Croatian-born Petar Dundov has been making music for quite some time. His last appearance at Unsound Festival in Brooklyn brought him some new fans (including me!). His new EP "Sailing Off the Grid" is a melodic journey through techno and time. We caught up with Petar ahead of the release on Sept 2nd - read on!
CGNY: Hi Petar – been a while since I’ve seen you play here! Unsound Festival in Brooklyn a few years back! I like the quote you have on your website, – ‘“techno is music that precedes movement. It is dance music, solid enough to carry emotions through the dance floor and abstract enough to be a template for ever”. When and how did you get involved in making this kind of music?
Petar: I got involved in early 90ties. We started going out and I just loved to dance to this new music that DJs started to play in clubs here in Zagreb. That sound was techno and i was instantly attracted to it. I was doing computer music at the time so I had some knowledge about sampler and drum machines, but didn't have a real synthesizer. When I finally bought one this changed my perception of what is possible, opened a whole new world of creativity that I am exploring still. I started doing live performances and quickly got a first record deal. In that moment I decided that this is something I would try to build my life around.
" Today we are using technology to the extent that we forgot that there are things that machines just can't do"
CGNY: There is a bit of a crossover really in your music between dance-oriented techno beats and more esoteric electronica – a melding of the two. What do you strive to convey in a track that you make; a mood, a feeling?
Petar: It is a feeling that I am trying to express with my music. At the moment that is my inspiration. I believe you can't really separate yourself from the world around you and I am just projecting what I feel it is missing from my perspective. I use beats to set body in motion and use that lifted energy state to help mind to dig in to those deeper emotions. For me music always had this narrative value that during years in some sense I felt was lost. We become too focused on the purely functional aspect of dance music, i.e. "to dance", but what happens after you are already dancing? That state of mind when you are dipping in to sub-conscience, releasing suppressed emotional content, but with clear awareness is what I am interested to explore further.
CGNY: Growing up in Zagreb – what kind of music were you listening to? Do you remember a particular track that got you into electronic music?
Petar: I liked synthesizer music all my life. I remember a friend of mine introduced me to Kraftwerk and I was instantly blown away. I think this was the album "Man Machine". I also liked early albums of Pink Floyd, Jean Michel Jarre, Mike Oldfield, ambient stuff from Andreas Vollenweider, film music from Vangelis. As I grew up in the 80ties I digested most of electro pop and acid house later on.
CGNY: What do you use to play out and produce with?
Petar: I have nice studio with all my synthesizers that I collected during the years. I am still producing mostly in analog domain, it is just how I was brought into it as a producer. I use old Roland, Korg, Oberheim synths and drum machines. I used to work a lot with samplers but lately I don't use them very often. I usually do session mixes, just press record and play around with my synths. I try to keep a natural flow in performance switching from one instrument to another and build a structure from real time improvisation. Later I just do simple digital mix down.
CGNY: With so many producers in the business now and the instant download culture we live in where you can make a track in your bedroom in the morning and by end of day have it played somewhere in a club or in a mix, what do you think makes one track stand out from another one?
Petar: I think it is the idea behind the song. You can instantly hear it in the mix. Today we are using technology to the extent that we forgot that there are things that machines just can't do. It doesn't matter how sophisticated technology we are using and how fast it can provide us with some content. Machines can't process meaning nor understand what is relevant for us. That is what we should be focusing on and be better off. Today it’s trivial to record a track, you can do it in couple of hours, but does it have a certain property that we can appreciate as human experience is the question of all questions. In that sense good and thoughtful music will always stand out.
CGNY: You’re new LP is coming out next month “Sailing off the Grid”. How long were you working on this release? What were your inspirations for this album? Is being ‘Off the Grid’ something you wanted to do with this release?
Petar: I worked on this release intensively for 6 months. I wanted to explore the possibility of looking at the world by detaching from conventional, ordinary way of thinking about things. From that perspective I to try to see inner beauty that lays little bit "off the grid", not in a perfect symmetry, strict rules, rather in a vicinity, distributed around it, yet only observable and appreciated if we know what the rules are.
CGNY: You’ve played a lot of great festivals all over the world – what have been some of your favorites?
Petar: Couple of favorite ones were Labyrinth in Japan, Dimensions festival in Croatia and Unsound in USA. All of these festivals have a particular selection of artists that I respect as musicians and performers. I am happy that I could participate in these events.
CGNY: Any plans to come back stateside?
Petar: Hope it will happen in a near future, we are considering some options for the tour. It was a great experience last time in NY and I hope it would not be long before I come back to states.