A couple of weeks ago, we tuned into the mysterious and transporting instrumental called “Flake” from an outfit named Egopusher. The Swiss electronica duo writes songs through intense improvisation sessions, with each member playing two instruments simultaneously on each track. Tobias Presig plays key melodies on a violin and bass synth with his feet (using organ pedals as triggers) and Alessandro Giannnelli plays acoustic drums and layers the songs with harmonies by playing synths with his free hand.
The outcome is a very rich and refined electronic sound – something that recalls the grandeur of epic soundtracks. Intrigued by all of this, we decided to reach out to the band and had a chat with Alessandro Giannelli.
Egopusher’s debut LP, entitled Blood Red, will be released on October 13th via Pusher Records.
Hello Alessandro! Who is Egopusher? Please tell us about this music project you’re involved in.
We are just two guys who love to play music together. We push each other to experiment to push our music further.
How much influence do you both draw from modern music? There’s something very timeless about your sound, instead of being trendy.
We each come from a very different musical background. I played in rock and pop bands while Tobias comes from a jazz background. Since the beginning, we share a playlist which contains music from noise to techno and dream-pop, and even classical music. The only golden rule is that it has to touch you in some way. And this rule applies as well to our music. We had no boundaries when we began. We had no trend to follow and our instrumentation was free of any expectations.
Are you influenced by Air?
Air is very melodic and dreamy. They have no boundaries, it seems. Nothing is too cheesy, nothing is too simple; it’s just Air. There is a certain honesty in that music that touches us a lot.
Somehow there seems to be some type of connection between you and them…
We take this as a compliment. Their music was, of course, always very present since we were teenagers and they are a big musical inspiration in general, as they released some groundbreaking records which were very important for pop and electronic music.
Is it true that you and Tobias met while playing as session musicians?
Yes, we were both asked to play in Dieter Meier’s Band, singer of the electro-pop duo YELLO. We then spent a lot of time together, driving to concerts and listening to all kinds of music. During this trip we decided to lock ourselves into the rehearsal space to do jam sessions, and see what kind of music would come out instinctively.
Interestingly enough, instead of hitting the studio first, like most electronica acts do, you started playing live. Why is that?
We first needed to develop a sound with our odd instrumentation of violin and drums. At first we spent a lot of time experimenting in the rehearsal space until we felt we were ready to play our first 30-minute concert in an Art Off-space in Zurich. Then, we played our music in many different locations, from squats to bars, and even at house concerts. Our music just grew and became stronger and stronger, so after about 100 concerts we recorded our EP with 5 songs in just a couple of days. All of them were played live, like a jazz recording. On our debut album Blood Red we are going a step further. We produced it over the last two years, sometimes together, sometimes apart. This process brought our music to yet another level.
Is your writing influenced by playing live so much?
Absolutely. We love to share our music in different places and with different cultures. It makes us constantly rethink our music and master details to become very precise and more and more personal. Every single concert sharpens our sound and identity.
Tell us a bit about “Flake” – What’s the story there?
This is actually one of those lucky shots. Tobias recorded the melody and the harmony in a completely different way before went to the studio. An elegiac, freeform, experimental thing. One day before the recording session we met in the rehearsal space, and I came up with the idea of underlaying it with this straight and almost monotonous rhythm and a synth arpeggio.
Our producer kicked all the plans we had for the next day, and we recorded and finished the song in a single day. Everything was clear from the beginning on, and the ideas for sounds and aesthetics came out naturally. The song has this beautiful elegance of a floating like a flake in the wind, allowing itself to get carried by the wind.
In closing, what are your Top 5 neo-contemporary artists?
Colin Vallon, Jon Hopkins, Nicolas Jaar, Chilly Gonzales, and Sarah Neufeld.
Written by: Jen Dan