Track By Track: Snuffo – Live Free Or Die
Germany's Berlin is home to the wild, the wonderful, the experimental and everything in between. Snuffo is an artist who's dynamic energy is channeled through a number of projects, monikers and record labels. He is part of the Snuff Crew, produces independently, plays live and somehow manages to run two record labels: Snuff Trax and In The Dark Again. His latest album titled 'Live Free Or Die' sees him take influence from industrial elements of house and techno alongside analogue sensibilities and a jacked up sense of style. We caught up with him to talk through the release track by track…
In Rye, New Hampshire, close to the place where I stayed during that fantastic vacation (and where I found the inspiration for the album), the sunrise over the sea is mind blowing. My wife and I got up very early in the morning to drive the short way to the beach and watch the sun coming out on the horizon. It might sound kitschy, but it really touched me and it was an amazing way to start the day. The idea to use this motive as artwork for the front cover of my album seemed to be a good one. After the vacation, I wrote the tracks of the LP in my studio in Berlin. I already had the titles in mind. „Sunrise“ was one of the last tracks I produced for the record and I realized immediately that this was the perfect opener. The season this one and all following album tracks refer to is definitely early summer.
Watching Deers In The Dawn
In that part of New Hampshire where I stayed you can see a lot of animals along the streets, in the fields, in the woods and also in the gardens. On one of the first days my father-in-law drove my wife and me around and showed me deers that came out in the dawn. It was really fascinating to see this great creatures checking out what was going on outside the woods. I also loved to watch the chipmunks, squirrels and other animals in the garden of my hosts. My wife's family lives in an old farmhouse, so the whole environment was very special for me. It’s very quaint.
Before moving to Berlin I lived in the countryside of Germany. I grew up walking through the nature and playing in the woods, I had relatives that showed me how awesome the nature is, but looking out of the kitchen window of the old farmhouse of my family-in-law and seeing animals outside – or driving around when the sun was slowly setting, with this very special warm sunlight, and to see deers come out, this was an outstanding experience.
Take A Ride
In the USA you need a car when you want to go somewhere. I don't like driving a car and I'm not a good car driver at all. But sitting in the passenger seat or backseat and looking outside is cool. Especially when it happens in a country or area where I haven't been before. I always enjoy this. When I play gigs, the most I see from a city is when driving from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to dinner and club and back from the hotel to the airport.
On my vacation in New Hampshire „taking a ride“ was of course more relaxed. My hosts wanted to show me their world. The old towns of New England are really sweet. I enjoyed riding along the coast and having the ocean and beach on one side and the houses, stores, bars and restaurants on the other side very much. On the longer rides my mother-in-law listened to a lot of Rock radio shows and to a „Best of Michael Jackson“ CD set. This was big fun. Combined with the passing landscaped it was an intense mix.
Germans like beer. A silly truth. In the US I trusted on India Pale Ale (IPA). There was a nice little brewery in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, I sometimes went to. But actually you could get some good IPA everywhere. I had the feeling that this beer and my ongoing jetlag caused an interesting little flush, without being totally drunk. It made everything just a little bit more surreal.
Back at home it then felt weird to sit totally sober and rested at the mixing desk and produce a track about beer. So the ideal setting for this piece of music to be heard might be an excessive club night in a city.
To be honest, the roads of New Hampshire I saw were not bumpy at all. But when we took the bus to New York City to stay for 5 days, the bus ride felt like a roller coaster. I really had to pull myself up so I didn’t show my breakfast again to the other passengers. So the eponymous track on the album had been kept raw for a good reason. The beat is going forwards, noises appear and a piano line gets you. The bus is staying on track while the landscape outside doesn't change much.
In the garden behind the old farmhouse of my hosts there is a barn. It is not that old as the house but in some moments it looked spooky. Especially when its gate stood a bit open. It reminded me of some thrilling movies. I thought by myself that there must be a lot of secrets from the past hidden in this barn. Protected by dust and spider webs. It fascinated me. In the studio I wanted to transfer this image from my mind into a Techno track. I tried to create a dark and cryptic vibe. I think it worked well.
Apple turnover is a great word. In Germany we call it „Apfeltasche“, but that word does not sound attractive to me at all. And I know what I am talking about. My parents have a bakery with a pastry shop in the countryside of Germany, but I never tried this sweet snack there. In New Hampshire I did. The Americans like apple pies, my father-in-law loves apple turnovers. When he came home with one for me, I was happy, too. Sitting outside on the deck, eating it and having a good coffee while the sun is shining and you are far away from the noise and problems of your everyday life in Germany, this felt wonderful. Same for an apple crisp. With the album track I tried to capture this feeling by using some warm and deep sounds.
I already mentioned the sea. I'm absolutely not a fan of laying on a beach the whole day among others. I don't like this kind of vacation. I also get sunburned really easy.
But what I like is watching the waves and the endless sea . It inspires so many I think. In New Hampshire we also did a whale watching tour on a boat and saw some minke whales. This tour was really interesting as a whale watching organisation was taking care of it. On the other side being outside on the ocean caused some fears inside of me too. What if a whale arises directly under our boat? You see, it was a good idea for me to become a music producer and not a sailor man. „Atlantic“ is probably the trippiest of all tracks on the LP with its hiss sounds, dubby delays and weird layers.
Bonfire On A Beach
Something really funny to do is having a bonfire on the beach. Good friends of my hosts invited us to one. So on a Sunday night we were sitting around a little fire on the sand, having beer out of cans, eating snacks, telling stories… The waves came closer and closer to the flames. The lady who owned this part of the beach was absolutely sure that the water will never reach the fire – she was wrong. On that night I also realized two things:
1. I wished I had done bonfires on a beach like this all my life.
2. I never learned to eat a marshmallow in a proper way.
Live Free Or Die
„Live Free Or Die“ is the state motto of New Hampshire. (Every state in the USA has a motto). I really felt it, when I read it for the first time on a sign. This big urge for freedom, for being free, for doing what you want, making it… But we all know that living totally free never really works for a longer time – unless you decide to live alone somewhere in the nature completely independent from everything and everyone and far away from all other people. In my own life it still feels like an endless mission. Many years ago I decided to work as freelancer and not having a 9-5 job. Not planning the next 10,20,30 years and all that stuff. Who really knows where I will be then?
In Berlin I have found a lot of like-minded people, everyone is searching for his or her personal freedom. But of course it is often enough a struggle. And that sucks.
For my first album as Snuffo „Live Free Or Die“ seemed to be the ultimately fitting title. And closing the LP with this track made totally sense to me. With the ominous dark melody I wanted to depict fear (down pitched melody) and hope (high pitched melody), an emotional roller coaster that I have in my life – on my search for the aforementioned freedom.
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