HigherFrequency  DJ Interview


Rasmus Faber

Any artist with a serious mind to connecting with their audience will walk a fragile path, that timelessly tricky balancing act of innovation and appeal. For Swedish house producer Rasmus Faber it comes own to one word - compromise.

"It's not a compromise in a negative way, it's just trying to walk on a middle path where I want the old jazz musician to appreciate those elements [of the tracks] but not scare off the club kid by being too jazzy".

Since his early single "Ever After" hung him generically on the house music peg, 'soulful' is one adjective that just won't seem to leave Rasmus alone, be it in his production work, remixing ventures or frantic live sets. It's taken him only three years to move from the periphery of recognition to become one of the key players in Swedish dance music's seemingly interminable roster, a self-confessed clique of talent that includes Markus Enochson, Tiger Stripes, Stonebridge and Axwell.

A remix of "Autosoul" by Dubtribe Soundsystem caught the ear of house giant Defected's Simon Dunmore, whose endorsement helped Rasmus set up his own label Farplane Records, a generic meltdown of house-driven Latin, jazz and soul, and a platform for his more recent production work with vocalist Melo. We had a chat with Rasmus last month while he was over in Japan promoting his forthcoming album, chalked for a May 24th release.

*If you would like to view the video interview...Click Here!

> Interview & Introduction : Matt Cotterill (HigherFrequency)


HigherFrequency (HRFQ) : Last time you were in Japan was September and we did the email interview with you. So it's very good to meet you at last. How have you been since then?

Rasmus Faber : Oh, quite busy. This is actually the fourth time since then that I have been to Asia. So it's been quite hectic traveling. I managed to survive the long harsh winter in Sweden. It actually snowed on the day I left. I was actually thankful, even though it rained when I came here, I felt really happy about it.

HRFQ : Thankful for something other than snow.

Rasmus : Yeah.

HRFQ : In that interview we talked about your background quite a bit, and how you got involved with Defected and Simon. This time we'd like to focus a bit more on more contemporary things. So far, the album that is going to be released next month in May.

Rasmus : Yeah, May 24th.

HRFQ : It struck us that there is a lot of old stuff that you have written going onto it. It's almost like a selection, a 'best of'.

Rasmus : Yeah it is.

HRFQ : It's kind of the other way round isn't it? Because normally you'd produce a lot of original material and then do your selection.

Rasmus : I mean normally a lot of house producers, they don't release albums at all. The reason it looks the way it looks is because I haven't been working on an album in the sense of writing a whole album before, because the house industry is such that you release singles. I know over here it is more usual for dance music producers to make an album whereas in Europe and the States it's not as common. It might take a long while before a producer will actually make an album. So this album lands somewhere... You know it's like a compilation and an album, somewhere in between. It's also a way for me to wrap up what I've done so far and go from there in making more of a normal album.

HRFQ : You mentioned in the email interview that you would be working on a new album, an original one, how's that looking at the moment?

Rasmus : I'm in the heavy experimenting phase at the moment. I'm trying out different concepts. Basically I wanted to be as universal as I'd like to think that my productions are in terms of I want them to be quite easily understood, but still not compromise on the quality. I also want to move away a little bit from everything being kind of dancefloor adjusted. So I'm trying out different concepts and seeing where I can go and just see how far I can stretch in certain directions. You know, different singers, maybe even sing a little bit myself.

HRFQ : Yeah?

Rasmus : Yeah, doing different things.

HRFQ : Sounds great. I think it was 'Ever After' the single that really put you into the house category, didn't it?

Rasmus : Yeah, especially here.

HRFQ : Definitely here because they are into the sort of generic terms. Do you think that is a fair comment for your music, that it is nailed into the house category?

Rasmus : I do, yes. Because I chose house music as a format and I'm quite happy with that choice because I am able to make certain influences and certain genres even more accessible to a wider audience by putting them in that context, the house music context. So I think that is quite nice for me as a musician and as a music nerd to be able to present all those different things in a more easily understood way.

HRFQ : It is quite a good platform though isn't it, house - because you can incorporate a lot of other sounds into that.

Rasmus : Yeah, you can. It's quite a unique genre in that sense because the influences themselves like jazz, soul, Latin are much more marginalized genres and more specialized. Whereas merged together and put in this context it creates a much more universal sound. I also think, here in Japan people generally aren't as sensitive to a richness in musical elements whereas in Europe and the States it's almost like you have to trick people to listen to real music. You have to kind of fool them a little bit, like "Yeah this is house, this is dance music" and then you sneak in your little...

HRFQ : You sneak in your little sample.

Rasmus : Yeah I sneak in my little things and my tricky chords.

HRFQ : You might have to do that here in a few years, you never know.

Rasmus : I hope not.

