The Swiss-born, Berlin/London-based producer & multi-instrumentalist is all about collaborations and he manages to blend jazz, soul, future beats, and everything in between, in such a magical way. And his meticulous new album Fidelity Radio Club is a great example of that.
It got out last Friday via Jakarta Records and S. Fidelity dropped by for a chat to tell us more about the peculiar title, the magnificent featured artists on it, his influences, and the music "treasure-hunting" he did as a teenager. You can find it on all DSPs here. So, hit the play button and enjoy the read:
Hey man, where do we find you today?
I’ve been keeping it really busy these last months, most of my time I’m locked in my studio in Berlin Neukölln, mixing records for artists and creating new music with my homies.
When did you find out you'd like to be involved with music?
It happened quite naturally. I’ve always been interested in music and put research into finding songs nobody else would know about — my own kind of treasure hunt. This started when I was eight or nine years old and was almost like a sport with my childhood and teenage friends. We went through records of our parents and older siblings (and later Soulseek and Limewire of course…), trying to see who could burn the best compilation CDs. Around the age of 13, I got into DJing and almost immediately started to make music as well on my mum's computer. It took me quite a while to wrap my head around it because I had no one teaching me anything. I’ve never been a genius musician in a sense of playing an instrument really well, but I've always been a huge music lover and that's really what keeps me going until this day.
You dropped Fidelity Radio Club via Jakarta Records last Friday. What's the story behind the title and why did you decide to start the radio show?
Before working on this album I was doing a lot of mixing and recording for other artists. I needed to free myself from this technical role in the studio. So I started covering old funk and RnB songs on my 4-track tape and I made a ton of loops and beats. Through these simple creative processes, I found myself bonding with many different aesthetics, which I wanted to combine as one fluid experience. This approach reminded me a lot of my background as a DJ. Mixing all kinds of genres into each other is something I do quite radical in my DJ sets. And a radio show is a format, which gives all the freedom to mix all kinds of music together. The album follows my idea of a well-curated radio show. And doing radio shows with all the artists involved felt like the natural step to enhance the album experience.
How did you gather all these amazing talents in the album? Any particular sonic direction you were going for?
I’m all about collaboration. Most of the people on the record are friends of mine or people I’ve worked with in the past. My process is usually just about making a lot of music. And when the time comes to make a record, you have to pick a few songs that are interesting and then fill the gaps to make it a full project. So the sonic direction was kind of given by the music I created over time without any specific things in mind. But there was definitely a point in time, where I started to see a sonic vision of how to pave a way between those really different songs going in all sorts of directions. And one of my main goals was to actually make these combinations work and feel natural.
You're frequent collaborators with Bluestaeb (we absolutely love "You Won't"). How's the working process & the creative chemistry between you two?
We are really close, he is like a brother to me. We’ve been working together for a long time and have shared a studio together since 2015. We kind of bounce ideas, beats, and thoughts back and forth all the time. I think we are actually quite different in the way we approach things and in our skill-set, but we have very similar tastes and aims. So we can advise and help each other out super easily. On all of our releases, the other one is more or less involved in some kind of way. It’s quite beautiful to have someone like this around.
Tell us about the Underground Canopy project.
When Bluestaeb moved to Paris, he linked up with Midori of Menace. I think he introduced him to Aréna and Jeremy Talon, who were part of this band Underground Canopy. They are basically a group of friends, who really enjoy playing music together and who initially started by covering hip hop songs. At some point, they started writing their own songs mostly to play them at their gigs and with relatively loose arrangements. I was living in London at that time and had some good recording possibilities, so Bluestaeb and I suggested to the band that we could record some material together and see if we can make a record out of it. Blue and I basically built the whole album out of the material we recorded in those three days. Some of the songs were almost recorded like they are on the record. Others were built up from outros of long jams or bridges of songs or things like that. We structured the parts and added things on top to make them full songs. Kind of like a puzzle.
How did you cross paths with Àbáse?
He’s such a dedicated and amazing musician. I hit him up specifically about "Me at the Zoo". I was stuck with the song and suddenly knew he would be perfect for it. We had never met before, but actually have a lot of mutual friends and people we work with and we are fans of each other's music. So it was just a matter of actually linking up and making it happen. Sometimes it needs a specific reason to finally link up. We worked very well together in the studio, which is why he ended up working on other songs on the album, too. And we’ve been doing a lot ever since. I’m actually about to take some piano lessons from him, haha.
Who's influenced you? Anyone you're particularly looking up to?
Obviously all the great names in the hip hop world. But I guess one thing that’s quite special to me is to have Suff Daddy on this album. He was one of the artists that have influenced me a lot back in the days and we’ve become good friends over the years. I’m happy to have him on board.
Playing live vs. in the studio? And how would you evaluate the past, liveshow-less year?
In general, I’m definitely a studio cat. So usually I’m constantly between those two extremes of no people at all for a few days and then a ton of people at a gig or DJ set and then back again to solitude. I feel like that ratio is definitely out of balance now. But I managed to stay very productive, so I wouldn’t say it was a bad year. Just a little bit boring from time to time maybe.
Last one, for the music geeks - what's your setup?
I designed my Manolo Purple Studio in a very production-oriented way. Basically, there are a lot of synthesisers (DX7, Moog Sub 37, Juno DI, Drumtraks, and more..) and microphones all connected and always on and ready to record. Everything is wired and ready at any given moment, so there is no annoying setup-time when ideas hit. That’s especially important when you have 2 or 3 people in the studio, and things need to happen quick. I’ve got some pedals for the instruments and synthesizers but then most of the processing happens in Ableton. For vocals, I record with a Sontronics Aria valve mic going straight into an Apollo Twin X.
Thanks for the chat, man! This space is for anything else you'd like to add.
Thanks for having me, really appreciated!