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INTERVIEW: Rico Puestel

This is the last time, after three decades, Rico misses the cultural impact of Techno music as it has been and declares that its spirit is gone, at least personally. There is nothing more to tell. The scene of self-consumption has reached its grotesque climax and has left an empty shell of something that was once filled with so much passion, warmth, strength, heart and hope. Times simply have not changed: they lost their authenticity and their purpose for personal fulfillment.

Heavily influenced by prehistoric tribal rhythms and trance-inducing dances within redundant structures, techno music once had a true, unadulterated native essence. A free spirit on the run. Rico found the right moment to bring together all of his roots in Techno music for one last act of connecting with it. Being at his peak as a producer, he created the entire album over the course of twelve hours and relived all those moments and deep-rooted memories with Techno in fast motion. While the song titles count from ten to zero in Esperanto, Rico clarifies in peace and balance...

We have had the pleasure of speaking with Rico and this has been the result.

Hello Rico Puestel and welcome to Chromatic Club! Where are you currently and how is your year going?

First of all, thanks for having me at this point in time. I'm currently residing in Northern Germany, more precisely in the state of Schleswig-Holstein and I actually don't know what I'm still doing here - maybe it's a "Titanic moment" and I just keep on playing music. It feels like an exclusion zone or lost place here, represented by its still remaining living creatures. No drive, no ambition, playing nice, but not being nice, pseudo-close to nature, but so far away, harrowing selfishness, very less talk and if so, big stories, but no deeds and if you try to actually do something good, especially for animals, you might get physically assaulted out of an ambush and loose one half of your hearing as I experienced almost exactly two years ago.

But I guess that's an overall human world problem in these days, exponentially growing - at least, it especially shows around here in a truly pervasive way. Each individual, including me, bears responsibility in the end. Besides that, my deep empathy got heavily abused over the last two years and it brought me to the brink of existence in the near past. But as I always did, I managed to grow above these totally unnecessary situations, carried on and still keep on fighting for something universally good and decent. Music helped and it alwas has. Wow - what a start to this interview...

You’ve stated that your latest LP ‘#technohasleftthebuilding’ is sadly also going to be your last. What can you tell us about the record and why is it your last?

It's my last ALBUM. I think, the conceptual quality and extent of an album work in electronic music can't be fully understood and appreciated anymore - the span of attention and the overall need for the existence of "so many tracks at once" are somehow gone. It's just "a track in that playlist" or a fast-swipe through TikTok now - endlessly searching for something that might mean and be nothing. #technohasleftthebuilding was my last big showdown of what Techno originally represented for me before it all feels gone, drifting into a future where music switched places with plain products. Anyway, it has been difficult for me to find the right moment to get back into this special "state" with a free and pure mind. That's when I decided to produce the album non-stop from scratch, never letting go of that feeling and special re-connection to Techno music leading way back into my childhood days. And one day, I just started and after twelve hours, the curtain fell - there it was, produced from beginning to end: #technohasleftthebuilding

The titles of the tracks are counting down in Esperanto. What was the motivation behind this?

It's an act of peace. It's a neutralization of the mind. It's a self-fulfilling construct. Basically, it's a construct. There's an overall analogy inbetween the album and the language itself. More practically, it's like taking steps back to manage a big leap forward - understanding history to understand the future. And it's nothing political, by the way.

In your opinion, what is techno meant to stand for, both musically and culturally?

Techno is a bulwark of passion, warmth, strength, heart and hope - at least for me. Musically speaking, its redundancies are like nature - everything is repeating constantly, but nothing happens to be absolute or singular and there're countless developments to see within throughout the bigger picture. The 4/4-impulse is like an organism, like a heart, beating vivdly as all beings are basically designed to be physically active, doing something, not being passive. Redundant rhythmic structures have always been present in human nature and they catalyze the union of people - actually like a "tribal gathering". Having said that, we're right in the middle of my take on its cultural impact and importance which happens to be some kind of self-explanatory right here. Just think of the social development and upheavals in the late 1980s and 1990s - Techno has been century soundtrack, valve and outlet at the same time.

All of this is still happening on a surface level now, but let me draw a deeper picture: People once came together to experience Techno music, dance, have a good, positively charged (and also mind-bending) time, feel a unity of all, physically sense everything, experience it while it's happening while someone is elaborately playing and presenting music in a warm and frequency-covering analogue way, you might not have heard before or never thought you would hear. Today, there's a heterogeneous mass, each one for her/his own, experiencing an image, a product, barely dancing, definitely not for the greater good, but for the "story" or the "reel", just having a soon forgotten smartphone moment to capture, feeling a unity in feeling lost while some pre-recorded or dispassionately low-encoded, psychoacoustically manipulating and compressed bitrate music, just being a means to a business end, dabbles along from a soon forgotten social-media-profile-person while you're eagerly waiting for each now drop to celebrate something without any palpable meaning, sedating this unwell feeling within, why you're actually here or where you're going while precious time blindly passes by.

All of this has become a plain game, everyone seemingly has to join in, so one won't vanish from a scenery that bisects its half-life period exponentially.

I'm just bored of what is put out in such an originally unique field of so much technical and soundwise possibilities. A will of true expression and creativity conquers any barrier. Aiming big, going minimalistic ways, using small technical possibilities - that is a creativity-trigger and a real challenge.

If you're always eating out of the trash, you're getting used to it.

Although you’re no longer making techno, do you have plans to release any other types of music in future?

There're countless stories to tell, but I guess there's too much "repeating myself" included when it comes to Techno - everything important has already been said and done. I've got a vault with non-stop listening DAYS of unreleased music from each stylistic line. But it's a further question if those might feel right in this place and time to be released. I'm happy about my recent albums "Word Value" and "Faces Meet" I did from a composer- and singer-point-of-view as "Rico Friebe". The forthcoming 2024 Friebe album "Anthems For A Lost Generation" is a highly important one and a truly captivating moment in contemporary Pop music that is capable of so much more than we're partially listening to in the charts or on the radio.

Are there any genres or artists you’re listening to currently that make you excited for the future of music?

I'm highly under-excited for what I'm currently faced with musically in every electronic or acoustic genre, but I still know that I can get excited in an unknown and unexpected way. So, excite me! I'm still discovering old gems and unknown music from a time, when there was an eagerly warm and full amount of lifeblood to it.

Are you more pessimistic or optimistic about the advent of AI in music making?

It's the downfall of all. It's unnecessary, uncalled-for and a disgrace for mankind.

Lastly, what do you find joy in outside of music?

Everything that ever inspired music.


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