German producers Phace & Misanthrop both have a deserved and respected reputation for crafting meticulous and driving drum & bass productions. They’ve helped push the producer-ship involved in crafting club tracks up a notch creating a musical vision that pulses with deeply cinematic flourish whilst at the same time remaining rooted in the core elements of progressive drums and enveloping basslines over a multitude of solo singles, collaborative records and their From Deep Space album. So when the duo announced that they were working together on different, non-drum & bass material; it’s fair to say our interest piqued – two masters of their craft working on a project that wasn’t loaded with any kind of preconceptions or hangovers from their previous work.
That project is NEOSIGNAL, a name you might recognise as the name of the duo’s record label. But not to be confused with the imprint, the mere idea of the collaboration already promises a lot. So with that in mind and with their debut live performance as NEOSIGNAL slated for the first ever Critical Sound Room One takeover on Friday 22nd March, we caught up with Florian and Michael to find out what the collaboration will sound like, how they’re taking it to the live stage, their reasons for doing it and more…
So NEOSIGNAL is the name of your new collaborative project. When did you guys decide to start going by this alias? What was the idea behind it?
Our new two-man music project named Neosignal was born at the end of 2011. One can actually say that the seed for this idea was already planted when we built up our joint record label, also named Neosignal Recordings, end of 2008. For more than a decade we have been mainly producing drum & bass under our Misanthrop and Phace aliases, both as solo artists and in collaboration. We reached a point we both realised Neosignal means more to us than just a brand, a record label or a certain style of sound. A signal itself is something quite diverse and universal. It can have endless facets. After all these years we simply are super motivated and feel the personal need to create another and fresh artistic identity to also be able to explore further fields of electronic music.
As an artist in general we think one should always aim for progression; in our view this means you simply need to break stuck habits and try something new. One should not scare away from the risk and one should avoid defining oneself by the expectations of others. Otherwise things would become a little boring and repetitive and would just feel like constantly firing a machine or industry with the same learnt ingredients. It is a fact that such repetitive schemes actually operate quite well on the market, especially in these peak times of capitalism. In our opinion though, such a repetitive scenario isn't essentially the key to awesome art, creativity and innovation.
When starting the Neosignal project we knew this could be somewhat a little confusing and complicated for all our loyal Phace, Misanthrop and Neosignal Recordings fans. Just be sure we do not forget where we come from or the people around us who have supported these other projects over all the years. Phace, Misanthrop and Neosignal Recordings are ongoing projects; don't expect them to simply fade away. We love them too much to let go. Nevertheless the sound of the productions you know from Phace, Misanthrop and our label have to be seen as something separated and own to what we do with the new Neosignal project. We are hoping our fans understand that music for us as Neosignal does not have to be tagged with a specific etiquette, but should be simply something to enjoy. There is so much great and diverse sound out there; one just needs to dig deep, and one need to open both mind and ears.
What works well about the partnership? Why do you want to continue working together?
It just works! Two cooks in a kitchen can be a little tricky time to time, like in any band. We just managed to find a way to aim for the same thing. Our workflow is quite complementary. Even though we both have a clear idea of what we subjectively want and prefer, we found ways to multiply our skills and ideas, found ways to compromise and to play fair. We also share a common sense and are not only like-minded in many aspects, but also are different persons with own opinions and different approaches to things. Nevertheless we both are willing to be receptive to the counterpart and to the new.
Your debuting the NEOSIGNAL project live in Room One at Critical Sound on 22nd March; what is the concept of the performance and how does the live show work from a technical point of view?
When we thought about taking the Neosignal project on stage we definitely wanted to start performing it in a different form than just DJing. We’ve both been DJing for nearly 15 years and we love it and are definitely going to continue playing out but it also restricts you from a technical side of things. The music we produced for our upcoming Neosignal project LP is all various tempos and styles, anything from 86 up to 120 BPM. We just felt in love with these measurements and rhythmics as they leave so much more space for our ideas. As we produced the whole LP in Ableton Live anyways, the performance will be all Ableton based, plus a couple of controllers for us to interact live. This simply gives us most freedom and possibilities, and in our view presents the music and its concept in the best way. We also would love to get a real visual stage show going at some point, with visual animation that fit each track but as we are at the very beginning of it, we’re going to take it one thing at a time.
Calling a pure electronic music performance live actually sounds a little contradictory to us; in the end you always just trigger something. We are not musically trained instrumentalists and hence prefer to leave the live word to real instrumentalists being able to improvise whenever and whatever they want. Nevertheless, with the music of our forthcoming LP we also wanted to be able to improvise and interact when performing it, to make it work as a special electronic experience. Because the music on the LP is so diverse, we’ve reprogrammed many of the tracks just for the performance, so it truly is something exclusive. We want it to be a sort of coherent journey through the LP and also through some of our past productions. We are thrilled and cannot wait to perform it. Big up all the fabric and Critical crew for inviting us to give our stage debut!
It is all very exciting and new lands for us, and we hope people will be open to the project’s sound - please just do not expect it to sound like a Phace & Misanthrop DJ set…. Even though drum & bass will not be a part of the LP project itself, it will play its role in the live performance. Understandably the main focus will be all on the new forthcoming diverse electronic music of our Neosignal project though!
What projects have you got coming out this year that the world should know about?
Well the biggest project obviously is our forthcoming Neosignal concept LP named Raum und Zeit. Our long-time friends Noisia signed it for a release on their Division Recordings imprint. We are extremely happy and honoured that the boys wanted this to be on their label. When we showed the music to them it was all finished and the way we wanted it to be, and they wanted to release it exactly that way. That was something really important to us! We rate their opinion and work highly. Them and their manager Walter are lovely people and always were super supportive. In general it is just an awesome thing to work together with some of your best friends. We aim for a release of the LP late June. The first single release is going to be a track entitled 'Planet Online' (including a couple of remixes) and is scheduled for May.
In terms of our own label Neosignal Recordings and our Phace and Misanthrop project, we also have some exciting news to share too: we will release a new 4 track Phace & Misanthrop drum & bass EP named Motor at the end of March!
Catch NEOSIGNAL performing live at Critical Sound in Room One on Friday 22nd March. Tickets/info here.