Name: Janus Rasmussen
Nationality: Danish, Faroese
Occupation: Producer, composer
Current Release: Janus Rasmussen's Slóð is out via Ki.

If you enjoyed this interview with Janus Rasmussen, visit his official website. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud. For some thoughts of Janus's partner in the duo Kiasmos, read our Ólafur Arnalds interview.

What was your first studio like?

My first studio was my parents' living room. I ran it on the family home computer with crappy PC speakers. All the software was pirated as no store in the country sold music software. I still made the best of it, even though everything would crash at two or three minutes intervals.

It's incredible to think that I got anything done. But I produced whole albums with that setup.

How and for what reasons has your setup evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?

Since then, I have had many studios and have been through almost every configuration imaginable.

Needless to say, I don't run any pirated software anymore, and my spending on gear is quite excessive. I have a great space by the harbour in downtown Reykjavík. I've been here for the last 12 years and am lucky to have a great collective of like-minded and creative people around me.

Right now, I'm excited about my latest synth, the UDO Super 6. It's a new and expressive yet old-school type of instrument. It's an inspiring piece of kit.

Some see instruments and equipment as far less important than actual creativity, others feel they go hand in hand. What's your take on that?

To me, it's all about collaboration and getting input and inspiration from the people you have around you.

Sure, the equipment can be great, but it can be hard to get any real work done if you're not excited about your social surroundings.

A studio can be as minimal as a laptop with headphones and as expansive as a multi-room recording facility. Which studio situation do you personally prefer – and why?

Both have their applications. I like having my favourite gear around me when making music, but I'm interested in the fact that you can write fantastic music using only a laptop nowadays. I try to do both to keep things fresh and to get a new perspective.

Sometimes I'll record some ideas in the studio with my hardware synths and then take them home to arrange on my laptop. That way, I separate the recording from the arranging.

From traditional keyboards to microtonal ones, from re-configured instruments (like drums or guitars) to customized devices, what are your preferred controllers and interfaces? What role does the tactile element play in your production process?

It's hard to say which one I prefer. I try to switch things around as much as possible as I find using the same method over and over to be tedious in the long run. Playing acoustic instruments is really fun and then rearranging and mangling them in the DAW to turn them into something entirely new.

I think of the DAW (Ableton) as an instrument. It's the one I use and play the most. So I try to practice it as if it's a real instrument and get quick at writing and producing. That way, things maintain momentum.

In the light of picking your tools, 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"?

I'm into trying new things and not being too bound to the past.

I get most excited by attempting to move things forward while keeping my roots. At the same time, I try to stay timeless, but it's hard to know if I succeeded until I look back at my catalogue later. We can't control it, but we can at least try our best without being overly careful, as that will kill our creativity.

As for continuing a tradition, I'm not too sure that's what I'm all about.

Most would regard recording tools like microphones and mixing desks as different in kind from instruments like keyboards, guitars, drums and samplers. Where do you stand on this?

It depends on how you look at it. There are ways you can setup a mixing desk to function a bit like an instrument, say with creative sends and riding the faders. And you can do a lot with mics with good microphone techniques and innovative placements.

But whether they count as proper instruments is up to interpretation. They won't make any sound without you feeding them a signal, so there's that.

How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work? Using a recent piece as an example, how do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?

In my work, technology is crucial. Whether I like it or not, it wouldn't sound the way it does without the newest and best tech.

I'd like to become less dependent on technology as I explore more forms and genres of music in the future. Currently, I have to have my preferred DAW to get the job done.

Within a digital working environment, it is possible to compile huge archives of ideas for later use. Tell me a bit about your strategies of building such an archive and how you put these ideas and sketches to use.

I start every year by creating a folder for new ideas. I colour code and organize depending on what has potential and what does not.

Also, having a phone with voice memos works excellent for quickly getting down ideas for beats by beatboxing or singing when I'm not in the studio or by a computer. It's a great initiator whenever you're looking at an empty arrangement on your DAW, which can be super intimidating when you're not feeling motivated.

How do you retain an element of surprise for your own work – are there technologies which are particularly useful in this regard?

There's nothing like simply transposing midi or audio up or down a few semitones or octaves whenever you're stuck on an idea. It's a minor adjustment, but the feeling of whatever you're working on can get a whole new life when it finds its most pleasing register.

Also, drastically changing the BPM after an idea has stopped being exciting can reinvigorate the entire thing.

Production tools can already suggest compositional ideas on their own. How much of your music is based on concepts and ideas you had before entering the studio, how much of it is triggered by equipment, software and apps?

I've tried every compositional production tool, and I don't think it matters all that much to me what I use. There's never anything that's going to write something for you that's worth keeping. Whenever I use a loop or midi file, I change it so much that I sometimes wonder if I wouldn't have done it faster from scratch.

These days most of my ideas are voice memos, or it's from an arbitrary jam with a bunch of gear playing for about an hour. Then I go in and arrange it to see if there's anything there. It's a hit-or-miss process. The only thing that works for me is to show up and do the work regularly to ensure something good happens.

Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?

It's easily the laptop and just how good and capable they have become. You can write large compositions entirely in the box. Sure we have had them for a while now, but we're at the stage where you can bring a laptop and do the work you need from wherever you are. Whether you're on the beach or in an airplane, it doesn't matter.

I have to give the new Apple chips some credit here as I just got a new 14" Macbook Pro. It is a marvel of engineering, with incredible performance, battery and thermals. Hell, even the built-in mics are usable now.

To some, the advent of AI and 'intelligent' composing tools offers potential for machines to contribute to the creative process. Do you feel as though technology can develop a form of creativity itself? Is there possibly a sense of co-authorship between yourself and your tools?

There are a lot of AI composing tools out there now; some work better than others. At the end of the day, humans are the curators. It's up to us to know what to pursue. Our tools have been co-authors for a while regarding the creative process.

Take, for instance, auto-correct when we're writing. It's a big part of writing on a computer, and some auto-corrects are rather intelligent. They can rewrite your sentences for you. There is something similar for music that can suggest the next chord or rhythm for you, but it's still quite elementary and doesn't understand abstract concepts or artistic choices. I wonder if it ever will.

Maybe humans are too weird to put into code like that.

What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?

I imagine that a DAW running in VR or AR could conceptualize some profound ideas that are hard to visualize otherwise.

As in going behind the connections and programming of tracks to see things in a new dimension. I don't think it needs to be too far in the future, as the technology is already there. I haven't seen it implemented in a way that excites me yet, but just give it some time, and it will be here.