Wednesday, 11 May 2016

A short interview with Peter Baumann. May 11, 2016

With many thanks to Peter Baumann for his time:

Could you briefly describe what you did after your label ‘Private Music’ stopped?

I sold Private Music to BMG in the early 1990’s. Thereafter I moved my family to Baja Mexico and began to develop a wellness centre and studies of philosophy and the psychology of human experience. I founded an organization to explore the nature of human experience in 2008 to support scientific studies in mindfulness and psychology. 

2014 saw you return to music, was there a particular reason why you felt compelled to do so?

My renewed interest in music was mostly based on the desire to balance intellectual activities with creative engagement. It was an intuitive spark that led me to rediscover my delight in the creative process.

Could you describe what it was like when you met Edgar Froese in 2015 after so long?

I had met with Edgar and we talked over the phone several times over the years with long conversations about human nature. After I felt drawn back to creating music, I contacted Edgar and we set a date to meet in Austria in early January 2015. Although much time has passed, there was an immediate deep connection and understanding. We spoke a lot about life and music. Edgar played a few tracks in his studio and we planned that I would return in mid-February with a number of basic tracks that we might work on together. Unfortunately that never came to pass.

Your new album is called “Machines of Desire”: is there an overall theme or idea you were trying to convey – beyond the title? 

My study of human nature led me to realize how much we’re driven by our basic desires, how much we are slaves to our feelings and emotions. The longing to find freedom from these desires is a core theme of the album.                                                                                                                                             
 The track ‘Dust to Dust’ reflects on our brief time between birth and death.
Where was the album recorded and how long did it take to complete?

Three of the tracks were started in December 2014 in anticipation of my next visit with Edgar in Austria. I completed these and other tracks for most of Summer and fall 2015, starting to mix in September. All together it probably took 3-4 solid months to complete the album.

Was anyone else involved during its production?

Matia Simovich was great in bringing me up to speed on all the new equipment. He was very helpful during the whole process adding to the production as well as playing/programing and co-writing ‘Valley of the Gods’ and ’Echoes in the Cave’.

What equipment did you use on the album?

I used Pro-tools as the corner stone for recording. Some Software instruments like Omnisphere, Boom-box, as well as software effects from Eventide and Reactor. Keyboards I used: Prophet 12, Nord Wave, Mellotron rack, Moog Voyager XL, Yamaha Vocoder, Emu Audity, 909 drum-machine, and a few others.

Did any of the technology surprise you or have you kept up-to-date with all the changes over the years?

I was aware of Pro-tools, Paul Haslinger used it in the 1990’s on some track we worked on, but it really blew my mind after I really got into using it. The keyboards available today are so much more complex than what I was accustomed to – for the first time in my life I had to read a manual :)

You mentioned having met & worked with the current line-up of Tangerine Dream (Thorsten Quaeschning, Ulrich Schnauss & Hoshiko Yamane) - do you think you will ever work with them again, or do you see yourself as purely a solo artist?

After Edgar’s death we worked together on a few tracks, but our musical direction and production process did not match well. Thorsten and Ulrich come from a new generation while I was still firmly grounded in my musical history. Both of them have great talent but unfortunately we didn’t get to know each other well enough to make it a productive collaboration. Perhaps sometime in the future - one never knows.

Would you say that working with TD or Edgar recently has had an influence on your new album?

It is always hard to pinpoint the influences that shape the creative process, but I feel that seeing Edgar again reconnected me to the early TD days, stylistically as well as emotionally.

Have you any plans to perform any of the material on “Machines of Desire” live?

I thought about it, but it is too early to make concrete plans - perhaps next year in the spring, with some additional new tracks.

May 27 sees your first two solo albums “Romance 76” and “Trans Harmonic Nights” re-issued by Esoteric Reactive.  What do you think of them now; do you think they have stood the test of time?

In general I do not like to listen to any music I produced once it’s released, but after such a long time I listened again and feel very close to most of the tracks on those albums. Surely I would do a few things different today, but I enjoy many of the sounds, rhythms and emotions of the melodies.  

Do you have any memories of the recording sessions of either album?

Certainly. Romance 76 was recorded in the old UFA movie factory where as TD we spent rehearsing for upcoming tours. I played a few track for David B. when he was living in Berlin and I remember how I was explaining what else I wanted to add to the tracks. David convinced me that they didn’t need anything else. At the time I was recording on an 8 track Ampex machine, so there was no option to add much anyway but it was reassuring to hear. Trans Harmonic Nights was recorded in the Paragon studio I had built in Berlin. The studio had a MCI 24 track and MCI 28 channel mixing console, but never used more than 12-16 tracks. I really enjoyed that place and produced many albums there. I practically lived there.

What now for Peter Baumann, have you any future musical plans?

This Friday I’ll be traveling to Germany for a few interviews and to meet with Bianca, Edgar’s wife who’s going to show me the site for the planned Tangaudimax TD museum. I’ve already started on new tracks for the next album and work on some tracks that didn’t make it in time for ‘Machines of Desire’. 

Thank you for your time Peter.

“Machines of Desire” is released May 20 on the Bureau B.  It can be ordered world-wide from the label’s website, Amazon as well as Compact Disc Services here in the UK.

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