You may already be familiar with Desolat artists Livio & Roby, the Romanian techno wizards who have been putting their own supernatural twist on the genre for the past decade. But what do you know about Premiesku, the groundbreaking side project they launched in 2012 with longtime accomplice and fellow artist George G.?
Unhappy with the the functionality of existing hardware pieces on the market, here is a group that did what no one else in their industry had attempted before: they embarked on the very challenging task of designing three special, custom-built consoles made up with the parts of various machines.
This visionary undertaking came down to the realization that computer technology was just not enough for Premiesku to convey all the subtle feelings and stories they wanted to express. That is why they decided to leave the virtual world aside and create a real, analog environment for their live performances.
As a result, they've established a unique new musical experience, one that is already gaining accolades from party heads, acclaimed music professionals and opinion leaders.
And in anticipation of their forthcoming EP release on Desolat titled Aproape, we took the opportunity to talk to Premiesku about transcending the digital space into the physical one.
THUMP: Premiesku resonates as a Romanian name, suggesting the word "premiere." Besides the obvious—you were the first to create your own fucking machines from scratch—how do you define your collaboration?
Premiesku: We would rather say the whole idea started from scratch, from playing around with words regarding the name to drawing and designing three modules to fulfill our live necessities. We've built these machines from a variety of existing components and instruments, making things more organic and intuitive for our live performance. It was a hell of a ride and we feel we haven't even scratched the surface yet, especially as our setup changes slightly for every gig.
Your custom-built consoles began as rough sketches that were hand drawn by an engineer and architect. Can you take me inside the mechanical and practical process of designing them?
Each module consists of different parts, synths, FX, drum machines, sequencers and more. We connected them differently to achieve a special intimate and individual performance. For a clearer idea, here is an example: we wired a drum step sequencer to a small modular system, which can also trigger sounds from a drum modular. This allows us to be more organic and have a significant impact in a short amount of time, allowing us to be more creative. Our use of real analog synthesizers also increases the quality of the frequencies, taking the sonic experience to a different level.
It is my understanding that these illustrations were then brought to life and tailor-made by an elderly craftsman in a workshop in the heart of Romania.
That is 100 percent true. This old fellow was actually George's family mechanic from the past. He had a little garage and we asked him to get involved in the project because he is such a multi-talented person who could help us turn the sketches into reality very quickly. We were incredibly pressured by time, as we wanted to try the new machines at our forthcoming Time Warp show. He knew how to tailor the modules and how to paint. He also helped our engineer in the process of connecting everything together.
And this dude knew what he was doing [laughs]?
The funny thing is that he didn't have much of an idea exactly what all the components were! All we told him was those boxes will make sounds and we'll use them in concerts [laughs]. We did the whole fitting and re-casing in two days, and the last painted box was finished just six hours before we flew to the Time Warp Lab to present our new project.
Was there any point in this procedure where you stopped to think, "Just what the hell are we doing here? When did we go from DJs to mad scientists?"
It was challenging to go a little bit out from our own natural course. Roby loves math and exact sciences, so for him it was very easy to drift into this direction. But taking the sketches and completing them in this odd workshop was not a precise process. And we must say, we really enjoyed that. Time again pressed us and there was a certain freedom that came with this operation, also improvisation.
In terms of that actual performance, it's a machine-only live act that doesn't use computers as part of the setup. As a result, there are no traditional arrangements, songs or routines. So how exactly do you classify the Premiesku live experience?
As we said previously, we wanted to create a true live act without computers, Ableton, etc. It's a totally different approach in terms of sketching the performance, as well as the impact on the crowd. We must say it's a wonderful occurrence as we mess around with real synths and drum machines, creating a whole different story of interaction and improvisation. Making live arrangements on stage can drive audiences on a totally different trip. The music we release actually always comes up in different forms and for those in the crowd that know the records in their original form, that's a very nice addition and something we really enjoy.
I love the notion that you don't record your sets and everything stays in the club. This gives your music a very distinct feeling of existing in the now and being contained in the moment.
Actually there are no strict rules regarding the recording of our live act. There is nothing to hide to be honest, we just really feel what we do is a dance floor experience and that aspect is quite an important part of understanding what we do. To make an extreme comparison, you can look at our live performance as a jazz session. We begin somewhere with a certain idea and at the end we find ourselves somewhere totally unexpected. This is due to our output hinging on the interaction between three people who all have totally different feelings all the time.
Since we have the opportunity to debut some tracks from your upcoming Aproape EP on Desolat, how do your analog consoles primarily intended for live use come into play in the studio?
It depends. We have the possibility to rewire things in a different way, to manipulate the sound with different effects and these can be changed all the time. Sometimes we make jam sessions more or less like in the live act, so this is how we shape ideas. The track "Access" was made like that. But sometimes it's difficult to recall certain projects as they're session breeds. Occasionally you have to recall in order to change small details or to make different cuts. The beauty of using hardware is that you actually play the instruments, it's so diverse and you don't need to repeat the process every time you have an idea. You get more creative.
You guys didn't go out and create your own machines as some kind of gimmick. This was clearly about setting standards for yourselves and then going out and surpassing them. But were you maybe looking to be considered pioneers?
We don't think it's about pioneering something these days. It's all about the projection of a live performance. At the time we took on this idea, everything tended to be smaller, computer-based and so on. We didn't see it that way, we thought about it outside of the box. Of course, we're not the only ones who do this. There are other acts that construct their live performances with real gear, which is amazing because it's all about the music, the concept and the sound ten years from now.
Aproape is due out on Desolat next week, stream the exclusive premiere above.
You can follow Christopher on Twitter at: @theCMprogram