Let’s start with the name “No_Name”. Can you please explain?
It’s a mixture of unoriginal things lol. First of all it’s my gamertag since, well, forever. Therefore, I decided that it could decently fit as an artist name as well. Apart from being quite a nerdy guy I’m also kind of an introvert. Let’s put it this way: I don’t like to be the center of attention. The “concept” about No_Name is to not give any personal references but just let people focus on the music, because, let’s face it, that’s what we’re here for right?
Considering you’re an introvert, do you deal well with DJ’ing out at gigs etc?
Honestly at the very beginning it felt kinda uncomfortable. I wasn’t even barely looking at the floor and realised that the over-focusing on doing my thing just took away the enjoyment of the moment. I simply learnt to deal with it. At the end of the day it’s just a matter of having fun while people are having fun as well. Don’t get me wrong, I still have that sensation of butterflies in the stomach combined with shit in the pants almost every time I’m starting a set.
Let’s go to where it started. when did your journey as a producer begin?
In my early teenage days I always wanted to play the drums but my parents were against the idea of having a drum kit on the 3rd floor of an apartment building. So, I ended up studying the piano instead. Later I discovered raves and electronic music in general and around 16 I bought my first pair of Technics after a summer job and started to spin records. After a few years I just felt the need to try to create my own beats. A friend of mine sold me a Korg Elektribe drum machine. It was fun but I realised pretty soon that I needed to stock up on gear if I wanted to have a decent set up which, money wise, was not an option. However I got handed a cracked copy of Reason (I think it was version 3) and basically started from there. I’m into music production since more than a decade but I never felt my tracks were really good enough to get released until I won a remix contest for Evil Audio Records a few years ago. That moment gave me the awareness that I could actually get my music out of my bedroom.
You mentioned that you decided to learn piano at a young age. Do still play now, or did you finally get that drum kit? Haha
Well, actually my parents decided it for me lol. I don’t play it anymore by the way, however I can see the huge benefits of learning that instrument reflected in electronic music production. Learning to properly play the drums is still on my bucket-list. I’ve gotten the chance to practice from time-to-time since friends of mine have drum kits in their studios. To be fair I only really know some basic beats but there’s still time to become the next Dave Lombardo.
You spoke about a lack of confidence, do you feel that maybe it held you back prior to winning the remix comp and not actually the quality of your productions?
A little bit of both to be honest. I never really set goals to begin with, making music was (and still is) a passion and the way I escape from the everyday routine and the world in general. In the meantime, I also studied Audio Engineering which massively improved my skills and consequently the quality of the tracks.
Talk us through the studio equipment you are working with.
Despite having a few hardware instruments almost everything happens in-the-box these days. I still mainly use Reason (a legally owned copy) for the arrangements, even though I can switch to Ableton or Logic depending on circumstances, and Pro Tools for the mixdown stage. A few MIDI controllers to satisfy that perception of actually pushing keys and buttons instead of just clicking and dragging. Slate Digital, SSL and Waves are my main weapons of choice in terms of VST’s. Everything is going through a Scarlett Focusrite interface and the sound comes to life thanks to pair of Adam A7X monitors. Beyerdynamic 770Pro as i’m working a lot on headphones especially during the mixdowns.
Not proper studio gear, but I always have a final check of my tracks through a crappy 20 bucks mp3 player and a cheap pair of JBL headphones. That’s my reference and my source of music when I’m around. If they sound good on there they (hopefully) sound good anywhere else.
What about your creative flow? Talk me through how you go about starting something new and what your personal approach is.
Before even starting anything I generally already have an idea in mind. It might be a synth I want to use, a specific break, a melody or a vibe I want to follow, but no matter what that idea is I usually start building up a track from the drums. Once I have that sorted the rest almost adds up in a natural way. It’s funny, when I’m not in the studio and something just randomly comes into my mind, I bring out my phone and record my voice emulating that melody or bassline or that drum pattern I have in my head. I’ll let you imagine the look of the people in the underground staring at me like i’m a complete idiot.
In addition, do you make time each week to make beats or just take time when it arises?
I’m lucky enough to sleep more-or-less 5 hours per night and during weekdays I normally fall asleep around 11 pm. So I wake up pretty early in the morning, have a gigantic cup of coffee and jump directly in the studio each and every single day. Brain freshness from a morning walk goes hand-in-hand with inspiration and creativity, while sitting in front of a computer after a whole day at work might result in counter-productiveness for me. I find that spending a few hours a day doing what you love is simply essential.
2019 was a good year for you with steady releases on Danger Chamber, Conspired Within Music, and Next Phase Records. Do you intend to build on that in 2020?
