Brandt Brauer Frick are three young minds we’ve been waiting eagerly to pick. The German trio sit at the top of a music philosophy that fascinates the variation of classical and electronic music genres. Drawing influence from the foundation of techno in Detroit, from old era kingpins Kevin Saunderson and Juan Atkins to the new, like Carl Craig and Moodymann; their lifelong ambition for playing in bands and classical composition training has given birth to a project totally authentic. Going from strenth to strength since 2009, last year saw the release of their debut acoustic-electro album, 'You Make Me Real' on !K7 Records which has since been followed up with 'Mr Machine', the brand new LP as The Brandt Brauer Frick Ensemble out now.
If you’ve been lucky enough to experience Brandt Brauer Frick live, with their entire 10-piece orchestra canon or as the dancefloor groove of Daniel Brandt, Jan Brauer & Paul Frick working a synthesizer, groovebox and electronic drum kit- their stage ownership will blow you away. What’s even better is that next Saturday, we’ll be streaming their live set live on Awdio, alongside Shaun Reeves and Le Loup all in Room One. Now there’s an early Christmas present for you.
We caught up with the brains behind BBF to talk about their journey so far, including their self-founded imprints ‘Doppelschall’ and ‘The Gym’, the new album ‘Mr Machine’, music advice and why Theo Parrish is their unsung hero.
You can also check out the video for their new release, ‘Pretend’ taken from ‘Mr Machine’ on !K7 Records here...
For those uninitiated, can you break it down for us and explain your individual roles in BBF?
We are doing everything together. Every piece of music starts out as a jam session we are having together in our studio and then it evolves from there. In the studio we are all playing all kinds of instruments. When we play live Jan is playing the keyboards, Paul is twisting the knobs on the groovebox and I play the drums.
Where does your classical past & training come from?
Paul studied classical composition and was always part of many bands, Jan played in many bands and had piano lessons and I also had piano and drum lessons since I was six years old and also played in various bands and classical orchestras. We always listened to all kinds of music but in recent years most of our projects were associated with electronic music and playing this music live as a band.
Who in the electronic music world do you embody as completely unique?
Theo Parrish is one of the truly authentic musicians and DJs out there. He never cared about genres or rules and produced everything from acid house to original funk but you can always recognize his style. The same with his DJ-sets. They are truly original and he also has the knowledge about music which you need to have to be a great DJ. I think he will never be able to bore me with his music or DJ-sets.
Have you ever been to Detroit? The techno soundscapes you touch on would suggest you have a strong connection with the city?
Unfortunately never. I've only been to Detroit airport when I was eleven years old.
But of course the music culture of this city has a major influence on us. Most of the techno music we like has its origin there and we are huge fans of the likes of Kevin Saunderson or Juan Atkins. Also the new generation is important to us such as Carl Craig and Moodymann. And of course Motown Soul has been something I've been listening to all my life.
You’ve amped up your live show and recruited highly skilled instrumentalists for a 10-piece ensemble…tell us about you your decision to go to the next level in live performance?
We had the idea from the beginning of the project to play 100% acoustic with an ensemble at some point. It became reality much faster than we planned to do it but now after about 20 gigs this year we are very happy that we did this step. It's still not the status quo as we do it right now and we still want it to be changing constantly to keep it interesting for ourselves. Maybe we'll have different instruments in the setup at one point or we'll include more electronic instruments. We'll see!
Tell us about what we can expect from your live show at fabric next month?
We'll play just the three of us which means that it's basically more banging and we are able to improvise a lot which makes our trio live sets always different. We are playing live using a Groovebox, a Synthesizer, an electronic drum kit and various effects.
You’ve played everywhere from the Modern Art Museum to Berghain, where are some of your favourite places to play for what you do & why?
It's hard to tell which ones were the best places but of course there were some favourites. Berghain was great as it just has an amazing soundsystem (we can't wait for the fabric system in Room One) and summer festivals are great too. One of our definite highlights of the past year was Gilles Peterson's Worldwide Festival on the beach in Sète. We played at sunset after Gilles and before Laurent Garnier. It was a very special night!
In your biography it says you knock against every single part of an instrument, until you find that one great sound. Can you explain more for us please, what limits have you stretched too?
We just moved to a new studio, so we have plenty of new things to knock on. As we are more into the songs itself we don't really reach a limit on this as our tracks are not purely based on using interesting sounds. Of course our sound is changing but we are still keeping up the excitement when we are together in the studio and we are still able to surprise ourselves and each other.
Tell us about your self-founded imprints ‘Doppelschall’ and ‘The Gym?’ How do you divide your time between the two and what’s new that we should be looking out for?
Doppelschall is a label we founded as a party series in Jan's and my old hometown Wiesbaden (close to Frankfurt) many years ago with our friends (also including Nano and Leon who are now doing a great party series in Berlin at //:about blank called "Get Deep"). As we had a pretty crazy year in 2011 we only put out one release at the beginning of the year. The Gym Records is a newer sublabel of Doppelschall. Pierre Chevallier from Cologne is also part of the team. We just released a new record including the original version of "606 'n' Rock 'n' Roll" by James Braun from Copenhagen which we also transformed into an ensemble version for our new album "Mr. Machine". On the B-Side is a track Jan and I made with our long running project "Scott". It's kind of a post-dubstep-jazz-house track.
Can you tell a bit about the stand out tracks on your new album ‘Mr Machine’?
We had almost all songs ready before recording and we were already playing them live with the ensemble. "Pretend" for example was originally a remix we made for Emika. But then we thought it would be great to play it live with the esnemble, so it became an ensemble track. And then we thought it sounds very different than the remix so we recorded it for the album. Almost the same happened with "On Powdered Ground (Mixed Lines)". We made a remix for Agnes Obel's original track and we couldn't resist to make an ensemble version which is now on the album. For both tracks we only used short parts of the original's vocal and made different songs out of it. So it was okay for us to put it on the album.
Finally, what’s the best piece of music advise you’ve been given?
I remember how Patrick Pulsinger explained to me at the RBMA in 2006 how to record proper handclaps in a perfect room. Handclaps are great! And the approach he had to record sounds and instruments in different environments and in kind of an old school way (sometimes including tape recordings) was very inspiring.