Hot off one of my favourite releases of 2017 with his album Seeds, (released on Urban Waves Records) René Schier is back again with a new project titled Karma. The German producer has created another gem, this time a slower, more atmospheric and jazzy project with a real boom-bap type energy and flow. The opening record ‘Lemonade’ is frantic in sound, with abstract sax playing, a groovy bassline and a drumming that is so slick in execution, that it puts you in complete trance, one which translates through to the next song ‘To Do’ to the next song ‘Drivin’ to the next one, so on and so forth. The cohesiveness in sound, vibe, rhythm and groove of this album is what makes this project such a joy to listen to, and it just oozes positive energy. While Seeds, to me at least, was a darker, more sombre project, Karma uplifts.
I was fascinated to learn more about René – his musical background, influences and creative process behind each project, so I caught up with him to discuss.
Martin: I’m always interested in where it all started with musicians – the first time you fell in love with music. Do you remember a specific moment of time when music first moved you in a profound way?
René: My father bought a CD player together with some AKG headphones in 1985. He was totally into Jean Michel Jarre and put in the CD with the track he wanted to play for me. My dad told me “listen, there’s a train going through your head” and then put the headphones on me. The train in my head drove from left to right, playing “WOW STEREO” through my head, the synthesizers blinked in and the world was from then on only sound. It’s was a great moment!
And when did you first start making music?
In 1994. But after a short time with my pocket money I couldn’t afford DJing anymore and bought synthesizers, drum computers and effect devices. I wanted to make music for myself. That was the start. On my website you can also find the compilation Squarecuts. There are a bunch of experiments from the early days. All arranged completely analog and without a computer.
How has the ever-changing landscape of Berlin influenced your creative output?
My heart beats for Berlin. This is my home. I have absolutely no problem with things changing. I witnessed the fall of the wall and was on the island of Berlin-West. With the fall of the wall in 1989, everything changed. And with that came the great movement of electronic music. You can hear this influence in my music. Nothing was the same since then, and it will never remain the same either, the sound is always evolving.
Could you talk about the creative process behind your album Seeds that you dropped last year on Urban Waves Records? I’m fascinated to know about your influences for that record and how you approached it.
For my flow it is very important that the theme or concept for an album to come to me. I sit down and tell myself: “You’re doing the next cool thing”. That’s all first! Then I produce like a madman and play with ideas like a painter, or more like a film composer trying to create a soundtrack for the film in my head. After 2 months I had 60-80 tracks with titles and I made the first selection. This was the moment when the story came closer and the concept became clear to me. After the first selection, another month passed. Then I got them down to 13-15 tracks, which told the story perfectly. With Seeds I took these tracks and composed a continuous journey from them. Some parts of the tracks I had to delete and some parts I added some textures. In the end, this one song remained that gave the album its name. Seeds took a year to complete.
Do you have a clear set vision for the sound and aesthetic of every project, or do you experiment along the way and hope it turns out right?
If I had a clear vision for the sound I would immediately fail. I am always extremely curious to find new things, especially in music and would like to try everything at once. But unfortunately I always have to slow myself down a lot. I am extremely impatient and always have no time. I’m calm and under fire at the same time, haha.
How would you describe your most recent album Karma and Chipotle? Did they come out at the same time and how did they compared to your previous releases?
Seeds is an adventure. It’s very colourful and has a different dynamic than anything I’ve done before. Chipotle is at this point minimalistic funk with clear lines. Karma deliberately takes his time. What the music does to me, I know – but what the music does to you is much more interesting. Karma is actually already one year old, Chipotle even two. I just released it now.
Do you tackle each project as a standalone piece of art, or as an extension of your previous music?
Quite clearly – definitely! I started the project The Daily Drop in 2015. Just for me. I’ve produced one track every day. At the beginning there were a few beads, but there were also creative weaknesses. Nevertheless, I had to continue because I wanted to know what was coming out at the end of the year. The result was amazing. In the end I had 450 tracks with a total of 24 hours of music and sat down and listened to everything in the following months. There were a lot of tracks fitting together and then I had 22 albums in my pocket. Thereupon I made the cover art for the albums, created a homepage and found my workflow. I’m very happy about that.
Finally, what can we expect from you in 2018?
I’m working on a real live set – even if I still find musicians, then it’s getting really big. Im working on that dream. Together with my girlfriend we found the label “WE ARE ON THE SAME SHIT RECORDS” and we’re releasing the first vinyl in summer, with very juicy music. I’m also publishing a book – something other than just recording sounds.
A big thank you to René Schier for his time for this interview and his music as well (creating some of my favourite soundtracks of last year). I urge you to go check him out and support his art. You can listen to the recently released Karma and well as Seeds and Chipotle via Spotify.