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Interview with Radioactive Cake

Interview with Radioactive Cake

Saturday, 06 August 2016

radioactive cakeWe recently featured Radioactive Cake aka Robert Hundt on our show. We also got the opportunity to discuss a few things with him about his music and the psychedelic music scene. Here’s how it went:

Q: You currently have several projects going on simultaneously. I think Radioactive Cake project started first. How did you come about starting this project ?
Finding the name was rather a flash of genius very early in 2009, not a long thought process or not a real interesting story behind it. Interestingly enough though, I already have had 3 solo and 1 duo project before I started with Radioactive.Cake with different styles and even sometimes somewhat similar styles to what I do now. But Radioactive.Cake marks the time when I took music production so serious that I wanted to present it big time and perform it. So althoughI did things before, even released music on a Plusquam sublabel, I started my professional music career with Radioactive.Cake and went after what I felt I always wanted to do…like follow in the footsteps of pioneers like Sensient or Krumelur and come up with my own interpretation of their influence on me.

Q: What sort of difficulties did you face in the initial years and where did you find support or inspiration to carry on?
I started without teachers and youtube, without the internet really, and with no idea other than about knowing of an “amateur” software called Music Maker. So I bought that, fiddled around, was somewhat disappointed its possibilities and did more research and got into it deeper. But it took its times which was frustrating. But that’s how many people start and with practice comes experience and knowledge, advancement.
A bit later I found it difficult getting in touch with labels to send out demos. It was early 2007 and I didn’t know that music could be released on the internet just like that. So I sent out demos to all the major labels but didn’t get any replies. I understood why that was but it didn’t feel good. It was a tough time because I wanted to get my tracks out and I saw that as a way to get gigs too.
I was DJing for a long time but only as a local in my area. And right at the time where I started Radioactive.Cake I moved to a new area, to Berlin and I expected my very first release to kick doors open for me, even internationally, so I went after it and sent out the demos. But like I said, it was frustrating putting so much effort into trying to make a connection with labels but the vast majority of them didn’t reply.
Something else that is tough but the reality is to get ripped at gigs in the beginning. I was trying to perform, I was making friendship deals just to get gigs but therein laid the problem. I think my approach and my kindness weren’t really taken serious.
But other than that I felt “bewinged”, I knew I made real good progress and I advanced my production and music, that inspired me. So it was balanced out and I held on to my passion.

Q: Radioactive Cake along with the whole psygressive scene has grown manifold over the last 7-8 years with the introduction of many more labels, artists and DJ. How has this journey been for you ?
It’s been hard here and there and it has been great at the same time. Very often times, artistry in general goes along with sacrificing a lot of time just to be productive and I’m pretty dedicated to my mission, my work ethic is very strong. Often times it also goes along with financial struggles and the sheer amount of time you have to invest to practice and get better can be overwhelming too.
But at the same time I was part of something that grew bigger and bigger in the psytrance culture, and I think it’s fair to say that producers who came out at the same time as I did and came up with similar music, we all were pretty much shaping this genre or style furthermore…”Standing on the shoulders of giants”. And now you even have different branches in this style and people would call it different names like Psygressive, Dark Prog, Zenonesque, Techtrance, Future Progressive maybe.
For me personally, I think I get a little more known and a little more respect with year and each release. But it’s a bit surreal for me to be part of this and it’s kind of surreal that I can go to places all over the world and perform my sets while I feel that I function no different than the average person. But somehow people are digging what I do, which is fantastic, keeps me going. Overall it’s been very inspiring during the last years.

Q: Tell us something about your latest release “Demerger”. Did you have any specific ideas in mind while making this ? Is it focused towards dance music or home listening or both ?
It is 100% dance floor orientated like all Radioactive.Cake music. I have other projects where tracks could easily be for home listening but not the Cake.
Demerger is kind of like the sequel to my recent album Merger. I felt that with Merger I had made a pretty heavy album in terms of mood, depth and dance force, I feel it has some pretty powerful tracks on it, but it’s all remixes. So Demerger continues that style, that ever rolling, forward going, unstoppable force so to say and it has some original Radioactive.Cake material on it too.
get this hat

Q: Tell us about your other projects. Do you have a fixed schedule to pursue each project or do you work on them when you feel like it. Do they influence each other and do they distract you from delving more into a specific project ?
So I have Radioactive.Cake, which was the first of the four and the most well known for the longest time, still is. I also have a project called Zeitgeist, that’s some more musical funky and jazzy “day time alternative progressive” or maybe it can be described as some day time zenonesque maybe.

