to the less than haplessly addicted electronic music fan it might seem like acid pauli appeared from nowhere earlier in the year with his mst album on nico jaar’s clown & sunset. in fact, the german producer and live specialist has been toiling away under many different aliases for years. as acid pauli, though, he has found most acclaim with a thin, stripped back sound that’s stuffed with organic found sounds, intriguing sonic intricacies and lazy, stringy rhythms. it’s perfect match for the introspective clown & sunset catalogue, and truly makes for subversive late night listening. ahead of the man playing the rebel rave showcase in london on saturday 6th october (along with lazarus, tim xavier, james what and, most interestingly, aiden lavelle, brother of james) and has also mixed the latest crosstown comp, get lost v featuring stimming, dop, autechre and many more, out soon. anyway, i caught up with him for a brief q&a, mainly to ask what he thought about the association between his sound and trip hop.
why the name acid pauli? is there a story behind it?
it all started with a stolen laptop: back in the year 2000 a poor swiss man broke into our tourbus and took my computer. ok, it’s stupid to leave a computer inside a car even if you are in zurich, but somehow i didn’t really care, ’cause i was young and naive and after all it was the night after the last show of a long tour and therefore no need for a computer the next day (in 2000 checking emails was something we did maybe twice a month).
well, time was floating by and inevitably the next tour was approaching, making the purchase of a new computer necessary. this time it was a brand-new laptop, able to run audio-tracks and most important: virtual instruments, which means, with this new toy i was finally able to make music with just the computer and no need of putting half a studio on stage. i liked it!
i installed a software called “rebirth”, giving me a virtual 303, 808 and 909 and i started playing in an illegal club in munich, just improvising with the software. needless to say the music sounded a bit acidish, which at some point made my friend axel screamed “aciiiiid paaauuuuliii”. i heard his words with half an ear and decided right away: acid pauli, good name!
how do you feel about your album now you look back – did you enjoy the process? are you happy with the results?
yeah, i definitely enjoyed it. the making of as well as everything afterwards…
was it made with playing live in mind at all or are they separate things? do your performances in clubs feed back into your studio sessions or…?
it was made out of my live set so it definitely had to do something with playing live… also there is a lot of feedback from playing live to the studio, ’cause sometimes when i play live there are combinations that just happen in one certain moment. i try to remember them or write them down instantly to get back there later on when i am at the studio.
despite being german there doesn’t seem to be many germanic traces in your music – its warm, not machine driven, fluid – do you relate to german music at all?
sure i do have traces in a way… but honestly i bought my first kraftwerk record just some years ago… when i started listening a lot to music it was more loads of american/british music…not even electronic.
how did you come to foment the sound you have? what music did you grow up around and what have been the biggest influences or inspirations, musically or otherwise?
autechre, leonard cohen, sonic youth and loads of music from all over the world, especially latin music…
to play devil’s advocate – what would you say to people whom think your sound – and that of clown & sunset – is a re-imagining of trip-hop? is that in any way fair?
why not? and dubstep goes back to drum&bass and all of that is music, nothing new.
with the music on mst being so, well, there’s a lot of negative space to it – how do you know when the arrangement is full enough but not too full? is there a magical formula?
negative space? i am sorry, i don’t understand what this means. there is some melancholy in it if you mean that, but it’s important for me, ’cause without this there is no happiness either.
you have many different monikers, how do you know what music belongs to what project? do you have to be in the right headspace to make music for each name or do they all intermingle freely?
i have different dresses for each of them…so depending what i wear i make music for the appropriate project.
will we hear more from acid pauli? do any of your monikers have logical conclusions do you think, or will they all carry on forever together?
yes, you will hear more soon. i don’t decide when those projects end. they have to decide themselves, but i am sure they’ll let me know.
what are you working on next, what have you got coming up and what are you excited about? musically or otherwise…
i am working on getting lost and besides that we are working on a new notwist album which we are very excited about. …just saw mulatu play live and it has been incredible. so many things to be excited about….