Insect O.

Interview with Insect O.

Interview with Insect O.

An interesting talk with Oliver Hartmann

Editor USM
Thu 11 Oct 2018

Hello Oliver and welcome on USM!
Hi there! Thank you for inviting me to talk about my music.

Where are you right now and what are you cooking?
I´m in my studio right now and preparing my live set and album presentation at 20 Years Etui Records during DAVE Festival in Dresden on October 24th 2018.

Do you like traveling? A special place that you want to visit on the future? Have you ever been in Greece?
Yes I like it a lot. I have already seen some nice places in the world. I have been to Australia, Bolivia and Chile for example. Traveling is the inspiration for my music. I really want to go to Galapagos Islands and Terra del Fuego one day.
I also have been to Greece and visited Kos and Kreta. Some years ago I drove with a friend from Dresden all the way to Athena. Pretty long road trip. But it was awesome! Road trips are giving this feel of freedom.

So let's land on the music part... Atacama 2x12'' Vinyl album by your imprint ETUI Record. Share with us some insights of your album. What was the trigger for this album release?
When I traveled to the Atacama Desert back in 2014, my path took me up to 4.500m above sea level. I was surrounded by volcanoes. At this strange place I began to think about what I want to achieve as an artist after releasing several EPs and remixes. So the idea came in mind to work on an album. Back home in my studio I created musically memories about my journey. It took me 3 years to finish, ending up with 10 tracks to release. The photo of the front cover was taken on my way to San Pedro de Atacama. In the distance you can see the mountain where ALMA - Atacama Large Millimeter Array is looking into the universe. So it's a journey in every sense. It´s music for traveling.

What is the main music gear that you use for your music production? Your favorite gear?
I started making electronic music in the mid 90ties. So the gear changes a lot over time. I worked with the old Roland synths in the beginning and used C64 or Amiga 500. I also had an Akai MPC 2000XL for some years. In the mid 2000s the music production process focused more and more in the box. I started also to work with Ableton Live in my live sets. But there was a point when I wanted to go back to using real synthesizers. Nowadays I mostly work with Elektron Analog Four and Analog Rytm. In 2016 I started to build a little modular rig and got fascinated by the possibilities. It gives me much more freedom. Especially Braids by Mutable Instruments you can hear in a lot of tracks in the album. I recorded all sounds into Logic Pro X using 96khz and 64 bit “natural phase” mixdown. But the most impressive gear to me is the Eventide Space pedal. The reverbs are so lush! The shimmer verb turns the sounds in “Forest Of The Monkeys” into that mystically mood. The closing track “Ghosts In Space” is dedicated to the pedal. Oh and I still have my old Access Virus A.

ETUI from 1998 has numerous releases on Dub Techno field. We would love to know some highlights of this music trip till today.
To name a key track, it’s Marko Fürstenberg Remix of my Births Over Hong Kong. There is a personal story behind and his remix opened the doors in many ways. I discovered the remix in a DJ mix by Lance Harrison of Australian Echo Inspectors. After a chat he invited me to play in Melbourne. We ended up recording “Bourne Dub” and “Bribie Dub” with his partner in crime Mark Baumann. Both tracks came out on their Primary [Colours] imprint with great remixes by Silverash and Mike Schommer. I also released 2 tracks by Echo Inspectors on Etui. Now Etui has a strong connection to Australian techno scene and I´m very happy to know some great artists over there and we have became friends.

As an artist and label owner how you see the electronic music industry what you love and what you hate? Is the music your main source to get a living?
Many people are working for the passion of music, running labels, organizing events and festivals or making music. You just need some simple resources to start nowadays. But beside that key thing, you also have to spend time with social media and that stuff. It keeps you away from focusing. That´s a downside. And the waiting time to get a final vinyl release from the pressing plant is another story.
Beside my music and the label I also work in a normal 9 to 5 job. Sometimes I wished I had more time for the music. But at the end of the month I know I can make music for the passion of it and not because I have to pay my bills. I guess especially Dub Techno wouldn´t  pay your bills anyway. It's kind of special sound, not for everyone. It's like a question about life. I discussed the ups and downs with some friends who are making their living from music. At the end there is no right or wrong. You just have to do it your way.

