Bruno Pronsato Talks & Win Signed Vinyl
Following our interview with the guys behind Rhythmatic last week, our Tim caught up with Bruno Pronsato, who’s headlining their next event at Red Gallery alongside Roman Flugel and the rest of the Rhythmatic residents. We chatted about his punk teenage years, his various aliases, including his new Archangel project and his approach to playing live.
We’re also giving you lucky readers the chance to win some signed records. We have a handful to give away ahead of the next Rhythmatics, so all you have to do is email email@example.com with ‘GIVEMEVINYL’ as the subject header and all you have to do is sit tight and wait (not literally though, you might be there a few days…)
Firstly, I wanted to talk about your origins in terms of music, (although Im sure this is well worn) you started out playing the drums, can you recall what instigated that decision, anything in particular that drew you to them?
More than anything my mother wanted us to be musical. my brother and I were twins, so we decided when my mother asked us what instruments we wanted to play we went for a rhythm section. Being into Iron Maiden and the likes in the early eighties naturally we decided that I play drums and my brother play bass.
And tell us about Voices of Reason, the punk/metal band you began with your brother, it seems like the ideal venture for a teenager, any fond memories of that era? Are you still interested or involved in that scene?
Absolute fond memories. Hanging out in the garage learning tracks from Metallica, et all. Smoking cigarettes, sneaking some booze here and there. Rock stars in training sort of.
I’m not really so into that scene these days. My brother does keep me abreast of the more refined stuff though. I always listen to what he sends me. The stuff coming out on Southern Lord and Relapse are by far the most interesting to me.
What do you think the origins of being in and around the metal/punk scene imparted to you? Any ideas or lessons that have stuck with you? The DIY mentality held by a lot of punk bands must have been encouraging
I think more than anything about the punk scene and the DIY ethic that typically accompanies it is that no matter how ‘good’ you are, you are still able to release records and be part of the movement. What you are doing is contributing in some small way to a scene, to a form to an idea. It’s not really like that in the dance music world. More than anything these days it seems like the photo shoot and the PR behind you is what makes you. Music is secondary.
Moving onto your beginnings with electronic music, Ive seen you cite Editions Mego and Raster-Noton as major influences in previous interviews, can you cite anything from their back catalogues which you believe to be particularly influential in terms of your own productions?
Well, when I began producing electronic music the whole clicks and cuts thing was just starting. I found that sound incredibly interesting. The whole idea of space as sound with little wisps here and there. It was amazing. I was really into the rhythmic stylings of SND. The openness of Alva Noto. I think that Fennesz’s endless summer was what really made me want to consider doing the electronic thing full time. That and Pantytec’s pony slaysation.
Ive also noticed musique concrete fleetingly mentioned as an early influence, which artists and what ideas in particular did you find appealing?
Fleeting would be the word, actually. I’m no musicologist so strictly speaking from a listeners point of view I really found a lot of the work from Stockhausen, Xenakis appealing. When I was discovering this stuff, coming from a punk ground, I found the idea of incorporating not only standard musical practice into tracks but sounds, recordings, and object which were not classified as instruments – all these added in one piece of music – was pretty fascinating.
Moving onto your own music, your productions have a lot of layers and elements which seem a lot less governed by conventional progression and functionality than the majority of producers working in similar strains of dance music – a lot less fixed to certain tropes, more fluid and unpredictable – especially on Lovers Do, some of the tracks sounded improvisatory (An Indication of the Cause Part One for example) is this the case? Whats your process in terms of production? Does your process reflect this kind of sound? Has your process changed significantly over the course of your career?
There is an element of improv to my work. To say that they (my tracks) are improv in a sense that I just hit record in logic and did all of these things would be false. There is actually a lot of work put into making my music sound loose and improvised. I sort of begin things on an improvisation level and then work my way backwards – refining as I go. Removing a piece here or there that may sound too quantized or to predictable. It’s a long process. I pretty much gave this working procedure up after ‘Lover’s Do’. not because of the work involved but because I feel like it’s time for me to move on to something new. My process now is a fairly easy one. I just do what I like – minus all the labor of trying to make it sound a certain way.
As Public Lover, you produce, with your wife, Nina Leece, contributing vocals, what was the reasoning behind the inception of the project as distinct from your other work?
I think after ninca and i got together as couple, and respecting each others’ work, it was the next reasonable step for us both. I had always wanted to work with a vocalist and do a bit more of the pop thing. She fit the bill on so many levels. It’s really great working with her. She’s actually a trained musician so having that element around and working adds something new to the process, which is always welcomed.
How does the dynamic of the collaboration compare to working under your other guises?
I’d have to say that her learning is the difference. There’s certain places that we go musically that personally I would never go, or that may be a stretch. I like that sort of feeling of being unsure – it sort of keeps you open to different ideas in the future.
