Read between the lines – A Q&A with Prequel Tapes

Prequel Tapes’ remix of Fink’s “Fall into the light” introduced us to an artist that brings some light into the darker hemisphere of industrialised electronic music. The artist’s music occupies layers of blissful indulgence that feel tattered around the edges as the distorted sonics peal away to reveal serene melodies at the heart of the dusty music. A debut album, Inner Systems follows on Ninja Tune subsidiary R’Coup’D and finds the artist bringing together the sounds from a history in New Wave and Industrial electronics into a singular narrative on this album, a narrative that is pieced together from music from the artist’s past and re-established in a modern context. Prequel Tapes uses old recordings as a basis to create new work, taking old DAT tapes from which to compose new music like those found on Inner Systems. Very little is known of this artist, and there appears to be deep ravines to the artist’s personality, where a subtle touch is administered in the most harshest of auditory explorations. We caught up with the artist through an email exchange to find out more.

You chose to remain anonymous, but what would you say is the essence of the prequel tapes project and what would it personify?

I did not really choose to stay anonymous; I just like the idea of the music rather than the creator to be the central focus. Anyone who buys the physical products can read who produced and wrote the music. By putting the music at the centre, I wished to give it some time to breath before any conversation about who or why, for it to be appreciated for itself. So far I am very happy with that decision and I don’t think that music has to be personified.

As far as I can understand Prequel Tapes is all about revising the music of your past and re-appropriating it for a modern audience. What effects do you hope the music will have in a new context?

Prequel Tapes started by producing music from some DATs, which were recorded at the end of the 80s. The results of that experiment were just very exciting to me and so I dug deeper in all my recordings. Finally I combined the past and the future, meaning I was adding whole new compositions to the parts of the older recordings to create something fresh for myself. I love to play around with recordings from another time, especially when it’s my own recordings. That puts something very personal into the music.

Considering you came from New Wave and Industrial and that you’ve been influenced by Techno, which context do you see your music most likely to work the best in?

My music is very flexible and I am very open to exploration of different contexts and environments. These are just my main influences when I was discovering electronic music. The best context for me would be if someone listens to the album over a decent pair of headphones in a relaxed, but concerted state.

You’re first release as Prequel Tapes was a remix for Fink. What was your intention for the remix?

To put hidden melodies and beautiful instruments in the centre and use the vocals more as an instrument.

I assume Re’Coup’d had some influence in bringing you on board for the remix package. What role has the label played in bringing Prequel Tapes to life and the album?

The main role I would say was Fin, who runs the label. He saw my very first show as Prequel Tapes and wanted to immediately have a remix for his band Fink. Once I delivered the “Fall Into The Light“ Remix, he offered me a full-length album on his label. He really was pushing me and supported me to bring out the “Inner Systems“ album. It’s basically all his fault.

Would you say the album is essentially a remix of the music from your past, and what changes when you approach your own music like this?

No, not at all. The recordings were just a starting point – they provide a framework and a focus. It is more about an inspiration from the past. There were some years in my life where music had an insane impact on me. I still relive that time in my head through visions and pictures and moods. On Inner Systems I wanted to morph those moods in a context of the relationship I have today with electronic music. Basically it is about closing a circle.

Apart from that overall concept behind Prequel Tapes, was there anything specific that you were trying to communicate with Inner Systems?

It is about the inner systems of the machines and gear I used, as well about my personal Inner System to connect my past with the place I am today.

There seems to be a narrative there in the way the tracks float into each other and within their individual progression.

Yes. I want people to go on a little trip with me. A couple of the tracks are meant to be listened to together, for example, ‘The Comfort of Feeling Numb’ and ‘Scarlet Fog’ are two tracks from the album that are a pair. I’ve described them as married before, that’s how they appear to me.

There are these moments of intense serene organic beauty amongst the more muggy elements of the mechanical electronics. Was it a concerted effort on your part to play with these contrasting elements?

I did not concentrate on those elements; it’s more that they always attracted me a lot. I love to have stressed, moving sounds that contrast to beautiful and alluring melodies.

There’s also a pre-disposition with percussive rhythms although they’re never anything as clearly defined as a kick-snare arrangement. Was there an intention to include dance element to the music?

When you make electronic music there are always dance elements. What are dance elements really apart from rhythmical parts? To be clear “Inner Systems“ was not to be meant as a dance record.

I hear traces of Vangelis in the music, but was there any other music that might have inspired you during the making of Inner Systems.

Vangelis was not really an influence for me, if you read carefully in-between the lines maybe you can tell who influenced me in my life.

I would usually ask what’s next at this point, but I feel this music needs time to gestate. What else would I need to take into account while I listen to the record in your opinion?

Well the next thing is to create my new live set. Prequel Tapes came from a live performance and now I will form a new presentation taking the album as the starting point. For listening to the record I would recommend a nice cup of tea and a good cookie, and definitely good headphones or speakers!