In Conversation With: Felix Dreiser

Felix Dreiser Interview

Felix Dreiser is a music producer based in Cologne, Germany. Early releases suggest he has a bright future ahead of him, none more so than his most recent track ‘Retrograde’. Dreiser’s sound is carefully sculpted and arranged, every note inserted with the greatest duty of care. Soft, ambient textures weave in and out which give his sound it’s own unique character, a sound perfect for a meditation session. A couple of weeks ago, I caught up with him via Zoom and we had a brief chat. Here’s what came of that.

As always I’d advise anyone reading to listen to the music at the same time for the best experience.

The Interview:

I suppose there’s no better place to start than your new single Retrograde – Tell us a bit about the idea behind this melancholic release.

‘Retrograde’ was a bit of an experiment, trying to make a simple, scaled down song – there’s no sixteen bar melody going on or any great overpowering idea. It’s a very simplistic and minimal track.  I decided to add a prominent 808 kick throughout, which was a new thing for me. I have always circled around the possibility of doing a song that is four-to-the-floor, which is a style of electronic music I wasn’t keen on in my younger years. I’m coming around to the idea of doing some heavier tracks, this single is a pre-cursor to that maybe. Retrograde is a mixture of organic instruments (piano, synths and drums) and some electronic elements.

As a fan of rock music (and guitarist in a prog rock band) , how have you ended up coming around to making soft, subtle electronic music like this?

It’s a broad gap alright, since the age of fourteen I’ve been playing rock music in several bands here in Cologne – I focused on the electric guitar, so heavy rock was what appealed to me. However, in 2011, my attention shifted towards a new form of music: finger-picking: this new style became massive with artists like Andy McKee setting the scene on YouTube. Antoine Dufour was another that really captured my attention, I adore his music – it’s so well composed with melodies, harmonies and bass all being played on the one instrument, fantastic. This era had a huge influence on me and the intricacies of finger-picking has shaped my own sound into what you hear now. I spent a full year finger-picking before returning to the electric guitar again with my band (a prog rock band).

As the years went on, I still felt that I wasn’t painting the whole picture I wanted musically, I felt a little stuck and the guitar was becoming a bit dull. I started messing around with a keyboard and some crappy VST instruments; it was a really inspiring moment. Even sitting on an out-of-tune piano has a real excitement to it – The piano is such a captivating instrument and I wanted to make the guitar more exciting too. I explored harmonics, open-tunings and began to use the guitar in a different way – I wanted to make my guitar replicate the sound of a piano. When I found the correct sound, it stuck and I’ve centred my music around it. I started mixing guitar harmonies with the piano and then moved onto synths from there.

It must have been a great moment when you finally uncovered your own unique sound. Has this inspired confidence in you?

I have always written my own music but it wasn’t until two years ago, that I recognised the sound I really want to make and the story I want to convey to the listener. Before then, I wrote loads of songs which ranged from ten minute prog rock songs to heavy rock tunes. Although they were written by me, I always felt like I’d just copied them from artists that I listened to at the time. It wasn’t really me, in hindsight, maybe I wasn’t ready yet. Now, I certainly feel like I am able to convey a message in my music and have confidence in the sound.

Where do you compose your music?

I compose all of my songs in my little home studio, nothing too fancy – I’ve got my Roland Juno synthesiser, some nice pedals that I use for my guitar and a drum kit.

Going forward, what do you have planned for the future?

The first few steps are to get some more songs out, I haven’t decided yet if there’s going to be an EP coming soon or not. Definitely, I will be releasing a few more singles in the coming months and hopefully when everything starts becoming clear again, I will move into live performances thereafter.

Are you going to stay in the experimental electronic genre with your next releases?

Yes, I will be staying in this experimental electronic, neo-classical style and I will be experimenting with a couple of collaborations too. One of these is with a close friend, who happens to be one of the best producers I’ve ever seen and a great vocalist. I’m going to be doing a vocal collab with him. Also, I am currently working with more percussion oriented stuff, percussion made from synths with low ASR etc. I have two ‘Four-to-the-floor’ songs to be released too. Overall, the majority of the releases will be in the realm of Classical, Scandinavian, Experimental Jazz Electronic. I’m always shy when it comes to calling my music neo-classical, we’ll stick with the aforementioned genres.

What musicians have you been listening to yourself?

Lately, I’ve fallen in love with the new Ben Lukas Boysen album ‘Mirage’. He has some really creative ideas. I’ve also been listening back to music I liked in the past, bands like ‘Good Tiger fko The Safety Fire’ – a really melancholic band. The new Rival Consoles album ‘Articulation’ is brilliant, his 2018 album ‘Persona’ is up there as one of my top twenty of all time.

Finally, although it’s not the greatest time to ask – what’s the music scene like in Cologne?

For electronic music, Cologne is much smaller than Berlin – which is an internationally branded city for techno and house. There is still a good music scene here, I’m living quite close to a place called Artheatre, a place that features Jazz sessions and open sessions. Loft is also worth a trip. Cologne is a good city for club music that go on all night although I’m not really into the club culture myself per say.

About ‘The Sound Sniffer’

The Sound Sniffer is a one-man music blog which is still only a baby – Founded and run by Kevin Coakley in early 2019. He is a music writer and ghostwriter. ‘The Sound Sniffer’ also runs gigs and showcases in London since Oct 2019. The showcases are picked from artists found in the blogs submission inbox.

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