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XTR HUMAN

An Interview With Electro-Industrial Artist, XTR Human


11/05/2024


XTR Human is the German electro-industrial project founded by Johannes Stabel. The new XTR album, Schrank is due out on May 17 via Negative Gain Productions. Thanks to Johannes for the interview!

Hello and thanks for answering the interview for our blog today. We usually like to start off by asking for a brief background for the readers that might not be familiar with a particular band. Would you kindly do so?

I'm Johannes from the Berlin-based band XTR HUMAN. I started the project back in 2012, and since then, we've released four albums and three EPs. Our music combines elements of brutal bass, emotional coldwave, and modernized hardbody EBM beats

The new album is ‘Schrank’. Does it revolve around a central theme? Or are the tracks each their own idea?

It's not a concept album, but many of my new tracks are inspired by current social and political issues. For example, in 'NEID,' I explore how frighteningly polarized our societies have become, where a normal, constructive discussion seems almost impossible. The title track, 'Schrank,' delves into the German petit bourgeois narrow-mindedness. While the world seems to be falling apart outside our borders, some people retreat into a new era of everyday Biedermeier conformity.

Scenario: You are stranded on some island but you had the capability to put a flas drive with three of your most important songs into a sealed bottle and send it out to the world. These are songs that mean the most to you and best represent your legacy. What are they and why did you choose them?

Dysfunction was my first single and video with XTR HUMAN, and I'm still very proud of that song.

'Leben Ohne Licht' was important because it marked XTR HUMAN's reinvention with a fresh new sound, and for the first time, the lyrics were in German on the album GOLD. 'NEID,' fresh on the new album SCHRANK, I simply think it's the best song so far in terms of club compatibility.

Are your songs created in pretty much the same way in every case? Do you have to be in particular locations or moods to be inspired?

I write all my songs at home in my home studio, directly in the DAW. I've actually canceled my rehearsal space a few years ago. All I need is my coffee and enough time to create.

Could you give us some insight into your studio, your “tools of the trade” so to speak? How much is hardware/physical instruments and how much is based on softsynths and the like?

I work a lot with Ableton, and for drums, the workflow of Push is the most intuitive for me. Besides that, I also have some hardware at home. For 'SCHRANK,' I primarily used the Kawai K1, Roland SH-32, and Korg Polysix. However, plugins are equally integral as I aim for a modern sound with extensive processing.

What do you think has changed for you over the years since your first release? What we mean is in terms of approach to song writing, themes addressed, technical/software/hardware instruments…..things like that.

In 12 years, a lot has changed, not just in my music but in my habits as well. One significant change is that I now drink less alcohol during songwriting and rehearsals. Ending the rehearsal space phase was definitely a good move. It allows me to focus more on the essentials, namely track production. As a result, I've shifted more towards an electronic direction, abandoning the band arrangement of the first album.

Some artists often engage in certain rituals when composing in the certain studio or before performing. Ex: They may like to have certain items around, They may do certain pre-show preparation, They may do things like meditation. Are there any particular rituals you do before writing or performing?

I'm not a very spiritual person. Of course, before a show, I try to calm down. I also try to be as sober as possible. Otherwise, routine helps a lot. When you know your set well and have rehearsed it, you go on stage much more relaxed.

Some artists have resorted to using AI for the likes of cover art and even videos. What’s your feeling on that? Do you think that it’s already gotten out of control and maybe is an excuse for lack of creativity? Or do you think people are still inserting a bit of human/organic quality into what’s being produced?

I think it's like any new technology. You can use it for good things but also for rather questionable ones. AI, to me, is just a tool. You can use it to create even more exciting and creative things or to produce entertainment music even faster and more efficiently. That's already happening now (just look at mainstream chart music). But why shouldn't I, for example, use AI to quickly find a specific synth sound or to save time pulling out interference frequencies from the track with an equalizer?

What’s next for XTR Human in the coming months?

After the album release on May 17th, I have several concerts lined up in Europe and the USA. Additionally, I'll be on a small tour with and as part of the band INHALT.

Thanks so much for your time today.


11/05/2024


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