Photo: Elin Franzén
Andreas Tilliander is an electronica producer and radio presenter who releases music at a fast pace, both under his own name and under aliases such as TM404 and Mokira. He runs the record company Repeatle and plays live with the artist Familjen.
Can you tell us about how your interest in electronic music and synths was aroused?
– The interest was aroused very early. Many children born in the late seventies may have found their way to music through artists like Madonna, Michael Jackson and Prince, but in my case I was pretty uninterested in music before I found Depeche Mode. It’s probably something of a cliché to pull off with Depeche Mode and I would like to avoid it if it were not completely true. I was completely overwhelmed by them when I heard Music for the Masses. After that, the step was not far to similar music as Kraftwerk, Nitzer Ebb and DAF.
– In my early teens, I was really a synthesizer with a strange hairstyle and black clothes. Then came the Aphex Twins song On and everything changed again. What? You do not have to sing your songs? Since I have always been a useless singer but a decent soundmaker with a decent musical vision, this became my salvation. A couple of years later, I heard Panasonic and understood that you do not even need to have any melodies to create great music and sound art.
What does your creative process usually look like?
– For the most part, I work towards a specific goal. Usually it is before a live show. It becomes more direct then, that I know that what I am building on today, I will perform at a concert or club tomorrow. That if anything really picks up the ideas in me. Admittedly, I belong to those poor people who hardly have any interest in anything other than sound images and musical problem solving, so I am constantly working on a song, but there is something special about having a deadline anyway. Had I not had to present my music in different contexts; records or concerts, then I would probably have had a very easy time stopping there as so many others also seem to get stuck, to just settle for a few bars of music and then shut down the project when the day is over. It’s far too fun to create music so it often happens that I kind of live and breathe with a piece of music I work on.
Mokira (Andreas Tilliander)
– Very often I have screwed up what I want and just let the different sequencer boxes stand and simmer in the studio. I walk around to the different synths and change a few little things and listen to the same loop for several hours. There’s something sad about recording the song. As soon as a song is recorded, it is dead, it stops developing and its form is no longer impressionable. It becomes something I have done, something perishable and not something I live with. It’s a bit what I marvel at when I read and hear others talk about music production – “No one will hear in a mix if you have sampled a 909 or if you drive with the original”. As if only the end result is important in working with music. Another tired cliché perhaps but the trip is really the goal. If I had only been results-oriented, I would not have walked around for a whole day in the stockings and moved around from time to time in my sound pot.
How do you go about making new sounds?
– The soundmaking belongs to me 100% together with the composing and production with me. The sounds are just as important, or probably even more important, than the notes and melodies. I’m not really musical anymore, but I have a lot of ideas and thoughts about sound production.
In March you released the album Case Studies For Buchla, how did the album come about?
– My best tip for completing music is to have a deadline for something completely different. So it was when I started recording music that later became the debut for my alias TM404 where I exclusively recorded with Roland’s various nineteenth century instruments. Exactly the same thing happened when Case Studies was realized. I had no idea about making an album. I had no idea what I was doing. Actually, I should have finished other things in the studio, but then that Buchla system stood and just glared at me. I had barely touched it in six months and started gently tuning all the oscillators. When that was done, I wanted to explore some module I had acquired and had not had time to test. Suddenly a week had passed and an album had taken shape. Had I instead sat down and planned a record and how it would sound, then it would not have happened.
– There is something scary about going to the studio on a Monday morning, sitting in a studio where you put most of the income for twenty years and thinking that “now damn, I’m going to get something really special”. Most of the music I have created I have made when I mostly want to test an idea for my own sake. That’s why I also have hundreds of hours of unpublished material. Maybe something to root for in thirty years when the hearing is ruined, the economy is at rock bottom and the pension is non-existent – then I will cash in on all the months in the studio that have not resulted in records or tours.
If you were to choose a favorite of all time, which ones would you choose?
– The most obvious and the one that most people have probably associated me with in the last ten years or so is of course Roland TB303. An extremely limited synth that is meant to act as a bass accompaniment when playing guitar or organ. Difficult to program, but I rarely get disappointed with what comes out of the speakers. Sure, it happens that I put away my 303 in about six months and focus on completely different instruments, but every time I pull out the drawer and look at the little silver box, then love is mutual again. In the latest Electronic in P2, I actually talk about that love for Roland TB-303. It is eternal.
What are you up to date with in the future?
– At the moment, everything is still standing, of course because of Corona. This week I would be in Lyon, next in Riga. Hopefully there are opportunities to make up for most of the lost gigs in the future. On the record front, 2020 will be a very exciting year in my discography. TM404 releases their third album. My project Innerst Inne, which I have with my childhood friend Familjen-Johan, we are finally releasing our debut album after several years of record company trouble. The first of November is exactly twenty years since I made my debut under the artist name Mokira on the record company Raster-Noton. The album Cliphop that was released then will be reissued and this time on vinyl. Hurray!
Electronic in P2
About Andreas Tilliander on Wikipedia
The Monday interview is a new series where @Lotta Fahlen interviews interesting people about various topics in music creation, and is published every other Monday.