Name: Marc Romboy
Occupation: Producer, live performer
Current release: Marc Romboy Presents: Music from Space (Dimension A) is released October 15th on Systematic.
If you enjoyed this interview with Marc Romboy and would like to find out more about his work, visit his official homepage. Or, for more recent news and tour dates, head over to his accounts on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, Soundcloud, and bandcamp.
To keep reading, check out a conversation about production and technology with his long-time creative partner in our Stephan Bodzin interview.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
This is a very big question and I’m not able to give you the one and only answer.
First of all I love the futuristic and space aspect of electronic music and I like the notion to create music which hasn’t existed in the morning when you wake up. Besides this there are always many ideas circulating in my brain and they have to be realised!
However, politics, love affairs and sorrow play no crucial role during this process.
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
My new studio looks a bit like a space capsule and I can fade out everything which happens around me. So the visualisation in my head is not necessary.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions‘?
Yes, my studio room has to be in a certain order in order to have a workflow. Every synthesiser and drum machine has to stand at a special spot and the connection, audio and midi-wise has to be available. Once I have an idea I don’t want to be distracted by having to plug or connect something.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
The only tradition I have is that I need to have a walk outside from time to time so that I can reboot my mind. When you listen to a sound or loop for hours this is really needed.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
Yes, that cruel moment when you are sitting in front of the blank sheet of paper. On the one hand a fascinating situation to create a song from scratch but on the other hand a moment I do respect a lot.
And I still don’t know really why I have so much respect for this situation. Maybe the unknown?
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
Well, this always depends on the particular track. Always different.
My track "I am a dancer" took a long time because I had to find the right vocalist who was able to create something which would fit to the special instrumental I made. Sometimes tracks evolves quicker, sometimes not.
Many writers have claimed that as soon as they enter into the process, certain aspects of the narrative are out of their hands. Do you like to keep strict control over the process or is there a sense of following things where they lead you?
No, I just let it happen. I let myself go without thinking too much about what things could become. Strategically maybe not the best way to please the market. But it's my way and I don’t want to leave it. I like the random style.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
In a time when you can save everything easily and don’t have to finish the one idea before you can begin the new one, this aspect doesn’t stress me anymore. In fact I see it as an advantage that you can save ideas which additionally pop up.
Nevertheless it can also happen that I completely change the direction of an idea but I just let it happen as I feel it.
There are many descriptions of the creative state. How would you describe it for you personally? Is there an element of spirituality to what you do?
I would claim that every creative moment has something spiritual. It mostly comes from the heart instead from the brain and this is what I like about it.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
It might sound weird but I feel the moment when I’m ready with a track.
Once a piece is finished, how important is it for you to let it lie and evaluate it later on? How much improvement and refinement do you personally allow until you're satisfied with a piece? What does this process look like in practise?
It always depends but it happens a lot that a track is already at 99% and the last 1% takes another three, four weeks. The bits and bobs are the things which take time sometimes.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
A producer should be involved in all aspects including mastering and mixing. But especially the mastering should be done by somebody else which is not you. I call it the last quality control point which is in my case Steffen Müller, my good friend and long time mastering engineer.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
I only had this phenomenon once in my life and this was after the concert with the Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra when we performed Reconstructing Debussy in December 2016.
I worked for this one show more than one year and this particular concert where I was surrounded by 70 musicians was in every sense pretty intense. I couldn’t go to my studio for one month as my ears were kind of locked. But this was the only time in my life like this. And hopefully the last time ...