I have Munstrous, which is my approach to techno-like psychedelic music. It’s not quite techno and not only slower trance, it’s something between 123 and 130bpm and it’s deep for the most part and I try to make it a bit dubby sometimes, try to make it musical too, try to play with piano or guitar or with human drumloops but I leave out powerful leads or gnarly and drilling sounds.

And then I also got Dark Passenger which is my experimental downbeat project that can be jazzy too, can be very intricate and IDMish, it can be dubby, for the most part it’s still very different to standard chill or ambient/psybient.

About the production schedule, nowadays I schedule my productions indeed. I can’t work at multiple tracks at the same time and I like to be in a specific mindset when working on an album or an EP. So I would make a concept for an album, give it a rough timeframe, say 3 months, write the album and go on to work on the next idea with another project and so on. I rarely do any compilation tracks nowadays because it would always distract me from my schedule and my ideas and I like to stick to those.

Q: You are the owner/founder of one of the biggest Dark Prog labels in the scene. The label has a whopping sixty releases so far. What are the challenges Glitchy Tonic Recs. faced over the years ?
There are several obstacles to overcome, especially for music labels that decide to release music for free, like we do. So first of all, some services where we could present our music to our target group are not free, our own web service is not free, audio mastering is not a free service, graphic design for artwork is not a free service, and so on. So a budget for that had to be figured out.
I also had to find producers who were willing to put their precious music out for free with us and I understand the set of problems there for music makers. There is also my attitude towards too much promo on social media and spamming, I simply don’t like to do it and this kind of contradicts what other labels seem to find necessary for their release.
But for that attitude we grow more natural and totally I resonate with that.
Another problem is that through free music distribution, through the possibility of easier music releases, the production/music quality of tracks that labels release today is not always 100% there. And it can be a challenge to find music that I consider as 100% ready as must be to get released.
Of course there’s also always personal doubts that I have to deal with, about whether it’s running good, whether it’s worth the time and effort.

Q: What is your view on laptop DJs vs. CDJ DJs
I don’t see a problem with using technology. In fact I’m an advocate for it. Why be limited when you can use a variety of techniques and tricks to make your sets better or more interesting. That said, I know the argument that some people lead into the field is the ‘sync’ feature. Frankly, I don’t care about it and who am I to judge ? I like when people play a set that is coherent and clean, preferably in my favorite style, that’s what matters to me.
I grew up with and learned to play with vinyls, then switched to CD, then went straight to playing my live sets so I left out Traktor and Serato, but I say go for technology if you don’t appreciate handling the CDJs but always try to make something interesting.
And those who really condemn DJ software per se, they are judgmental and give too many forks about others.

Q: Take us through your studio
Alright so you open my 14sqm room and you’ll be stunned by that wall of a desk because it takes a lot of the room, horizontally as well as vertically 🙂
Seeing the setup from the back, you’ll find a dual screen configuration, my M-Audio BX8 8” speakers to the far left and right, a KRK 10” sub on the ground that’s there for a few weeks and was a pain to setup with 8” speakers. You’ll find the computer, the Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 interface. Some things are lifted up for better positioning and the screens are one above the other, so the whole construction it probably almost as tall as I am.
If you go around the desk to the front, there’s no big surprises because I don’t work with hardware synths. I abandoned them quite a while ago because *warning, controversy alert* I’m not all amped up about the analog sound, i find the digital tools that I have very very impressive. That would be Reaktor, Massive, Xfer Serum, some Fabfilter tools for eqing and saturation, Elysia Mpressor as my favorite compressor, Bluecats FreqAnalyst as my favorite spectrum analyser, Replika as a cool delay and diffusion effect, Dubstation of course. Glitch 1 and 2 and I got the Tantra recently and want to dive into it and I got some Sugar Bytes tools too.
All in all it’s a small but clean working area that’s got a Novation Remote 25SL Compact for a midi keyboard, an iPad for some remote action and that’s about it.
I rent my studio room, I don’t live there and it’s got a couch that functions more as a bass trap than a rest area, but it’s good for having a meal or a break. It’s got some acoustic foam for mids and treble but not much treatment for the low frequencies. The lower you go the more complicated it gets and to be honest, the room doesn’t offer much more space for bass traps. But rather than having the perfect room, it’s more important to know the characteristics of your room so that you can work around the critical areas.

