Though Freund spends most of his time doing studio work at Non Standard Institutes, he's also a fairly prolific artist, with a style that ranges from fully avant-garde to easily club-friendly. He's produced a number of albums before, under the names Pink Elln, Zoon and with Max Loderbauer as nsi., but Leaning Over Backwards will be his first as Tobias., a moniker he reserves for more accessible material, such as Street Knowledge and I Can't Fight the Feeling. The new album will also be his first for Ostgut Ton, who have so far released just two of his tracks: nsi.'s "Bridge and Tunnel People" from Shut Up and Dance!, and "Balance," the opener on Marcel Dettmann's Berghain 02 mix.
According to the man himself, Leaning Over Backwards brings together the many sides of Freund's palette, from ambient right through to 4/4. Last week we rang him up at his flat in Berlin to get the rest of the scoop.
When and where did you work on the album?
I worked on the album in Berlin, for almost a year, maybe a little more even. I worked on many songs, and threw out a lot of stuff during the processïsongs that didn't fit the concept anymore. And actually just in the last two months, the whole album became like a picture of how I wanted to have it from the beginning. So yeah, about a year.
Could you describe what that picture is? What's the concept of the album?
Well, I thought if you're doing an album, then it should be something you want to listen to, you know? For instance, the Resident Advisor podcast I did, you remember that? I had something like this in mind, to have a variety of different things that I'm interested in, and that you might still listen to in ten years. When I started, the process wasanot to work on one song and finish it. Instead I would work on basic ideas, rhythmical ideas I had in my mind, and then just leave it somewhere and later do something on top of it.
So you kept working on basics and eventually put together all these little bits?
Well, you know I'm working just analogue, mostlysall the stuff is with an analogue desk, and analogue machines, so I don't have a recall system. I can't recall a song like it was before, as you can in Ableton or other computer programs. So I had to capture all the stuff that I did somehow, you know? So, I always did these basic recordingsrfor example, just beats in the beginning, just a two-track recording with the full length of the song, six or eight minutes with some variations in there, and then I put some new stuff on top of that.
So is that a similar process to what you would do with one of your other projects, like nsi.?
It's similar, yeah. But with nsi., I'm with Max, and he's kind of my input, you know? He plays and I treat him. This time, I was my own input, and I had to deal with myself. [laughs] But it's basically the same approach.
The title of the album quotes the Wire song, "Single K.O.", right?
Aha, you know that song? Well, I love Wire. Actually, I don't know exactly, is "Single K.O." the one with the line "leaning over backwards?"
I think so, it's on 154 for sure.
Yeah, 154, that's for sure. Anyway, I love all the lyrics on this record, and really of all Wire's lyrics.
What do you like about that line in particular?
Well, ever since I bought that record, I always thought of this line like this: when you lean over a railing or something, you get this feeling like, when is the point that you are falling, you know? And somehow I always liked this feeling I liked to find that moment you're just falling down. Somehow I combine it with music. It's weird, it's like a nice line, and for me it's kind of an honor to Wire, also.
Whose idea was the album? Did you start it on your own, or did Ostgut Ton suggest that you make one?
Actually, I started the album without any idea of where I wanted to release it. I thought I would put it out on my label [Non Standard Productions], but then I changed my booking agency to Ostgut and in the end of last year, Nick [Hrpnner] came to me and asked if I wanted to do an album. So I told him "Well, I have almost half an album ready," so it was really perfect timing. Now they can use this album to promote my live acts and stuff, so it worked out nicely.
I would have liked to put it out on my label, but of course Ostgut Ton pays for the production, and I have nice artwork. Really, I can do almost everything by myself, you know? They don't force me to do anything. Actually, when I gave them the finished album, they hadn't heard any of it yet, and all of them were like "Wow! This is great." I thought maybe they'd say, "We need another hit here, or we need something more dancey there and da da da," but no, nothing. Nothing at all, and that's something I really appreciate.
Are there any other projects you're working on right now?
Well, I'm doing like a lot of mixing stuff and producing some people. For example, you've heard of Aerea Negrot?
From Hercules and Love Affair?
Right, she had an EP on BPitch Control too. I'm producing her album, which is also almost ready. Lots of stuff like this. I also mix a lot of friends' records.
So do you most of your time mixing and doing studio work?
Yes, I do. But the work I'm doingrI just work for people that I really like, you know? They trust me and what I do, and I treat the songs as if they were my own. It's not like my job I had years ago, working in the big studio in Frankfurt. I enjoyed that, and learned a lot from that, but it was just a job, and this time it's more like working for friends. So it's kind of the same process whether I'm working on my album or for them.
So it's satisfying creative work?
All of the material on Leaning Over Backwards is previously unreleased. The album features a guest appearance from Uwe Schmidt, the man behind Atom TM and Senor Coconut, and one of Freund's past collaborators. The two artists worked together on "The Key" while Freund visited Schmidt in Santiago last July.
02. Party Town
03. Voices Told Me to Do That
05. Zero Tolerance
06. Free No.1
07. Leaning Over Backwards
08. Observing the Hypocrites
09. The Key feat. Uwe Schmidt
10. She Still Calls Me Mister
11. We Stick to the Plan
12. Now I Know
Ostgut-Ton will release Leaning Over Backwards on July 4th, 2011.