Moogfest Q+A: Moderat

Photo by @ishootmusic

“Hardly anybody has brought electronic music from Berlin to the farthest flung corners of the world with more passion and enthusiasm than … Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary,” says the bio for Moderat.

The group performs at Moogfest late-night on Friday, April 25, at Diana Wortham Theatre, 12:15-1:45 a.m.

Mountain Xpress: Beyond amplification and electronic instruments, what ways do you see music/art and technology intersecting?

Sebastian Szary: There are several ways to use electronic instruments. You can of course read all the manuals and try to be as precise as possible, but [you] could also try to just browse and jam around. You can see that if you put a child in front of a drum machine or synth, without telling them what to do. After a while, they will figure out how to use the instrument with an intuitive way of learning simple technical steps. This is also questioning a classical way of learning an instrument, in my opinion.

How do you feel about playing a festival that’s equally dedicated to technology/invention and to music?
To be honest, we feel flattered and honored to be invited to Moog festival. Regarding old technical equipment/machines: We become little kids again and are very enthusiastic if there is something we didn’t explore yet.

What Moog instruments do you play or wish you owned?
The best would be the legendary Moog system from 1964 or the later-developed Moog3P. Both are mesmerizing objects. Unfortunately, we also don’t have enough space in our studio for them. But the classic Minimoog is still on our wish list.

What other Moogfest artist would you most like to collaborate with?
As old-school hip-hop kids, we would drink a beer with Q-Tip [who has cancelled his Moogfest appearance] if he drinks beer. Coffee would be fine too. The whole line up is just great. It sounds like a poem, a lot of friends, it will be a big hang-around in the dressing room area.

What are the top three sounds, sights or ideas inspiring you recently?
Good question! Basically, we start to work on a simple sound, with bass for example. We try to take an uncomplicated waveform like sinus, triangle or serrated. Those are the typical waveforms used by old, old synths. We still love to work with them. There are sounds that you can use for one or two tracks before they are squeezed like an orange. For our next session in the studio, we are planning to change all equipment that we worked with before to not just copy the same sounds we used before.

When you create music, do you have an audience in mind?
If we are in the studio, there is always the live scenario in our heads, plus the product we are doing the music for, soundtrack, album, single, movie etc. The most important question is always, “How can we generate the sounds live on stage without just pressing one button?”

As a listener, what experience do you seek from music?
For us, it is a way to communicate and express [ourselves]. Inconceivable music wouldn’t exist. It is also a great experience to work as a band in a team, [to] discuss ideas and find compromises.

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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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