Name: Roman Flügel
Occupation: Producer, DJ
Recent release: Roman Flügel's new Tracks On Delivery EP ‘Yes People’ is out via Rekids.
Recommendation: I‘d recommend anyone to visit the “Beuys Block” at the Landesmuseum in Darmstadt, Germany. It is the biggest coherent exhibition of works of Joseph Beuys in the world since Beuys himself was asked to create these rooms while he was still alive. Very impressive!
One of my favourite recordings is John Coltranes A Love Supreme. It has a very interesting story and it is one of the most intense pieces of music I’ve heard so far.
If you enjoyed this interview with Infant Roman Flügel and would like to find out more about his work, visit his homepage. He is also on Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, and twitter.
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
It all started with learning to play classical piano at the age of 6.
When I was around 12 years old I began to play drums at the basement of my parents house. That was mainly because I had an uncle who thought I was talented and bought me a drum kit. He was a very good musician himself but had to take care of the families' construction company which didn’t allow him to make a living from playing music.
But he had a house full of instruments of all kinds including synths. That’s where I was able to explore the wonders of sound for the first time.
When I listen to music, I see shapes, objects and colours. What happens in your body when you're listening and how does it influence your approach to creativity?
Out of all arts music is the most direct way to trigger my emotions. When I’m making music myself it feels like a shortcut to a subconscious world, a place that’s hard to describe but rich in unprocessed feelings and experiences.
Music is helping me get along with my life I guess.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
I believe everyone has a personal voice which is shaped by the uncountable moments that define our life as humans. For some people music becomes their favorite tool to make that voice audible, for others it could be anything else - like becoming a surgeon or gardener.
When I started to produce electronic music I started as a fan who’d try to find out how my role models would do it. Over the years I learned that it’s impossible to hide from myself in terms of personal preferences during the recording process. Decisions probably happen even before I think l’m actually deciding.
The challenge for me is to keep on exploring. That’s when breakthroughs are happening artistically.
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please. What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
When I started to produce my own music in the late 80’s the question of personal identity wasn’t as present for many as it is today I guess.
Back then at least I didn’t take the time to question the origin or wider political or sexual context of the music I had just fallen in love with. I didn’t see myself as someone special just because I had discovered something as exciting as house music either. I was a fan who wanted to learn how the music was made since it was the sonic experience that was so overwhelming. Music in general is not supposed to be locked up. It is here for all of us and everybody can at least try to make some.
For me the boredom starts as soon a form of traditionalism takes over where some people try to decide for others what’s good taste or part of a certain catalogue that is worth excluding the unbeknown from those who know.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
I don’t have a general answer to that. What is perfection anyway? Is it actually achievable? I don’t think so. It is the idea of perfection that makes us invest a lot of time into something and hopefully become more skillful. Listeners decide what’s perfect to them and of course it could be something that is very imperfect. So I guess originality and innovation are winning over perfection for me.
People who think of themselves as producers of future music are maybe taking themselves a little too serious. Time will tell. But I have to say, when techno and house music hit the clubs in Germany around 1987, it sounded like the future to me. Now this kind of music has become part of a musical history itself.
But of course there’s a big difference of being a producer that sees himself as someone who’s ‘continuing a tradition’ by trying to reproduce a deep house track from New York that sounds like the original from 1986 and therefore staying in the past, or someone who knows the originals but creates something more original without the copying part.
The same discussion happened in jazz in the early 70’s when Miles Davis questioned what jazz actually was. Traditionalist will tell you that’s exactly when jazz ended. For some people modern art was finished with the success of Andy Warhol.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
I don’t have specific instruments or tools beside the most important one and that’s my musical and creative instinct. The foundation of what I’m doing until today is curiosity, excitement and the ability to remain playful.
Another important thing is at least trying to stay focused and continue with what I love even at times when I’m having a few bad days.
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
I get up pretty early on weekdays. I’ll have a glass of lemon water along with some coffee. Then I go for a quick run for about 30mins. After that it’s time to have breakfast.
I’d usually go to my little studio space around 10:00 and start working on my own music, a remix or DJ mix. I might have a chat with my booking agency in between to discuss upcoming dates. I go for lunch for some vegetarian food and have more coffee. Depending on the amount of work and my creative potential I’d usually go back home around 05:00 or 06:00 to answer e Mails and listen to some music.
Depending on my energy level I’d go to see friends in the evening or just hang on the couch with my wife and cat to enjoy some quality time.
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
I did an album as Dell & Flügel with Christopher Dell who’s a highly acclaimed vibraphone player and improvising expert for a small Japanese label a few years back. We didn’t know each other before but someone else had the idea to bring us together and suggested a recording. That’s what we did and I remember those sessions as extremely interesting and satisfying.
Combining the rather repetitive structure of software generated electronic music with the momentum of actual improvisation was exciting and I hope I’ll be able to do something like that again in the future.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
Learning to play classical piano is pretty solitary. Playing drums without a band becomes pretty boring. Electronic music was again liberating from the many unpleasant aspects that came along with the dynamics of playing in a band.
I’ve worked with my studio partner Jörn Elling Wuttke for about 15 years before we stopped touring and producing, I’ve been collaborating with Simian Mobile Disco, Tiga, Rebolledo and Daniel Avery - but at the end of the day I’d say the work of an electronic music producer remains rather solitary.
[Read our Tiga interview]
[Read our Daniel Avery interview]
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
I’d say music amplifies emotions and therefore it can be used in almost any situation. I see my work as a creation of a tiny world within a huge world. All I can do is trying to create something I’m happy with that hopefully get‘s some attention and maybe leaves an affect on the listener.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
Those questions are very hard if not impossible to understand.
Music can only help us to get along with our lives. It’s an abstract language that communicates and resonates with us as humans like nothing else. It comes from a time where we’d still live in caves and had no explanations but creating myths and stories.
Everything was magical back then and music was a way to deal with that magic I guess.
How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
There are many well explored therapeutic aspects of music which I find interesting.
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
Music won’t stop your appetite or thirst so it’s definitely less important‘ than making a good cup of coffee or cooking a meal in your daily life. But if one thing matters everything matters and music has been an integral part of what defines us as humans.
We cannot survive without food or water but we would live a miserable live without the addition of the arts.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our ear drums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
It all happens in our brain I guess. Our body is shaped by nature in a specific way to adapt to our surroundings and survive.
I’m not an expert for evolution but since nothing happens without a reason there must be a reason why humans are capable of creating something as abstract as music. It probably plays a major role in developing social skills.