Techno Simulat: Cosmin TRG

Cosmin TRG‘s career thus far has been a series of firsts. Back in 2007, when he was honing his spacious dubstep sound under the ‘TRG’ moniker, the Bucharest-born producer was the first artist to release on then unheard of Hessle Audio, the now esteemed catalogue number HES001 being filled with the progressive skip of his ‘Put You Down / Broken Heart’. Following that, Cosmin Nicolae was the first artist to be remixed on the very same label, as Martyn’s ‘DCM Remix’ of ‘Broken Heart’ achieved cult status amongst dubstep-fans – becoming a bona fide classic in the process.

Nicolae was one of the first dubstep producers to start exploring the house and techno tempo’s that now proliferate the sets of Pearson Sound, Scuba, Kode9, Ben UFO and other escapee’s of the dubstep canon, not to mention the fact he was one of the first artists from outside of the UK’s bustling scene circa ’07 that really developed a reputation for complex, developed 140bpm music that was still firmly welded to the dancefloor.

2011 sees the producer in fine form, having remerged in 2009 with the added ‘Cosmin’, and releasing a slew of excellent tracks on a diverse range of labels Rush Hour, Bpitch Control, Tempa, Hotflush and now Modeselektor’s own 50 Weapons (again, the first artist other than themselves to have done so). Following two impressive EP’s earlier this year for the label, the producer’s debut album ‘Simulat’ is causing a stir, as it’s straight techno slant opens up a new chapter for the restless innovator. We contacted Cosmin at his new Berlin base to discuss his Romanian roots, Berlin and sharing fry-ups with the Hessle crew…

So how did you first hook up with Modeselektor?
As most post-modern friendships (and quite a few marriages), it was via the internet some 4 years ago.

They traverse a number of musical styles under the electronic banner – have you found them providing you with advice or guidance at all?
Definitely – they contributed a great deal towards keeping my sanity while working on the album.

How have you found the move to Berlin?
It’s the kind of city that allows you to relax and get it together – it’s far from the rat race in other capitals. At least that’s the vibe that I tapped into. I also like the fact that it’s on 24/7. And there’s a vibrant culture of doing just about nothing, a bit like Barcelona – I’m into that.

Cosmin TRG – ‘Amor Y Otros (Clip)’

Do you think you’re surroundings have affected your musical output in the past, and now?
In my case the music is mostly based on imaginary references – I’d been making techno before moving to Berlin, some jacking house before I ever saw Chicago and my ‘UK-sound’ period was before I set foot in London, so I don’t know if it’s physical surroundings that influence my sound, rather than a different type of connection.

Taking it back a few years – how did you first meet the Hessle crew?
I hit up David sometime in 2006, I sent him a couple of tracks and at the same time they were thinking of starting a label. They wanted to put those tracks out as the 001. I even sent them some name suggestions for it – I’m glad they ignored them. We then met in person at the various gigs we played at together.

I guess it must feel pretty good to have been the first release on a label that’s grown to shape the scene so much…
I am most certainly honored to have provided the first release, and glad they took a chance with me and my sound.

And what did you reckon to Martyn’s (now classic) remix? It seemed to be a bit of a break out tune for him…
I had been in contact with Martyn from earlier on, he was really into the Hessle Audio output so one thing led to another. I was sure this remix was going to blow up because there was nothing like it at the time. I remember hearing it at DMZ played by Kode 9 with the lights on – in the morning me and David had the most gratifying, yet silent full english.

So tell us about the ‘Simulat’ album – how long was the creative process, and what does it represent to you personally?
The creative process probably took my whole adult life, but technically I worked on it for 2 months when I moved to Berlin. I had all these ideas than I hadn’t tried, and I just got it done. It’s probably the music that I feel best about, because it feels very personal. I just let go and made some music.

Whether they be musical or otherwise, what were your main influences for the album?
That’s hard to say, most of my influences are non-musical, like film, architecture, experiences… I might have tried to score a bio-pic about myself. Obscure irrelevant references aside, the sound of the album is grounded in my appreciation for early US techno, labels like Warp and Skam, synth-pop, B-movie soundtracks… something along those lines.

What’s the electronic music scene like in Romania? Can you name any fellow Romanian producers we should be keeping an ear out for?
It’s an ever-shifting scene, it’s exciting, especially for up-and-coming producers because there’s no clear agenda so you can do whatever you like. But I’d say Montgomery Clunk, Minus, Rochite, Hipdiebattery, Petre ‘Pedro’ Inspirescu.

What was it like growing up in Romania when you were younger – what were the first artists you can remember being into?
I guess it was like growing up anywhere else, with a bit of Iron Curtain drama attached until ’89, then the colorful social mess and confusion of the 90s. When I was 5 I was into a Marsha Hunt record, at 12 into Orbital, at 17 into Autechre and jungle.

How is your live show going – will you be touring it for the album?
There is no intention for a live rendition of the album at the moment. If I did a live show it would probably be more like Ben Frost, but there’s a Ben Frost already, so…

Finally, what can we expect from Cosmin TRG over the coming months? Any exciting projects we should know about?
There might be some more music coming out at the end of the year, but I’m already thinking about my second album. I’m also teaching myself German and Swedish, mainly because I’m a snob.

‘Simulat’ is out now on 50 Weapons.

Interview: Louis Cook