Another US musician who’s reaching out to become “minimal’s most wanted”. Seattle based Bruno Pronsato, who got booked for the best North American Electronicmusic festival "Mutek", is producing records like a madman. His latest record Ape Masquerade, allready sold out at Kompakt, on Musique Risquee really puts the tech to the techno. Bruno Pronsato’s recognizable sound can be defined as: Dark, deep and incomparable clicky minimal tunes as we like to hear them. Watch out for upcoming releases on Orac, Philpot Records (Jackmate’s label) and the Telegraph 21 (two more away). Steven Ford, as he likes to call himself in real life, took the time to answer the questions Groovetrackers has for him.
Who's the woman you sample in your tracks?
Ahhh – The secret woman. That is my lovely wife – Barbara Pronsato. She comprises 90 percent of the female samples in Bruno tracks. The other 10 percent are my good friends Amanda Okoneck and Carly Nicklaus.
Barbara is pretty reluctant to let me sample her, so when we are in the studio together, we just find a few words to focus on and then I put them in Logic after sicking a max patch on them. She is usually unhappy with the effects : ). But she won't listen to the track again until it comes out on vinyl. Then I usually hear the typical: 'Oh God, I hate the way my voice sounds – can we take them out?' Then, of course it's too late. She deals with it nicely tho – she's a good sport.
You've been invited to play @ Mutek this year, happy with that?
Well, you know, this has been an amazing year and a half for me. So getting asked to play Mutek was about as unbelievable as gets. The year was already going well, and when that happened I almost collapsed. I definitely feel blessed.
I have never been to Mutek, but I have always been envious of my friends that made it out there. So, the fact that I actually got asked to perform there is amazing. I mean, I have been meaning to go there anyway. The line-ups there are about as good as it gets, in my opinion. In three days you just see so many people perform. I'm still shaking my head in disbelief that I was asked. But another bonus is that I can finally meet all of my email pals & labels bosses: Marc Leclair, Vincent Lemieux & Sylvain from ZUPTON Super Big International Design Company. It's going to be a great time with all of these awesome people around. Not to mention my good friend Randy Jones (Caro, One of the Orac owners) is traveling with me. AND I get to play my music, too.
Your most releases were on ORAC, what can you tell me about the label?
Orac is Konstantin Gabbro & Randy Jones. Randy & Kon have been very active in the Seattle electronic music scene for quite a while. They played together in a group called Star Polar with another guy, whose name escapes me at the moment, Karl. Anyway, I think that after a few years of playing music, and meeting other people that played music, they decided to start Orac.
But for a brief bit of history, I should say that I met Randy at a night here in Seattle that he did with Carey Stone called 'Robotrash'. It was probably the best night Seattle has ever had (will have). They brought in a lot of good music. Anyway, I played there one night and after the show and a bit of glad-handing with Randy, I asked if I could give him a demo, and he said sure. But I think it was actually a half a year later that I actually gave him the Read_Me track. He liked the track, but it needed work. So after a few rounds of remixing and re-arranging, we finished it up, and I guess that was that. We've been good friends since then…
Your new EP, Ape Masquerade, on Musique Risquee is going like a madman, did you expect a success like this?
Ha. Not really. I guess when it is your music, you always question it. It always feels like my tracks are a little un-polished, like they could use a little more something that I can't put my finger on. If I re-listen, I think, man, that could have used a tad more this, or a tad more of that. What was I thinking…But, tracks always need to be finished or deleted for me. So if the track makes it past the Bruno Pronsato shit filter, then I feel like it is almost there (as in done). So after this point, I rely on people's taste that I trust, you know Vincent Lemieux and Marc Leclair liked these tracks for 'Ape Masquerade', and I did too, but a lot of it was the extra boost of confidence you get when these people you admire say, "Hell yeah – nice track – we'll take it." So it was a done deal at that point. But this is the first record I have made that needed to be re-pressed. So that makes me feel good. The first single on Orac sold-out, but I don't think there was much demand after it was gone.
You've been a drummer in a hardrockband, why did you get bored of that?
I don't think it was drums that I got bored of necessarily, but more the dynamic of being in a band. Trying to organize 4 guys/girls to rehearse can be a nightmare. Plus, I think I was sort of at the end of the road for rock music. In many ways I felt it had ran its course, as far as my being inspired by that sound. After awhile it just started feeling samey for me. But the clincher is that regardless of the people that I was playing with, I just didn't see where my place was there. I sort of knew that it wasn't for me. And so I just stopped playing music altogether until I bought a computer…
What does "techno" offer you what the rock couldn't give you?
I think that techno/electronic music was the next step for me. I mean, you suddenly have a band right in front of you on a computer without all of the hassle and ego. I don't pretend to have a huge techno background, but I will say that techno as a genre and an art form is one that is always moving forward. It's pretty much a style that demands reinvention. I don't think you get that from rock. Sure we see lots of retro attributes in techno, but it's always tinged with a newness - something fresh. Or at least that is my take on it. With techno you always stay true to these defining things, like a kick drum and a hi-hat – but the patterns are limitless, and the sounds one can generate are infinite.
