Podcast 281: Karim Mass & Stave
The Forgotten is delighted to have on the 281th episode the duo consisting of Stave co-founder of Standars & Practices Records and Karim Maas, leading dj / producer on the UK Drum & Bass scene. They celebrate with this recording their next release titled "Godless", signed on the UVB76 label.
The culmination of a working relationship that started in 2019, "Godless" is the first full-length release from Jonathan "Stave" Krohn (also known for his work as half of Talker on Downwards) and Thomas "Karim Maas" Cooper. After a joint live p.a. with labelmates in Bristol (suggested by UVB-76 label co-owner Nick Callaghan) a shared interest in both Birmingham-influenced techno, as well as forward-thinking bass and breaks music, led to further collaborations, with Krohn and Cooper pushing rhythm tracks and loops back and forth from their home studios based out of Chicago and Bristol respectively.
TF: Tell us something about you. What’s your background? Where did you studied and who influenced you to explore musical processes?
Jon: I am a graphic designer and have been working in that field for some time now. My musical influences are pretty varied while growing up with rock and punk music. I was fortunate to have a group of friends that really got into music at a young age and we were always exploring different styles of music.
Tom: I studied at University in Bristol, lived there for 10 years or so and I’ve just recently moved up to Manchester. I’ve always been creating music in some way starting with various instruments as a kid and then moving more into electronic stuff as I got older, started clubbing and everything that comes with that lifestyle. I think the main people that have influenced me are the people around me. Like Jon I've always surrounded myself with creative people so I’ve never felt the need to look anywhere else for inspiration. There’s nothing more inspiring than one of your best mates showing you a new track and it blows you away.. Just pushes you on to better yourself.
TF: How is your live set up going to be? Any particular equipment? What’s your favourite track to play live and why?
We have been fortunate that the project was born out of being a live entity. We had no recorded output before our first show! And we both feel that really kinda captures the idea of the project. Tom will play a Tascam 4 track tape machine with a stack of tapes of sound and samples on top of a pretty basic Ableton Live set that I have constructed. Add to the mix a OP-1 keyboard, a small modular set up, Step Sequencers and a load of Effects pedals and you can basically recreate that Karim Maas & Stave live sound! Easy.
TF: What new hardwares did you apply to make 'UVB76-LP002' LP? Do you have a particular method while working in the studio?
So a bit of an introduction — Tom Cooper (Karim Maas) and myself Jon (Stave) met for the first time in Bristol during a UVB-76 Night. Nick from UVB-76 brought me over to play and proposed that Karim Maas and myself do a live set together. Naturally we thought it was a fantastic idea! Over email we passed ideas back and forth to what we thought would be a good outline of a set. We wanted to focus on it being totally an ‘improvised / organic’ hour of music. Intentionally we didn’t even rehearse beforehand. We had the opportunity to perform live again in Manchester and Berlin the following year and again, made sure that the sets would be totally improvised and spontaneous. From these performances we decided that we should ‘document’ the collaboration in some manner and a record came from that. ‘Godless’ was basically written roughly 2 years ago — and now is finally coming out!
TF: How do you compose this tracks? Do you treat them like musical narratives or more like sound sculptures o images?
Since both of us live in different countries — the way we compose the music is through one of us starting an idea and passing it onto the other person. Sometimes it is as simple as one of us adding a layer and the track is done. Other times it can take many iterations of back and forth until we both feel that the track has an ending point. There are many drafts / demos / that we leave on and come back to. We probably have anywhere from 20 to 25 tracks going at one time — all in different stages of completion. I think a big part of the project is the idea of ‘making’. Where there really aren’t any ‘bad’ ideas — it is a process of evolving each track in a way to make it work. Since both of us come from varied musical backgrounds and influences that are not just electronic music, we feel that that idea of constantly producing ideas and fragments can eventually add up to something whole. A big part of this is how we produce music in the studio. Both of us really focus on outside the ‘box’ sound and recording. A lot of the material is recorded / sampled / from the studio environment — not in the DAW. I think it's fair to say with this project and our own solo projects that the DAW is more of a recording device than a producing device, which translates into our live performance as well.
TF: Which aspects of sound do you examine recently? Is for you important the impression that your music produces on the audience?
I think we both feel that we have been very fortunate to team up with UVB-76 for our current solo and collaborative releases. NIck has always been a champion of really getting us to push the sound and ideas to really get the final output to be not in one particular direction or the other. As you can see with the roster of artists — there is such a wide variety of sound that makes up the label and why we feel that it's one of the most forward thinking labels going. It has been a great opportunity for us to really produce what we want, knowing that Nick will put his full support behind it. Having that support allows everyone to not be too concerned about what impression it has on an audience. It’s for ourselves first and foremost.. If the audience likes it, great, if not.. No biggie really. That’s healthy as an artist, right?? to be able to be completely free to express what you want to hear, not what other people might like.
TF: What are the forthcoming projects?
We both are working on our own material and hope to have those records nearing completion but also have a 2nd LP in the works for this project.
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