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Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Peoples Republic of Europe Interview

Interview with Krat from the power noise / industrial / ambient project The Peoples Republic Of Europe.

more info: www.tproe.com

Firstly, can you give us a brief history of your project?

TPROE started out in 2000. I was already making music for several years then. I started out playing in punk bands at the end of the 80’s and experimented with powernoise and industrial at the beginning of the 90’s. I also play bass guitar in Fertile Reality, a moderately successful new wave band in the Netherlands. In 1997 I bought my first electronic gear and started making music as the IDM act “Kratarknathrak”. I used a very primitive version of Cubase back in those days, and in 2000 I bought Cubase VST 3 which allowed me to sequence, produce and record on the computer. I made some dark ambient tracks to experiment with the possibilities of that program and released it as a CDr under the name “The peoples Republic of Europe”, which was a name I picked up from a Mission impossible episode a few years before and I wanted to use it for an EBM project, but decided to use it for this.

What inspires you to write music? What draws you to the medium of industrial / ambient music?

I don’t know really. I have always wanted to make music since I got interested in the medium when I was 14 years old. At 17 i started taking drum lessons, but I switched to bass guitar because I couldn’t get the drumming up to a reasonable level. In those days, I already got some interest in the first EBM acts (Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, DAF) and early industrial like Throbbing Gristle, Clock DVA and Cabaret Voltaire, so I also was interested in electronic and industrial music. In general I have been aware of industrial almost from the beginning and was also interested in it and a fan of quite some bands. I have no inspiration apart from that. I just like so make compositions and music, and when I read interesting stuff or see some nice documentary, I tend to make a song about it. Basically I am just building stuff.

The medium itself I find attractive because its music which enables you to get good results while it doesn’t require you to have a good knowledge of music or music theory. It is fairly easy to make some good IDM, ambient or industrial compared to other kinds of music. In my composing I tend to be extremely intuitive and do not like it when I get distracted with more theoretical/practical aspects of the trade. I have a very pragmatic outlook on this. I am also not interested in melody, but in sounds. I like sounds. I was always more attracted to how something sounded, then in what melodies were played with the sound. Industrial and ambient are by definition the genres in which you can make the sound the dominant factor as opposed to melody.  It gives you a lot of freedom and you don’t have to be a virtuoso to make it sound “good”.

Your track for the compilation is “Gleise 518g” which is a bit different from your “typical” style of rhythmic noise/industrial. If I’m correct, the title is in reference to the name of a planet discovered in the last year or so that could potentially have “habitable” conditions (e.g. another Earth). Can you give us a bit on insight on what inspired this track, how you composed it, etc.? Will there be more ambient works like this in the future?

It was indeed the planet which inspired this. I am very interested in astronomy and physics and I follow developments in this field. With the song I tried to make a sonic representation of how it is to live there. The planet orbits a fairly weak sun so the light on the surface is much weaker then on earth. Because of its cool sun, and its resulting close orbit to be potentially habitable the planet is also tidal locked, which means it keeps one side to its sun at all times. There is everlasting day and night on that world. The planet is also bigger then Earth and has a higher gravity. I tried to make a song which represents a dark heavy world where the bleak sun would always shine.
For the composition I used softsynths which I made drony by using layers of distortion and low band passes, bass drums with extreme reverbs, and several field recordings. The song itself is pretty straightforward. Basically the enormous amounts of effects like distortion, reverbs and filers do the work. The song uses about 15 stereo channels on the mixing board, and most tracks have about 4 to 8 effects on it. It is very heavy on effects. The final version I had to tweak with mixdowns, because my computer couldn’t handle the load.
There will be more works like this in the future. I already made four dark ambient albums with tPROE. “Gleise 518g” is also featured on the latest tPROE dark ambient album “Solipsism” so people who want more of this can get it pretty easy.

Tell us a little more about your most recent album “Solipsism”. I’m guessing it is space themed? How is this one different from your previous dark ambient work?

