Well and truly on his search for life outside Berlin, I catch up with Apparat (AKA Sascha Ring) from the hotel lobby of a tour break. In Morocco. Without trying to make me too jealous, I learn in the first few minutes of our chat that he's taking a few days off to regroup before heading back to Europe for a series of post-festival dates and to promote his new record. Out today,
The Devil's Walk is a melodic and dark take on the textured electronica we've come to expect from this prolific man. Whether working with the rest of the band in Apparat or branching out with Modeselektor as Moderat, there's always a bit of a surprise up his sleeve. And this time round, it's about discovering the joys of Mexico by motorbike and almost entirely re-writing the album before its release...
We heard about your motorbike retreat to Mexico with Joshua Eustis [of Telefon Tel Aviv] and a few others, to record the album. What inspired that choice?
I think I've always been into travelling. I couldn't for the first twelve years of my life since I was locked into a country but suddenly I realized how big and beautiful the world is. And Mexico... I've had a connection with Mexico for a long time: I played there for the first time eight years ago, made some cool friends and go back quite often. They also have an amazing music scene there.
The new limited edition pack for the album is out today. Since it's your fourth record now, how are you feeling in the lead-up to its release?
I'm more nervous than ever, really. Everything is new this time: the band, the label, more media interest but mainly the fact that I've never taken such a risk with a record. There's a lot of me in it. If some of the others were well-crafted and good-sounding, this one is definitely closer to my heart and it feels a bit like giving birth to something.
How much of what we hear on the record is from organic real instruments, and how much electronic? Since recording, how much do you think you've changed its sound?
Let's say eighty percent of the sounds are electronic. At some point [co-producer Patrick] Nackt and I went totally crazy and substituted every computer noise with a real one but in the end a lot of these were tweaked and made electronic again. The fact we were playing around with microphones is definitely the reason behind the dirtier sound of this record: there's a lot more hiss and hum on it. It was a bit like being a kid again; a very playful way of making music.
What would you say to people who claim you're mellowing out your sound and losing the techno edge?
I think that's been a long-term organic transition. It already started eight years ago when I recorded guitars and saxophoes for my second album but of course this time the change is more dramatic as I'm singing a lot and that always makes a big difference. The thing is, I never made a song for a purpose. I make music for myself. I don't wanna do the same thing twice.
I'd definitely understand if someone said they expected something else and they're disappointed but if someone says it sounds like "Coldplay trying to make IDM (intelligent dance music)" I think they should fuck off. I know what I'm doing cannot be loved by everyone but I also know that my work has a certain quality. It's a really good record. Maybe not for everyone though.
We all know about your musical links to Modeselektor. How did you meet and start working together? And any more Moderat work on the horizon?
We met about ten years ago, jammed together and even played some Moderat shows then, just in Berlin for our homies. It was cool. I miss the old days, the old Berlin. Anyway - we became friends and we always wanted to make an album together. It took us seven years. When Moderat was released we thought we'd tour for two months then start working on our own stuff again. Two months became two years and it was really hard for all of us to work on our own stuff again after we were done touring.
We'll definitely make another record but I don't wanna set a deadline for that. There's already enough music out there and I wanna wait until I really have something to say again.
How did you meet Anja Plaschg of Soap&Skin and get her onto 'Goodbye'? And why not use your own vocal (not that hers doesn't sound amazing)?
We've been friends for quite a while. I was working on this song idea called 'Cis' (most of my songs have a three-letter working title) and I think I recorded four different vocal melodies before I was ready to bury it with all the others that will never see the light of the day, but something about it kept me working on it.
This one night I had the idea, let's call it an enlightenment, to just erase all my vocals and send the song and the lyrics to Anja. She changed the lyrics to make it work from her perspective and basically recorded the vocals overnight. The next morning I had the song in my mailbox and she said "thank you for the inspiration". It was a perfect match. No "my manager will call your agent" shit. That's why I can totally love this song on this rather personal record, because I can still connect to it.
The Devil's Walk is out today (September 26, 2011) on Mute Records. See more about Apparat on his site, Facebook page and via his label.