Name: Breakbot & Irfane
Members: Thibaut Berland (Breakbot), Christopher Irfane Khan-Acito (Irfane)
Current release: Breakbot & Irfane's Remedy EP is out via Ed Banger/Because Music.
If you enjoyed this interview with Breakbot & Irfane and would like to explore their work in more depth, visit them on Instagram: Breakbot; Irfane
What was your first studio like?
Breakbot: I actually never had any studio! Irfane has been working on his basement place for a few years, and he can be really proud of the result! It’s a real treat to work and jam there.
I always worked on a laptop with plugins and tried to improve my sound at my older brother’s studio.
The digital studio promises endless possibilities at every step of the process. What is it that you actually need from these potentials and how do go about you selecting it? How do you keep control over the wealth of options at the production stage?
Breakbot: It’s all a matter of taste I guess. We have a certain vision of the music we want to create in mind, then we select the tools we feel appropriate to transcribe it.
There’s also a fair share of accidents and surprises due to experiments, which is the best part of having news toys you know nothing about!
A studio can be as minimal as a laptop with headphones and as expansive as a multi-room recording facility. Which studio situation do you personally prefer – and why?
Breakbot: I tend to work on a laptop in a corner of a room at first, and then move to the studio to enhance / finish the track.
On the whole there’s no repeated method, it’s all about what the song needs.
From traditional keyboards to microtonal ones, from re-configured instruments (like drums or guitars) to customised devices, what are your preferred controllers and interfaces? What role does the tactile element play in your production process?
Breakbot: I used Native Instruments' “komplete kontrol” a lot these past few years. They really did a good job with that one, especially for the fact that it is open to other plug-in softwares as well.
But I will have to say that nothing replaces the warm feeling of playing a real piano. I was just given a Yamaha U3 for my birthday and it is the best gift I ever had.
Within a digital working environment, it is possible to compile huge archives of ideas for later use. Tell me a bit about your strategies of building such an archive and how you put these ideas and sketches to use.
Breakbot: I guess I could be better at that! Strategies to build archives require organization skills that I cruelly lack!
We have our fair share of unfinished demos, but we are very far from Prince’s vault.
Despite the aforementioned near endless possibilities, many productions seem to follow conventional paths. How do you retain an element of surprise for your own work – are there technologies which are particularly useful in this regard?
Breakbot: One of the many things that I love about working with Irfane is that he has this great appetite for new gear, the one my older brother has. So there’s always new toys to play, new crazy sounds to tweak, new territories to explore.
I always had that feeling with new plug-ins too! Big up to Arthuria, Native Instruments, Izotope and Soundtoyz to name a few.
Production tools can already suggest compositional ideas on their own. How much of your music is based on concepts and ideas you had before entering the studio, how much of it is triggered by equipment, software and apps?
Breakbot: I would say we try to be in between both. We enter the studio with an idea but stay open to any kind of surprise we might have on the way.
How important is it for you that you personally create or participate in the creation of every element of a piece – from sound synthesis via rhythm programming to mixing?
Breakbot: It's not really important to me.
For example we worked a lot with my brother David or also with guitar/bass player Jim Grandcamp. The list goes on. If I can’t make something right I’d gladly share the process with someone who will!
Collaboration with cool people is one of the highlights of this “job”.
Have there been technologies which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Irfane: I remember being positively shocked by all the possibilities when I first installed Fruity Loops on a computer around 20 years ago. The creativity and effort people put in hardware and software will never cease to amaze me!
Do you personally see a potential for deeper forms of Artificial Intelligence in your music?
Irfane: I never used AI algorithms to create music. I guess the fun of jamming or collaborating is to do it with heart-beating humans.
But hey never say never! I’m always down for new things, which is why I’m into disco so much.
What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?
Irfane: I would love to experience brain controlled instruments in the future. I think there’s a lot of fun and surprises to be found in this area.