Name: Psycho Weazel
Members: Ivo Roxo, Léo Besso
Occupation: Producers, live performers
Current Release: Melodrama EP on À Table
Léo: there’s that book from Theodor W. Adorno called «philosophie de la nouvelle musique». It helped me understand how music can be easy to hear but complex to really understand what’s actually happening. It lead me to a mindset that taught me how important it is to dig into ideas.
Ivo: Now I'm listening to a lot of Vapor Wave stuff and I discovered a great artist called Windows 96 and he released a new great album: "Glass Prism". A really good trip.
If you enjoyed this interview with Psycho Weazel, check out their facebook page or soundcloud account for plenty more music, live dates and insights.
When did you start writing/producing music - and what or who were your early passions and influences? What what is about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
We started creating electronic music when we were about 14 years old. We were both passionate skateboarders at the time, but we didn't know each other yet. We started being friends during a highschool winter camp. We noticed that we had the same musical influences and passions. We were a lot into French vibes such as Gesaffelstein, Club Cheval or Brodinski. Léo was maybe a bit more into that eastern European microtech and Ivo somewhere between something more Latin and banger stuff.
The tracks which brought us to another state of friendship was “Cassius - les enfants (Gesaffelstein remix)”. We were crazy about that sound.
For most artists, originality is first 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? What is the the relationship between copying, learning and your own creativity?
Of course at first we tried to recreate sounds and atmospheres we heard on tracks we loved. Back in the days, we hadn’t a studio where we could met each other and push up the volume the way we wanted. We were forced to create music in our rooms with cheap monitors. As you can imagine, it’s difficult to reach a good sounds in these conditions ...
So we used samples. When we started to rent a studio, we started to buy machines and gear to help us to discover our work flow. Our first real tracks were probably influenced by the Keinemusik Crew. Their sounds was awesome and still is. Today, we have a very nice collection of vintage and modern synthesizers.
We find our happiness when they sing all together and find our creativity trough experiments.
What were your main compositional- and production-challenges in the beginning and how have they changed over time?
We are both self-taught. the biggest challenge was therefore to learn to play what was in our minds without error and in time. In fact, we use our computer only as a recorder.
What was your first studio like? How and for what reasons has your set-up evolved over the years and what are currently some of the most important pieces of gear for you?
Our first studios were in our rooms. Then we moved to probably the most alternative place in our city. It’s a house where a lot of other producer create. Upstairs, some painters are making art and our neighbor is an art gallery. That’s very inspiring.
How do you make use of technology? In terms of the feedback mechanism between technology and creativity, what do humans excel at, what do machines excel at?
We love when we can hear the human behind electronic music. That’s maybe why we are so into 80s electronic tunes or cold wave.
The link between creativity and technology goes both ways. Sometimes we lead the machines somewhere, and sometimes machines lead us somewhere. It depend on our current state of mind.
Finally, machines excel at reaching the “perfect sound” and humans excel at constantly redefining the “perfect sound”.
Production tools, from instruments to complex software environments, contribute to the compositional process. How does this manifest itself in your work? Can you describe the co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
As we previously said, we use our computer as a recording device. When we are not playing, we record all elements of our tracks using internal sequencers or sometimes Midi signal. Of courses, we tried to use software but, being in front of a screen even when you are playing music is not our cup of tea. We need to touch, to hear, to see and to feel the warmth created by the machines to create something. And by the way, we watch enough screens when we reach the arrangement and mixdown process. Or in life in general ...
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?
We made a lot of collaborations with the dramatic arts. It’s always very interesting to mix electronic music with theatre for example. Our last project like that was a reinterpretation of «Othello». We take the play to a strange area, which looks like a boxer locking room with neon light. We played the music live with a theremin, a guitar, a prophet 6 and some midi controller. That was a huge experience to translate our feeling live in a theater.
We talk about ideas a lot with befriended musicians as well ... our studio is sometimes a place where we share music. We collaborate a lot with a graphic designer called Julian Bader. With him, we started to promote our parties called «À Table» in some clubs in our country but specially in Neuchâtel at La Case à Chocs. Then, we met some very competent people with whom we created our eponymous label.
