We Got Down and Profound With Recondite

We’ve got the full text from Recondite’s interview with EB.TV for his recent Slices feature.

Recondite is a fitting moniker for Bavarian native Lorenz Brunner. Despite his hectic touring schedule, the in-demand producer is still an introvert who thinks deeply and maintains a strong alliance with the natural world from his home base in the German capital. Brunner sat down with EB.TV for a recent Slices feature, and now we’ve got the go-ahead to reveal the full text, which touches on the making of his latest album Iffy for Dixon’s heavyweight Innervisions label, the superficiality that plagues Berlin’s club scene, and why the only music he’s interested in hearing is the music he makes himself.

We’ve read that you’re pretty attached to your native soil. Why did a born-and-bred Bavarian like you decide to move to Berlin?

For me, it was definitely the music. The scene in Berlin is big and bold and I saw the chance to make better contacts here than in Lower Bavaria.

In other interviews you’ve reflected on your connection to nature. So why’d you move to a city and give that up?

I’m still connected to nature, but I spend most of my time in artificial places, like airports, planes, houses, streets, trains—settings where everything is manmade. If I spend too much time in these places, I feel unnatural or strange. It sounds stilted and a bit silly, but I need to escape from manmade things once in a while. I need some sort of down-to-Earthness, some innocence. I know that nature’s rough, and lions hunt down baby buffalos, but still.

I also feel some sort of shame when I’m in nature, even though I know that’s silly. We’re humans, we’re pursuing our goals, and we dominate nature—and I’m part of that process. I’m trapped in it and I participate in it, every time I turn on the heater or hop in a car. I do things that are inconsistent in terms of my connection to nature. But I can’t live in a cave. Well, I could, but I don’t want to.

That sounds like a spiritual approach to nature.

Spirituality is hard to define. For me, spirituality is the psychological, mental analysis of feelings, thoughts, and attitudes that are caused by the environment and fellow men. Dealing with these influences on an intellectual basis is spirituality to me.  I do that a lot, so maybe I’m a spiritual person. 

The scene in Berlin seems to be very hedonistic and superficial. However, you seem like a quite introverted guy, so how do you manage to get along with all these shallow acquaintances?

In the beginning, I had some trouble with the hedonism and superficiality. It’s not familiar to me, because I’m not from Berlin and because it doesn’t match my temperament. As you said, I’m more introverted—not an absolute loner, but the hedonism in Berlin still asked too much of me when I moved here. I can’t worship that hedonism. I’m not that kind of person.

Is that because it’s too superficial to you? I’m sure you’ve met some interesting people in the scene and made friends, but how do you differentiate them from those who kiss up to you because you’re a successful DJ?

Well, superficiality has always been a topic for me, because I like to think deeply. But all in all, superficiality is a part of that scene and business. It’s show business, and shows are mostly superficial. You have to be aware of that and relax.

And that’s not only part of the business—it’s a part of life in general. All the acquaintances you make at parties, if you’re going out for days, are not very…profound. From what I’ve heard from friends who indulge in this hedonistic scene, party-friendships don’t last.  They feel deep in the beginning and turn out to be just a bubble that bursts. I’m sure that some readers are like, “That’s not true! I’ve met my wife in Berghain!” But I’m talking about party-friends in general. Most of them aren’t sustainable.

Speaking of sustainability, were you concerned with making your album sustainable, a “timeless masterpiece”?

Sure. An album should be concept-driven. It should be dedicated to a certain message, to a certain approach, a common theme. If the theme and story of the album is coherent, it makes it sustainable, in a way.

What about you? Do you develop concepts for your albums? 

I think so. My first two albums were pure concept-albums, especially On Acid. The typical acid sound, the TR-303 bass, was an inspiring conceptual guideline for me. I used one specific musical tool to interpret my feelings and ideas. Hinterland was also a concept album, because I tried to put all the emotions and associations I had for my hometown in that album. It’s a tribute to my home.

On the other hand, Iffy was clearly not driven by a totally developed concept. It was more of a compendium of my feelings during the period that I recorded it. You could perhaps call that a concept as well, but I didn’t plan it. I’ve been on the tour for the last year, which is while I was producing Iffy, so it’s like direct insight into my emotional life on tour.

