Renowned and award-winning producer/composer Robot Koch specializes in the cinematic electronic genre. Originally from Berlin, Koch is now based out of Los Angeles. His music has been placed in numerous films and television shows, including the trailer for San Andreas, NBC’s The Blacklist, and ABC’s How to Get Away with Murder. Koch is not only an established solo producer, composer, and songwriter, but has also worked in the same capacity on collaborations with other artists. In 2014 he won the German Music Composers Award for Best Composer – Electronic Music.
Koch has now teamed up with LA-based (by way of Australia) composer/violinist Savannah Jo Lack on the new album Particle Fields, which was released in mid-October. The two artists were attuned to each other during the creation of Particle Fields, with Koch building his signature detailed and organic soundscapes while Lack supplied lush string arrangements. Koch and Lack wrote the compositions together and the material evolved into deep and emotive songs that blend the electronic and classical worlds.
Koch and Lack kindly took some time to answer a few questions about their musical partnership and resulting album.
Can you introduce each other? I think you’ve spent quite a bit of time around each other while creating Particle Fields, so it shouldn’t be too hard.
Robot: This is Savannah, a great composer, violinist, and an incredibly lovely creature.
Savannah: This is Robert, a wonderful and prolific composer and producer of strange and moving songs and soundscapes. He is a seeker and an adventurer who just happens to be one of my all-time favorite humans.
How did you two meet?
Robot: Through our mutual friend, Fiora.
Who came up with the idea for this record?
Robot: It came together naturally. We collaborated the first time when I asked Savannah to write a string arrangement for my song Instead years ago. This was before we even knew we were gonna make an album together. How was it for you, Savannah?
Savannah: It was a very natural process. The song Robert mentioned, Instead, was one of a few he sent me as ideas for collaboration. After the first listen, I had waves of strings and imposed harmonies in my head. The song and its sound world were so evocative and emotionally visceral, I didn’t even really think, I just started writing and recording immediately.
Was the writing and recording as emotional as the album sounds?
Robot: The emotions are in you, they’ve been in you long before you even show up in the studio. That’s just where they manifested. Being in LA was conducive to making this album happen too. It’s a special place with a special energy.
Savannah: I agree with that… The songs are emotional, but those emotions were collected over time, not necessarily formed at the time of making the record. The great challenge for me, as a composer and violinist, is to be able to call on and translate those feelings when a song asks for them in a way that is true and unique.
Any particular session that was extremely emotional, or special? Maybe you have an anecdote to share with us…
Robot: I remember listening to a first draft of Eta Aquarid while sitting on the sofa and just gazing out of the window. The music was a perfect soundtrack for the way the light was shining through the tree and made some shadows on the wall. This visual gave me ideas on what else the song needed – It’s usually visual stuff that gives me ideas.
Savannah: I remember hearing the tape hiss that begins Instructions for Time Travel for the first time and having a very immediate reaction… It was such a simple sound, but listening to it in my headphones was like sitting on a new planet with an old friend. The rest of the song really just emerged for us both from that sound.
What is one thing we should know about the record that we wouldn’t get from just listening to it?
Robot: It`s the first album I’m self releasing on my own label, so it’s not only a first-time collab with Savannah, or someone from the realm of classical music, but also the first time I’m totally running the behind-the-scenes work myself (Well, with a team of great people.), but it’s a really amazing learning experience on that tip too.
Robot, how was this project different from your solo work?
Robot: Well it’s clearly not a new Robot Koch album, but a Robot Koch and Savannah Jo Lack collaboration album. Her touch is so evident on the album, and it sounds like that because of her being her.
And for you, Savannah, how was this different from how you normally compose?
Savannah: This project was so immediate and so open. Robert has one of the clearest musical brains/hearts I have ever met, so we explored and created and sent files back and forth, and had discussions and then decided on final forms really quickly and easily. There wasn’t a lot of room for re-examination, we just both saw the clearest path to letting these songs emerge and followed it.
I’m sure other people will also be wondering – Will we be able to see this live, with a full orchestra?
Robot: You will. We have a great booking agent who also works for Olafur Arnalds, among other artists, and he is working on live shows as we speak.
Savannah: For sure, that’s the dream!
And what’s next for you both?
Robot: I´m currently scoring a TV show for ZDF, a major TV station from Germany. The music of that will also be released next year. And I’m slowly starting to get ideas together for a new Robot Koch solo album. Particle Fields just came out, so let’s see what else happens in the future, maybe based on that album. It’s all a process.
Savannah: I just recorded 5 original pieces for solo violin and technology. I’ll be releasing that at some point before the end of this year.
Written by: Jen Dan