Name: Dominik Eulberg
Occupation: Producer, DJ, ecologist
Current Release: Dominik Eulberg's Avichrom is out via !K7.
Recommendations: Book: Viktor E. Frankl "On the Meaning of Life",
Painting: Hieronymus Bosch "The Garden of Delights",
Piece of music: Steve Reich "Piano Phase“
If you enjoyed this interview with Dominik Eulberg and would like to stay up to date on his music and activities, visit his official homepage. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
In my childhood, music didn't interest me at all. It was all too artificial and affected for me. I preferred to enjoy the music of nature, the repetitive song of the song thrush, or the wonderful flute of the oriole.
It was electronic music that first aroused my deep curiosity. On the one hand because it so truthfully reproduces this apodictic flow of life, Panta rhei, on the other hand because its sounds had such a mysterious and unheard-of effect on me. I just had to get to the bottom of this mystery and understand sound synthesis. I did some stupid jobs, like delivering newspapers, to buy my first synthesizer to understand it. That was in 1993.
Musically, the first thing that inspired me was Sven Väth's radio show "hr3-Clubnight". The music had such a vastness, because everything was allowed, there were so many different sound colours. Like a colourful grab bag. It also has this irrepressible pulse of life in it, without a beginning, without an end. I also found the philosophy and values of the techno movement awesome; this tolerance, no matter what religion you belonged to, what skin colour or sexual orientation you had or what professional status you belonged to: everyone was equal on the dance floor.
Music as the social glue of society, that's how it should be, that's what music is for.
For most artists, originality is preceded by a phase of learning and, often, emulating others. What was this like for you: How would you describe your own development as an artist and the transition towards your own voice?
For the first few years, I would describe my work more as sound research than music. But since I had been DJing almost every weekend since 1993 and worked in a record shop, I consumed a lot of music. Towards the end of the 90s, I also produced my own complete pieces of music to be played in my sets.
However, it was never my intention to become a professional musician. Rather, I was more interested in nature, which is why I also studied biology and nature conservation. I didn't actually want to release any records, because I always wanted to be free, not become a slave to a marketing apparatus. Freedom in my creative work is always the highest good for me, because that makes the difference whether it stresses you out and breaks you or not.
During my studies in Bonn, however, I got to know many exciting people through the Kompakt network, with whom I had the feeling of being allowed to remain "me". At the beginning of my career, I had no idea whatsoever, production-wise or musically. I tried out everything very tentatively, which meant I always went my own way. Until the day I die, I will continue to learn and develop more and more. That's what makes it so appealing and I think you can hear that in my productions.
As far as the source of inspiration is concerned, it has always been simple for me: Mother Nature is the greatest artist of all for me. Her variety of forms and colours are life-affirming symbols of the symphony of being. It' s always there, inexhaustible. I can't produce as many albums in my life as I already have concepts for them in my drawer. I always try not to follow any trends, but to make music intrinsically motivated.
How do you feel your sense of identity influences your creativity?
I see myself as a part of nature, as a part of the biosphere, as a being that wants to live surrounded by beings that want to live. This security in the lap of Mother Nature, my place of retreat, my place of energy, embodies my identity. Nature itself is life-affirming, because it originates from one source and cannot exist without the other. Beauty and virtuosity are no accident in nature. This aesthetic of nature is the source of my creativity.
On the one hand, I want to celebrate it, but on the other hand, I also want to sensitise my fellow human beings to it. Both fulfil me and give me a deep sense of purpose.
What were your main creative challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
I had a very difficult time on my musical path in the beginning.
On the one hand, because I grew up in the country, people couldn't think outside the box and everything that was different was met with resentment. My father also didn't understand my approach to electronic music, so I didn't felt seen in my love for music and thus for life. Of course, this initially creates anger, which can also be a motor for creativity, but it is not sustainable, as you so quickly overlook your own limits and get burnt out. Fortunately, I quickly defeated the dragon: as soon as there was public success, society accepted this otherness.
After that, a different feeling sets in, creativity becomes more intrinsically motivated and its basis is an indispensable love of life and not hatred. Meanwhile, I only want to be my own judge. If I am satisfied with what I do, if it fulfils me and makes me feel good, then this is a very positive motor for my creativity. I don't try to force anything and go to the studio for so many hours every day, but only be artistically active when creativity bubbles out of me out of a lustful surplus.
As creative goals and technical abilities change, so does the need for different tools of expression, be it instruments, software tools or recording equipment. Can you describe this path for you, starting from your first studio/first instrument? What motivated some of the choices you made in terms of instruments/tools/equipment over the years?
In the beginning, I was very naïve and unaware of the whole process, but that was also appealing because it opens up new avenues.
Experience is something wonderful because it expands the range of options, but of course it also brings with it the danger of getting lost and drowning in this endless sea of equipment and methods. That's why I always try to have only equipment in my studio with which I can form a deep relationship. You never know beforehand whether the chemistry between the equipment and the musician will be right, you just have to try it out. You only find out if you can swim or not when you jump into the water.
It's also important for me to have a suitable instrument for every timbre or ingredient. It's like cooking. What good are ten different kinds of salt if you don't have any pepper? That's why my equipment is highly selective and diverse, consisting of analogue, digital and acoustic sound sources.
Of course, over time, favourite gear automatically emerges, which also helps to shape my own sound. For me, it's also analogue effects, like the Bricasti M7 or the Eventide H8000. I have a colourful palette of synthesizers that I use for certain purposes. For example, the Prophet 5, Deckards Dream or Moog One for pads. Jupiter 8, GRP A4, Omega 8 or Mac Beth Elements for basses.
Have there been technologies or instruments which have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Of course, there are analysis methods that make you aware of things that you didn't notice before because you weren't sensitised to them; that have changed the way I produce.
For example, paying attention to low cuts, correlating phases, mono compatibility in the bass, stereo width, unwanted resonances, balanced frequency spectrum, harshness in the high frequencies etc.
Nevertheless, I still think it is most important to rely on your ears. The transported feeling has to be right and not some display values. Nevertheless, there are now so many fantastic tools with AI or sophisticated methods such as the Oeksound Soothe 2, or look-ahead multiband compressors such as the FabFilter Pro-MB, which can help you to express your own musical vision even more clearly.
But it is always important to have control over the machines and not the other way around.
Collaborations can take on many forms. What role do they play in your approach and what are your preferred ways of engaging with other creatives through, for example, file sharing, jamming or just talking about ideas?
I very rarely, if at all, engage in collaborations, because making music is a very intimate process, where the magic for me emerges from the silence of the moment. But of course I exchange a lot with other musicians. Because knowledge and experience are infinitely precious in order to develop further and also to find new joy in making music again and again.
When I collaborate, it's usually simply via file sharing, you throw the tracks at each other.