Members: Julius Ruelke, Niels Poensgen
Recent release: Brigade's Hard Times, Soft Music is out October 14th 2022 via Laut und Luise.
Recommendations: Soichi Terada - Sounds From The Far East; LTJ Bukem - Producer01
If you enjoyed this interview with Brigade and would like to stay up to date with their music, visit the duo on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
Both of us actually have similar tastes here. We didn’t grow up together but we both would have listened to a lot of black metal then.
Production was more of a hobby at first. Niels was trying to impress some cool older kids who were into psytrance and Julius' counterstrike career wasn’t picking up.
Once we really started listening to electronic music though, we were both drawn towards acts like Ben Frost or Autechre. Amber is an all time favourite.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
We have fairly fragile bodies. That’s why we don’t play so many high notes and try to avoid beats that are too rough.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
We have this love/hate relationship with functional rave music and a lot of the electronic music we’ll listen to at home isn’t club music at all. It’s mostly IDM or rap.
We tend to go back and forth between these influences but when we are in the studio the process of making a dance track is just so much more fun than doing some abstract neck bearded, 22 minute, microtonal, algorithmic, post-ambient thingy.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
We don’t really feel a connection between identity and our music (as a musician you should really avoid the German identity ... big yikes).
The whole process is more driven by the inner need to sit in the basement all day and turn some blinking knobs.
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
Boring is good.
We honestly want to make songs that could easily be background music in a spa. We try to eliminate pathos wherever possible.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
Niels answering: Good question. I don’t think it’s that binary. I totally get how Mark Fisher / Simon Reynolds are criticising culture going full nostalgia. But I also think they are missing the bigger picture. It feels a bit too much like “old man shouts at the soundcloud”.
If you zoom out, musical history has always been about repetition. To this day there are fantastic musical traditions being passed down through generations. Check out this instagram called dusttodigital ... that's an incredible rabbit hole of people engaging with their own musical cultures in really creative ways.
When it comes to electronic dance music at the moment I’m into producers like Aquarian, Loraine James or Objekt who so obviously wear their influences on their sleeve but still do something new and futuristic with it.
Julius: I would definitely go with Niels answer.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
We tend to use pretty much everything that’s lying around in the studio and are not really bound to specific pieces of hard or software. You could definitely make a great track using Garage Band.
Still we are building a modular set-up right now, for which we stopped eating to save money. If we end up doing generative-jazz you know where it all started.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
Usually we’ll wake up around 9ish, go to the gym and read a book afterwards. Then we hit the studio until like 10:00, grab food around the corner and discuss microwave pizza brands. We’ll be back at the studio until 19:00. Then we go out for some drinks.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
Normally we just sit in a dark small room forever and wait until something musically interesting happens.
Then we work for another eternity on moving little music blocks around Ableton and hope for the best.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
We’ve been working together for years so we’re pretty set in our collaboration. We do get some extra people in sometimes though. For example, we had this fantastic drummer Chikara Aoshima play for us on the album which was a great experience.
Getting in contact with other musicians always gives you access to a different approach to making music which is great (for example playing an instrument well).
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
Creativity feels like a personal free space which is in the best case not exclusively connected to economic needs, though it’s still a big part of making a life out of it. That’s why we tend to keep most of the material for ourselves.
But to be totally honest maybe music doesn’t have a major influence on the “outer” world. Like, it’s not gonna stop climate change (even though Coldplay tries really hard).
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
Not really. We have a pretty great playlist for just any life situation featuring an unapologetic amount of Prince but I doubt you want to hear about that.
Music that tries to be for “big” moments seems suspicious anyways. We’ll take silky smooth Sade over Hans Zimmer any day of the week.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
We do not have any knowledge of science to be honest and failed every maths class from fourth grade onwards, so every answer we could give would feel inappropriate at this point.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
We’d never know if a coffee was truly “ready” or not or if the choice of Guatemalan fair trade beans really reflected us as a barista duo or if using almond milk is too niche.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
I don’t know. We actually try to go the other way and make music that intentionally doesn’t carry any deeper meaning. It’s all surface.
We’re hopefully the opposite of Nils Frahm.
[Read our Nils Frahm interview]