Name: Nicolas Demuth aka Parra for Cuva
Occupation: Producer, composer
Current release: The new Parra for Cuva album is slated for release on July 16th 2021. In the meantime, ahead of its publication, you can already enjoy his new single "Her Entrance" on Youtube.
If this interview with Parra for Cuva piqued your interest, visit his website for more information. He is also on Facebook, Instagram and Soundcloud.
What was your first studio like?
My first studio was in my childhood bedroom in ‘Northeim’, a small city located in the middle of nowhere in Germany. I had two crappy speakers and a midi piano in between all my toys and books.
The second studio had the same equipment but was in Auckland / New Zealand, where I used to work and live in a house with mentally disabled people. The latter one has been my best one so far in terms of creativity.
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?
First and foremost, I need a fast working PC - that’s always important. The rest has stayed the way it was.
What changed significantly is my collection of instruments. I collect all sorts of instruments like hangdrums, kalimbas, heaps of percussion, string instruments and so on. Of course, some good mics to record it all.
What motivates you to buy new gear: The curiosity to try new things, a specific function, something else entirely?
When I see an instrument/ synth or gear that has a function or sound that is appealing to me, I have to have it.
For example I just bought the Yamaha VSS 30 which is from 1988 and it was one of the first digital voice samplers. You sing in it and you can play modern sounding vocal cuts on it.
But it also happens sometimes that you buy something and it just ends up lying around unused after you tried it out once.
How would you describe the relationship between technology and creativity for your work? How do you work with your production tools to achieve specific artistic results?
Technology has always been a means to an end, for me. I fell in love with music making because of the ability to quickly record ideas and manipulate them. All in all though, it sometimes feels like all the possibilities you have in your workstation are overwhelming you. Also, every synthesizer has a unique different way to program it. I tend to learn all the details hidden in the machines even though for the way I make music that’s not always needed.
The best thing is when you use technology without thinking about it too much. You will achieve that only by learning it for years.
Historically speaking, there has always been a close relationship between technological and artistic progress. Accordingly, there have been musical paradigm shifts accompanied by technological innovation. Which of these shifts do you rate particularly important for your own music?
I guess that would be the ability to sample and pitch according to your song key without changing the speed. It sounds very basic but all my ideas start with sampling something I find online or which I've recorded myself.
Have there been technologies that have profoundly changed or even questioned the way you make music?
Not so far, but I recently found a page that can isolate vocals out of recordings which sounds very promising.
To some, the advent of AI and 'intelligent' composing tools offer potential for machines to contribute to the creative process. Do you feel as though technology can develop a form of creativity itself? Is there possibly a sense of co-authorship between yourself and your tools?
I do think that advanced computer programs can write music. When you would feed them with all my tracks I have ever produced the program would probably come up with a decent new song that could sound like me, like a ghostwriter or ghost producer.
I believe neither another human nor a machine can experience my personal way of living. They don’t go through the things I am going through and they don’t have exactly the same creative input. When it comes to writing a new album it should be more inventive or should go into a new personal direction you want to try out so it sounds better than the old one.
I guess machines could come up with a new great song but it wouldn’t be so inventive. But what do I know?
Do you personally see a potential for deeper forms of Artificial Intelligence in your music?
I guess so but maybe just in the way, a really crazy modular synthesizer would work. So I can imagine feeding this machine with a vocal sample and some parameters and it adjusts a pattern throughout the song. Honestly, it’s hard to answer this question as this is something I have never experienced before.
What tools/instruments do you feel could have a deeper impact on creativity but need to still be invented or developed?
Lately the new ‘Slate and Ash’ plugin ‘Cycles’ really surprised me. It’s that kind of plug-in you always wish for but before it was invented you had no idea you needed it.