Black Research _ Interview with Fausten
So, just getting back to making the album Guys, how did you approach the collaboration in terms of what the tools were going to be? Was there much filesharing involved, even though you were both in the same City? You both live in London, yeah?
Derek: Yep North London. There’s no set way in the collaboration. Sometimes we’ll work on the same thing for ages, other times one will start something and go very far with it before the other jumps in to add their part. We live about 15 minutes walk from each other, which is handy because you can jam, record everything in multitrack, and have those bits to use for later. Tool-wise it’s usually the same stuff we use for our own projects, Reaktor, Machinedrum, Monomachine and some plugins. I have a Soundcraft desk at home and sometimes overdrive stuff through that. It all gets put together in Ableton. Cursor Miner popped round a couple of times with his synths and gadgets too. The longest session was 8 hours; we’d gotten quite mashed and weren’t actually able to speak after the first hour, just tweaking sounds. Although having said that, “Scalpel Song” was done sitting on the couch in Paris waiting for someone who had been carted off to A & E after a bondage filming session had gone too far.
The only time we fileshare projects is when we’re simply too busy to visit in person. We both work full-time and have a load of other crap going on. We don’t even have TVs, apart it from being shit, there’s also simply no time for it. Actually, while we’re on uploading projects, there is a bit of a collab going on with Ontal at the moment. They are based out in Subotica (Serbia), so of course sending data back and forth is the best way for this.
I’ve collaborated with a few people over the years online and it can be a bit of a learning curve / minefield in terms of appreciating that not everyone is on the same OS – or DAW – and that you need to send saved patches / name everything like an obsessive compulsive etc.. Did you set-up any ground rules?
Derek: Well, we both work in Ableton and on the same type of speakers, so it’s fairly straightforward. Stuff that requires special plugins will get rendered as audio. As the projects get more complicated, it’s necessary to render to audio anyway because there’s too going on, and the processor struggles. In some cases a smaller project gets merged with a larger one, on whichever machine the larger project sits, for example the podcast set for Rob Booth’s Electronic Explorations.
If you account for the personality aspect of collaboration, well, we don’t have much tolerance for people who are unreliable, chaotic, stressful or basically full of shit. So this instantly narrows down the range of collaborators, and also narrows down contact time in collaborating (reducing human exposure, if we feel doing so is beneficial to advance the project). Time is the most valuable thing.
Yeah – People Filters. That’s a good insight Derek. Any hard learned lessons? Were there any sparks between your individual ways of working?
Derek: Umm not really. The tracks develop in their own way. Some tracks will be worked on constantly by both of us, while for other tracks we just meet or overlap at a few points in the process and develop the rest of it on our own, so at no point should it feel forced. But I think the main reason for lack of conflict is that separate audio identities already exist for Stormfield and Monster X, so there’s outlets for our personalities and no need to forcibly stamp it onto other things. Fausten is a project taken seriously, yes, but it’s essentially fun, jamming and play. As long as the end result sounds like Fausten, it doesn’t matter what path the process takes.
Hard learned lessons? Umm, don’t mixdown a project while stoned, it will sound great at the time but not the next day. And turn the bass down on the speakers.
You’ve touched on it a few times already so I suppose I should ask about how creating music for Fausten differ from Stormfield or Monster X?
Julien: Well , it’s a collaborative project so I think it takes less time to finish some Fausten stuff. It’s like having two brains instead of one . Also there are fewer crazy edits in Fausten,compared to the Monster X tracks.
Derek: I tend to take too long on Stormfield stuff, it’s easy to keep going the acid/strings route which works well, but I want to avoid doing that. With Fausten we just pick a starting point and jam. Also with Fausten, the dogs and pigs usually find their way in at some point.
Was there ever a point where you had to say to each other, ‘Nah.. that sounds too like you.. that sounds too like me..’ ?
Derek: Nope, when it starts to feel like that, it simply becomes a Monster X or Stormfield track, and we move on 🙂
Also, a lot of the jamming recordings are just saved, and used as a source which we can go back to months later, cutting out bits to use. In some cases, we have no idea or have completely forgotten how the sounds came to be they way they are, or who did what.
haha – That’s the way to do it then.