To celebrate the release of Vladislav Delay’s new ambient album ‘Visa‘, Sasu Ripatti has compiled a special Jazz mix featuring music from Charles Mingus, Thelonius Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and many more. The mix is aimed to be listened to with friends during the various courses of a dinner party. In the interview below Sasu discusses US Customs and Visa issues, mechanics and servomotors, his Ripatti series and collaborations with Max Loderbauer as well as the makings of his new album ‘Visa’.
You’re not a traditional DJ, you don’t own turntables, can you please tell us about the mix you’ve recorded for us and the process behind selecting music to feature? After all this is 1hour 45mins of jazz.
I was offered a chance to make a mix of music I like, not having to be electronic music. “Something you’d listen to at home”… so this is kind of stuff I’d listen to at home. I’m a huge fan of everything in the mix. I was thinking like making music for a long dinner, different courses and ideas.
Your new album, appropriately named Visa, was conceived through encountering visa problems with US customs. How often do you encounter visa issues when travelling?
This was the first time there was a terminating problem. There were few difficulties before this but nothing that would prevent things from happening.
In your opinion how could this process be improved for musicians?
It’s pretty simple stuff but I guess the way it’s all set up makes everything very difficult to change.
To me it seems that the biggest problem is that they have to generalise a great deal, put everyone under one label and basically suspect the worst of everyone from the start.
It’s refreshing to see you spinning this negative circumstance into a positive product. Tell me about your initial ideas for the album and how it differs to previous projects and albums.
Well there was no initial plan. And even when first waves of plans started coming through I neglected them. I wasn’t too excited to make an ambient album but the challenge then grew to a point it was a positive thing to do.
I think this was the first album ever that was not premeditated or pre-conceived, where all the music was done before the idea of an album came up. That, but also all the content was done in a very compressed period of time so it’s not a collection of studio jams from here and there.
Can you explain what instruments you employed for the album? Did you experiment with any hardware that you haven’t used before?
I was using quite a bit of modular system in combination with physical stuff I’d mic up.
I was using plenty of mechanical things, servomotors, things that move which I hadn’t used before. It’s a kind of hybrid set-up, recording anything that sounds nice while trying to create sounds and patterns with physical foundation (motors hitting, scratching something etc), and then playing around with that stuff.
There was also quite some hardware processing with effects and outboard.
Prior to Visa, you released a series of Ripatti EPs featuring Max Loderbauer. What was the aim or concept behind these EPs? I’ve read they are ongoing experiments.
I’ve released 7 EPs until now and 2 of them were done together with Max under name Heisenberg. 2 other releases were under name Ripatti, one was together with a Finnish producer Teeth, there was a Vladislav Delay EP, and 7th EP was a Rick James bootleg…
The label is my current medium/output to manage what I want to release out there.
It’s also like you mentioned an ongoing thing, I’m trying to keep something like a chronological release order and see a timeline with the released and how things develop but it’s getting a bit lost because I produce much more music than I can release.
Your new album was written in two weeks, is this timescale normal to you? What are the advantages and disadvantages at working at this pace?
The album was recorded in two weeks but it took additional time to put it all together, make the mix and do the mastering. But even just to compose everything in two weeks is short compared to how I usually work these days, which is more research-oriented than results/releases-focused.
There are advantages in both ways of working, when you work fast you have less time to analyze stuff and let your right side of brain do work, it’s more intuitive. But it can depend on so many things. Sometimes stuff flows, sometimes it really doesn’t so you have to adapt to it.
You live in a very remote part of the world. Is being isolated and removed from the rest of the world essential for you to create the music you want to make?
I can’t say I couldn’t make music in totally different surroundings but it would be harder, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much and it likely would sound different, ideas might not flow that much and so on. I worked quite hard to figure out what my preferred surrounding is, and then I worked a lot more to get there.
For me work and life are more or less the same, so it is quite necessary to live in a place where I feel comfortable just as is. I can’t say though that I am living very isolated and removed from the rest of the world. My future goal is to go much more towards that direction.
Where did you write the album? Did your surrounding environment help shape your approach to writing music?
I wrote the album in my studio where I create all my work.
When I create I truly isolate myself and focus on the work and then and there the surrounding doesn’t play much a role as long as it’s no disturbance kind of stuff.
The surrounding plays underlying role, and also actively in between moments.
My studio is physically removed from the house I live in so I constantly go back and forth and realize the surrounding. Nature somehow zeros things out easily for me, balancing thing or also reality-check kind of thing. Even a short moment in silence and natural surrounding between making however modern technological music gives it good reference, the way I see it,
After listening to the album, I’ve recommended it to friends saying that it’s akin to Gas aka Wolfgang Voigt. Tell me about your first connection with ambient, beat less electronic music. Which producers or records helped provoke your interest from an early age?
I think it comes from jazz in my case, not so much from ambient music. Most ambient music is heavily synths-based and quite melodic which both is something I’m not too fond of listening.
I started making “electronic music” thinking I was doing some strain of future jazz, back in ’97. I hadn’t heard electronic music by that point, and discovered that kind of music only after I had already had been doing it myself unknowingly for a while.
At some point I went through a lot of electronic music and it was always the more obscure kind of stuff I liked, Chain Reaction label releases, some stuff Mark and Moritz were doing, Mike Ink, Thomas Brinkmann, early Plug Research stuff, that kind of stuff. Which is not really ambient but that’s as ambient as I could enjoy. More static ambient, beat less music as you say, or melodic stuff never worked for me.
Throughout your career you’ve released a wide spectrum of electronic music, under an array of names. Which are you most proud of and why?
I’m usually looking forward to new things, so I guess I’d say I’m always most proud of the next album I’m going to make.
Why is it necessary to have so many separate sonic identities?
I guess it goes hand in hand with the amount of stuff I do, there are few different things I do and I don’t see any reason to mix it all up. I like to keep it all somewhat organised. It comes down to the fact that I like to be around with lots of different music, I feed from that.
I never understood even the question here, I often wonder how it’d be possible to be ambient music producer or house music producer and stick to that. Having done music for 20 years I can’t imagine being able to do that, it’s just the most natural thing for me to have variety and change around.
Do you spend much time with other electronic musicians and producers? If so, what do you tend to exchange with one another?
I spend quite a bit of time with my wife who is producer/artist/etc. we argue a lot; healthy debate is constantly going on. It can range from current music production to nerding out over gear and what mastering is all about. Now that our daughter has passion for Beyonce, Rihanna et al it’s all the more varied.
Visa is out now, order the limited edition 2xLP vinyl version from Boomkat.
1. Charles Mingus ‘Dizzy Moods’
2. Charles Mingus ‘Orange Was the Color of Her Dress’
3. Miles Davis ‘Once Upon a Summertime’
4. Bill Evans Trio ‘Detour Ahead (take 2)’
5. Miles Davis ‘Blue in Green’
6. Charles Mingus ‘Goodbye Pork Pie Hat’
7. Thelonius Monk w/ John Coltrane ‘Ruby, My Dear’
8. Thelonius Monk ‘Everything Happens To Me’
9. Charlie Parker ‘Everything Happens To Me’
10. John Coltrane w/ Johnny Hartman ‘Dedicated To You’
11. Chet Baker ‘I Fall In Love Too Easily’
12. Yona ja Siskot ‘En enää vaieta mä voi’
13. John Coltrane Quartet ‘Spiritual’
14. John Coltrane Quartet ‘A Love Supreme Part II – Resolution’
15. John Coltrane ‘Sun Ship’
16. Miles Davis ‘John McLaughlin’
17. Miles Davis ‘In A Silent Way/Shhh/Peaceful/It’s About That Time’