Subtempo Guest Mix 046
Marcelo Schnock, composer, multi-instrumentalist, and poet has studied music and composition with teachers from Argentina and has traveled to India and North-Western Africa to learn from diverse musical cultures and their approach towards music and spirituality. In 2018, under the name of Olec Mün, he started a journey of solo work with piano compositions, electronic, minimal, and experimental music. He has released five studio albums on Lady Blunt Records and Piano and Coffee Records.
Hi Marcelo, first of all, thanks so much for doing this mix for us. I’d like to start by asking what tools did you use to create this mix.
To create the mix I just used Ableton, and I did not change anything because I wanted to leave the music as it is, as the composers have decided to be, just some tweaks and balances here and there but I always try to be very respectful because if I start changing one thing, then I change another and I end up composing new music, which is not the idea in this case!
Is there a theme to this mix?
I spent some time thinking about the mix and how to create it. I´ve done other mixes before and I often choose artists I admire and have been big influences for me. But this time I wanted to think of something else. I tried a couple of guidelines but none convinced me until I found an interesting criteria: I would choose music that I had never heard before from musicians I had never heard before. So I did something I don't often do, that is to surf the algorithm and discover new music. There is so much music out there, so much beautiful music that we do not know and probably will never get to listen to.
I must say I had never listened to most of the music but I did come across some musicians I really admire and decided to keep them in the mix, such as Joep Beving, Alva Noto, or Bill Frisell. Another guideline I also decided on was not to stay in one genre but to let different styles of music cohabit in the same mix. Music is music, and we can listen to music from different genres together. I think it is even better this way. It is like going to a party and finding people from all over the world, with different interests, and not everyone from the same place talking about the same things. I had a great time fishing in the ocean of the internet for music. I must say there is only one musician in the mix that has been a big influence on me. It is the only exception. He is Daniel Schnock, my brother, who recently released such beautiful music that I couldn't leave out and I will recommend his art wherever I can.Olec Mün composed his latest album in Barcelona, where he currently resides. Credit: Marc Bordons.
You have just released ‘While’, your 6th studio album, congratulations, it’s beautiful. How are you feeling about it?
Thanks! I´m really happy about the release. It took a while but it is finally out there for everyone to listen. It is not mine anymore. I love this moment when people start sending me messages about how they are receiving it, in which context they are listening to it, etc. Today a dear friend sent me a message saying he was visiting his mother in London and they were both listening to the album together. Just imagining that scene made me smile.
It’s always a bit of a release when it’s finally out, isn’t it?
It definitely is, and at the same time, there´s a sense of void. Now I feel I have the space and energy to start manifesting what´s next. Before I release the music it is difficult to do that because it is occupying too much of me.
Tell us a bit about the theme surrounding this album.
The idea came after coming to terms with how music is listened to nowadays. The streaming algorithms and the playlists have changed dramatically the way we listen to music and I don't see many people talking about it. Music has turned to be a commodity in the background all day. There is music to wake up and music to go to sleep, study, meditate, work out, have sex, have dinner, go shopping. Just as advertising has managed to be everywhere, the same has happened with music. Scholars who are studying this phenomenon say it has turned ubiquitous, meaning it is everywhere, all the time, and when this happens it is the same as not being there. So the music is out there but no one is really listening to it. So the idea behind “While” is for music to be in the background but of an action so intimate and reflexive that you can only be listening to the music and therefore the music will help you go through that action, serving a purpose and not only be there in a decorative and superficial way.Composing in an upright piano is nothing compared to the undertaking of his latest album, composed in a grand piano.
You were trying to answer some deep philosophical questions with this composition. Give us a few examples…
I don’t know if they are deep philosophical questions, but I do like to use music to explore different aspects of life. When I decided to choose the theme I just mentioned I started looking for actions I could compose around. I started asking myself, for example: “What would be the music of letting go of something?”, “What is the music to listen to while facing truth?”. First of all, much later I realized somehow all these states were states I was feeling at the moment I composed the music. I was letting go of a relationship, I was facing a truth I had not wanted or was not able to face before, etc. The same thing happened with practically all of the titles of the tracks.
My next epiphany was to realize how contradictory it all felt. Each feeling had a very clear bright side and a very clear dark one. When you let go, for example, you feel lighter, more free, but on the other side, it is so painful. Coming back from war, for example, is a happy moment because you go back home, and the war has ended, but at the same time, you are completely broken. I realized something we already know but it is worth remembering, music is the language of emotions which is complex and paradoxical, and it allows us to inhabit, express and transmit all of these coexisting and simultaneous states in ourselves.
