Name: Oberst & Buchner
Members: Sebastian Oberst, Andreas Buchnerl
Nationality: German
Occupation: Producers, live performers
Current Release: Oberst & Buchner's Marble Arch is out via Heimlich.
Gear Recommendations: In this interview, we'll talk about our outboard a lot already. So here are some software recommendations (not really underground but important): The Scheps Omnichannel plugin is used heavily in our productions for basslines and drums. Also keep an eye open for the Soothe 2 plugin. This can help you a lot to eliminate frequencies you don’t want to have in your mix.

If you enjoyed this interview with Oberst & Buchner, visit the duo's accounts on Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud.

What was your first studio like?

Our first studio was a dusty cellar room filled with guitar amps, drums and so on.

We recorded our first album on a minidisk recording desk. When it came to electronic music we first produced at home, starting with crappy computer speakers before becoming more “professional”.

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

Our setup has always evolved in times we wanted to sound “new”. Trying new things always meant for us to try different technical approaches. At the time we produced more organic stuff we worked a lot with samples. So the MPC was the most important part in our gear.

Nowadays we like more dark-wave approaches, so classic 70s and 80s synths like the Juno 60 or Prophet 6 are the most important right now.

[Read our feature on the Juno 106]

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?

Hand in Hand. But you don’t need a 4000$ synth to approach your sound. Sometimes the VST does the Job too.

From a sound perspective you would probably need any piece of hardware. But hardware is good to be inspired from but it always depends on what you need as a producer. We use both in a balanced manner.

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?

We think both. It’s cool to get ideas when playing around on your laptop on your couch or while being on the road. But when you want to get a professional result proper speakers based in a room that had some acoustic treatment is a must.
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?

Yes we also regard those as much more technical instruments. It’s not coincidental that Masters of Recording and Mixing are called Engineers. It’s much more technical and mathematical to record, mix and master a song jam on your instruments.

We love to stop the mixing at one point and give it to an engineer with fresh ears and much more know-how.

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?

Technology inspires creativity. The main reason why we are using a lot of hardware is not for sound reasons. It is because we are inspired by the haptics and aesthetics, especially of vintage gear. This definitely drives our creativity and translates into our music where you can find a lot of examples for that.

A Juno-60 for example does not have many faces. But the few things a Juno can do are close to perfection. Being this limited to certain sounds engages us to push it until we create something new. Be it playing around with the arp or using the chorus effect, it can be surprising what you can reach with a little patience. Same goes for Drum Machines like the TR-8 or the TR-505.

But we are also interested in how AI works and are currently playing around with an AI that creates images from a sentence. We are really curious how AI will be used in music in the future. 

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.

Honestly we are having a hard time ‘recycling’ older ideas of arrangements and tracks because within the process we evolve and it is tough to go some steps back before moving on. That is why we were pushing ourselves to create arrangements of the album tracks right after we collected the ideas.

That is something our friend and mentor Kalipo taught us. What we like to recycle are certain elements like drum sounds, synthesizer settings etc. That is also very important to us to keep some kind of consistency in our work since our style evolves a lot.

So basically what we do is not a spectacular strategy: We create drum kits and save them for later as well as vst presets and certain effect chains.
How do you retain an element of surprise for your own work – are there technologies which are particularly useful in this regard?

We always approach our process of making music using trial and error. That means that we just play around with sounds, harmonies and effects until we reach something that we really like. So we always have this element of coincidence in our tracks, sometimes even when it comes to the initial idea.

Also instruments like the Prophet 6 provide some kind of own live that adds some surprising elements to the compositions.  
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?

When we enter the studio we never have a concrete idea of how we want to sound like.

Of course we are inspired by what we listen to at home or what we play during our dj sets but that’s a rather subtle influence.

Everything we create is driven by the gear we use and without any fixed idea of a certain sound we want to approach.
Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?

As mentioned above, the most interesting thing that will be approaching musicians and the music industry very soon is AI.

We don’t think that AI will take over the complete composition process but there is a high chance that it will be integrated in how vsts work (it already is) which will be an interesting development. But we don’t know yet if it is good or not.
What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?

Maybe some instrument that translates other art forms like for example colors into sound.