Remember my introduction to the new interviews series release in the beginning of April? Now is the time to unveil the second part of the Lights And Air compilation promotion. This time a major role is assigned to NO ONE WISHED TO SETTLE HEREAFTER, a one-man experimental music project founded back in 2005 in the Polish city of Gdansk, which inspired most of Michal Hoppe’s work. He turned out to be a very open and kind man, willing to unveil some of his secrets regarding his musical and professional life.
Hey, man! Sorry to start off with a cliché question, but I feel it wouldn’t be wise to leave it for later [smiles]. How the hell did you pick such a name for your project?
Hello, thank you for having me. Come on, not that again [smiles]. To make a long story short: Yes, I just happened to listen to MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT and I got enchanted with No One Wished To Settle Here. However for me it was not that simple, after several years of creating music I have tried various names but could not pick a final one. At some point I had to make a decision and I just could not come up with anything else, so I picked the next best idea and there it is. Believe me, picking up a final name for your musical project that you will go with forever is not easy. Nevertheless note, that in the end I added the -after to hereafter to make it at least sound a little bit not like MOUTH OF THE ARCHITECT. I think my next serious release I will just name Michal Hoppe or DJ Hoppe.
Are you DJ’n a lot? What house parties are you hostin’, bro? [smiles]
Heh, I am not a DJ, but I would love to record some experimental heavy stuff, say dubstep style. The problem here is that I do not have any proper equipment, so I have to develop my own sound by creating sounds bit by bit. I did some experimentation, but I guess instrumental post-rock sounds will emerge sooner.
Ok, so what were your beginnings making music?
When I was still in primary school, I composed some elaborate midi songs. Gradually I started recording, incorporating guitar tracks blended with all sorts of sounds that I could pick up with a microphone. That resulted in some weird tracks that eventually in the end evolved into whole melodic instrumental songs. Unfortunately, I never had a chance to record bigger pieces with other people, so it was always an lonesome journey.
How do record the rest of the instruments? Shoot me some details on your recording process. How has it changed over the years?
It did not change much. I play the guitar (or for example keyboard), run it through an amplifier, then I add some analog or digital effects, then it goes again through an amplifier or directly through a speaker. Next I pick it up with a microphone and record on my laptop through an audio interface. It is very simple and nowadays anybody can do it at home. However what is important for me, it is to process the sound before it is recorded. I want the sound that comes out a speaker to already sound good. In this way I can limit the need of digital effects that can be added on top of a track on the computer. I want to sound as real as I can get, and therefore sound rather interesting than raw. I was always proud of the fact that even at the very beginning when I just had no equipment but a cheap microphone, guitar and sound card, I was able to create some interesting works. I do not need expensive equipment to be successful, it is more the ideas that matter, and what you can produce with your limited resources.
Did you ever want to have your own vocals’ actual presence in your music?
Not really, vocals in an instrumental post-rock kind music are completely unnecessary. Moreover, quite often they just take out all of the beauty from such music.
You are highly prolific, Michal. There is a serious wealth of your compositions on your Bandcamp. Is this everything that you have ever recorded?
That is the most of it. At least what is to some extend suitable to be listened to. What I find very interesting is the fact, that each of this recording is very distinct and you can clearly see an evolution of my musical concepts. I would love to record all of these albums professionally so that they could compromise an proper release. It is a pity that even though the concepts and sounds are remarkable, the production values remain rather poor and therefore I can not spread these works.
Any plans to change that?
Not really, I think I would not have the time and money for that. I would have to try harder and create a novel amateur album that already sounds professional.
Would you consider taking part in a commercial contest, a TV show or something like that?
Since I do not have any performing skills nor any popular material to present, I rather would not. Unless it is a cooking contest.
Alright, Michal. So what’s hot right now in your schedule for the coming weeks and months?
Music-wise unfortunately still nothing. I am still stuck at buying a new guitar. So as long as I am guitarless nothing will happen, but as soon as I get ahold of a new one you can expect new stuff quite quickly. Other thing is that, I currently still travel a lot and it is impossible to haul all the equipment along. It is a pity.
What guitar are you hunting for? Tell me more about your gear.
I have never been into gear and still I have not much knowledge about musical equipment. I would like to get something custom, but these thing tend to be expensive. Maybe I will just end up with an Fender Telecaster and an random amp, Vox or something. One thing that I can say for sure is that I have always been a fan of Boss and MXR effects and these things you have for life. But as I said, ideas is what matter the most, whatever gear is available you are always able to record interesting music.