Your first album "Silver Cities" was described (brief) as tech-house / minimal, how would you describe it?
Well, minimal is definitely not the word I would use to describe that album. I find that word used a lot describing stuff that is pretty 'maximized' sonically speaking. Silver Cities is comprised of a lot of experiments, really. Over-all, it turned out to be pretty focused. But a lot of that is due to Randy & Kon picking and choosing tracks that gave it some flow. I actually had to trim back sounds on a lot of the tracks. It was pretty hectic to begin with. Lots of scrambled sounds. So when we finalized the 9 tracks for the record, I started in on some of the tracks to make them a little more cohesive. Mainly because, in my head, what sounded pretty consistent was not necessarily the opinion of the listener. My problem is I tend to want to shove every little sound I've made over the prior month into one track. And while I can decipher every minuscule detail, the rest of the world is like, 'what is all of this jumbled mess' What it boils down to is that I put the sounds in there, so it is easy for me to distinguish the history of every sound. So, I think that while there are some elements of minimal to Silver Cities, it's not a minimal record, it's really bursting with sounds, that even now, could have been shaved off…I hope that answers the question.
What are your thoughts about the album now a days?
Well, honestly, I don't listen to it. I mean, I may visit it for a brief moment here and there, but I haven't really given it a concentrated listen since I completed it over a year ago. But the times I have visited it and this refers to the previous question a bit, I have thought of it as a little bursting at the seams so to speak. I feel like I could have made tracks a little more friendly for our DJ friends by taking this out, or adding that part, or letting that part breath a little more. I think a good record can satisfy the experimental crowd and be easy and nice enough for a DJ to play. I don't think I did a good job with the latter. But I knew all of this going into Ape Masquerade for Musique Risquee. I think I did a lot better job satisfying both crowds – it's not perfect by any stretch, but being aware of what I didn't like about Silver Cites and working on this for Vincent & Marc, things became a little more as I had envisioned them.
Are you a full time musician?
No, I'm not. I work 40 hours a week. As much as I like making music, I'm sort of petrified of what would happen if my livelihood depended on it. I'm not at a point where I could even if I wanted to. Regardless, I would hate to think that I had to make a record to pay my rent. It would kind of steal music's sacredness for me. I find making music to be incredibly relaxing, a sort of escape from some of the stresses we all have as humans. If the situation were that it was a job, then I'm afraid music would become stressful, and I wouldn't want something like that happening.
You do livesets, what kind of hardware/software do you use?
For live performance I'm using Ableton Live.
Are you a deejay aswell?
Nope. I would like to find time to work on those skills, but there isn't enough time in the day for me to practice something like that, and I know it takes some practice. I thought I was going to devote myself to this a while back, but my computer started acting unfriendly, so I spent the money on a new one and passed on the DJ thing. But when I think if Djing there is really so much to learn. For example, I'm listening to a guy out of Minneapolis named, Jamespatrick. Now this guys sets are nothing short of mind-blowing, I mean with no software, he's making these tracks by artist we've all heard sound like full-on remixes. I can listen to an hour long set of his, with tracks I have already heard, and hear something new each time. I think that is the level of DJing I would like to be at, but this is something that would take years, and I guess I'm still learning music right now, so maybe after that.
What gives you inspiration for your music?
Probably other people's music. I have some very talented friends that often share their work with me. [a]pendics.shuffle, Caro, Jerry Abstract. I'm pretty lucky to be in Seattle to sort of suck in all of this creativity. Caro's full-length coming out in June really gave me a big boost to start some fresher stuff. PLUG: Get Caro's album – it's beautiful/weird/techno/house.
What are the hotspot in Seattle.
Seattle – Hotspot? Haha. Seattle is pretty bad really. I mean there are a few people here doing one-off techno shows, and when they do them they are great, but there is not one great place to go to catch everything. There is one weekly here that is pretty consistent. They do pretty much all of the Orac shows. So, it's not like there is something cool happening every night, but things do happen, and when they do there is a decent turn-out. But Seattle is a huge indie rock city, and techno has really never been huge here, as far as I can tell.
Are drugged people a good crowed?
I have only played to one drugged out crowd, and they were great. I went on so late at night/early in the morning that it was definitely their energy keeping me alive. As a rule, though, I wouldn't know. If people wanna take drugs, or if drugs enhance their musical experience – cool. I have no preference as long as no one is throwing a tomato at my powerbook.
"Rich and famous"?
Can we skip that one? : )
When can we see you in Europe?
Well, very soon I hope. There has been talk a little bit here and there, but nothing definite. It's hard because I work a regular job, so trying to get to Europe after a series of records comes out is rough. I have to align all of this with my vacation time. If I could get a few interested people to agree on several dates it would be great. But that hasn't happened yet.
what did i forget to ask you?
I don't know – I think you covered it all.
Bruno Pronsato's liveset in Milwaukee's Mantra Lounge (03-25-2005) can be downloaded HERE
Steven, thanx again for the time you took answering these questions. If you ever get bored, visit your own website: http://www.undosounds.com