Robot Koch on Particle Fields
The beauty in Robot Koch’s music is its fearless commitment to uninhibited evolution. Every time a new record comes out we bare witness to a sonic revelation, and yet it still sounds like a Robot Koch record. This Friday the world will get to hear his latest full length entitled Particle Fields, written in collaboration with the very talented composer, violinist and string arranger, Savannah Jo Lack. We sat down with two of them to pick their brains about this new gem.
Robot, how you doing sir? It’s good to have you back.
R: Thank you, good to be back.
You know what I like about your work? It’s that it constantly changing and evolving. Every time you’re here you bring something completely new to the table.
R: Thank you for that. I appreciate people being open to artists that are evolving instead of repeating themselves. It`s really important for me as an artist to be able to do that, so if people dig that – I`m happy.
Maybe we can start by having you introduce the talented lady that you co-wrote this latest LP with.
R: Sure, so this is Savannah sitting next to me, an amazing composer, violinist and an incredibly lovely creature with whom I share my love for coffee and other good things in life, like music. Maybe you can say a few things about your work savannah?
S: Aw. I’m not sure what to say to that. Firstly, it is a joy and an honor to work with Robert. His sound world is so inspiring and full of nuance, detail and ingenuity. Of my work, I’ll say, I have worked with strings as my primary inspiration for many years now – as a violinist for other composers and as a composer and arranger myself. I am always inspired by the depth of what can be expressed through the idiom and also of what can be achieved by mashing genres and ideas together.
So how did this project start? Who’s idea was it?
R: It came together naturally. Savannah was introduced to me through a mutual dear friend. I asked her to write a string arrangement for my song Instead years ago. This was before we even knew we were gonna make an album together, right Savannah? When did you feel it was clear we were actually making a record?
S: It’s hard to say when I feel like we started making a record – we wrote Instead and then we threw ideas back and forth that weren’t related to this record for a few years… we figured out a work flow, even through we weren’t necessarily writing for anything in particular and got to know each other’s styles and strengths. Then we both had a break in our schedules earlier this year and we almost unconsciously entered a hyper-creative writing phase for a month, where everything just worked and before we knew it, we had all these songs.
What was the writing process like?
R: We wrote most songs from scratch together, some of it was based on sounds as little as a tape hiss.
Or that glass harmonium that Savannah had on her phone as an app which we fed through the guitar amp and recorded the initial idea for the song that became “hideaway” on the album.
S: It was a very organic process, as Robert says, inspired by sounds. It was almost lava-like in it’s emergence – sounds lead to inspiration which lead to song forms. Once we had the song forms, extra colors and layers were added as we felt they were needed.
Did you have any special rituals you created to keep you inspired?
R: I think we both feed off similar things. I think coffee was a good inspiration to kick things off and then nature – we had a great view through the window in savannah´s studio, so sunsets created a very soft and moody light that I wanna blame for some of the notes on the album. Being in LA was conducive to making this album happen,
it’s a special place with a special energy which found its way into our record for sure.
S: Coffee for sure, and the utter joy of following ideas to completion.
It’s safe to say that this record is a soundtrack, right?
R: Yeah totally, but to an imaginary film.
S: For sure, there are characters and visuals in my head for each of these songs.
Is the plan then to create super team to go more into writing for cinema?
R: We are a great team for sure and if the option shows up for us to score a movie- we`re prepared.
A bunch of my music has been used for film and TV already. Also Savannah played on soundtracks before. Of course it´d be fantastic to write to picture together. In fact the song, “the dream” is the music to a short film by Javiera Estrada which Savannah and I scored, so we got our feet wet doing that already.
But both of you have done a fair deal of work for movies and tv..
R: We have indeed. Some of the standouts for me where songs of mine of shows like The Blacklist, How to Get Away with Murder and the trailer for San Andreas. but there is still headroom. I started working with an agent for film scoring recently, let´s see what will happen next.
If anything, in terms of underlying themes, what is this record about? If you had to pin it on just one thing.
R: There is more than one theme I think, right Savannah? But for me space and the space between things is one of the concepts that we also visualize in out videos. micro and macro space.
S: Absolutely – for me, it is all about space and dimensions and crawling inside a sound world and just seeing what wants to exist there, not imposing will or force.
Will you guys let anyone touch the stems and maybe take a jab at remixing any of these songs?
R: For sure, we’ll make the whole album available as stems via Native Instruments.
Will there be a remix LP?
R: There are some initial remixes already, if we get enough good ones in to make a whole EP then we will totally consider it.
In closing, who’s currently doing it for you guys musically?
R: I love Douglas Dare, Lorn, Julien Marchal (who i collaborated with) and Pyur`s ambient album on Hoflush Records that drops end of October. Also staples for me are always Radiohead, Moondog and Mazzy Star.
S: I am loving Jon Hopkins, Dessa, Leah Curtis (who just wrote a beautiful, intense score for Killing Ground that I played violin on) Anne Akiko Myers, My Brightest Diamond and A Winged Victory for the Sullen.