What's your vision about the future of electronic music and business etc.?
For the business side it’s hard to say. Technology changed the way people are listening to music. That change will go on. The download sales has gone down over the last year.  As a label I can say streaming does not pay your bills for the production. On the other hand I see more and more people are buying directly from the label to support the music they love. For Dub Techno the vinyl sales are still good. I´m happy about that. Also the internet has brought the music to nearly every corner in the world. People can discover new music that simply don't have money for vinyl records or turntables or space for a record shelf. That´s great. We will see how technology will change the way of listening further on.

Now one favorite question... What's your opinion about the circulation of the same "popular" artists on every big festival? How can an upcoming artist/DJ survive on the scene if the possibility to perform at such events is minimum? There are a lot talented people in the shadows what you would advise them?
I don't follow the big festivals that much. I'm more into the smaller ones. They are focusing more on new artists with new sounds. Nachtdigital or Krake Festival are some good examples here. We also running DAVE Festival in Dresden since 2014. Beside Octave One and Robert Henke headlining the event, we also invited new talents to present their art. I'm really looking forward to the Sonic Robots performance by Moritz Simon Geist. DAVE will also host 20 Years Etui Records event where I will present my album live. Markus Masuhr from Leipzig and Monomood from Berlin will play live sets too. So I see much more potential in the smaller festival to get a booking and build up your reputation.

We was used to call Techno an "underground genre"...What you believe today for that? What is underground label means to you?
Raised in the former GDR I can tell you in the 90ties there was big techno scene especially in East Germany which I would call underground. School friends went into empty buildings to run parties as we did with the venu Flugzeugwert. But this was a long time ago. I wouldn't use the term “underground” genre anymore. Techno has become big. But is nice to see new people coming up with passion and the same spirit as we had in the early days. That's what keeps techno alive.

What's your plans for today?
Enjoying the maybe last sunset in my old studio. The building will be knocked down to build new luxury flats. I have to move into my new studio.

Share with us something positive and motivating?
Believe in the things you do and do it your way. There will be people out there who like what you are doing. It’s like in the book “Le Petit Prince” ;)


About Insect O.
While standing on top of Hong Kong’s “The Peak” and looking down to Central, you see big birds flying circles over the city’s skyscrapers. This is a typical inspiration for Insect O.’s hypnotic techno. Beside his music, Oliver Hartmann shares a big passion for traveling and video filming. Australia, China or Thailand are some inspiring places for him, where he played live or dj-sets and shot some video clips for his music. Together with Melbourne’s Echo Inspectors he recorded Bourne Dub and Bribie Dub which has been released on Australian Primary [Colours] imprint. On his way from Bolivia to Chile a he found the inspiration for his first full length: Atacama. It´s music for traveling.

The roots of his music are somewhere between dub and detroit techno, inspired by artists like Basic Channel or Maurizio. His goal is to transform dub techno in an up-to-date audio frame, ranging from spheric and hypnotic to rough and driven. Most of his music has been released on his own Etui Records imprint. In the studio he creates musically memories of his journeys using tones of analog synthesizers, sounds from his modular system, endless echoes and warm reverbs. Always on the look to enhance his art of music production he attended to FELD workshop with Ulf Langheinrich at ICAS festival 2015 and DAVE Workshop Camp with Electric Indigo and Thomas Wagensommerer at University of Music in Dresden 2017.

Insect O. is an old hand in Dresden’s electronic music scene. Enthusiastic about the radio show “electronics” on East German radiostation DT64 in the early nineties he started buying records and making music at the age of 14. In the late 90s he was co-promoter and  resident dj of Dresden’s famous techno club Flugzeugwerft and started the label Etui Records in 1998. Nowadays he is member of DAVE festival board with focus on organising workshops about music production and music business.

Insect O.
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