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Meeting with A.Brehme, Brussels artist, important member of the Belgian electronic scene and founder of the Sonata Forma label. The first release of the label was launched some weeks ago.
Sonata Forma was created in 2016 and it started as parties at Fuse Club before it became a real label. At that time, was the idea of a label already in mind?
At the beginning, I wanted to create the musical universe of the label. That is why I took some time with the parties, to introduce the idea without too much words, without too much communication. It could give to the public the idea of how the label would become in the future.
We started the first party with Evigt Morker and Deepbass. The musical atmosphere has evolved since, especially if you compare the first party in 2016 with the last one in March. Our musical identity is always evolving with the label AND with the parties, of course.
What is the label guideline, what style is it really? I don’t have a specific style in mind. The label idea is to have a music platform with stuff I like and to invite guests that suit me. It goes from ambient to minimal, passing by techno or even other influences.
You’re the founder of the label, but are there others working with you? The only thing I’m not doing all by myself is the graphics. I’m working with a girl who lives in Berlin, she is doing the flyers and posters of the label. She also made the design for the freshly-released disk. Actually, her work fits at 99,9% to my work, to my ideas. When I’m sending her something, an idea, a feeling, she is directly feeling it, she can directly translate it by images. I never had to change anything on her work, everything she sends me fits with my taste. It is unique.
The distribution is made via Crevette Distribution with my colleague, Jakob who is handling it. For the rest, there is also the mastering made by Artefacts Mastering in Berlin. By the way, in the future, I’m keeping that collaboration for the records’s mastering.
Why do you master in Berlin and not in a Belgian studio? Because I have such a good feeling with Giuseppe from Artefacts Mastering. He has a lot of experience with my musical style and his working process is attracting me.
For now, there is not a lot of engineers with experience with the music I make and who have the technical means for a mastering studio. In the future, if I meet someone in Brussels, who could identify themselves in my idea, why not working with them. But for now, I didn’t find anyone yet.
At the same time, you are “artistic director” or better “A&R” for Sonata Forma. Are there particular tones that could interest you or a universe that attracts your attention? What is important for me is to have a good feeling with the artist. For now, I’m not planning to release music from someone I don’t know personally.
Furthermore, I have to feel something emotionally and musically. I’m interested in a lot of different elements. Consequently, it is not easy to find something which is 100% for me, but it will come, I’m sure.
In addition of Sonata Forma, you’re DJ and producer, well-known under the name of A. Brehme. When did you start? At the age of 15, I started with Drum and Bass. It was the age of the parties at the hall in Schaerbeek named “Structure Béton”. After a few years, I started making music because I had that feeling that, among my friends, I wasn’t the best at beat matching. So, I started making my own music when I was 18-19. I made a live performance which was a bit in the sonorities of that period.
Do you think of making another live performance or not? Not for now. Never say never but it’s not my goal for the moment. I’m not ready yet. If I want to make a live performance, I want to be 100% comfortable but now, the focus is more about studio works or behind decks.
In the actual Belgian electronic scene, or even at the international level, do you think it is mandatory to be a producer? No. For me you’ve to do what you are feeling. If you want to release music, release it. If you want to make music, make it. If you want to play music, play it …
There is no obligation, but sometimes it is dangerous to think that you should make something to get something. It is worrying people but it should not if it is not the way for them. The only way to follow is what you feel.
And you, as a producer, do you have a typical workflow? Yes. I’m always starting with “16 bars”. I’m starting with the percussion part then I’m building the groove. I’m adding stuff like some field recordings, some samples and so on… Until I feel it is enough to end the story. From the moment the groove is made, I’m starting the puzzle.
What are your criteria to say “that track is done”? Big question! When I have the impression that the track is done, I’m listening to it at home, in the car and I share it to some persons I can trust. When they tell me it is OK, that they feel satisfied by their listening, there is the moment I consider the track as done.
I keep the piece some week on the side, then I listen to it again. Maybe I put more, maybe I remove some elements. When the feeling is still there after weeks, I’m telling myself “ok, now, it is really done” and I don’t touch it anymore.
Other releases for 2018? At the end of April, a remix I made for a friend, Siwei, was released on vinyl.
Soon, there will be a track on VA from Edit Select Record but we don’t have date of release yet. I just received the masters. During summer, I want to work a lot in studio.
It is weird but I love to be locked up in studio during summer. People are outside with the weather but not me, I’m feeling good and connected with the music. I’m finding myself alone, me, the music and no one else.
Finally, what do you think about the Brussels scene? I have a big trust in the actual scene. For example, I’m always sharing the “new arrivals” of Crevettes Records. Two months ago, I posted 4 or 5 new Brussels releases in one week only. Those labels didn’t exist before the opening of the store … so the actual phenomenon, via the store, is that people are meeting, sharing plans and ideas. Crevettes Records also created a platform with solutions for artists who have a lot of “unreleased”.
There are also a lot behind C12. They are young people with a real desire to make Brussels move. And they are doing it very professionally, in my opinion, and with a lot of pleasure. It gives me hope for the future.