Dominik Traun and Sebastian Wasner form Austrian Apparel, the Austrian live Electronic / Techno Duo. They’re focusing on a hardware only performance – every sound is played live, without the use of a laptop or pre-sequenced synths.
We had the chance for a chat with the Vienna based duo. Read along:
You’ve just released a new album via your own new label AA+ Records. How busy were the last few weeks?
Oooohhh boy. The last months / weeks were quite a ride, haha. On a scale from 1 to BUSY, probably 12..
But there was so much to be learned in the whole process and we did it ~95% on our own, which was a good experience. Especially when it comes to putting a price tag on certain services that a label usually outsources (Promo, Delivery, Merch, etc…) Of course we made a lot of ‘mistakes‘, but we stayed authentic and that is very important to us.
How do you feel about the evolution of digital music streaming services?
For most Techno Artists there is not a lot of money to be made in streaming. Sadly, only a small percentage of our revenue comes from streaming platforms at the moment. Streaming will be here for good, so it’s advisable for Artists to accept the fact that you are probably not going to get rich with it. Still you can’t really ignore it, even more so if you’re a small and upcoming artist. But just to put into numbers, two sold LPs equals around 10k streams in pure profit for the artist/label…
Do you have some insights on running a smooth live show?
Preparation is key. You really got to know the ins and outs of your gear. In our opinion you need to be liberated from looking at the screens on the devices so that the whole setup really becomes one integrated instrument.
On top of that we rehearse our tracks and the setlist so that both of us are aware of how the set evolves from start to finish. There is space for improvisation but the arrangements of the tracks are all prepared in advance. In our opinion imagining and creating those jaw-drop/hands-up moments is very important and has to happen in the preparation process. During the gig we might add or subtract some elements to enhance these, plus in a way they help us navigate through the whole setlist. The improvisation happens in between the arrangement, deciding to change the sound of a certain element or dropping the drums all together would be examples of this..
We always do an extended soundcheck and try to feel the venue and get to know the technicians. (Pro tip: introduce yourself and remember their names)
When you start a new track – what are the first steps?
It’s really different every time. New tracks can come from jamming, rehearsing for a gig, making mistakes and then using those mistakes and improvising on those mistakes and suddenly it’s a new song.
Sometimes we have an idea while riding a bike and then we hum it into the phone and produce it in the studio. Or we are alone in the studio just trying out new plugins or synths and then we send each other little loops and ideas. Another option is that one of us tries (and fails) to copy a certain track we like, that in the end just forms the loose basis of something completely different.
For us as Austrian Apparel it helps that there’s no fixed recipe when it comes to the creation process, it ensures that we always stay fresh with our ideas somehow.
Name 3 artist social media feeds that you dig and tell us why.
#1 Fjaak. just fjaaking check their feed. fun and really good producers / live techno warriors..
#2 Hannes Bieger. Synth guru, mixing wizard. Not much else to say.
#3 Fvlcrvm. Best sound/visual/humor/person on instagram there is. Just follow to be inside the loop
Bonus #4 uglydesign. Be prepared to be offended.
What would you consider to be the USP of Austrian Apparel?
First of all we are about hands on making music, there’s no or very little looking a screens but rather touching and performing on synths, drum machines, fx devices and the mixer. Mistakes included, hehe. Also, we don’t care about functionality of club tracks, we just make music that we like and we don’t care too much about current hypes or classifying our sound into genres…
What are your favourite hardware pieces that you own and why?
Dom: Korg Kaoss Pad 3. It’s the one device that stayed in my part of the live setup (currently there’s 2 pieces in use) from the very start up until now. For me there’s no other device that let’s you play (like an instrument) with effects intuitively like this one does.
Seb: Access Virus TI2 Darkstar. It’s my go to hardware synth, super powerful / versatile. It’s also been in my setup in some form from the very beginning of our stage times…
Name 3 major mistakes you made that other musicians could learn from.
#1 Keeping your music to yourself. As a beginner it’s super helpful to just release stuff and grow from the interaction the music has with listeners, good or bad..
#2 Don’t listen to the wrong feedback because that can hurt. You are probably not as good as you think and there is always something you can do better. The vibe of a track always comes first, the technical abilities can be taught/learned
#3 If you’re in a group, try to communicate as much as possible to avoid frustration, have a regular thing/activity apart from music..
Bonus mistake #4: Have a designated driver if you have to drive to gigs outside of town. Bring a friend or pay somebody. It can be super dangerous/expensive to drive when you are tired or have a hangover.
How important are data insights for your (strategic) decisions?
It’s an important tool but it’s maybe even more important that you know how to use it in a way that benefits you, while also not losing too much time/head space over it. Always try to stay authentic is the most important thing in our opinion.
What’s up next for Austrian Apparel?
There’s a remix compilation of the album coming out on our own label AA+ Records, where each track of the compilation is released on its own on a regular basis forming the whole remix album when all of the tracks are out. Starting in about in 6 weeks..
We already have a new EP in the pipe line for a different label. We just finished a track for the CTEMF Compilation, which is an initiative to support the artists and stage crews that have supported the South African event over the years.
Other than that we obviously follow the current situation and we are hoping that the music and club scene will flourish once again with many parties and lots of gigs.
We wish the best of luck to all and everyone involved or financially hurt in this trying situation..
Thanks for the interview and greetings from Vienna,
Dom + Seb
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