Interview: DR.Nojoke about zero.one & his creative process
zero.one presents two unique Dr.Nojoke tracks on a totally transparent vinyl
Transparent as light, as ideas, as music and as the world should be – no borders, but freedom and equality!
The new vinyl-imprint CLIKNO is set to present Dr.Nojoke’s delicate understanding of contemporary dance-music, which is crafted and designed of self-made field-recordings as sample-source and which aims to trigger hips, belly, heart and mind equally.
In the first five minutes, the track defines the space we ́re in creating a slightly lost feeling. When pitched kalimba-loops get introduced the track takes a surprising turn letting us ride on a little wave of happiness still nurturing the hypnotic groove with its intricately shifting elements. Raising drones and melancholic harmonies push it back to the darker side then before the track zooms back to its rhythmical skeleton slowly falling apart and vanishing into the void.
The other side is driven by the relentless rhythm of Pariko. In the center stands a rhythmical guitar-like sound, which ebbs and flows around poly-rhythmic patterns steadily increasing the emotional level. The track peaks when a resonant synth and a noisy drone joins the game until we got immersed in a stereophonic pulsating field as if krautrock meets techno for another hypnotic dancefloor adventure.
“zero.one” is the first part of a double EP due to be released on March, the 1st. Grab your copy.
We sat down with Frank, aka Dr.Nojoke to talk about this fantastic release, his production process and much more. Enjoy the read.
Hello Frank, how are you doing these days?
Hello, I´m fine, thanks.
Let’s start with ‘rethinking the ordinary’ in the music you create. How should we see this?
Hahaha. That is a quote from the music journalist Emma Robertson about me. I like it and I think she nailed it.
First of all, I find it important to think about what I do. ‘Rethinking the ordinary’ means to question everything and then find solutions – that always runs in the background. It sounds quite intellectual, but it all comes together quite naturally. The creative process is still very intuitive. It is more brain work when it comes to the arrangement and the mix to carve out the idea of the track.
When finished I look at my work and I try to understand what I did. It tells me even a lot about myself. I like to explore, I’m curious and I especially like all the shades and colours between the poles. It’s like a pendulum and the goal is to keep it swinging harmonically, in balance with my inner self and in resonance with others. When I got thrown out of it I need to readapt or transform myself to find a new balance. My music works with that friction – a reflection of myself and how I perceive the world. It is complex and minimal, listenable and danceable, ordinary and out of the ordinary at the same time, what I do not see as opposites. More yin and yang instead of dialectic thinking.
Your sound is very distinctive, your approach to creating music as well. Want to tell us how your work comes together?
Easy speaking my approach is dressing the real world in an electronic sound. In 2002 I started to investigate music-software and I loved using it from the very beginning. It meant total freedom for me, no limitations anymore such as dealing with not enough sampling-time and other hardware problems.
The world is full of fascinating sounds. That is a big resource and a source of inspiration for me.
I found out then, that I have much fun creating electronic music from non-electronic sources. So I recorded everything everywhere with my field recorder and my binaural OKM microphones. I collected sonic snapshots in my hometown, which is Berlin, and anywhere else where I have travelled: frogs in a swamp in Turkey, a thunderstorm in France, playground noises in Brasilia, a muezzin in Cairo, church bells, a walk over a market, screams, footsteps, breathing noises et cetera. The world is full of fascinating sounds. That is a big resource and a source of inspiration for me. Plus I do experiments with objects and instruments and abuse them for my goals.
I treat the material quite extreme during my search for sounds and combinations, which work well and excite me – a total fun part of the production process. I love glass, metal and wooden sounds, un-square loops, randomized functions, non-synchronized LFOs, delays, Leslies, errors, clicks, glitches and such and I usually run diverse effect channels.
I am building structures and grooves, where the sounds talk to each other, all elements should be in a dialogue. I am jamming around with my loops and clips until I get a clear idea of the build-up and climax of the track. Then I record the arrangement in one take, refine, clean and condense it until I am happy with it. The aspect of sound-design is very important to me, and in the end, it must give a musically relevant result. That is most important.
There is no fixed method and I don´t plan it all beforehand to achieve a distinctive sound. It may just be a matter of taste, which becomes visible through my work. This is how I realized it myself. I always keep on learning (by doing) and develop my sound not to get bored of myself.
I always keep on learning (by doing) and develop my sound not to get bored of myself.
Your upcoming work ‘zero.one’ will be out on a beautiful transparent vinyl. What’s the message behind the title?
It’s even in a transparent sleeve so everything shines through. I needed quite a long time to find that quite minimalistic form. I was looking for something specific for the first vinyl release on my label CLIKNO. The transparency directly appealed to me, the play with luminescence and the invisible. Much later I understood why I did it, there is a message indeed: I do believe in a ‘transparent’ world, which means for me no borders, no nations, but equality, freedom, peace … vertical and horizontal transparency. Also, it stands for light, for emotions, ideas and for music. It´s so simple and looks beautiful.
