Second State recording artist Wigbert discusses his debut career album, titled Distorted Matter, and the importance of mental health and mediation in his life.
Over the past decade, German produycer Wigbert has been forging a strong reputation as an inventive, versatile producer, skills that have seen him submit remixes for the likes of Gregor Tresher and Pan-Pot themselves, while achieving plenty of support from Dubfire, who has released a handful of Wigbert’s EPs on his own SCI + TEC label.
Stepping up for his first full-length on a label as important as Second State, Wigbert demonstrates why he’s a firm favorite among so many. The Distorted Matter LP showcases his affinity for both atmospheric mood pieces and pummeling club cuts, the sign of a producer with more than one trick up his sleeve.
Listen to Wigbert Distorted Matter LP on Second State below and read on for our exclusive interview with the man-of-the-moment:
Thanks for chatting with us today. Firstly let me say congratulations on your debut LP on Second State, that’s huge! What does it mean to you personally?
Thank you very much! Honestly, one of my dreams is coming true with this project. Since I started to produce music, it was one of my goals to release a kind of concept album. With this LP, I can show more of musical diversity and the most important thing is, I get the opportunity to express myself with the music and tell a story. Every track stands for a certain situation, a feeling or different chapter in the past years. It’s a bit like a diary. That’s why I’m feeling a strong connection to the album.
How did your connection with Second State and Pan-Pot first come about?
The first connection with them was back in 2015. Pan-Pot played some of my tracks. The support was huge and finally they asked me to do a remix for their track “Broken Engine”, on the remix LP. As soon as I got the request, I remember my first thought was: “I can’t believe it, is this a real request from them or is it fake”. When I realized it was real, that was an amazing moment for me and of course I did the remix. Since then we’re directly connected.
Why do you feel Second State is the perfect home for this first album form your Wigbert project?
Since I’ve been working with them since 2015, I’m really impressed about their professionality – how Second State works as a label and interacts with the artists. It was also really interesting and great to see how they managed the LP from Pan-Pot. I thought maybe this could be a good place for an LP somewhere in the future, but it was only a thought. After sending them some ideas and new productions of mine in 2019, we talked pretty quickly about the option for an LP release. One of my most important conditions was, to have no rules or restrictions in the creative process in terms of the music. I want to be free to translate all my personality into the album. From that point on, a vision formed into something tangible and that was great. So I kept working on more music to shape the LP according to my ideas. Working with Second State means a very close interaction on every single step around the music. For example: they asked me which color and arrangement of the font I wanted to have for the artwork. We talked about everything, from the whole design of the artwork, the remix opportunities up to marketing etc. This is not typical when you’re working with labels today and it is so much fun working with them on this level. All this describes why I’m feeling Second State is a perfect home for my Distorted Matter LP.
Let’s talk about the album itself. Can you walk us through the production process for these tracks, when you began working on them and why these tracks specifically were chosen for this milestone release in your career?
I started to work on the first ideas in summer of 2019 and I completed the last tracks for the LP in January 2020. As soon I had the idea of a track, I recorded the sounds mostly in one or two days. In the next few sessions I worked on the arrangement and in another session on the mixdown. I think I needed three or four studio days to finish one track, but it depends on the track itself. For example, I remember that ‘Reflection’ was more complicated in the arrangement and mixdown. It took several weeks of different listening and mixing sessions to find the right version of it. But as soon I played the arpeggio melody of “Reflection” on my Moog Synth, I immediately had the idea clear in my mind and instantly I knew the way to go. I think it is very self-reflected if you know who you are and what you want. In general, the production process was very similar on most tracks.
I’m very ‘gear fascinated’ and through real machines I get more access to capture a main idea. One knob per function on a machine helps me a lot to perform and don’t lose my focus during recording. Starting to produce a new track is like a live studio jam session. The workflow is the key and it’s very important everything runs technically, that I can patch the machines smoothly in that way I want. I used my Apogee Symphony converter, to print all the sounds simultaneously on different channels into my computer. I love it, it sounds very detailed and transparent. I tried to capture the spirit of the track and the arrangement idea during the jam recording. For me, then it becomes much easier to finish the arrangement in the DAW. The mixdown process for every track was first digital and the last step was sending all channels and groups to my analog mixing console to sum everything together.
The reason why I chose these tracks for my debut LP, is that basically, every track reflects a certain situation or a feeling of myself, up to personal development or transformation. The name of the album ‘Distorted Matter’ describes a conflict which probably a lot of people know, you are constantly busy with too many topics, thoughts and ideas. You begin to struggle and your inner world feels distorted, but the most important thing is not to lose your focus. That’s the theme behind the name ‘Distorted Matter’. The track itself has the right balance between distorted and clear emotions. Actually, it‘s the middle or center of the album. It reflects the distorted inner world through the drums and feeling of clarity with the pad and choir sounds. As the name indicates, the opener “Uncertainty” describes the feeling of uncertainty and excitement during a difficult time. This emotion was triggered through the scary dystopian atmosphere paired with that attentive alert sound which was made with my modular system. The track Night Vision reminds me of an amazing club night.
