Stimming is an artist looking to challenge the norm, pushing boundaries with his productions and his “live” sets. Part of Solomun’s DIYnamic crew, he's made his fair share of modern dancefloor bombs for Freerange, Buzzin' Fly, Pampa and Green — everything from the alternately bleepy and soulful 'Radar' alongside H.O.S.H to the lush, abstract house of 'China Tree'.
His involvement with a new “4D” sound format has seen him experiment with a new way of delivering a musical experience to the masses. DJ Mag finds out more…
What’s your musical background?
“I've always wanted to make music, it was something from deep inside even when I was a little boy. So I played the violin, piano and drums — especially the drums. A good way of expressing my musical energy.
But playing in various bands, I always found it difficult to explain to my bandmates what my musical vision was. So when I got my first computer I still needed some time to understand, realise, workout that, if a computer is able to compute things like [advanced video games] Quake and Half Life, it can also do stuff like recording and tweaking audio material. This was somehow my second birth.”
Can you tell us about your studio set-up?
“It’s a highly personalised project studio, with 18 channels of ADDA (analogue to digital, digital to analogue) conversion, based around an SSL mixing desk, great outboard preamps, compressors and EQs as inserts. My two main synths are a Cwejman Semi Modular S1 and a DSI Poly Evolver Keyboard.
I listen and monitor through ATC speakers and Audeze headphones, and also have a little collection of microphones, including condenser and dynamic mics. In terms of software I'm working with Cubase7 on Windows, controlled by a Wacom Cintiq 13 pen display. I don't use a mouse anymore because for me, my set-up feels closer to the program. To be honest my speakers and headphones are probably the bits of kit that I really rate, the API 2500 compressor and also the Wacom tablet [too].”
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
“A typical day for me includes live set practice in the morning at home and then working on new stuff in the studio. In the studio every day is different, even if I try from time to time to get some routine in things, like playing the piano or using the S1 with a sequencer to be able to control it in that way... this routine never lasts longer than two days. Actually, a good day in the studio for me is one when I finish something new.”
Tell us more about your recent “4D” project?
“It’s a newly developed soundsystem that, technologically, is the next step after surround sound. It’s a speaker matrix on three levels (ground, 2m, 4m plus subwoofers underneath), paired with a powerful algorithm that lets me place and move sound signals in a three-dimensional space.”
How did you get involved with the “4D” project?
“I was quite lucky really, it was part of a show in Rotterdam together with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and I was asked to play on the system, simply because it was there for the show already. Then during ADE 2013 I heard the system for the first time, and immediately knew that this was a radically new step forward into artificial spatial sound.”
What is the technology behind 4D?
“The speakers are omnidirectional and they use the same effect as stereo speakers — our ears locate the sound through different levels from the same signal on the two speakers, but on 4D it's 48 speakers, and of course you need a powerful computer to calculate the locations of those signals.
Practically this enables the audience to stand INSIDE the music, not in front of. Imagine standing inside an orchestra, but the individual instruments are able to move around you on all three axis.
“It sounds complicated (and at the system-core I'm sure it actually is very complicated), but for the artists playing on it, it’s very easy to handle because the connection between me as the DJ and the system is Max for Live — that means with a good controller I handle stuff somehow traditionally.”
What is your set-up when you perform in the 4D environment?
“I figured that the system needed kind of simple sounds, because our ears are not used to this experience (even if we naturally hear omnidirectionally). You can compare it to 3D movies — in my opinion Gravity was the first 3D movie that really worked, because it was visually simple and that enabled us to follow and enjoy the 3D effect.
Anyway, my set-up consists of an Elektron Rytm, my mighty OP-1, a Nordlead2, Microbrute and Ableton playing MIDI sequences for the Nord, and two channels of samples, which I mostly use for found sounds.”
And the plan for 4D?
“4D will be something to be developed more and more especially throughout the year, I am also going to do some new stuff in the studio. I think it’s the right time for it.”
How did you end up releasing on DIYnamic?
“Eight years ago I met Solomun in a studio I was working at, we both felt that there was a musical connection between us, and I was searching for guys who wanted to start something. That's where things started, and not one of us imagined in our wildest dreams that it would end up being as big as this.”
How have you developed your style and sound throughout your career?
“Every producer knows this — the journey is the reward, and when it comes to equipment it’s a never-ending story. So every once a year I upgrade the equipment I use, and better equipment mostly means less time being spent for sound quality. It’s a huge learning process, that comes from learning by doing, and my aim always is to achieve this warm and powerful sound. Not too loud, and overall, organic in the making.”
Would you consider yourself a bit of a tech junkie in that regard?
“Ha, yeah! Just a tiny little bit. I’ve mostly been into the electronic sound, but I don't separate electronic sounds from others, simply because the music we hear is recorded digitally. And in my music I use every signal I like, no matter where it comes from, analogue or digital.”
What goes into one of your sets?
“Well I never DJ, I play live exclusively. It’s based on bounced busses — audio of my tracks that are all equally cut in different arrangement stages to give me freedom to re-arrange my music. On the master out, I have an EQ and Maximizer to be able to deliver the desired loudness. And on top, I play around with a Moog Voyager and my OP-1.”
How are you finding the current dance music production scene?
“Boring with a few exceptions. Feels like very many are cooking from the same recipe, and it's fast-food out of the common sample library fridge.”
Top tip for making better sounding music?
“If you want to buy hardware, wait until you have the money for the real good (expensive) stuff, skip the middle range, because you're going to lose money when you're selling it (and you will). And if your snare sounds thin, put a one-shot shaker on top of it.”
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