Interview: Unknown.

07 Jul 2012 — Henning Lahmann

If you've been reading this blog on a regular basis during these last couple of months, you might have encountered the repeat of a specific name, Unknown, the anonymous producer we've covered in a total of seven times ever since his/her first uploaded track, #001. Behind the regular veil of anonymity, Unknown talks to us in this first-ever interview about future plans, influences, and the reason why he/she decided to separate identity from music. Over e-mail, of course. -- In your first-ever mail to us, you said that you’ve made music before, and that you want to remain unknown for now as people will listen more openly when they don’t know who you are. What kind of music was it that you’ve produced before Unknown, and have you released anything of it? Was it vastly different from your output now? Yeah I've released several stuff and still continue to do so. Some of the stuff was a sort of, a "predecessor" to the Unknown tracks - but it just wasn't getting listened to because it differed so much from the things I was doing as myself. After doing the whole Unknown thing, the music actually gets listened to for what it is. Hence why there's nothing giving away any "clues" or "suggestions" about the tracks, just the bare minimum. It's nice to have people focus on the music without worrying about anything else. Do you plan on remaining anonymous? Now that people have heard some of your stuff and obviously dig it, what’s the benefit you see for yourself by doing so? Yeah I'm happy being anonymous. This whole thing is completely about the music and I really want to keep it that way. Does it really matter who I am? Will it actually add anything finding out? The benefits are just that. People focus on the output and take what they can from that - as it's all they have to go on. I couldn't be happier with how people seem to be taking it so I plan to continue this way. It's nice keeping it special. In the last couple of years, probably starting with Burial, there have been a lot of electronic producers who at least initially wanted to disguise their identity, Holy Other probably being the most prominent recent example. Would you say that attitude is also connected to the kind of music that is produced in some way? Yeah I would definitely say so. With the anonymous thing you've got to keep everything tight, but it also means you don't have to worry about anything other than focusing solely on the music you're making. With this music especially, it can be about what's not there as what is. The space and the distance. You've definitely got to have the right mindset to make it, it can't really be forced or there won't be any real connection with it. It's all about making that connection. Who are your main influences musically? I think it's impossible to start naming people or the list would never end. I suppose there are real obvious influences like Burial. Though I really like the likes of The Album Leaf. He makes stuff I've been going back to for years. His track "Twentytwofourteen" completely blew me away. It's an absolute rollercoaster of emotions. Then at the opposite end there's A Made Up Sound's stuff which I've been really into. It's just got this sound that when you're listening to it you know "I've never heard something like this". His track "Take the plunge" was great. I played it to a friend before and they just didn't get it at all. I think musical influences is an impossible question to answer. I grew up listening to literally every type of music, it'd be so hard to pin-point certain artists. Are you or would you consider yourself being part of any “scene”? I've never really given thought to that to be honest. There's a load of insanely talented producers all releasing quality music. The likes of Lapalux, Jacques Greene, Dauwd etc. are all pretty flawless at the minute. I don't quite know where I'd' fall within the entire scene, but it's still coming together so I'm sure time will tell. What’s your recording setup? Believe it or not it's just my laptop, soundcard and headphones. It gets the job done. You work with samples a lot, if I’m not mistaken. Where do you find those, what’s your main source? I get them from all over the place. Whether it's episodes of a show I watch or some random vocal I've stumbled upon on Youtube, or simply a random one hit sample. You can make almost anything sound decent with a bit of work. Some of the fx I'd use are actually vocal samples, just stretched and worked on until it's completely unrecognizable from the original sample - it ends up being something you can't put your finger on. You’ve told me you’re currently working on something big. Could you say what that is? Unfortunately I can't say anything at this point. But it's pretty exciting. Have you talked to any labels yet, or has anyone contacted you with the desire to sign you or release your material? If so, who? Yeah I've spoken with several places actually. Don't want to name names as nothing is set in stone with an actual release yet. I found out that my remix for Ryan Vail will be released at the end of July, alongside remixes by Brokenchord and some other guys. So that will be the first track you'll be able to buy. What’s exciting about music in 2012? Now that everybody is connected and has access to nearly anything online, the music that's breaking through now is music by people you would never have heard before, and it's great. In the last 2 days I've been listening to a friend of a friend, who it turned out made music and they were unbelievable. Been listening non-stop. Even with the Unknown stuff, I've only been doing it for 2 months and the response has been incredible - for which I'm very grateful. The only downside could be that there is SO much stuff out there it isn't always going to cater to your tastes. That's just the way it is. Got to be open to listen to it all, because there's definitely some seriously good stuff out there worth discovering. How does your life look like besides making music? Pretty heavy weekends and a lot of Frasier. What are your plans for the future, musically and otherwise? It's all music looking forward. Working on more tracks and hopefully getting a release sorted. Of course, the "Something big" I can't mention..-- Photo credits: 1: Sean O'Neill 2: Jacqueline Douglas 3: David Shawe