Judged by the basis of your tour calendar, you seem to tour quite extensively, has this fed into your recent work at all? Being away from home a lot(etc)
Yes, I have been playing quite a bit this year. If it has done anything it has made me, sadly, a bit blas about dance music. I rarely hear music that I truly enjoy at the club anymore. I don’t know if it’s because i’ve reached a point in my life where I have become this old curmudgeon, but I just don’t feel that excitement anymore when I’m listening to club music. This may be a direct result of my touring, however. Musically speaking, it has made me want to move away from dance music. I think I rather see myself on stage somewhere with a small band singing abstract love songs while cutting myself and doing flips off of a drum riser. I think the Archangel album coming out in autumn will facilitate this. Or perhaps ruin me… Either way, I need the change.
Whats your approach to playing live? Its sometimes difficult to know in terms of electronic music produced with laptops how much is pre-programmed and how much is live
My approach is a simple one. I typically bounce smaller parts out of the music I have been doing the past few years, so that I have two or three hundred loops. I put those into ableton live and sort of do a gigantic mash-up of all of my work. It’s designed so that I have all of these parts and no matter where I am in a set I can go anywhere and launch clips so that it all works together. I do not have mastered tracks in my set. It’s a pieced together affair. In addition I bring a couple of machines with me. The jomox Mbase and the jomox 888. I use these things to add some things here and there. To warm it up with those nice analog sounds. Mainly the percussive side.
On your recent tours, which places and what nights have been particularly memorable?
I played in bogota recently and that was pretty amazing. It all sort of becomes a blur at some point. I think you just remember whether or not you had a good time last weekend or the weekend before. I rarely remember nights these days, more I remember nice promoters or cool people. The music some times is secondary.
Tell us about your new Archangel project. How does it differ to your other work?
Well the archangel stuff is my new baby. It’s what I have been slowly working on for the past year and a half. I did a podcast for Louche a while back where I was doing a bit slower music with some semblance of melody. It sort of went unnoticed, I guess. At any rate, I kept at it and came up with these sort of over the top pop tracks. I was pretty unsure about the whole thing. Completely changing your style is sort of unnerving. Anyway, so I had all these tracks – 9 or so finished. Unsure of what i was going to do with them. I did send some to Ellen at Bpitch, and we sort of talked about an ep, but nothing too serious. We were going to do it, but I sort of backed out at the last minute. It was all really very casual anyway. As I said, I was unsure of the work as a whole and wasn’t positive they were ready for the world. I knew that I liked calling my new style of music ‘Ersatz Pop.’ It was a nice umbrella to work under. A sort of limitation I applied to myself.
To make a long story short, I was playing at Half Baked in London a while back and met a really nice guy named Benjamin Freeney. We were sort of chatting at the show and he asked me if I was ever going release any of the music from the Louche podcast and I said that I really wasn’t sure, that I had spoke to Ellen and something might happen, but nothing certain. Also that most weren’t proper tracks, but sketches. I told him I would send him some stuff because, if i remember correctly, he mentioned that he had a label. So I sent him the more pop stuff that I had done after the Louche podcast. In the end, the pop stuff wasn’t really doing it for him but the more abstract style that I did in the podcast was more what he was after. So we actually started going through the podcast and picking stuff we liked and then I would take those sketches and work them into tracks, which is difficult because in working with a podcast you sort of build these sketches one by one to tell a story so they work in context of the podcast. Outside of the podcast and just as a stand alone tracks some didn’t work and some did It’s a new process for me and working so closely with an enthusiastic label (Foom Music) is great.
When was your new material for Archangel made? What informed their creation?
It has been pieced together over the last two years I guess. I’m still taking pieces from this track or that track and slowly quilting it into this Ersatz Pop sound. It’s still in the making. We’re almost done with the album now I’d like to say that it’s really informed by my teenage romance with the radio combined with my adult love of experimental music and vocals. Maybe it’s about being forty. Or maybe it’s simply an out to dance music.
Ive heard (albeit from snippets of probably unreliable bio) youre a big My Bloody Valentine fan. What did you make of their comeback and mbv?
I was/am a huge MBV fan. I think MBV was the album that being an adult in the 90s that we really wanted to hear after loveless. And it satisfied me on that level And I do love the record. I guess the eager listener in me was hoping for a new way for them to blow my mind. They didn’t really do it on that level, but they nonetheless succeeded in making me a very happy listener. I guess that’s really the most important thing anyway. Having your mind blown constantly is a pretty unreal expectation.
What have you got planned for the rest of this year and beyond?
In addition to the Archangel album coming out in autumn, I have a release with Sammy Dee as Half Hawaii coming out on Perlon this summer or early September. I’m working with Sergio from Benoit and Sergio on a new record soon as NDF and of course we’ll have some Public Lover stuff out before the new year with Ninca.
?Check out Bruno’s side project Archangel album teaser below too…