Ez mate, thanks for taking the time to talk to us! Observing your back catalogue and release schedule as Sun People since 2012 it’s been a steady but quality output gradually gaining pace but seemingly always having support from the right places which must be great! Where did the journey into producing begin for you?
Well actually it goes way back into the 90s. I started fiddling around with Fast-Tracker around 95/96. And then from around 2000 onwards did quite a few releases together with my brothers as Winterstrand. I think the last one was around 2007. My first solo-record came out around the mid 2000s, under my Simon/off moniker. The Sun People project started around 2011. It is somehow a slow but constant development of skills & techniques but also of being lucky meeting likeminded and very supportive people who believe in what I’m doing and also encouraging me to continue my journey.
You referenced your brothers… you guys must be passionate about the same music right? Also can you give us a bit more of an insight into Winterstrand?
As i said its been a while that we did music together. But we are definitely still sharing a passion for it. My brother Matthias (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLWzeBAZDk8) studied composition and became a foley artist while Daniel (http://www.danielhafner.com/) is working in fine arts, and sometimes makes sound installations.
Actually we already started fiddling around with sounds when we were kids. Together with our sister Miriam we recorded radio show-style tapes using microphones, a Bontempi keyboard, and tape sampling from radio and records. This went on for years and then somehow went into using a computer and tracker software. All pretty much de-connected from any scene, mentors or whatsoever. From a creative perspective, making music felt like an wide open field of endless possibilities, zero rules and restrictions at that point. Around 1998 we started to play shows and somehow took making music a bit more serious. You can still find almost all releases on archive.org (https://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Winterstrand%22) and a few other sites. Almost everything we did back then was under creative commons license. For anyone who wants to know more about that project check out this interview (https://www.eightmeasures.com/interviews/winterstrand-interview) (german only)
Styles and genres that you started with… always been 160-170 bpm?
I guess the first tune was a very naive attempt on Jungle. Because that was the sound I was most hooked on around 96. Jungle and Drum & Bass was also the sound I started with as a DJ at around 98’. But me and my brothers worked on quiet a few different styles before we developed a sound we have been really happy with. It was strongly influenced by what came out on Warp and Rephlex at that time. My solo stuff was more leaning towards the Broken Beat sound and then somehow got me even into the 140 area. I was very happy to release on Immerse end of 2000s (Big shouts to Adam Kidkut here). Around 2009 I heard Juke/Footwork for the first time, mainly through a blog called „It’s after the end of the world“ by Dave Quam and that somehow made me getting back into that tempo again. Circle closed so to say. Going in for another round … 😀
I always find the whole tempos thing funny really and you mentioning moving up and around 140-160 -170 etc… Alot of artists say they are “dnb” or “140” artists while I’ve seen many people (pretty sure most recently was OM Unit) reference being about the vibe rather than a specific tempo when approaching production or even dj sets and expressing frustration that there are these boundaries in electronic music… what’s your opinion on this?
In regards of productions it always helped me to use different pseudonyms for different (side-)projects. Not only that you feel more freedom to go into different directions but it gives you somehow a certain headspace that might inspire your creative flow. In that sense limitations and boundaries can be a positive force to develop different types of output. Tempo might be just one defining element here.
On the other hand – regarding visibility it is very helpful these days to stick to one name. Though, up to this day i just could’t manage to get all those different aspects and musical backgrounds into one project.
Regarding DJ sets its a bit of a different thing. I agree that certain nights have a bit of a limited concept regarding styles and tempos. The more narrow it gets the more narrow are the expectations of the crowd. Sometimes it seems like people have a very distinctive idea of what they want to hear during a night out and are quite disappointed or even annoyed if their expectations are not fulfilled. And I think this takes away a lot of fun and energy from the dance floor. Wasn’t that somehow the idea of going out? Being open, discovering something new, music that you never heard before? At least that was what i was always excited about. Another aspect is that 1-hour sets almost became a standard in certain scenes. That makes it even more difficult for DJs to take people on a journey. But thankfully there are also exceptions to this.
