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Feature: Daniel Bruns [Interview]

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Daniel Bruns entered the music industry as dj promoter for PIAS Recordings germany in 2000. Working for established artists like Mr. Oizo, Laurent Garnier, Agoria, Blaze, etc. he was quickly appointed to the “Special Marketing Team” where he further worked and oversaw more than 50 compilations – amongst them such blockbusters as the “D.Trance” series. His own brainchild the “eye-trance” compilation series enabled him to further develop his own musical visions and gave birth to Daniels first own productions. After the first two acclaimed vinyl 12″ laid a promising stepping stone for an exciting future, the unfortunate insolvency of both the physical and the digital distribution partners forced the label to undergo some structural changes. Listen to his latest smith & burns productions with peer schmid on deepdub recordings, as well as his releases and on Cirque du Son. Being a regular behind the decks in many local clubs, Daniel has further produced diverse club events like “Groovekomitee” or “Nacht 2.0″, where he has been hosting the stage for the likes of Blake Baxter, Pig & Dan or Format: B. Daniel hosts also from July 2014 his own radio show “Cirque du Son” on Frisky Radio, where he presents every month a guest mix from an artists from Cirque du Son and as well an new mix from himself. We had a chance to catch up with Daniel on the cusp of his latest project for Cirque Du Son, a transcription of the interview is below. Enjoy!

Hi Daniel, thanks for joining us today, tell us where in the world you are and what your plans for the week are?

Hi Mitch, thanks for inviting me. I am based in one of the most beautiful cities in Germany called Hamburg. My plans for the week are: working on recent tracks in the studio, preparing the next releases on Cirque du Son and I have to start preparing my radio show on frisky as well.

Tell us about growing up and living in Germany, how has it affected your musical taste and the music you make?

When the rave era started in the early 90s, I was totally fascinated by electronic music, Raves, Festivals, the early Loveparades … *sigh*. Ever since then, I have stayed addicted to electronic music. Mid of the 90s I started to produce Techno/Trance. Nowadays it's Melodic Techno which is similar but much slower and groovier. So, you can say that the early influences shaped me a lot and the melodic part accompanied me from the beginning.

Tell us about your record/music collection, where do some of your early influences live?

My music collection is very diverse. But early electronic influences are acts like Jean Michelle Jarre from France or Acts from Germany like Kraftwerk, Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Etc..
Personally, and in the daily use I listen to Balearic Chillout, Trip Hop, Reggae, Techno. It is very diverse and mixed. It varies depending on my mood.
Of course, I also have a large DJ record collection that has accumulated over the years (which is digital only since years).

Are you musically trained? And do you think it’s necessary for success in writing electronic music?

I am not trained in music. I taught myself everything. A musical education is definitely very helpful, but I don't think it's necessary. However, you should have a sense of rhythm and an ear for the harmonious interaction of the individual elements.

The industry and how fans discover new music has changed dramatically in the last 10 years or so. How do you discover new music nowadays?

You're right, absolutely right. There are so many new ways to discover music. I discover new music the classic way in the online shop and via promo / demo. The New way to discover music is social media. That is an important source of inspiration, there is an infinite amount of music to discover on the different social media platforms. The algorithms work well and constantly provide me with new music.

How have you been dealing with COVID-19? How has it affected your daily life, music production and overall inspiration to write new music?

As a music producer, I'm much more focused on music productions. In general, there is a big boost in creativity of the community, which inspires me a lot. As a DJ it is strange to play dj-sets without a physical audience.

Once nightlife eventually resumes what kind of effect do you think this period in our history will have on the clubbing experience?

I think we will approach it a lot more carefully. But I also think we will enjoy and appreciate it a lot more. Most people out there can't expect it to go crazy again. Let us hope that this will happen soon.

You have a new EP out on your Cirque du Son imprint this week. Tell us a bit about the release and how you approached writing the “Peter Parkers Wild Life” track and the production process behind it.

