We sat for an in-depth virtual interview with Portuguese sci-fi maker Nørbak, who is is back to Oscar Mulero‘s Warm Up Recordings home after his Faktor EP from January 2019. These non-clubbing days look like the perfect scenario for listening to long-distance works, so here you have this brand new album to enjoy at your private sound system.
Flesh to Ashes will be released both physically and digitally, with an extra track on the downloadable version.
Nørbak is well known for his precision and deepness, always pushing forward production-wise, focusing on the details and sound design aspects.
The album gravitates between beatless cuts, broken beats, profound exercises and virtual dancefloor weapons.
“Intro” and “Camera” (the extra digital track) belong to the first category, “The Third Morality” is the broken cut, “Flesh to Ashes” and “Land of Sin” explore the deepest side of techno and the rest of the tracklist is about peak time tracks.
The overall feeling while listening to this album is travelling out there where no gravity is the mood, swinging among stars and constellations, landing on undiscovered planets … a landscape with no viruses or facemasks or repression.
A collection of atemporal tracks that will surely pass the test of time and be ready to be playable whenever this nightmare ends.
Enjoy the premiere of “Genese” from Flesh to Ashes and read on for our exclusive interview with Nørbak.
Hello mate, thanks for chatting with us! 2020 is now behind us and it was a strange year for many people. How was it for you?
First of all, thank you so much for having me Marco, always a pleasure to chat with such a nice and supportive guy like you.
It was a very strange year I must say, an emotional rollercoaster, started well, ended decently and the middle was just torture. Fortunately, with all this free time I focused more on developing my music and taking the next step musically. Personally, I feel like I matured a lot in many aspects, both emotionally and artistically.
You’re starting 2021 in great fashion. with the release of your Flesh To Ashes LP at the end of the month. Congratulations! How long was the album in the works?
This album was done about a year ago (or even more actually) after Oscar invited me to release my first album on Warm Up. It took me about 3 months from start to finish, I really invested a lot time on this one so I’m happy to see it finally being released after some unexpected delays.
What will listeners experience as they go through it, from beginning to end?
Hopefully, they will experience a journey through some of my musical periods, as intended. Going from something more experimental, to more sound design oriented music, to more dancefloor focused tracks. The way my music has progressed, let’s say!
Are the tracks dancefloor-oriented?
Some of them are effective on the dancefloor for sure but this wasn’t my main intention for this album actually. For me, albums are an opportunity to show something different, more personal, more introspective maybe, which is hard to release on a normal 4 track EP. I think EPs are the best format for dancefloor-oriented music since it’s something easier to release and usually doesn’t have a deeper meaning behind it and each track works well out of context. But this is only my point of view, I have some friends that think differently and since music is such a personal thing it’s up to you to make these kind of decisions.
Are there any that you would classify as ideal DJ tools?
Some of them I would say that can work as DJ tools since it’s a more stripped-down release with not so many “big” elements on each track. They probably can blend well in DJ mixes for layering with some other tracks. I think “Genese” is a good example of that.
Where do you draw inspiration from in the studio these days?
From the same places I used to draw when things were normal: movies, music and photography. Lately I’ve been leaning more towards movies when I need some inspiration, recently I saw the movie “Possessor” and after I saw it I went immediately to the studio to make music and it was a very productive session.
In the last couple of years you’ve received massive support from the legendary Oscar Mulero and this album finds a home on his Warm Up Recordings. What’s our relationship like with Oscar and how did it begin? It began 2 years ago after I sent him music for the first time, around that same time he was playing a lot a track I released on Dynamic Reflection and I decided to try my luck and eventually I signed the EP “Faktor” on his Warm Up Recordings. Fast forwarding a couple of years he invited me to release my debut album on Warm Up and here we are! Very grateful for the opportunity and trust from Oscar.
What does it mean to be having his support and being on his label?
Means a lot of course, he is the artist I look up to the most and having this opportunity is literally a dream come true that some years ago I could never imagine happening. It’s inspiring to see such a respected name taking his time to help some new talents like PWCCA, Divide, Translate, to name a few, very few artists do this.
You’re also a key member of the HAYES collective in illustrious company. Can you tell us a little bit about it, what the goals of the collective and label are?
Hayes is my second family really, one of the best things that happened in my career and it makes me feel part of something bigger than each one of us individually, especially in these hard times we live in. A special shout out to my boys: VIL, Temudo, Autrane, CRAVO and Enkō.
