Consisting of Laurenz Karsten, Phillip Oertel and Tim Sarhan, Berlin trio Komfortrauschen bring the aesthetic and performance of a live band to the world of techno. Their debut album ‘K’ is dropping soon and we caught up with them to discuss their music and more.
Hey Laurenz, Philip & Tim. Thank you for taking the time to speak with us at Klubikon, we are extremely excited to go into the nitty gritty of your band, Komfortrauschen. How are you all today?
Hey guys, thanks for having us! We’re super excited ourselves! Our debut album will be released in a week and we’re so happy that we finally accomplished this.
In simple terms, you are a band that performs techno with traditional instruments, where did the idea for this concept originate from?
When we were students, we went to techno parties a lot. Back then we already were musicians and worked on making a living out of it. We wanted to recreate the vibe of those raves… but apart from guitars, bass and drums plus a few effects pedals we had nothing to make music with. We didn’t have drum computers or synthesizers nor did we know how to use them, so we started making techno with what we had. At the beginning we were inspired by bands like Brandt Brauer Frick or Elektro Guzzi who were already doing similar things, so we knew that it was possible.
When sitting down to write music together, how does it differentiate from a traditional band’s jam sessions?
We work like a regular band, if there is such a thing, haha. To be honest, we don’t think there is a “traditional” way of writing music – there are different ways: Writing it with ink and paper like Beethoven or improvising until something new and unexpected happens are just two sides of the same thing. When we’re looking for new ideas we usually start to jam, probably like any electronic music producer would do. Let’s say Tim, the drummer, has a crazy sample on his sample pad and a new and mean kick drum sound. Then we start to play around with these elements, add a bassline, change it, add stab chords, maybe a synth line from the guitar and so on. The only thing that sets us apart from “regular” producers is that we’re playing the stuff like a “regular” band to try out what works and what doesn’t. Compared to a “traditional” band we focus more on the individual elements of a track, for instance the exact sound of a synth line, whether to have a square wave, sawtooth wave or FM bass sound or the precise frequency of a hi-hat or ride cymbal. Since we don’t have “normal” song structures like a rock or pop song would have, those elements and the way they modulate over the course of the track becomes most important.
How is your work informed? You are releasing an incredible album titled ‘K’, could you please cite some inspirations behind the work?
We were inspired a lot by Detroit techno. Artists like Robert Hood, K-Hand, Jeff Mills and Claude Young are super important to us. They envisioned a new sound and we really love their music. What they did and what they do is kind of the gold standard. But we also really like acts from Berlin like FJAAK or Modelsektor. When we listen to their music there is one thing that we find very impressive: they don’t do compromises, they don’t take any hostages, they go all the way. That’s what makes their music so powerful and that’s the main inspiration!
The LP is released on your agency’s label, Springstoff. What was the decision behind releasing the project so close to home?
Easy answer: We love home! It’s just awesome to know that Rainer (who is running the label and also doing our management) is close and we can meet and hang in his office almost everyday. There won’t be any decision made without us being involved. Apart from our studio, the Springstoff office is our second headquarters! It completely made sense to release our debut album with Springstoff because we know each other so well and it feels good to be part of such an open minded family!
Kapital features the vocals of Jamila Al-Yousef. Does the production process change when working with a vocalist? How did you first get in touch with this excellent artist?
We knew Jamila because she had also released music on Springstoff. We liked her style and music, especially the way she combines art with politics. The production process of this song is a long story: Long before we asked Jamila there were already different versions of this song. We worked on it and then let it rest for a few months a few times. We finally asked Jamila in September 2020 and were really happy that she said yes. After we recorded her vocals on a demo of the track we started to record the final version.
When on the road, do you ever encounter problems with clubs not being equipped for live music performances featuring live instruments?
We were at this point some years ago but then we learned about two very important things: 1. a good tech rider, 2. bringing our own trusted FOH engineer to every single show. It’s super important to check if our setup is possible in a club, so our FOH engineer will always get in touch with the technical crew beforehand. If there is no mixing console the venue has to rent one. There has to be enough space for our setup and so on. Unfortunately this makes it impossible for us to play in some clubs or floors but most of the time we will find a way!
Where can we expect to see more of you guys in the near future? Are there any upcoming plans you could share with us?
We’re going to play lots of festivals this summer in Germany: Wilde Möhre, Detect, Sound of the Forest. The next big thing is our release party at Sisyphos. We will play the opening of the infamous Hammahall on May 25th!