Apparat played a sunset set on the first day of LIB, a perfect soundscape to lay straight back and watch the twilight clouds crawl by overhead. Not more than an hour before, we had a chance to catch up with lead man and LIB veteran Sascha Ring and talk about this new live band setup. Read on for more insight into the heart of LIB.
How is the universe treating you today? What is good in your life at this moment?
Well I’m having a very good time at the moment because I’m doing lots of different things. Which is always important for me to keep myself entertained. Whenever I do something for too long, I get bored by myself, basically. Before I came here, I made music for a theatre/play for the first time ever. It was a really cool director and he did War and Peace by Tolstoy, which is a huge book. It turned out being a five-hour play…
[Laughs] Wow, no kidding…
…which was crazy because I had to perform it live, I had to sit there for five hours. I couldn’t do that in school, so I did better than in school but it was still hard. But it was really interesting to adjust to what’s going on onstage, and play everything — the same of what we were just talking about with DJ sets — it really depends on what’s going on in front of you and then you adjust. This was a completely different approach because there are all these really, REALLY intense actors. We played it five times in a row and it was always different depending on how they were feeling that day or whatever.
So that was really good experience, and it was also interesting for me because I had to integrate into a system of a lot of people; that’s why I started the band, basically, because I needed input. I was tired of being alone on stage. It’s all very predictable, because you do what you do and you don’t surprise yourself, rarely.
That was a really good thing to do, the theater thing gave me a really, really good time. Basically I finished that, and I had to go to the studio to rehearse with our new drummer because our normal Apparat band drummer broke his arm on the last tour.
Oh no! Doing what?
Oh man, everyone was partying, we were on a tour bus, and I think after that he just fell out of a bed, like a three-story [bunk] beds, y’know? Nothing really special, but it fucks up a whole tour. That was very crazy to realize! Now it’s very fragile thing, y’know, a band? If it’s just me, I play every gig in my life no matter how I felt. Now it’s seven people, and if one gets like fucked up…
That’s a sacrifice you make using live musicians. If you were still primarily a DJ, if you had nothing but one finger you could still perform a set. You can’t play a guitar with one finger.
Yeah, even if my brain is fried I can still play a set somehow.
Going back to what you said about keeping yourself entertained, if you aren’t feeling it, then how can anyone else? Can you put into words what kind of emotion is inside of you when you’re onstage? Can you pinpoint what you get out of it?
It’s hard to tell. It’s a little different for everything I do. When I play DJ sets I can afford to be taken away by the music a little more, even, because like I said before, I don’t even have to think, it’s all intuitive somehow. But for the band show it’s a little harder, because I’m playing guitar and I’m not a real guitar player, and I have to sing of course, and I have to stay focused. And I’m really waiting for the moment where that isn’t the case anymore. I guess it takes another hundred shows or something. But if it’s the same kind of feeling I have where I play a good DJ set, where there’s this back-and-forth with the audience, yeah, I don’t know!
It’s weird, because mostly when I’m the studio, I work best when I’m in some kind of… not even in the best shape, when I’m in a slightly melancholic state. But of course on stage, that doesn’t work, you need to be energized. It’s hard to tell. One thing I can tell, however, is when there is too much of this mood and feeling, and if that happens when I play a band show, this stuff makes you play too loud and too intense and stuff, and that’s not perfect in an environment where you have to integrate with a band, where it’s about the whole thing.
I’ve been seeing a lot of people with signs that say “Bliss,” and I’ve heard that word more times in the last 24 hours than I have for months before I got here. This is interesting to me because the undercurrent of music here is deep house music, not music I’d immediately associate with such a bright word, but then again there is no right way to find your bliss. It might be in melancholic music.
Let’s say especially for the kind of music I make, everyone hears it in a different way. For some of those people, it’s kind of blissful and they hear some kind of happiness in there. For the next person, it’s very deeply melancholic and it puts them in a very thoughtful mood. This stuff is very up to the individual being, I guess! But I think at a festival it’s a bit of a different thing, because people come here especially with the intention of having three days of the best time of their life. Of course, nobody goes to a concert to have a bad time, or whatever, but it’s a little bit of a different thing.
So you’ve been here since Wednesday. What have you learned about this crowd, what have you discovered about the mindset of this particular group of people?
Well you have to know, Lightning in a Bottle was the first American festival I had ever seen, two years ago. I had never really played a festival here before. I didn’t even think stuff like this exists here. I read about Burning Man and all this culture of people gathering and doing the crazy stuff together, but also by just the picture we have in mind thinking about America, seeing the news… it looks like nothing is really free here. There are all these laws, and it’s really hard to find your freedom here.
Or make something like Burning Man happen.
Yeah, exactly, or in a place like that. You realize it’s really possible. There can be this bubble where everyone gets completely loose and doesn’t really care about what’s allowed and what’s not. That was a really, really good experience, and it actually changed my mind. Last time, I was supposed to leave the next day and I just got stuck. I partied one more day and made so many friends, so many cool people, I still… I met them again this time! And I’m emailing a lot of them, so I made connections. That’s pretty cool. It’s a real different American experience.
Also from the production side, if you play a festival like that, you can really tell everybody who works here enjoys what he or she is doing. Of course, that translates and gives you a much nicer feeling if someone wants to help you out with stuff and gives you the cable with a smile not “Ugh, another cable.” That is exceptional. Also in Europe it’s tough, because of course it can be hard work to set up a festival as well, and at some point people are just stressed. Here, there is this overall mellow vibe, and it’s on both sides, and that’s really cool as an artist.
Have you ever heard of the TED talks before? I saw one from a couple years ago where this guy talks about the communal nature of the festival experience. He said something interesting along the lines of “Festival culture is pretty far removed from our daily reality, but it trains people in how to live like this on a more regular basis. It’s fuel for saying ‘Maybe I don’t need to do everything so joylessly. Maybe I can translate this feeling into a normal paradigm.'”
Definitely! I totally think that all these people take a lot of this… uh, mood… to their homes and it’s going to last a little longer than just for one weekend. It’s the same for me! There are these gigs where it’s just work, and then there is stuff where, yeah like I said, you meet lots of inspiring people and you realize that there’s this other-other side of life, basically. Life can be so easy. That’s a good thing for people to be reminded of. Hopefully that’s what happens to these guys.
Concerning your set tonight, what do you think is going to be your secret weapon? If you’re holding a deck of cards, what is the ace in your hand right now for getting this crowd going and living up to what we just discussed?
The thing is for most of the bands, I guess, this question is really easy to answer. They always say “we have a certain amount of hits we can play, like songs that people know,” but since we already started playing this kind of set before the record was even out, so people didn’t know the music.. okay, we’ll play two versions of old songs so people can recognize it. But the biggest part of the set was new to people, so we didn’t have this kind of joker, the “hit” joker.
I think our ace is just the general mood of the set. After a few songs, in the best case, we’re able to put these people into some kind of mood, everyone is captured by the atmosphere of this thing. and it’s not even tied to certain songs, it’s athing that goes through teh whole hour. Best case, of course, people can’t leave, because they want to see where it leads.
Well that answers it. You’re going to hypnotize the shit out of them, that’s the short way of saying that [laughs].
We definitely don’t have the bass drum “ace.” There are certain ways to kick a crowd: that’s the “party” way of doing it, and of course that’s not an option for us because our set is very mellow and hypnotic.
That’s a great thing about this festival, though. So far it’s been pretty resilient to giving in to the “drop” culture where everything is about… well, the opposite of subtlety. I think you will find a very warm and receptive audience waiting for you here in just a bit.
Thank you, appreciate it!