Is there a certain set up, a certain mood, you like best when you produce? 

The mood I like most is coziness, which for me means that I’m in a familiar environment, where I feel safe and relaxed, where I feel like I’m at home. My studio has always been in my flat, so of course I work there. It’s the best place to get into the state of mind that I need to produce something. It’s a no brainer. I produce music without thinking, without a plan, without any specific ambition.

That’s the reason I enjoy working at home: there are no distractions. I shut myself away and totally focus on the screen. Even the smallest things, like a missing MIDI connection or putting my Prophet synthesizer in the wrong place could distract me. I struggled with that a lot when I worked with hardware. It ruined my focus all the time.

When it comes to producing, I’m very introverted and withdraw into myself, so collaborations are difficult for me. They usually don’t pan out because I get distracted and end up reading while the other guy is producing music, or the other way around. Working with others conflicts with my approach to music, because I’m dealing with my subconscious feelings and translating them into tracks, which is a very subjective process.

Iffy is out on Innervisions, which is very popular label at the moment, and the association makes you that much more respected and famous. How do you deal with success? Do you take it as confirmation of the quality of your work, or do you enjoy the attention with caution?

First of all, the hype is not as extreme as it looks like from certain perspectives. My life has changed in the last two years, mainly because I’m often on tour, but that didn’t influence the way people talk to me.

Secondly, despite the fact that techno has a big audience nowadays and generates a lot of buzz, it’s still an introverted scene. If you take the global players like Richie Hawtin and Dixon as examples—even in Germany, with its big techno scene, or in France, the Netherlands, or the US, these guys could go shopping on the streets without anyone recognizing them. The hype focuses on a few moments. If some people recognize me at a festival and want to take some photos with me, I see it as a compliment in some way, but I know that they wouldn’t recognize me the next day, if they saw me on the street. That’s a funny thing about all this techno fuss: it’s all relative.

Sure. If you’re playing in front of a crowd of 800 people in a club, you’re still nothing compared to Stevie Wonder or someone like that. But do a lot of people kiss up to you, offer you contracts, or try to use you for their business?

Of course, I do notice that. There are a lot of offers from publishers, management firms, booking agencies, and I feel flattered by that, because it shows that I made a mark. At the same time, I’m aware of the fact that it could be over tomorrow. Plus it can be very tiring, because it could make me feel like a piece of meat that everyone wants to bite. A good reputation is a temporary thing. Within a year the buzz could be gone. It’s always—understandably—superficial. They only want to do business with you, there’s no personal connection.

When I started out, I was just making music for myself. But when I suddenly got offers from big names, I realized that it’s more than just producing music—it adds a whole new layer to your work. I still make music for myself, though. To be honest, my music is the only music that I listen to these days; I barely listen to any other releases anymore. It may seem arrogant to people, and I’m sorry to maybe give a wrong impression, but it’s the truth: I produce my music to listen to it by myself.  I don’t walk around listening to some other guy’s music in my headphones, like I did day in and day out for years—that’s over. Sorry, guys! I produce music every day, and I’m getting an ongoing satisfaction from that, which is why I don’t DJ anymore. Dealing with other peoples’ music doesn’t have the same value as producing my own.

Everyone wants to know how you produce your music. They want to know what your studio looks like, and what pieces of hardware and software you use. Why do you think that’s is so interesting for people, and why they don’t just listen to music and stay neutral about the production process?

Yeah, people ask me a lot about that. It’s boils down to their vivid interest in drum machines, software, and effects. They wonder, “How did he do this sound or this effect? How did ho do this and that? I want that, too!” It’s natural and everyone does it. We get educated that way. When someone in kindergarten had the latest Masters of the Universe action figure, I thought, “Fuck, I want that!” I guess it’s part of our society. We’re reared to consume—and music is no exception. The hardware-fanaticism is an integral part of that. You always compare yourself, and even your hardware, to someone else’s stuff. If he creates a new bass drum-sound, you’re trying it too. I didn’t want to use that unpleasant expression, but it appears to me, that it has a lot to do with the old question: Who has the biggest…?

EB.TV’s Slices series airs every Tuesday. To see more Slices videos, including interviews with Panorama Bar resident Virginia and Watergate’s Ruede Hagelstein, click here.