I’ve got a few EP’s that are just waiting for a release date. I think it’s safe to mention Amen-tal and Jungle Syndicate but I’ll keep the other labels secret.I still have a lot of tracks looking for new homes (preferably vinyl), so in case any label head honcho is reading this and likes what I’m doing just hit me up!
I’m always interested to know how producers connect with labels and get their music noticed. Can you talk through how you’ve done it?
The “label searching process” for me is the most tedious task of the whole music production routine. I’m not the type of guy who normally harasses people for feedback and I’m not extremely active on social media. Trying to establish some kind of contact with label owners is the main thing for me, generally via Facebook. I like to approach them with a little chat before eventually sending tracks. On the other side some of the labels I’m following are asking me for beats nowadays, which is a great feeling. No need to say that personally knowing people through clubs or record shops is a huge help.
You referenced being inspired to write more atmospheric D&B when you visited Iceland because of the scenery. Would you say that life experiences inspire you quite often to be creative with music?
Yes, it often happens that I go into the studio and try to translate a particular moment, place, or feeling into a track. Sometimes a whole EP, like Aurora Borealis, is just a little story about my life. But it’s also true that the relation between music and mood is very strong in my own case.
Also while on the note of atmospheric music, can we expect more of that vibe from you in the future? That Next Phase EP was great!
Thanks man. Nice to hear that. I’m working on a follow-up for Next Phase, if Rob is interested of course, and I’m also planning another couple of EP’s on that similar vibe. So, yes, I’d like to keep the atmospheric vibe going. I feel it’s good to have some kind of balance between dancefloor oriented and sofa-listening tracks.
How about the perspective of you as a fan, can you give us an insight into D&B artists and labels you follow?
There are too many quality producers out there to mention them all here. It’s great to have such an inspiring scene from established names to fresh meat. Let’s say that at the moment anything from Sully, FFF and Thugwidow is an insta-buy for me. I feel the same about labels as well, so I’ll go for a few ones that are inspiring me a lot me right now for their uniqueness: Western Lore, Rua Sound, Pinecone Moonshine and of course Next Phase. Let’s also not forget where I came from, not mentioning heroes like Tech Itch, Equinox, Dom & Roland, and Paradox and all the cosmos related to them feels like a crime.
And other genres?
Aside from D&B (and generally bass music) I don’t listen to a lot of dancefloor-oriented genres.Living in Berlin I lost interest in techno over the years. Metal is still a genre I constantly follow since I’ve always been a metalhead in the first place. I’m also into hip-hop (mostly, but not only, oldschool), ambient and last-but-not-least I’m a huge fan of movie and game soundtracks. Sometimes it happens that I’m randomly searching for samples and bump into something I really like but I’d never listen to, probably due to mental genre restrictions. Sia is a good example of it, love her voice.
You dropped a few hints about being nerdy and gamertags previously. You’re big into gaming then I assume?
Yeah, I can easily spend several hours in front of a decent game but I gave up on competitive gaming. It’s fun but it really eats a big part of your free time away. On a side note: games are a very rich source of samples, some gamers out there might spot quite a few in my tracks.
What’s it like living in Berlin? (still have never been!)
Although it’s constantly changing it’s still a very good place to live in my option. People are kinda relaxed compared to busier cities like London or Milan for example. I love the eclecticism and the multiculturalism that the city offers, the german cool-thinking and that “straight to the point” mentality is something that might catch you off guard at the beginning but I personally started to admire once I got used to it. This place is packed with history, arts of every kind, and stuff to do. It’s also very budget-friendly, which is never a bad thing.Hit me up when you fancy a visit.
Staying with Berlin, I hear that the nightclubs are awesome. Do you get a chance to go to any?
Nothingbeats a good dance.Even though I became quite picky over the years and now I’m mostly attending D&B events and concerts I’m quite prepared on the Berlin nightlife topic. If we’re talking about those big techno melting pots, Berghain is, of course, an institution here. Beside all the crazy stories you might have heard about, it’s really a great club and definitely deserves a visit once in a lifetime. However, I’d still pick Tresor over any other. That dark, loud, sweaty and claustrophobic basement floor is really something else.
Unfortunately some of my favorite clubs shut down already (R.I.P. Subland, Arena, Griessmühle), but I can recommend about:blank, Void and Mensch Meier in terms of bass music combined to a good atmosphere. My personal favorite at the moment is without any doubt Ohm. It’s a small venue, intimate, never extremely crowded, sound system is on point and, most important, the artistic direction suits my tastes (Samurai, Sneaker Social Club, Radio Massive Jungle, Sun and Bass nights among others). I’m not into fancy clubs to be honest, I mean, just give me a “whatever” basement, quality music, a solid sound system and a bar and I’m happily sorted for the night.