Name: Pablo Nouvelle
Occupation: Producer, film maker
Current Release: Pablo Nouvelle's Vulnerability is out via Armada Electronic Elements.
Recommendations: Is it weird to recommend my own stuff? Not music though I promise. But go watch my short In A Nutshell. Although it’s already a few years old now, I think it still works just fine:
If you enjoyed this interview with Pablo Nouvelle and would like to know more, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, 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?
I felt the urge to express myself in an artistic way from very early on. For me this was a matter of course. It did not necessarily have to be music but then music for me, is the most universal and most emotional art form.
I used to play jazz piano as a kid. After years of saving I bought an MPC200xl and started to make beats. Whilst I was always listening to all kinds of music genres, Hip-Hop with all it’s facets was my natural habitat.
Sampling, the collage of quotations still characterizes my way of making and understanding music today.
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?
Oh, I associate colours with certain sounds too! However with seeing things … unfortunately only when I’m not sober. But the best bodily reaction to music still: Goosebumps.
But I just recently realized that I’m actually hard to give goosebumps, compared to others. Maybe professional attrition.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
One key moment was certainly, when I was trying to become an architect and had to do a boring internship, I suddenly heard my song on national radio. I quit the job and went to art school instead. But I was already so busy with my own musical projects that I couldn't get involved with jazz school. So I went to study animation film. The possibility of creating whole worlds fascinated me.
I remained musically self-taught. After a few short films, however, I've been concentrating only on music for a few years now.
What are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
The difficulty is not to be too erratic. There is so much different music I'm interested in making. But since I'm constantly producing new music, a current theme crystallizes each time, which can then be summarized as an EP or album.
But it’s also possible that I write a song today that will only fit into the chapter of 2 years from now. I have a lot of unreleased music lying around where I very much hope that the right chapter will still come.
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”?
That's probably the most difficult thing ever. I'm the reference guy. I love to get inspired by other music. It's like cooking. A few ingredients from there and a few ingredients from here.
So I never run out of ideas but to bake something unique with the same ingredients like everyone else uses, that's the true art.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools in the studio - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
It would be tempting to fester from my beautiful upright piano. A fountain of endless creativity, simply because it is a real, acoustic instrument to touch. Or the Ob-6 from Sequential. Getting my hands on that beauty of a synthesizer was definitely the cornerstone for a new era in my creation.
But if I'm honest, the most important tool are audio samples in all kinds of different shapes and colors that I fish from the net. All my drums but also many other sounds in my productions are sample based.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
I start at nine. I finish at five.
My life is organized with a simple to-do list that gets longer most of the time instead of shorter. It says everything from I should call my mom to detailed ideas how I could make a break in a certain song I'm working on. I love composing, everything else like emails and life or career organization a bit less.
Accordingly I’d rather write a new song than an urgently expected answer. But since I find composing to be the ultimate in meaningfulness, I guess that's fine.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
For my new record, almost all songs were created in the last 2 years.
I think it's a bit of a backlash to the world that hasn't turned. I longed for club, people, excess, life. I think you can hear that on the album. I created my own club when I produced. Most of the songs are no classic co-writing collaborations. Apart from the marvellous strings a friend recorded and two songs Adam from Bondax co-produced.
And then there is "Lights On". That song is a relic of the year I lived in London.
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?
Every co-writing session is different. But what is the same is that I always put a certain pressure on myself whether the collabo harmonizes, whether something good comes out of it.
When I'm alone in the studio there is no such pressure. I'm freer. maybe I dare more. That's why I like to go into a session with small sketches or a clear vision to have a compass for the journey.
But of course co-writing sessions are great. I always need an external unexpected element to surprise myself, even when I create alone.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
I regret that music today is less political than I feel it used to be. I think music today is very much in the private sphere. For example, on the headphones of city dwellers. I don't want to condemn that at all. If my music can give someone support in difficult times, then I have already achieved a lot.
But I hope that live concerts will gain more value again. I feel like our society has cultural long covid.
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?
Music is the constant companion for all small and big life events. Vacations without the right soundtrack are only half as good. Rocking a baby to sleep with the wrong song takes twice as long. And the way to work when I forgot my headphones is twice as far.
A good song is like a smell that, once associated with a certain situation or emotion, immediately catapults you back to it.
Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee - or is there something creative in these activities as well?
I think a lot of composing and even performing live is craft work. The more you do it the better you get.
For example, over time you find your methods for tapping into creativity. I really appreciate that, this work where I can practically turn off my head and it just flows.
From that point of view there are certainly many parallels to other craft activities. Be it making a coffee or carpentering a table.