In Conversation with downtempo producer Calcou 

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From the German jungle, a producer appears: proudly displaying his jazzy pianist background to the world while still dabbling with rolling modernised basslines. Calcou’s latest single, ‘Below’, is a prime example of this: mostly cheerful, with a little bit of chilled tropical beats while warmth and vibrance somehow come straight through the headphones. The single is but a small hint of what to expect from his upcoming EP, Places which is slated for release in the middle of next month. 

Stream /Download: ‘Below’

Describe your sound for us. What do you want people to feel when they hear your music?

I think the beautiful thing about music is that everyone feels different about it and can project his own thoughts and emotions into it. But if I had to describe my music, I would say it’s a journey that starts innocent and playful, gets dreamy and jazzy, slowly evolves to melancholic and deep, driving and dark at one point, but will always keep an optimistic outlook on things.

Which 3 artists have influenced you the most growing up?

DJ Koze, Keith Jarrett, Trentemøller.

How did you discover your particular sound?

To me, finding and defining a sound is a never-ending process. It involves being open and curious and of course many hours of practice and experimentation. I would never state that I have actually found my sound as this would mean that I have arrived. But it’s all about the process, about having fun while exploring.

You’ve defined your space as where “jazz meets Chill and Deep House blends into Electronica”. If you could incorporate another genre or element into your work, what would it be?

I think house music plays a big role in my music, too, even though I try to stay away from featuring the 909 too prominently. Besides that, I find all types of breakbeats and UK garage very tempting.

Tell us about one of the first struggles you faced and how you overcame it?

One of the biggest struggles in my early career was to get my sound to a professional level. I had all these pretty cool ideas but it just sounded horrible in terms of sound design and mixing. Having had a musician’s perspective rather than a technician’s perspective for most of my life, I really had to learn that music is more than a composition. So it took me quite a while until I could execute my ideas from start to finish.

What are the most important pieces of equipment to you?

I wouldn’t say it’s my most beloved piece of equipment but definitely my most important one as I couldn’t create without it – my Macbook.

Music for the individual or the masses – which do you want to create?

I actually don’t spend much time thinking about it. Ideally, my music offers different layers to everyone and everyone finds something in it that he or she can enjoy.

You’ve brought together samples from around the world in your latest single, ‘Below’. Where do you plan to travel to next to continue feeding your creativity? 

For some reason I find myself taking field recordings mostly when I’m not in Berlin.  The track I’m currently working on features a horse-drawn carriage I recorded in Poland a few weeks ago. I never really plan to go to a country for specific sounds, it just happens spontaneously, probably because I’m more relaxed and aware of my surroundings.

Do you have a favourite memory of your career so far?

Playing at a festival in Astana, Kazakstan definitely was a crazy experience. Opening the floor at Berlin’s Sysiphos at 8 am with the sun just coming out, too. Right now I’m pretty excited about seeing my streams going up and so many people approaching me about my music.

If you could work with, or perform alongside any artist living or passed, who would it be?

I’d really love to spend a day in the studio with Moderat. The way they treat sound is just incredible. Guys, if you are reading this, give me a call!

What kind of message are you trying to send with your music?

As I’m producing mostly instrumental music: there isn’t this one obvious message that I could wrap in a sentence and sing it out loud.

But as I get the chance to speak here, I’d say: Be respectful with each other and listen to the quieter notes. The world is complex and there are no simpler answers. Most certainly not by racists and demagogues.

What can we expect from you in the near future? Any upcoming projects or gigs in the pipeline that you would like to tell us about?

Right now I’m really excited about the release of my third EP Places, which will be out on May 20th. Later this year, I’ll be playing some shows with my all-new live-set which I can’t wait to bring on stage.

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