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MORPHEUS MUSIC INTERVIEW - CELL (ALEX SCHEFFER)

23.06.05

     
 

Q: Phonic Peace is your first full-length release as Cell – what was your vision in preparing this album?
  I wanted to do something which could be listened by everyone. I mean, often, people who are not used to listening to this musical style (ethno/psy-chill) like it ‘cause Phonic Peace is not too hard to access as Chill Out Music.
I had worked on two tracks before deciding to put them on the album (Zaz and Mister Ayatih). These two tracks have been like a starting point to the artistic direction of the album. The thing is that I’ve always been touched by ethnic style; the fusion between styles is very important for me…

  Q:  The sound is strongly consistent across the album – what was behind that decision?
  You’re right, it’s very consistent !...Too much, perhaps, for some people, but I wanted the album be very rich, very large, with a very spacey sound.
I think, my feelings are changing : today, I wouldn’t use so many effects and so much reverb, but I have no regret about « Phonic Peace ». I mean the result is exactly what I want, deep, far and smooth.
     
             
Q: Phonic Peace is somewhat different from the sound heard from Cell on some of previous compilations – was that intentional?
  Yes, absolutely !
I had already ethno-chill tracks written for a long time, such as « Zaz » and « Mister Ayatih ». As you can imagine, submiting such tracks for compilations was really difficult, ‘cause they are so long !...Then, I decided to include them in an Ethno-Chill Out project. That was a starting point very rich !
But, it was really a bet ! (And I massively thank Edoardo and Giorgio (Neurobiotic) to trust in me in the project)...I mean, people knew my work by compilations like « Fahrenheit Series », which represent exactly my style, but I wanted something different, more based on the Ethnic feelings.
But, people who have discovered « Phonic Peace » should know that it’s not really my own style, even if I really appreciate it…So, now, my work will be more based on floating/hypnotic Chill-Out, like « Father », « Hawai Transit » or « Audio Deepest Night » tracks…
  Q: Tell us about your writing methods – how do you start out making a new track?


  I have not a conventional method to write…in fact, I often start from a piano sound on my master keyboard and record MIDI parts, for many many minutes…then, I have very long parts. After that, I often listen and listen again to all the notes, by looping the part. That’s my favourite method, in fact.
But, it’s totally different when I use samples. Because even if I like working on the edit part of samples, I try to imagine how the sample can be included in the track, and often, all the track is based on it.


             
Q: What takes the most time when writing?
  Well, I think my tracks, even if they seem to be simple are really complicated.
I often start by a « Base Session », which is composed of the rhythmic structure and bass line, with chords (pads and different waves).
Then, I have a sort of solid structure, where I can write audio elements. So, I can go in many directions; it will depend on the arpeggios, effects, leads that I want to put in the second or third session.
But, the mixing part is really really important for me. I mean, I work around one week on a mix, to have exactly the sound I want. I often burn a CD and listen to it on many monitoring systems, but my favourite check is the DVD player which is connected to TV…The sound is really really hard. So, if the track sounds good on it, it's ok !
  Q: How do you get production to such a high quality?
  Thanks! ...But, I think, as I explained before, I spend lot of time mixing the tracks. I often use EQ and Comp (not too much !...), with a visual Spectral analyser, just to confirm that what I hear is what I see on the graphic . But, before the final mix, I spend lot of time working on frequencies, which is very important…For example, when I use percussions, I always try to grant the harmonics of percussions with the global chord of the track…It’s better, I think.
So, to resume, I think it’s a very very long work of mixing...Not too much reverb (even if I think that in « Phonic Peace » album, there’s too much reverb time…), good EQs, Compressors (not too much, too !...) and the most important thing is listen and listen again to the result on different audio systems.
             
 
     
Q:   How would you describe Cell music?

  Ouch !...Quite hard to define…Perhaps, I would say that I put in my tracks all my fears, my love, my questions, my fights, my thoughts, my emotions, so it’s really complicated. It’s like I talked to a close friend about my feelings…
That’s quite funny, ‘cause, at the beginning, when I signed on Fahrenheit compilations, my style was really dark and hypnotic…Today, I couldn’t do such things, it’s really different now. I consider music like a sort of therapy, which could help you to describe your mental state and open your world to others.

  Q: What do you listen to for your own enjoyment?   I’m not a trance addict. I’m nostalgic. I remember the « golden age » of trance (around 1991-95…). It was really a brilliant period for this music. Today, I don’t listen to trance. But, perhaps, there is some good one ?...In fact, I’m tired of speed BPM, that’s why I like so much Downtempo and Chill Out music…
I massively listen to Classical, Jazz, HipHop and Electronica. World Music…
I’m a very big fan of Peter Gabriel. He gave me lot of things in his music. I think I have around 30 CDs from the RealWorld label…
             
Q:   If you could bring any new element into the music of Cell with cost or contacts being no issue – what would it be?
 
My dream would be include bagpipes in my tracks. It’s one of my favourite instrument. I think, one day I will learn how to play bagpipes. It’s a very rich instrument, I mean the harmonics are so fantastic!
But, for the moment, I think I would like to work with a singer. I’ve so many ideas with vocals that I would really like to work with a girl who could have a voice such as Hooverphonic or Morcheeba (first period).
So, do not hesitate to contact Robin (www.triskelemanagement.com), my agent, if you want to suggest to me collaborations… ;-)

  Q:  What does the future hold for Cell?  

My future…In fact, I don’t know.
I think I’m tired with ethnic style. I would like to concentrate my work on the roots of electronic music. I mean, a very deep, hypnotic, floating style…More based on the electronic emotions.
We’ll see…But, I’m sure that my next productions will not be based on ethno-ambient style. I want to come back to my original sound, and I hope that people who like « Phonic peace » will appreciate the next releases, too…

23.06.05

Thanks to Alex Scheffer for allowing us that interview.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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