Germany’s Uwe Zahn (aka Arovane) has been experimenting with sounds since the late-seventies and is noted as a fairly influential contributor to the German Industrial and IDM (Intelligent Dance Music) scene. He remains as one of my favorite producers and i’ve been a fan since I initially got into production years ago. I still regularly listen to tracks like “Torn”.
Much of his work is infused with digital pops, clicks, eerie but spacious synths, and other interesting “metallic” sounds. While the majority of his work is stellar (which is why he has become a legend of sorts in the IDM scene) his two releases “Tides” and “Lilies” are absolutely gorgeous. They are quite the departure from many of his works up until that point, but they are exceptional nonetheless.
Featuring washing waves and other ambient nature sounds, “Tides” is an excellent downtempo (almost ambient post-rock) release that invokes introspective walks on the beach or resting underneath a clear night’s sky. “Deauville” and the titular track “Tides” are two standouts and often bring back memories of where I was in my life when I first discovered him.“Lilies” is infused with a Japanese flare and is more uptempo, but manages to be eerie and intrusive in spots. It is still one of my favorite albums from top to bottom and it easily falls into the category of “press play”. You’d be hard pressed to find a bad track on this release from a technical standpoint. It, along with “Tides”, are two of the greatest downtempo releases of all time in my opinion and both feature the now iconic harpsichord that his listeners have come to love.
After the release of “Lilies” in 2004 however, he took a hiatus, which during that time, we (the fans) believed was definite. Many fans were saddened by this, and even though I discovered his work midway through his leave, I was still disheartened by the very real possibility that he may not return. Thankfully, we were wrong and in 2013 he came back with the release “Ve Palor” on n5MD. This release harkens back to the original, industrial sound of his previous works “Atol Scrap” and “Icol Diston” (which are also great. Buy them). He is fresh off the release of “-In Between-“ an ambient release with Hior Chronik. In this interview, I ask about some of his influences and what triggered his desire to take such a long sabbatical.
Prox: Let’s hear a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been making music?
Arovane: I was born in Hameln, Niedersachsen, Germany and grew up in the Weserbergland area. I remember my first experiments with a cassette recorder and handmade instruments in my parents house back at the end of the seventies and early eighties.
Prox: How did you come up with the name Arovane and what does it mean?
Arovane: It doesn't mean anything. It just sounds good to my ears. I like to play with words for track/ sound names.
Prox: What initially drew you to the IDM and Industrial sound? Who were some artists that influenced this?
Arovane: I love to listen to the radio. Back in the eighties you could listen to a lot of interesting radio formats that played music from The Residends, SPK, Eno, Joy Division, and Zappa. I heard the sampled and sequenced sounds from The Art of Noise and they created a bridge between the chart Pop and Experimental Electronic music. IDM (a music industry term) was born much later.
I'm influenced by a wide range of Electronic music from Klaus Schulze's early albums, SPK's industrial noises, Eno's ambient music, balinese music, minimal music, experimental music, classical music. I like polyrhythmic patterns like in ancient african music as well. There are no specific artists that influenced my style of music.
Prox: What are some of your favorite albums? Do you enjoy other genres?
Arovane: Currently i'm listening to Tatsuro Kojima, Miguel Isaza, Porya Hatami, Darren McClure. Ambient-experimental-minimal music which is completely under the radar.
Prox: What was the cause of your long hiatus? Did you feel as if you had said everything you had to say musically or was it more personal?
Arovane: I wanted to do something different. I sold some of my studio equipment, studied to receive my driver’s license and bought a motorbike. There is much more I want to say musically and I never stopped producing music. I think my life is too short to create all the musical things I have in mind.
Prox: What did you do in your time away? Did you find a completely different career?
Arovane: I travelled a lot, met beautiful people and organized my life.
Prox: What caused you to return to music? Did you miss the fan reception and camaraderie or was it something else entirely?
Arovane: Back in 2013 it was a good time for me to “come back“ and release new music. I started my own shop on Bandcamp. It was very nice to see that my fans were quite happy to hear new tracks and sounds on Soundcloud.
Prox: “Tides” and “Lilies” are very, very impressive albums in my opinion. Both of them are certainly eerie at times, but hauntingly beautiful. Where would you say you were at emotionally during the production of these two albums? Why did you move away from the more industrial sound that was seen in your previous releases?
Arovane: Thanks a lot for your compliment. I had a very clear idea of “Tides” and the follow up “Lillies" and what they should sound like. Emotionally, I was very happy at that time as I had just come back from Japan. I wrote “Lilies” after I returned. “Tides” was influenced from a trip to France. I do not want to commit myself to a particular music style.
Prox: Is it possible that fans will get sequels or spiritual successors to “Tides” and “Lilies”?
Arovane: I had the idea to record an orchestrated version of “Tides”. Maybe in the future?
Prox: What are some of your favorite albums and tracks from your catalogue? I’d have to say Lilies is my favorite album while Torn, Tides, and Revart AMX are my favorite tracks.
Arovane: My current fave is “-In Between-“ released on ASIP but usually I don’t like to listen to my old stuff.
Prox: Currently, what are some sounds and textures you are experimenting with?
Arovane: Currently i'm working on collaborations with Porya Hatami, Darren McClure and Takeshi Nishimoto. I finished a solo album for http://eter-lab.net/en/. It's minimal-drone-experimental music.
Prox: How much do you think your work has evolved since returning?
Arovane: My work has continuously evolved. As a sound designer and musician, I worked for companies like Ableton, Twisted Tools, Soundmorph to mention a few. I'm a sound researcher and I think you will hear it in my current productions.
Prox: What are some of your favorite hobbies outside of music? Are you into tech?
Arovane: I love to ride my motorbike but most of the time I am producing music. I try to keep up to date with the technological developments by reading blogs and talking with colleagues.
Prox: Could you give some tips to new producers?
Arovane: Follow your own way. Don't care about what the other people say but listen to the criticism of your close music-friends.
Prox: Final thoughts?
Arovane: Make sound, make music.
You can purchase his music here.