Name: Purple Disco Machine aka Tino Piontek
Occupation: DJ, producer, remixer
Current release: Purple Disco Machine's new album Exotica is available via Columbia. His remix for The Human League’s classic "Don’t You Want Me" will be published on November 19th 2021.
If you enjoyed this interview with Purple Disco Machine, visit his official website for more information. Or check out his profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud, and twitter.
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?
It is within me to want to produce music. Initially and for a long time, this was entirely driven by my desire to have new/my own tracks to play in my DJ sets. Don’t get me wrong this impulse is still there hence the tracks on my new Album such as:
But as I’ve evolved as a producer, combined with having produced records that have been successful on the radio, I do now also have the impulse to push myself harder in that direction. To craft the perfect Purple Disco Machine record that works as a club track AND as a radio record. Very much like the disco producers & artists I’m influenced by were able to do in the 1970’s & 80’s - and of course Daft Punk more recently.
Or sometimes just even a pure radio track, within my own artistic style of course.
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?
It depends on the type of track I’m producing.
I switch between tracks that are based around samples and tracks that are completely orginal music. If it is sample based then, yes, I have a more concrete visualisation of what I want to do as these are generally going to be more club focused and I’ve already had the idea as to how such and such a sample can work within my style of club track.
The original music ideas are usually produced as instrumentals that are then sent to song writers & vocalists to top line. Obviously I don’t know what they are going to do before I send it. But I do have an idea of the general style of the finished track, be it mid tempo , funk, disco, synth pop etc.
What I am looking forward to on my next album is to actually walk into a studio with a songwriter / vocalist and literally start from scratch with no pre conceived ideas. Just go with the vibes. I’ve not done that before and it excites me to try it.
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?
When I go to the studio in the morning the first thing I do is make myself a tea. This gets me in the right mood. Then I often listen to music to get some inspiration.
My whole studio is built like a wooden, purple coloured space. I really need this atmosphere to be creative.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
I always start with the drums. The right groove is the most important thing for me and my tracks. Then it is mostly about the bassline. I definitely spend most of the time on the bassline. It’s pretty important for me. Together with drums, this is the perfect way to start working on a new track.
Once you've started, how does the work gradually emerge?
I’m pretty quick writing songs so I usually have a rough demo within a day. So once I’m in the flow I start jamming chords and sounds.
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?
When im in the writing process I totally lose my sense of time. It’s like I’m in a tunnel and sometimes it feels like someone else takes control of my body.
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?
I’m blessed with a temperament that can finish things pretty easily. I’m quite instinctive in knowing (well hopefully knowing!) what works or doesn't work for me as an artist and producer. And success brings even more trust in oneself.
I do take guidance from my team, but really only at the very end and only for the final tweaks to the arrangement usually. I’ve generally got the bones down in the early drafts.
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?
I’m good with handing it in and then not really thinking about it again. I don’t dwell on things. Again it is about instinct and of course learning to trust yourself.
I was actually always like this, but of course having achieved success eliminates most doubts.
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?
I am most definitely a producer and not a mixer or master engineer. These two functions I always hand over to my trusted team, David "Monte" Paulicke who mixes and Hans Peter who masters.
I will always say that these two guys are very much a part of the wider Purple Disco Machine successes. We all "get" each other.
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?
Yes I can. My new album Exotica was nearly 3 years in the making and by the time it was released some of the tracks that made the final track list were ones I‘d started first!
Of course I was curious and a bit nervous about what people would think about the album upon release (but thankfully the responses have been really good). That said, I did not feel a sense of elation on release day or even the urge to listen to it on Spotify etc. In fact my manager asked me on the day how I thought it sounded and I couldnt answer as I hadn't played it!
As to returning to creating something new then I’m getting in the mood to get ready for sure. It doesnt take me long to go again.