Following the critically acclaimed release of his stunning inaugural single "All Related" back in August, Amsterdam based ambient-electronic artist and multi-instrumentalist Erik Buschmann now looks to see off 2020 in emphatic fashion, as he announces the imminent release of his formidable EP debut, "1v1".
Out now via esteemed Dutch imprint Reflektor Records, Erik’s musicianship and boundless creativity shines across the entirety of the long player, as he combines vivid orchestral arrangements with modern electronica and state-of-the-art production techniques to deliver a deeply reflective and emotive EP to close out the year.
DJ’s Arena caught up with Erik to talk about life under quarantine, the creative process behind his "1v1" EP, dream collaborators and more.
Hi, Erik! Really nice to talk with you today! What sort of things have you been enjoying doing during quarantine?
Hi there! I’m busy with making a lot of new music, to be honest. These times are difficult for a whole bunch of things, but in my experience it’s ideal for creating new stuff. I find a lot of inspiration in being alone these days, and for the first time in my life I am experiencing a global problem that confronts everyone in a very direct and personal way. It triggers me to create music that expresses my view on these weird times.
Do you remember your first connection of love to music that was the right impact to be a music artist now? What led you to ambient music and what did you most like about this musical genre?
Yes, I do! The first memory of me trying to understand music was when I first sat down in front of the piano in my living room and tried to make a kind of melody that was based on what I was feeling. I think I was about 8 years old. It was a very uncontrollable feeling I remember, but I think that that moment was one of the first experiences I’ve had that planted a seed that eventually grew into being totally obsessed with making music.
I’ve always found some kind of rest in listening to ambient music and I really like the immersive feeling of synchronization when listening to ambient music and experiencing the surroundings of where you are at during that moment of listening. To me it feels like music, and especially ambient music, can enhance your experiences in life and guide it in a very pure and meditative way. All music can do that of course, but ambient music has such a gentle way of integrating itself into your perception that I just love that.
Congrats on your debut EP! I was just listening to "1v1" before the interview, which is incredible, a deep piece of work. There’s beautiful sparkly elements, drum machines combined with piano, violin and guitars, and sublime synths that seamlessly blend. Are you able to tell some of your secret weapons/inspirations when producing at the studio and what is your favourite synth?
Thank you so much for saying that! And yes, for sure! A couple of go to synths that I used a lot were the Korg MS-20, the Dreadbox Abyss and the Vermona Perfourmer. The synth sounds usually go through an fx chain with some guitar pedals like the El Capistan which can give a tape delayed sound to it. It’s no secret that I LOVE to use reverb haha. Especially the plugin Valhalla VintageVerb. It’s one of the things I really need to keep an eye on since reverb can easily destroy your mix if you go too far. But I’m getting the hang of it. I also like to blend synthetic sounds with organic sound sources. For the '1v1' EP I recorded some guitar sounds on Yoko and on the other tracks you can hear violin and piano too. Almost all the sounds that I record go through my Elektron Analog Rytm. That thing just glues all my ideas into one arrangement.
When you began the album, did you approach it with a particular theme in mind? What does "1v1" represent in terms of where you're at creatively as an artist right now?
I just wanted to expand and discover self expression with this project. At the time of recording I was struggling a bit with finishing music that really felt like me. That period was all just a big lesson, because I did continue to work on the tracks even when it got tough, and although it didn’t feel like it progressed towards a finished product, it did. Easy way to say that when looking back at it of course, but at the time it just confused me. I had an obsessive attitude towards making music, and when you listen to a track 50 times a day it just gets harder and harder to make musical decisions that obey the concept. In the end I really feel that that struggle is exactly what I needed to capture on this EP, since that was exactly how I felt. The moment of realising that gave me a more peaceful mindset towards finishing, and basically just guided itself. I guess the bottom line here is that I needed to take a step back first in order to go forward.
Could you please recall the process of making this EP, and why it took almost 1 year to be released? What challenges did you encounter along the way when trying to make every track flow cohesively on the EP from start to finish?
The tracklist is actually a curated album playlist that in the end shrunk to four tracks. The reason for this is that it worked very well musically, but it also works good for this debut release I think. I will make a full album eventually, but I think that in this moment of my solo career an EP just suits better. The tracks just felt right in this order, and fortunately I didn't really had to make adjustments to get to that point.
I know it may be hard to choose just one, do you have a favourite track that’s closest to you on the EP? What meaning does each track have for you? How did you go about selecting the tracks to make the final cut?
I think 'Absence'. It feels like the journey in that track is exactly what I had in mind when I started recording. Also really love the violin sound there. Very happy with the blend of organic and synthetic sounds. The tracklist came together with some help from the guys at Reflektor Records. They listen to it differently than I do and that helped a lot to choose what tracks to release and in what order.
Please characterize by a single word every track from the EP.
"I Nv U": Envy
What’s one artist you would love to work with?
What do you plan on purchasing next to better yourself technically?
I was thinking about some new preamps. A week ago I used two Chandler Limited Germanium pre’s for the first time and it sounded so good.
What’s your definition of a great record?
A piece of art that resonates with you in such a way that it cannot be described in words.
What are your thoughts about the future of ambient music?
If you look at what’s working well on some of the ambient Spotify charts I noticed that the best performing tracks have a very distinct textured layer in their arrangements. Ambient music is of course very texture based, so it’s interesting for me to see that happening. I think that it will always be a genre that people like for specific reasons, but it just works so well for some occasions. It’s unique because it’s very minimalistic and there is usually a lot of space left for other stuff. It can support a cinematic video for instance but it can also work with other kinds of visual arts. It’s great in carrying and enhancing other creations and I really see the value in that.
Are you spiritual? Is spirituality in whatever form it manifests important to you, or inspirational to your music?
Not so much in terms of religion. But in terms of inner experience and trying to discover the palette of human emotions or perception of senses I do care about that a lot. I make music because I feel a certain way, and I want to express that with music. Analysing that process and learning from it can be described as a spiritual task I think. So in that sense I am a spiritual person. Making something out of nothing is in its core magical to me, and trying to study that creative source feels like time well spent.
How do you recharge your creative batteries?
Call of Duty... I am trying to play F1 2020 but I tend to get more frustrated than recharged by that game haha.
Your music is so atmospheric, would you ever be interested in scoring a movie?
Oh, yes, for sure! One of my biggest dreams.
Thank you for your time, Erik! Are there other upcoming projects or releases we should be keeping an eye out for?
I am working with the artist Crouwel on a single that will be here soon and I am finishing an EP that I am making with producer and dear friend of mine, Wannes Salome. More on that soon...