Headman/Robi Insinna: The Ransom Note Mix


Headman / Manhead – Under his dual monikers Robi Insinna has produced some rather excellent output over the last decade and more. The 'It Rough' album released back in 2001 as Headman contained the rather amazing title track which was remixed to high heaven by Chicken Lips and still gets an airing to this day. He's remixed the likes of Roxy Music, Franz Ferdinand, Nitzer Ebb, The Units, Unknown Cases, Gina X and Klein & M.B.O.

His new album as Headman entitled "6" is out in September via his own Relish imprint. Replete with a special artbook and a video directed by Robi himself, there's collaborations with friends and artists including Red Axes, Brassica, The Emperor Machine, David Shaw and Sam from Gramme. 

The first EP from said album is a cracker. We got excited. We asked him to craft us a Ransom Note mix. And here it is. We chatted to him too. 

Please introduce yourself…
Who are you?

I'm Robi Insinna and I have produced under the name Headman and released as Manhead in the past.

Where are you? 

I'm in Zurich at the moment.

What are you?

I'm an Artist, visual creator, I produce Music and I also play records.

Tell us a bit about '6'. What's the thought process behind it and what's the message you're aiming to get across?

'6' is a pretty important album for me. It's the first time it has a double artist name, as I will use my name more often, so it has more of a project kind of feel. I'm not a band anyway and never was. I see it more as a project. On the Album I wanted to collaborate with loads of artists and singers. I've always featured vocalists on my albums, but this time I also wanted to co-produce and even write tracks with other people. So I just asked friends I've worked with over the years, or people I really liked. Some did not happen in the end and some did. The message is pretty much always the same for me. Try and do a creative album that represents what I like and reflects my influences. I never really looked at trends or styles, but just always did what I thought was interesting in my world, the album reflects that as well.

There are a number of guests on the album, was anyone a particular joy to work with?

It's never easy to collaborate with people, especially when you can't always work together in the studio. Some tracks were sent back and forth. The problem is that it always takes longer then expected but I have to say some tracks came very easily and some took a bit longer, in the end I'm very pleased with the collaborations on the album.

Why did you decide to release '6 E.P. I' first? Is there something very special about it?

I just wanted to do 2 EPs vinyl exclusive and then the album. The visual side and the artwork is also used on all formats, that was also very important to have the design/art going through all formats. I also didn't want any remixes, just the Album tracks on 2x EPs. On both vinyls there are exclusive dubs as well that will not be on the album.

You’re a man of many talents. I see you’ve directed the video for the new single too. Are you trained in the art of film too?

I'm not really trained as a director. I studied art and photography, so I know about lenses and technical things, light etc a bit… My approach is always from the artistic side of things. So the less you know, the more creative it becomes. This time I used a camera team and I edited it with a friend. Not total DIY, I wanted a certain quality to be achieved in the photography and also the fashion aspect was important in the video, a friend styled it. Music, art and fashion go together!

You’ve also been very involved in the visual side of the album, including the Artbook, which is 100 limited with free Album download code, hand numbered. And the prints and the Video…What drives you most artistically; music, film or art?

I always did the covers for all my music and loads for Relish releases so it was just going a bit further to direct a video and do some screenprints. Depending on what I'm doing I focus on it. If it's film, I watch films and clips, if it's visual art I look at books and images, music I listen to non stop, so usually I already have ideas. Sometimes it's also nice to get cross influences, like to take an idea from a movie and translate it on a track for example. For me it's all pop-art anyway!

Do you still enjoy running the label?

Yes I do, although it's not easy and you need loads of idealism the way I run it or let's say the music I'm putting out. Loads of people just care about likes, followers etc. I don't, if I like it I put it out.

Let's get that mix on…

Where was the mix recorded?

In my home Studio.

What would be the ideal setting to listen to the mix?

On a journey, car or train. I always tend to do mixes at home that are listenable, I actually listend to it in the car, it was like a journey. Up and down, deep and noisy. It also builds up.

What should we be wearing?

While listening, you should be wearing nice stylish relaxed clothes.

What would be your dream setting to record a mix: Location/system/format?

Vinyl only, on a great vinyl set up recorded to reel.

Which track in the mix is your current favourite?

Well, I like all of them but Heretic: 44 Squadron (Monoblok & PSLKTR remix) from the upcoming Relish, Manfredas-Pink Industrys and Richard Fearless tracks are great! And of course my album tracks.

You've done plenty of remixes in your time, do you have a personal favourite?

The Units: High Pressure Days, The Unknown Cases: Masinbabele, Roxy Music: Virginia Plain. Gossip: Standing In The Way Of Control, Franz Ferdinand: Matineé and my remix of: Seelenluft: Manila, after this remixing changed loads for me. I just listened to the Coloursound Remix which came out after the Manila mix in 2003, as a limited 7" for Crosstown Rebels, sounded pretty fresh still, just drum machine and bass!

What’s your favourite recorded mix of all time?

I think Baldelli Cosmic Cassette from 81'. It was a long time ago, but I remember that the first track was Units 'High Pressure Days' it took a while to first find out what it was and then hunt down the vinyl.

What’s more important, the track you start on or the track you end on?

I would say the starting track. That's where you can capture the attention for what's coming up.

How important to you is analog equipment?

It used to be very important. But I don't want to be an equipment snob, I think there's no limit for creativity. You can create with everything. If it's a good idea and original it will work. When I stared out I had very little studio gear, I had to improvise and use what I had. Sometimes that is the best creative help. Have more equipment to your disposal doesn't mean your music get's better. Of course I want a certain quality to my music, which is generated with the help of analog gear. But at the same time I want to use the possibilities of 2014. I want to be modern with an eye always on the past, aesthetically speaking.

What were the first and last records you bought?

The first I think was Kiss, the last was Manfredas-Pink Industrys vinyl.

One record in your collection that is impossible to mix into anything…

A Certain Ratio: All night Party

Are you a kick drum, a hi-hat or a snare?

I think kick and snare are both very important for me.

Anything else we need to discuss?

'6' Album and Artbook are gonna be release in September via Relish.
there where some missunderstandings why the album is called '6'. I released 4 Albums as Headman and 1 as Manhead = 5!

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