Todd Bodine, Tom Clark, Philip Bader, Daniel Dreier & Dale are the instruments that self conduct the Highgrade Disharmonic Orchestra and after several years of Berlin’s Highgrade legacy it wouldn’t of been hard to predict the monstrous task of creating a cohesive structure – though undoubtedly, it’s eventuated. The artists have been canvasing a path that’s a direct result of engaging each others work in the studio, the by-product being the improvisation that’s incorporated in the live performances. It’s a credit to our guests this week and surely something to be proud of that they’re able to coordinate the solidarity that’s necessary to even consider the project.
We’re anticipating a myriad of quality material as autumn in Europe sets in, but first the summer schedule is a priority and once it’s been completed they’ve managed to manufacture time for an Australian tour in January – Melbourne’s Brown Alley on Jan. 20th being one of the first to lock itself into the calendar. Now we hope we’ve portrayed a certain level of praise that’s warranted, otherwise this special broadcast has been aptly, well, orchestrated. Highgrade Disharmonic Orchestra, aka HDO, are your hosts.
Kn: Highgrade Disharmonic Orchestra consists of a group of prolific producers that was formed in 2010, a further extension of the label no doubt. What was the genesis of HDO? What gave birth to its concept and philosophy?
HDO: In 2010 we celebrated the 10 year anniversary of Highgrade Records with various label showcases. Among others, there was a show at Watergate in Berlin, and we wanted to make this something really special. So came the idea to create a Live act. The technical aspects took about three months to put together, so we also spent a lot of time in the studio.
Kn: Creating such a dynamic set over any period of time must be challenging, especially when there are multiple musicians interacting live with technology and hardware. What exactly is the role of each member on stage? And is improvisation an element that you embrace once you’re all in the zone of any given performance?
HDO: During the Live act there isn’t really a specific role for each of the guys. In principle, everyone does everything. We all understand each other very well on stage, for example, whoever is programming the kick drum or the bass: As you can imagine it wouldn’t work to have 4 or 5 kick drums playing at once, it would be too chaotic. Each of us had different records, sounds, parts and loops prepared and during the performance we integrate these elements. It means that completely new pieces are created live and it’s like we’re constantly in a state of remixing. We also edit and add new patterns to the drum machines during each set. It is really very spontaneous and similar to a jam session.
Kn: We’ve seen the release of an amazing LP in ‘Multilayer’ and three exceptional EP releases. What upcoming releases do you have scheduled? Any new concepts that you’ve been working on of late?
HDO: At the moment we’re working on a couple of new EPs that will be out around Autumn. We’re also touring a lot at the moment and we’re basically concentrating on that, so we haven’t had so much time together in the studio. We might also release a Live CD with some of the best edits of our Live performances. We’ll have to wait and see.
Kn: Live performances are one world, studio sessions another. What’s the process of translating your sound from a live environment to the studio? Having the opportunity to combine the production talents of five producers must be a rewarding process?
HDO: The work flow process in the studio is very effective and creative. We’re able to draw on the talents of all the artists in the group. We can express ideas more efficiently, push things further and work through things together.
Kn: …with production still in mind, what was the message that you were communicating with the album, (Multilayer) at that point in time? And how has that message evolved since then?
HDO: On the Multilayer album there was a wide range of influences coming from the different artists and they all kind of melted together. When you listen to the album through a few times, you can hear the various facets. It’s a combination of a whole range of electronic music and also of the various styles of the artists in the project.
Kn: How has your approach to the production process and live shows evolved over the last few years?
HDO: The Live shows are, and have always been, a big challenge. We’ve had to deal with almost every problem imaginable, at various times on stage. But with time we’ve learnt to deal with these issues and solve them through improvisation. In the studio, since the beginning, it’s always been a rewarding process to work with so many people together.
Kn: …and during that time, what would you say have been HDO’s biggest challenges and its greatest achievements?
HDO: In March we had a performance with the dance ensemble of Kevin O Day in the state theatre in Mannheim. A theatre is, of course, a completely different environment from a club or a party. The audience is seated and listens intently to what’s going on. The music functions very differently. This was also accompanied by improvised dance from the ensemble. It was a great experience for us.
Kn: Touring as a Dj can understandably incur its moments of solitude, however having the opportunity to travel as a live act with a group of friends and sharing that experience must be fulfilling on many levels. Are there any experiences that standout that make you smile when you reflect back?
HDO: When you travel with a whole group of guys it’s definitely more entertaining than when you travel alone. You can share the special moments with each other and there is always a lot of laughing and smiling and we really feel like we’re part of a band.
Kn: Lets turn our focus to the Naples live set and to night that surrounded it. What made it so memorable and how do you approach a club environment like that?
HDO: The Woo parties in Naples are always good and we’ve all played there before as DJs. As far as I remember the Live set there was very spontaneous. We really got into the mood of the crowd and in Italy, that can be a very euphoric thing. I think in almost every respect it was a very successful set for us.
Kn: The European summer has arrived! What’s in focus in the immediate future and where do you plan to take the concept in the future?
HDO: We would like to play at more festivals because we reckon the project is something very interesting for a large festival environment. Eventually we’d also like to integrate more live musicians and maybe a singer into the project, and of course, we’re looking forward to producing a new album next year.