Session Victim are a duo that need very little introduction. Since 2009, few underground artists have managed to stay as relevant and progressive in their sound than life long friends Hauke Freer and Matthias Reiling. Their recipe for success isn’t complicated. It doesn’t lie in a flawless social media campaign or some edgy personas. It is grounded in their sheer love for music and continuously perfecting their craft.
In this latest Times and Tunes, we catch up with the Germans ahead of their latest EP titled Two Crowns, which is out now on Delusions of Grandeur. We have a heart to heart on how the coronavirus has impacted their lives in and out the studio while discussing the strongest influences and sounds featured on the record. True gearheads and professionals of the utmost quality, there is plenty to learn for all you budding, young producers here.
Hey guys thanks for chatting with us. We are very excited about your new EP; it feels like it’s been a while. Or maybe 1 year in a pandemic feels more like 2.
Hey, glad to be back! Yes… and yes, I guess. It has been a while since we talked last, and it also feels to me that time is passing in a weird way. Some days it seems it’s just running away and on other days more like someone pushed the ultimate pause button. Anyway, thank you so much for having us again, and for all the support over the year!
Can you describe the direction of the Two Crowns EP? It feels like you sampled a little less and went heavier on the analog synths. Is this something we can expect to hear more from the two of you?
I see where that feeling comes from, but to be honest I’d have to take a close look at the song arrangements now to tell you if that’s even the case really. It does feel a bit more synth focused to me too, but that was not planned at all. When we wrote Needledrop we had a fairly good idea where we wanted to go sound wise relatively early in the process. Now listening to Two Crowns with a bit of distance, I think we both just had our main emphasis on different details than we did on the album.
The EP falls into the club friendly and dance floor focused category. Was that a conscious choice you made, perhaps missing being in a dark sweaty basement? How much are you looking forward to being able to get back out there and do your thing?
M: Like I said before, not as conscious as one might think. Do we miss the dark sweaty basements? Of course, we do, but it’s not like either of us is sitting around whining about how empty our lives are. We’re both in good health, so are our families and that feels like the most important thing right now. We still get to work on songs several days every week, and we feel incredibly lucky about that. Besides the fact that Hauke and me always have been Club Kids, this EP wasn’t happening with us saying “Yo, let’s show people that we’re still about the dancefloor”, just like Needledrop wasn’t us thinking “let’s change our direction, we made enough house music”. We jam with stuff, and it either feels right or it doesn’t, no matter what the actual sound is. Just the other day we chopped up some things and it suddenly felt like a Sammy Davis Jr. or Sinatra type of thing. Our first and main goal is and always has been to come up with something that excites us, for whatever reason. If we don’t get a feeling out of what we do, how could we expect anyone else to?
The prolific nature in which you two can churn out quality releases is almost dumbfounding. It honestly never fails to impress us. Not only do you come out with a full-length LP every two years, but you manage to fit in an EP or two between each venture. I think you have released 28 EPs and 4 LPs in just 12 years?
Haha, yeah, it looks like that on Discogs but it’s not exactly true as our first three albums were all available as 3×12“pack and as single 12“s too. There’s some VA’s in there too so it’s more like 18 or 20 EPs really. But don’t get me wrong, that’s a whole lot of records. It’s still hard to believe that there has been such a constant interest in our music over the years and that our time in the studio together has brought us so much joy and so many results we feel good about. If you met my 18-year-old self right now that’s everything he would have ever wanted.
How much time do you guys spend in the studio working on new material throughout the year? Is there anything unique about your creative partnership that allows you to be so productive?
Uhm, hard to say, definitely a lot. I’d say right we spend maybe 10 to 20 hours a week together on the sequencer, and then some more time each on our own or jamming with other friends. Of course, that is a little less during times when we are spending one week a month on the road playing shows.
What sort of musicians, if any, have been most influential when crafting your sound? Artists such as St. Germain come to mind when we hear your music.
St. Germain is cool, I have a few records and really like some of his songs, but he wasn’t a huge influence really. The first names that come to my mind would be DJ Shadow, Photek, Premier, Pete Rock, Portishead, and talking House music, Nick Holder, Moodymann or Sound Stream. But also, bands, stuff like Booker T and the MG’s, Joni Mitchell, plus some German Kraut and Jazz people like Volker Kriegel or Christian Bruhn.
Are there any specific genres or songs that directly influenced the originals we find on your EP Two Crowns on?
Genres well, all three tracks happen somewhere between House and Breakbeat I would say. Talking specific influences – Guidance has its name as it became a bit of a homage to the label of the same name. We both have a bunch of Guidance records and regularly play some of them out to this day.
How much of this record was recorded during the Coronavirus pandemic? What impact has it had on this record?
Most of it was. Well, I think the aforementioned Guidance, was the only one we had a rough sketch of when the lock down first started. What impact the Pandemic had on the record is hard to specify. It surely did impact the EP of course, as it did our lives in total, just like anyone else’s.
Other than making music, what else have you two been up to while locked up? Discover any new hobbies?
Not really new hobbies, no. I did finish more books in 2020 than in the years before though. Pinball places aren’t open obviously, so we probably spent a bit more time on video games. My cooking got a little better, that goes for a lot of people, doesn’t it?
We have seen you two jam out in your studio in Berlin quite often. To say we are envious of all the gear would be an understatement. What were some of the tools specifically used for constructing this EP?
Well, the studio you saw in our latest posts is our friend Iron Curtis’ place and he has been sharing this space with Nick Beringer over the last years. They were so nice to let us move in as the third party when the pandemic started so only a few pieces in those videos are ours.
The songs on the ‘Two Crowns EP’ feature some different things: The main pad sound, as well as the melody both come from a Korg Poly 800. Not the fanciest keyboard of all time but very capable of some sweet sounds and affordable to this day. Hahaha, I just remember meeting Philipp Lauer at a dinner in Munich years ago. The first thing he said to me was something like “Hey, you look like you’re pretty broke, have you ever tried the Poly 800? It’s great and super cheap!” On Village Youth it has to be the Yamaha DX200. What an ugly looking, amazing sounding little box that is. Never been a huge fan of FM synths, but this beast is about to make me a believer. Finally, the title track, as many of our tunes before, is a prime example of how insanely good the Moog Moogerfooger Delay really is. Definitely one of our favourite pieces for a long time now.
Interview by Igor & Yassin