When you create, does it help you to conceptualize the music or theme? Or do those emerge in the process of creating?
That is a great question. I don't have a method, but what I know is that if I don't find a concept that englobes all the tracks I will probably won't make an album. Up to now, I´ve only recorded albums when there was a clear purpose, a theme that makes everything coherent, sometimes even like a system where all pieces work together. I think that when this happens, the project is much more powerful. It is not just music, but there is a clear intention behind it; a message or a question to be answered. I love how sometimes this theme or concept is already there, latent, but I can not see it clearly. There is always something underlying unifying the music I am composing in a period of time. The moment I discover that theme is a very special and unique one.He likes to have ample time at the studio when composing.
Where did you record the album?
The album was recorded in a studio in Barcelona with a great Yamaha grand piano. I had wanted to record with this piano for a while but I was kind of inhibited from doing so. The previous albums were recorded with upright pianos and with felt, so they were much easier to play. A grand piano is a completely different world, and for the music I make which is very subtle and quiet, it was quite a challenge. The sensation was that of riding a wild horse. You have to hold him tight but not too tight because if you are too harsh he will immediately drop you. It is a very thin equilibrium. The easiest way would have been to record with an upright piano but I wanted to challenge myself and I’m happy I did. Listening to all the harmonics and overtones when recording, and having to be so careful and precise was something quite remarkable.
Where are you currently based?
I was leaving in the countryside of Catalunya, Spain, near the city of Girona, but I have recently moved to Barcelona.
How’s the scene there? Do you find places to share your music and like-minded connections?
To be honest, I am not finding a space to share this kind of music. What I have seen until today is that the genres are really divided and segmented. There is classical music on one side and jazz on the other, and then the songwriters and folklore or world music. When I present this kind of music which does not fix exactly any of these, people do not know very well where to place it. I know a couple of composers on a similar search and they have the same issue. I wish there was a venue that promoted this kind of music here. Especially, because this kind of music needs to be played in a venue where there is good acoustics, a good piano of course, and people paying attention and not drinking and talking. When travelling and touring I find it easier to find these places.Composing on a grand piano was like riding a wild horse, says Olec.
Have you always lived there?
Barcelona has been the epicenter of my life for the last four years. I´ve been quite nomadic during these years, living for periods of time in the middle of the countryside and then moving back to the city. I find the countryside really inspiring for my art. I compose music and I write as well, and the silence of the mountains is ideal. But then I also like to be in the city, meeting people, playing and rehearsing with other musicians, etc, so, for now, I like this back and forth. Before Spain, I lived all my life in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I was born.
How do you feel the environment you record in influences the music?
The environment is really important to me. I need to be in a place where I feel comfortable and relaxed. As you might have noticed, to play the music I make I really need to go deep into a space within. If I don't go there, it is impossible for me to play how I like it to sound, so when I choose a studio, on top of it having a great piano and technical gear, I also ensure I will be able to take all the time I need to go into that state.
If you could present this album in the best environment, where and how would you perform it?
I would love to present it in a nice auditorium with great acoustics and a great piano. I don´t ask for much!
Well, it’s been a pleasure, thanks again for doing this, and good luck with the record!
Thanks for having me here and for supporting music!
- Jason Kolar - Bells (Dauw)
- Anomalie - Leiria feat. Mael (Nettwerk Music Group)
- Daniel Schnock and Aürea Ensamble - Tierra Superior (Self-Released)
- Joep Beving and Alva Noto - Hanging D (Deutsche Grammophon)
- Gregoire Maret, Romain Collin, Bill Frisell - Brothers in Arms (ACT Music+Vision GmbH+Co.KG)
- Takumi Kaneko- Some Echoes (MENACE)
- Svaneborg Kardyb - Et Lite Øyeblikk Bare (Blikflak)
- Fuubutsushi- Hesitant Optimism (Cached.Media)
- David Darling - The Beauty of All Things - Homage to Kindness (Hearts of Space Records)
- John Hayes, Foam and Sand & Robot Koch - Fond Rework (Nettwerk Music Group Inc)
- Lady Blackbird - Fix It (Foundation Music Productions)
- The Vernon Spring - Mother's Love (Lima Limo Records)
- Lars Danielsson- Paolo Fresu- Sleep Safe and Warm (ACT Music + Vision GmbH & Ko KG)
- Cate Le Bon and Group Listening -The Light (Mexican Summer)
- Tord Gustavsen - Inside (ECM Records)
- Kali Malone- Spectacle Of Ritual (iDEAL Recordings)
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