Ok, so what software do you use to put all the tracks together?
I have used various sound software, but my ultimate favourite is Adobe Audition. I spent a lot of time using 3.0 and I love it, but I can not switch to CS6 since Adobe did something funny – there is no possibility to open older 3.0 sessions in CS6. And I guess I am not the only one who thinks it is quite odd. Regarding sound generators I would use Fruity Loops now.
Let’s talk about your inspirations. Who and what are some of your inspirations and non-musically?
My inspiration, as I believe is usually the case, is the environment around me and some good music that accompanies it. All my works were more or less created by the sea in Gdańsk, so they are some kind of soundtrack to a life in this place in the first decade of 21st century. Many years ago I have started my adventure with GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPREROR!, and as pompously as it may sound, since then a lot of things changed and were never the same again. These sounds changed my perception of music and even influenced the way I was perceiving what is happening around me. However it was not until say 2006-2007 when I first discovered music like RED SPAROWES, THE ASCENT OF EVEREST or JOHNNYTWENTYTHREE which in my opinion are absolute epic masterpieces. Luckily such music inspired me to at least try to create a similar masterpiece with my own power. But on the other hand sadly, I think it was the end of an absolute brilliant post-rock era. Generally speaking, to my knowledge, during the last couple of years there were no truly interesting post-rock albums released and I doubt that there ever will. And by truly interesting I mean it, people are still recording a lot of post-rock, but it is getting more and more drab and just boring. I think all the genius now is in the ambient field, sounds like the BERSARIN QUARTTET, Greg Hines, BLACK ELK, BROCK VAN WEY or HUMMINGBIRD to name just a few, is what inspires me and makes me going nowadays. Even the new GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPEROR! album is just not as thrilling to listen to as it used to be, maybe apart from the final minutes of Mladic. I have not heard a conceptual post-rock album in years, one that from the first minutes until the final tones tells me a story, that is emotional, and contains interesting ideas and is produced in an interesting way. I have tried to at least slightly approach such level with my ‘Constant Slapstick and Traveling’ album (my only official release as for now), and minding the poor mastering and recording etc., I am still proud to have created something so unique, special and versatile. Maybe not everybody will like it, but I think a few people already appreciate it. This is my inspiration, even though post-rock is dead, I have a desire to create a piece that will be truly exceptional all the way, and I believe there is potential for that. However I would need some help, at least from a drummer.
Really? Are there no examples of progressive moves in the genre and clear arguments that it’s still vital? No modern artists you admire for their discoveries?
I know it may sound a bit harsh, but that is the way I perceive it. I love music, but unfortunately I am not a music freak anymore and I do not have much time to dig through the internet in search of some good underground stuff. I know it may be somewhere out there, but tough to find since there is more and more smaller and smaller bands. I am longing for some big names, new modern standards of music that you would follow and be sure that their work will always be epic. Apart from some ambient names I have mentioned above, for me there there is none. Some live shows I have seen lately were: CULT OF LUNA, YNDI HALDA, GODSPEED YOU BLACK EMPROR!, STARS OF THE LID, NEUROSIS, SKRILLEX, 65 DAYS OF STATIC… You get the point, all the big names I have already seen couple of times. There is nothing new to offer. When these people stop playing what will be left there?
Do you accept a possibility that you might actually missed something? There are literally tons of amazing artists, whose names will never become that big.
I must have missed something for sure, however literally tons of amazing artists that is a big pile to go through. I must be quite unfortunate then, since I could not stumble upon anything that would catch my attention for longer. I would definitely welcome some suggestions.
Let’s move on to the Post-rock PL compilation that obviously linked us for this feature.
How were you approached for this project?
It is definitely an honour to be included in such an extraordinary release. Especially as I am one of these amateur homemade-one-man projects gathered side-by-side on this compilation with some amazing bigger names. Marcin from Post-rock PL must have stumbled upon my works a few years back and somehow liked them, since then we casually stayed in touch. Sometime last fall he asked me if I could contribute some songs for this compilation. Around that time I have published a bunch of songs that I worked on recently, however these were mere ideas and demo improv recordings. Since at that time I did not have anything else available, I have chosen to contribute “Track no.5” from this demo compilation of mine. It is very simple, short and at least resembles a proper song, and at the same time it is a medley of my ideas. Anyway, it was surprising for me to learn that Post-rock PL managed to gather so many amazing artists, certainly I knew none of them before (maybe apart from KLIMT). I hope that this effort made by Post-rock PL will give a fresh spark and new possibilities to the Polish music scene and that this initiative will continue to grow.
