Born in East Germany and now a resident of Amsterdam, DJ and producer Patrice Bäumel has carved himself a niche amongst the upper echelons of European dance music through a solid 15-plus years of hard work and studio experimentation.
A hardware synth fan and Ableton Live addict, Bäumel has a brand of gritty house and techno that’s born out of a hands-on, jam-centric approach to creativity, embracing unexpected imperfections. We caught up with him on his home turf during 2017’s Amsterdam Dance Event…
What’s your favourite piece of software?
“It is, of course, and always will be, Ableton. It’s like my super-sampler. It does everything. I love that it allows a million different workflows. Every person I know uses it in a different way. I’m a producer, a remixer and a DJ, and I can do all of these things inside Ableton. I can make a podcast... I can do a remix on the plane... so Ableton is my go-to tool.”
What gear or software do you have your eye on next?
“I’m not really up-to-date with the latest releases; I simply don’t care about it. I’m always eyeing anything that comes out from the Dave Smith area or the Moog area. I like my hardware synths and the simple stuff. One function per-button; the stuff you can operate without reading a manual.”
We’re in town for ADE. What do you look forward to seeing at an event like this?
“The thing I’m most looking forward to is seeing my bed! It’s going to be a busy few days and I’ll squeeze as ￼much family and sleep time as I can. Musically, I’m looking forward to seeing my friends play in bars and clubs all over the city. And meeting people from all over the world again. When you’re travelling every year, you make a lot of friends, and all of a sudden they’re here in your city and you can show them around!”
What musical trends do you predict will be big in 2018?
“I think a big trend next year is going to be more abstract techno music. More minimal. More focused on interesting sound design. A departure from the warm and percussive and ethnically-influenced house music, towards something that’s more cutting-edge and modern.
“You see a lot of sci-fi movies coming out... Everyone is feeling like there’s a new future coming. You see it in blockchain technology, you see it in the way people communicate. It’s just constantly evolving – a departure from our traditional structures.”
What was the last cool production trick you learned?
“The last trick that I learned was that, when I’m stuck creatively, I’ll take a pop song into Ableton and add my own little bits and bobs to it. I’ll delete the original song, and then you have a basic structure to work from.
“I think the best creative tip I could give to your readers would be to invite accidents into your workflow. Don’t think of an idea; just play around like a child – push buttons and turn knobs until you find something interesting, and just go with that. Don’t write the music but let the music write itself.”
How did you first get started making music?
“I started DJing 20 years ago... I was working in a bar and they had some decks in the corner and the DJ showed me how to use them. He showed me how to mix two acid jazz records into each other, and immediately the fascination just gripped me and never let me go.
“The production side came much later. I was a participant at the Red Bull Music Academy in San Paulo in 2002. I got a crash course from a few people on how to make a track in – at that time – Reason. Once I realised it wasn’t that hard, it was like painting – or programming code. Then it’s just a matter of putting in your 10,000 hours to get good at it!”
“I have a Midas Venice F32 mixer that connects all my hardware and software. It connects to my computer through a Firewire cable and gives me 32 audio channels inside Ableton. My go-to synths are the Moog Sub 37, my favourite is the Dave Smith Poly Evolver, and I also have a Prophet-6, a Virus TI and the Teenage Engineering OP-1.
“For outboard effects, I use an Eventide H9, and my favourite plugins are Ozone and, for a synth, Diva. That said, I could make music 90% as good as I am just using Ableton.”
What’s the newest thing in your studio?
“My latest toy is my Make Noise 0-COAST. It’s a semi modular synthesizer so you have all the plugs on the front and it’s like an introduction to modular synthesis. At the same time it runs standalone, so you don’t need a whole rig. It sounds absolutely fantastic – extremely clean, extremely fun, playful and loose.
“Like all the Make Noise stuff; it really deviates from the subtractive synthesizer, it’s really something else. It mixes the West Coast and the East Coast flavours which is why it’s called ‘No Coast’ and it brings randomness and squeakiness to my music.”
Where do you start on a new project?
“I always start with a jam session. Whatever instrument plays into my hands. I never start with a fixed idea, I just let it sort itself out. I let the machine speak to me, then I lock it down and curate it into a framework that works in a song context.”
Do you have a message to pass on to our readers?
“Dedication trumps talent ten out of ten times. In other words, I’ve never seen anyone who applies themselves 100% in that scene who didn’t make it somewhere. There’s a way into making music for a living for virtually everyone. Make more music, make better music, make sure you get better every day. Don’t compare yourself to others, compare yourself to yourself the day before.”
Keep up with the latest news, releases and dates from Patrice on his Facebook page.