Web Exclusive: Tensnake Interview Extras

Bonus Q&A With DJ/Producer Marco Niemerski

The July 2014 issue of
Electronic Musician featured a profile of Tensnake’s new album project, Glow. Here, read bonus material from our interview with DJ/producer Marco Niemerski. Click HERE to read the feature in its entirety.

Are there any defining sonic trends you recognize in music at the moment, especially tones you can pinpoint originating from vintage gear, and when you hear things so familiar being used in an obvious way, would you rather reinvent them or avoid them?

If speaking of house music, it’s the comeback of the DX7 and the FM sound, the Lately bass, or even the organ sound. You hear all the ’90s Korg M-1 sounds again. I grew up during that time, and if you listen to my music you can guess I love old-school sounds. I just don’t like when DJs all play the same tracks using these same sounds. Tracks are passed so quickly through the Internet now that the differences between cultures and cities are fading away. But it’s hard to deny that the Lately bass has so much punch and just sounds amazing.

If you want to go ’90s house it’s very easy to pull up that bass, or if you want ’80s boogie you do [Sequential Circuits] Prophet 5 or a Moog synth. But I’m also happy with the [Rob Papen] SubBoomBass VST for all kinds of sounds. I’m not so picky. It’s most important to get out the feel and melody before you lose your way. Bass is what people physically feel; it leads the song.

I use Arturia emulations and especially that SubBoomBass plug-in quite a lot because it’s very diverse. You have a very good set of presets, even if I don’t love the interface, but you get used to it.

Considering the amount of time you spend gigging, have you assembled a mobile production rig so you can demo on the road?
I’m more or less confronted with this situation at the moment as right now I’m based in L.A. and I thought I’d just come with my laptop and get into sessions with producers, but it’s not as easy as I thought. I find it’s harder to start a track if I’m not in my studio where I know all the gear and where the samples are.

What brought you to L.A.?
I just wanted a look into the music scene, to have the chance to connect with people … maybe also the weather [laughs], and so far it’s inspiring and refreshing. I’ve even found a good currywurst, so I’m not homesick yet.

I have planned a session with MK [Marc Kinchen], and also I’m in touch with [garage-house /vocal cut-up producer] Todd Edwards. The album was my personal statement and it was important for me, but I’m thinking just as much about house stuff as I am pop songwriting at the moment. My next track might be indie or techno, but I could head back into club music. I like to stay totally open to whatever is exciting.

I’ve rented a place that is really small and right now is just a laptop, MIDI keyboard and a new Universal Audio Apollo Twin, which is amazing, but I don’t have any hardware synthesizers, drum machines, etc. But it’s L.A., and I know some people, so I feel if I need to record something, it would be easy to do that. I still prefer to mix in hardware grit, noise, all those positive mistakes that give a song feel and depth, but to scribble and trade track snapshots with people it’s easier to start with software.

I’m also transitioning to a new MacBook Pro with Logic and Live after years of a PC with Cubase and Live. And I’ve also been thinking about getting a Manley Gold [reference multi-pattern microphone], which sounds very crisp and clear, good for modern pop production. I’m looking into producing other artists and doing recordings so it’s important to have a variety. I really want to buy some real SSL [4000 G Series] channel strips, I find their sound to be so round and warm, but first I need to decide where I’m going to stay for awhile!