Roger Semsroth has been producing electronic music since the late 90s but has focused on his alias, Sleeparchive, for just over a decade. He is an avid experimenter of sounds and has produced some stunning pieces that cannot be pigeonholed in one particular genre of dance music. Growing up in East Berlin, but he did not belong to the GDR born and raised kids that embraced techno as soon as the Wall came down. His first loves were Post Punk electronics of the darker kind and EBM, but those soon surpassed being mere references when he first made his name with the widely acclaimed projects Skanfrom and Television Set.
Just as his music became an integral part of the international techno soundtrack, his live performances followed suit, either on his own or as TR-101, with fellow Hard Wax colleague DJ Pete, aka Substance. For years now he has been invited to unleash his sounds at nearly every major club and festival of the worldwide techno circuit, carefully restructuring and redefining released and unreleased tracks in the process.
Ahead of his Australia debut, we chat with Sleeparchive about loops, his recently defunct label, loops, DJ Pete and loops.
B. You’ve been on tour for Tresor’s 25 years with DJ Pete under your joint alias TR-101. How has it all been going?
I would not call it a tour since we are not on the road for 10 dates in a month. The gigs we played so far have gone okay.
B. How do you usually prepare for these live sets? Is it different to your solo sets?
I have an empty Ableton set and Pete has an empty TR-909. He programs patterns in real time and I record little things with my SH-101 and loop them. It’s 100% improvised.
B. Why is it that you choose not to record together?
It’s fun live but we don’t need it on vinyl. We record the sets sometimes … so far we found nothing in the recordings we should press 500 times.
B. We’ve recently learnt that you’re a new dad! How have you found trying to juggle these tours, producing and looking after your daughter?
I would say for me it’s much easier as it is for people who have a 9-5 job. I record loops at home and if my daughter needs something I stop working.
B. A few years ago you said that you used to think “techno was people in terrible clothes on drugs with glowsticks and the clubs had bouncers and 99% of the people never heard any track they danced to for 20 hours.” How has your view of techno music changed from what you thought pre-Sleeparchive?
I haven’t seen any glowstick in a while …
B. You mentioned something very interesting in a past interview, saying that your music was “a little bit like with how people look at a painting” and that you can listen to your tracks in parts. How did this concept come about?
It’s not a concept. For around one or two years I recorded loops and sometimes I put them online. Most of them I record for 4-5 minutes. People can decide if they like to listen to them for 20 seconds or the whole 4-5 minutes. I am really bored of the typical way to arrange a track ( … sequence, beat starts, hi-hat … filter …. break … and so on). I am happier with a boring loop than with a boring arrangement. I am happy with a good loop and when I am tired of the loop I play the next one.
B. You recently announced the sad news that you’ve closed your label due to “sales.” Why do you think this has happened? Do you think the fact that you can access releases through online streaming and downloading have had an impact?
I like to record loops and enjoy to combine them live. I think my music is to “loopy” or “boring” for people on vinyl.
B. Hard Wax played an integral part in getting you into IDM, minimalist dance music and electronic music more generally. Nowadays, for many people, record stores play a smaller role as people are searching online. How do you think this has impacted the scene and the experience of discovering new music?
B. You have a few aliases that you operate under including Skanfrom, which seem to go on brief hiatuses before your next release. What sort of experiences or changes are happening that make you want to produce these audibly different styles under your aliases?
I’ve always enjoyed making music. At the moment I feel very comfortable with Sleeparchive. Or lets say I have the most fun making techno tracks and I don’t think this will change very soon. Some months ago I did a Skanfrom DJ set. That was great fun. I could do that more often.
Finally, what are you most looking forward to about your upcoming visit to Australia?
I don’t know. Hopefully I can see some art and drink some beers that I don’t get in Europe.
What track of yours are you most proud of? I really enjoy the loops I play live at the moment. Not sure if I am proud of them.
What was the first vinyl/CD/tape that you bought? Some The Cure records when I was 13.
What was the name of the first venue you played at? I played my first concert in 1995/96 (I can’t remember the exact date) at Cafe Anal in Berlin. The band does not make music anymore.
What was the first piece of equipment that you bought? My mother bought my first equipment. One Sunday she made cakes on them in the stove.
What the longest set that you’ve played? 4 hours with my best friend DJ Pete at Berghain. The shortest (3 minutes) in Kiev because of police looking for drugs.