1. Laraaji – Meditation No. 1
2. Four Tet – Untitled
3. Lusine – Arterial
4. Nils Frahm & Ólafur Arnalds – Three
5. Gold Panda – In My Car
6. Koreless – Last Remnants
7. Dhafer Youssef – Birds Cancitum ‘Birds Requiem’ Suite
8. Markus James – Nightbird
9. Fever Ray – If I Had A Heart
10. Boards of Canada – Reach For The Dead
11. Tom Waits – What’s He Building In There
12. Trentemøller – Morphine
13. John Tejada – The Dream
14. Polynation – Sufi Pt. III
15. Kelpe – Whirlwound
16. Bibio – Petals
17. Rival Consoles – Recovery
18. Jon Hopkins – Abandon Window
September 14, 2016 by Joline & Guy | Photography by Berbe Rinders Art
Okay, guys, you’ve made the very first Offcast. How did you go about it?
We’ve tried to make a sort of summary of all the music and genres that inspire us and we listen to. The tracks all have electronic characteristics with an organic feel. And although the first couple of tracks have a lot of energy because of the drumbeats, they’re also sort of meditative: a warm sound with a crossover between acoustic and electronic. Because of the organic sounds, you sometimes don’t even hear whether it’s a synth or an actual instrument. The last three tracks are drenched in melancholic beauty and vulnerability, something we’re looking for in our own productions as well: rhythmic percussion combined with melancholy.
So this Offcast actually pretty much represents your own music?
In this Offcast you can hear mostly music we normally listen to. They’re some of the best tracks that these artists we really like have made, but this Offcast shows our soft side. The music varies more than normal when you hear us play a live set or DJ set.
And in every track, there are elements you can recognize from our own productions, like the world music or African vocals, or the sound design, or the same melancholic feeling. The most important things to us when curating tracks for this set was to have a strong and clear feel and emotion to be able to tell a beautiful story.
This also strongly differs from what we normally do. During a show, we sort of have to work towards a climax. By making sure the tracks work together nicely we were able to tell a different story. This, in turn, challenges us to do things differently and discover new sides of our musical tastes.
What tracks do you guys think really stand out?
Well, one of the biggest inspirations we used in the Offcast is a track from John Hopkins, Abandon Window. This track is filled with emotion. It’s like hearing the soundtrack of a film when the end credits are rolling and you’re not yet able to get up because it touched you so much. Everything is flowing into one another and it’s like the music is saying: all the emotions you’re feeling right now, it’s okay, even if it’s a little sad or even dark. The track also represents the emotions that are in the rest of the Offcast. It brings catharsis to the set and leaves you with a positive feeling. He also combines electronic and acoustic music.
Another track that we think is really nice, is the spoken word-like track by Tom Waits from his album Mule Variations. When I first heard that track, I just thought it was really weird, but it somehow does something to you and really compliments the obscurity of the Boards of Canada track before and the Trentemøller track after. Also, the guy has done so much cool stuff in his career and therefore has so much character. That’s very inspiring. And it’s really nice that you can combine that with an electronic sound.
Those two worlds are mixing more and more. How do you see Polynation in that development?
Yes, it used to be more separate. When you went to see a concert or show it used to be either a band or a DJ waving his hands behind the decks. That image has changed and the two are blurring. We think that the audience can relate better to what’s happening on stage when they actively see you perform. It’s really cool to see the synergy grow on stage.
And it also fits really well with our organic sounds. We, for instance, use field recordings from which we subtract elements that we sometimes give an electronic feel. But because the original recording was organic that blueprint stays apparent somehow and, when done right, of course, you end up with a nice mix of acoustic and electronic.
You are pretty much into the electronic-acoustic mix. How would you place that in a broader musical perspective?
The reason we make music, apart from doing it for ourselves, is to bring our audience in rapture. Music creates a connection and a sense of acknowledgment. Take Jon Hopkins for instance, it’s music that taps into this sort of communal emotion that’s recognizable for almost everyone, even though they might experience and feel different things or connect different life events. This creates a kind of shared experience, and by simply listening to that track you accept the emotion and can feel yourself getting more relaxed and in harmony. If music can play that role, we think on a small scale you’re making the world a better place. It’s a very positive way to make people feel and experience something.
This can be achieved in numerous ways: some can completely lose themselves in our music, and some come closer to their feeling and allow themselves to be vulnerable. The combination between electronic and acoustic allows us to reach both audiences and gives us more options to play with music.
After our performance at PITCH festival, there was a couple that came up to us and told us that we really touched them. That’s something that is very valuable to us. In a world that is pretty much upside down, where everyone has to achieve something, music makes you take a step back, return to your core, and share emotions and get into a state of trance. Think of it as a kind of primal need we all long for that music enables.
Our music speaks the language of dancing and getting in a trance, but also at the same time, it appeals to more sensitive feelings. Most of our tracks begin with a firm beat, but along the way presents the sensitive side, melting it together into a whole. As if you inject warms feelings into a cold world. Something the world can use every now and again.
That warm and sensitive sound you describe, is that something you would like to build upon?
We are musical very open to anything actually. We don’t want to focus too much on one side of the spectrum. We’re planning on leaning a bit more to the acoustic side to discover a broader audience; one that doesn’t necessarily goes to clubs and festivals to dance. We want to expand our music, maybe a little more towards being a band, with the same idea and mentality, but with room for live improvisation and more use of instruments.
For the rest, we’re going to discover new sides by teaming up with other musicians, a bass player for example. We think it will be very interesting to see what happens when we bring more musicians to the equation because it enables you to focus more on your own role within the group. Maybe we will dive behind a piano on stage, or start using live looping, or we can make our drumkit sound more electronic. These are all options to discover what is musically possible for us.
So actually, we are building one big playground for ourselves to be free to do what we love most, without pressure from our audience that longs for a specific sound. We tried that a bit and it didn’t work. There is enough to go on and even more ideas to work with, but you have to shape your world in a certain way to provide the best environment for yourself to make the most out of it.