Interview: Five Minutes with Felsmann + Tiley
Inspired by the grandeur of film scores, the simple beauty of contemporary piano compositions and the wide sound spectrum of electronic music, producer/composer-duo Felsmann + Tiley have started an exceptional music project, using only the sounds of synthesizers.
Felsmann + Tiley note that, “Film scores often do not stand up on their own when removed from their visual experience, classical music sticks to its centuries old instrumentation and electronic music is largely dominated by kick drums and percussions.” This new music project, as well as their exciting new record label endeavour, Rare Ware Co., which strives to promote synth-focussed artists, is some kind of response to these kind of musings.
The duo will release their debut album as Felsmann + Tiley on 6th December, a 12-track symphonic-infused synth triumph called ‘Tempora’, each track inspired by a month of the year. This week, Felsmann + Tiley premiered the music video for their single ‘October’, a moving, melancholic track that will leave you with a bittersweetness inside. Watch the video at the end of the article.
Listen to the latest single from Felsman + Tiley’s upcoming album, ‘June’, below.
We caught up with Felsmann + Tiley and chatted about genres, preparing music for the stage and bringing visuals to life.
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
The Arts are one of the remaining bastions of something humans excel at. Everything else can slowly be done better, faster and cheaper by new technologies, like for example AI. The Arts are a celebration and expression of what it means to be human. Just saying that it’s an area of life where we’re not obsolete… yet.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
In the past we typically just sat down to write something that “sounds cool”, this time we wanted to do it the other way around. We first came up with the idea to fuse film scores, classical piano and electronic music with a synthesizer-only format. We then picked a “classical” idea for the album (Tempora is latin for “seasons”) and applied our synth-only concept to it. Our “sound” just formed while bringing these ideas to life.
All new Felsmann+Tiley music we’re working on is now done the same way: We pick a topic and then start writing for it – it gives our music a lot more purpose and a story, kind of like writing a musical score for our mental movies.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
No, but we are already thinking about collaborating with other artists in the near future. We’d love to work on vocals or do synth-only remixes.
What’s on your current playlist?
Patrick: When I was younger I used to obsess about particular genres almost to the exclusion of all else (and ignorantly thought people who say “I listen to everything” were spineless), but now I enjoy browsing all genres in search for their gems. Lately, I’ve had Maribou State – ‘Turnmills’ on repeat.
Dominik: My current is a wild mix of everything. Bit of pop by Major Lazer, trap by Yung Felix and Troi Boy, chorals by Anton Bruckner, Greg Haines’ last EP and some more aggressive sounds by Noisa or the Doom soundtrack.
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
We haven’t actually toured with this project and have no dates scheduled. Nevertheless our compositions are made to be played live and we’re already preparing our music for the stage. It’s probably going to be a bit nerve wracking at first (compared to say DJing) but that’s what makes it an exciting challenge.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
With our synth-only concept, our music is quite specific by default. We’re fusing film scores, classical piano and electronic elements into a song format – and deliberately avoid experimental, ambient soundscapes, or modular synth blips and blops.
During the creative process we care very little about the “sound” – it is simply the messenger of the melodies and the moods our compositions convey. We often try to bring a visual in our mind to life. In ‘February’, for example, it’s that first beam of warm sunlight after a long and grey winter.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
This might sound like a story from the elderly home… but for ‘Tempora’ we started our joint studio days after a good night’s sleep with early morning walks in the park and coffee. For 1-2 hours, while still on a caffeine high we focused on being creative and just played around with random chords or synths.
We usually force ourselves to finish at least a rough layout of a track by the end each day. When we listen to what we made a few weeks ago we’re often surprised by how much we still love it – even if we had almost tossed it in trash while in the studio.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
Dominik: As the son of a music teacher I grew up with music, so it’s always been a natural thing. Making music was never “this is want i want to do” but more like “this is what I just do”.
Patrick: I took keyboard lessons and eventually got bored of playing already existing music and started to come up with my own melodies. This combined with discovering electronic music and the possibility to produce something decent sounding on a computer with a limited budget as a teenager got me hooked.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
We follow a lot of different artists across all genres. Right now we are the only synth-only act focussing exclusively on this kind of music and are hoping to find new music buddies soon. We’ve launched our platform Rare Ware Co. not only as a blog to share synth-only music but also for new artists to release their music. We’ll probably have an answer to this the next time you ask 😉
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Surprisingly, for ‘Tempora’ it mostly came down to communication: For example by talking about what exactly ‘October’ stands for, what the visuals and moods could be used and how we would translate them into music. In the end, bringing the months to life was quite easy.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
Luckily making music does not tie us to any studio or piece of equipment – some of our songs started on a laptop sitting on the couch, tweaking synths or by playing around on a grand piano.
In the studio we mainly value a well-designed room, good speakers and a proper master keyboard. While we do have a whole bunch of analog gear, quite a few tracks were made in Logic with software only, e.g. using Arturia / TAL’s soft synths.
When it comes to synthesizer music, the whole digital vs. analog thing is obviously an endless debate. All that matters to us is that the result sounds good – no matter how it was made.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
We’ve made music together for over 15 years and our craft has changed drastically over this period of time. Producing different styles has greatly helped to shape our skills – but most importantly its the amount of hours we’ve put in and constantly wanting to learn something new.
Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
Releasing our debut album is a big step for us – we’ve worked on the concept for over a year now and are really happy that we’re finally “live”. We’ve already got a lot of follow up material finalised and are working on a live concept. 2019 will be busy and fun!
Watch the brand new music video for Felsman + Tiley’s ‘October’, below: