NNULZ is a label that’s got off to a flying start, earning plaudits from some of the biggest players in the game, not least Berghain’s Ben Klock and a load of other techno mainstays. Theirs is a simple and tried-and-tested way of working: they pick music they love, principally from astutely chosen but less established newcomers and give them a platform to shine.
We were therefore keen to catch up with their latest signing: Hungarian artist, Cosmic Xplorer. A man who’s been brimming away at his musical craft for some time now, his debut record for the label is full of dark, brooding, techno motifs – the likes of which seem destined for regular club play once things – eventually – begin to open up once more. A stunning glimpse into the producer’s musical mind, the release is full of the sort of energy that we’ve been missing too much of over the past while. Anyway, here’s what happened when we put some questions to him over email ahead of the release of his latest EP…
What are your hopes and dreams for 2021? Have you managed to stay upbeat during this time?
I am hoping that I can keep my release schedule for this year and I also hope that I will have time to set up my own label. I am in a fortunate situation. After I travelled all around the World for five years, I decided to return home and work from home. Except for a few years, I spent the last almost 10 years at home, working from home. I hope I would never ever have to change back to the normal way of working. Of course, travelling to gigs is an enjoyable exception.
How has Hungary fared with all this? How do you rate the government response?
I don’t read the News, I never had a TV subscriptions and I try to keep away from anything that has to do with politics, government and every day celebrity silliness and fake news. I focus on my own things. In spite of this I think Covid will have long term impact on everybody’s life in some way. I personally never expect anything from the government, I believe I control my own life and future.
What were the good and bad bits about 2020?
Closed swimming pools and thermal baths and everything closes at 7PM… and of course it is difficult to travel abroad.
So if clubs were open tomorrow, who would you have playing alongside you?
I assess artists by their music and personality. I put more weight on personality to be totally honest. A fun, like minded person with good music taste is the perfect combo for me! I would have Samuli Kemppi, Surgeon, Tadeo, Tom Hades, Truncate alongside me and it would be an at least 16 hour long party! I know the artist selection is a bit eclectic, but who wants to listen to boring monotone line ups all day and night? A party should be about showing different angels of music!
Do you remember your first rave? What was that like? And at what stage did your interest become an obsession?
My first real techno rave, where I was not involved in organizing the event itself, was in the hometown of Emmanuel Top, in Lille, France. This rave was organized by Telecom Lille1, the university where I studied between 2003 and 2004. Yeahhh…. tell me about culture differences in education and student`s lifestyle between France and Hungary, damn!
I discovered electronic music in 1995. I could find interesting tunes in almost all sub genres of electronic music back then. I liked techno, trance, hard house, acid jazz, downtempo. I even made a few Drum&Bass tracks back in 1999 and some of it got even played in radio. Some of my friends and myself kind of became unofficial music curators at a local commercial radio station in Miskolc, Hungary. I still think of this era as golden age of electronic music, at least for me. I played at parties and had some radio show invitations, I felt like what I did mattered to other people as well. I guess this was the turning point for me, when my hobby became an obsession.
Did writing this EP during the pandemic year change how it sounded do you think?
The pandemic does not have an impact on the music I create at all! I hear big producers and DJs whining about not making dancefloor oriented music, because all the dancefloors are closed. What? Are you making music for the dance floor and not to the people dancing on it? It makes no sense for me. People listen to music more at home and in the cars, than on the dancefloors. If somebody is into pounding techno grooves, then a pandemic or closed clubs are not going to change that!
Did you write it with a certain audience, club, time to listen in mind?
Yes, I only create danceable music. When I was young, I listened to many-many downtempo, electronica music and they were full of emotions, so I had my emotional music period and by now I am more or less done with it. I focus on energetic, hypnotic, raw sci-fi sounds.
Do you listen to techno at home? Or what else do you listen to for inspiration?
In the traditional way, I do not listen to much music anymore. I have no time for that, but when I do my day job and I happen not to be on an online meeting, then yes, I listen to techno podcasts. I also listen to jazz like Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon. I also love house music very much and in 2019 I was an avid follower of the Defected radio show.
Did you have a plan for the record from the start? Did you know what you wanted to do anyhow you wanted to do it?
I never really planned to become a producer. I enjoy playing music for the audience and entertain their body and soul. I am kind of a hyperactive person, so sitting in a dark studio is not the goal of my life. I like gigging, connecting with new people in the industry and love to chat with the audience.
Are there any tracks you really love, that really came together well or hold the record together you think?
I do not release tracks I don’t like or don’t feel connected to. But certainly there are tracks that just come together in a moment. “Calculating path” was one of them. I remember a jamming session I had on a Friday afternoon in the beginning January 2021. I was almost done with it in 1-2 hours, I just had to put some final touches on it the following Monday and it was ready.
If you were to introduce someone to three of your tracks, what would you pick and why?
Lost on Phobos, which you can check here. It is not an everyday techno track. It has a unique vibe that I personally feel like it takes me back to mid-90` electronic music era.
Lost on Phobos (Encoder Remix) which you can check here is another one. The Encoder remix (that was played by Rob Zile in the Brain food radio show KissFM Australia) was a lucky accident!
I had problems figuring out the right balance between the beefy bassline and kick drum so I asked Synus006 (the NNULZ label owner) to help me to fix it. He advised me to get in touch with his musician friend, Encoder. He not just solved the problem but a few days later he told me he created also a remix of the track. I liked it so I asked Synus006 to release it on the EP as well! Binary System, which you can check here. This track is from my previous release on a French label called Lune. It gives me the shivers every time I listen to it. I love bleepy sounds and in this track, there is a lot of it!