Born and raised in Berlin it’s FOOOL returning to Sevensol’s KANN label with his second EP, Forum – the follow up of Shoplifter 2000, which was released in 2019 and just like Forum combined several musical styles and influences. Shortly before the release of FOOOL’s second masterstroke, the artist sat down with Torture the Artist to speak about his Berlin youth, early musical influences and other, not only, teenage memories. Additionally the artist, an exceptionally gifted guitarist, chats about the recurring topics on his EPs, how he got involved with KANN and ultimately mixed and compiled the latest edition of the art:cast series.
Torture the Artist: Hello FOOOL, tell us something about your day.
FOOOL: Hi, it‘s Monday morning and I am sitting in my apartment in front of piles of cases of studio gear and cables covered in dust, which I dismantled to renovate the place. Everything is a mess, there is no space to move and I am late for work because I am waiting for some internet person to install internet. There‘s just so many things to do that I don’t know where to start. So I am drinking coffee, staring at the mess and doing nothing. It’s lovely.
Torture the Artist: The follow-up of your Shoplifter 2000 EP, namely Forum, is ready on KANN and let me quote from the press-release “takes us once again on a journey into his youth days in Berlin.“ What’s the story you want to tell your listeners and how is the narrative expressed or bound to certain elements or (electronic) devices you used to create it?
FOOOL: Producing the music always comes first. Once I managed to produce something that makes sense musically, adding a narrative around it is more like a fun add-on. Like adding some speech samples I can relate to that match the vibe of the track. In my early teenage years the Europa-Center mall (referred to as Forum here) and the area around it was a huge hangout. I like how adolescence makes you claim and own a place, even if you have no funds to actually participate in it. Looking back it was probably a pretty shady environment to spend time, but I still feel the intensity and excitement it gave me in a time where most things didn’t. Also I have a thing for certain architecture and I really like the building itself. So I thought it’s a cool conceptual theme for the EP. From the cover artwork, the track names to the music video for EC (U Can Wipe The Tears From Your Eyes) that I shot with dancer Gabriel Lawton, everything refers to this place and area. Sound-wise I definitely try to achieve some kind of retro vibe and grittiness. I think I produce many things „the hard way“. For example instead of just adding a wobbly VST effect for some slight LFO detuning I record a lot of things on tape and detune it manually with the speed wheel. This is why I sometimes end up with up to 70 channels on a track (i’ve counted it) and it always takes a hundred years for me to finish it.
Torture the Artist: You live in Berlin, Kreuzberg (361). Where do we have to imagine your youth days taking place in Berlin and what’s an item/ piece that was always with you back then?
FOOOL: I grew up not far from where I live. As a kid I was outside a lot. Lots of times alone with my bike with no particular destination or purpose. Later I spent a lot of time in a youth club in Kreuzberg, where I basically learned to play guitar. Item, maybe my bike at 10, my guitar at 13 and my skateboard at 16.
I think this nostalgic vibe I want to create is my way of traveling back in time and giving my 13 year old stressed out self a big hug.
Torture the Artist: What were your youth days like and what are you nostalgic about?
FOOOL: I remember my youth days as very joyful and painful at the same time. Nostalgia needs to be consumed responsibly as things weren‘t necessarily better back then. I think this nostalgic vibe I want to create is my way of traveling back in time and giving my 13 year old stressed out self a big hug.
Torture the Artist: According to Instagram you are a quite decent guitarist. Since FOOOL used to be a band and is now a project, did you use to be the guitarist of the band and what was the reason FOOOL was turned into an (mainly) electronic music project and you did not follow the band-path any longer or was it maybe part of growing up?
FOOOL: I actually started out alone, then teamed up with a drummer and at some point we used to be up to four people. In the end we were all a bit tired of it and didn‘t progress. We did nothing for half a year and then we got the rare offer to play at a cool festival. I was answering the booker like “we don’t play anymore, but I’d be happy to play anyway.” This was when I started to do FOOOL as a kind of solo producer thing. I created a completely new set within weeks and played a little slot at this festival. But speaking of the old band, our former drummer Fabian is on MiniCity and the outro of P.M. Mag on the new EP, which is very cool.
