Petar Dundov Talks


Croatian producer and musician Petar Dundov runs his own ‘Neumatik’ studio in Zagreb where he produces his own warm, melodic take on techno. Having recently released his 3rd LP Sailing Off The Grid via Music Man Records, we thought now a good time to catch up with him to find out a bit more about the man and his music…

Where are you from and where are you now?

I was born in Zagreb and I am still living here.  

What was the driving force behind ‘Sailing Off The Grid’?

I had a lot of ideas running around my head that I wanted to record. This was a very inspiring period for me, just after we released the album ‘Ideas From The Pond‘. I decided to just continue while I am in a zone and work on a sequel. I wanted to do something beyond the last one, to go a bit off the expected path and dive more into abstraction, but still keep everything in nice harmony. In the end it became a search for unconventional truth. 

What does the word ‘techno’ mean to you?

It means music that is emerging from the modern world of technology. What I like about it is that there is a perpetual desire of innovation that is embedded in the style, an constant need for synthesizing new interesting sounds and finding new ways of encoding musical information. It is a way of showing that we are able to translate our emotions into machines and as a result recreate something close to real human experience, a way of embracing technology to find new meanings. I see techno as an extension of musical expression from this era.

You’ve been described as a philosophical producer, how would you describe your musical philosophy?

I was always good with numbers and logic. At some point in my life I discovered a talent for music and through time sound became a strange attractor that I am still gravitating to. I like to ask questions and I am always looking for new truths. Music is just a fantastic phenomena to be explored. It has all the things I like, it is scientific, has mathematical structure, but still it is art and has a deep emotional impact to our being. My philosophy is to explore music as a bridge between physical and meta-physical reality, to use it as a tool to transfer personal insights, knowledge and feelings to the world. It is a language of music that I express my thoughts with.

With so many mixes available, what do you think are the defining features of a good mix?

It is mostly selection that defines a good mix. I presume today with all the DJ technology it is much easier to mix even for unexperienced DJs. What computers cant do is determining when to mix a new song to stay in the desired flow. That can be a revealing moment for anyone listening to know how good a DJ really is. The technical aspect is something you can practice and learn. Having taste in music is a much bigger issue. It is about having your own style and consistency in delivering it. This takes lots of time and dedication. I am not sure people really understand how much work it is to become a good DJ when they start pursuing a DJ career.

Check his recent Beat Manifesto podcast here: 

Would you describe yourself as more of a producer or musician?

I am comfortable with both descriptions, even in the last couple of years I have had a tendency to be more of a musician. To have good records you need quality content in the first place. Today’s music is bond to simplicity and there is a constant need for new solutions in how to create a good sounding record. At the moment I am focusing my energy on direct expression in my music and on stage when performing live. I believe there now exists, maybe more then ever, a need for real-time intervention, simple keyboard line or voice sampling, something audiences can recognise and follow. A kind of direct, personal statement that everyone can understand. I am all for good production and superb sound, but for me the main focus is what is in the core of all that. 

As more summer music festivals have been popping up throughout Croatia, has there been an increase in Croatian producers?

There is an increase in the number of Croatian DJs that perform, not so much in producers. Croatia has such a small scene that there are not so many producers anyway. I hope that this positive momentum will go on and that we will see more people getting involved in production. To become a producer it takes time and you need to invest some money for equipment to be able to deliver a good quality sound. At the moment it is a not so easy task for young people here. 

You can choose five members of a band to form a supergroup – who would be in it and what instruments would they be on?

Vocal: Adele

Guitar: Brian May

Bass: Bootsy Collins

Keyboards: Keith Emerson 

Drums: Eddie Duffy (Simple Minds)

We’ve had a peek at some of your studio gear, what piece of equipment is the most valuable to you?

I spend most of the time playing with a Roland System 100. I have two versions together with an analog sequencer and some new Doepfer A modules. It is all synchronized with a main MIDI clock and I also use audio-rate CV modulators from my computer. It is a very powerful system with 6 Oscillators and 6 Filters, you can create some serious sounds with it. There is practically no finite number of patches you can do with it, so I always stumble on something new.

What is it that draws you to analogue?

It is the sound of analog that I just can’t replicate in a digital domain. There is something organic in those old machines, like they have their own character. Maybe that’s what people lost in the process of digitalization. Before, instrument designers were looking for sound that would please their ears, synths are made to be played for longer periods of time. The focus was on how it sounds. It wasn’t so important for an instrument to have a million features that in the end you never use. Digital plugins are fine, but designers never know through which converter sound will come out in the end. It is much easier to do it today, there are many options, but I miss the creativity from that era. I think for today’s synth plug-ins designers will be much more productive to get over this vintage synth emulation and focus on something completely new.

Who is your least favourite cartoon character?

I can’t decide between Popeye and Top Cat. I found both pretty annoying.

‘Sailing Off The Grid’ is out now on Music Man Records.