Could you take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work? Do you have a fixed schedule? How do music and other aspects of your life feed back into each other - do you separate them or instead try to make them blend seamlessly?
Léo: I want to literally live with music, that’s why I studied music business in Geneva. In parallel, I work in a cafe where somehow I am the right arm of the boss.
We opened our label «À Table» lately we work a lot on it. I am the promoter of a Swiss festival called «La Superette» as well. So, I work a lot ... I go to the studio in the evening. I stay till late and I get up early. I like to fix myself a schedule to organize my time.
Ivo: I want to live with our music too. But I have to wait before I can dedicate 100% of my time to this goal because now I'm studying social sciences in a intermediate school graduates in Geneva (HETS Genève). During the exams period, it's quiet hard to juggle between school and music. So I have to set priorities. Like now, I'm in the exams period. So, first I work for school and when I have some free time, I go make some productions at our studio. During the holidays, it's more chill. So I wake up in the morning, go out to buy some food, drink and (most important) a cappuccino and then I work all day in the studio.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece or album that's particularly dear to you, please? Where did the ideas come from, how were they transformed in your mind, what did you start with and how do you refine these beginnings into the finished work of art?
We don’t have a specific process to create. We share ideas together and we simply start to work on something. When we are alone, we create as well and we listen to the work done once we're back together. When we are working on a bigger project than just a track, we talk a lot before starting anything. We try to work together whiteout any main lead.
It’s never chaotic because we know where we are going to. It’s very important for us and for the people we are working with, to know the destination. In any case, the most beautiful thing is the trip, not the destination.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
Inspiration can be a issue ... nobody can force it. We are aware of this so, when it’s difficult to create something cool, we know that it’s not the moment to create. Creation has to be fluent to be pleasant. For instance, we know what we are gonna play as the bassline, but we don’t know the exact sound. Struggling to shape the sounds is fun, struggling to find a bassline is endless.
How is playing live and writing music in the studio connected? What do you achieve and draw from each experience personally? How do you see the relationship between improvisation and composition in this regard?
We create music with a little voice in our head saying «Are you sure that you are gonna play that on live?» And of course we are sure! Even if we have to redo chord progressions hundreds of times to be perfect. Our live set is a mix between improvisation and original compositions, which we re-interpret on stage.
How do you see the relationship between the 'sound' aspects of music and the 'composition' aspects? How do you work with sound and timbre to meet certain production ideas and in which way can certain sounds already take on compositional qualities?
Composition creates a story, and sound shaping creates a hit. Sometimes, only the timbre of a chords can draw tears. We spend a lot of time shaping sounds.
Our sense of hearing shares intriguing connections to other senses. From your experience, what are some of the most inspiring overlaps between different senses - and what do they tell us about the way our senses work? What happens to sound at its outermost borders?
It’s amazing how our senses are somehow connected. We can see things through our eyelid when sounds are inspiring. We can feel pain, happiness or an extreme feeling of fullness through a piece of art. The answer our body gives when the sensations take over is always the same: Goosebumps.
Art can be a purpose in its own right, but it can also directly feed back into everyday life, take on a social and political role and lead to more engagement. Can you describe your approach to art and being an artist?
For us, being artists is a state of mind. You need to be a fool to do anything to be able to live from our passion – that's what it means to be an artist. You need to be a fool to think that listeners will be able to read between the lines and see our political thoughts in our music – yet that's what it means to do art. We don’t have to be fully and rightly understood by our audience. But, if they feel something when they hear our music, then our music is art.
It is remarkable, in a way, that we have arrived in the 21st century with the basic concept of music still intact. Do you have a vision of music, an idea of what music could be beyond its current form?
If the basic concept of music is still intact today, it’s probably because the basic concept of music is perfect the way it is. Technology, the industry and musical tastes can change, but a great piece of music will stay forever. And how marvelous it is to know that tastes are subjective. So, a great piece of music for us can be a noise for you and vice versa. Everybody can find their happiness.