Photo: Press (Prequel Tapes)
Prequel Tapes’s debut album Inner Systems was released in 2015 on Ninja Tune’s R’COUP’D imprint and raised ears everywhere. With its rough yet melancholic soundscapes and sparse but energetic beats, it occupied a curious niche between IDM’s dry understatement, Ambient’s soothingness as well as Techno’s frantic euphoria. Based on material from old DAT tapes, Inner Systems was both nostalgic and refreshingly contemporary, a personal statement expressed through an anonymous moniker. Before Prequel Tapes returns with a Techno-infused EP on the Singaporean imprint Midnight Shift, he has put together a mix for our Groove podcast that follows a similar pattern as he does in the studio: Old material is revamped and looped, layered and complemented by the familiar warm sound of Roland’s most overlooked drum machine, the TR-707.
You prefer to remain anonymous, however your music deals with personal themes like your musical upbringing. How would you like your audience to approach your music?
With an open mind, with a interest in sound and being ready for a little journey. I would like them to listen to my music without any prejudice and hope to get across my ideas and composition. When people tell me that my music creates pictures or film scenes in their minds that makes me really happy.
The name of your project implies that there is a sort of timeframe: prequel, midquel, and sequel. What’s your idea behind this – and does this mean that Prequel Tapes will at one point come to an end?
No timeframes. The Prequel Tapes project all started with recordings from my old DAT tapes from my youth – so prequel and tapes – I liked the name immediately, it expresses exactly what it is about.
Your new EP on Midnight Shift sees you venturing into Techno territory, your first release under this moniker dedicated to the genre. How does it fit into the general frame of Prequel Tapes?
It makes perfectly sense. My friends at Midnight Shift asked me for their limited series to produce some tracks with the same intensity and mood as on my debut album Inner Systems – just darker and bit more EBM/Techno. The whole EP is based on recordings from the same time as the Inner Systems tracks and I have deep roots in New Wave, EBM and Techno. The musical cosmos of Prequel Tapes is completely open. It’s a spirit rather than any restrictions that I place on myself. I am currently writing my second album which will be very calm, slow and rich with melody.
Your first album Inner Systems comprised older material that you sourced for the LP. How did you make the three new tracks – and the two locked grooves – on SHIFT LTD 003?
Guess I’ve already answered that but I am happy to go more into details. As a start for this EP I wanted to have one track around 110 BPM, the other around 120 BPM and last but not least one in 130 BPM – don’t ask me why, that was just my first intuition! For all three tracks I started with the beats and the grooves. Once that was set, I started digging in my libraries and added the soundscapes and started to resample myself. I also wanted to make them reflect a certain sound. Rougher, darker, with a bit of an industrial feel, but without overdoing that. I also was working on all three tracks simultaneously, I think that helped to make them closely related.
Hardware also plays a significant role in your contribution to our Groove mix, for which you’ve used your Roland TR-707 for additional drumming. Why this drum machine, specifically?
I chose the 707 as it integrates itself quite well in a mix like I did it here. It´s not too dominant, but it’s able to cut through finished tracks in terms of frequencies etc. I also think it fits well to the older music, as it has this friendly cheap sounding charm, which is what I really like about this little drum machine. In the end I only compressed it slightly and added some reverb.
Your mix at times layers up to four different tracks at once. How did you select the music for it and how did you record the mix?
For the Groove podcast, I decided to do more a edit mix then a classic DJ mix. I made a pre-selection of nearly 50 tracks from all different genres, vinyl and digital, pieces that I love, but within the bigger window of electronic music or what has influenced that music, i.e. “Music For 18 Musicians” by Steve Reich. I wanted to give the past and contemporary equal footing in the mix and searched for pairs or moments in tracks that strongly affect me, i.e. the pads of Nick Cave’s „Push The Sky Away“. I started to do edits and loops from some of the tracks, playing around with them in Ableton and on my Octatrack. In that process, I also wrote patterns on the 707 and recorded them while everything was running. That was quite often a bit out of sync, but this way of working gave me the main impulse/direction, so in the end everything came together in Ableton, and at this point it really became like one long track with lots of different files and loops. So there are several parts in my mix which include four or five different tracks and self-made edits plus my 707 – I hope the track list below explains that somehow. Anyways, you really can lose yourself in a project like this in a very good way!
Last but not least: Where can we see you perform live in the future – and what are your plans as a producer?
Next live show will be in Shefield on 13th October at No Bounds Festival – where I’ve been invited to open the main stage for DJ Stingray and Jeff Mills. I am very excited about this. Then in Berlin I will play on 18th November at the Midnight Shift night at ://about:blank. I am also working on a cassette tape release for this year and I’m in the process of finalising my second album.
Stream: Prequel Tapes – Groove Podcast 122
01. Nurse With Wound – Rock, Baby, Rock
02. Axiom Ambient – Ruins
03. Unkown Archetype – Into Ether
04. Pan Sonic – Johto 2 + My TR 707
05. Prequel Tapes – Slow Move
06. The Emperor Machine – One & Ohm / Front 242 – See the Future / Steve Reich – Section of 18 Musicans / Dive – Turn Me On + My TR 707
07. Trismoie 21 – Is Anybody Home Part 3 + My TR 707
08. LFO – Tied Up / Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Push The Sky Away (Pads only) + My TR 707
09. Prequel Tapes – Moments (unreleased)
10. Byetone – Morning / Pascal Hetzel – Theraphosa (Luis Flores Remix) / Clock DVA Sound Mirror (Intro) / The Klink Moving Your Hands + My TR 707
11. Shit & Shine – Deva State Nineteen 3000
12. Hodge – Light Waves / Anne Clark – Sleeper In Metropolis (Extended Remix) + My TR 707
13. Click Click – A Little Room Sickness