The main theme of Solipsism is reality and how we perceive reality. I got the inspiration of this album because of a large series of lucid dreams I had the last three years. I have had lucid dreams all my life, but the last few years the frequency has gone up to two or three times a week, and I even followed some tutorials on the dreamview forums to be able to experience these dreams for longer durations.
In a lucid dream you are able to walk around and perceive the dream world much like the real world. You are conscious and are able to control the dream. Because of the frequent experiences and the fact the dreamworld feels very real when you are there in a conscious state, I started to wonder if reality does exist, if it is not also a state close to dreaming and what the nature of reality actually is. I blended these questions with astronomy (Gleise 518 g), Occultism (Chthon), dream experiences itself (The empty city, the Corridor) and the vast abysses of time on a geological scale (Carved in basalt) and this forms the philosophical and spiritual background on “Solipsism”. The title is chosen because the “you” is the only one which perceives reality. You do not know how I, or what ever other person on this planet perceive reality. We assume it is the same, but how do we know this to be true?

“Solipsism” is different because apart from making experimental tracks, which is usually some noodling, I tried to make a cohesive, very richly layered, textured album. Most tracks have lots of layers to make it an interesting listening experience. I also tried to make the album extremely dark and heavy. I am very pleased with the result and I think it is one of the best, possibly the best, album I have made so far.

 How do you go about writing a dark ambient track/album vs. a more industrial / noise one? Is it a similar writing process or totally different?

It starts out the same. As I said before: I work very intuitive. Most of the time I start experimenting with sounds and loops and I work from there. If I get a result I like, I work on it further. This is mostly the phase which will decide on what kind of song it will be. If I makes some nice sounding ambient sounds its get to be an ambient song, more technoish rhythm loops get to be industrial noise, and some wind up as IDM or even easy listening tracks. From that stage the workflow becomes different. If the song is ambient I try to use ambient sounds to beefen it up. The songs also tend to get longer. 10 minutes is no exception. For industrial I use loops and rhythms and I prefer short and catchy. Around 4 minutes mostly. This is a general rule though. Some ambient starts can become industrial, and vice versa.
I use very different methods of composing material. Sometimes I just play around with softsynths and automations, sometimes I find some cool sounds on the internet, sometimes I get my hands on some nice beats or loops, I play around with my drum machines or fruityloops, or just play a bit on the bass guitar. The results can also differ a lot.

Tell us a bit about your studio. What gear are you using, what is your favorite gear, etc.?

For composing I use softsynths exclusively. I used to work with hardware but I like to work very intuitive without having to worry about settings, and softsynths provide that. About the softsynths: I like to use free amateur made softsynths. Superwave8 , stuff made by Ugo, Crystal and so on. Obviously the price is an issue, but those synths also have a gritty edge, and sometimes completely unlogical weird possibilities, while official softsynths only emulate the well-known hardware stuff. And we have heard those enough I would say. I still use an old version of Cubase since I really hate stuff like upgrades. I use an old demo version of Fruityloops for making loops and rhythms because that is the only program which allows me to use self made sounds in a 16 step sequencer in an easy way. For me gear has to work and has to be easy in use. I am not interested in gear talk and do not like it when people talk about how good this or that synth is. I simply do not care, and find it boring. I am often criticized by my gear choices, while I myself am not interested in what is good gear, and only care for what I can do with it. Bass guitars excluded. I LOVE my Fender P-Bass!

Live we use a harddisk recorder for the backing and we add sounds and rhythms from two Korg electribes, a Boss Dr202, a Korg poly 800 and shitloads of effects like lots of distortion pedals, reverb units and two Korg kaospads. Yes, we are big Korg fans. They make great stuff. Cheap and easy in use! We try not to use computers live. The one you see on stage is used for the visuals. For our US tour in 2009 we used a laptop because it was easier, but in EU shows we use hardware.

What can we expect in the future from The Peoples Republic of Europe?

Apart from the just released dark ambient album “Solipsism” there will be another new album in 2011 called “Machine district” which is a harsh industrial album with stuff which is more expected from us. It has become a very good album I think, and it will certainly appeal to people who like to stomp in a more tasteful matter as opposed to the generic bad hardstyle which is mistaken for industrial nowadays. I am already working on new material for after that, so we will keep going. There will be more stompy stuff, more droney stuff, and we hope we can trash a few stages worldwide with live shows and the likes. And we will possibly have a laugh and do some more pranks, because I feel industrial could use some more humor.  And cowbell of course. One can never have enough cowbell!

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