An interview with BOB DATA

Apport! steps into an epistolary genre. So, the first step in this direction is an interview with the Latvian project with german spices – BOB DATA. Aleksandrs wrote some answers which deepen the context of a forthcoming live event in Vilnius. And we invite you to read them, of course.

Hello, Aleksandrs! So, what kind of entity, thing, or appearance is this project of yours called BOB DATA? How would You describe it as for an introduction?
Simply spoken it is my solo project that I started in the 1990s when I was still living in Germany. Besides my involvement as a founder and musician of IRKLIS, it is the most personal art I present… Although the name, the character, is fictional.

Your musical journey started back in 1988 in Germany. What are the biggest differences when in comparison with the current status? Regarding different timelines and living places
Well, my first love for music started with electronic music in the 80s. Back in 1988 I was just 15 years old and living in Leichlingen (Germany). I started to get into more alternative and harsher sound like Front 242, Skinny Puppy, Borghesia or The Klinik. I was fascinated by it and I wanted to start making music myself. My father bought my first drum machine. That’s how I started. At the end of the 90s I moved to Cologne and I was more occupied with groovable sounds from Techno to Drum and Bass, but always avoiding mainstream styles. 2000-2010 was the time I got more into minimalism and also noise – this is also the period I moved to Latvia. I think you can here a little bit of all of them in my music.

Following the previous question: do you see any specific traits when speaking about, let’s say “Latvian” electronic and related music? What are they? And how do they differ from “Lithuanian” ones (from these you’ve heard, of course)?
I must admit that I am not into Latvian or Lithuanian style and I hope you forgive me for that. I know several bands and artists of course, but not about differences in traits.

What the name of the project means / what’s the idea behind it? So to say, who is Bob and what are his data? 🙂
That came to my mind while I was living in Cologne. Bob Data is a fictional character from the future. Like in former times people often inhabited their last names from their professions (like Carter or Fletcher) or from nature – so does Bob. Data is not really a comfortable last name nor is it usual nowadays, but it might become. You can see Bob Data as a socially critical look at the future without naming details.

Continuing that theme about “data” – what, in Your opinion makes a piece of digital music alive? This is a question regarding remarks that “electronic” music is kind of less “alive” than some guitar-based one.

Personally, I don’t see a big difference between an air column vibrating or an oscillator generating. That is about the topic acoustic or electronic. The only part which is totally digital in my production pipeline is recording and mastering, but composing is a mixture of acoustic, electro-acoustic, analog and digital electronics. I produce my music as organic as possible so that it does sound “alive”. Sometimes it is “only” an effect pedal, an experiment or the strong individuality of an instrument that leads to it – but a lot of magic comes if you understand the basic of acoustics.

 

Digital vs analog. What are your thoughts? By the way, from a personal talk, I’ve understood that You’re not so fond of such formats as audio cassettes. Do they still have some chance to be rehabilitated in a taste of Yours at some point? If such, what physical formats do you prefer and why?
When talking about the medium, my favorite ones are Vinyl and CD. Vinyl I love for the warm and homey sound, whereas the CD I do like for the preciseness. I have warm memories of audio tapes because for a long time they have been my main medium for cheap recording when Vinyls and CDs were expensive (and they still are). In my teenage time you never bought the same album if your friend already had the vinyl, you recorded it on tape from him. But the sound quality of an audio tape (at least as a cassette) is low. That is why I was so glad when the mini-disc appeared, because you could record as simple as you could with a cassette but with less noise. Too sad that it was as bad as mp3. That was the time when data compression was more relevant than accuracy of sound.

What, in your opinion, are tendencies regarding the spread of the internet and information about music? In my eyes, I see this as a double-sided medal (or sword). At one point, it is so great to search and find music as well as to easily publish it. On the other side, the abundance of “musicians” simply drowns the interesting ones between a quantity. How this situation affects you personally if at all?
I totally agree with you on every word. I think it will become even worse with more AI technology in the production, but then maybe Bots will take over Humans and the game is over anyway (laughing). I guess it affects me as it does many artists, but I don’t know how to measure that effect. I am not hunting for a musical career, for me music is a personal fulfillment and that is why I just move on regardlessly.

Your attitude towards live performances. What do you find most difficult to fulfill when playing live and what goes most easily? Are they little special moments of different moods and conditions? And maybe you can recall some concerts, that left an impact on you as a spectator also?
I do a lot manually – meaning not only opening a filter on a knob – but also playing melodies or rhythmic sequences by hand. That can get tricky, especially in situations with difficult room acoustics. But it is a challenge and it is more fun – No Pain, No Game. I also like changing details from show to show. Some concerts I have been to, left a permanent impression on me, just to name some: Skinny Puppy, The Klinik, Borghesia, Clock DVA, Test Dept., Kraftwerk…

And a simple one – what we can expect from BOB DATA on the evening of 24th of February?
I will play mostly newer songs including my latest release “Idle Moved”. I will also have video support on board – tailored for every song. Most of all I am glad to play in Vilnius, a city I have been only a few times but not playing live yet.

 

Photos from personal belongings and by Sandra Jascherica