Hi Robot Koch, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
Thanks! Been really good. Just got back from a few shows in Texas and Canada.
Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Movement I”?
It´s the first part of 3 songs I created with the French pianist Julian Marchal. Movement III came out on my album ‘Sphere’ last fall and Movement II is still unreleased. They were all written on the piano in a single session in LA, and explore a territory between ambient, electronica and modern classical music.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
Any song I write or co-write comes from an emotional inspiration, sometimes it`s unconscious. It could be inspiration from a book I read, a conversation I’ve had or from a day I spent in nature. And then days, weeks or months later it just manifests as a song and I wonder where that came from. I love that about music. it’s unpredictable, you can’t force it.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
There will be a video for another song from the EP, called Manifold.
The single comes off with your new album Sphere Out Takes – what’s the story behind the title?
This release features songs I originally wrote for my last album ‘Sphere’, but that I didn’t end up using on that album. They wanted to stand on their own. They are not leftovers but songs that were too unique to blend in on my last album. The ‘Sphere Out Takes’ release also comes with some great remixes from artists I respect. So it’s more of a follow-up release to my album ‘Sphere’ than a new studio album in itself.
How was the recording and writing process?
When I write an album I usually write way more material than I end up putting on the actual album. Oftentimes I create songs that I really love but that don’t fit into the bigger picture of the album I’m making, so I put them aside and maybe use them for another release. And then there are songs that never make it anywhere because they were just not as good. I’m very selective with what I put out. I’d say I actually release a third of the music I write.
Did you borrow inspiration from any movie soundtrack?
Movie soundtracks have been a great inspiration since I was a kid. I grew up on soundtracks like the original Blade Runner, Alien, Star Wars and all those epic 80´s sci-fi movies. Recent movie soundtracks I really loved were “arrival” and “ex machina”.
What was it like to work with Mickael Le Goff and how did that relationship develop?
Mickael first approached me around 2015, he worked as a DSP programmer at a music software company and moonlights as a visual artist. He got in touch and showed me some visual experimentations he made to my music. I really loved what I saw and asked him if he could imagine doing an actual music video for me. So he created the videos for “care”, “eclipse” and “spine” which all came out on my ‘Hypermoment’ Album on Modeselektor`s Monkeytown Records in 2015.
How much did he get to influence the album?
For ‘Sphere’ we created an immersive full-dome show, with 360-degree visuals and surround sound. The album was scored as the soundtrack to this immersive experience. So his visual ideas inspired some of the songs on the album, but some of the songs also inspired his visuals, it was a back and forth process.
Did you always approach this material as a film or a visual project?
It’s an immersive experience which also exists as a stand-alone film. it’s a mix between an immersive cinema and a live show.
What role does Germany play in your music?
I lived in Berlin from 1999 until 2013 and moved to Los Angeles in 2014. Germany is an important market for me, I won awards there and produced gold and platinum records for German artists apart from pursuing my own solo career as an artist. I love Germany, but I’m more than happy to be living in LA for many reasons. But I do come back to Berlin every now and then for shows in Europe or to visit friends and family.
What aspect of the space and the universe did you get to explore on this record?
‘Sphere’ and the ‘Sphere Out Takes’ release are about inner and outer space. It’s about leaving the comfort zone of what is known. The friction between the familiar and the alien, the intimate and strange is what I explore in my music. And in many ways it’s also a dialogue between technology and nature.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs?
Inspiration is everywhere, exploring the unknown, stepping out of your comfort zone and growing both as an artist and as an individual is very closely connected. I feel the more openly I accept who I am and the more I look into rooms in my own head that seemed to be off limits previously, the more real and unapologetic the music I make becomes.
Any plans to hit the road?
Totally, I’ll take ‘Sphere’ on a Planetarium Tour this year.
We have confirmed shows at planetariums in San Francisco, Chicago, Moscow, St Petersburg, Hamburg, Berlin, Mannheim etc.
We`re also talking to the Hayden Planetarium in NY and the Griffith in LA, as well as several other US cities that are interested in the show. I hope to bring it to the UK as well.
What else is happening next in Robot Koch’s world?
I’m running my label Trees and Cyborgs and will release some exciting new artists this year, for which I was involved as a co-writer or producer. Watch out for releases by Delhia de France and Dreaming of Ghosts.
I’ll also release an EP with LA based Violinist Savannah Jo Lack, which we recorded with the German Chamber Orchestra. This one will come out on modern classical label Neue Meister later this year.