Inside the studio of Berlin’s Skinnerbox

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Turbo 192 comes courtesy of two extremely talented Berlin-based producers; Skinnerbox. The pair arrive with two original cuts for the occasion. They are accompanied by three worthy remixes from Auntie Flo, Ellen Allien and Axel Boman. The record will see its release July 7th on vinyl and digital. Ahead the big day we were lucky enough to catch the duo on break from studio duties, taking the opportunity to familiarise ourselves with their workspace and the essential tools behind their forthcoming release.

Thanks for taking the time to chat guys. Start us off with a little description of the location of Skinnerbox studio. Where are you situated in Berlin?

our pleasure friends! we are situated right in the center of “Kreuzberg 36” around oranienstr.

How long have you been in this current studio space?

this have been our studio since 2004 and we absolutely love the hood. berlin is an ever-changing city but oranienstr is actually one of the few streets that managed to maintain its original vibe and haven’t changed so much.

Do you find that your surroundings has an impact on your productivity?

by all means. as for the inside, our studio is located underground, there is hardly any cell reception and no daylight, so this place is absolutely disconnected from the outside world and is very much out of space and time, this really allows us to have the concentration we need in order to work. as for the outside, the neighbourhood is exactly the opposite, super lively and vibrant and provides a great contrast when we need a break and some human touch 🙂

What’s the most recent addition in terms of hardware?

the latest hardware addition is the Elektron Digitakt – a compact, super capable, super deep sampler / sequencer / drum machine. in fact, we are so excited about it that we are thinking of making it a center of a future live setup (parallel to our existing one)

The reputation of your live set precedes you. What was it about the element of performance in art that first seized your attention?

well – we have been playing live improvised music since the day we met (back in 2003) and when watching other acts play live electronic music (to be exact, there was a life-changing event back in 2005 at the panorama bar watching “bankok impact” live) we immediately got caught by the fact that there is such an interaction between the audience and the performer.
after seeing this and combined with the fact that improvised music really need listeners because their reaction is actually shaping the music, we knew that we want to be on stage.

You played a 12 hour live set at Kater Holzig way back in 2013, what was the inspiration behind the length of the set?

we always love to push boundaries, we were super curious to see what will happen if we play that long, and to be honest it is still one of the most amazing experiences that we had. after 6 or 7 hours of playing we became so condensed and focused, and its probably something we could not have achieved otherwise.

How was your live set-up evolved since then?

the core of our live setup is always the same: olaf on the minimoog and iftah on the computer running ableton though a self-made controller suite. the latest addition to our standard live setup is a small modular skiff which is in charge of the bass-lines. in the past years we started to take extra equipment based on the context. if we know that we are going to play a 6 hour live set we will take the jupiter 6, the juno 106 and the jx3p with us just to have more toys. if we are about to play a rather techno set we will bring another modular system etc.

You developed “Time & Timbre” – a software drum-sequencer and drum-synthesizer for Ableton Live in 2014. Are you working on any new creations right now? 

we actually do! but we cant reveal it now, so stay tuned!

If the budget wasn’t an issue, what additions would you like to make to your live set up?

a dedicated person that will stop people from putting drinks on our gear during a show. should also educate them about fluids and electricity and teach them how to differentiate between a minimoog and a coffee table 🙂

Can you inform us of the key tools that were used in the creation of the ‘Gender’ EP?

the bass drum and some of the percussion sounds of “Gender” comes from the elektron “analog four” which we misuse as a drum machine, the “jupiter 6” was used in order to create the plucky arp and obviously there are some sampling involved. part of the tracks were recorded into a tascam 238 (an 8 track cassette recorder) in order to get that lofi compressed sound. as for “Futurhythmachines”, the bass line was made with our modular system. in both tracks we extensively used a self-made characteristic reverb/delay device which we will release in the future.

[All Photos by Nuphar Blechner]

Pre-order the release: TurboRec.lnk.to/Gender
Release Date: July 7, 2017 (12″ vinyl & digital).