We have had a pleasure to chat with Daniel (Sync24), one of two person behind world famous Carbon Based Lifeforms. We talk about his new album, studio and personal life. Interview made by Melissa with participation of Gagarin Project in October 2018.
Started in early years experimenting with tape recorders and simple music players on the Commodore 64 and gradually upgrading equipment and techniques. Having CBL as his main focus and some other projects on the side there’s always room for personal reflections.
Hi Daniel, thanks for taking the time to conduct an interview with us. I have been a fan of Carbon Based Lifeforms for some time now and have listened to a few of your songs in the past so it is a great pleasure. I love your new album Omnious – congrats on the release! My favourites are The morning before it all happened and Lungs full of clean air . So, I have a few questions for you.
Hi guys, it’s a pleasure to meet you and I am grateful that you take an interest in my music
You live in Sweden, how is ambient music scene in your area ? Is there any regular “downtempo” events or festivals that have place for this kind of music ?
The scene here is very small. Maybe there is something more happening in Stockholm but in Gothenburg, where I live, a downtempo event is very rare. Most of the few shows we have done here we actually organized ourselves. So even if there is a great number of people who are big fans of this kind of music, there is no place to go to to enjoy it. But I hope that change in the near future :)
Let’s first talk about the new album. Why the name Omnious? And please tell us a little about the artwork.
Omnious is a misspelling I did a few years back, that I thought sounded cool. It’s roughly translated to “All full of everything” and it rhymes with the sense of total freedom I felt writing the album. Titles like “Living the dream” or “Total freedom” sounds way to corny.
In June 2017 I was at home listening to my old albums and decided that I wanted to do a new Sync24 album. I was on parental leave and decided that I would start when that was finished and my youngest daughter had started pre-school. In the fall my employer had to do some cutbacks so I was let go. I figured I might as well do music full time and do some freelance programming on the side. So in November last year I started and my goal was to make an ambient album and then an uptempo album right after that.
Omnious is an eight track ambient album and it’s the result of about six months of total freedom and joy. I scratched a lot of ideas and reworked some tracks a lot. I did a lot of field recordings and also recorded som live effects and percussions. I used a healthy mix of hardware and software. I think I did a pretty good job with the tracklist and I hope that the listeners agree and find it a pleasant journey. The opening track ‘A deep sea meditation experience’ was a given but I was uncertain about which one to choose as the end track ‘Wise wispers in the wind’. I picked a favourite that is kind of melancholic but has warmth and a positive feel to it. I want to leave the listeners with a warm positive feeling.
I really want to ask, why the name Sync24? Carbon Based Lifeforms is quite self explanatory but I’m curious about Sync24.
Sync24 or DIN sync is an old interface/protocol for controlling Roland synths like the TB-303 which I use a lot. So it made sense at the time I decided to do a solo project. Also, I had very little time to come up with a name before my first release. Have I had more time I might have chosen a different name, but it works :)
Are you still a developer as your day time job ? What is your speciality in technology ?
As a programmer by day and composer by night, do you think you also use your analytical brain whilst composing or is it more of a process of free flowing creativity?
It’s harder if even possible to reach the state of “Comfortable Void”, as I choose to call it, by day now that I don’t compose at nights anymore. There is a certain calm during the night that puts you in the “zone”. I struggle with this a bit still since your everyday tasks interfere with composing. But I manage to write a great album during office hours so It doesn’t seem to affect me too much.
I know some developers that can’t find energy to see computer screens after the work days, what is your secret ? How do you keep your eyes ready for more work ?
It was more of a problem when I did a full day of programming and then tried to be creative during night. Screen time wasn’t and still isn’t any problem, but my brain was drained from solving problems all day. But sure, some days I avoid the studio and go for a long walk or read a book just to get away and rest.
Who are and have been your main influences music wise ?
That’s a tough question. I find inspiration in all flavours of music, from classical to rap music. I listen to all kinds. When I started I listened a lot to F.S.O.L. Orbital, KLF, The Prodigy, Leftfield, Underworld to name a few. At the moment I’m finally working on an uptempo album, something that has been on and off for many many years. So at the moment I gather inspiration and ideas from artists like Boris Brejcha, Ann Clue, Be Svendsen, Minilogue, Marek Hemmann and others
What software do you use? DAW ? Plugins ?