Whenever I really like something, a track or a label, there is a good chance it’s from the UK.
Torture the Artist: What were your musical teenage days idols and what made them “cool“ for you?
FOOOL: At some stage of my life I was an RJD2 extremist. <smiles> Before that lots of guitar music, Dancehall, some Rap. I don’t think I had so many idols, just CDs and tapes that made me feel something when I listened to them. Could’ve been anything from Ice-T’s Bodycount, Beasty Boys, The Specials, Sublime, Fatboy Slim, Portishead to Cat Stevens and so much more. Also a lot of sh*t too embarrassing to mention, of course. Electronic Dance Music came later, when I started to work in clubs as a busboy in my early twenties.
Torture the Artist: Musically a lot of influences from various genres can be heard on Forum with a slight preference for UK-sounds/ genres. Where do those influences come from?
FOOOL: Whenever I really like something, a track or a label, there is a good chance it’s from the UK. I don’t know why, but I always was into shuffled, broken, breaky type beats. Maybe because from the age of 14 to 18 my peers and I always went to Ragga / Dancehall parties. There were always black sound systems with live MCs toasting on these same 50 riddims. This was definitely a rhythmic influence if not education.
I honestly have so many things in my head I hope to be able to realize in the future.
Torture the Artist: What’s a track you want to produce but have not?
FOOOL: A really good solid 7-minutes club track, without getting caught in too many breaks and genre changes. But I honestly have so many things in my head I hope to be able to realize in the future. I also just finished an ambient work that I wanna release this year and I am trying out a lot of other shit too.
Torture the Artist: How do you proceed in the studio when producing your music, meaning what is or was first when you worked on the Forum EP: the film sequences you built the music around or was the music first and then you implemented the recordings?
FOOOL: Normally start with some rhythmics, add some harmonics and end up in the fetal position crying in bed because everything sounds like sh*t. Then after a couple of days with the same routine something clicks and it starts to become a track. The narrative, if any, comes last. I am not religious about this at all, but I tend to almost exclusively work with outboard equipment. I just happened to gather a lot of shit over the years. For me, it’s a more fun and inspiring way to work.
Torture the Artist: What’s an artist or producer you’d want to sit in the studio with, and why?
FOOOL: Produce some 150bpm breaks with Anz, beautiful chord progressions with Daniel Lopatin, record a guitar album with Michael Rother and vocals with Sade Adu.
Torture the Artist: What’s the track from the Forum EP that comes closest to what you once imagined you wanted to sound or what’s the track that would bumped through your speakers in your teen hood?
FOOOL: Probably EC or MiniCity.
Torture the Artist: At what levels do FOOOL and KANN intertwine and how did this fruitful relationship come about?
FOOOL: A mutual friend introduced us when I had just finished the Shoplifter 2000 EP and they were very open-minded. They were not afraid to release something that’s a bit in between genres and maybe not the typical club release. That’s cool, I’m happy they release my music.
Torture the Artist: Is the punk-subculture the youth-culture of your choice or did you just use the track title We The Punks on you Shoplifter EP to express your rebellious being (musically)?
FOOOL: Definitely love the culture and the attitude. My older sister took me to punk rock shows when I was really, really young. For example I remember seeing New York’s legendary hardcore band H2O when I was like 14 in 1999. Went to a lot of shows back then and I was always in the mosh pit, stage diving and shit. I loved this energy. I also love musicians that bring a similar vibe and energy today, no matter what genre. The youth needs mosh pits!
Torture the Artist: What was the hardest you had to learn when growing up?
FOOOL: My parents shortcomings are not my fault.
Torture the Artist: Where you want to take us with the mix you compiled, musically and time-wise?
FOOOL: I haven’t done it yet, so I don’t know, pretty sure something I would like to dance to in a club. Thanks for having me.
Words by Holger Breuer
Pictures by Tina Willim