Brascon: “An album sums up all the time in this period of your life and transforms it into music”
Here it is! The long-promised album by Berlin-based producer Brascon, the multi-talented co-founder of Peace Peter and DAS MAER. And the wait has been worth it: Because the narrowly titled album “Vän” is the most experimental, personal and ambitious project the deep house maestro has dedicated himself to in his career so far. From the countless samples collected in the wild to the carefully curated and staged features, the album is bursting with proofs of love for sound, music, nature and above all for all the people who have been part of Brascon’s musical journey over the last few years. “Vän” is the Swedish word for friend, which means that the title already promises what the music will be able to deliver later on: That Brascon wants to pay homage to all the creative heads of his circle of friends who accompany him musically on this album. But the most personal thing about this project is and remains the sound, which holds the many features together and brings them into sonic unity. Brascon finds his way here more than ever and delivers a record that promises the same to the listeners.
How long did it take you to produce the album?
Brascon: I started the first track back in autumn of 2018 when I went to Stockholm for the first time in my life. I didn’t know at this point that this would be the first step towards a new album. I made many sketches, but I think during the entirety of spring and summer of 2019 I did not work on any of them, because there were too many changes going on in my life: gigs, work, label-founding stuff and more. The creativity came back in the magic season that I love the most: autumn (2019) … and then I practically worked every day on these tracks. I pushed myself hard, sometimes a little bit too hard, so much so that I think I was a bit annoying to others. The goal was to have it released in November 2019, but I just couldn’t stop finalizing and sorting my tracks. So finally, in March of 2020 I had everything ready just after setting the best deadline for myself, the label, my friends and more: My birthday. I think all that time was necessary. As I like to say, an album sums up all the time in this period of your life and transforms it into music.
How did you choose the title of the LP? Is there a special meaning behind it?
The word “vän” is Swedish and means friend. Can you spot the circle? Yes. It’s because I started to produce it in one of my favorite countries: Sweden (and not just because of Ryan Gosling hehe) and I love the sound of the Nordic winds, which you can hear often in the album. The name just seemed right, because sometimes it is really hard for me to be a good friend. I can be an asshole in life when it comes to emotions because I usually try to avoid all of them. So, the challenge was to find my new sound as well as to love myself more, because you can only love and be a friend, when you love yourself. That’s also the story behind all of the tracks. The main character of the album is fighting throughout his life, drugs, society, loss, depression and more until he overdoses and in the end he accepts that only his pure love for nature, family, friends and his self can save him and truly are the only things that matters.
What inspired you to produce the tracks and the LP?
As I said before, I was heavily inspired by the season of autumn, but also by travelling and specifically this little part of Germany called “Sächsische Schweiz”. My parents took me there every year in autumn as a kid and it started to become a part of me. The album cover is a picture of me, sitting on a beautiful mountain there, called Schrammsteine. This whole national park there is such an astounding, colorful and peaceful place, that you automatically inhale a lot of inspiration. After my first album, which was way colder and groovier, I wanted to make a more personal one and use more of the sounds that I heard during all of my travels and my everyday life. Also, Jon Hopkins’ incredible album “Singularity” opened my mind for creating new soundscapes as well as Robag Wruhme’s “Thora Vukk” and “Venq Tolep”. The last track for example, with the voicemails of my friends – I wouldn’t have thought of it if I hadn’t heard a similar idea on Robag Wruhme’s outro track “Ende #2”.
Where and how did you produce the tracks?
