Recently I drew your attention to the new upcoming release by German artist Neon Insect, “Glitches” and it’s been generating a lot of interest internationally in the IDM, Glitch and Industrial scenes. You can read the release announcement here. I had some time to have an in depth chat to the musical genius behind Neon Insect, Nils Sinatcsh.
Firstly, thanks for talking to Echosynthetic. I’ve got to say that “Glitches” is proving to be a wonderfully rich and textured soundscape, with layers upon layers of sonic goodness to be found beneath the surface. I think this could be a result of your chosen field of expertise that is audio engineering.
As an audio engineer myself, I always find it interesting to talk to other engineers to find out what drew them to this art form, and what fascinates them most about working with sound as a medium? Tell me about your journey.
Hi, thank you for this opportunity to talk about my work. And for your nice words as well. It means a lot to me, when people invest their time to listen to what I do and also enjoy it.
What drew me into audio engineering is rather less romantic, than you might think. It was a necessity and a weak spot at some point in my career that needed to be fixed – especially because I wanted to make a living out of music. So…let’s say I wanted to gain another step on the ladder to become a full package. I still think my stuff is a bit edgy though.
I think, audio engineering – at some point it just grew on me. When I dived a bit deeper into the topic and could make sense out of things, because my understanding of psychoacoustics and how sound in general works has evolved. It is just way more fun if you actually know what you’re doing. And when the things suddenly work well together, that is just a very rewarding feeling.
I notice a number of collaborations on this album, most noticeably a vocal performance by Claus Larsen of Leaether Strip fame, but also surprisingly self-proclaimed “dirty pop-diva” Twill.Distilled, and my particular favourite a glorious remix from Enlia. Run me through each of these collaborations, how they came about, and how they did, or didn’t, work.
Aline (Enlia) is a very talented young woman with an outstanding voice and a huge talent in producing too. She sings and writes all her stuff. I met her sometime last year on reddit. Not sure how things went from there, but we ended up chatting a lot, talking about music…the things people do who follow the same craft. Eventually I ended up mastering a couple of tracks for her, helped her through mixing now and then and in return she choose to remix “The Council” when I asked her. I really hope for her that she becomes bigger and can make a living out of it.
The story with Alexandra (Twill.Distilled) is a bit funny. I watched a documentary about a group of Hackers and she actually appeared in that said documentary with a song. That track stuck with me and I just had to look up the music. Eventually I found her on soundcloud, told her that I liked her song and asked for the full thing. Unfortunately the song wasn’t longer than 1 minute or so, since it was just made for the documentary. I don’t exactly know anymore how we ended up doing “To The Moon And Back” – since that was already in 2015, but I know that I wanted to bring it back down to that nerdy hacker topic.
And with Claus Larsen, that is actually pretty straight forward. I remixed a track in 2013 for him and I simply asked if he would return the favor and add some vocals sometime. I gave him “Long Live The Queen” from the Abatron Soundtrack, with an original intention in mind to just make a vocal track out of an instrumental. Eventually it ended up to be a completely different song, because I just had ideas after ideas of what I could do when he send me his lines. It’s something else – so I don’t want to call it a remix, although technically it is one.
So this album is a bit of a leap from your game soundtrack work, that I believe has been going on since 2012. What led you to game soundtrack design, and do you find it satisfying as a musician and artist?
Game Audio as a craft (not only music, also sound effects, dialogues etc.), is really rewarding. If you ever wanted to breath life into a character or a scene, that is the thing you want to do. You can have amazing landscapes, but without sound, they feel dead. To just add one little thing related to the environment makes a huge impact. To be able to do that feels incredible and rewarding.
If you’re in for paid work, because you need to make a living out of it, it is not satisfying. The game industry goes through the same thing the music industry went through a decade ago. Everyone and their mother can produce a game. Which means, a lot of indies are out there, a lot of projects and great ideas are to be made right now. But there are more games than one can play released every day and just a few that will break through in sales or have the budget to pay everyone on a team.
For example I dedicated three years to a project I believed in. And three years ago it would have been a success. But we released this year and released it wrong and it is just not going anywhere. So that can be rather frustrating.
Would it surprise you if I told you that I can feel shades of Rammstein in this album? But answer quickly, what is your first thought when I say that?
My first thought: Ewwww, Rammstein. I am not a fan. Really, not at all. Not sure if that’s a compliment or if I should be concerned (laughs).
I like Laibach though. The band that inspired the look and perception of Rammstein. So if you hear anything of this kind, then it’s unintentionally inspired by Laibach. But definitely not Rammstein.
So now that Neon Insect is back doing musical releases as opposed to video game soundtracks, is this trend that will continue? What do you think the future holds for you?
It’s going to continue. I will do both. I’m currently working on a fantasy title, but the game isn’t even close where we could seriously create music for it. We have ideas, yes. But that’s about it at this point. So there would be a huge waiting time from now until I were to release my next soundtrack. And in the meantime I don’t want to lose or disappoint that small following I grew during the past year, while I work on other projects and things. I want that following to continue to grow. And at some point I also want to return back on stage to play for people. So…all of it will go hand in hand and I’m excited for the things to come.
OK, lets talk studios. What synthesizers and tools do you employ mostly, do you have a favourite toolset. I get a distinct modular feeling of synthesis, perhaps Reaktor? What is the one synth you will never sell. Is there a particular plug in or piece of outboard effects you couldn’t live without?
Yes, Reaktor 6. That’s my go to tool. I love it, because you can literally create every synthesizer from scratch in there if you have a circuit plan for it because it emulates it down to virtual nodes and circuits. I could spend weeks doing that. I think I programmed myself five different synthesizer in there? And the stuff the community creates is really sick. There are some really hilarious things in there.
And outboard, there is one tiny little thing, that I don’t want to miss in my chain. And that’s the Korg mini KAOSS pad. I still have the first version of it and it was one of the first crazy things I bought. I still love it, but I wouldn’t mind to replace it with the big Version, if I have the money to spare. And even get the little brother KAOSSILATOR if I can. Ah…the collector in me is screaming. I should stop (laughs).
Did you start “Glitches” with an overall concept in mind, or did it develop over time, and just evolve into an album.
“Glitches” originally was supposed to be a remix album for Abatron. But because I wasn’t lazy myself, and some new stuff was created, I decided to make something else out of it. The new stuff I created was already part of a concept – I always work within a theme that I feel like doing.
It just happened to be, that a lot of stuff (and some pre existing stuff) blended perfectly with that said theme. And actually, there is even more available on “Glitches”, than you will see on first glance.
What is your all time favourite album / act
Uhm, there are many. There is not only one album or act that I like. But if I had to choose my top 3 are “Year Zero” from Nine Inch Nails, The “Killzone:Shadowfall OST” and “Z²” by Devin Townsend.
If you had to be locked into a nuclear bunker for the rest of your life, what 2 things would be absolute essentials for you.
My computer and headphones. If I couldn’t making music, I’d become insane..
Final and most important question, American Hotdog or German Bratwurst.
Neon Insect’s mammoth release “Glitches” in in store February 16th, but also available as a pre-order now at Bandcamp. And for all you cassette fans out there, it’s selling quick, but a second run is on the cards, so get in there and put your orders in. In my opinion the cassette is the way to get this album, it has a different track order, and some extra special remixes as bonus tracks. That version is also available on Bandcamp.