This imagination was also my inspiration for this energetic track. You’re running from one party to another, have a peak in the night and end up at an after-party. You have constant energy. Error 404 sounds for me like something that is not working or broken. Like sometimes in real life. The idea is very simple and follows a sequenced loop on the modular system. The drums are basically from the TR909 and the Analog Rytm and additionally to that, it’s distorted via a parallel effect chain. That makes the drums very powerful. On the other side, we have deep tracks like “Focus”. When I produced it, I played the synth melody in one take and I was totally focused on the sound. It was really emotional and I had this kind of special moment. The last track “Transformed” stands for a personal transformation and it feels like a wave of emotion.
What software and hardware were used in this project?
A big part of the sound source was my Moog One Synthesizer. You can hear the synth in almost every track. It’s one of my favorite instruments in my studio, because it has infinite possibilities and the sound character can be modern and vintage as well. The second important source was my modular system, especially the Verbos Complex Oscillator and the Cwejman QMMF-4 Multimode Filter-Resonator. Then I used the Moog Model D for the bassline of Digital Mirroring and in some tracks I used the Access Virus TI Synthesizer for pads, noise and effect sounds. Next to the Roland TR909 and Elektron Analog Rytm, I used the Octatrack as a drum sampler as well. To create some background noises for an atmosphere, I worked with some samples from my field recordings and modulated it with a granular synth plugin. For effects I used different units like the Eventide H8000, H9, Roland Space Echo and the Analog Heat as distortion box.
On the software side, I worked mainly with Ableton Live for the creative process, recording and mixdown. In some tracks I used Cubase additionally as a second DAW, but for mixdown only. I used a lot of plugins from Universal Audio like the Lexicon Reverbs, Moog Filter or the Oxford Dynamic EQ and I used some of FabFilter stuff, but the standard Ableton plugins as well.
What do you hope the album conveys to fans and listeners?
I think it’s not easy to discover a story in an album where the most tracks are more dancefloor-oriented. But if you consider the LP as a whole work, you can find a certain emotion behind every song, which I felt during the creative and production process. I hope I can transport that feeling through the music and the listener feels free to enjoy the sound and can bypass their mind at that moment.
How has the feedback been from peers so far?
I got very good feedback from amazing artists and friends, without naming names. It makes me really happy to see that the tracks find the right way to the people and that’s the best compliment, when people play and enjoy my music.
You’re releasing this album after a year of on-and-off lockdowns in one form or another. Do you feel they helped your studio productivity or did you feel less inspired in this time?
In terms of the LP, all the music on this album was produced before the pandemic impacted us all. That means, during the production of the LP I had an interconnection between club atmospheres, socializing with people, playing gigs and so on. All these things I’m missing at the moment and which are very inspiring for me. But during the lockdowns, I tried to use the time for learning new ways of studio productions and optimizing workflows. Thereby opened new doors and I got new inspirations for new projects. Also, I extended my skills with the work on the LP and learned to deal with other topics like visual productions and cutting movies.
What has been the hardest thing to deal with in this past difficult year?
It was hard for me to deal with the decision of quitting my daytime job for music a few months before the pandemic started. Originally we had the plan to release the LP in mid of 2020 then the virus came and we postponed the release until this year. But now the time feels right and I can focus on my music much better. I have to say I never regret my decision to live my dream.
How have you been keeping healthy in this time, both mentally and physically?
Good food, sport and meditation. I have my morning routines like sport and meditations before I start the machines in the studio. Also I’m doing intermittent fasting, this means for me I skip breakfast and take balanced nutrition. Sometimes it helps me to reflect on myself and have good conversations with friends, to get another point of view on the things I’m dealing with.
Have you been able to explore any other hobbies or interests outside of music?
As I mentioned before, I’m doing a lot of meditation and have become quite a fan of it. I started to get deeper into it about two years ago and I’m doing it almost every day. It helps a lot with reducing stress, gets my mind free and keeps me in balance. Another positive effect that comes with it – I’m more creative.
With this album now out, what do you feel is next for your musical journey?
The LP is a little bit like the beginning of a new musical chapter. Now I’m feeling freer and I’ll try to find new approaches in my productions. I’m interested in experimenting with different genres. Also, I have already potential ideas for the next album production, but it’s too early to say more on these at the moment.
What are some goals you still hope to achieve in your career?
I hope I’ll stay healthy and I can do what I love for a long time. I hope after the pandemic, I can tour around the globe and explore different cultures and music scenes. Also I would like to run an own specific label with all my own ideas.
One last question: based on your own experiences, could you give some tips and advice to aspiring producers on how to go about trying to release on labels?
Maybe it’s not new advice, but don’t try to follow any trends. Make music with passion and feeling, not like a formula. Don’t look too much at what other people are doing and dare to try new ways. Sometimes give a shit about musical rules but don’t be afraid to break the rules, listen to your heart and never give up!