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Out-Of-This-World Experimental Sounds: An Interview With UFO

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Photo Credit: Christian Knörr

It’s not often that you hear music that makes you question your faculties to actually make sense of it. If the music is unusual enough, it forces you to listen to it on repeat and after a few spins you finally get it.  Not only that, but you are also introduced to a new mode of hearing and a completely new sonic universe is suddenly unlocked. This is what happened when listening to the curiously-titled composition, III, by a Swiss trio that operates under the name of UFO. One of the members of the project, Lukas Huber, sat down for a chat about the peculiarities of the act’s unique take on the music-writing process.

Stereo Embers Magazine: Hello Lukas! Who or what is UFO?

Lukas Huber: UFO is an openly structured band which was founded in 2011 by drummer Michael Anklin and myself as keyboardist. On every performance, different artists – not only musicians – are invited to perform together with the core ensemble that, at the moment, consists of three musicians. Additionally, electronic musician Robert Torche joined the band in 2015.

SEM: There is a plethora of people credited on your new record; seemingly more than who you listed above. Who are the rest of the contributors?

LH: These are all artists we invited to collaborate with us on III, our new record. So it‘s similar as to when we‘re playing concerts; we don’t produce or record by ourselves only, but try to get as many different impulses from ‘the outside’ as possible.

SEM: III is an improvisation-based piece, yet it sounds very coherent, almost like a soundtrack. Is this purely a result of chance or arduous work in post-production?

LH: Yes and no: The originally recorded sessions, which we recorded on with various guest musicians, were separately given to different artists to work on. They were completely free in their approach, which led to the result that some of them made mixes of parts we improvised, and others basically used the recordings as a fundament to build something new on it. So far, there‘s a lot of chance in it, but in the end, all the tracks we received were brought together by electronic musician Dim Grimm, who tried to put them in a suitable order and to give the whole record a coherent sound. So at that stage, there‘s not that much chance in it anymore.

SEM: Why did you choose improvisation as the main catalyst for this record? Isn’t it intimidating to work with so many unknowns?

LH: That‘s the whole point of it: We think, that if you know previous to the recording, how a record is going to sound, you don‘t need to do it anymore. So we added as many variables as possible, and at the end we were surprised of what happened with the music. Through that we got a new perspective on what we‘re doing.

SEM: We are showcasing the song “UFO 5 (Valentin Liechti)”. Can you tell us a bit about it?

LH: This is probably the only part of the album that can stand by itself. All the other tracks are linked much stronger to the overall context. And the context probably also changes this track… So if you listen to it for itself, it means something completely different than if you listen to it as part of the whole record.

SEM: Any future musical plans that you can divulge for UFO? 

LH: I guess there’s probably a change of direction coming, since III is such a satisfying product of our engagement with free improvisation, and we‘d like to see how we can use this gained knowledge in different contexts.

UFO’s album III lands on February 24th via A Tree In A Field Records

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