Redshape emerged from the shadows in around 2006. Where did this character come from and why?
In the mid ‘90s, I started to realise that there is more that you can do with music besides just listening. At that time, so much energy was in the air and hearts of the people that it was hard to concentrate on one individual style or habit. So it took me nearly ten years of DJing and playing live to reach the point where I felt like doing more than simply music production.
Your most noticeable visual feature is your mask. Why do you wear this wherever you go? Does it symbolise anything?
It kinda symbolises the "unknown" space around or behind the music and the scene. A red static shape gives a basic grounding to all of the tracks that I do. It gives a special deep atmosphere to my shows, which are as honest possible.
by Lee Smith
1. Unfinished Symmetry – Part 1 & 2 [Present Recordings]
Arguably the archetypal Redshape club track. Low-paced, loosely rumbling drums, an ominous analogue bass riff, and an endless straining string line wrestle for attention, but what should by rights be a bit of a mess somehow emerges as a writhing, moody, gloriously organic peak-time epic.
2. Dog Day [Millions Of Moments]
Redshape goes raving with this flagrantly nostalgic paean to the days when UK hardcore and Detroit techno were comfortable bedfellows. Despite its backward-looking feel, the track’s snaking dynamics and subby stabs sound anything but dated—forget the Klaxons, this is the true sound of neo-rave.
3. Simon Flower – The Whisper Had It (Redshape’s Discodub) [Poker Flat]
In the midst of another boom of Basic Channel homages, this dub-spiked rework of NZ’s Simon Flower showed that Red had his own distinct way of incorporating the ghosts of Berlin past into his work. Icy delays shift plaintively over a bubbling, uncertain bassline, forging a rework that’s deeply introspective, yet bristling with subtle propulsion.
4. Alone On Mars [Present Records]
Redshape’s predilection for orchestral romance had already been hinted at on his prior releases, but it was the subdued harmonies of ‘Alone On Mars’ that really proved his stylistic versatility. Working a smartly syncopated rhythm beneath layers of angular harmonic melancholy, it may be Red’s least danceable work, but it’s also his most musically accomplished.
5. Markus Enochson – Red Coffee (Redshape Sweat mix) [Imprime]
Fans of Red’s more angular tendencies dismissed this recent re-work as his most conservative effort to date, but they somewhat missed the point. The track’s blocky, roughly-hewn beats, swelling low-end lead and searing string sections are as instinctively ‘right’ as the act of breathing, while the octave-by-octave upward arrangement pretty much orders you to stop whatever it is you’re doing and dance like it’s the last track on earth.
‘True techno’, as most people use it, is only a phrase like many others. Actually, ‘true’ really means honesty, love and the desire to express something. It's like people invented that phrase as they know what came before but they are incapable of changing anything. There is still a lot of ‘true’ music out there and the ‘golden age’ doesn’t need to be recalled, it’s still here—just looking different than before.
Your mysterious identity follows on in the tradition of mythical acts like UR, Basic Channel, and Kraftwerk. In some cases, this was because of shyness, in some cases a marketing technique, and in some cases used to form a political statement. Do you feel you are making a political statement somehow? Are you interested in politics in a wider sense?
Neither shyness, marketing or political statements are the reasons for me. Maybe a musical/political thing, if that exists. But actually, the way people react on the identity is what it’s meant to be. For me, I just decided that it leaves more space for ideas if people don’t connect my name or life to the tracks I make.
How do you feel when people compare your music to Carl Craig’s?
Carl Craig has been a great inspiration for sure so I don’t have any problem with that. The techno scene isn’t too different compared to any other music scene, there have been always comparisons and mutual inspirations—and being compared to Carl Craig for me is a good thing in the end.
Your music has a rough, analogue feel. Are you using analogue instruments, mainly?
The whole mix is done 100% analogue, but not all sources I use are like that. I love analogue synths as well as the cheap sound of ‘80s drum comps, which were mostly digital. Digital has become more ‘analogue’ then two or three years ago and it’s getting better and better.
What are your opinions on the digital age of electronic music, vinyl vs. MP3, software vs. hardware, etc?
As long as the balance and the freedom of choice are still there, I really enjoy the development. A lot of things have been said regarding this theme. The only quiet wish I may have is…save the vinyl.
Do you believe that techno music, by definition, should be somehow futuristic? Or are you more interested in the sounds of the past?
Music or art in general shouldn’t be anything by definition. I have my personal way of thinking and of looking back at the last decade of electronic music. Everybody should go for the music he likes, and yeah, basically I prefer the sound of the past, but try to make music of today.
It must be hard in the modern Internet age to keep a secret identity. Do you think someday you will be forced to reveal yourself?
I really hope that there are people who enjoy to have a little bit of that romantic unknown thing, especially these days where nearly nothing is unknown and unseen anymore. I don’t have any plans or thoughts about that. I really just hope that it won’t be destroyed.
What are your plans for the future, musically and personally?
I’m working on new music at the moment and trying to reach the next musical step for me, which may be an album in late 2008. Also I want to improve or refresh the live show for ‘08 as I need to keep myself excited about it, and that can only be good for the audience hearing it. Many thanks to all the people who supported the show and my music over that last two years!