Interview: Five Minutes with Joachim Spieth

Image credit: Sandra Schürlein

Following a year of chaos such as 2020, being given a moment to pause, reflect and ruminate on what has come to pass and the potential future is an invaluable gift. Joachim Spieth’s Ousia is just that; a moment of respite from the tension of the world around us, a dreamscape that allows us for a moment to lapse into an alternative reality. Ouisa follows Spieth’s first ambient album Tides, released last year, and presents us with eight immersive spacial soundscapes which build into a cinematic, ephemeral journey through meditative impressions and waves of emotional catharsis. Ouisa was released on Spieth’s own label Affin in January. 

Spieth has been working as a DJ and producer for over 20 years, first releasing on Kompakt Records in the late 90’s. His work as a producer has resulted in a sound which swings from hypnotic techno to deep ambience, and after his first ambient release on the famous Pop Ambient compilation series, 2021 sees him return to the genre with a newfound sense of insight and inspiration. Curious about Spieth’s current creative point of view, we chatted to him about his production techniques and moments that spark his creativity: 

Set the tone for us. Why the arts? 

Making music is my way to express myself and describe the inner and outside surroundings

Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea? 

There are no fixed rules, sometimes it’s a sound, and sometimes i get inspired from an idea and try to translate that into sound

Does your material feature any collaborations? 

My album Ousia consists of 8 tracks, and one I made in co-operation with Markus Guentner. He’s a longtime friend of mine, we got in touch at Kompakt in the 2000s when the first Pop Ambient compilation was released (as we both were part of this movement)

What’s on your current playlist? 

As gigs are forbidden these days I don’t have a playlist at the moment, but Ii recommend an upcoming EP on my own label, Swimming in Colours by Głós.

Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage. 

It has been magical until last March. Now we’re all missing these nights and impatiently waiting to continue as soon as possible to gather together

What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound? 

I produce with Ableton live. Moreover I work with EQs like “Shade”, some Max For Live tools. A Key to my music is layering sounds; radical cuts on frequency ranges and glueing them together carefully after. I started working on my first sound pack that I will soon release on my Bandcamp store. This will demonstrate how I understand sounds and how I gain my sound.

Take us through a day in the recording studio.

I can if it’s a good day for preparing music or if it feels like one to arrange a track. I try to separate different steps/stages of my music production to be focussed on it. Worst thing is to be in the flow of production and then missing a sound and getting stuck on it. Therefore it’s important to prepare your musical material well, and “go with the flow” when it’s on time… another point is to plan time for discovering new features, plug-ins, and tools and learn about them.

Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”? 

I was into music since I was a child and never decided it, life decided it for me I think. I played Guitar and bass as a kid, and later on I started to buy turntables. It was a natural ongoing process for years.

Any emerging artists on your radar?

Toki Fuko

What gets your creative juices flowing? 

Going out into nature, walking, photography. 

Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression. 

As I said already, I do my music in Ableton Live. Additionally I use Push, some Native Instruments software (like Kontakt…). Also field sounds are a source of my music. I also own some hardware, but mainly using Ableton as I just found my way and workflow with it.

Any side projects you’re working on? 

I am working with Markus Guentner on an upcoming project. Recently I experimented with Toki Fuko, the result of this work will come out soon on Semantica. Another collaboration I did last year was with Pepo Galan for the Pop Ambient 2021 compilation that appeared on Kompakt.

How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry? 

Well, you live and learn. I try to keep following what’s interesting to me. Learning to improve my mixing skills, workflow etc… like everybody tries.

Breakdown the news for us: what can we expect from you this year? 

I am working on a live set. Besides that, I am working on new music but there’s nothing more yet to announce.

Famous last words?

We’re living in weird times these days. It’s a dramatic situation for the arts to keep going. I hope people understand it and keep supporting what they think is worth supporting. A life without culture and arts would be a boring life.

Listen to and download Ousia here.

Follow Joachim Spieth:

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