No matter the medium, Remute has always foregrounded a sense of play in his work. The Hamburg producer has put together live sets in which he lets his audience remix his tracks as he plays them. He’s made whole releases that nod back to old video game music. He imbues even his most straightforward mixes with giddy drum programming and melodies that squirm like reanimated gummy worms. This is not a guy who takes his techno too seriously, which is always a breath of fresh air in a scene that tends toward dourness.
One of the man born Denis Karimani’s ongoing schemes is his tendency to release his music on floppy discs, which is likely a practical challenge for many of his listeners, but falls in line with the spirit of his tunes, which shimmer with the neon warmth of old tech, and nostalgic joy. This week he’s bringing the promise of those tracks to the real world with a show at the New York club Rose Gold (thrown by the party Goonroom) on Saturday, October 13, at which he’ll play a set of “acid, electro, and more” totally from floppy discs. Yes, that means toting along an old Amiga computer to play the .rom files, lest you doubt his dedication to doing things in a goofy and joyfully counterintuitive way.
As a preview of sorts, Remute mixed this week’s Noisey mix solely out of floppys from his collection, bouncing between hands-in-the-air house tracks, chewed up Bee-Gees jams, hi-NRG, grinning original productions and “floppy-ized” techno classics all stewed together in the low fidelity crunch that the format produces. If you’ve ever heard Soichi Terada’s Ape Escape soundtracks, that’s sorta in the neighborhood of what Remute turns up here, but there’s something especially endearing—you’re unlikely to hear many other mixes this fun any time soon.
Noisey: How are we meant to enjoy the mix? What’s the perfect setting?
Remute: Darken your room and turn on your TV. Change to a blank channel. Enjoy the bluescreen for a minute. Now turn on the music. Enjoy the feeling of getting ‘bluescreened’.
Is synesthesia a real thing, and if so, what color is this mix?
It’s definitely a real thing and I experience synesthesia all the time, but I don’t think this mix a has a particular color. I think it rather ‘looks’ like a 4K picture converted down to SVGA, 640 x 480, 256 colours—pixelated but sexy.
Was there any specific concept to the mix?
The mix features some rare tunes from the depth’s of my floppy disk box—some raw banging acid filled techno stuff, but also some warm-hearted hi-NRG disco-electro stuff. I’ve thrown in some of my recent own releases too and spiced everything up with some ‘floppy-ized’ versions of a bunch of 90s-Techno classics. Enjoy the journey!
Do you have a favorite moment on this mix?
I really like it when the Bee Gees get hit with acid and then turn into Italo!
Tell me about your fascination with floppy disks as an object. What makes them interesting to you as a medium? Are they intertwined with your musical journey in any particular way?
I’ve grown up in times when data storage space was extremely limited and expensive.
By the end of the 80s and beginning/mid of the 90s there weren’t 128 GB USB-Sticks, Blu-Rays or 5 TB HDDs and all we had for saving data were floppy disks with 1,44 MB or even less—hard disks were just too expensive and a new thing called ‘CD-ROM’ was even more expensive. 🙂
So since ever I had to deal with limitations and had to work my way around these limitations—that was a very creative process especially in terms of music production. Being limited with data storage space forces you to focus on the true essence of a song and don’t get distracted too much by unlimited possibilities of huge, generic sample libraries for example. Choose the sound wisely!
For me the floppy disk is like a kind of small, cozy room easy to decorate and I prefer this over a large, nebulous hall you get lost in. I still use floppy disks to save my songs and if it fits, then it works.
How does it work, practically, DJing with them? Do you have to worry about the durability of that gear or is it pretty stable? Or are you just loading the tracks onto CDJs, forgive my ignorance.
I have around 1000 floppy disks which constantly get erased and rewritten all the time with new tunes I find in the web and these disks are surprisingly stable and durable since many many years! I make various disk-compilations for myself like “acid bangers” here or “twisted electro” there. Around 4-5 tunes fit onto a floppy and that lets me make interesting compilations with tracks that really fit together.
The tracks on the floppy disks are not super-compressed MP3s. They are .mod files—an ancient file-format with origins on the old home computer Commodore Amiga. This format does not save recorded data, but only the single short samples and information how the music gets played back and generated by the computer in realtime—like sheet music. Therefore the files are extremely tiny and fit onto a floppy without any problems. When DJing I do not use CDJs at all.
I load the floppy disks into my Amiga computer and playback the files with an incredible piece of software called PT-1210 mk1—an awesome Amiga-exclusive player made by some genius coders from the demoscene called Hoffmann and Akira. PT-1210 mk1 gives me full DJ-control of the .mod-soundfiles on the floppy disk!
Between this and your fascination with old video game music, you clearly have a lot of fondness for the sounds of old technology, what draws you to that stuff? How do you keep it fresh? Is there anything you’re trying to convey by reaching back to those sounds?
It fascinates me to use the technology of yesterday with the knowledge of today and tomorrow.
The warm, fuzzy feeling of nostalgia from various eras mixed up with efficient current technical advances—I love retrofuturism on many levels! With my music in fact I like to open up a beautiful and strange world where time doesn’t really exist and past, present and future go hand in hand forwards and backwards.
A lot of your work is rooted in playfulness, is that something that’s important for you to hang onto as you navigate a self-serious world?
Absolutely! Everything’s a “game” for me. Even one of my past albums is called Play The Game. [My] whole life is like an endless Open-World RPG. Sometimes you get lost, sometimes you get new quests assigned, sometimes you are running around senselessly. And underneath everything is the “code”—something that needs to get explored, deciphered and hacked all the time…
And finally, what’s in the cards for the future of Remute? What’s next?
My new EP Computer Communication gets released in November. This is a hybrid release of a 7″ Vinyl and 5,25″ floppy disk (yeah, the huge one!). This EP tells profound stories of (troubled?) communocations between man and computer. Stories full of electro bliss, but also some intense techno discourse. Going back to my earliest roots here as the floppy disk tunes are produced on a Commodore C64 homecomputer—you can insert the floppy into this computer and the music will play and make its SID-soundchip dance! Furthermore I am working on the next full-length Remute album for sometime early 2019, which will be released on an even more uncommon format. ; )
Remute plays at Rose Gold in New York on Saturday October 13. Tickets are available now.
Colin Joyce is on Twitter, and would like to hear your mixes too.