HRFQ : You want it to stay the way it is.

Rasmus : I hope that thing stays intact though. That's a trend that goes up and down obviously, even in Europe as well as here, I suppose, but there is a difference in the musical tradition and what is accepted and what is not. For me it is nice to be able to work in all markets because I can express things that are a little bit different. In Europe I can do one thing and here I can tweak a little bit towards another direction.

HRFQ : That's the side that you are writing, but you also do a lot of remixing work. You've done Junior Jack, Kings of Tomorrow, a lot of stuff. Do you enjoy remixing?

Rasmus : Yeah I do. I have pretty much the same approach there as well. For example, often when I remix I try to bring out the small influences from other genres that they may have in the original and take them even further. Make, for example, Junior Jack's track 'E Samba' into an even more Latiny track than it was in the beginning and for Kings of Tomorrow actually taking the song that he borrowed the melody from, the whole Duke Ellington track, and taking it further into that musical direction. So yeah, I do enjoy remixing a lot.

HRFQ : It's sort of like taking the essence of it and seeing how far you can bring it.

Rasmus : It is and I often come up with ideas while remixing that I wouldn't have come up with alone.

HRFQ : Do you incorporate that into your own work as well?

Rasmus : Yeah, I learn from every production. I come up with ideas but I always put in 100% with a remix as well, it's not like I save up all the good stuff for original material. I enjoy remixing as well, definitely.

HRFQ : Other Swedish producers Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell - are you in touch with these people? Do you know them well?

Rasmus : Yeah I know them. Other than those three that you mentioned there are those with whom I might have more in common musically. Those three are probably the furthest away from me because they make very tough music. Me and Axwell used to be quite similar in a sense but he's been going very tough nowadays. But there is S.U.M.O, Markus Enochson, Tiger Stripes, and there is Stonebridge obviously, there is a bunch of people actually.

HRFQ : Yeah there is a lot of new stuff coming out.

Rasmus : And we have a nice little clique as well actually. It's quite healthy competition and everybody knows each other. We even have a gathering once a year and just go somewhere and chill out for a weekend or something like that and just talk about music.

HRFQ : Do you go to a country retreat?

Rasmus : Sort of, yeah! Actually we don't do it over the weekend because everyone is playing over the weekends. So we usually do it on a weekday and take one night at someplace and just sit in the sauna and talk about music software and stuff. It's quite unlike the scene in the UK for example where it is more fierce competition situation.

HRFQ : It's more erudite, brilliant. Your liveset is very busy, it incorporates a lot into it, can you talk us through that?

Rasmus : Because I have a musician's background, obviously I'd like to put together a full band someday with loads of people, all the people who play on my records. But it's a very difficult and expensive thing to travel around with. What I have now is actually probably the two people I work most with. My percussionist who plays on all of my productions, except for maybe one, and the vocalist, Melo, who sings on a lot of my tracks. So we have a live thing together with percussion and vocals, and I'm being the true renaissance man playing keyboards and DJing. So yes, we've been out a lot actually, we've been kept really busy over the last year. It's small enough to fit in the club concept and large enough to be a live act as well. So it's quite a good combo.

HRFQ : You're in Japan this time for promotion work, you're not doing any touring?

Rasmus : No, not at all. I'm doing a small gig more for media people and stuff like that but the main tour will be at the end of June. I'll be coming back with the live thing and doing a gig on the 24th of June at Unit in Tokyo, and also around Japan.

HRFQ : It's a nice club Unit, it's a good size. A couple more things, the last interview we did with you Rasmus, you made a comment which was quite interesting. You said it is nice to be recognized by the big names but what makes you really happy is when someone quite unconnected to what you are doing goes, "Yeah that sounds good!". So it could be some jazz musician or some kid listening to hip hop.

Rasmus : I appreciate it because I think in one sense the way I chose to make music is a compromise. It's not a compromise in a negative way, it's just trying to walk on a middle path where I want the old jazz musician to appreciate those elements but not scare off the club kid by being too jazzy. It's really quite a sensitive balance which I try to keep up. Producers often appreciate my stuff for being musical but I really appreciate when I get that back from people who are not heavily into a certain type of dance music, and just enjoy it for what it is.

HRFQ : It shows that it has crossed the barriers, it shows that it has universal appeal. Last time you mentioned you didn't think you had many fans in Japan, but I think probably the case is quite different now. So if there's something you'd like to say to them just as a final note?

Rasmus : Oh, um. Well I still don't think that I've quite grasped whether I have that many fans in Japan or not, so I guess you're just going to have to make it out to the live shows and show yourselves so that I know you're out there!

HRFQ : Well Rasmus it's been really great talking to you, thank you very much for your time. We wish you all the best for the future.

Rasmus : Thank you. Thank you.

End of the interview

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