It’s not your first compilation appearance, right? Tell me about you’re the Silent Ballet / Lost Children adventure.
That is right. Since my very beginning The Silent Ballet was interested in my work, we constantly stayed in touch. Their reviews and “top albums of the year” essays were always the most important guideline for current musical trends for me. Simply, they were writing about quality/epic music I was interested in – if they appreciated an album, there was great chance I will enjoy it as well. My ultimate dream was to some day record an album that would be included in their top 50 albums of the year. Recently I was very saddened to learn that they just simply stopped writing, which is a major pity for me. About the compilation, at some point at the turn of 2009/2010 they offered me to contribute an track for their XV compilation, I had to create an interlude song for this metal compilation. I have recorded on the spot an experimental track using solely the guitar as a sound source. This short experiment was published back-to-back with such huge names as ROSETTA, YEAR OF NO LIGHT or Aidan Baker (NADJA). It has been a great experience and a major input in my modest musical resumé.
Did that episode increase your popularity and resulted in more feedback?
Not at all, but still, it was w good experience.
Michal, do you perform live?
Never have I performed live as NO ONE WISHED TO SETTLE HEREAFTER. Certainly I would love to, but as long as it is a one-man project it is literally impossible. Moreover, my arrangements might be quite though to perform live. I spend a lot of time to arrange my songs so there is more to it than just 3 live guitar tracks, the live effect might then differ and be not as interesting as the initial production.
Maybe you should hire some friends or session musicians to back you up? Maybe a band would emerge from it then, huh? [smiles] Aren’t you tempted to transform it into a proper live act?
A live act prepared as thoroughly as my songs, might be definitely an interesting experience. But unfortunately I do not see it happen in the nearest future. Especially as for the last years I have been traveling a lot, as long as I keep on doing it there is no chance to engage in a band.
Where have you been traveling? Any special places you’d like to recall?
Currently I live in Barcelona, which is definitely the best place to be in Europe. Before that I lived in London, earlier in the United States. I also love to travel around in Spain, apart from Barcelona, I had the best time in Malaga and Lanzarote. It would be nice to record some songs while traveling, but unfortunately I just cannot haul instruments along.
Nice, I’m currently looking for some cool places to travel by scooter (once I get there). I’ve been thinking about the Canary Islands. Do you think it’s a good idea? [smiles]
Oh, that is the best thing to do! Lanzarote is impressive, but for no more than 2 days. Then I would go to Tenerife, lots of wonderful places. The north-west coast is stunning, but it is better to avoid the south.
And how did you end up in Barcelona? [smiles]
I am a scientist and I found a research project in Barcelona I could join, fulfilling my long-lasting dream of living in Barcelona. I got sick of London. Now I am trying to kick-off with my PhD in Barcelona, since it is the best place to be.
Nice. What kind of science do you find rewarding?
I do molecular biology, I work in the cancer field. It is very rewarding and exciting to do basic science, to unveil how cells work, especially in an cancer context. Finding differences between normal and mutated cells might yield potential targets for therapy. Next step is to identify or design potential inhibitors and then evaluate their efficacy in clinical trials. So after a couple of years of research there is potential, that you contribute something that might actually make a difference for society. Therefore it is very rewarding to work in the biomedical field.
Amazing. Have you achieved any major success with your work yet?
Since until now I was staying with a group no longer than for a year, it is though to get any significant results. But I worked within top breakthrough groups and I believe success is possible. However it is not like, say, hundred years ago, when major discoveries were done by single minds, often by accident. Nowadays millions of scientist work jointly to grasp how processes and life work, it is exciting, but requires loads of time, people and data analysis. It takes over fifteen years to describe a potential signalling pathway in cancer, design a treatment, go through clinical trials… Moreover, mind that each cancer is significantly different and most of the clinical trials are unsuccessful. So in such reality, contributing just a little of knowledge to this total joint effort is already rewarding.
Great, man. I wish you all the best with the thing you do over there.
That’s about it, right? Is there anything else you’d like to add before we finish?
Well I think that would be about it. Thank you for having me, also big thanks to Post-rock PL for their great effort to promote polish post-rock scene. It is pretty nice to learn, that even though my works are still at an heavy amateur level, there is general interest in an evolving potential that this scene has to offer. Thanks a lot.