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Interview: Insect O. about Atacama & 20 years of Etui records

Etui Records continues its 20th anniversary with the first full-length by label founder Insect O. “Atacama” is a compilation of 10 tracks showcasing his wide range of music production skills. Besides his music he also shares a big passion for travelling and video filming. Back in his studio, he creates memories about his journeys. He combines analog synthesizers tones with sounds of his modular system, endless echoes and warm reverbs.

We had a chat with Insect O. about this stunning work, “Atacama”, and 20 years of Etui Records.

Insect O

20 years in business with Etui records. What a year! Or better years. Congrats.
Thank you so much!

Looking back, how do those 20 years feel?
Even after 20 years, the moment when you drop the needle on a fresh test pressing and listen to the music on vinyl for the first time is still always very exciting. For me running the label, as well as seeing the smiley of the artists. So kind of it feels the same.

Is there a moment in time for which you can say ‘Boy, those were the days’?
Every timeframe had its ups and downs. I started the label as a hobby project at the end of the wild 90ties. Those days were really special, especially in East Germany with its empty building that people turned into techno dancefloors. I guess Dresden was one of the Epi-centers of techno beside Berlin and Leipzig. But nowadays with all the technology and the internet, I think it’s kind of different to the old days. We have great possibilities now. Music is everywhere and everyone can start producing sounds and music.

You celebrate with an album. Ten tracks on “Atacama”. How did this album come together?
When I travelled the Atacama Desert back in 2014, I was surrounded by volcanos. My path took me up to 4.800m above sea level. At this strange I to thinking about what I want to achieve as an artist after releasing several EPs and remixes. So the idea came in mind to work on an album. Back home I started creating musical memories about my journey.

The title of the album and each of the tracks sound like you have been on a journey. Do tell!
It’s about places where I have been and people I met. I call it music for travelling.

What was the approach for each of the tracks? Start off with separately or did you have the entire album already in your head as a creative process?
In the 3 years of production, I came up with 30 or 40 track ideas. The sound of the album changed over time. Finally, I picked 10 tracks that I still liked to listen to after 50 or 100 times listening to. In the beginning, there was no strong concept about the album. It just evolved over time with the tracks.

How much does “Atacama” differ from previous releases? Do you allow yourself to try something new, go off the beaten track or do you stick to your guns? As you have been travelling and it influences you in a creative way. Can
you name a few triggers that make you integrate a specific sound or effect in your tracks?

In 2016 I started building a small modular rig and that influenced the work on the album a lot. Sometimes I was just sitting in the studio patching the modules and exploring new sound territories.

I used also audio recordings of videos I filmed on my travels. In “Forest Of The Monkeys” you can hear the monkeys walking in the background, the voices of Soraia Esteves and Loyd Under in “Wanderlust” were recorded at Kruger National Park and Tasmania. In “New Dawn” you can hear the birds singing outside my studio window.

I think also the place of my old studio where I recorded the album had its influence. It was situated in an old GDR office building on the 6th floor. I often watched a beautiful sunset while working my music. Sadly me and a lot of more artists like Jacob Korn, Break SL or Sublab had to leave the studio building. It will be knocked down to build new luxury flats. Gentrification becomes more and more a big problem for creative people in Dresden.

What do you want your audience to feel when listening to the album?
Hopefully, they will go on their own journey and coming up with memories. Or just enjoying time on a road trip, keep the elbow out of the car’s window while the radio plays “Resonance”.


Do you think that the kind of music you grew up listening to affects the taste of music you develop at this moment?
When I was a little child and still lived at my parents, we often listen to Sergej Prokofjew “Peter und der Wolf” and Bedrich Smetana “Die Moldau”. Not sure if that really affected my taste of music. Later I discovered an LP compilation of GDR electronic musicians called “Zeitklänge / Electronics”. That was my gateway to electronic music.

What was your favourite track as a kid?
I would say O.K. – Okay!. That’s the track when I learned to break dance at the holiday camp.

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