Interview: Hannes Rasmus

Hannes Rasmus - Photo by Desiré van den Berg

Hannes Rasmus – Photo by Desiré van den Berg

Hannes Rasmus – a self-professed former indie kid – first became interested in making electronic music in a somewhat atypical way.

“I wanted to have a punk band when I was younger, but [all the good musicians] had bands already,” he explained. “So I [started] looping drums and stuff and playing guitars to that.”

Shortly afterward, a friend introduced him to the early 90s program, FastTracker, and that served as a gateway to listening to, creating, and recording electronic music.

Still, in spite of pursuing a solo electronic path, Rasmus remains a fan of indie music, citing German Hamburger Schule band Tocotronic as a huge influence in his life, even today.

“I grew up with them, and I really loved their first four albums,” he said. “[Those] records were pretty simple musically, and I think my music isn’t overly complex as well, so there’s a similarity. It’s more about harmonies and melodies and not about big sound.”

He also noted that he has a penchant for minor chords, something apparent in the Tocotronic sound.

In May of this year, Rasmus released a four-track recording, titled Analog ist besser – a nod to Tocotronic’s first album, Digital ist besser. Continuing with this tongue-in-cheek tribute, Rasmus’ song titles correspond to Tocotronic songs, with his “An einem Donnerstag im September” referring to their “An einem Dienstag im April;” “Wir sind hier nicht in Detroit, Dirk” playing off of “Wir sind hier nicht in Seattle, Dirk;” and “Die Idee ist gut doch die Welt ist schon zu weit” pointing to “Die Idee ist gut, doch die Welt noch nicht bereit.”

The album – which Rasmus described as “analogue, kinda minimalistic melodic techno” – was released on NOTOWN Recordings, a label created by London-born, Berlin-based Gold Panda, who used to live in Hamburg and met Rasmus at a show there.

“I was just getting drunk and having fun there and then suddenly I was standing next to the bar, waiting to order another beer, and then [Gold Panda] stood next to me,” Rasmus explained. “Then we kinda started talking…about synthesizers and drum machines and stuff.”

Rasmus gave him the link to his Soundcloud page, and Gold Panda wrote back, saying he wanted to put Rasmus’ music out.

“It was pretty exciting,” Rasmus recalled. “And it’s actually pretty funny that it happened, ’cause I’m pretty shy, so I usually don’t talk to people that I don’t know…but maybe I was drunk enough.”

Rasmus has remained in Hamburg, and has no intention of moving to Berlin, as many electronic DJs or producers are wont to do.

“I don’t really know the scene in Berlin, actually. Berlin is just, it’s a lot bigger than Hamburg. You have more bigger clubs. Hamburg is more small clubs, actually, more bar-like, the scene is more bar-like. But there’s a pretty solid base of electronic musicians in Hamburg,” he shared. “I think the scene is actually bigger in Berlin ’cause the city’s bigger. Hamburg is, like, half as big and it’s more quiet and that’s actually what I like about [it]. That you’re not getting over-saturated.”

Instead, he wants to build his own studio, a desire that points to his education in sound engineering.

“I’m trying to build my own studio soon, and that’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of effort,” he said. “I actually want to bring other people in as well. It’s always been my dream, like, to have a studio.”

And while he finds recording drums to simultaneously be the most challenging and interesting aspect of recording, he is also currently fixated on building synthesizers with DIY kits.

“Soldering’s like meditation to me,” he noted with a laugh.

Rasmus will also play more shows this year, although performing understandably makes him nervous, considering his show this past weekend at Berlin’s Gretchen was his second ever.

He also plans to continue with his day job as a sound engineer, working with others, although only on their work and not as a collaborator.

“I’m pretty…hard to work with, I guess, when I’m working on my own songs,” he said. “I love working on other’s people songs. That’s pretty easy and I like to listen to [them and make suggestions], but if it’s my own song…I don’t like it too much if other people want me to change something.”

Finally, Rasmus will continue to write his own music, although what Tocotronic song will inspire him next is anyone’s guess.

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