The Brvtalist is proud to present a new mix from Grebenstein. In just a short time, the Kassel, Germany-based solo artist has produced some of the most exciting material in the realms of techno, industrial, ambient and more. With standout releases on Downwards and a new EP coming out this month on Horo, we caught up with the artist to learn about the history of the project and what to expect with the new album and upcoming release show (Feb. 18) at Ohm. Please find our Q&A below.
The Brvtalist: I would love to hear about the inception of Grebenstein. After playing guitar and drums in various bands, you released your first solo EP under the Grebenstein moniker in 2014. What is your relationship with electronic music and was a project like this always something you envisioned?
Grebenstein: My relationship with electronic music is quite young. When I moved to Kassel in 2010 I started recording music on my own. At this time my music still sounded like the music we were making in my last band. As I started art school my sound became more electronic, but at this time all I knew about electronic music was stuff like Ricardo Villalobos, Len Faki etc. In 2012 I played my first live shows under the moniker Grebenstein. I still used my guitar while playing live but apart from that I felt no connection between my roots as a drummer in a post-punk band and this electronic world I had just discovered. I became a bit frustrated. I had no clue how to combine both worlds properly. Then in 2013 I spent some days in Berlin and I discovered the first OAKE EP at Hardwax… that was the turning point - from there on I discovered all the Downwards releases… Blackest Ever Black etc.. and all the stuff i had listened to at this stage had a lasting impact on me. I felt more secure to experiment from there on.
TB: Gloss is a new EP out later this month on Horo. With previous releases on Downwards, talk about your approach to this record and has anything changed with the new material?
GR: I recorded my first EP on Downwards after struggling with an anxiety disorder. The sound of the record was caused by the feelings I had back in those days… It was all about the tension within myself. Working on the record was reflective and curing at the same time. When I worked on the Gloss EP everything had already massively changed. My mind had changed a lot. I’m more calm and focused, I take more time to work on my music. I wait for the point where everything feels "perfect“ and I have to say I’m much more interested in the technical process of creating and recording new sounds nowadays.
TB: The EP launch sees you playing live on February 18th at Ohm Berlin. How has your live set evolved over the last few years and what can we expect at the show?
GR: At the moment I’m super happy with my live shows and my setup. In the past I used to have a guitar with me, a vermona drum machine, a Korg ms-20 and a NI Machine. It was too much to handle as a single person. Every show I played was an experiment and I felt bad for the people who came to see me play because I wasn’t able to recreate the tracks they knew from my records and I thought that was what they are coming for. So over the last 2 years I reduced my live-setup drastically and now I’m able to recreate the tracks from the records while still keeping a good amount of improvisation.
TB: Tell us a little bit about the mix you made for The Brvtalist.
GR: If you’d invite me to play a DJ-set at your next pajama-party - that’s what might happen.
TB: What's coming up next for you?
GR: I’m working on a new project called "Gruppe Formal“. It’s a kind of an open collective where I’m inviting people to make and discuss music with me. At the moment the plan is to do this in the form of short residencies. Working one week together and at the end of the week doing a public event, presenting what happened in form of talks, live-shows or exhibitions. One live-show by "Gruppe Formal“ will happen on April 2nd at OHM Berlin.
The Brvtalist would like to thank Grebenstein for this great contribution to our mix series and taking the time to speak with us. Be sure to pick up Gloss and if you're in Berlin don't miss that show.