Cosmin TRG’s ‘Auster’ and Objekt’s ‘Shuttered’ share the second 12″ in the Green Series, a collaborative project between Bleep.com, photographer Shaun Bloodworth and design collective GiveUpArt.
Cosmin TRG, aka Cosmin Nicolae, recently announced that he will release a second album ‘Gordian’ via 50Weapons in 2013. Over the last 6-or-so years his sound hasn’t remained in one spot for long; initially residing in the fractured world of dubstep (as TRG) – progressively winding into forms of house and techno – TRG was the first artist to release on Hessle Audio and has since featured on labels as diverse as [NakedLunch], Tempa, Hemlock and Rush Hour. Today he finds himself perfectly at home on a label such as 50 Weapons, making the kind of twisted and colourful techno Modeselektor‘s label has become synonymous with. Considering the stature of his debut album ‘Simulat’, the expectations for the follow up are unsurprisingly high, and this Green Series release finds the Romanian man on fine form.
Throughout his short discography Objekt, real name TJ Hertz, has prioritised quality over quantity; in two years he has self-released two fierce 12″s, two SBTRKT VIPs on Young Turks, and created that Hessle Audio record, ‘Cactus’/’Porcupine’ is a genuine highlight of Hessle Audio‘s weird and wonderful back catalogue. It’s a lively halfway-house between techno and dubstep that embodies TJ’s approach entirely; a direct result of him simply not knowing what kind of music to make, labelling his attempts to produce more functional techno as “totally cringe and formulaic”. If his output thus far has all been a result of such indecision, we hope he doesn’t make his mind up anytime soon.
Cosmin and TJ got together to discuss the Green Series record, most bizarre experiences DJing, genre fatigue, and how the current dance music landscape would look depicted by a Gerald Scarfe cartoon.
O: So Cosmin, what does TRG stand for?
C: Nice try.
O: Ha. Alright. If you weren’t a full time DJ supa-star, what would you like to be doing with your life? Were you already doing it before you got into music professionally?
C: FILM. I’d love to be involved in filmmaking. I actually hope one doesn’t exclude the other in the long term. I worked in TV production as a screenwriter for about 4 years, before moving onto advertising and then music full time. I still look back to the time in TV production because it was an experimental outfit and I got to do loads of things, from writing to camera work to sound design to editing.
I guess I still think of myself as more of a writer who hasn’t written his “great American novel” yet. And that novel could be a proper novel, or film, and then I can retire to Sardinia (and keep reading the reviews and fight people on the internet).
O: What’s the most entertaining thing that anyone has ever written about your music? (DJ Mag once reviewed a single of mine twice in the same issue and gave it 4/10 in the Techno section and 9/10 in the Garage section. Like Top Trumps with dance music singles.)
C: It would have to be one of the reactions to my Tower Block release on Hemlock (2010): “love TRG but these are a bit too weird for me, to be honest. still loving Glut (by Ramadanman – Ed) though! i bet these sound good on drugs at Berghain, but you know, that’s really not my scene…”
What’s the most bizarre request you’ve had or situation you’ve found yourself while DJing?
O: The time I played in Moscow was pretty strange. At 5 AM the club (of maybe 1500 capacity) was raided by special ops police in black balaclavas and assault rifles. Except they didn’t search anyone or kick anyone out. The lights went on, the music went off and this heavily armed police squad just wandered through the club placidly for about an hour before eventually leaving, presumably having been paid off; the party then started up again as if nothing had happened. It was really bizarre – the main room had about 600 people stood around chatting and drinking and mingling with what looked like a bunch of Underground Resistance members: all black, riot gear, bulletproof vests, guns, balaclavas, the works.
Oh, and this one time I played with David Guetta. I’ve still got the flyer to prove it.
What about you?
C: Requests wise, the most recent one I can remember is one I got in Spain (a great crowd!) around 6 AM: “Please play more dreamy”. It came from a guy. I thought that was cute. I played some more Regis.
O: That’s sweet. Of both of you.
C: How comfortable are you with people tagging your music as this or that?
