Recently released on his own label Shameless Productions, CLARK2 is the “longest, deeper and more epic” sequel of CLARK (released in 2005). Besides the hypotheses and the precise analysis by our collaborator Stuart Bruce, we decided to have a talk with this brilliant Berlin-based forger of thought-provoking and imagination-boosting electronic music.
Chain D.L.K.: Good morning, Boris! How are you? How are you spending these weird days?
Boris Hauf: Hi, thanks for the call. I‘m honored. Personally, I love being home and with the family. The slowing down of life, in general, is very welcome. Overall though, it’s pretty scary. It would be ideal if humans could learn from this experience: re-evaluating current healthcare and education systems, developing alternatives to capitalism and finally taking climate change more seriously, for instance.
Chain D.L.K.: You’re displaying some words and reviews on Clark that often quote dystopia. Do you think that your sound could stay with dystopia if you think we’re experiencing a dystopian world?
Boris Hauf: The concept of CLARK2 was about notions of the terrestrial present and extraterrestrial future. It’s about digital natives born into climate collapse and automation, the degree to which we relinquish control to avoid work, and the future that lies ahead of us and our children. The included layer of the pandemic reality is a timely addition. Titles and concept are all ante-corona. I come up with CLARK titles together with my Shameless companion, Julian Gosper, who lives and works in Vancouver and does all the Shameless artwork. Our claim is that a subtle nod in naming may create deep resonance with audiences.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you talk about the project Clark and how its second act related to the first act? Would you say it’s an enhancement, a sort of implementation, or what?
Boris Hauf: CLARK has been my electronica alter ego since 2005. So hopefully both enhancement and implementation. CLARK1 (Shameless, 2016) was a re-issue of a solo I made in 2005 for the UK label Sijis. My studio skills were different back then and so was the compositional focus. The 2016 remix, remaster, and re-titling were informed by fantasies of extraterrestrial pasts. Super weird fun fact: track #6 is called Corona. CLARK2 (2020) was recorded over a much longer time period, with different instruments in a different studio in different times.
Chain D.L.K.: ‘Island Destinity’…what a great opener! It looks like the rendering of some cosmic reverie. What did you have in mind while composing it? Any word about the equipment and settings you used to forge such an awesome suite?
Boris Hauf: Thanks! “Island Destinity” was the last track I composed for CLARK2. The album originally started off as a single LP. After spending some time with the finished tracks it felt like it was missing a counterweight…the first part. I was drawn to the idea of the opener being something epic and symphonic in form and structure. What makes the piece special in my ears is the breath and pacing.
Mentally and emotionally, I redefined the already finished work as an LP2 of a double album and sent Julian an idea for an LP1. He started working away on the artwork. There was a lot of going back and forth between us. The music informed the artwork and vice versa. It’s always like that in our collaborations.
Regarding equipment: Synths, samplers, and heaps of outboard effect boxes.
In terms of production, I learned a lot from these past years as keyboarder and multi-instrumentalist for the legendary Austrian indie rock band Naked Lunch. Recording with and peeking over the shoulders of artists producing on that level has been very inspiring also for my own production techniques.
Chain D.L.K.: We can’t help but agree with the eco-friendly choices for the promotion of the album…are they somehow related to the concept of the album?
Boris Hauf: Yes, it’s a substantial part of the album concept. And, also the direction I am taking the label. If possible I deliver the LPs in person, by bike or tram. If not I’ll ship it eco-friendly, carbon neutral. I am very happy to have found a pressing plant that also works to these standards.
Chain D.L.K.: We know, and we appreciate you as a very polyhedral sound artist and musician! Which role would you assign to Clark and its sequel in your artistic growth?
Boris Hauf: Polyhedral, I like it. Thanks. As I mentioned before – CLARK is my electronica solo “persona”. It’s an essential part of my work and evolution as musician.
Chain D.L.K.: Both in Clark and Clark2, there’s a strong stylistic connection to evergreen glories of 70s electronic music knights as well as a strong conceptual hook to sci-fi sonorities…how do you relate to 70s electronics and sci-fi?
Boris Hauf: I love that stuff, in all its complexities as much as in its simplicities. Clark2 sounds even more like 70s electronica when you listen to it on vinyl. I was really pleasantly surprised by the similarities when I first heard the test pressings.
Chain D.L.K.: Besides ‘Island Destinity’, whose length justifies it covering the whole A-side, are there any grouping criteria of tracks for their placement on particular sides?
Boris Hauf: The sequencing is something I worked on in close collaboration with my amigo Max McCormick (also mentioned on the album cover). The idea was to create some type of unity with what we perceived as the three different layers going on in the tracks: 1. metaphysical 2. transitional 3. phenomenological interactive. Max wove the layers together in a pattern and we were both quite blown away by the sequence that emerged.
Chain D.L.K.: Is there any track that you reforged many times before the final editing? If so, why?
Boris Hauf: Almost 33% of the tracks were played as are and just needed some tweaking. 33% experienced some detailed production work and 33% were literally “reforged” (great word) – because they needed it.
Chain D.L.K.: The track entitled ‘Humans’ is the one richest in glitches… I guess it’s not a random choice! :)
Boris Hauf: :)
Chain D.L.K.: With regard to the match between sometimes weird titles and sonic content, what can you say of ‘Can’t Get Jobs’ or ‘A Palace Not Infinite’?
Boris Hauf: The path to matching titles and sonic content had various trajectories (construing titles with Julian and bouncing off his artwork, sequencing strategies together with Max, …) so it’s hard for me to say exactly how those two combinations came up.
Chain D.L.K.: Did you perform or are you going to perform Clark2 on live stages? If yes, are you thinking of some visual content as well?
Boris Hauf: I’ve performed “A Palace Not Infinite” many times on stage. Usually with guest musicians, always drummers. Steve Heather, Morton Olsen, Didi Kern, … to name a few.
I was invited to perform CLARK2 in its entirety at the 2020 Vienna Popfest. It would have been bombastic. Such a shame it can’t happen. The marvellous Katharina Ernst would have been my duo partner for that gig.
The other plan that fell through in summer 2020 was to tour Europe eco-friendly by train and only play house concerts at friend’s places.
Thomas Binder-Reisinger has made some wonderful videos for both CLARK releases, so I am planning to use them in live performances.
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
Boris Hauf: There are ideas for CLARK3, particularly in enhancing the collaborative aspects. But honestly, I find the whole Corona pandemic thing less inspiring than the tons of emails I get telling me that “now’s the time to be creative”. I’m really happy I had so many projects and releases lined up to help me stay focused and busy throughout this time of immobility, ’cause right now – I’m not feeling crazy creative…
Visit artists’ webspace here: hauf.klingt.org