I use Cubase for composing, and Ableton for live shows. I own a lot of plugins but if I had to pick some favourites it’s definitely Spectrasonics Omnisphere and SoundToys
What’s your favourite hardware equipment and Synths ?
TB-303 obviously :) And I always loved Access Virus, I have worn out a Desktop B and recently got a TI2. I also have a Abstrakt Instruments Avalon which I use for all acid basslines these days, because it’s a modern TB-303 really. Got myself a Steinberg CC212 controller a while back, that I enjoy very much actually. Since 99.9% is inside the computer in the end it’s nice to have some knobs to tweak :)
What drew you to ‘meditative’ ambient music?
I was fascinated by the sound textures in ambient music, something I hadn’t heard anywhere else. I love that there is no set rules in ambient music, that you can paint huge landscapes with sound layers that could recall any emotion possible.
What is your experience with meditation ?
I’m terrible at it :) I find it hard to relax getting a massage, so meditating is not for me.
How was the experience of making a movie soundtrack? How was this different from composing solo or for CBL.
We were panicking a bit in the beginning because it was all new to us. Usually we are the only judges and we write the story together. This time we had to adapt to a story that wasn’t ours. But after a while we found an idea that seemed to work. A basic theme that we used as a base for all tracks, but in different ways to support the particular scene. One might call that lazy but it really glued all the music together, and at some points you don’t even recognize the theme.
What was your best “live” experience and why?
That’s a tough one. I’m not sure it’s my best live experience but certainly one of my most memorable. I played at the chillout stage at Ozora in 2006. At that time Johannes still didn’t fly and I did the CBL gigs alone. We were gaining some reputation but it was still a big deal to us to play at Ozora. There were a decent amount of people listening and sometime in my first or second track the sky just went dark as a huge rain storm came. Thunder, lightning and enormous amounts of rain came splashing down. At that time the chillout was in a huge circus tent and the staff were really worried about the equipment because water poured in. Soon the whole tent was filled of people seeking shelter. The power went on and off a few times, and me and the staff talked about if we should shut down for safety, but decided to just go on as all the people were really digging the music. They even pushed the volume louder as my set grew in intensity and in the break in Abiogenesis, just as the drums and main theme was about to come, lightning and thunder shook us all. Then came the drop and everybody just screamed as the track reached its climax, it was as if the heaven was supporting my set.
What are your future plans music wise – solo and with Carbon Based Lifeforms. Any collaborations planned?
I’m currently working on my uptempo album as planned. I’m hoping it will be released eary next year. CBL is gathering ideas for a new album and I hope we can have something ready by 2020.
Since I have much more time for music I’m thinking of doing some remixes of artists I like or even collaborations. Still just blurry ideas in my ever growing todo-list in my head :)
Can you tell us a little about your label? Do you plan to release many artist or it is mostly for your music ?
It’s all for my own projects really. At this point in time I see no reason why I should release other artists music. If I did I must give up a lot of my studio time to do boring work like promotion, contracts etc etc. I may however release vinyls and possible CD’s in the future.
What’s your advice for anyone who plans to release a solo album within this industry?
Find a label that releases the same type of music you do and contact them. If you are unknown without a network it’s very hard to get heard and a label could help you get your music heard.
Are you happy person ? We live in the days where many people are looking for the way to live, the way to be happy. Would you like to share with your fans some words of wisdom or maybe few books that helped you to achieve balance ?
I am actually. My advice is that you should shift your focus from money to time. I have been self-employed most of my life but last time I was employed full time I immediately found myself very stressed because I had to manage work, family and music at the same time. I think most people are overwhelmed by work and family life and find it hard to enjoy life or even find the time for quality time with their kids. My solution was to work 70% and use the rest of the hours for music and time with my kids. It doesn’t matter how much money you have if you don’t have the time to enjoy it. And you can’t put a price on spending your time with your kids before they grow old. All the wealthy men I’ve met all regret missing out on that special time with their kids.
Kids or not, choose free time before money and you get closer to finding happiness.
Thanks so much once again for your time! We wish you a lot of inspiration !
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