Q: Economic viability is the engine to sustaining any music scene. This sometimes hinders good quality music from coming to the foreground. What is your opinion on this contradiction both as a label owner and as a artist ?
Do you think so ? I would say that if a demo is good and if it fits into the label’s concept, then it’s a no-brainer, it will get released. That might not be the case for popular music, for radio music, but i think it’s very much true for niches like Psytrance and Techno and other non-mainstrain genres. Labels want to present good music on whatever medium they use to distribute. Whether that’s the internet, CD or vinyls, if they get their hands on good music, they will release it.
An important question is, what does the artist expect moneywise, what kind of engagement does the label/artist (want to) commit to, what are the promises involved with the release ? But for all scenarios, from non-paid free ‘Creative Commons’ releases, to donation based support, to payment for music sales, you can find all that in the psytrance scene. Another question will certainly be, is the artist’s style interesting enough for the commercial psytrance labels, is innovation and uniqueness welcome at commercial labels? Not always ! And that is for reasons that go back to your question. But I would not necessarily say that economic viability automatically hinders good music from coming to the foreground.

Q: What’s next for you and Glitchy.Tonic ?
Well the life of a music artist is to create and play music, or that’s what it optimally should be, only that, the focus on being creative. I’m being creative all the time. I do it because I love it a lot and really, the “only” goal I have is to make a mark, I want my creations to be of significance inside the psychedelic music scene. Of course I would like to play more, make a better living with and from artistry but that’s not necessarily under my control. I will come up with new ideas for albums and EPs for my different projects and try to make something out of it and see what happens. I’m not up for hardcore promotion and spamming, I don’t have the energy and time for it neither. So I will have to wait and see if I can still generate more recognition simply by keeping my foot on the gas pedal and redlining through my ideas and my to-do-list. That’s what I like and whenever I have to take a few days off to do other things I constantly think about what I will do once I get back into studio, it’s always itching me 🙂
I’d love to give much of the administrative and promotional work into someone else his hands, but it’s not easy to find reliable people who share my philosophy and also actually do something for me. But many people resent that (agents and management) too for reasons I don’t understand.
For Glitchy.Tonic.Rec I don’t make strategies, I don’t have long term plans other than trying to come up with real good stuff, or what I think is real good stuff. The tracks I accept for Glitchy.Tonic have to be amazing and I have to reject a lot of demos these days. Demos I get are often times not 100% there and I don’t want to compromise myself and the label. So that, combined with my personal taste, makes for my selections and our music catalogue. But I don’t plan on changing that course and I hope I can keep’em coming.
I also want to say that the very few hardcore people who donate to Glitchy.Tonic.Records buy buying a release, they really make a difference because it helps keeping up our service.

Q: Any message you have for your friends, followers and colleagues ? And anything you will like to add for the readers.
For some reason the people that I like to hang out with most are also producers/acts/djs. Maybe it’s because we share the same passion and occupation, they know the high times and also difficulties that go along with it too. But for the few of my friends that I like dearly, what also connects us are things from our non-psytrance lifes. Shout out to Nadia, Phil aka Fagin’s Reject and Val Vashar, Nicola Hypogeo for a festival is simply less exciting when they’re not around.
It’s actually only nowadays that I meet more people with a “grown-up” mindset and I like that. I also like when people don’t ask me “Hey what are psytrance parties in Berlin like?” or “Which are the best clubs?” …because I don’t know about those things and they’re of no interest to me either.
But this is not bad ! It’s good for me not to be trashed each weekend empowers me and lets me focus on what’s more important: Coming up with good stuff, being a part of the force that is constantly trying to increase the quality level of the music and the productions of this style.
Big thanx to the people who make the effort and reach out to me to show their appreciation or send their critiques. If I ever seem disinterested, bored or bugged out to someone, I might just feel that way 😉 …but everybody can have a bad day. It’s not my nature.
Big Ups for the people who came/come up with donations, also huge respect for the guys and girls that were helping out when I ran my little funding campaign for new speakers in 2013, you’re unforgotten !
That said, please keep on getting in touch, keep on talking to me everybody,
Yours Truly.

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