We at Hayes work hard, both in Portugal and internationally, to offer something different musically and artistically, in the form of artwork, music and some other concepts we have in mind for the future with the goal of making techno go forward and not backwards, that’s why we take some risks when releasing music. It gives us much joy to release new talents, for us, it’s something much more exciting than releasing already established artists because we always have some really nice surprises from new artists like VHS, Franz Jäger, Fresko, Fergus Sweetland, to name a few. But of course we all have our idols and we all want to have them release music on Hayes eventually and we will work hard to make that happen.
The future is looking good for the label, we will have some new talents on the label this year and we will announce our next vinyl VA very soon. Exciting stuff happening! Keep an eye out for news.
Can producers submit demos for release consideration on HAYES?
Of course they can. We carefully listen to every single demo we receive in our email.
If you have a demo and think the music would fit the aesthetic of the label, send it here: firstname.lastname@example.org
What advice would you give to aspiring techno producers looking to breakthrough?
It’s almost a cliche by this point but: keep working hard! Even when things are not really going your way, keep working hard because I truly believe hard work pays off in the end of the day and patience is also key in this music thing, don’t give up if a label doesn’t answer you demo, if you keep trying your best they eventually will hear it and always be honest about your intentions, make sure you’re in it for the right reasons. Also try to connect with people with the same musical taste as you so that you can really trust them for giving you some honest feedback on your music, this part is crucial.
What else do you have planned for 2021 musically?
I have some interesting things happening after the album, I will return to Soma Records with an EP and will release a collaboration EP with Pfirter on his own MindTrip. Can’t say much more at the moment but a lot of exciting things planned for this year.
You seemed so busy in 2020 with everything you were involved in, your own personal releases and HAYES… did you have time to devote on any new or existing hobbies or passions outside of music?
Since we are 6 guys running the label, and we all do different tasks, things usually don’t get too crazy which is nice, each one of us can work on their own projects. But yes, photography. I’m slowly getting into analog photography but it’s not as easy as I initially thought but I’m getting there with some help (laughs). I’m always up for a new challenge!
Where do you live by the way and how is life there?
I leave in the north of Portugal in a city called Amarante. Things here are peaceful and relaxing, that’s why I’m pretty sure I will continue to live here for the next years because it helps me focus more on my music and the label and I’m not one of those super social guys in all honesty, I have the same friends since years and I love my family, I like to keep them close to me.
Can you take us through what one of your typical weekdays looks like?
I usually wake up around 9/10am, check some emails, see what’s going on in the world, check some new promos and then it’s mostly doing music, taking care of the label, preparing the online producing classes I’ve been giving lately and then play video games or listen to podcasts if I have the time, a simple routine I must say.
How about the weekend?
Weekends I just spend with girlfriend most of the times and it’s the only nice thing about this whole corona madness, it gave me more time to spend with her.
What has been key for staying mentally healthy during the months of lockdown and this pandemic?
Great question, I don’t see many people talking about this and it’s important because I saw so many colleagues in a bad mental state but they were just hiding it and didn’t really wanted to talk about it. I have to admit that it was hard at times, 2020 was supposed to be a great year, I was supposed to make my debut in a lot of new countries and it didn’t happen for obvious reasons, for an upcoming artist like myself it kinda fucks you up a bit. For months there wasn’t any hope, nothing to look forward to. I was doing music that made me super happy but at the same time I was sad because the future seemed so uncertain, it was a strange feeling.
Fortunately things got a lot better when I just accepted the state of things and devoted myself more into learning new ways of producing music and developing my sound. I’m just waiting for the right time now, my friends and family are healthy and doing good and in the end of the day that’s what matters the most! Music can wait a bit more, we just need to stay together in this, help each other and be positive.
What is the best meal you’ve eaten in 2020?
(laughs) Cool question! This year I actually devoted myself a bit to culinary, tried to master the perfect Neapolitan Pizza and Parmigiana! But I would say the best meal I had was a French dish called “Tartiflette” that my mother does so well. Simple but delicious, how food is supposed to be.
What is the best thing that happened to you in 2020?
That’s an easy one to answer: signing a track and a full EP on a label I always wanted to release since day 1. A big achievement for me, I’m very happy but can’t say much about it at the moment!
Thank you Artur, and congrats again on the brilliant album!
Thank you for having me Marco, all the best to you and the whole 6AM team!
Nørbak Flesh to Ashes Tracklist:
A3. Deductible Ethic
B1. Collective Disbelief
B2. Rune Value
C1. Flesh To Ashes
C2. Interference Of Authority
D1. Land Of Sin
D2. The Third Morality
3. Deductible Ethic
4. Collective Disbelief
5. Rune Value
6. Flesh To Ashes
7. Interference Of Authority
8. Land Of Sin
9. The Third Morality