Techno without the tech
Brandt Brauer Frick

“Our way of making music is very intuitive and it’s about chemistry, the chemistry of ideas and emotions.”

Techno without the tech - Brandt Brauer Frick’s classical leanings represent the organic over machine-made. The trio have become recognised for playing instruments instead of drum machines in their live ensemble. But what exactly do they think is the outcome of this? “We don’t know. Music is the answer,” suggests Paul Frick.

The be-suited three produce music that is “supposed to be for the mind and the body at the same time, just like any good music.” BBF are spurning the sequencers to embrace techno and house grooves. But to say that their work is simply dance music created using classical instrumentation is reductive. “Would you say The Roots replicated hip-hop? To me, they just made interesting music…”

‘Mr Machine’, their debut album, came packaged as a techno record played completely live over ten instruments. “We came from a club aesthetic and kept on building the pieces track-like with slow build-ups, so a DJ could mix it.” But after a couple of years playing live shows, their concerns have shifted - “We don’t think any more about what DJs can do with our music or not.” This swing from ‘tracks’ to ‘songs’ is clear in ‘Miami’, mainly by its inclusion of vocals. “The structures of some of our pieces are certainly too weird and broken, or too repetitive to be called songs. But some of the new pieces are definitely songs.” They still boast that polyrhythmic frenzy that punctuates them, just like the name Brandt Brauer Frick itself, which drum-rolls off the tongue.

‘Miami’ comes as something of an aesthetic paradox - the disjointed, doom-ridden chords that key in the opener don’t exactly conjure up a Floridian paradise. According to them, the name was “a projection to paint something like a pre-apocalyptic world at the peak of its civilisation. Everything blinks and glitters, but it’s empty and hollow.” The concept of the superficial is a strong theme - album tracks like ‘Plastic Like Your Mother’ and ‘Empty Words’ suggest a façade - at odds with their music, which is rich in authenticity, highly textural.

On the album they worked with hip-hop legend Om’Mas Keith, who “was the only singer on the album who also played instruments on the song, synths, claps, sound effects. The work with him was a bit of a miracle, because he came up with so much material that changed our totally raw sketch into something so special.” Frick adds, “He totally blew our minds!” Another fitting collab came from Warp’s one-man band Jamie Lidell. “It was great, he first sent us rather unstructured material, ideas on two raw sketches we had sent him... then we messed around with them. It was actually quite a zig-zag working process!”

So what’s next in the pipeline for the trio? “Unfortunately, our ideas tend to get bigger and bigger, which means they are hard to realise. For next year, we have a project with about sixty musicians and are already thrilled... but it’s too early to tell!”


Get the best of Clash on your iPhone - download the app here:


Join us on VERO

Join the Clash mailing list for up to the minute music, fashion and film news.