As a decade plus partnership and even longer friendship, Session Victim keep doing what they do best: proper dance music albums. They dig, they sample, and they breathe new life into track after track. Listen To Your Heart is their third LP on Delusions of Grandeur and it’s as free-flowing and inspired as anything they’ve done.
Photo by Tomek Kmiecik
You’ve been working as a duo for over a decade, and electronic music is so often a solo venture as a DJ or as a producer… What was the initial spark that started your partnership and what’s kept it together for so long?
M: When we made our first beat together in 2007, we had already been friends for a good ten years. Hauke visited me in Hamburg for a few days, we went record shopping, hung out at my place, cooking, smoking, and eventually jamming with some samples.
It was just so much fun that we started visiting each other regularly on the weekends. I think in the third session we ever did together we came up with the basic idea for “No Friends” which became the A side of our very first release on Real Soon.
What kept it together? The fun. The urge to get into it, that is something we share deeply. The friendship. Nuff said.
I’m always fascinated by people who come from varied musical backgrounds and tastes who end up making or playing House Music and Disco. Matthias having a heavy metal band background, and you both have just all around eclectic and robust crate digging results, so what is it about House and your particular blend of Deep Disco that keeps your output so steady?
M: I’m not sure, most people I know listen to and collect music from all genres as well as people go out and want to dance to different kind of stuff from time to time. For us, I think in a way – at least chronologically – Hauke was heavily into House and Techno while I was into early ’70s Funk & Soul. Luckily, we met about right in the middle with Disco and kept on exploring more and more of the other one’s realm.
By all accounts this third album sounds like it may be your most free flowing and inspired yet. What’s been inspiring you and have you learned anything in particular since the last release that’s exemplified on the new record?
M: Thank you, we’re happy to hear that you feel this way. Well, “free flowing” definitely feels like a suitable term to me, as we have put ourselves under less pressure than with the last two albums.
In the first half of 2016 we basically just jammed and jammed, telling the label: “Yeah we are working on sound, but we have no idea if or when it’s turning into an album” – because that was the simple and naive truth.
I think it was around June/ July that we sent Jamie and Tom a batch of maybe 7 or 8 songs asking them if they felt that this would go good together.
I think 4 of those jams eventually made it onto the longplayer but that was when the idea was born.
We took our time, threw a lot of stuff into the trash on the way – but that’s the way it had to be I guess. So that’s one thing we learned – or got better at.
Another thing would be that we tried more different approaches towards the sound aesthetics. We tried to take the time to check the sound of a sample through different hardware or software. Like, for example “That’s a nice loop. Let’s do it again with the Akai and then compare the two.” Or just trying to pan signals differently in the stereo image. It’s fantastic that there’s always new things to try out and discover.
Once everything reached a certain momentum, Jamie would call and say, “Boys that might be a good idea but I don’t think you’re there yet.” And we would just be like “Thanks Jamie, let’s throw it away, we will come up with something better.” That’s how confident we actually got at some point.
The label seemed to feel it as well, at least it wasn’t difficult to convince them to help us take everything to San Francisco for two weeks again…
The one characteristic I always hear in your music is just a very smooth blend and mix no matter what type of track it is. Even though you rely on samples as an inspirational point, the final product always seems to aim for a less obvious and a more natural dance music feel. Is this something you’re always aiming for or just a natural evolution of your process?
M: I think I already answered a bit of it with your last question but yes – one thing we find and always found absolutely fascinating are ways of making a sequencer/computer sound more “alive.” I don’t think that will ever get boring for me.
But we also always incorporate instruments – like the guitar playing of our good friend Linnart Ebel. He has been contributing to every album yet, sometimes just adding a subtle human touch but also sometimes elevating things drastically.
This time, we also worked a lot with our studio neighbor, jamming partner and good friend by now, Carsten “Erobique” Meyer. His piano playing completely fits in with our idea of Soul & Funk – plus he challenges us so much in our songwriting, it gets us to reach for something new every time we work together.
Have you ever received any positive feedback from artists you’ve sampled?
M: I wish. I can’t recall having received any feedback ever. I do hope that someone who finds his music sampled in ours can feel the respect we treat our samples with – I would totally get it if not though – but it is there, in our heads and hearts, always.
Traveling around the world, have you ever found it challenging at times to win an audience over with your particular blend of Deep House and Disco? Disco I find to still be pretty widely accepted by the mainstream in America, but the deep side you guys have makes me wonder if that’s ever been a hurdle to get over?
M: Yes, we have found different music challenging in different situations. Luckily for us, a lot of times we get invited by people who know and get what we want to do, and therefore put us in an environment where we work – and we are very grateful for that.
What’s coming up for you guys now that the record’s out? Where will people be able to see you and will you be ramping up the live shows for the road? Any plans to play in Chicago?
We love touring. We will be doing that a lot over the next months, carrying live gear and at least two bags of records with us. There are plans for the US in the making, but it’s too early to scream and shout for us yet. We can’t wait for it to happen of course – like always…
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