The story to Paul Walter’s Bassline
Paul shares his musical story and a freshly recorded mix with us
Dear Paul, thank you for your time and for taking this interview. As far as I know, you are heavily influenced by the music you listened to in your childhood, which was mainly Rock, Reggae, and US Hip-hop. What inspired you towards music when you were younger? Could you drop a few names here of the artists that inspired you the most?
Dear Jules, thank you for the opportunity, I’m happy to be part of it. For me music was always an escape from reality, it triggered hidden feelings and emotions inside of me, and this is what inspires me most, till today! To name a few artists that accompanied me throughout are Bob Marley, Tupac & Marilyn Manson.
Was your family particularly musically-minded?
My family is musically-minded however, as they listen mostly to classical music, it influenced me to seek out other genres a lot. At a young age, classical music did not translate to me very well, compared to how it does now.
Why do you think is that so? I often hear that young kids don’t really like classical music until they get older.
Maybe because classical music is mostly instrumental, and works without voice and singing, except operas (which I rarely can enjoy up till today), and kids are simply not used to it, I guess. Even though you can’t lump everybody together, there are for sure kids who enjoy classical music a lot, for example thinking of those who start to play a classical instrument from an early age on and really enjoy playing it.
Can you tell us a little more about your first interaction with electronic music? What was so special about it?
For me, electronic music is a very big field, as you can find electronic music elements in almost every genre. If we enclose that to electronic dance music, I have to point out that the looping periodicity, with little variation over time, combined with few unexpected events hooked me most. An unforgettable night for me was Sven Väth presenting The Sound Of The Seventh Season at Flex Club. At the age of 15, this was the first time I heard this minimalistic and subtle style of club music. It sounded way more sophisticated than the music I used to know.
The first track on The Sound Of The Seventh Season
That sounds like a great experience indeed. Are you still listening to Sven Väth?
Yes it was, still getting goosebumps when thinking of that night! Well, Sven has my biggest respect till today. However, after a couple of years catching him every time possible when he was around my hometown, I felt like the music Sven played changed into a direction which was different to how my musical taste developed and I stopped forcing to see him play.
So how was the scene in Vienna when you started going out and how is it now?
The scene was not so much divided up in genres like it is today. I remember that people including myself, did not subdivide a main genre in many sub genres. For example, there was one main Club for me, Flex Club. There was a weekly techno event called Crazy, which I attended most. You were able to see the same people attending the Crazy event and attending the Drum and Bass event the other day. It was a lot about the social aspect of attending a Club in general. Flex was very special too, as it was a melting pot for all kinds of different people. Everyone just wanted to hang out, dance and have fun. That was 13 years ago. Looking back at these years, I see the Viennese scene like it’s split more into groups of friends, and I have the feeling that the music is not as important as the people who are going to those particular events.
Paul Walter on Harlo
What happened to Flex Club? And what clubs are there now?
Flex Club is still here today! They are doing a lot of live concerts shows these days. Unfortunately, Rudi Wrany, the promoter from Crazy is not organizing parties there anymore – which is a big loss. Also, it’s been a long time since I got attracted to a particular event. Anyway, I believe the club has still a lot of potential today, I would love to see more parties there in the future!
Then we have the amazing venue Grelle Forelle where I often had the pleasure to play from the very beginning on. Not to forget the reopened Pratersauna Club, especially the Schlaflos series, which is probably supporting and contributing the most to our scene right now!
You did a course named ELAK (electro-acoustics and experimental music) at Vienna’s University Of Music And Performing Arts with a focus on experimental electro-acoustic composition. Would you say that this course shaped you as a composer? Has this background supported your success in electronic music?
It not only shaped me, it’s as well the reason why I would call myself a “composer”. The course lasted for three years and was pretty intense. I learned a lot and soaked in as much knowledge as I could. Before I started, I had so many unanswered questions, which are all mostly answered now. It made me more self-confident in what I do and did in the past. However, most of my music which got released so far was done before that course.
Which questions aren’t answered yet?
There are so many things I want to discover. For example, getting better at reading and understanding electronic schematics. Thinking this further, designing my own schematics or cloning as well as modifying existing ones, in order to design instruments that are tailor-made to my needs. But you cannot do everything in a three years course, time is limited. There is just one topic that I really expected to improve at ELAK a little bit more, which is working with harmonies and musical scales, as I never got serious training in that field, except my own web researches and Youtube tutorials. Looking back, it’s very likely that I expected a bit too much from an experimental music course.
How much of your focus is on producing for pure artistic expression, and how much is for the dancefloor? Can you talk us through your story-telling production process?
