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MILLHOPE

RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW GERMAN ARTIST MILLHOPE

Hiya, thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.

What made you decide that music is a thing for you?

Music was simply always a language for me that reached me more directly and emotionally than words. Music also quickly influences my mood, so there are many moments when I need absolute silence and vice versa.

Introduce us to you and your musical history.

I have been playing music in one form or another for 30 years. My main instrument is the guitar. In addition to classical guitar, I played jazz, pop and rock music for a while and studied at the conservatory in Arnhem/Netherlands.

My heart currently beats for produced music and the mix of analog and electronic instruments. At least as important as the guitars in millhope are of course the synthesizers that form the lead voice in this instrumental genre. But I think I’m just a bass player at heart ;). 

What was life like for you before music?

Because I have always made music, there is no before or after for me. There is a “sometimes more and sometimes less”. In addition to music, I work for my music label Hey!blau Records and contribute here and there as a product designer.

I like this diversity and somehow need it. Whenever it’s about creating something and it becomes tangible in some way, I feel special energy and can lose myself in it. 

What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?

MILLHOPE

The question is often asked, but my answer is not always the same. Today I would say: Joan Osborne’s track “St. Teresa” has a wahwah guitar at the beginning, which plays reduced but at exactly the right moment.

I can’t say exactly what it is, but I’ve heard this part a thousand times, sitting on the cork floor in my nursery with my headphones on. I was maybe 12 years old or something. I felt this moment so intensely that I always carry it with me. It’s superbly played, sounds fantastic, shows a spatiality and is somehow “real”.

Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?

I am currently taking on different roles: As part of Hey!blau Records with associated music distribution, I see a lot of the business side in exchange with the artists and I get to see a lot of their everyday life. I myself always try to maintain a good balance between making music and running the label. That works out well for the most part, luckily I’m not alone. 

What’s the biggest thing you have learned from someone else in the industry?

It always changes a little. I’m currently resonating with a thought that Tony Hoffer shared at a workshop, he always said “planting a flag”.

The context was to take into consideration when producing a song that it can be recognized right from the start. Of course, you can take this idea further and think about “audio branding” in general.

These topics seem incredibly important in times of playlists and algorithmic streams. As a fan of “packaging”, “production” and “design”, this is a great playing field for me. And yes, I love free jazz, real moments, and rawness, but equally the art of packaging, which is what music production means to me at this stage. 

Tell us Two truths and a lie about you.

I don’t know the truth about myself. 

If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?

There’s still a lot of work to do, so when I’m finished I’ll think about what’s still missing. I don’t expect anyone to help me. I just try to find listeners who can relate to my music. That’s enough for me. 

Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….

There can always be misunderstandings, of course. Everyone sees the world through their own eyes and with their own background. My music sees itself as personal enrichment and a universal language. The upcoming album is called “Truth & Dare” for a reason.

Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not why not?

I have never really subscribed to any collective opinion, nor am I likely to follow any one person, ideology or view exclusively. I’m more of a generalist than a specialist and prefer to take the long view. for me, that rules out getting lost in individual, supposedly self-contained thoughts and theories. 

What was the worst experience on stage?

It wasn’t bad, but humorously it was a great moment: I was about 10 years old and played electric guitar in an accordion orchestra. It was our first “bigger” concert and I wanted to play the guitar solo from “Music was my first love” by John Miles.

I played the guitar sitting down, as is customary in an orchestra. The conductor then asked me to stand for the solo. I stepped on the cable with my foot, and pulled the plug out when I stood up and the solo turned into a noisy nightmare because I was excitedly trying to put the plug back in the whole time. But maybe it really enriched the song, just in a different way than I thought. But I always love moments like that. 

Tell us something about you that you think people would be surprised about? 

Lachforelle ist vielleicht am Ende der bessere Lachs. 

What makes you stand out as an artist?

Please think about it yourself and let me know. 

I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.

There is currently a new track about every 6 weeks until the album Truth & Dare is released in spring. But you’re right, apart from these chillwave/downtempo tracks, there’s also new music that shows a different facet and is more oriented towards a smaller band line-up and leaves the flat ambient world. But only temporarily! 

What was the recording process like?

I composed and produced all the tracks. The drums and some programming/percussion are real drums played by Alex Höffken, everything else I played and mixed in my home studio. Mastering was done by Rafael Anton Irisarri (Black Knoll). I work with different amps, reamp chains, guitars, basses and synthesizers. The most used equipment is G&L Tele, ES-335, PRS, Strat, Fender Jazzbass, Moog Model D, Korg Mono/Poly, Juno-60, OB-6, OP-1, minologue, MS-101.

There is a bit of outboard equipment (preamps, compressors, numerous effect pedals, a tape machine and an analogue summing machine), the rest I do in the computer. 

What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?

It took me many years to learn to boldly and bluntly increase the number of layers as necessary. I always had the idea of “less is more”, but that wasn’t the right recipe for this production. Or to put it another way: where is the reference, what is a little, and what is a lot? I don’t know, I just have the feeling that such supposedly simple rules are quickly spread around the world, but can cause a lot of damage. 

I’m sure that’s true elsewhere, but I no longer limit myself “because you do something somehow”. I really had to learn to forget what I had learned and what was perhaps technically correct and to approach things intuitively again. This particularly applies to guitar playing, because I simply have far too much baggage here. Fortunately, I’ve now completely shed my self-image as a guitarist, but it took a while. 

Would you change anything now it’s finished?

Sure, as always! But I won’t tell you ;). It’s no use to anyone. 

Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?

I’m just really interested in the context in which my music is heard. Let me know, I spend a lot of time in dialogue with listeners on social networks out of interest.

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