired of the loop and I’d have to kick it and throw it away at some point. I think I lost a lot of very good ideas this way because I got sick of them because listening to them when I wasn’t inspired. In Mexico, once we figured out we had a little dead end or something, if we didn’t know how to continue, we just left the studio. We took a walk, went to the beach, had a drink, whatever. It felt really, really easy to make music over there.”

The album’s title comes from a famous Percy Bysshe Shelley poem, a high-water mark of romantic expressionism in the face of political trouble which obviously made quite an impact on Ring.”I read it and I thought it just really fit well with our times right now,” he says of it. “Obviously for him it was a really critical poem of the government, written during a crisis in the UK and Britain. I just thought, fuck man, this is like 200 years ago and it’s basically the same situation. Also the artwork of the album is inspired by a Mexican painter called Posadas. He lived around one hundred years later, but it was the same situation. He painted political cartoon and things. The scene on my CD is like this too, where basically there’s a salesman who has the devil on his back and he’s selling stuff to, let’s call it innocent, people. That’s probably too extreme but anyway. It’s the same topic, the same theme, on the other side of the world a hundred years later. I found it interesting that this seems to be the constant line in our world.”

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