Martin Stimming has become a star in the European electronic music scene. Aside from stunning his audience with live-staged improvised compositions, the Hamburg-based producer, audio engineer and DJ constantly searches for ground-breaking sounds and new technologies that help enhance his craft. His creed: never stop making better music.
In this video, Stimming spreads out his creative agenda, explaining why he enjoys innovative sounds more than anything and why Cintiq has brought him closer to music. Watch the full interview to get an idea of Stimming’s exceptional musical handwriting.
“I always had the feeling I wanted to play, not practice. And I wanted to do things that had not been done before. Because of that, I wore out a good number of piano teachers. They had it coming.”
– Martin Stimming
Digital creativity knows no limits
What kind of artist is Stimming? In 2010, the talented composer was awarded Best Newcomer at the Ibiza DJ Awards. This fact alone, however, doesn’t help understand what makes up his music. As a rule, Stimming doesn’t simply mix pre-existing tapes the way a traditional DJ does. Instead, he plays ad-hoc improvised electronic music, creating special sound “installations”.
By improvising, the audio engineer wants to inspire his audience in a special way: according to Stimming, generating a truly inspirational moment is “the most creative and constructive thing” about his art – especially in a world that is otherwise crammed with imposed trends and fashions: “In the end we are numb, and everything becomes white noise”, says Stimming.
Whenever he creates a groove, the artist therefore attempts to “break out of the white noise and create something special and unforgettable”, establishing a musical moment that feels “real” to the audience. This kind of moment, Stimming is convinced, will then prevail in their heads.
Finding unique sounds
But how can one bring about this unforgettable moment? In his sound installations, the Hamburg-based artist often uses sounds he pre-recorded “by hand” or those he caught on tape during field recordings – something he also calls “found sounds”: “Field recordings have something naturally organic about them right from the start. I take advantage of that fact.” This organic way of developing music comes about “partly out of laziness”, Stimming admits: “To get a computer program to play each sound slightly differently, I have to program every single sound slightly differently. And no: I won’t do that, I am too lazy for that.”
Sometimes Stimming relies on classical music for the “organic effect” – even though to him this genre generally “lacks a groove”: But by mixing classical sounds with techno or house music, the artist wants to create something new and original. He once asked an orchestra to play a specific classical piece for one minute to be able to use this brief piece as a “construction kit that I can later process digitally. Ultimately, I am only interested in classical music in so far as to what I can take from it.”
“Because making music is such an emotional affair, it has to feel cool. It has to look good to become a more beautiful music – which is a bit moronic, but as humans we all have our moronic sides.” – Martin Stimming
Closer to music with Cintiq
On his way to become a better musician, Martin Stimming attempts to get rid of all obstacles that keep him at a distance to the musical experience. That’s why he started using graphic tablets for his work. Turning to tablet devices such as Cintiq was a revelation to him: “I hereby officially start a crusade against the mouse! Mouse and keyboard are the most unmusical things in existence. A pen display brings me back closer to the music.”
When forming new sounds with the help of Cintiq, Stimming finds the ultimate advantage is the sensual character of the process: “Cintiq doesn’t feel like a computer anymore, but rather like a notebook or music paper. Something traditional in a way, but with the twist of being a highly modern program with highly modern possibilities.” Using a pen instead of a mouse to experiment with music directly on the screen – that to Stimming feels much more like the art of drawing. On top of that, the artist relishes the puzzled faces of people who search for a “real” computer in his sound studio, and all they find is a tablet: “Somehow I find that very sexy!”
“Perfectionism is for morons!” – Martin Stimming
4DSOUND: Exploring a new dimension
As a rising star of the electronic music scene, Stimming has also already taken part in the world’s biggest club festival for electronic music, the ADE Festival in Amsterdam. It was also in Amsterdam where Stimming finally found a completely new way of making music: the so-called 4D sound, an advanced spatial sound system controlled with a tablet computer. The idea is to produce “moving sound images”.
Stimming was immediately hooked to the idea: “The exciting thing is that you are inside the music, not like a Surround System where the music is around you, but you are standing within it.” To reach that effect, a group of custom-built speakers need to be installed in different places all over a dance floor and be connected to software that calculates – and imitates – how a sound would behave in nature.
As a result, the audience can experience music and sound effects from all possible directions, entering a three-dimensional sound stage. Or, as the 4DSOUND website (Link to http://4dsound.net/) suggests, the audience is invited “to lose orientation and transcend the actual space you’re in.”
“This innovation is wildly interesting”
Stimming carefully studied the software, quickly understanding that he was able to fully control the size and motion of any musical “object” just by a motion with his fingers on a graphic tablet: “I take a sound with the controller and move it somewhere. Then the next sound, move it somewhere else, and this way build an architectural sound base. For example, I can convincingly use the height axis. This innovation alone is wildly interesting. And I get to make music with it!”
The result of Stimming’s work with the innovative programme is a fully improvised live performance that took place in Amsterdam in April 2014. The full set is available on Soundcloud (Link to the live set: https://soundcloud.com/stimming/ableton-4d-mix).
The artist’s creed
“The challenge for me as an artist – to get up each morning and go to the studio – is to make better music. All I have done is fine, but I want to make something better. And that won’t stop.”
– Martin Stimming
Musical biography Stimming
Talented Martin Stimming has always had a knack for musical instruments. By the age of 10, he mastered the violin, piano, and drums. As a teenager he developed a lasting love of electronic music – and upon the realisation that producing music is more than playing a groove or mixing records, Stimming moved to Hamburg to attend the SAE School of Audio Engineering.
Generating a truly original electronic sound came to be Stimming’s aspiration. In 2007, the artist began a fruitful collaboration with the underground electronic music label Diynamic Music – his first hit called Una Pena came out in 2008, and one year later he released his celebrated debut album Reflections. It finally cemented his reputation as one of the electronic music scene’s most innovative producers.
Generally, Stimming’s productions are filled with a multitude of his own unique field recordings which he mixes with a dance floor rhythm. After receiving an award for Best Newcomer at the Ibiza DJ Awards in 2010, he has won over the crowds on many legendary dance floors, including Panoramabar (Berlin), D-Edge (Sao Paulo), Fuse (Brussels), fabric (London) and Rex (Paris). In 2013, his most famous orchestral piece ‘November Morning’ was premiered on the 4DSOUND system and performed live by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.