It’s fair to say your approach to production with 160/170 is anything but conventional (which is why we think your music is so dope!) so how did you come about adopting your style when making this tempo?
Ah well, i don’t know. I’m not planning my sound or think up sophisticated concepts. It’s more like slowly developing a language that resonates with something inside me. Most of the time in a very playful and spontaneous way. Sometimes it can be hard work too. Obviously I’m getting a lot of input from listening to music as well . And apart from preparing for radio or gigs its mostly non-electronic music these days. At the moment I’m very into Don Moye, the drummer of The Art Ensemble Of Chicago. But I guess like everyone, over the years you develop a certain style of production technique or certain devices/synths you find inspiring to use. It is like a palette of tools that are helping you to create.
At the beginning I touched on the steady progression over the years which has now seen you feature and release on a lot of labels I hold in very high regard, “Alphacut”, “Through These Eyes”, “Rua sound” and soon to be *Defrostatica”. Do you feel that it’s set you up to continue this output moving forward after having your music picked up by these awesome imprints?
Well obviously its very motivating to see my music getting picked up by those labels. What I really enjoy about working with them is the mutual trust and respect that was slowly building up over the years. Honest feedback and support on many aspects.
Having a lot of releases recently on quality labels I’m sure you gave ticked a few off the list, ultimately is there any Imprint you aim to get your music on as a goal? Or seeing where the journey takes you?
Oh man, I had a lot of goals over all those years but i realized that you can’t force it. In terms of contacts to labels and people in the scene, everything that happened in recent years happened quite naturally. I was never working towards a „network“ for the sake of it. I guess for me it’s more about establishing connections and friendships to likeminded people who are somehow getting what I’m trying to express with my music.
As well as established labels you have recently featured on a split release with Sonars Ghost on the new Two Hungry Ghosts record label, remember back in November 2019 you saying on socials that you were on a split release with one of your all time favourite artists, guessing it was that right?
Yes, you are right about that. I couldn’t hold back my inner fan boy :D. The first time I heard his music was on the Sonar Circle – 5th Dragon 12“ on Reinforced. It was jaw-dropping. Same goes for the „Radius“ album. Then all the Domu stuff. Its not that I have like his complete back catalogue, not at all. But together with Nubian Mindz/Alpha Omega definitely the strongest influence for me from that era.
On the run up to your recent release you were giving the stories behind each track, it was interesting to see what inspired the vibe and attitude of the tracks. A reoccurring thing seems to be producers finding some of their most defining/magical moments when in a dark place or while going through tough times, would you say this resonates with you?
Generally I’d say that intense experiences sometimes translate into strong artistic expressions. May they be positive or negative. But imo its definitely not the only way to get interesting results. Putting a lot of thought into a more conceptional approach or establishing a intuitive workflow that helps spontaneous creativity can be other ways allowing to have that magic moment.
How about production techniques… You’ve been making music for quite a while so talk us through your set up, taking us from what you started on and what software and equipment you use now?
As I already said above I started with Fast-Tracker, used that for years. Then moved on the early Fruity Loops, Had a little Cubase interlude. Back to Fruity Loops, Started to use Ableton for Live-Sets and only started to produce on it like 4 years ago. There was always a bit of Hardware involved – mostly very cheap Keyboards and guitar FX. In recent years I got a few nice machines like a Jomox 888, a Lyra 8, a Minibrute, and a Poly 800. Hardware always helps to get me into a more playful mode of making music. And I use a Soundcraft Signature 12 mixer and Adam A7X plus a Sub10 as monitors. Very basic stuff.
Am I correct in thinking that you are from Austria? If so I’m interested to know what it was like for you there connecting with music aka any local music scenes or movements?
