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Interview with Die Tanzflache

Explore Liverpool music writer Matthew Jacobson interviews Die Tanzflache about the new album Halcyonic.

“Emotion in music is the key. Positive emotion”. 

Early years, what are you earliest memories of connecting with music?

Apparently, (and not to sound ridiculously cliché) when I was about four years old, I used to love listening to Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd with a set of massive headphones on! But growing up, I loved music and that’s stayed with me forever. I rarely went for mainstream stuff and wanted to discover off the beaten tracks sounds, which it usually seemed my schoolmates hadn’t really heard of. So, 10cc, John Cale, CAN, Elis Regina, and all manner of different new beats such as Jungle/DnB, breakbeat and then underground techno and house.

And when did you start playing music? 

I can only play the drums and learnt in school, but didn’t even finish my lessons! I’ve tried to play guitar, but my hands are too small. Ha ha ha. I am not a musician, I am a producer and that – to me at least – is a huge different. I make grooves, sounds and beats to get the people moving their feet.

Your influences are such a wide range from various genres, can you expand on them and what is it about them that provide such influence?

I love minor chords, a great bassline and complex drum patterns, so Aphex Twin is a total hero of mine. I will listen to anything that literally strikes a chord with me and that can be anything from house music to Brazilian Jazz, experimental, alternative, rock, indie, swing… anything that pricks my ears up. One thing which really puzzles me is the amount of music which is in C major and goes nowhere (musically), but rockets up the charts and is played endlessly. Minor chords are the beautiful side of music, magical and really get my serotonin levels peaking. Emotion in music is the key. Positive emotion.

Have you played in bands prior to Die Tanzflache?

Nope. When I was about 20, I made some tunes on a ‘game’ on the Sony PlayStation One called Music 2000. It was there where I first truly began to understand how to compose songs to a degree, to learn how to manipulate sounds and also, how to create my own unique compositions. From there, I concentrated on my career in journalism and began to see life on the other side of the creative fence. Learning how an artist builds their own sound and what makes them tick.

The album, Halcyonic provides a nod’ to nineties soundscapes, are those years close to your heart?

Being born at the tail end of the 1970s meant that I truly began to appreciate music in the early to mid 1990s. With that came the Britpop explosion, trip-hop and the different sounds of Massive Attack, Tricky, Goldie, Portishead and Jamiroquai. I learnt how artists began to transform the way new sounds were being made and crossover different genres, as well as help create new ones. But 90s dance was huge for me, personally. I used to buy all of the tape packs such as Dreamscape, Club Kinetic, Helter Skelter, Drome (Birkenhead) and through to the early Garlands stuff and of course, Cream. No matter what I listen to, I always knew that I would at least start off my musical career with 80s/90s Chicago House and synths like Altern-8, Prodigy, Marshall Jefferson, Frankie Knuckles and Carl Cox. 

With kicking beats and piano chords, how do you write – beats before vocals and lyrics, or together?

My writing process is more so beginning with some kind of initial layer that I have in my head and no matter where I am I will always have some sort of tune in my head – whether that be something I know, by actually listening to music at that time or something which is left over in my mind from earlier in the day or a tune I’ve picked up. There’s always an influence to something, everything comes from something, usually. If you’ve heard a song, there’s always an influence from something previous – sometimes more heavily than you may first think. The younger you are, the less you know, but the more you have to learn. So, your favourite artist will usually have a certain number of influences and use that as their core foundation to create their own sound or sounds. That could be a sample from a song or two, it may be a vocal style, a bassline or the way a certain group or artist uses that bass, or any other instrument. 

With me, I listen to music every day – mostly stuff I know to keep my day positive, but doing mixes regularly, I’ll use Spotify and Beatport to discover new songs and sometimes new artists, or certainly artists new to me. That can help start the organic growth of sounds in my own head and I will need to get onto Ableton and get that drum pattern, the bassline, the lead or whatever it is recorded. If I don’t, it’s lost forever. 

If I want a vocal, I will use Splice to get something which I can manipulate or make unique in my own way to accompany what sounds I already have. The way I worked on Halcyonic, the music and beats definitely came before the vocals. But for my future projects, I have already sounded out a few local artists who are great vocalists and you should hear new and different sounds. Watch this space for those! I asked a mate of mine who is a DJ on the Liverpool club scene (as well as a few mates and family) as sounding boards, that helped me no end and I gathered feedback where necessary to improve my sound. Hopefully it’s worked and people are happy with what I have created.  

Do you have plans to take the album on the road?

Making music is always the easy part. The hard part is to get it out there to as many sets of ears and minds as possible. I am totally independent, so I do all my own promotion and the hope is that with a few friends in influential places who are playing my tunes, it can reach a fair few more people and then start the ball rolling even more. If that means me doing DJ sets and throwing a couple of my own tunes in there or certainly just building an interest or following of those who like the same types of music that I do, that I make, then of course, I’m happy to do that. Music makes the world go around and there’s always an opportunity to get your stuff out there. 

If I stay in the studio and just get in the DJ booth, or people play it at their own parties, on the commute to work, in the bars, or their run and in the gym on their headphones, so be it. However, the people who can hear the music they want to listen to is the most important thing. Music is to be played at everyone’s leisure. The world is struggling enough at the moment, so music can offer small respite for everyone in their lives and how they choose to listen to it is their choice. 

What next for you?

Next for me is more promotion currently, but as I alluded to earlier, to write with vocalists and create some crossover with indie-electronica, tracks for club music, for radio play or for home play. There are a number of talented individuals and artists I would definitely like to work with and collaborations are always interesting to share sounds and evolve further. 

Who knows what’s around the corner? If I can help someone else create something they’re proud of, music they want to be involved with and grow a unique sound, isn’t that the way it should be? Share the wealth and make as many people happy as you can.

Thank you and very best wishes!

Matt

Matt Jacobson

Explore Liverpool

READ MORE: Matthew Jacobson interviews singer songwriter Paul Iwan

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