Markus Guentner is an ambient musician, dj and live performer based in Bavaria (Germany). Musically we got in touch through the first “Pop Ambient 2001” compilation that was released on Kompakt. A good opportunity to look back and forward in the following conversation…
Joachim Spieth: 15 years ago i was introduced to your music on Kompakt’s first “Pop Ambient” compilation. “Pilot” was a dream and the “In Moll” album as well. Where did your musical influences come from in the early days? Moreover, can you describe your workflow in the studio and the difference between your work back then and nowadays?
Markus Guentner: well, i started listening to music very early. and all kinds of music was interesting to me. if it was pop-music, rock, techno, soundtracks. so my understanding of music was quiet wide. and when there was the time, the good electronic music came into my life, there was the whole spectrum of techno, house, elektro, ambient etc. when i started producing music, there was always this feeling to create something, that touches people and not the priority for function. so i think it’s some kind of logical, that my music sounds that atmospheric and deep. and, i never got training or education in music-theory, so i always focused on the feeling of a track first … the sound, the mixing etc afterwards. and it’s still the same approach nowadays. ok, you learn some stuff and skills over the years, but the work is quite the same these days.
Joachim Spieth: Your music is very emotional. Is it linked to a visual component?
Markus Guentner: not really. i never pictured or visualised anything in my mind to my tracks (not when composing/producing, neither afterwards). it’s definitely more emotional than “visual”. but the fun thing is, it’s kinda vice versa !!! i can hear melodies, harmonies etc. in my head very good, when i see things that touches me. no matter if it’s in real life, or a movie (when i do soundtracks) or experimental visuals.
Joachim Spieth: You released various albums in the last years, if on Kompakt, Sending Orbs, A Strangely Isolated Place or the Crystal Castle album on Affin. Do you have a vision/concept for an album in the beginning, a way that shows where to go?
Markus Guentner: the most time i start without a concrete concept. the concept starts with beginning of the work. and when i did two or three tracks, the concept starts to emerge. and it comes together like a puzzle. the ideas, the sounds, the names, the artwork etc. of course there’s a bit of work to do to work it out and finalize. but in the end everything fits very good.
Joachim Spieth: You also perform live at galleries/exhibitions. How do you have experienced to bring an intimate vibe to the public and how flexible is your setup to experiment with the music?
Markus Guentner: … i try not to think about connecting to the people immediately and just deliver something that they need or want to hear. as i said at the first answer, my own music is emotional and not functional. and i think that’s the reason why i’m always really nervous when i play live. my “strategy” is more like: let the audience grow with you. the audience are strangers and you need to get to know each other just through the music. and as a musician you have a very short time for that. so i try to take them with me on the way of the set. slowly but steady. and the best compliment is definitely when the people tell you afterwards, that they were completely lost in the music without any distraction from anything else. it’s just the music that matters. and well, it’s not easy to play my music live … in my arrangements and productions there are often more than hundred separate tracks and even more sounds. so it’s quite hard to bring that into a live-situation. but with every preparation for a liveset, i try to find a good balance for tracks and sounds i can play in loops for a longer time, and sounds that have to be taking care of all the time with live-arranging, effects etc. but i do a lot of rehearsal for my liveset to get a good timing for everything … and not to panic or losing the thread !