It is always inspiring when you see artists smash through the barriers and accomplish huge things in quick succession. That is exactly what we have with Italian duo Aki Bergen & Richter. Since the launch of their project, the duo have gone on to release on major underground labels such as Parquet Recordings, Subjekt, their very own Neurotraxx and more.
The duo’s seamless ability to bounce off each other and share ideas reflects their true friendship and shared passion for underground music. With such a tight-knit relationship, it is easy to see why this collaboration of minds works so well, so we at Decoded Magazine gained the marvellous opportunity to learn a little more about their partnership and what keeps them going.
Hi, great to meet you two! Can we start with the story of how you met?
Aki & Richter: Hey there! Nice to meet you too. We were introduced by a mutual friend few years ago. We talked a lot, shared ideas and stuff so we immediately realised that our tastes and musical direction were properly aligned, so to speak. All the rest came in a very natural and spontaneous way.
Was it an instant realisation that a special friendship was blooming?
Aki & Richter: Yep it was! First of all, we deeply know about each other and our personal life either. Being friends have helped us to make a very good connection and mutual respect that’s the foundation of everything we believe in.
Did you guys always have the intention of pursuing a career in the music industry?
Aki: Had no doubt since I was a teen. The music always was and it still is my first thought when I wake up in the morning and the last one before hitting the bed!
Richter: Same as Aki. I couldn’t even imagine what to do if not being into the music business.
What is it like working as a duo? Do you ever find you disagree on certain things during the creative process?
Aki & Richter: It works fine for us. We rarely are not in agreement with what we like and what we don’t. So far so good!
Do you believe having someone so close that share your passions fervently helps you to develop a whole new level of inspiration?
Aki: I do believe in it. Since I started off working with Gabri, I learnt a lot, humanly and musically speaking. We’re human beings after all so I tend to be hardly influenced by our friendship when I go for new ideas.
Richter: Absolutely. Although our ideas are similar, our ways of perceiving music are different as distinct people. And inspiration also arises from the comparison between the two.
Let’s talk a little about your studio process. Take us through the steps from the idea phase, to complete record…
Aki & Richter: As we’re living in two different cities, we mainly work over the Internet. No fixed patterns in the end: one of the two put a rhythmic or melodic idea into the sequencer and fire it over to the other one that develops it as its best, then we complete the whole thing together. It is as simple as that. There’s quite a big difference in terms of how we feel the music itself. The approach is mostly as the same as we described above but working together with someone you’re musically connected to is a new way of conceiving music production. We deem that our tunes are the right balance between us.
Who is your current go to artist for inspiration?
Aki: I’d say everybody and nobody at the same time. I’m use to listen to a lot of different musical genres, so I can’t really tell who’s my go-to-artist right now as it’d be my go-to-a loooot of artists! I’m fond of good music so every thing is good, may be the perfect starting point for a new track.
Richter: Lately I’m listening again a lot of Prof-rock from the 70-80’s and 80’s new wave. But it’s hard for me as well to pick up just one artist.
I always find I can get inspired from the strangest of things. Like, for example, the sound of a tree branch breaking to pretty much anything that makes noise haha. What is the strangest thing that has inspired a record of yours?
Aki: Does my dogs strange snoring count? I can assure he’s top notch inspiration for solid, crunchy techno tunes!
Richter: My hair dryer. I love how it sounds. In general I’m a big Asmr fan.
Do you feel that it is necessary to seek inspiration outside of the underground music realm?
Aki & Richter: Having an open mind is the true key for making new music, no matter what music is. It does answer for itself.
Let’s talk future releases. Is there anything coming out this year that you particularly look forward to?
Aki & Richter: We have a lot in the making and just signed couple of good deals around. Legendary King Street Sounds will be releasing couple of our new tracks in the next few weeks. Will keep y’all in the loop!
When you are out performing live, what do you look for in the crowd to know what to play next?
Aki & Richter: There’s always a sort of magic when you’re in front of people dancing, especially when you’re the one who makes them dance. We never know what to play when performing live, as we’d rather go with the flow and pick the right one, track by track.
What has been your absolute number on gig to date and why?
Aki & Richter: Monegros Desert Festival because it is the Monegros Desert Festival!
Is there an event or venue you haven’t yet played that you dream of performing at?
Aki & Richter: Into the Valley festival. If any promoter is reading this, we are 100% ready for it.
What is your opinion on the current state of the musical underground of Italy at the moment?
Aki & Richter: Nowadays it isn’t that bad as it was in the past although there are just few interesting areas when clubbing’s still awake and alive. Despite of it, many talented and well-known artists have been coming over regularly. We both like to go see them when possible and would be even better if there wasn’t so much difference from area to area in terms of how people think and experience club culture.
Do you think there are any areas that need improving?
Aki & Richter: The most of the South and the Centre as well. There are few exceptions indeed. The east coast is quite cool to be honest, from North to South there are very interesting venues where to find great parties and music too.
Are there many opportunities for music producers in Italy, or do you have to pave your own way?
Aki & Richter: Well, opportunities are near to zero to tell you the truth. First off it’s rare to meet people who really want to share experiences and improve themselves. Everybody thinks to be better than somebody else (LOL this makes us laugh very much!) and there’s no willpower to move forward on bended knee. We believe that when you team up with the right buddies, you always have an enormous chance to expand yourself and develop your own way to make music but here’s not easy at all. After complaining a bit, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! We did it. We’ve found a proper way to live with the music thus everyone can find theirs.
Let’s talk about Neurotraxx. What was the thought process behind the conception of Neurotraxx?
Aki & Richter: It was a need the most. We felt it was the right time to have our own home, where to work and promote the tracks we like.
Would you say there was an underlying message behind the music you release on Neurotraxx?
Aki & Richter: There’s only one message in what you can find on our label. It gotta make us feel. The music is a universal, lovely language and we don’t care about what kinda language is, don’t need to get it analyzed as it only needs to tell us something. Kinda cryptic? Could be!
What is the most important thing for you when receiving a demo from a new producer?
Aki & Richter: We like to make it simple. Good idea + good sound design + great engineering. If some of those is missing, well it’s not for us. Underground music doesn’t mean it has to be sloppy. Work hard on your track, make it sound amazing and send it to us!
And last, but not least. Can you tell us, who are your top emerging artists to look out for in 2017?
Aki: Every year there are many outstanding guys to keep an eye on. He’s not that new in the biz but Nicola Cruz is one of my fave at the moment.
Richter: I would suggest to listen Fumihiko Takei’s music although calling him an emerging artist isn’t 100% correct.
Thank you both very much for chatting with us today, it was an absolute pleasure!
Aki & Richter: Thank you too, it was fun!
Anything you would like to add?
Aki & Richter: Be more productive in the studio and less on you favorite social network! LOL