The Techno world can seem isolating at times. Where collaborations by producers with individual projects do happen, few work both so successfully and so frequently as German duo, Sawlin & Subjected. Releasing primarily on Subjected’s own imprint, Vault Series, the pair have become well known for their rugged, long-playing brand of Techno, a style which draws on each of their individual styles in equal measure.
Having recently provided the second of their ‘Foreign Awake’ EP series for Speedy J’s Electric Deluxe, we decided to catch up with the pair to discuss the mechanics of their collaboration in more depth.
So to begin with, what have you two been up to over the last few months?
Sa: I continued working on my EPs and my album an das usual, mastering.
Sub: I quit my full-time job in January and remodelled my studio. Now I can make music properly again, I’ve made several remixes recently and am also working on some further EPs.
Can you tell us a little bit about your recent collaboration, ‘Foreign Awake Pt.2’?
Sa: As the name says, it’s a continuation of Part.1 and is also similar sound-wise. We already have new material that’s different from these two EPs. I always find it interesting how two different developments come together.
You’ve released together a number of times on the Vault Series, how did you first meet each other and start working together?
Sub: We met through Mørbeck. Back then Ron had advised me when I was buying my Computer and Equipment. He also taught me the basics of how to make music on the computer. Since then we make music together on a regular basis, we often share ideas and have become good friends.
This is your second release together on a label other than Vault Series – what was the thinking behind that and why the departure to Electric Deluxe?
Sub: I spontaneously played at a Electric Deluxe label night in Berghain because Polar Intertia could no longer play. Speedy J’s reponse to this was great and since then we were often in contact. Speedy J knows our productions and has played several tracks from my album. When Ron and I produced together again, and when we had a couple of tracks ready, I said ‘let’s send those tracks to Electric Deluxe’ and Jochem signed them.
How does the writing process work between you two? Are you both there in the studio at the same time or do you produce parts separately and bring them together at a later stage?
Sa: I actually prefer to work in the independent way, but I am surprised how constructive sitting together can be. We don’t have a set method or procedure though. We often experiment in Martin’s studio before we have any basis, around which we then build the rest. Time always flies so fast during this. And after almost every session we have a finished track. We don’t use templated or finished samples or loops, but build everything from scratch, although it is common that it’s Martin’s arrangement. He’s just better at that.
Does the writing process, and how you think about making a record, differ depending on the label it’s coming out on? Or do you let it come out more naturally?
Sub: It’s difficult to say. Sometimes we have a fixed idea on which direction or for which label the track shall be, and something we just jam and try new or experimental iPad apps or other studio gear. When the track is finished, we then see for which label it would be suitable.
In more general terms, how do you think the process of collaborating affects how your music sounds?
Sub: When we work together, we both contribute our parts and then we sometimes try out new techniques, so that we both participate and benefit. I then usually do the arrangement. When I work alone, I obviously work differently and have different production procedures.
Sa: It’s difficult to put this in words. Of course, when you’re working with someone, you notice the way techniques gets used and how the creative process develops, and you almost automatically synchronise. What I realised the most, is that when we are in his studio our music takes on a Subjected sound aesthetic. And when we’re at my studio, then its my aesthetic. Also the acoustic of the room and the speakers have a big influence on the end result.
Earlier last year we saw the debut Subjected LP, ‘Zero’. Are there any plans for a joint LP or a solo Sawlin LP?
Sa: I think that the collaborations have to become established and then we can speak about such a project. With my album, Delsin has already asked me and it is, as said, in progress. However I cant say when and in what format this will be released.
Sub: I can definitely imagine making an LP together. Let’s just see how much output we’ll have in the next sessions.
How did Zero shape things for the Vault Series?
Sa: I’d like to know that too!
Sub: When the Vaults series first happened, I never imagined that there would be an album or a remix series to be released. But since then a lot has changed. The label has gained a lot of respect and at some point the point comes when you need to further develop yourself. Vault Series is still a platform for Sawlin and myself but it has become a bit more loose in recent times; for example we have signed a new mysterious act: Mistake Made. Something that, before the album, I couldn’t have imagined.
Besides the new EP, what are your plans for the next few months? Any exciting projects you can tell us about? Thank you for your time!
Sa: I can’t give a definite answer on this, as this has proven to be a trap in the best. You often get requests and then the label changes their mind. There are several projects up for discussion but it only gets confirmed when the date for mastering gets set.
Sub: The next Vault Series is going to be a Solo EP by Sawlin, after that we’ll have the Vault Series 15.0 by Mistake Made. Maybe we’ll also have another remix series soon. Solo I’ve just done a remix for Silent Steps and soon a solo EP will be released on ARTS. More EPs on other labels are already in progress but it would be to soon to say names right now.