Nearly everywhere. I have a laptop and I use Ableton. We have a studio in Berlin, where I spent some time mixing the tracks, then I work on some in bed or while traveling, but mostly I work at the desk in my bedroom, because I have the smoothest chair in there. Comfortable sitting is very important! As for the sounds, I love to work with VST’s. I can’t name all of them, but I can name a few important ones. Altiverb is the shit! It’s a reverb where you can emulate different places, like inside of a train, or in the forest, in the bathroom and more… I use it on nearly every percussion sound because it makes the track sooo much more alive. I also love to distort my sound with the decapitator by Soundtoys. Every track needs to sound a bit dirty and imperfect, because everyone and life itself is like that. The piano and strings are mostly from the Olafur Arnalds collection on Spitfire Audio. They sound really organic and real and I think they are one of the bests out there for quiet, peaceful and calm melodies. Every track is filled with my own field recordings from everyday life. I record them with my Zoom H6 and fuck them up later in Ableton. It makes the track dirtier but also more beautiful. A little example: The track “Treesong” starts with a rumbling sound. That was a ferry at the harbor in the “Sächsische Schweiz” and someone pushing his bike over the landing stage. It was creating this mighty rumble and I was like ‘Yeah! That’s it!’. Aaand one last fact – I did the whole mixdown of the album on my Bose hi-fi system, because our studio was closed in times of corona! But like Van Gogh would say: It’s the ear, not the gear.
How did the collaborations come about?
Mostly because the singers are friends of mine! Johanson is part of our label Peace Peter and our Band DAS MAER. We worked on a lot of tracks before and it was obvious that I would choose him again – his voice is one of the greatest I’ve ever heard on new electronic dance music productions. He’s a game changer. Also, Felix Raphael from the track “Stockholm” is part of Peace Peter for a few weeks now. I did get to know him on the Zweitakt Festival and we instantly played a set together – ah and I did a remix for him. He’s a really lovely person and also his technique of singing is unique! Paula Möller is an old classmate of mine and my mother taught her in school. She plays the violin on the track “Demon”. I love classical elements and I knew that she was able to play it, so it was really nice get in touch with her again. Last but not least is LAVALU from the last track of the album. I discovered her on Spotify I think, and I thought – oh, that can be interesting. She knows her way around the piano and does a lot of classical stuff. We had a call and she was up to it. The track “Wait Till You See Me Now” was maybe one of the hardest I ever mixed down, because it has this huge vocal takes of hers. But I really love the track.
And the last one is Seasoul. My friend that’s also featured on the album, Yannek Maunz, showed me her stuff because they both went to the same university. I instantly contacted her, and we recorded the “Treesong” (my favorite song from the album I think) one day before Christmas. It was cold and the studio-complex was empty and everyone was exhausted from the year. But as we finished the recording, I felt my strength coming back to me again. I want to say thanks to every collaborator on the album.
How was the feedback so far?
Only a few ones listened to the album till now. But the feedback was amazing. I remember sentences like ‘great soundscapes and a clear mixdown’ (I laughed, because I only had the Bose system to do it). My friends also mentioned the big difference to the album in 2018, that I ‘made a big step forward’ and so on. Just lovely. I also showed some stuff to my parents and they liked it. That’s really means a lot to me because they did not really like my older stuff hehe. But if you discover some stuff you don’t like just tell me. I love to get good criticism. It brings me forward.
How and why did you choose the record label?
At first, I thought of releasing it on a bigger label like Ki Records from Christian Löffler. But I still think that I’m not up for this step yet. We only just launched the first release on our label Peace Peter Records in spring this year, that’s why I originally didn’t think about releasing it there in the first place. Since we’re all a big group of friends in this label and we’re still building it up, we thought that this would be a good way to maybe give it a push. I’m curious how it will perform out there. If it’s going to be listened to at all. I know that no one really listens to an album anymore.
What’s up next after the release? Any plans and projects?
Yes indeed. In a few weeks, a small EP with club versions of “Vän” will appear on Peace Peter Records. Also a remix EP of the album will arrive with some well-known names – but I don’t wanna tell you too much. Sadly, I won’t do a live show because of the corona thing. But there will be a live stream of the album. I also have some releases with Alex Cruz, Yannek Maunz, DAS MAER and a lot of remixes for example for Harlequinn Records from Miami. My plan is to make an 80’s style EP in the near future, because i’m a huge 80’s fan. I recorded some demos with Johanson, and they had this awesome groove to them. Also, I will improve my mixing skills, because I had some requests from the Rap, Folk, Rock and Pop genre. I always love to take on new challenges. Maybe I will be able to work with a whole orchestra someday. Who knows, but I would love that.