A duo that needs no introduction, Matthias Reiling and Hauke Freer, both great producers in their own right, are even better together as two man house band Session Victim (soundcloud). The Hamburg and Berlin-based best friends have been making music together for about a decade but have known each other for the past twenty years.
Notorious sample diggers, the two are able to craft brand new musicals gems with ideas stemming from cratefuls of records which include genres such as soul, funk, disco, jazz & various others. Locking themselves in the studio for days at a time, they are able to consistently come up with infectious dancefloor groovers. With all of that time spent digging for records, it’s no wonder that they are phenomenal behind the decks as well, bringing an unparalleled, contagious vibe with them wherever they go.
With two widely successful albums under their belt, Matthias and Hauke have been hard at work on their anticipated third LP. If you’ve caught them live at any point this year then you have likely heard snippets of what’s to come. For the time being though, we’re glad to settle for their current Matching Half EP out on Delusions of Grandeur as well as their upcoming solo contributions on XK Records.
Get to know a little bit more about Session Victim in the following interview and have a listen to their contribution in the latest instalment of our MIXED BY/ series!
Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions guys. We’ll start off with the name, Session Victim. We’ve seen you talk about how you met and started making music together in previous publications but how did you come up with the name and does it have any special or hidden meaning?
M = Matthias Reiling
H = Hauke Freer
M: No hidden meaning, but a general attitude towards playing and writing. When we get together and jam on music, sometimes we can push ourselves beyond a certain point and some kind of magic happens. We don’t get there all the time, but we’re striving for it. It feels to us like we’re not playing the song anymore but more the song takes over and plays us.
After knowing each other for so long, producing together for 10 years as well as touring as a duo, do you ever just get sick and tired of each other?
H: When you spend this much time together playing shows, writing music, travelling etc, there is no way two people wouldn’t disagree or get in a fight sometimes. But coming home from a weekend of gigs, I always think about how good it is to do all this with your best friend and share the love and the pain. On stage and in the studio we are simply better together.
When the two of you are in the studio together, do either of you have specific strengths that you stick to, maybe specific roles? For example one guy usually digs for samples while the other programs drums or is it all interchangeable for the most part?
H: Not really, Matthias plays the bass and guitar, but even i made some noises on those instruments that ended in songs. Otherwise we both always switch up roles during a session. If one of us is getting a drum pattern right, the other might be looking for a sample or trying to find a melody on a synthesizer. We learned over time when it’s good to let the other spell out an idea and sit back for a little.
Both your live & DJ sets are super infectious, we love the energy that you emit. Usually, it seems that a lot of DJs feed off of the crowd but in your case it seems like the crowd feeds off of you and your passion for the music you’re playing. Are there ever days where you guys aren’t feeling 100% or does the music always bring that energy out in you?
M: It is all give and take with the crowd, for us as much as for anyone else. We obviously don’t approach every show with the same state of mind though. If we are in good spirits and full of vibes ourselves when we start, things very rarely turn out unsatisfying for us. Even if it’s half empty. There are nights where I only really need to watch Hauke play and get so amped up with it that everything but the sound blurs out. On a lot of other occasions, it really is the crowd that we are feeding off – and it’s usually nights like that where we grow beyond our possibilities. It doesn’t have to be much – that special kind of smile on one face can be enough to ignite everything.
How and maybe even more curiously, why do you both still have day jobs with all of the time spent focusing on music?
H: We’ve been full time musicians now for the last two years. Before we took that step, a burn out was on the horizon for both of us.
Living in two different cities you have to get together to produce your Session Victim material as you’ve said in the past that you never work on it apart. Where does most of the creative process happen, Hamburg or Berlin? Does one of you have a nicer studio than the other?
M: We used to work at Hauke’s and my crib, taking turns with Berlin and Hamburg. For two years, we have a fantastic designated studio space in Hamburg. Hauke gets in from Berlin every other week, and we always lock ourselves in for 3 or 4 days. We sleep there, we eat there and we make music. That’s a way of working we both feel comfortable with and that has always felt great to us. Hauke still has a few nice pieces of gear at his Berlin place though
Since we’re on the topic of studios, could you tell us a little bit about your gear? What are some of your favourite pieces to work with?
H: The Korg Trident is one synthesizer that we always go back to, in particular for strings that simply sit right in the mix. Moog filter and delay are such great hands on tools, we can more live to sounds. A new one is the Korg Minilogue which is so fun, easy and affordable. The Akai 612 is the one sampler for us to really add character to a (short) sample.
You both come from very broad musical backgrounds, could you list a couple of your favourite records growing up and perhaps some current ones that are catching your ear? Any artists or labels to look out for?
H: Photek’s “Hidden camera” EP blew my mind when I was 17. There must have been days I played the CD on repeat all day. My brother sparked my music interest, living and clubbing in Berlin during the early 90s, he made tapes for me of R&S “In order to dance” compilations, Underworld, Orbital as well as trip hop and acid jazz. Living in a small town before the Internet I wouldn’t have had a chance to get to know this stuff. In terms of recent – I was really impressed by the youandewan LP “there is no right time”, an electronic album so well done. I can hear the passion that went into it.
M: I want to list Photek’s Hidden Camera as well, can I? What a record. But then I go to Slayers “Seasons in the Abyss”, Morphine’s “Cure for Pain”, Jamiroquai’s “Return of the Space Cowboy” and MF Doom’s “Operation Doomsday”. About recent stuff, I dig Anderson Paak right now, especially his first two albums. And I think the Stranger Things Soundtrack is a definite future classic, can’t wait for the vinyl release!
You’ve got a new EP called Matching Half out now on Delusions of Grandeur and a single on Wolf Music but we’re curious as to what’s next for Session Victim? Any plans for a third album?
M: Oh, that album is coming! We have been working on that and not much else since January and we are about 90% there. If you watched us play this year you heard bits of it already, since we jam with a lot of the ideas and themes live to get new ideas for arrangements and such. Shout out to Jimpster and everyone at Delusions for walking that walk with us again!
H: I’m releasing a record with solo tracks by Matthias and myself on XK Records, which I run with help from Markus (OYE). We hardly find time to make music on our own; it’s good for both of us when we do so now and then, though. I’m very pleased with the 12” as I feel these are the best solo productions we did in 2016.
More Session Victim on: http://sessionvictim.com/