As in many other cities there are ups & downs in the local scene here. This was because of repressive politic towards clubs and underground places. But obviously also in terms of people being able to contribute and invest time and money. I’m trying to keep one foot in whats happening here in Graz, but the international perspective always helps me to not lose focus on making music and pushing myself forward. Shouts to the disko404 crew, For:mation, the GreyNote Crew and the Alllone guys for being essential players in town.
Aside from production people can also find you on the SUB FM airwaves regular too, for the purpose of anybody reading who may not be familiar can you give us the low down on the concept of the radio show and what vibes they can expect to hear?
I stay mostly in the 160/170 area but within that I try to feature a lot of different sounds, styles and textures. Sometimes I’m moving from slower tempos up to the fast stuff and I’m trying to bring in some more experimental, weird stuff as well. It’s a nice playground for me that helps me constantly digging for new and inspiring music!
Talking of new and interesting music… can you give us a few names of artists you are digging at the moment? I saw you hyping Yoofee the other day and he’s a G!
Yeah Yoofee is defo one to watch. Somehow he is only making his first steps but he has such a strong and diverse musical background. Then all that minimal, techy 160 stuff that Fulltono, Skip Club Orchestra and are few others are working on. Actually quite a bit of that 160 stuff from Japan is banging and refreshingly different. I love that recent Made2Face EP on Sydonia Records. Raw & ravey. Provoke is absolutely killing it atm too! Damn there are so many! The variety for good music out there is just overwhelming.
When it comes to playing out, do you enjoy it? And do you use it as an opportunity to test a lot of your own music?
I’m way more confident about playing my own stuff in recent years. I guess to a degree its also what people expect from you as well, right? Getting direct feedback and hearing your own material in context of other tunes helps a lot. Just seeing the crowd response and from a production perspective I get to hear how the mixdown translates on a club system and how the arrangement works when played to a crowd and the overall vibe. I don’t tend to play just crazy bangers for 1,5 hours , I’m more about variety; from dance-floor friendly to deeper tunes, to classics and to more weirder bits that might be a bit challenging. Basically, I’m trying to play out what I’d love to hear myself when being on the floor! When in it comes to dance-music there’s nothing better than being in an underground venue with a good sound-system with open minded people who want to have a good time.
Finally, 2020 is now upon us… Can you give us an insight to what the rest of the year holds for you?
Actually i have quite a few exciting releases lined up. And most of them were supposed to come out in the first half of this year. Now the whole corona thing makes it quite difficult to decide what to do. Usually, a big part about getting your stuff out is that you want it being played in clubs and also getting gigs for yourself . Thats simply is not possible at the moment. It’s completely unclear how long this shutdown will last and when clubs and festivals might be able to run again. Also the different measurements in the European countries will make it hard to travel. Another question is how and even if venues will survive this. If this goes on for a couple of months or even longer we might loose quite a bit of highly needed infrastructures and networks. It’s kind of frustrating and frightening. But I try to stay positive. Hopefully it will help us to rethink certain problematic aspects in terms of the exploitation of art in general. Maybe it might be able to realize positive changes that been highly needed in many aspects of life anyways. Potentially it could also help to build and rebuild a more sustainable and more independent structure for underground music too. Anyways, there will be a 2-track white label 12“ out soon, I also just finished 5 tunes for Defrostatica, guess the 12“ will be out in summer. Then another 7-track release later this year. Also just finished a track for a compilation on Through These Eyes, celebrating the 10th release!
Out Now:These Days EP (Rua Sounds) – https://sunpeople.bandcamp.com/album/these-daysVIP’s & Unreleased (Two Hungry Ghosts) – https://twohungryghosts.bandcamp.com/album/vips-and-unreleased)Stumble & Grow EP (Through These Eyes Records) – https://sunpeople.bandcamp.com/album/stumble-grow-epWithout Second Thought EP (All Things) – https://sunpeople.bandcamp.com/album/without-second-thought