The Swiss producer Samuel Savenberg, aka S S S S, recently dropped his third release in the catalog of the Lucerne-based Hallow Ground label. First available on the Italian cassette-based label Haunter, “Just Dead Stars For Dead Eyes” has been carefully remastered for a vinyl re-release by Lawrence English. It was entirely conceived during a two-week long residence in Sudpol, during which Samuel grabbed field recordings around the building he was visiting. It features a playing piano and the fragmented and distorted voice of an actor sharing the same residency, which can be heard over the two parts of the composition. According to the description by K.P.Cornils, it “creates and explores its own space in shortly over 28 minutes, moving slowly from crisp white noise to elegiac textures and throbbing, bass-heavy rhythms before the faint sounds of a piano diffuse into the aether.” We had a quick chat with its author.
Chain D.L.K.: Hi, Samuel. How are you?
S S S S: Hey! Thanks, I’m fine.
Chain D.L.K.: Tell us something on how, when and why you got closer to your current sonic search…
S S S S: You mean in general? Well, I don’t know. I’ve been playing in some local bands here in Switzerland. Mostly Punk and Hardcore stuff. I got more and more interested in Post-Punk and early electronic music, but I didn’t really start producing till early 2014. Around the same time, I also started studying Sound Art in Berne, Switzerland. So I guess it all came together somehow. Whereas the earlier productions had more technoid song-structures, some of the current compositions tend to be more abstract. But this could change with the next studio-session already. Basically, S S S S is partly (sonic) research, partly trying to transpose ideas and thoughts into music.
Chain D.L.K.: You specified on your facebook page (and maybe somewhere else) that your “thing” is called S S S S (not 4 S)…why such a note?
S S S S: Because people still call it “four s” sometimes. The pronunciation is not something I really care about, but since I already have a facebook page, why not use it and let the people know?
Chain D.L.K.: There are many 4xS like acronyms. What’s the meaning of those four S’es, then?
S S S S: I really didn’t think it through in the beginning. When I started and I had my first tape coming out, the label asked me about a name for my project… That’s when I came up with S S S S. For me, S S S S is not a pseudonym, but a synonym for my real name. I also like the analogy of the four S standing for a repetitive movement. Something like a loop or a rhythmic pattern.
Chain D.L.K.: On your soundcloud (including a lot of stylistically different posts), you posted an amazing performance by Gruppe Formal. What’s the relation you had to this act?
S S S S: There’s actually no relation to Gruppe Formal. I just re-posted their track since I really liked it 😉
Chain D.L.K.: How would you define your music? Closer to industrial, or closer to so-called rhythmic noise (if we have to label it somehow)?
S S S S: Not to sound rude, but I just don’t really care. There’s so much music out there that I like, so many instruments, techniques, ways of composing… Also, everyday life situations and influences… One of the main reasons for me when I started making music on my own was so I didn’t have to restrict myself in any way. Therefore, I wouldn’t want to pick one genre.
Chain D.L.K.: Some people think that experimental or extreme music makers are kind of alienated, but it seems you subtly touch, or I’d rather say that you translated into sound, many political and sociological living anomalies, don’t you?
S S S S: Hmmm, that’s a tough one… I assume you are referring to some of the titles of my tracks. Of course, they themselves refer to writers and theory and may indicate where I stand on certain socio-political issues… But the music itself, well, I wouldn’t consider it political. Music is just a bunch of sound waves. The way we produce and consume it and everything surrounding it, everything we do, is of course political in one way or another. This also counts for the nihilistic sound artist living in the woods. Everything we do has consequences, and therefore is political. But this also means – in my opinion – that making music / art is no more political than driving a car or whatever.
Chain D.L.K.: Before focusing on your very last release, could you tell us something about your recent “Tyranny of Intimacy”?
S S S S: Tyranny of Intimacy actually is not so recent anymore. It was released in the beginning of 2016 as a limited 7″ and as a free download. The two tracks on it were recorded during the Just Dead Stars… recording sessions, but they didn’t really fit into the rest of the music. For me, they feel more like two complete and isolated tracks, so that might be the reason I wasn’t able to combine them with the rest of the music.
Chain D.L.K.: I was referring to Just Dead Stars For Dead Eyes before, but it’s really something new, as I read it was previously released by an Italian label…are there any differences between that edition and the re-release on Hallow Ground?
S S S S: Yes, I mixed it anew, and I think it even is a bit longer now than before. Also, the original tape version on Haunter Records had some more vocals on it. I can’t really explain why I came up with the idea. I removed most of them for the new version. Spoken words and accessible voices can have too much weight in electronic music, and I didn’t want that to be the case. Other than that, the arrangements are pretty much the same. Also, the layout from the record is based on the initial tape design.
Chain D.L.K.: Both the tracks/sides of JDSFDE are really catchy and sometimes even symphonic…were you distancing it from more industrial-driven stuff? Or maybe a spray of ambience from the appreciated Lawrence English during mastering?
S S S S: The record was produced and recorded in two weeks during an artist residency in Lucerne at the club/venue Südpol Luzern. I only had a limited amount of time, and I knew that in the end I wanted to have recordings for about 30 minutes. I also knew before I started that I didn’t want to produce dance tracks and that I wanted to have all of the music fitting together, so that you could listen to it live/on a record from start to finish. Other than that, I didn’t plan anything for the record, and it just came together in a really natural way. I was mainly using instruments and sounds I recorded at the venue.
Chain D.L.K.: Can you say something about the source for inspiration of this lovely release, then?
S S S S: Just that Dead Stars For Dead Eyes refers to a line of a Manic Street Preachers song, and I was reading the “A Version of Reason” book, about the vanishing of Richey Edwards, around that time, so that’s where the title comes from.
Chain D.L.K.: You labeled one of your podcasts ‘New Brvtalism’…what do you mean by that definition?
S S S S: Hehe, well that wasn’t my idea. It’s the name of a website with a podcast series. You have to ask those guys over at thebrvtalist.com
Chain D.L.K.: You live in Luzern, and I read you’re very active in the hardcore scene as well. Any ‘next big things’ you can suggest to us?
S S S S: When I grew up, I used to be involved with that scene, but it’s been a while. I still listen to some of the music occasionally, and I continue to work with certain DIY-ethics, but other than that I don’t have any connection to said scene. I think it’s a youth culture, and it should stay young. There are already too many old white guys involved in our everyday lives.
Chain D.L.K.: Any work in progress?
S S S S: Actually, yes. There is a new EP coming at the end of May on the Berlin-based record label [aufnahme+wiedergabe]. It’s called “There Is No Us”, and it’s mostly Kickdrums and noises. And, later on, there is a mini LP planned for Haunter Records from Milano again.