tuomas rantanen interview
conducted before tuomas' february 2005 performance in vilnius, lithuania
1) When did you become acquainted with techno music?
I started with techno music some time in mid-1990. Then we founded the studio in an old factory in Tampere called Suomen Trikoo. At that time I made very minimalist and monotonous techno with bass machines such as 202 and also with Juno 106 and Drumstation. Before that I had studied classical guitar and music theory. Then I started studying in addition to classical music also electronic music and its different forms of expression.
2) Which musicians and artists did influence you?
I listen to a lot of jazz music and classical music. I listen to lots of different interpretations of Johann Sebastian Bach's music. Especially I listen to his clavier and cembalo works like Die Kunst der Fuge and Das Wohltemperierte Klavier. I also love the music of Keith Jarrett. He is amazing and his music is so fantastic. There are no limits: what is art, what is not, or what is modern, original, avant-garde or traditional… It is really something more. It is music which happens and which opens up the world again and again.
Of course I also listen to lots of techno music. Techno music is a very universal language which can create the original relationship to the world. It is a language which can in a very radical way set questions that involve our relationship to the environment, tradition and for instance to new technology, and the question, which concerns the manner of our being in the world.
3) Can you describe the process of creating the new tracks?
In my music I try to make some kind of new and radical interpretations from different forms of music and other cultural traditions. In my point of view the path of thinking is very similar to the path of music. Technically speaking I prefer older gear to new. I think that the most important thing is to understand the meaning or role of the technology in use and to understand how it's suitable to music production.
4) How has your music changed over the past 5 years?
Maybe not so much, I think. Music often has its own paths, and so it should be. Maybe nowadays I make more structures, although I still like very monotonic music. What it often comes to is the question of getting the balance between monotonous and change.
5) Is your studio an arsenal of the latest electronic gadgets, or do you like to keep things analogue and minimal in your studio?
I have a very small and simple studio, but it works. First when I started to make techno music I used a lot of different original instruments, such as analogue synths, bass machines and drum machines. It was good for studying. Nowadays I use more computers and different tracker programs.
6) What is your production plans for the near future? Are you satisfied with the contemporary state of techno?
Next release "Vanishing Land EP" will come out from Danilo Moton's BC Records. Also new material will be coming out soon, for instance from Maracas Records. I'm pretty satisfied with the contemporary state of techno. Personally in my own producing work I want to be building up two different styles and also construct bridges between them. First I want to make very strong driving forward percussion techno which could work as the general and fundamental musical expression. Second project includes more atmosphere and ambience elements with dark and industrial style monotonous rhythm patterns.
7) Growing up what kinds of sounds did you gravitate towards?
I have a strong classical music background. My father is a pianist and I have listened to numerous musicians such as Bill Evans, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner, Keith Jarrett and many more.
8) You've achieved a certain degree of recognition for your work that many artists would envy. Did this recognition and 'fame' affect, or change the goals you had as an artist and a professional? Did it change the nature of your creative output?
It is great to get music released because then it will be a part of communication with others and it has an influence on my next productions. It is always nice to gain positive response.
9) As consumers and listeners, we use technology today that allow us to consolidate our entire musical pasts into one continuous flow of music. Through MP3 and global file sharing, we also now have access to an infinite variety of music. How are these changes in our entertainment technologies affecting the way we perceive and create music?
I think music is pretty much same and it can express same things as before. These days the plenitude and commercialism of music sometimes causes unfortunate superficiality in it. All in all I think that it is great that many people can nowadays create music at home -- that brings some kind of healthy aspect to music production.
10) What kind of music do you listen to at home? Lots of techno, also classical and jazz music. I also listen to different kinds of underground and independent music styles such as gothic, punk and psychobilly. I have noticed that I usually listen to the same records again and again. To name one, releases of Charles Lloyd Quartet are my favourite.
11) What would you be doing ten years from now?
Pretty much the same I think -- making techno and philosophy. Maybe I'll be giving lectures on Heidegger and doing techno livesets and of course producing more techno music. Hopefully I'll also be running my own techno label in Finland. I have a dream of starting an own techno label which would release hard and strong percussion techno straight from the cold and dark, but ever so beautiful Tampere.
12) What do you know about Lithuania, and about its electronic music scene?
Lithuania is a very old nation, over 1.000 years, I think. In the 20th century it was a part of Russia from 1940, but now it's been independent soon 15 years. Lithuanian language belongs to the East-Baltic language group and it is a very beautiful yet strange language to me. Lithuanian people are very friendly and the culture in Lithuania is interesting and I'm eagerly looking forward to my first visit in the country. Pagalve and Techstylism are doing great job with the music scene.