If I have to rate it, I would say 90% dancefloor and the other 10% for a pure artistic approach. In reality, it morphs into each other. I’m always searching for an artistic approach, especially in dance music. When starting a track, I’m looking for something special, like an idea, which triggers those emotions and feelings – very similar to when listening to music.
This can be a melody, a certain timbre of a sound, a rhythm, or a voice – there are no limits. In general, this becomes the soul of a track. From there on I’m building it up, layering and adding sounds. In the end, I try to record all that in a very unhampered and relaxed way. It’s mostly like a live jam, where I spontaneously mix and arrange the sounds and sequences I prepared before. In this case, it can also happen that a dance music track was planned, and while jamming and recording it, I impulsively have the feeling to do an additional beat-less version, which someone would describe as non-dance music. Nevertheless, it’s hard for me to classify my music in genres.
Paul Walter on Malonian
Who are you keeping an eye one lately in terms of production?
I recently started to watch an episode of Masterclass featuring Hip-Hop and R&B artist Timbaland, which is kinda like a video course where he gives helpful tricks and shows insights into his working process. When keeping an eye on somebody, production-wise, I always look up to the producers/technicians I respect and admire. You only learn from the Best! Regarding upcoming dance music artists I have to point out mastermind Daniel Kovac who is from Vienna too, also Mique who is running the label Patch Series where I was able to contribute an EP in 2018. Not to forget the guys from Palma Mallorca, Baltazar, and Difid aka Dakpa!
Please tell us more about the next project that you are running with your friend and clarinetist Mona Matbou Riahi.
The project is still pretty undefined name wise. I first met Mona in a composition course at ELAK, cause she studied clarinet at the same University. She was curious about what we were doing in the experimental composition department. However, we did not exchange that much, until I randomly met her at a club where Romanian artist Barac was playing that night. I was pretty amazed that she was there and soon after that, we kept in touch and met in the studio to record her improvising over some rhythms and sequences of mine. The results from this first time in the studio can be found on my Multikultier EP for Aeternum Music. Since then we regularly meet, experimenting with ideas, working on tracks and thinking of new concepts and ways to play together live as a duo. There are no boundaries, but I would describe the style as more into the direction of non-dance floor related music. At the end of the day, our plan is to make an album out of the recordings we are working on now.
2020 has been a crazy year so far. How is the situation in Austria and how are you coping with it?
Yes, crazy times indeed! The situation in Austria is pretty much the same as almost everywhere in Europe, I think. Unfortunately, the club scene is almost not existing. Luckily at the moment, we have the possibility to experience some events at a very nice open-air spot, where I also had the pleasure to play. I recently heard about some innovative club events which were held under the highest hygienic conditions, with limited capacity and closing time 1 am, at Grelle Forelle – more of this, please! Besides the club tragedy and canceled shows which I would have loved to attend, it personally did not change that much. Now I have time for all the things I postponed, like repairing and building instruments that I use in the studio, and of course, there is even more time to be in the studio working on future projects.
What next projects are we expecting from you this year?
Besides the project with Mona, I have plans to record an album together with my former ELAK colleague and composer Peter Trabitzsch in which we mostly want to use our Buchla 200 clone modules we recently built as a project together. Till the end of this year, some very exciting projects of mine are scheduled to be published: there is a track featured in a VA compilation of a new label from some seriously motivated guys, its called Danzha, as well as two remixes for Olivier Romero on his label Drumble Music. What I’m looking forward to most is the two-tracker EP I did together with Arno, on Pressure Traxx Silver Series!
We are looking forward to the music too! Danke, Paul!
As a little get-through-the-day-gift, Paul shares a 60 min extract of his latest and only recorded set this year during the pandemic. Recorded in one of the few open-air locations in Vienna (Himmel und Wasser) due to Covid19, the dynamics of the set bring a lighthearted yet peppy vibe to any environment you might find yourself in.
Listen and enjoy!
What do you collect besides music?
Modular synths and live resin
Which was the first record you bought?
Various Artists – Training Camp Vol.1 on Get Digital Music
Cola or Pepsi?
Favourite classical instrument?
Autumn or spring?
What do people do too much these days?
When things break, do you prefer to fix or replace them?
Fix them and use them till they, break again, repeat the process.
Burger or Pizza?
Tough decision. If so, I’d go for Pizza (Neapolitan style)
Last club you played at:
Sass Music Club Vienna
What does music mean to you?
Vielen Dank für informative Berichte wie diesen, also mit Kopf und Inhalt. Weiter so! Gern mehr davon!