Berlin producer Redshape talks new album, A Sole Game
Berlin’s Sebastian Kramer, who performs under the alias Redshape is set to release his next album, A Sole Game, through Monkeytown Records on October 26th. Redshape has been a faceless project for Kramer in the past, but he is now ready to take off the mask. A Sole Game‘s 8 tracks “take you on a journey through the nighttime worlds and dusky industrial landscapes haunted by howls and other strange voices”. The album was created with a limited amount of instruments, including the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 Rhythm Composers. We asked Kramer about his experience about his days in the studio creating the album, his live setup, and his favourite Roland gear!
Tell us about a day in the studio creating A Sole Game.
I’d get up around 8:30 am, have breakfast, grab a coffee and head to the studio. I’m switching on most of the gears to have it warm up – sometimes with a 1kHz test tone at -18 dbFs running through all the outputs. That’s especially good for the mixers, it kind of “clears the channels and evens their input/output sensitivity. While sipping on my coffee I’ll read stuff on the web or listen to music to calibrate my ears. Then, I open up the last session I was working on in Live and continue composing, overdubbing parts, set a rough mix and eventually start arranging the song.
What made you want to use the TR-808 and TR-909 for this album?
I really love these two machines, they have accompanied my journey in production for so many years now and are the only pieces of gear I couldn’t live without. The reason why I used them so heavily on A Sole Game was the ease of use and super tight sound which doesn’t need much processing. Of course their legacy gave the tracks the right vibe to express it’s actually techno I’m doing.
Photo by Lisa Wassmann
How did you use them?
The core of the album, and there can always be only one, are the synth harmonies mostly coming from the Prophet 12. So I needed a quick and natural way to add drums and percussion to the songs. By programming [the TR-808 and TR-909] with the internal sequencer (synced with an ACME sync device) it almost felt like playing drums to a song/inspired by the song. I added the drums only when I had a good harmony structure going, so carving the drums around the song was easier.
How did limiting the amount of instruments you used for this album impact the creative process?
By using a limited amount of instruments, I was totally concentrated on the musical ideas I had in my mind, using the gear as “translation” for them. Ideally, the process of creating is fast and direct so I wanted as few steps as possible to capture what I wanted to express. Also, the quality of the instruments plays a big role – the more finished it sounds when played/recorded, the easier it is later in the arrangement or mixing. So limited instruments makes the ideas shine rather than the gear.
” [The TR-808 & TR-909] have accompanied my journey in production for so many years now and are the only pieces of gear I couldn’t live without.”
What is one song on A Sole Game that you’re most proud of as a producer?
That is really hard to say. I’m proud of all of them. From a technical side, “Spark” was really special and very hard to do regarding the many elements playing in the low/low mid area. But if I have to pick a favourite, it would be “November Island” which always gives me shivers. I have no idea how I did it!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
Mostly other music, older music, tracks from the time when I was around 18-20. The music kind of loaded my brain with atmospheres, connections between feeling, excitement, and music itself. Those memories sometimes get triggered when I play a melody or something – from there I know where to go, without ever listening to those tracks again.
Photo by Lisa Wassmann
What do you enjoy most about hardware instruments?
First of all, the sound (the analog ones). Even if the plugins are really good by now, they miss a certain “openness” around their sound. Bass has more body and the transient structure is somewhat tighter. Obviously being able to turn several knobs at the same time is a factor, too. Also, having a bunch of nice looking instruments around makes you feel good – like that childlike feeling of having nice toys.
What do you use when performing live?
That differs from time to time. The current set is built around a Live 14 track set, containing 6 drum tracks and 6 harmony tracks, each with their own controllers. Then there are 2 extra instruments, always one drum and one synth – which are the Moog Minitaur and the Roland TR-09 Rhythm Composer at the moment. All connected to the four channels of a Pioneer DJM-900 series mixer. I am also working on a completely new show at the moment.
Is there any other Roland gear that you use?
Other than the instruments I mentioned before, I have a JUNO-106 Synthesizer and TR-626 Vintage Synth Explorer. Love both of them and they are used very often.
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