O: Well, it’s kind of inevitable. It used to bug me a lot more than it does now. Since my output is so sparse I can’t blame people for listening to, say, Objekt #1 and concluding that I’m a German dubstep producer – trouble is that I’ve never been very good at making the kind of music I’d like to make.
C: I feel the same kind of alienation from my music, I try to make it as personal as I can within a certain framework. It’s part of a long learning process – as a violinist you start performing when you reach a certain degree of expertise, but as an electronic ‘composer’ you sort of just put things out as you go along because it’s a very complex process. My only master plan is to have a body of work that I can reflect on.
O: It helps if you know what kind of music you want to write, though, which I still don’t. For a long time i just wanted to make straight forward techno, but I’m still rubbish at it – when I try and make something relatively obvious and functional it comes out totally cringe and formulaic. And recently I’ve been getting bored of functional techno anyway; there’s still great stuff out there of course but I’m simply not as passionate about it as I was a couple of years ago. Plus, I feel like the signal to noise ratio is going downhill somewhat.
C: I reckon it’s the abundance of formulaic tracks overshadowing the more interesting ones, that’s making the whole genre seem fatigued, at least from a DJ’s point of view. Not that other genres are in any better shape!
O: Well, techno is on its way up again and we see the classic pattern – with the growth in popularity of a genre comes the dilution of the good shit with the mediocre shit; it’s always been like that. Look at what happened to dubstep. But techno has been around for 25 years; waves of hype come and go. The thing is that although techno is closer to my heart than dubstep ever was, I don’t want to be one of those guys that complains about how techno “used to be about the headz and now it’s about the candy ravers” or whatever; honestly, that’s so boring.
So I don’t mind just exploring elsewhere for a while – these days no style of music clings onto the hype train for more than a year anyway. If Gerald Scarfe drew cartoons about dance music he’d draw a big combine harvester with the license plate “RA XLR8R” ploughing a field of beets, with minimal techno somewhere in the distant horizon, future garage lying scattered and bruised behind the plough, maybe a lefty badger clutching a “dusty house” placard tending to its wounds. And a goth rabbit with a Neubauten t-shirt looking terrified as the Traktor approaches…
O: Meanwhile, fully loaded EDM-branded trucks are wobbling under the weight as they depart from the Massive dubstep battery farm behind the fence…
We should probably talk about our record, huh. Where was that portrait of you taken actually?
C: Near Landsberger Allee – just close to home. I like how Shaun came looking for industrial/brutalist/concrete jungle sort of surroundings and all I could provide was a lot of green patches. It’s funny when you fly over Berlin and it looks like a city grown inside a forest.
O: And how does Auster fit in with your grand masterplan?
C: Auster was born of the bits of hardware I got last year – pretty much informed by the kind of machine techno tradition. I like that side of things as much as I like venturing into foreign territories. Once I’ve done that, I can do other things, or try and do the same thing but better.
How did your track come about?
O: There’s no great story to it, but it took me fucking ages. It started out as a jam with a Jupiter 6 and Waldorf Pulse that I’d just bought, but you’d never tell from listening to the track because I’ve taken it to pieces and reassembled it so many times. I started it in November 2011 and spent about three months on it, sent it to Bleep as a demo, then spent another two months tidying it up before it was mastered in September. It was meant – like just about everything else i’ve ever released – to sound much more raw and immediate than it ended up. But I guess that’s what happens when you spend five months on one track (albeit with a day job and gigs at the weekend).
Honestly, one of these days I’ll buy a trombone and a distortion pedal and record a solo album straight to Minidisc in one take.
Do you play any instruments?
C: Not a single instrument. I do have a minidisc though. So that’s really the music you want to make then – distorted trombone-step. Any plans for an album?
O: I was trying last year but my friend’s trombone kept going out of tune.
Objekt and Cosmin TRG release Shuttered/Auster, a split 12, on 24th February 2013, as the second record on the Bleep Green Series. It features artwork and photography by Give Up Art and Shaun Bloodworth. Buy digital and vinyl here.