‘Zero’ stands for a new beginning and ‘one’ marks the first part.
The artwork on the label of the vinyl shows objects I perform with, some totally non-electronic toys, which gives a little provocation and contradiction to electronic music. 50 copies of zero.one come with an A2 poster showing the full artwork – offered only via the label´s own shop.
Something about the tracks. This release contains 2 lengthy tracks, more or less 13 minutes each. Did you have so much to tell about this work? What is the story?
I guess everyone has to find out for himself. Length doesn’t mean that you have much to tell necessarily. Some stories need more time to unfold, some can be told quickly. My challenge was to create long and hypnotic tracks and I wanted to find out how far I could go. Both tracks work with a steady groove, detailed beat and poly-rhythmic structures, but use different storylines.
Copipo constantly changes the mood and keeps elements as a surprise and so it transforms and evolves all the time. Pariko, the B-side, goes for one hook, which is a heavily treated guitar-sound with a stereo-delayed answer. The only breakdown happens in the beginning, the rest is just raising and releasing the tension/intensity through layers of sound and through the opening and closing the decay of the guitar sound. I noticed, that people don’t feel the 13 minutes. So, in my opinion, both tracks work well.
If we are not mistaken, there will be a sequel. Will it be something similar?
Yes, as the title indicates already there will be a second EP titled ‘zero.two’. ‘Zero’ is planned as a project in two or more parts. I have clear ideas, where the label should go from the visual appearance when I finished ‘zero’, but I don´t know if I can realize it. I also would like to integrate text such as a poem or an essay. Let´s see and be surprised. I´m working on it.
When creating/composing, do you keep your audience in mind, or do you start from scratch building on what you already have?
Um, of course, I think about it, but mostly that doesn´t matter so much. It is more a matter of finding my audience!
I start every track from scratch very literally. Everything starts from point zero (again). I do not use the same combination of sounds twice. I totally avoid using presets. I never build upon something I did before. I never save any racks, kits or set-ups for an easier workflow next time, because then I am already stuck and caught in a routine. It is a constant search and research. This way the production process might take longer, but it stays fresh and offers more freedom to me. There is no rules or restrictions for me, nothing is defined in the beginning.
What do you want your audience to experience when listening to your music?
My audience should be open and I try to conceive my music open for the audience. Everyone should have the possibility to adapt to it in their own way. I like it when the music leaves options and when it has more to offer than just being made for one obvious reason. I know that is challenging and unusual for many. The challenge should be there although!
How does a live show come together? Is it always something unique and you leave space for experimentation?
I thought about the problem how I could perform live until I just plunged into it. At the first party, where I got booked, I used just what I already had: my Jew´s harps, a radio, a Kaoss-pad2 and a Boss voice transformer plus a plastic bottle and some other tiny instruments. All that I use until today actually. I never wanted to turn just knobs. I have a past as a rock-guitarist, I need action and want to have fun. The central element is my microphone, my effects and all the small music toys and objects around me. That is my playground. There is a lot of live improvisation going on. I do not pre-listen so the audience hears, what I play, in the very same moment like myself. I am fooling around with my tools totally. I can fail, but to make it work is a process, that the audience can follow.
The central element is my microphone, my effects and all the small music toys and objects around me. That is my playground.
As a backline, I use my tracks, which I mix roughly with Ableton Live. Additionally, there are two channels for field recordings and five more for controlling the signal of the microphone, the external effects and instruments like my Stylophone and Korg Monotron.
I never write a track-list either. I plan the opening a bit and then I’ll see. Some gadgets I use are quite performative so I can communicate with the audience easily and that is then the best part I would say, something you can´t hear on a recording. People, who cannot see me performing definitely miss the fun part
Your Facebook page shows no upcoming events. No plans for 2018?
Yep, no upcoming show right now. Very possibly I will play at the Klangscheiben party, which is set on March 24th at Modular+Space, Greenhouse, Berlin. Maybe at Waha Festival in Romania and so on.
This year I will be busy with my label CLIKNO, a new music-project with Jan Gerdes, a classically trained concert-pianist, and a theatre-project I am involved with. Besides ‘zero.one’ there are three digital EPs in the pipeline:
– Mental Health Hotline EP including a Berk Offset remix on Destroy All Monsters
– Post-Techno Crisis EP on Goldmin Records, Paris
– Baradisto EP on Insomnia Musique, Ecuador
And I hope to put out ‘zero.two’ on CLIKNO before summer.
A message to the world from Dr.Nojoke?
Peace & love – stay true to yourself – trust your intuition! 🙂