With Peter Parker it was completely different. I usually start my productions with the drums and the bassline. But on this track, I started with the vocal. I got the inspiration for it when I saw a documentary about the nightlife in Berlin in the 1920s and 1930s. There was a hip and wicked club called “Der Wilde Peter”, which translates as "The Wild Peter". I decided to record the name as the Vocal for a track. After a few edits, it sounds like it is. In the next step I looked for an element that sounded like "The Wild Peter". When playing around with the synth, I created the acid-ish arpeggio. Next, I added bass drum and bassline, which I usually get out of synths. To let the groove roll, I added high heads, snares, etc. until I have a 32-bar groove that runs smoothly. Next I added the rest of the synth tracks and effects. After that the arrangement. I do the arrangements according to my feelings. My 25 years of DJ experience are definitely very helpful here. The final step is mixing, which usually takes up most of the time. With the completion of the track, I started a creative brainstorm with friends to find a track title, which resulted in "Peter Parker's Wild Life".

What’s a piece of gear or software that always gets used when you are writing a track?

I use the Universal Audio DSP with all those nice Plugins on virtually all of my productions. The perfect symbiosis from Audio Card and Plugins. I really do not want to miss my UAD system with this huge array of awesome sounding tape machines, channel strips, compressors, etc.

I think for a lot of artists music allows you to write a sketch of your own personal universe in a way; your travels, life experiences etc. Is this something which is true for yourself? Where does inspiration come from?

Yes, absolutely! This is an important part of my inspirations - the many journeys, experiences - people that I meet. Everything is inspiring and flows into the music in some way.

Tell us a bit about your Cirque du Son label, it’s been running for a few years now and has firmly established itself. What was your initial vision for it when it began and how has it changed and evolved to where you are today?

Over the years we have built Cirque du Son into a brand and it is an integral part of the community. For us as a label, Cirque du Son has always been a platform for us to support and promote the community around us. Nothing has changed since then. Over the years there have been many great formats such as Radio, Festival, club events to join the label - strengthening us even more in what we do. We just signed a few new artists and a lot of exciting new stuff is in the pipe for the future. Additionally a huge transformation is that the focus of the whole music industry is now more and more moving to the streaming market - Cirque du Son obviously makes no difference there.

What advice would have for an artist hoping to get signed to the label? Both in terms of presentation and stylistically, what are you looking for from a new artist?

Look for labels that match the style. Send your Demos to 3 or 4 labels in that particular genre. That makes more sense, than randomly sending everything to everyone. What is also important to say, mastering cannot fix mix errors. The mastering is as good as the basic material is. Stylistically I can only say stay as you are, don't try to copy someone. That always goes down best with both the label and me.

In terms of your own tracks how do you decide what gets released on Cirque du Son as opposed to sending them out as demos to be released elsewhere?

The decision is not mine alone. The labels such as Cirque du Son, I run together with my school mate Peer. In the decision process we decide together what will be released on Cirque and what not. Of course, I am committed to our label in one way. My tracks run through the demo process at Cirque du Son and there is a democratic vote on whether a track is released or not.

Who do you show your music first before introducing it to a wider audience or sending it out to labels?

Yes, it is really important to get feedback before you present your tracks to a larger Audience. For my part I'm in a great studio community with a lot of great artists. I always get their feedback. They are usually the first to hear the music. We support each other there. It's a great creative cell.

What do you enjoy more writing originals or remixing? And how do go about deciding on what remix projects to take?

I do a lot of remixes in relation to my own releases. But I don't really differentiate, I do the productions as they come. The only difference between the remixes is that certain parts are given. The art is to build a story around it. The deciding process for remixes is that first of all I have to like the track. When I find it inspiring on it's own - I will do it. If not - I don’t.

Apart from music, what makes you happiest?

Friends, good food and my dog.

What does the remainder of 2020 hold for you? Anything you can share with us?

Stay safe and be patient. Keep on making music !!!!

'Made of Dreams' is out now via Cirque Do Son: https://bit.ly/3kVGYbS

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